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Old August 1 2007, 05:55 AM   #16
Gibraltar
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Re: Chapter One

DavidFalkayn said:
This has the makings of being a very...tempestuous...crew dynamic here. Already we have a goodly portion of the staff not liking each other, the grizzled Master Chief challenging a time serving anal retentive Vulcan admiral to a duel, the other chief having gotten into a dust up with three junior officers, a Marine captain who doesn't care too much for Cardassians either, and a CO and XO who would rather be "somewhere else". Add to that a dangerous, sensitive recovery mission and you have the makings of a rip-snorting tale. Now, we get to see whether this group can salvage the Shepard before killing each other...
Wow, I think David summed it up quite nicely. Man, and I thought my crew was dysfunctional!!! And we have yet to discover what the mystery is behind this abandoned hulk. Why'd Starfleet let her drift for decades, and what's aboard that would prompt the Master Chief to challenge an admiral to join in blood-sport? Methinks we've just barely scratched the surface.
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Old August 1 2007, 01:40 PM   #17
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Re: Chapter One

A very interesting opening to your series.

There is much I can add to what David has pointed out. What I will say is that I was impressed with the depth you have given to Selak. He is a fascinating character and his history with Rexar just begs for more.
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Old August 1 2007, 04:36 PM   #18
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: Chapter One

Very good! You've definitely caught my interest. I'll just echo that you've put together an intriguing and, yes, dysfunctional crew. The mission is mysterious and Master Chief Arthrun definitely has a history with Admiral Selak, and not a pleasant one.

Keep up the good writing - I'm looking forward to your next installment.
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Old August 1 2007, 09:26 PM   #19
Dulak
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Re: Chapter One

DavidFalkayn said:
a Marine captain who doesn't care too much for Cardassians either,
David, Thanks for the feedback. You were spot on with all of it, except the Marine Captain. What she objected to was the Chief assaulting a Starfleet Officer.

When I said "As far as the Cardassian Ensign, he….”

Captain O’Connell cut him off sharply, “Did you say Ensign, as in Starfleet Ensign?” The dermal regenerator snapped off quickly, leaving significant swelling and redness untreated. Howard answered, also quickly, “Yes Maam, I believe it was a group of Junior Officers reporting here for duty assignment.”

Her face went serious as she shined a light into each of the Chief’s eyes, then away quickly. For the first time, she spoke directly to him, “Let me guess Chief, you’re here on orders to?” Chief Marconi winced as he nodded. “I would say it’s a fine mess you’ve gotten yourself into, but there’s nothing fine about it.” The Captain looked at Howard with a much cooler smile, “He’ll be ok in the brig till you figure out what to do with him. Just call me if he starts vomiting or flopping around on the deck like a fish out of water.”



I was trying to show her disapproval of the species motivated assault by her stopping treatment at possible risk to the chief and sending him back to the brig. She also joined the others in glaring at the Cheif when he entered the breifing room..

I just don't want you to be surprised at her actions in the next chapter, once the crew is enroute to the Shepard.



Gibralter.. who said anything about 'drifting?' Muahahahaha



CeJay.. Hmm, Selak just kind of popped out at me when I was writing. Guess he wanted a bigger part than I had originally given him. Interestingly, so did Chief Marconi, in a way I had not intended either.



Lone Redshirt.. Just how disfunctional remains to be seen



Thanks for reading everyone, thanks for the comments, and I will strive to keep your attention with future installments.
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Old August 2 2007, 03:19 AM   #20
DavidFalkayn
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Re: Chapter One

Thanks Dulak, yeah I did misread that bit regarding Captain O'Connell. It'll be interesting seeing how this crew holds up once the heat gets turned up.
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Old August 4 2007, 01:43 PM   #21
DarKush
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Re: Chapter One

Very intriguing crew and set up. I liked how you introduced them. That was neat. I also like how you've really given us a hint of a deep enmity between Rexar and Selak in only a few paragraphs.
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Old August 4 2007, 02:35 PM   #22
Dnoth
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Re: Chapter One

I can't add too much to what's already been said, but 'I'll be reading it!' :thumbsup:
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Old August 8 2007, 05:11 PM   #23
Dulak
Lieutenant Commander
 
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Chapter Two

OK, here it is. Sorry for not jumping right into the action, but still felt there is some stuff to resolve yet. Anyway, I'll probably take a few days to catch up on all my reading and back story of various people. In the meantime, enjoy. I've also got another idea for a vignette concerning Tara, the Green Orion Security Officer, for the August contest.


Chapter 2

Same Day, 2115
Starbase 214

Lieutenant Commander Ryan Ridgeway felt out of place. After Beverly Townsend had left him at the station lounge he had lingered, perhaps longer than he should have, considering his situation. Walking through the “working” part of the starbase was quite different than the passenger disembarking area where he had arrived. In fact, it was unlike anything he had experienced in Starfleet. This part of the station apparently missed out on the many upgrades and refits the starbase had undergone during its lifetime. It seemed to be of a low priority for even regular maintenance. It probably wasn’t a safety hazard, but appearance definitely was not a primary factor when work was done. The panels lining the walls seemed to represent every trend in Federation design in the past hundred years, often old and new next to one another. Colors did not match, dark panels butted against lighter colored ones. Some were even scarred from plasma leaks or what looked like phaser or even disrupter discharges. Power conduits, visible running on the outside of the ceiling and wall panels showed signs of being repaired. In some cases they were bypassed with emergency damage control lines pressed into service for far longer than intended.

Only two people that he had passed on his way to the docking hub had been in regular Starfleet uniforms. Coveralls were far more common. People actually gave him strange looks as he passed, as if something so bright and shiny didn’t belong in this part of the station.

Then he reached the ship, if it could even be called that. He almost missed the side passage leading to the docking berth because the designator numbers were so faint and smudged with something dark and powdery. Obviously not intended for cargo, the passage was not quite two meters wide, and just as filled with conduits as the bigger corridors. One of the two spacetight doors was blocked open by a damage control hose which bypassed a broken water pipe section.

Two questions bounced back and forth in his mind as he walked down the narrow access. First, how long had it taken things to deteriorate this much? Second, why had it been allowed to get this way.

The open access hatch to the Persepheron was unguarded. Ridgeway looked around for a second before stepping through it. The inside of the warp tug, while clean, also showed a degree of wear and tear that Ridgeway was unused to on any of the vessels he had served.

His footsteps sounding on the metallic deck plating, the Lieutenant Commander made his way forward, or what he guessed was forward. Ducking through a doorway he could only assume provided atmospheric isolation in case of decompression or fire; he wondered how people served for any length of time on such a vessel.

A figure in dirty coveralls rounded a corner ahead and walked towards him. The gruff Tellerite squinted at Ridgeway, made a sound he could only assume was a chuckle and said, “You must be the Commander I’m waiting for. I’m Chief Prak. This is my tug.” The Chief did not offer to take the duffel bag from Ridgeway’s shoulder. “All your other people are aboard. The ‘grand tour’ will have to wait until we leave spacedock. Chief Prak pushed a button on a small intercom panel. A double beeping tone sounded and he spoke into the box, “Bridge, I have the Commander onboard, proceed with underway detail.” A voice answered out of the small speaker, “Yes Chief,” and the box gave a single tone. Chief Prak looked at Ridgeway, “Follow me, Commander.”

A voice sounded over the ships address system, “Now secure all hatches and disconnect from all station services. Notify the bridge when preparations for getting underway are complete.”

Ridgeway followed the Chief through the narrow passageway. At one point they actually came to a steep stairway going down. Instead of walking down the stairs, the Chief grabbed the smooth handrails and slid down them. Ridgeway followed him down, walking gingerly down the steps. Disconcertingly, the Commander noticed that handholds were spaced at regular intervals on the walls and overhead. Were they a contingency for zero-G operations?

“Throw your bag in there. We’re going to the bridge.” Chief Prak pointed through a door into a closet to the left of the passageway. Ridgeway stepped halfway into it and slung his duffel off of his shoulder. Then he noticed a pair of narrow bunks, complete with bedding, against the far wall. A small metal sink, shower stall, and fold down desk with a single chair completed the décor. Ridgeway tossed his duffel bag onto the upper of the two bunks, noticing a similar bag already on the lower. He briefly wondered who his roommate was. Shaking his head, he stepped back out of his ‘stateroom’ to find Chief Prak already walking away down the corridor.

Ridgeway had to actually jog to catch up. Although he had a much longer stride than the shorter Tellarite, the Chief was walking at a quick clip, and had a head start. They walked through what Ridgeway assumed was the mess deck, although it sported only four small tables with six fixed swivel chairs each, and a series of replicators along one wall. Forward of the mess deck the passageway continued for another fifteen meters or so, before terminating in a ‘T’ intersection. A door was set into the far wall. Chief Prak walked up to the door and pushed a button in the access panel before it hissed open.

Stepping through after Chief Prak, Ridgeway saw that the bridge was as cramped as he had expected. What he hadn’t expected was the forward viewing area. While most starships utilized a single large viewscreen, the warp tug had five, set up in a + pattern with the four extra viewscreens. One sat above the central screen, one below, and one each to the right and left respectively, of the central screen. The center viewscreen currently showed the standard view to the front of the tug, but the others showed various views, one towards the starbase, another spaceward from the tug. Currently the top and bottom screens were displaying graphics of what looked to Ridgeway like various power levels and engine efficiency stats.

Chief Prak stomped over to a crewman in coveralls, A human with curly black hair above his tanned looking neck, seated at one of two control stations in the center of the bridge. “Davis, is this pile of Denebian slime devil dung ready to get underway?” He barked his question. Ridgeway was a bit taken aback at the brash demeanor, but realized that it matched that of most Tellarites he had ever encountered. The crewman, in any case seemed unfazed at the Chief’s tone, replying calmly “Yes Chief, all station services disconnected, all hatches secure. We have clearance to transit, flight path gamma.”

Chief Prak went from brash to genuinely angry in an instant. “Flight path gamma? Last I heard they still hadn’t cleared up the debris from that Ferrengi freighter last month, the one that had a plasma enema on final approach. Get me control, I don’t want to be dodging duranium bearings the whole way out.”

Petty Officer Second Class Davis, still calm, replied as he punched buttons on his panel, “Yes Chief, right away.” Then, speaking over ship to station opened a communication channel to the starbase, “Starbase 214 control, this is Warp Tug Persepheron.” The voice from control came over the bridge speakers, sounding monotone and bored. “Go ahead Persepheron.”

Davis answered, voice professional without sounding bored or monotone, “Control, I have Chief Prak here.” He had barely finished when the still irate Chief began talking over him, “What’s the idea sending us out on gamma? It’s still strewn with debris from that freighter explosion. Send us out on Delta.”

The reply came back, sounding a little more alert, “Hold on Chief, I’ll have to check on that.” By the way the Chief started pacing, Ridgeway could tell that patience was not among the Chief’s virtues. “What’s the problem Davis? There’s no traffic scheduled for two hours.” Davis merely shrugged his shoulders.

The laconic sounding voice returned to the bridge speakers, “Persepheron, flightpath gamma was inspected last week and cleared for traffic. You are cleared for transit via that route only.”

Chief Prak clearly didn’t have any spare points with station control. Resigned, he had Davis close the channel. Shaking his head, the Chief said to no one in particular, “Fine, but I’m sending you the bill if I hit anything.”

Regaining his composure he snapped at Davis, “Take us out on thrusters, bearing two-four-nine, zero mark fifteen.” Davis repeated back the command as he operated the helm controls, “two-four-nine, zero mark fifteen, aye.”

The tug bumped slightly as the docking clamps released with a clunking sound that traveled through the tug. The boats thrusters kicked in. Davis announced the obvious as the forward viewscreen began to show motion, “Clamps released, course two-four-nine, zero mark fifteen.”

Chief Prak waited several seconds before ordering, “Ahead one quarter impulse, and Davis, set deflectors to maximum.” Davis pushed a few buttons, answering, “Aye Chief.” An audible humming sounded through the tug as she sped up to the ordered speed. Davis hailed the station without prompt from the Chief, “Starbase control, Persepheron, we are clear from docking clamps and proceeding on flight path gamma.” The voice from control came back over the speakers, bored once again, “Control copies, out.”

They were underway, and soon to be headed towards the Shepard. Ridgeway wondered how much the Chief knew about their assignment, and then realized that he knew little enough himself. He remembered he had been planning on picking Master Chief Rexar’s brain once they were enroute, so he addressed Chief Prak. “Chief, where are the rest of my crew? I’d like to get started on some planning once we get settled in.”

Chief Prak looked at Ridgeway as if he had forgotten that the Commander was even on the bridge, “Planning? You’ve got three weeks, sir. I was hoping your engineers could help me out with some minor problems I’ve been forced to live with on this rust bucket.”

Commander Ridgeway laughed, hoping it wouldn’t be taken wrong as he imagined the kind of ‘minor problems’ the tug might be having. “I promise Chief, I’ll have my people help out in whatever way they can. For now, just point me in the right direction and I’ll get out of your way.”

Chief Prak turned towards the viewscreen, “Fair enough Commander. Just follow the passageway back to the first ladder going up. At the top of the stairs, take a right and then a left into the wide corridor. It leads directly to the cargo area. There’s some stuff there that Admiral Selak ordered stowed aboard prior to your arrival. All of your people except the Marine Captain seemed anxious to examine what it was the Admiral sent.

Commander Ridgeway pondered the curious sensation of being dismissed from the bridge by a Chief. No quick comeback entered his mind. Not wanting to make waves, he let it slide. Turning he walked out of the bridge and followed the Chief’s directions to the best of his ability.

The ‘cargo area’ was just that, no doors separated it from the rest of the corridor. It was demarked by a black line painted on the deck from wall to wall, with the word CARGO stenciled below the line and twin arrows pointing towards a wider section of the corridor. The area contained various crates, boxes, and most of Ridgeway’s assigned crew. Only Captain O’Connell and Chief Marconi were absent.

Folding his arms across his chest and leaning against a bulkhead, Ridgeway watched his crew. A grin grew on his face. So intent were they at opening crates and examining the contents that they failed to notice him.

T’Noor was helping Dulak and Arjal Brak lift a large piece of equipment from one of the newer looking crates. The three set it on the deck. Dulak pointed at the device and spoke while T’Noor nodded.

Ridgeway had decided to join in the inventory and had moved away from the bulkhead when the boat lurched noticeably and a metallic clunk reverberated through the superstructure. He caught his balance with one hand against the bulkhead as the others grabbed crates or just fought to keep upright.

Lieutenant Townsend looked up from the crate she had been examining with Tara, noticed Ridgeway and asked, “What was that Commander?” Before he could shrug, the tug lurched twice more. Each time a clunking noise followed a lurch.

Surprised that no alarm claxons sounded, Ridgeway walked to a wall intercom and pushed the button, “Bridge, this is Commander Ridgeway, what just happened?” The circuit opened and Ridgeway could hear Chief Prak swearing at the other end. “Cleared this flightpath last week? I’d bet my prickly porcine posterior they didn’t.” Someone far calmer than the Chief answered Ridgeway’s question, “Sir, the Chief thinks we just ran into the Duranium bearings that Station Control insisted were cleared out. There’s nothing to worry about.”

“Very well, thank you.” Ridgeway clicked off the intercom before walking over to Townsend and placing his hands on his hips, “Just some debris in the flightpath. I think they have it handled. What do we have here?”

Lieutenant Townsend shook her head as she answered. “It seems like we’ve got caseloads of spare parts for an Oberth Class Explorer, Mark One. Most of this stuff has been stored for decades. Pretty outdated if you ask me.”

Ridgeway decided not to mention that the Shepard might very well need these ‘outdated’ parts.

Townsend continued as she motioned T’Noor over to her. “On a positive note, it seems like we also have a portable holo-station and a bunch of data files on Oberth Class operation, maintenance, and repair.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Ridgeway noticed Master Chief Arthrun thumbing through some files on a PADD. Without warning, the Andorian hurled the PADD at a nearby bulkhead with a crack. “Brainless Intelligence lakeys!” Arthrun fumed.

Ridgeway walked over to the upset Andorian. “What is it Master Chief?” Arthrun shook his head. “In their infinite wisdom, the bureaucrats at Starfleet Intelligence have apparently deleted all files on the Shepard’s warp drive. They were deemed perpetually too sensitive for declassification.”

“But Master Chief, according to Lieutenant Townsend, we have extensive data files on the Mark 1 Oberth class.” Ridgeway replied, totally missing the point.

Master Chief Arthrun spoke slowly, as if to make sure Ridgeway heard what he was saying. “Sir, the engines on the Shepard were not like the ones used on the Oberths, or any other Starfleet vessel for that matter.” Comprehension started across Ridgeways face as Arthrun continued. “Those warp drive specs,” he said, pointing towards the portable holo-station, “are worthless.”

Ridgeway’s face got serious, “I think, Master Chief, that we need to have a talk. Lieutenant Townsend, if you would accompany us. The rest of you, see if you can get that holo-station working, and clear some area. We’ve got some familiarization to do.”

Ridgeway walked off in what he hoped was the direction of his ‘stateroom.’ Townsend and Arthrun followed him.

When they had disappeared around a corner, Tara brushed her green hands together, “Well, you heard the man, let’s get to work. If we’re lucky, we might even be able to finish without any more interruptions. The other junior officers nodded affirmatively and continued working.

USS Persepheron
Engineering

The engineering section on the Persepheron was, without a doubt, the largest part of the tug. The Persepheron housed impulse engines powerful enough to move a sizeable asteroid. She was also equipped with oversized warp drive systems, including a somewhat unusual variable-geometry, quad-nacelle configuration. Added to that were three tractor beam emitters from locations designed to give a high degree of load stabilization, and a complex array of semi-portable subspace field generators. The tug was a small vessel, but one with a big inertial punch.

Chief Marconi had arrived before the rest of his newly assigned shipmates. Not ever one with a large amount of patience, he had gone straight to engineering and offered his services. Marconi figured that if his new captain, ‘Ridgefield’ wanted to get a hold of him he’d able to figure out where to find him. The tug was a small vessel anyway.

He’d immediately noticed many of the systems were out of tolerance, at least by his book. He also knew better than to mess with another engineer’s configuration without first finding out why the engines were out of spec in the first place. For now, he just made himself useful making sure there were no wild fluctuations in anything, and familiarized himself with the engines. More thorough work would have to wait until they were well clear of the Starbase, and the crew had gained his trust.

Chief Marconi had a remarkably one-track mind. He spent no time dwelling on what trouble might be facing him because he had shoved that Cardassian Ensign. Truth be told, he hadn’t noticed the Starfleet uniform on the Cardassian until Tara had pulled him unceremoniously from the deck. No matter, until he was called on the carpet to face discipline, he simply thought no more about the matter.

As far as actually working with the Cardassian, that would be more difficult. Chief Marconi was not inherently a racist, but years of having friends killed and hearing stories of Cardassian atrocities had taken their toll on his enlightened tolerance. The freshest and perhaps strongest scar on his psyche was a meeting two weeks prior, with his brother in one of the many post-war hospitals set up on Earth. Ben had always been smiling and upbeat, but the hollow eyes and lackluster demeanor of the former Starfleet Ensign, one of the innumerous survivors of an unnamed Cardassian POW camp, proved he had been beaten finally, on the inside. That meeting was after six months of intensive therapy and treatment, when the doctors had actually deemed Ben well enough to have visitors. His mother had left in tears, but Anthony had actually been hardened by the experience.

An alert buzzer one panel to the left attracted his attention and Chief Marconi stepped to investigate. The forward deflector had been knocked out of calibration by the impacts several minutes ago. What made the situation worse was that somehow, a feedback loop had been started in the automatic power shunt, causing a larger than normal power drain from the deflector array in an effort to compensate.

The computer monitoring circuits should have caught this problem and fixed it before it even became noticeable. Chief Marconi made it a point to run some more comprehensive diagnostics once he had the chance. While the tug was still transiting to warp distance from Starbase 214 Marconi knew that Prak wasn’t likely to be in the mood to stop long enough to do a restart on the whole deflector system. Thinking quickly the Chief, who had spend more then fifteen years in and around engine rooms, decided to do a flying restart of just the power shunt in hopes that it would clear up the feedback loop.

Shutting down the power shunt was only risky if they hit something large, and Chief Marconi only planned on having it down for seconds. Besides, Chief Prak had temporarily slowed to a crawl while he made sure they were clear of the debris field. Marconi looked around. The First Class, supposedly in charge, was so busy flirting with a new dark haired Second Class that he hadn’t even noticed the alert buzzer on the deflector panel. Chief Marconi deftly bypassed the alarm signal that should have sounded at the loss of deflector power shunt power and proceeded.

Ten seconds later, an indicator light turned green and deflector power levels all read in the normal range. Chief Marconi let out his breath and walked away to check on other stations.

Unbeknownst to the smug Chief, when he had taken the power shunt offline, the deflector itself had flickered, for no more than half of a second. In that blink of an eye, an errant cylindrical bearing made from duranium, half a meter in diameter and a full meter long, drifted gently onto the surface of the deflector dish and lodged itself between two emitters. The deflector powered back up then, pushing several more drifting bearings out of the way.

USS Persepheron
Aft Overflow Berthing

The Persepheron didn’t have what was traditionally known as ‘Officer’s Quarters.” Most of the senior enlisted shared staterooms, if they could be called that, with one or two others. The junior enlisteds lived four to a room. Since she was not designed to be underway for more than a month or so at a time, this was deemed acceptable to its designers. Nine square meters of space seems a lot bigger on paper than it does in actuality. The designers thought on paper, the Persepheron’s crew was left with the reality.

On one of four bunks, the other three strewn with duffel and garment bags, Starfleet Marine Captain, and Doctor Shelly O’Connell slept soundly. Learning early on in her career to catch sleep when possible, she had never forgotten that lesson. Besides, after a tour planet-side treating casualties sent from more remote field hospitals and ships, being underway with the gentle hum of impulse engines was soothing. Now that the suspense of what her next assignment might be had been eliminated, she felt a certain sense of relief. The crew of the Persepheron probably wouldn’t start asking her to cure them of various ailments for a couple of days at least. Until then, she figured, there probably wouldn’t be much to do. The impacts against the deflector shield and hull hadn’t awakened her either, being nowhere near as loud as the anti-orbital fire she had learned to sleep through during her first tour aboard a Puller Class Marine Transport.

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Old August 8 2007, 06:59 PM   #24
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: Chapter Two

Excellent segment! I particularly liked the on-going character development and your attention to detail on the warp-tug. You provide a vivid sense of the close quarters and worn nature of the old work-horse. Chief Prak's personality is typical Tellarite, which you have portrayed very effectively.

Marconi does not strike me as the brightest bulb in the chandelier. His antipathy toward the Cardassians is at least understandable, but he seems to play fast and loose with rules - hopefully, it doesn't get anyone killed!

And the mystery surrounding the Shepard deepens! Just what type of warp drive did the ship have!?

Nice job! :thumbsup:
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Old August 8 2007, 10:01 PM   #25
DavidFalkayn
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Re: Chapter Two

You are doing an excellent job in fleshing out the characters here. I have a feeling Marconi is going to catch it in spades soon enough--he keeps going at the rate he's going and he's not going to be a chief for long.

And what is going on with the Shepard? This mystery continues to deepen.

A very nicely done part.
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Old August 9 2007, 01:58 AM   #26
Dnoth
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Re: Chapter Two

I am very impressed with your details and 'tech talk.'

Very well done.
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Old August 11 2007, 07:43 AM   #27
Dulak
Lieutenant Commander
 
Location: Pacific NW
Re: Chapter Two

TheLoneRedshirt....Glad you liked the tug. I was worried it was a bit over spartan with how sterile most of trek seems. Because of you, now I can keep it around a while.

DavidFalkayn....Actually, Chief Marconi hasn't been a Chief for long...he was a Senior Chief. He's definately going the wrong way on the ladder.

Dnoth......More tech to come, much more. I've always wanted my tech talk to make sense. It's going to be one of the most challenging, and fun things with the Shepard as she is a science vessel after all.

Coming Next: Master Chief Rexar spills the beans on the Shepard, which of course does not tie up everything in a nice little package, sorry. The junior officers have fun with a portable holo emitter station.

Thanks for the feedback..
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Old August 11 2007, 09:31 AM   #28
Gibraltar
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Re: Star Trek: Shepard

Dulak, I’m liking your crew as well as the old tug they’ve hitched a ride on. I get the impression Ridgeway’s a little overwhelmed with this posting, considering he was only hoping for a department head’s position and instead found himself squarely in the middle of his first command.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this crew meshes (or doesn’t, as the case may be) once they’ve actually located the Shepard and restored it’s systems. I’m also curious to see what the real story is behind this ship and it’s mysterious past. I’m getting a definite ‘Admiral Pressman / USS Pegasus’ vibe from this whole operation.

Great work, and I’m looking forward to more. :thumbsup:
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Old August 11 2007, 01:45 PM   #29
CeJay
Commodore
 
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Re: Star Trek: Shepard

I have to admit I'm slightly more indifferent towards all the tech-talk surrounding this mysterious assignment. I do however appreciate the work you put into it which helps to lend the story a feel of authenticity (as much as that's possible for pseudo-science)

It's the characters and the overall concept that has me hooked here. It is a great bunch of people you have brought together here and I'm fascinated to learn more about them as well as to find out the truth behind this mission.

I also like the setting. These guys appear to be stuck in a very cramped space for a while ... problems are guaranteed. And problems make for great drama ...

Looking forward to much more of this.
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Old August 15 2007, 04:09 PM   #30
Dulak
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Star Trek: Shepard; Recovery, chapter 3 (part 1)

USS Persepheron
Commander Ridgeway’s quarters

Ushering his XO and Master Chief Rexar into the cramped stateroom, Ridgeway wondered briefly if the Persepheron had some sort of briefing room. He remembered his quick trip through the mess deck, and conjectured that any meetings or training onboard would likely happen there. The mess deck was definitely not a private enough space for what they would be discussing. The cramped quarters at least had a door. It would have to do.

Ridgeway motioned towards the chair next to the small desk, “Master Chief, have a seat please.” The seating choices became rapidly more limited as the Master Chief sat. Lieutenant Commander Townsend took three steps across the room and sat on the bottom bunk. When she unzipped the duffel bag that lay next to her and pulled out a PADD, the mystery of whom Ridgeway’s roommate was vanished.

A mental objection played at the edge of his awareness. Based on years of tradition, the Captains quarters were separated from the Executive Officers quarters for safety reasons. If a ship took damage, the chances of both officers being eliminated at the same time were lessened. Then Ridgeway realized they were still in transit to his ship. In any case even opposite ends of a boat as small as the Persepheron would make little difference in an emergency.

Thankfully, the potential awkwardness of sharing living space with a veritable stranger, and a female at that, didn’t intrude on his awareness yet. Looking around futilely for a place to sit, Ridgeway opted to stand.

“Alright, pleasantries aside Master Chief. We have been in the dark about this assignment from square one. I’m afraid that our little heart to heart with Admiral Selak raised more questions than it answered. Since the Admiral wasn’t in the mood to sit around and answer them, please tell me that you can fill in the blanks.”

“I am hoping that somewhere in the data we have been given, something will be of help. But I do want to be ahead of the game when we start sifting through what Starfleet sent us. So what can you tell us about the Shepard?”

Master Chief Rexar Arthrun took a deep breath, closed his eyes and rubbed his eyelids with one hand before speaking. “I was onboard the Shepard for four years before she was refitted with an experimental warp drive. More specifically transwarp drive.”

Never one to be good at sitting until the end of a lecture to ask questions, Townsend interrupted, noting the look of disbelief on Ridgeway’s face. “If I remember my history correctly, transwarp testing was abandoned when the prototype drives melted down on the Excelsior? It was deemed a failed experiment. That was years before the Shepard was lost.”

Rexar shook his head. “I’m afraid I won’t be able to answer many of the big picture questions. I was only a Chief in Engineering at the time, and even a Master Chief doesn’t become privy to all the decision-making that goes on at Starfleet Command. What I was told during the refit was that upon careful analysis of data collected during the transwarp drive failure on the Excelsior certain scientists believed that the failure was not a design flaw but deliberate sabotage. It was decided to perform additional testing in full secrecy to lessen the chance of further tampering.”

“I think some design changes were also made. When we began helping with the refit, Commander Tolleson, our Chief Engineer started having us review the specs from the Excelsior. One of the scientists overseeing the install got into it with Tolleson, tried to chew him out for having some initiative. Apparently the scientist didn’t want us simple-minded engineers getting confused with different specs. As a result, we got to see the modified specs on the new engines during workups. They were quite impressive actually.”

Ridgeway pulled out of his shock, holding his hand up. “Wait a second Master Chief. Just let me catch up here. Just wait.” His brain was racing around a myriad of conflicting emotions and information. Questions poured in as well, each one only partially forming before another intruded. ‘Get a grip Ryan!’ He told himself. Ready or not, he was going to be the Captain of the Shepard. He knew he would need to be able to remain calm under much more stress than this. His control returned. “OK Master Chief, so the Shepard was a test platform for transwarp drive. Did it work?”

Master Chief Arthrun smiled, bitterly. “Yes, and no. We did a few short hops and the relative velocity was astounding. The onboard systems never gave an accurate reading but we made externally calibrated jumps to warp 19 plus.”

Townsend managed a surprised whistle, and then asked “I’m not really good at warp conversions, what’s that in modern scale?”

The Andorian didn’t pause long, he had done the calculations long ago, but immersed in the memory as he talked, he had inadvertently used the old warp scale. “….Um something faster than 9.985 in modern scale.”

Ridgeway cut in, “That’s almost as fast as we think the Borg can go, how did Starfleet ever sign off on just abandoning that technology, quirky or not?”

Rexar sighed, “Sir, I’ll try to answer that, but I think this chronology is important to us being able to successfully salvage the Shepard. Pardon my assumption but I think the most important thing here is getting the Shepard back, not why, ultimately, she was left out there.”

Ridgeway nodded, clearly still curious but willing to bide his time, “Very well Master Chief, go ahead.”

Rexar continued. “Between two of the tests, I heard the navigator complaining that he had expressed concerns about navigational errors creeping in, and that he was ignored. Apparently, someone had something to prove and wasn’t going to let a little drift while in warp mess things up.”

“For some reason things were different in transwarp and we were flying blind. The course had to be laid in before jumping out of normal space because the sensors didn’t function normally in transwarp. Then, even when he double-checked his calculations, we never came out quite where the navigator expected. None of that seemed important enough to stop, or even delay the testing, to those in charge anyway.”

“Then we did a longer duration test.”

Ridgeway still couldn’t help interjecting, “And ended up in trouble?”

Master Chief Arthrun chuckled, “You could say that. We were kind of puzzled when all the scientists left the ship after the last short duration hop. They had been taking readings and re-calibrating the engines up until that point, then they just left. To their credit it seemed like not all of them wanted to leave, but they were ordered off anyway. You can make what you want about that. I later found out that following the Shepard’s loss the scientists quietly went on to other work.”

Rexar noticed both senior officers fidgeting, intrigued but not wanting to wait through the minutiae before finding out what happened to the Shepard. So, they had no patience for a good story it seemed. Rexar grinned, pausing his narrative. “You want the long version, or the short version? There should have a copy of my debriefing down in the cargo area with the other records. It will probably have some details I have forgotten in the last sixty-five years.”

Ridgeway shook his head. “I think the short version will suffice for now. If we have any questions, we’ll ask.”

“The short version then, Sir.” Arthrun began again, telling the same story he would have in either case.

“We were in the Federation’s warp test corridor, near Alpha Centauri as I remember. There’s ten light years of the clearest space inside the galaxy. Deflector grids only get fifty or less micro impacts every hour at warp one.”

“The scientists had all disembarked, and the Shepard was going to do one final run that day, one light year long. It was only supposed to take an hour based on the Shepard’s transwarp speeds up to that point.”

“The run started normally. Everything seemed to be running smoothly, from Engineering anyway. Thirty minutes into the test core power readings started fluctuating wildly. Diagnostics showed that the nacelles were drawing variable amounts of power, yet power output seemed constant.”

“Commander Tolleson muttered something about ‘not enough juice,’ then called the bridge and asked permission to ‘open up the engines.’ Captain Clampett gave the go ahead and we gradually ramped up the core power output. Tolleson didn’t seem surprised when the power fluctuations stabilized and the ride smoothed out considerably.”

“The remaining fifteen minutes in transwarp were for the most part non-eventful, that is until we started slowing down. It turned out to be a good thing that Commander Tolleson was so interested in gathering data on the test runs. He wanted to get power gradient readings before we dropped out of transwarp. As soon as we had dropped power by fifteen percent the ride got rough again. By twenty it was straining the structural integrity field.”

“Lieutenant Commander Sanchez, the Science Officer, called down from the bridge, frantic. She said that some sort of ‘subspace wavefront’ had built up behind us, and dropping out of transwarp would likely destroy the ship.”

“Commander Tolleson had her send down the data, and we stayed in front of the wave for another three hours before figuring out a way to save the Shepard. It took Commander Tolleson another hour to convince the Captain that his solution was plausible, and the only one we were likely to come up with.”

To his satisfaction, Rexar noticed that both Ridgeway and Townsend no longer looked like they had to immediately get to the punch-line. Ridgeway even prompted, “So what was the solution?”

Rexar actually smiled, “We engaged the warp drive, pivoted around and cut the transwarp simultaneously, heading right through the subspace wave. The helmsman really should have gotten a commendation for that one.”

The incredulous look returned to Ridgeway’s face. “What do you mean engaged the warp drive? You were already at warp.”

Rexar nodded, “Of course, you wouldn’t have known. We were in transwarp. The Shepard was fitted with a tandem system so we could get around at normal warp speeds when not testing or using the transwarp. The warp and transwarp systems weren’t designed for simultaneous use, but Tolleson managed to hold them, and the Shepard together.”

Ridgeway remained confused, and Townsend wasn’t much farther up on the comprehension scale. “So, you were at warp, and transwarp at the same time?” Ridgeway asked.

Rexar thought for a few seconds before replying, “We may have been for a few microseconds, but then we lost power completely. The Shepard came out of warp just inside of a star system, doing a bit over full impulse, with nothing working.”

He was about to continue when a warbling siren sounded in the small cabin. At the same time a series of red lights started blinking in the light panel. The voice that came over the ships intercom only served to verify what the three were already thinking. “Red Alert! Red Alert! All hands to stations. Secure all interior doors.”
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