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Old August 12 2013, 02:34 AM   #16
Lieutenant Commander
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Location: USA
Re: ST:TOS-era story: EVACUATION

~~~ ~~~~ ~~~

Down the corridor, the two Cutter captains talked. Rather, Christensen talked and Isenberg listened. He found it slightly ironic that she called him ‘Thomas’ after he was just chastised for using given-names too much. Still, the wisdom she imparted in a very few minutes was more than he had received in all the leadership classes he’d ever attended.

They arrived at Captain Littleton’s office to find the door shut and locked, and the privacy sign lit. Across the hall, they found Commander Sahani busy at her desk. When they entered her room, Sahani came around the desk. “It’s good to see you, Yvonne,” she said as the two women greeted each other warmly, kissing each other on the cheek. They couldn’t have been more different, Isenberg thought, and yet were very much alike.

“And you, too, Sarisha. Thomas here has a request.”

Sahani turned to him and offered her hand. Her grip was firm, unlike Christensen’s. “Commander, I presume Chief Guzman has told you all about me.”

“He’s had a few stories, Ma’am. All complementary, of course, although a couple were hard to believe. My sensor tech tells me you pioneered most of their procedures.”

“It was a team effort,” she replied modestly. “So, what can I do for you, Commander?” He told her of the need for a caretaker crew for the evening. She agreed, commenting that she should have thought of it herself, and made a call to the Command Center requesting it. Vice Admiral Charles Littleton himself came on the line and approved the request. He said he’d have the duty officer make the arrangements and notify the Cutters. In hindsight, Isenberg considered the difficulty in coming up with sixty-plus crewmen plus thirty or forty Marines on short notice even on a station as large as a Starbase, and he felt a bit guilty for making the request.

“Sarisha and I were roommates at the Academy,” Christensen informed him. “Everyone thought we were going to kill each other, but we sorted it all out and became friends. In fact, it was her stories that inspired me to transfer from Star Fleet to the Police Force.”

“And here I thought it was so you could spend more time with what’s-his-name, the rugby player,” the shorter woman jested. “Wilhelm, wasn’t it? What ever happened between you two?”

“Oh, he got out of the service after three years, and we got married,” she said, smiling.

“Really? That’s great! And I’m sorry, I should have known,” Sahani blushed with embarrassment. “I’m sorry for not staying in contact with you. But after ... well, you know ... I took an assignment on Vulcan. I lost touch with a lot of people. I’m really sorry for that.”

Yvonne wrapped her friend up in a hug. “It’s okay,” she said softly. “I understand. We all understood.” They stood there for a long moment; Isenberg found a spot on the wall that suddenly looked interesting.

Finally, the two women separated. The Star Fleet officer wiped a single tear from her eye. “Thank you.” She gave them a crooked little smile. “So, you and Wilhelm. Who would have suspected? Things are well, I take it. Any kids?”

“Three -- a boy and two girls -- and another daughter due in three months.” She laughed when they looked her up and down. There’s no way she's even six weeks pregnant, let alone six months, Isenberg thought. “My husband’s a sea horse,” she told them. She laughed again at their confusion. It was a light, tinkling sound fitting her image. “I can’t carry a baby to term -- I lost two, and the second one almost killed me. So Wilhelm had an artificial womb implanted.”

Isenberg was almost stunned speechless. What came out of his mouth next made him wish he had been. “That’s ... different. How’s that make him a manatee?” In his mind’s eye, he had a mental image of a huge, wallowing pregnant man basking in the sun by a swimming pool.

“Not a sea cow,” she laughed again, but with less humor this time. “A sea horse, like the tiny fish that looks like a horse’s head. The female lays her eggs in a pouch in the male’s belly, and he takes care of them until they hatch.” He felt silly. He should have remembered that. “Our first born was a test-tube baby; the other three were transplanted about a month after I became pregnant. He carried them to term, then had a C-section for obvious reasons.”

Sahani shook her head in disbelief. “Amazing what modern medicine can do. I always knew you had Wilhelm wrapped around your little finger, but wow, that's incredible.”

“Well, he’s an incredibly wonderful man. This was all his idea. There are times I wish I had never agreed to it -- the risks are just too damn high.” She wanted to pull the curse word back in; she knew her friend didn’t like it when people swore. Funny thing is she wasn’t overly religious and yet refused to swear or drink.

Sahani simply ignored it. “I’m sorry we pulled you away from your family, Yvonne. You can turn the assignment down if you want.”

“No,” she shook her head emphatically, “I had to get out of there -- Wilhelm is ‘nesting’ and it's driving me nuts. I’ll be home in time for the baby to be born. That is, unless this mission lasts longer than you’ve suggested.” She knew her ex-roommate would take the bait and put a word in on her behalf with the Commodore to let her keep the Gendarme. The comm unit interrupted the conversation; Commander Sahani’s aid informed her that the training simulator was programmed as she had requested. She excused herself, which was a polite way to ask her guests to leave.

~~~ ~~~~ ~~~
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Old August 12 2013, 02:36 AM   #17
Lieutenant Commander
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Location: USA
Re: ST:TOS-era story: EVACUATION

A few more posts, which needs a little editing first, and then I have to start typing again. I'm setting up for some action, with a surprising twist, but it's not the big event that the story eventually leads up to.

I'm amazed by the number of hits I'm getting. Thanks for the support.

Last edited by Sgt_G; August 12 2013 at 02:07 PM.
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Old August 12 2013, 02:24 PM   #18
Lieutenant Commander
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Location: USA
Re: ST:TOS-era story: EVACUATION

~~~ ~~~~ ~~~

As they made their way down to the lounge, Christensen continued her leadership lesson. It all boiled down to trust -- give your people a reason to trust you and you’ll be able to trust them. And one of the first ways to get them to trust you is to trust them. It seemed like circular logic, yet it made all the sense in the world.

Once at the lounge, which wasn’t overly busy, they found a table far away from the others to have a private conversation yet close enough to avoid looking like they wanted to be alone. Isenberg ordered coffee, black, and she ordered mint tea and crumb cakes. She asked him how Senior Chief Guzman was working out as the Chief of the Boat.

"You mean besides that little chewing he just gave me and my Exec?" Isenberg said ruefully. "In some ways, he reminds me of my father. I suppose that’s a good thing."

“Excellent. I figured he’d make a great CoB. I wasn’t sure they’d ever give him the slot after he locked horns with Renee Norwood.” She wagged a finger at him. “Don’t let anyone ever tell you the Norwoods don’t play the politics game. And don’t ever fall for the lie that they’re all God's gift to the service. Renee screwed up by the numbers and still got the job that should have been Roger’s from the word go. I hate to say it, but the best thing she ever did was get herself killed without taking anyone with her.”

Isenberg’s eyebrows shot up at that. He knew several of the Norwood clan. Who didn’t? He knew that they had a couple bad apples, of course. What family didn’t? By and large, however, most of the Norwood family was highly regarded. Renee, on the other hand, was the blackest of the black sheep. Still, the Norwoods had a reputation to protect and thus tried to keep her problems very quiet. One simply didn’t go around talking about such things in public. Not without risking the famous Norwood wrath.

The waiter brought their drinks over. “The hell of it is,” Christensen continued, “after she got the promotion -- over my objections, I might add -- she told Commodore al-Hafi there was no way she could work for my old Exec -- my highly-deserving, fully-qualified, hand-picked successor. So rather than give her the dirt-side job she was overdue for, they let her be the CoB and exiled Andy to a staff position at HQ. She suggested she ‘might be able to work with’ Lieutenant Commander Mark Wagner. That’s how he got the Magnum, and we all know how that turned out.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Isenberg sipped his coffee. The investigation into Senior Chief Renee Norwood’s death revealed her illegal activities and co-conspirators resulting in six personnel arrested, including Wagner’s first officer, and five others forced to resign, including Wagner himself. “I missed most of that as I was stationed over on the Romulan border at the time. It sounded pretty ugly, from what I’ve heard.” Isenberg knew Mark Wagner. He was a good officer, just not fit for command. Mark’s only crime was getting promoted one time too many. That, and not being able to see how his senior staff manipulated him. He was simply too trusting, too gullible. Thomas remembered a poker game in which he bluffed Wagner into folding four deuces.

Although not personally implicated, Commodore al-Hafi announcing he was taking an early retirement. One of his last acts was to give Thomas Isenberg command of the Magnum. His other was to reassign the patrol zones for all thirty-two ships in the Fifty-First Cutter Group. The dust was just now settling down, six weeks after the house cleaning ended. Isenberg wondered how much this new mission would stir back up.

“Ugly doesn’t come close,” she replied. “The kick-backs and bribes were bad enough. Allowing smugglers to cross the border at will was worse. But they were using police forces to drive off competition for the Orion Syndicates and let them get an arm-lock on shipping in this region. Our reputation is shot to Hell -- there isn’t an independent freighter in this sector that trusts us right now.”

Isenberg nodded. The damage was done and would take a long time to repair. He had seen that for himself, like with the Santa Maria the day before. He’d noticed that civilian vessels, even from highly reputable companies like Smith-&-Jones, were keeping a wide berth away from police boats. He didn’t think anything of it at first, until Lieutenant Xiong mentioned how unusually shy the cargo masters seemed around them. “Well, at least they weren’t dealing zap.”

“There’s no proof they weren’t,” she retorted, “and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were. Hell, Thomas, just last week someone stole over a metric ton of zap from the impound locker at Cygnus Station. It looks like an inside job -- I just haven’t been able to prove it yet. To give the Devil his due, though, they did pull off a nice heist. They had us looking for stolen artwork, which oh by the way, never existed in the first place -- it all looked like a simple insurance scam at first until we noticed the drugs were missing. The paperwork showed it was destroyed.”

Isenberg shrugged. “Any reason to think it wasn’t?”

She gave him a sour look. “Two reasons. Number one, our primary incinerator is down of an overhaul; the one we’re using isn't hot enough to completely burn zap without giving off toxic smoke. And number two, they forged my signature on the forms. I know I didn’t sign it, but now it looks like I’m covering something up.”

“Hmmm, maybe it’s just my Machiavellian mind working overtime,” he said thoughtfully, “but you said you had a run-in with Renee Norwood. Perhaps some of her cohorts are still on the loose and are trying to get even with you, Ma'am.”

“You think? I'm sure of it!” Christensen exclaimed. “I don’t think we got the ring-leader. There’s no way one Senior Chief, even one with the political connections of a Norwood, could have set this up. And I believe there's more to this than just the Cartels taking over all shipping in this region.”

Isenberg thought about all the political data he had assimilated over the past month, including the tidbits Zychowski briefed him on last night that he’d picked up while undercover. Trade was the lifeblood of the Federation. Control the cargo flow and you’d someday control the government. And yet, that seemed too ambitious, even for the Orion Syndicate. But not for the Klingons. With war looming and much of Star Fleet's military shipping still handled by civilian freight companies, the Klingons were a logical suspect. On the other hand, it also seemed out of character for the Klingons; they tended to fight you head-on without a lot of subterfuge. This level of intrigue was something one would expect from the Romulans.

There was another possibility. The very thought of it made Isenberg shudder. “You know, my first guess would be to say the Klingons are involved, but here’s an odd thought: what if it’s opposition politics in the Federation Assembly? The elections are coming up in about eight months. By making the President look weak on the whole Orion Enclave issue, they might be able to pick up a bunch of seats if not the presidency itself.”

Commander Christensen had just taken a bite of crumb cake and almost choked on it. After taking a sip of tea to clear her throat, she said, “That’s a bit too Machiavellian, don’t you think, Thomas? My money's still on the Klingons. Although this whole Renee Norwood affair has resurrected the suggestion that Star Fleet annex the Police Force. It’ll never happen, of course, but in some ways it wouldn’t be a bad thing. Do you know what our biggest problem is, Commander?” He gave a thoughtful look then shook his head ‘no’. “We don’t have a pyramid.”

“Excuse me, ma’am?”

“A pyramid. Our rank structure is very linear. When you came up through the ranks, you started as a weapons officer, then moved up to intelligence, operations next, and then exec officer before becoming a ship’s captain, right?” He shook his head ‘no’. She gave him a puzzled look, “No? Did you come up from the back of the boat?” she asked, meaning that he was an engineer first.

“No, I was Star Fleet,” he explained, “before I had a break in service. I just made the lieutenant-commander selection list when I was accused of something I didn’t do. I was given a choice of court marshal and five years in jail, or to resign my commission. I didn’t have the proof at the time of my innocence. So, I got out and went back to school to finish my law degree. It took two years and a ton of money, but a private investigator that I hired found the evidence I needed. I testified against the person who set me up, and then sued Star Fleet to let me back in. They had no way of keeping me out, but they said I lost my promotion slot and half my seniority. The police force gave me a better offer; I got my gold-leaf,” meaning the insignia of a Lt. Commander, “and an assignment as the opeations officer on the Sir Patrick Hasting.” The Sir Pat was a police flagship, a true jack-of-all-trades/master-of-none ship based on the Burke-class frigate design. “I had that job for about six months, and then two months ago, word came down they needed officers to fill a dozen command slots on cutters. I threw my hat in the ring for an exec job, and somehow got tagged to be the captain instead.”

Christensen sighed at that. A good number of police force officers came from Star Fleet. There didn’t seem to be much middle ground; either they were among the best, the ones who wanted a challenging career, or among the worst, the ones Star Fleet didn’t mind letting go. Isenberg seemed like one of the former, thankfully. “Well, as I was saying, we don’t have a good base of junior officers to build into good senior officers. We end up filling the ranks by commissioning enlisted on an accelerated promotion track, or we have to take Star Fleet’s leftovers. No offense intended.”

“None taken,” he assured her. “Star Fleet has the opposite problem. They have too many junior officers, so they eat their young. They drive young ensigns and lieutenants to the breaking point. A lot of good people get out, so too many narcissists make it to the mid-tier ranks. Can you image a ship full of people like your new exec, Pierre Faucheux? At least they weed out the incompetent ones.”

The Commander gave him a dirty look. “It’s not nice to talk about another ship’s crew. But ... you’re right. I don’t like him. The question is, can I work with him?” Her communicator chirped. She took the call and learned that her luggage had been transferred to the Gendarme. “Well, I’d better go make sure they didn’t break anything. It’s been a pleasure meeting you, Thomas. Why don’t you go finish that conversation with Senior Chief Guzman?”

They shook hands and parted ways. Isenberg walked back to the transporter room, lost in thought. And boy did he have a lot to think about.

~~~ ~~~~ ~~~
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Old August 12 2013, 02:40 PM   #19
Lieutenant Commander
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Location: USA
Re: ST:TOS-era story: EVACUATION

~~~ ~~~~ ~~~

Roger Guzman beamed over to the Star Base thirty minutes before Commander’s Call. His meeting with Lieutenant Commander Isenberg went well. The skipper was fairly receptive to his observations and advice. Still, it looked like it would be tough to break some of his habits.

As he walked through the lounge, he noticed two junior Star Fleet officers in a discussion, obviously some sort of disagreement. Both were using their hands as they spoke, often interrupting each other. For a Vulcan and an Andorian, neither species known for their display of emotions, they were positively animated. Guzman ignored them, or tried to.

Just as he walked passed, the Vulcan was saying something about “logic dictates ...” when Guzman heard a somehow familiar voice interject, “You wouldn’t know logic if it bit you ...” followed by the Andorian cut him off with, “As if your opinion means anything to me, Tellarite.”

Chief Guzman glanced over to see the Andorian making his point by jabbing the interloper, a Police Force ensign, in the chest with his finger. He changed course to intervene. “One would think that an Andorian should know the folly of arguing with a Tellarite, Ensign. But if you choose to do so, might I suggest you find someplace a bit less public before you make a scene?”

“I fail to see how this concerns you, Chief Petty Officer.”

“In my experience,” Guzman replied dryly, “Vulcans see what they wish, and do not see what they wish not to.”

“That is not logical.”

“Ah, yes. Logic. I have also found that Vulcans often make a discussion first, and then build a path of logic to support their desire. And my rank, Ensign, is Senior Chief Petty Officer,” he added coldly. Before the Vulcan could complain, he turned to his fellow policeman. “Your father knew the wisdom of watching an argument for a length of time before wading into the middle of it.”

“How dare you speak of my father, human?” demanded the incensed Tellarite.

“You are Saal, son of Gar Telko, are you not? I knew your father well.”

“My father died over twenty years ago.”

“Yes, I know. He saved my life, and the lives of many others, that day. I honor his memory, sir, and so should you. Have you read his books? Watched his videos?” Ensign Telko indicated he had not. “Which ship are you on? I’ll send you the files. In the meantime, might I suggest you three fine gentlemen move your conversation out of the middle of the traffic area?” He gestured to several empty tables. They grudgingly agreed to his terms. Ensign Telko said he was assigned to the Mazza as an assistant engineer.

“It’s like a high school reunion, isn’t it, Roger?” Guzman turned towards the female voice behind him. He wasn’t expected to run into her, although in retrospect he should have.

“Hello, Julie,” he said as he took her hands in his, and then kissed her on the check. He stepped back, still holding her hands, to look her up and down appreciatively. Time had etched her face as it had his own, and her strawberry-blonde hair didn't have the same sheen it did twenty years ago ... but she was still as beautiful as the day he met her. "It's so good to see you again. How long has it been? Six ... seven years?”

She led him to a table, on the other side of the lounge from the three ensigns, and he held her seat as she sat down. “Four, actually. At the indoctrination ceremony.” It was obvious from her tone that he should have remembered. He and Julie had run into each other off and on so many times over the years, it was hard for him to keep track. He wondered how she did so easily.

“Only four years? Seems like longer. Then again, our time apart is always too long and our time together too short.”

“You always did have smooth lines, Roger.” As much as she tried not to, she smiled. “Ever try any of them on the Commander?”

“Didn’t work – she’s immune to my charms. Hey, what’s with this?” He tapped her Chief Petty Officer rank insignia. “I thought you were picked up on the supplemental list two months ago. Where’s your star?” he asked, referring to the additional feature on his Senior Chief insignia.

“Some officers don’t believe in frocking,” she stated flatly, trying and failing to mask her annoyance with the situation. The tradition, dating back to the days of sailing ships, allowed those selected for promotion to pin their new rank on immediately upon notification even though the official date of rank (and corresponding pay raise) might be months away.

Guzman was dumbfounded for a moment. “You’re kidding, right? Who's your commanding officer?”

“Roger, don’t do anything stupid,” she warned him. “You’ll just make matters worse for me and my whole crew.”

He set his jaw, and she stared him down. Finally, he raised his hands in surrender. “Okay, okay. I won’t do anything. I promise. I’m just curious who your skipper is.”

“Do you mean the C.O. or the person actually running the ship?” Normally, Guzman would have had a snappy come-back to that: the CoB was the one that ran the boat -- the officers just borrowed it. But he knew that was the wrong thing to say. “I’m the Senior Enlisted Advisory on the Gendarme. And before you say it, the SEA,” she pronounced it ‘see-ah’, “is not the same as Chief of the Boat. As I understand it, ‘CoB’ is an antiquated and somehow derogatory term. At least, that’s what the Exec tells me.”

“I heard some things about him. I had hoped they weren’t true,” Guzman said sadly. “Lieutenant Faucheux's reputation precedes him. I see it was well deserved.”

“Yes,” she agreed unhappily. “Not that I’m complaining, but I’m surprised Commodore Hammerstrom didn’t make him the skipper now that Commander Gonzales is retiring. Then again, she’s been ROAD,” Retired On Active Duty, a derogatory slang for someone that spends more time planning for post-service life than doing the job they still have, “for the past year. Believe it or not, she’ll punch out on terminal leave next week and already has a position lined up to work for the Whitman and Associates Law Firm.”

“I can believe it.” Roger Guzman had met the type many times in his twenty-plus years of service.

“At any rate, Faucheux has been pretty much running things for a few months now. Everyone expected him to get the center seat. I don’t know Commander Christensen and haven’t heard much about her. Got any scoop on her?”

“Oh, yeah. She was my skipper for three years before we both left the Magnum for dirt-side. She’s ... complex. Not really moody, but you need to learn to read her. It’s too hard to explain; you’ll just have to get to know her before you can predict how she’ll react to things.” A sly grin came over his face. “But if it’s any comfort, her first tour as an Ensign was on the Sam Franklin when Chief Rinehart was the CoB.”

She perked up at that. “Really? I wonder what his assessment of her was.” Rinehart was notorious for making or breaking junior officers. A comment or two from the Chief always seemed to end up in their Fitness Report, even though he, being an enlisted man, didn’t have any official input to it. Unfortunately, his brutal honesty and inability to keep his opinions to himself also cost him any hope of making Master Chief.

He shrugged. “We’ll never know for sure, since he died in the middle of that tour.” Although the man was dead, his legend and his legacy lived on in the many junior Petty Officers he mentored over the years. Roger Guzman treasured those memories. “But do you know who she asked for to be her CoB when she took over the Magnum?” Julie shook her head ‘no’. He smiled broadly. “Gruhn.” He laughed at her wide-eyed reaction. Master Chief Gruhn was one of Rinehart's best pupils -- the apprentice that surpassed the master.

“Gruhn? Yager Gruhn?” She had a shocked, almost horrified, look on her face, which made him laugh all the more. “Why in God’s name would she want a Tellarite ....” she faded off into thought. Then a smile grew, oh so slowly, across her face until she was beaming. Tellarites was the most obnoxious, overbearing race in the Federation. To have one as your boss ... well, it was just best to keep them happy. It was very telling of Christensen’s leadership style by her choosing one to run her boat. “Roger, you just made my day.”

He smiled back and said, “Oh, it gets better. She went to Star Fleet Academy, not Police Academy. Care to take a guess who her roommate was?” Julie just shrugged. “None other than our own favorite space witch, Sarisha Sahani.” Julie’s jaw dropped. “Yeah, she survived Shimmer’s wrath more than once, and that alone should tell you have tough she can be. In fact, word is, she gave as good as she got.”

She looked over his shoulder and said, “Speaking of the devil, there she is now.” Guzman turned to see Commander Sahani and Ensign Tillman diverting their course towards their table. The two chiefs stood up as the officers approached.

“Commander. Ensign Tillman,” Guzman greeted them, “This is Chief O’Hara of the Gendarme. Julie, the ensign is one of our shuttle pilots.”

“We’ve met,” Chief O’Hara said, perhaps a little too quickly. Tillman crinkled her eyebrows in confusion. “I was at Stephanie’s graduation. In fact, I’ve known her father for years.”

Sahani had that light-bulb-over-the-head look. “Roger, wasn’t your mother’s name ‘Tillman’? Maybe you two are related.” She could sense Julie holding her breath.

“Nah, grandfather was the only boy with five sisters, and he tried nine times before giving up hope of having a son. If we’re related, it’s no closer than fifth or sixth cousins. Did you need to see me, Ma’am?”

“No, actually, I need to speak with Chief O’Hara,” she explained. “Privately, if you don’t mind.”

Ensign Tillman spoke up, “Chief, I’m scheduled for bridge watch. They want us to dock to the base.” She blushed with embarrassment. “I’d feel more comfortable if you were by my side when I bring her into the docking port, Chief.”

“Of course, Ensign, by all means,” he smiled, “We’ll talk later, okay?” he said to the other two women. As they walked away, Stephanie gave them a discreet little wave behind her back.

The commander turned to the chief and opened her moth to speak, but O’Hare blurted out, “She doesn’t know. And neither does he. And I want to keep it that way.” She had a very determined look on her face.

Sahani raised her hands in surrender. “We all have our secrets. Yours are safe with me.” Lord only knows what she’d do if someone let her secrets out. “You know, earlier today, Roger and I were talking, and I listed all his ex-wives. He said you two never tied the knot. Now I wonder why you didn’t.”

Julie waved towards a chair and took a seat herself. “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t repeat this, especially to Roger, but I was married once for two years.”

“Bad break up?”

“Bad marriage. I was seventeen and didn’t know better; he was twenty-three and very abusive. He liked to hit me. A lot. He nearly beat me to death. Twice. You’d think I would have learned after the first time, but he always made me feel like it was my fault.” She stopped and took a deep breath before continuing. “So, the last time he started in on me, I hit him upside the head with a frying pan. I thought I killed him, so I turned myself into the police. As luck would have it, I only knocked him out. They ran a DNA check on him and found he was wanted in connection with the death of his first wife, and two girlfriends in high school.”

Sarisha reached out and took the other woman’s hands into hers. “Julie, I’m so sorry. Look, I know we’ve never been friends, but I had no idea what you were living with. I would have helped any way I could have.”

“Thank you,” she said quietly. “I appreciate that. So now you understand why I’ll never get married again. I can’t even live with a man, you know, shacking up. Roger and I tried it for a couple weeks, but I couldn’t keep my side of the bargain. I’ve been through counseling, and that helped, but my life is what it is. At least the nightmares went away.” She stopped and took a few breaths, and then pulled her hands back. “So, you said you needed to see me about something, Ma’am.”

The commander pulled a data chip out of a pocket. “Here’s a list of people we need you to release when we add the Marines to your crew. Don’t ask why. I’ll explain it after the mission, but I can’t tell you right now. Just that I hope we’re wrong about them.”

“I don’t know if I can help you.” The chief took the chip and inserted it into her PADD. “I gave my list to the Exec and Lieutenant Baku, our operations officer, and they edited the list.” She read at the list she was just given. “I had about half of these people on my list, but none of them are on the final list.”

Commander Sahani sat for a long while, hands clasped together and index finger tips on her lower lip, in obvious deep thought. “We can’t cancel the mission based on a gut feeling. You can trust Christensen, and maybe Stableford. But that’s it.”

O’Hara shook her head. “Stableford’s not coming with us. With the Marines onboard, we don’t need a tactical officer, so he’s going out on the LaMagne to fill in for their weapons officer.” Her communicator chirped. “Time for Commander’s Call. Gotta run.”

“Jewels, just be careful. Watch your back.”

~~~ ~~~~ ~~~
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Old August 14 2013, 03:17 PM   #20
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Re: ST:TOS-era story: EVACUATION

~~~ ~~~~ ~~~

Lieutenant Commander Isenberg and another man, who was wearing a Star Fleet uniform, stepped off the turbolift and onto the bridge. “Captain on the bridge!” barked Marine Sergeant McKendrey.

Isenberg had told him, more than once, that it wasn’t really necessary to do that. It was proper protocol, but still, it got old real fast. “As you were,” he ordered. “Good morning, everyone. Say hello to Ensign Daniel Littleton. He volunteered for this mission, and I told his aunt I’d take him. Or is she your cousin?”

“I believe we’re third cousins, once removed, sir,” the younger man corrected him. One look and it was obvious he belonged to one of Star Fleet’s ruling dynasties. He had the same chiseled jawline and unruly sandy-brown hair. He probably inherited his small nose from his mother.

“I’m glad you know how to keep track of that sort of stuff. I never could figure out my family tree. At any rate, this is Ms. Maida,” he indicated to the lieutenant sitting in the command chair. He waved her back down when she started to vacate the seat. “She is our operations officer, third in command of the ship.” Littleton couldn’t help but notice that she was very attractive; tall, athletic, with platinum hair and bright green eyes. It was her eyes that suggested she was probably from Alpha Centauri. Isenberg continues the introductions, “Ms. Tillman here is another shuttlecraft pilot. Regardless of date-of-rank, I’m going to consider her senior to you.” He’d already checked, and Littleton had one month more time-in-grade than Ensign Tillman.

“Of course, sir,” Littleton agreed, “That’s only fair. I’m only here for a few weeks, at most.” He was introduced to the four enlisted personnel currently on the bridge, and almost immediately forgot their names. It wasn’t that he felt so superior to them that he didn’t need to know their names; rather, he always had a problem remembering names. He so envied his older relatives for their ability to store such data away so easily. He often watched his father greet people he hadn’t seen in years, and not only remembered their names but also their spouse and children’s names as well.

“The chief pilot is Lieutenant jay-gee Maes Roola. You’ll meet him later; can’t miss him, he’s the blue guy with antennae growing out of his head. Your chain of command is Mister Roola, Ms. Maida, then Mister Kinsley, whom you met last night, and finally, me.”

“Yes, sir.” The ensign used a memory trick to file that away.

“The Chief of the Boat is Senior Chief Guzman, whom I expected to be here by now,” he looked over at Maida, but she just shrugged, “and Chief Szczr runs the shuttle deck. I strongly advise you to listen to everything those two try to teach you.”

“Yes, sir, I understand. Szczr, that’s Rigellian, right?”

“No, I believe she told me her last name is Czech,” Isenberg correct him. “Yesterday, Ensign Tillman brought this ship into dock. Think you can take her out when we push off?”

“No, sir,” Littleton blushed. “I’m a good shuttle pilot, sir, but I haven’t sat at the helm of a starship in over a year.”

Isenberg sighed. “Pity. Well, we will just have to change that. Ms. Tillman, do you think you can take us out without scratching the hull?”

“Yes, sir. If not,” Tillman gave him an impish smile, “I took art classes, so I do know how to touch up the paint job.”

The commander was in a good mood, so he let her have a pass on that one. “Has anyone seen the CoB this morning?”

Lieutenant Maida looked up from the report she was reading. “He reported in at oh-five-thirty, but he left the ship just before seven. I expect him back any moment.”

“Very well. Did everyone else make it back on time?”

“No, sir. Two persons are unaccounted for.”

Isenberg rubbed his forehead. And it started out as such a good morning. Before he could ask, Chief Guzman entered the bridge. The commander turned to face him. “Well, good morning, Chief. You look in better spirits than last night.”

Guzman opened his mouth then closed it, obviously engaging brain before tongue. “Last night, sir, I wanted to get drunk. It took every ounce of willpower I have to not order a single shot of whisky. Or the twenty I wanted.” He yawned. “Please note in the record that Petty Officer Hunter and Crewman Reese will not be joining us for this mission. Guajardo and McCormick will be staying on in their place.”

“Okay,” Isenberg said, slowly. “Care to elaborate?”

Guzman shook his head. “Later, sir, in private. ” He yawned again. “I need some coffee, and I need a shower. I’m not sure which one I need first. Maybe I’ll drink my coffee in the shower. I’ll see you in an hour or so, sir.”

“No rush, Chief,” Isenberg told him, “We don’t leave port for another five hours.”

After the doors closed behind the CoB, Maida said, “What’s eating him?”

The commander sighed. “No idea, Ursula, but I don’t want any scuttlebutt about it.” Maida nodded curtly. They both looked around the bridge to make sure everyone got the message, loud and clear.

Stephanie Tillman busied herself with the pre-launch checklist. She knew something happened yesterday, but she didn’t know what exactly. Right in the middle of the chief walking her through docking the Magnum, his wife Cathy and her lawyer called from a court house. At the time, it was kind of funny: the judge demanded Guzman talk to him ‘right now’. The chief asked if the judge had ever taught anyone to drive; the judge said he had twin teenage boys. Guzman then told the judge, ‘Sir, I am attempting to teach this young lady how to dock this twenty-five hundred ton, half-billion credit starship to a five-trillion credit star base. Can whatever this is about please wait ten minutes?’

When the CoB came back from his office, something had obviously upset him. She’d never seen him mad before, and she sure didn’t want that fury aimed at her. The next time she saw the chief, it was at dinner. He was still in a foul mood at first, but after talking privately with Chief O’Hara and Commander Sahani, he seemed to lighten up back to his normal happy self. She noticed he left early with both of them, and wondered which woman the chief spent the night with. She wasn’t sure which one would make her angrier. She forced the thought out of her head; it wasn’t her place to judge him.

Isenberg called up to the shuttle deck and asked for someone to escort Littleton to his new duty station. Chief Szczr herself came down. She was short, just shy of five foot tall, with dark brown hair pulled back into a bun. Her hazel eyes seemed to be smiling as usual; when they didn’t, look out. The way she filled out her uniform made her look like she was pushing her weight maximum. Nurse Campbell assured him that Amy-Lynn Szczr was well within regs, just that nature was “too nice” to her.

Szczr and Littleton exited out one door just as Marine Gunnery Sergeant Linda Hawthorn entered through the other. “Good morning, Skipper,” she handed Isenberg a data PADD. She looked as McKendrey, “Sergeant, have you ever heard the old saying, ‘No good deed goes unpunished?’ Gunny Fields was hurt last night and can’t go on the mission. We need you to take his place, if you think you’re up to the task. Grab your gear and report to the Gendarme, on the double.”

Isenberg looked at the transfer request on the PADD. “I don’t know about this. A buck sergeant in a gunny slot, that’s some big shoes to fill.”

“He’s got big feet, Skipper.” The commander shrugged and initialed the request. Who was he to question the Gunny?

Lieutenant Maida turned to the junior Marine. “The Gendarme is pulling out in half an hour. Want me to call them so you have time to pack?”

McKendrey smiled at her. “I’m a Marine, Ma’am; I’m always packed.” Of course you are, Isenberg thought. “By your leave, sir.” He saluted, and the commander returned it.

Gunny Thorns retrieved the PADD and said, “Let me fill you in on the way,” as she ushered McKendrey out. Isenberg also left, saying he was going to walk the ship. Five minutes later, Ensign Tillman excused herself for a head call; Lieutenant Maida thought the young lady looked like she was going to burst into tears any second.

The Gendarme left the star base right on schedule, with Sergeant McKendrey onboard. Fifteen minutes later, Star Base Control called and asked that the Magnum to expedite preparations and depart as soon as they were ready. Forty minutes after that, the Magnum undocked, with a re-composed Ensign Tillman at the helm and Senior Chief Guzman at her side. All seemed right with the universe.

~~~ ~~~~ ~~~

Last edited by Sgt_G; August 14 2013 at 04:29 PM.
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Old August 14 2013, 04:28 PM   #21
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Re: ST:TOS-era story: EVACUATION

Okay, I finally have the pieces in place where they need to be, so I can start in on some action events soon.

When I started writing this story, I didn't have a crew roster nailed down. A couple years ago, I finalized a complete list of ranks / rates and duty stations for a typical cutter crew. The normal crew complement is one hundred, give or take a couple. There are normally twelve to fourteen officers, four or five chiefs (one being a senior chief), about seventy petty officers, and a dozen of so "non rates" (junior enlisted below PO3).

I'm still filling in name for the ship in this story, but I have the officers done:

Crew of Patrol Cutter Magnum
Captain = Lieutenant Commander Thomas Isenberg
First Officer = Lieutenant Ryan Kingsley
Ops Officer = Lieutenant Ursula Maida (female Alpha-Centauran)
Science Officer = Lieutenant Benjamin Franklin Dupree
Intelligence Officer = Lieutenant Bin-Yi Xiong
Weapons Officer = Lieutenant-j.g. Patrick McShannon
Tactical Officer = on leave
Chief Shuttle Pilot = Lieutenant-j.g. Maes Roola (Andorian)
Shuttle Pilot = Ensign Stephanie Tillman
Junior Shuttle Pilot = Ensign Daniel Littleton
Doctor = Lieutenant Vincent Sullivan
Nurse = Lieutenant-j.g. Sarah (Jackson) Campbell
Engineer = Lieutenant Robert Campbell
Assistant Engineer = Lieutenant-j.g. Sheralin Naaz (female Andorian)
Chief of the Boat = Senior Chief Petty Officer Roger Guzman
Shuttle-bay chief = Chief Petty Officer Amy-Lynn Szczr
Engine Room Chief = Chief Petty Officer ???
Weapons Chief = Chief Petty Officer ???
Legalman = Petty Officer First Class Foster
About eighty crewmen, mostly Petty Officer Second and Third Class. Don't worry -- I won't try to name them all in this story.

Marine First Lieutenant Zychowski
Gunnery Sergeant Linda "Gunny Thorns" Hawthorn
Sergeant Arthur McKendrey
Corporal Ackar
Lance Corporal Jason Blueberry
Lance Corporal Porterfield
Private DeWitt
Private Jimenez
un-named very tall female seen on boarding action
At least nine more Marines: one or two Corporals, the rest Lance Corporal or Private.

Crew of Patrol Cutter Gendarme
Captain = Commander Yvonne Christensen
Ex-Captain = Commander Gonzales
First Officer = Lieutenant Pierre Faucheux
Operations Officer = Lieutenant Qiang Baku
Tactical Officer = Lieutenant William Dexter Stableford, III
Intel Officer = Lieutenant Jacob "Jake" Flynn
Chief of the Boat = (Senior) Chief Petty Officer Julie O’Hara
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Old August 16 2013, 10:03 AM   #22
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Re: ST:TOS-era story: EVACUATION

"All seemed right with the universe."

More ominous words were never spoken.

Glad you put together the crew manifest. Normally I don't care much for them but in this case, with the sheer number of characters popping up in this story, this is actually really helpful.

A few questions. Are the shuttle pilots the same as helmsmen here or are they pulling double duties? Also, and this may have been covered in the story and I missed it, how come nobody is filling in for the vacant tactical officer? Seems like a bad idea to go into a dangerous mission without a tactical expert. Lastly, while you are very descriptive on most everything, I was wondering what style uniforms the characters are wearing. Are they clad in standard TOS-like attire? While I would like to imagine your female characters wearing miniskirts, it doesn't quite seem to fit the military tone of this story.
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Old August 16 2013, 10:27 AM   #23
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Re: ST:TOS-era story: EVACUATION

Thanks for the feedback and interest.

Ensing Tillman's main job is shuttle pilot, but as a junior officer, she gets training in other jobs she'll need to know as she moves up thru the ranks. It's not like they fly shuttles all the time. Don't worry, she gets to fly one soon; if I don't change the story in my head before it gets on the screen.

The tactical officer is in charge of the tac-team, but the Marines are filling that role. The problem with losing the tac-team is it's mostly made up of boatswain's mates, people that can be put to work doing routine maintenance. About the only additional duties the Marines can fill is kitchen patrol.

Uniforms would be TOS, but with an option for women to wear pants (required for away team missions).
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Old August 17 2013, 05:20 PM   #24
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Re: ST:TOS-era story: EVACUATION

Okay, so the gun is loaded, so now it's time to cock the hammer.

Most of this scene takes place on the main bridge. Like most Star Fleet bridges, this is a round room. Unlike most starships, this one is embedded into Deck Three (the upper-most deck of the forward half of the police cutter), and at 6.5 meters diameter is smaller than the E's bridge we saw on TV. There's the main view screen in the front (12 o'clock), a turbolift in the back (6 o'clock), and doors leading out to the corridor to the left and right (9 & 3 o'clock). There are eight duty stations evenly spaced around the parameter. And of course, there's the center seat and the two-station navigation/helm in the center.
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Old August 17 2013, 05:26 PM   #25
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Re: ST:TOS-era story: EVACUATION

~~~ ~~~~ ~~~

“Good morning, everyone,” Thomas Isenberg announced enthusiastically as he entered the ward room, a small room set apart from the rest of the mess hall. The four other people eating started to stand up, and he waved them back down as he took a seat.

“Is that all you’re going to eat, sir?” asked operations officer Ursula Maida, indicating the commander’s coffee and pastry.

“I think I’ll hit the climbing wall in a bit, so I didn’t want to be weighed down.” He noticed the size of her meal, and remembered that she this was her dinner hour, as she had the night watch, and that she is an Alpha Centaurian and would easily burn off any extra calories. He envied her for that.

They ate in silence for a while. Lieutenant-junior grade Sheralin Naaz, an Andorian, had her PADD propped up by her tray. She was either reading some engineer’s technical journal, or yet another trashy romance novel. Ensign Littleton was stabbing at the remains of his food more than anything, and barely looked up from his plate. Ensign Tillman likewise seemed to be in no mood for conversation.

When the ensigns finished their meal, Isenberg gulped down the last of his coffee. “Walk with me, Ms. Tillman, if you don’t mind.” He didn’t use his ‘this is an order’ tone, but it was clear it didn’t matter whether or not she minded, he want to talk to her. The look he gave Ensign Littleton said ‘you’re not invited.’ They crossed the busy dining room and climbed a set of spiral stairs up two deck and began walking towards the bow of the ship. Once out of earshot of the crew, the commander asked, “Is everything okay, Stephanie?”

“Sir?” She tried and failed to mask her feelings.

He gave her a sideways glance and kept walking. “Well, maybe I’m just not reading things right, but there seems to be a bit of tension between you and Ensign Littleton.”

“Oh, that,” she relaxed somewhat, “He made ... well, how do I say this? I was going to say he made a pass at me, but that sounds like he used a cheap pick-up line on me. Daniel kind of asked me out.” Isenberg nodded knowingly. Privacy on a starship, especially one this small, was at a premium. There were a limited number of things a couple could do on a date. She read his mind, “Not that kind of a date, sir, just a movie or something. I turned him down.”

“And has he been pestering you?”

She shook her head. “No, sir, not at all. He only asked once, yesterday afternoon, and this morning he was apologizing to me when Naaz came in. He was really nice about it, although he seemed embarrassed. I don’t know whether he’s not used to asking girls out, or not used to rejection. At any rate, I wanted to tell him it was okay, that he had nothing to apologize for, but didn’t get a chance yet. I think he thinks I’m mad at him.”

“Well, okay. But let me know if he doesn’t know how to take ‘no’ for an answer,” Isenberg ordered, and then immediately reconsidered. “Actually, depending on how serious it is, take it up the chain. Don’t come to me first unless he gets physical.” She acknowledged him. “So, that happened yesterday?” She nodded. “Well, it just seemed to me you’ve been down in the dumps for the past three days, Stephanie.”

There was a bit of a pause. “I guess I have been at that. A friend of mine got off the ship at Star Base Thirteen. And I’ve been a little worried about the Senior Chief. Have you talked with him, sir?” That opened the door to the subject Isenberg wanted to broach.

“I have not. I figured he’ll come to me when he’s ready. You seem awfully fond of him,” he observed flatly.

“I am,” she smiled. “Wait, what?” She stopped and looked at him, “No, not like that, sir! I’m sorry if I gave you that impressing, but no. Oh God. You don’t think he thinks ....” She was appalled at the notion.

The commander was relieved. “No, I doubt it. So, then … what I misread as a school-girls crush, he’s just more of a father figure to you,” it was more of a question than a statement.

Tillman opened her mouth but no words came out. After a long few seconds, she said, “I don’t have a father. Well, I do obviously; my DNA came from someone, but I’ve never been told from whom.” She took a deep breath and let it out. “Yeah, I guess he’s like a father to me. Is that so bad, sir?”

“No, not at all. Just keep it professional,” he recommended as they began climbing another set of stairs up two more decks to the Deck Three, arriving about four meters away from the main bridge. There they found Chief Guzman and his new student, Ensign Littleton, already at the helm. Isenberg relieved Lieutenant Bin-Yi Xiong from the center seat, who then left the bridge after briefing the commander of their current status. Tillman sat down at the science/sensors station with Petty Officer Second Class Elizabeth McAllister.

Normally, the sensor and communications technicians worked in Auxiliary Control, down on Deck Six, because the chatter they created was distracting to the rest of the bridge. On long flights like this, they didn’t analyze every single contact, so having them on the bridge worked out better. Because of this, Isenberg didn’t know McAllister very well yet. She seemed nice enough; just an average looking woman in her late twenties, of average height and build. Even her reddish-brown hair didn’t stand out. She had a scar from her chin along the jawline to her earlobe; one would think that with modern medicine, she could have gotten rid of it.

After an hour of reading reports, Isenberg got bored. His conversation with Ensign Tillman wouldn’t leave his thoughts. “Chief, how is young Mister Littleton doing?”

“Not bad, sir. He remembered more than he said he would. For now, he can fly a straight line,” he winked with a devilish smile, letting the commander know he was kidding. “Tomorrow, I’ll take him back the emergency bridge and put him on some combat sims.” Tillman had already been thru those and scored very high marks. Guzman suspected Littleton would do nearly as well.

Isenberg nodded approvingly. “What’s say you and I take a break and have that private conversation you mentioned a few days ago?” He stood up, as did Guzman. The chief’s body language was one of resignation; he’d put this off as long as he could, but there was no escape now. “Ms. Tillman, you have the bridge. We’ll be across the hall.”

The ensign swallowed hard. “Aye aye, sir. I have the bridge,” she stated formally, not expecting to be able to say those words for several more months. “Sir, do I take the seat,” indicating the command chair, “or stay here?”

“Be wherever you think you’re most useful. I don’t know if this will take ten minutes, or two hours. Just yell if you need us.”

“Will do, sir,” she replied as she sat back down at the science station, “but I think the intercom might be better.” The commander chuckled at that and walked out with the chief in tow. After ten minutes, she moved over to the helm to check on Littleton. She could have configured her station to monitor the helm, of course. “Apology accepted,” she said in a low voice, “I’m not mad at you, Daniel. It’s just that my heart’s in another place. Friends?” He agreed and gave her a crooked smile. She checked on the other stations and then moved back to the sensor controls.

An hour later, the door opened, and the Marine announced the commander’s presence. He wasn’t quite as boisterous as Sergeant McKendrey. “As you were,” Isenberg ordered. He looked at the young Marine, “Son, you look like death warmed over.”

“Sir, have you ever been through de-tox?” He indicated he had not. “I don’t recommend it, sir.”

Isenberg took the center seat. “Anything of interest happen, Ms. Tillman?”

“Maybe, sir. We’re on course, same speed, warp-factor seven, same heading. But every once in a while ... there it is again!” she exclaimed.

Petty Officer McAllister shook her head as she manipulated the sensor fine adjustments, “I don’t see anything, Ma’am.”

The commander could see Tillman was frustrated and irritated. “I have the bridge. Put whatever you think you found up on the main screen, tactical view.”

The star pattern was replaced with a computer-generated grid. The blue cross-hair symbol in the center represented the Magnum. There were three green symbols, representing the LaMagne to Magnum’s left and slightly behind, the Gendarme ahead to the right, and the Mazza near the bottom right corner of the screen. They were all cruising at warp seven. There was a red circle behind and to the right of the Gendarme. “Five times now, sir, I got a blip in that area, as if we get a quick glance of something.”

McAllister gave the skipper that knowing, sympathetic look. “I’ve checked and double-checked, sir. I think it’s just a misaligned sensor panel.” It was probably nothing, Isenberg agreed, but he ordered her to run a diagnostic on the sensor array, which came back clean, and to keep an eye on that area. The petty officer stayed on the controls, with her student watching her every move.

Three times over the next hour, Ensign Tillman jumped to point at the blip, only to have it disappear again. Once, Isenberg thought he saw it, too. It was probably just the power of suggestion. He ordered the two of them to take a break because they were getting target fixated. That could be dangerous as one could easily lose situational awareness of other hazards.

After they left, Chief Guzman stood up and walked over to the science station. He kitted his eyebrows in confusion. As a quartermaster, his training was in helm and navigation, but to make chief he had to be cross-trained in many aspects of running a ship. Half the sensor controls were still on default settings. That made no sense to him, but McAllister was trained and certified, so she must know what she was doing. He shrugged. Any time he watched over Sahani’s shoulder, she was constantly adjusting everything. Maybe they had changed the default settings with the upgraded system, one that Sahani helped design. That must be it.

He sat back down and looked at the tactical display. “Sir, isn’t the Gendarme heading for Kzinti space? Look at her course.” The other ship was well left of the path to her destination.

Strange, thought Isenberg. He pinched his lower lip and contemplated the situation. “Please open a channel to the Gendarme,” he ordered. A petty officer, human male, appeared on the screen. From the angle, he must be sitting at the communications station. “This is Lieutenant Commander Isenberg of the Magnum,” he announced, “Is Commander Christensen available, please?”

“No, sir, I believe she is in a meeting. May I take a message?”

“Yes, please. Have her call me back at her convenience. I wanted to ask her about a book she mentioned.”

The communications tech acknowledged this and reached to close the connection. Chief Guzman piped up, “Is Chief O’Hara around? I need to talk with her about a personnel matter.”

“I believe she’s in the same meeting. I’ll let her know to call you.” And with that, he closed the connection.

“How rude,” Ensign Littleton observed.

Strange and stranger, thought Isenberg. After a minute, he gave the helm new orders. “In fifteen minutes, start a slow acceleration to warp-factor seven point seven five, and a slow turn to fifteen degrees to starboard. Not all at once; stretch it out over ten or fifteen minutes.” He pressed a button on the arm of his command chair. “Lieutenant Zychowski to the bridge, please.” He released the button, and pinched his lower lip again.

Less than two minutes later, the turbolift door opened. The Marine lieutenant exited carrying his gym bag, trailed by Gunny Thorns, who was wearing her P.T. uniform. “Good morning, skipper. And good timing; another minute and you would have caught me in my skivvies.” Ensign Tillman entered the bridge through a side door just in time to hear that. She blinked twice and shook her head; that was a mental image she didn’t need.

Isenberg ignored the comment. “Round up the troops, Lieutenant, and get ready for anything.”

The smile faded from Zychowski’s face, and he stopped twiddling the small object in his hand. “Aye aye, sir. What’s the mission?”

“I don’t know yet,” the commander admitted, “Maybe I’m just being paranoid. All I’ve got is a sister ship that appears to have drifted off course and a comm tech who’s not following standard protocol.”

“And a sensor ghost,” Ensign Littleton interjected. “Any chance that could be a stealth ship, like an Orion?”

Tillman shook her head, “No, I suggested that, and McAllister said the signature was all wrong.”

Zychowski had begun twiddling the object but dropped it at the word ‘Orion’. The Private picked it up and handed it back to his superior. “What is that thing you’ve been playing with all the time?” Gunny Thorns asked, somewhat annoyed.

“Oh, this? I don’t know for sure,” he showed it to Hawthorn and Isenberg, “some sort of German lapel pin.”

It looked vaguely familiar to Isenberg. “Why do you think it’s German?”

“Because of the note that came with it,” the marine officer explained. “Do you remember Madre Chavez of the freighter I was on?” Isenberg nodded; how could he ever forget her? “She slipped this to me with a note saying it belonged to the man I was looking for, someone with a fake German accent.”

The Private stepped forward. “May I see that again, sir?”

“Not now, DeWitt,” Gunny Thorns commanded, but Lt. Z. handed the pin to him.

Private DeWitt examined it closely. “It’s not German, sir, it’s French. It’s called a fleur-de-lis. One of the leaves is broken off, but I’m pretty sure that’s what it is.” He handed it back.

“Why would someone,” Zychowski asked rhetorically, “with a fake German accent wear a French lapel pin?”

The ship’s captain had a sudden enlightened look on his face. “I don’t know, but what about someone with a fake French accent?” He looked at his Chief of the Boat and could tell they had the same thought: Faucheux. He pressed the button on the chair’s arm. “Senior officers to the bridge.” He released the button. “Chief, initiate that course change now.”

Ensign Tillman looked at the Marines. “Your sergeant, McKendrey, is on the Gendarme, correct? Maybe you should give him a call.”

“That’s not a good idea,” Guzman interrupted. “The skipper tried to call Christensen, and I tried to call Julie O’Hara. If the El-Tee or Gunny tries to call the sergeant, it might look suspicious.”

She considered this, and then said, “I have an idea.” She asked for the pin, and then took a towel from the Gunny, sniffed it and wrinkled her nose, and draped it around her shoulders, covering up her uniform and rank insignia. She closed her eyes and took a couple of breaths, and magically transformed from a junior officer into a young girl who had been crying. She motioned the comm tech out of his seat and sat down. Making sure none of the others were in the field of view, she opened a channel. The same tech answered the hail. “Hi. I’m Stephanie. I need to talk to Arthur McKendrey, please. It’s important.”

“I’m sorry, missy, but I believe he’s in the gym.”

“Can you get him, please? It’s really important,” she begged.

“I can take a message, if you like,” the Gendarme’s comm tech answered helpfully.

“Nooo,” she pouted, “It’s private. It’s ... it’s a personal matter. I really need to talk to him, please.” She really laid it on thick. She noticed McAllister returned to the bridge. The petty officer entered from the far side of the room, fortunately, so she was not in view of the camera. She took three steps in and stopped as she looked at the main view screen, still showing the tactical display, and then hurried to the sensor station.

“I’m sorry,” and he really was, poor girl, “I can’t. But I’ll tell him you called.”

“Okay. I’ll call back in, say, twenty minutes. Okay?”

“Well, I don’t know,” the man replied. “You know how those guys are; they’ll probably be in the gym for an hour or more. Sorry.”

“Okay.” She clicked the connection closed and puffed out her cheeks as she exhaled. “Well, that was a bust.” Turning around, she saw everyone else was staring at her. “Four years of drama club,” she smiled.

“Award winning,” Gunny Thorns dry-panned. “It still doesn’t get us anywhere, Ensign.”

The side door opened; Lieutenants Kinsley and Dupree entered. A few moments later, Bin-Yi Xiong and Sheralin Naaz stepped off the turbolift. How Naaz could walk around reading her PADD and not run into walls was anyone’s guess. That gave Tillman another idea. “Gunny, did McKendrey turn in his PADD before he left?”

Hawthorn thought about it for a moment. “No, there wasn’t time. And I think he took it with him. Why?”

Instead of answering, the ensign pulled her data PADD out of the cargo pocket on the thigh of her pants. The comm tech informed her, “Ma’am, if you doing what I think you’re doing, they’ll be able to read it.”

“Then I’ll just have to write a message that only he will understand.” She typed for several seconds, and then showed the RapidChat message to the others.

“I don’t know what that means,” Gunny Thorns stated.

“He’ll know. At least, I hope he’ll know.” Tillman looked at Isenberg. “Sir?” He nodded ‘yes’, and she hit the send button.

“Will that work?” asked Zychowski.

“Yes. Maybe. I don’t know,” Tillman admitted.

~~~ ~~~~ ~~~
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Old August 18 2013, 01:42 PM   #26
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Re: ST:TOS-era story: EVACUATION

What's going on on the Gendarme? Very curious and very eager to find out.
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Old August 19 2013, 07:21 PM   #27
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Re: ST:TOS-era story: EVACUATION

CeJay wrote: View Post
What's going on on the Gendarme? Very curious and very eager to find out.
Ask and you shall receive. We now move over to the Gendarme. Sorry, I had to introduce yet another character.

My wife read this next post before I had type up the last two sections, and her comment was, "Looks like this *bleep* is going to get real."

After she read the last part, her reaction was, "Holy Crud Monkeys! I did not see THAT coming!"
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Old August 19 2013, 07:27 PM   #28
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Re: ST:TOS-era story: EVACUATION

~~~ ~~~~ ~~~

Marine Sergeant McKendrey sipped his coffee, black, while Second Lieutenant Eric Powers, his new platoon leader, went for a refill of his iced coffee. He was still evaluating the young officer. Green. Very green. But shows some promise. He and his twin sister Erica graduated college on the agro-colony Nova Ottumwa during a soft jobs-market. In order to pay off student loans, they both applied for Star Fleet but did not qualify. The Marines accepted them; they were smart, capable, and confident, just what the Marines were looking for. So what if they hadn’t taken courses in high-level calculus or three-dimensional trigonometry, and didn’t understand basic warp-drive physics? Star Fleet flies -- Marines fight.

So after ninety days of Officer Candidate School and four months of Basic Infantry Officer Course, Eric and Erica were assigned to Delta Company, First Battalion of the Fourth Regiment, known as “The Quarterbacks” because it was written as “D - 1/4 Marines”. It was a clerical error at Manpower & Assignments that kept the siblings together; someone thought Eric and Erica were one and the same person. The new lieutenants liked to joke they couldn’t wait to make O-4 so they could be “the two Major Powers.”

Erica was on the Mazza leading the Second Platoon, while Eric had the Third here on the Gendarme. McKendrey didn’t know about the other platoons, but the Third was almost as green as its leader. The platoon had five five-man squads, four of which were cohorts, and two of those were straight out of infantry school. They were still E-2 Privates, not due to make E-3 Lance Corporal for several more months, and their squad leaders were only Corporals. The other two cohort squads were composed entirely of Lance Corporals, all nearing the end of their first enlistments. McKendrey had one of these squads, and the other was run by the other sergeant, Reynolds. That man was a real piece of work. Lazy and totally useless, he made E-5 by the skin of his teeth on the third try. The Marines Corps has a strong up-or-out policy: fail to make rank after three promotion opportunities, and the troop must separate from the service at the end of the enlistment or upon mandatory re-assignment or one year after notification of non-selection, whichever comes first.

Four women, three Corporals and one Lance Corporal, made up the technical support squad. Only two of them measured up, in McKendrey’s opinion, and they were both married. He had nothing against women in the Corps; the ones in his platoon were every bit squared away and Gung-Ho as any of the men. Lance Corporal Petrovic’s mission in life was to find and marry an officer; Lieutenant Power let her know in no uncertain terms she should look elsewhere. At least she could do her job. Corporal Valentine was a princess, always needing someone to ‘help’ do hers. McKendrey wondered how Gunny Fields let this platoon get to be such a mess. Gunny Thorns’ words from three days ago still echoed in his head, ‘No good deed goes unpunished.’

His data PADD chirped. He read the message; it made no sense to him. Shifting uncomfortably on the bench seat, McKendrey wondered why the Gendarme used booths in the mess hall, instead of tables like on the Magnum. Ever the combat Marine, he noted that the person sitting next to the wall would have to slide across the bench before being able to stand up. That could be dangerous in an emergency. It wasn’t the only difference, nor the only thing he didn’t like, about the Gendarme verses the Magnum.

Commander Christensen was sharp. He liked her. Maybe even more than the Magnum’s captain, Thomas Isenberg. At first, Senior Chief O’Hara seemed like someone who had been beaten down and defeated, but that was quickly changing. He wasn’t there to see it, but he heard that immediately after officially taking command, Christensen told O’Hara that she was out of uniform. When the chief asked what was wrong, the commander reportedly said, “The Chief of the Boat is a Senior Chief’s job. The next time I see you, you had better be wearing the proper rank.” The rebuke was not aimed at the chief, but rather at the Exec Officer, Lieutenant Commander (select) Pierre Faucheux. Everyone knew he had forbidden her to frock, to pin the rank on before her official promotion date.

Now there was someone McKendrey did not like. Nobody did. The man seemed to go out of his way to make people not like him. Yesterday, the NCO heard one of the troop say, “Instead of a sleeping bag, they issued the Ex-Oh a six-foot prophylactic.” As much as he agreed with the sentiment, he had to put a stop to that kind of talk. The Private gave him some lip, so McKendrey ordered him to clean all the toilets in the gym locker room. Upon appeal to the platoon leader, Lieutenant Powers told the offender to “make them sparkle.” When the squad leader started to argue for his underling, the officer suggested that the Private might not have the proper training, so the Corporal would have to show him how it’s done. The rest of the Marines got the message, five by five.

McKendrey saw Lieutenant Flynn, the ship’s intelligence officer, talking to his platoon leader. If he had to use one word to describe Flynn, ‘unstable’ came to McKendrey’s mind. He wouldn’t trust the man as far as he could throw him. Then again, the man was skinny; the Marine could probably throw him a good five or six meters. As bad as Flynn was, he had nothing on Qiang Baku, the operations officer and third in command of the ship. Baku had a sleazy, slimy way of manipulating people, and used that ability to the full extent with Flynn. He’d shake your hand one second and stab you in the back the next. Where Faucheux would challenge Christensen’s authority directly, Baku would undermine it quietly.

Powers came over to the booth but did not sit down, so McKendrey stood up. “I’m wanted upstairs, Sergeant. As to what we were talking about, I don’t want to make any permanent changes until Gunny Fields gets back on his feet. However, I do like the idea of shuffling the squads. Maybe we can do it as a training exercise to test the theory.” He paused and looked around. “It’s almost lunch time. Don’t we have anyone scheduled for KP duty?”

“Yes, sir. They’ll be here any minute,” he replied, thinking but not saying, ‘if I have to go drag them down here.’ After Powers left, he sat back down and finished his coffee. Something didn’t feel right. He looked around. It was late morning, time for the afternoon shift to grab a meal before reporting for duty. There were only five other people in the mess hall. By the time he drained his coffee, his senses were on full alert.

He read the message on the PADD again. “Arthur, go to where we last spoke. About face, isolate second from the left, blue two reds blue green. I have news. Stephanie.” It still made no sense. He dropped his mug off at the scullery and started climbing the spiral stairs, intending to go up to Deck Two where the barracks was located. The only Stephanie he knew was Ensign Tillman. And the last place that they had spoken was over a week ago ... on the Emergency Bridge, when she showed his team some of the basic control systems.

He got off the stairs after one deck up and walked aft, through the common areas. There was nobody in the break rooms or in the computer terminal room. There was nobody doing laundry. What the ... there was always somebody doing laundry. With a hundred crewmembers to service, the eight machines ran 24 hours a day, every day. He continued aft to another set of stairs and climbed up another deck to Deck Five, and then turned aft through a tools storage area to get to the Emergency Bridge. Thankfully, it was vacant.

This control center duplicated the Main Bridge, but it was arranged differently. Instead of a round room, this was a wide rectangle. It had the same type of main view screen and center seat / helm as the Bridge. There were four control stations facing forward, two on either side of the view screen, and four facing aft. The message said, “About face, isolate second from the left.” He turned to face the back of the ship; the second set of controls was configured as the communications station.

He sat down and looked the controls over. Blue. Main power switch. On. Two reds. Two reds. He looked the board over. He found a red button on the left. It didn’t do anything. He found a second red button on the right. It didn’t do anything either. He pressed them at the same time. A message appeared on the screen, ‘Transferring control from Main Bridge.’ Another blue. Hailing frequencies. Open. Green. Transmit. He pressed it.

~~~ ~~~~ ~~~

Lieutenant Miada suppressed a yawn as she entered the bridge. She held the door open for the Magnum’s weapons officer, Patrick McShannon. Ensign Tillman noted that the entire command staff was now on the bridge; the only officers missing were Chief Engineer Campbell and his wife Nurse Sarah, senior shuttle pilot Maes Roola, and Doctor Sullivan. The turbolift opened, allowing Chief Szczr and Marine Corporal Ackar to add to the crowded room.

Gunny Thorns told the Prelarian corporal to go round up the troops. Lieutenant-j.g. Naaz asked the commander, “Sir, it is getting uncomfortably crowded. Do you require my presence, or may I please leave?” He told her to go, and she followed Ackar back into the turbolift, still reading her book. Tillman wondered if perhaps Andorians navigate with those antennae, like bats with sonar.

“Okay, we’re all here,” Kingsley stated the obvious, “Anyone care to tell us what’s going on?”

“Might be trouble on the Gendarme,” Iseberg said, indicating to the tactical plot on the view screen. “We’re trying to get a message to someone we trust.” Just then, the comm station beeped. Incoming hail. “Okay, hush, everyone,” he ordered and waved them to the far side of the bridge.

Ensign Tillman sat down, debating to herself, ‘do I just tell him, or play-act it?’ She knew the Gendarme’s comm tech could and probably was monitoring all traffic, so to just blurt it out would tip them off. On the other hand, if she play-acted it and McKendrey didn’t understand, she’d blow their one chance. She pressed the transmit button, and the sergeant’s face appeared on the small screen. “Arthur, it’s Stephanie. They figured it out.” She voice trembled in fear and anxiety. Part of that wasn’t acting; she really was concerned for him.

“Who figured what out?” he asked, confused. She could tell he swallowed the word ‘ma’am’. Good. He was as smart as she’d hoped.

“Your lieutenant and the commander. After you came back from that freighter, El-Tee Zee found this,” she held up the fleur-de-lis lapel pin, “and when he showed it to the commander, they figured out who it came from. Oh, Arthur, I think you’re in big trouble. The commander is okay with it, as is the chief, but I think Kingsley will want to lock you away. You understand, don’t you?”

McKendrey paused while he studied the pin. She hoped the camera had it in focus for him. “Yeah, I think I do. I’ll make it right with the el-tee, mon amour. He’s okay.”

She allowed herself a small smile. “Arthur ... just be careful.” The feed ended suddenly before she could add, “I love you.”

~~~ ~~~~ ~~~

McKendrey stared at the blank screen, his brain in full overdrive. Ensign Tillman was trying to tell him something -- something that she and presumably Commander Isenberg didn’t want the crew of the Gendarme to understand. Radio protocol forbids “talking around” a subject, but it also demanded no non-encrypted messages on an open channel. He knew that Zychowski was given something when they “arrested” him on the Santa Maria; it had to be that pin. He recognized it right away as a fleur-de-lis. When she named “Kingsley” as the one to watch out for, at first it didn’t make sense until he remembered Kingsley is the Exec Officer. And the Gendarme’s Exec, Pierre Faucheux, wears the same exact style of pin. By calling Tillman “my love” in French, he told her he understood the message.

But now what to do with it? By saying that the commander and chief were both okay with it, Tillman meant that he could trust Commander Christensen and Chief O’Hara. He knew he could trust, probably trust, Eric Powers. The rest of the troops would follow along, hopefully, but half of them were too green. After three second’s thought, he killed the main power on the control station. He looked at the blank screen again and wondered why she closed the transmission so suddenly; he had the feeling she wanted to tell him something else.

He stood up and took just two steps when both doors opened up. Two police force petty officers walked in, one male, the other female, and both had Type-II phasers in their hands.

~~~ ~~~~ ~~~

Tillman stood up and with a grin said, “He got it.” She took a side-step to her right, and then suddenly reached out and grabbed Petty Officer McAllister by her red hair. Viciously, she yanked the woman out of the chair, kicking her feet out for under her, spun her around and slammed her face-first onto the deck. As stunned as she was, McAllister managed to catch her fall and tried to push herself back up. Tillman dropped to her knees square onto the small of McAllister’s back.

“Hands! Hands!” she demanded as she forced the woman’s arms back. Something went skittering across the deck. “Cuffs!” Private DeWitt tossed her his set. Tillman caught them and quickly handcuffed her prisoner. She rolled the woman over and pulled her to her feet by the lapels.

“You didn’t think I’d see that?” she yelled, “Who are you working with?”

McAllister spit in the ensign’s face. Tillman slammed her forehead into the woman’s nose, doubled her over with a hard knee to the mid-section, and rendered her unconscious with an elbow to the back of the neck.

~~~ ~~~~ ~~~

Last edited by Sgt_G; August 19 2013 at 07:53 PM.
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Old August 20 2013, 09:26 PM   #29
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Re: ST:TOS-era story: EVACUATION

Okay, this *beep* just got real. And damn, Tillman, is a bad mother *beep*. I didn't expect that from the unassuming ensign.
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Old August 22 2013, 11:11 PM   #30
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Re: ST:TOS-era story: EVACUATION

Sorry for the delay. Dealing with a minor medical issue here. Gout is No Fun. If there's a way to inflict on someone, it would be banned by the Geneva Convention.

The fact that I have a set of deck plans for the ship in front of me and you, my readers, do not, makes my job harder, not easier. And no, sorry, but I cannot post these plans on the Web, for they will be published sometime in the near future.

At any rate, here's another 1600 words to the story. I wanted to get more written, but such is life.

Last edited by Sgt_G; August 22 2013 at 11:26 PM.
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