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Old September 18 2007, 05:02 PM   #61
CeJay
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Re: Star Trek: Shepard; Recovery, Chapter 5

Wow, you really do like your long and intricate sentences, don't you?

I liked the fact that your crew didn't react instantly to the Borg threat, or that when they did it was more out of instinct than collected thought. That's very realistic and makes sense considering these people's lack of experience with the Borg.

I'm eager to learn more.
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Old September 18 2007, 08:41 PM   #62
Dulak
Lieutenant Commander
 
Location: Pacific NW
Re: Star Trek: Shepard; Recovery, Chapter 5

In most circumstances I would have to say that I am disinclined to extreeme verbosity, however of late I find myself more so inclined do to the fact that upon my bookshelf I have rediscovered and indeed began reaquainting myself with the Sherlock Holmes stories and various works by authors of some antiquity.

And that can't help when writing Star Trek prose fiction for modern readers. I also find more time to write late, when tired. I'll try to edit my stories, but if you catch some specific examples..please by all means let me know.

If I ever want to hone my skills as an author, I believe brevity is important.

Elswise, I'm glad everyone is enjoying the story and has some part of his curiosity piqued.

Good Day
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Old September 22 2007, 08:18 AM   #63
Dulak
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Star Trek: Shepard; Recovery, Chapter 6

OK, I may have to rename this story Wheel of Recovery, with all due respect to the recent passing of Robert Jordan.

Seriously, if any reader is loosing interest in this story because it is getting too long without the recovery part, let me know.. Here is the next part.


USS Persepheron
Cargo Area

Lt. Jg. Tara made her way quickly to the cargo area, holding her newly acquired antique phaser aimed at the deck, but at an angle away from her feet. Of the two crewmen that passed her enroute, both had the good sense to recognize her as a Starfleet officer before making the mistake ogling the lithe green Orion female. The fact that the two enlisted personnel were a bit nervous at the prospect of being assimilated by the Borg assisted in their reserved demeanor.

The cargo area was secure and upon hearing the announcement of an intruder in engineering, Tara made a quick judgment call and decided to see if she and her Type II phaser could help with that situation.

Stepping into the engineering compartment a minute later, she realized she was too late. Master Chief Rexar Arthrun, the Andorian engineer stood, helping Chief Marconi to his feet. Ensign Dulak knelt, examining an inert Borg drone lying on the floor, while a rather muscular crewman with some sort of large tool over his shoulder walked away, seemingly with a purpose.

Even as Tara stepped towards Master Chief Arthrun, the Cardassian Ensign stood and made his way to an engineering console to help a crewman already there.

“Master Chief...” Tara started, but was cut off as the Andorian walked to a nearby com panel and pushed a button. “Bridge, Master Chief Arthrun here, engineering is secure for the time being, only one Borg drone appeared and it has been neutralized.”

The surly voice of Chief Prak answered from the other end. “It’s about time, we’ve had ours out of commission for almost ten seconds. What took you so long?”

Master Chief Arthrun ignored the prod. “Is the ship secure?”

As if in answer to his question the voice of Commander Ridgeway resonated over the ship’s all-call speakers. “All hands this is the.... This is Commander Ridgeway. Two Borg drones have been neutralized and the security threat seems to be over for now. I’m keeping the Persepheron at red alert until we are rid of the Borg vessel. I’ve ordered the armory opened and weapons disbursed to the security team. In addition, if you have any personal arms stored there, you are authorized to retrieve and carry them for the duration. Keep alert and report any more intruders to the Bridge immediately. Good work. That is all.”

The mic clicked off and someone whooped from the other end of the engine room. Master Chief Arthrun started to close the com circuit when Chief Prak spoke again.

“Ridgeway wants his crew to meet on the mess decks. Except you and Chief Macaroni, he says he wants you to get the deflector online. Have Thompson help you; he’s worked on it more than anyone else aboard. Better send anyone directly involved with sixing the drone too, Prak out.”

With that the Tellarite clicked the circuit closed from his end.


USS Persepheron
Mess Decks

A noticeably small contingent sat around two of the small fixed dining tables. Commander Ridgeway had left Chief Prak in charge of the Bridge and the Persepherons bridge crew manning all stations. Lieutenant Townsend, Captain O’Connell, Lieutenants Junior Grade Arjal Brak and T’Noor, had all accompanied him to the impromptu meeting.

Ridgeway wished privately for a briefing room as he paced, waiting for Ensign Dulak to arrive from engineering.

He didn’t have to wait long. Less than a minute later the Cardassian Ensign entered the mess decks trailed by Lieutenant Jg. Tara and a short, but muscular, crewman. The crewman had a large plasma-inductor spanner balanced over one shoulder. Tara still sported the old type II phaser she had carried from the bridge.

Ridgeway leaned forward with his palms on the surface of a table and was about to speak when the mess decks intercom buzzed and Chief Prak’s voice carried through it.

“Commander Ridgeway, Davis just finished the level four diagnostics on the subspace transmitter and it’s down like you suspected. As soon as we can spare someone from engineering I’ll get him working on it.”

Ridgeway walked to the com panel with a slight limp, punched the button and answered the Chief. “I’m sending Ensign Dulak up Chief. I don’t want to wait any longer than we have to until sending that distress call. It may seem like everything is under control for the time being, but I’d really like some backup in case the tables turn.”

When he answered, the Tellarite sounded relieved, or at least as relieved as a Tellarite would let on. “If that’s what you want Commander, anything else?”

Ridgeway sounded a bit puzzled as he answered. “No Chief, that will be all. You called me, remember?”

“Oh right I did. Prak out.” The com panel went dead and Ridgeway went back to his meeting.

“Dulak, before you head to the bridge, did you notice anything strange about the Borg drone? According to Captain O’Connell, the drone that materialized on the bridge didn’t have any nannites and only implanted one of the crewmembers with a tracking device instead of assimilating her.”

Dulak cocked his head slightly and replied, “I didn’t have much time for a formal examination Commander, but I did notice that it looked somehow more ‘primitive’ than the Borg in the Starfleet database.”

O’Connell chimed in, “I concur sir, primitive is as good a term as any to describe those drones. The injection technology used on Petty Officer Shelton was significantly less advanced than the flexible tubules used by the Borg to inject assimilation nannites.”

Looking at the Cardassian Ensign, O’Connell prompted, “Did you notice anything else Dulak?”

Dulak nodded, “Other than a general decrease in engineering complexity of its cybernetic implants, I noticed that the living tissue next to the implants seemed inflamed. The redness and swelling was not reported on any Borg studied previously.”

Dismissively, O’Connell attempted to correct Dulak, “That wouldn’t have been covered in the engineering studies and data, Ensign.”

Dulak smiled but kept his tone neutral. “Doctor, I was referring to the medical reports in that instance. When I went through my unit on the Borg at the academy it seemed limiting to only look at the purely engineering based data, considering how the Borg are cybernetic organisms.”

O’Connell smiled, promising herself to never underestimate the engineer again. “Nice work, Dulak. I’m glad to have you with us.”

“Thank you, Doctor.”

Ridgeway broke the moment, “Dulak, I think that’s enough for now. Why don’t you go see about that subspace transmitter?”

Dulak nodded, “Aye sir, I’m on it,” and walked away towards the bridge.

Crewman Kellis watched him leave and leaned casually against a support column, content to wait to be addressed.

Drawing in a breath to begin speaking, Ridgeway coughed in surprise when another crewman he hadn’t seen before came walking through the mess decks. She was carrying, as near as he could figure, a Thompson sub-machine gun, complete with the requisite round drum-magazine.

For a second Ridgeway reconsidered his statement about releasing personal arms from the weapons locker, then he remembered why he did it in the first place. “Do you know how to shoot that?”

The crewman stopped in place and actually rolled her eyes before replying, “Dis pea shootah? Of coase I doose.” In demonstration, she slung the gun up and grabbed the forward grip in her left hand before sweeping the gun back and forth towards the back bulkhead, making a ‘rat tat tat’ sound in emulation of a projectile machine gun with a slow rate of fire.

Seeing the stunned look on Ridgeway’s face, the crewman laughed and continued on her way. As she walked off Ridgeway noticed how her short blonde hair was bobbed at an angle in an outrageously archaic hairdo. It fit perfectly with the pictures he had seen of the time period on Earth when the Thompson was a popular weapon. At least she hadn’t been in the process of chewing gum.

Kellis noticed Ridgeway’s surprise and, as if it explained everything, said, “That’s Parker. She’s Iotian.”

Struggling to maintain focus, Ridgeway wished for the second time in several minutes for a briefing room. “What we have here seems to be a mostly disabled Borg vessel from a somehow more primitive version. That’s the good news.”

“The bad news is, since the Persepheron is unarmed, they probably have us outgunned. Hopefully the supply of Borg drones is limited and they have decided to divert their efforts back to escaping our tractor beams.”

T’Noor raised her hand, a gesture straight out of the academy, but one that had its desired effect. Ridgeway acknowledged her question. “What is it Lieutenant?”

“Sir, I was unable to get an accurate reading on the number of Borg still on the damaged vessel. It would be illogical to conjecture concerning the quantity of drones.”

Ridgeway smiled, “Quite right Mister T’Noor, which is why I want to send over a boarding party to investigate.”

Lieutenant Beverly Townsend spoke up, obviously shaken up by Ridgeway’s statement. “That’s insa.. You can’t be ser..” She had to cut herself off several times as she searched for words that wouldn’t sound so insubordinate, but she still wasn’t quite used to the idea of Rdigeway being her CO. He was only a few years her senior and Townsend was used to Captains being ‘seasoned’ Starfleet officers.

“Sir, we still don’t have communications. No one knows we have even encountered the Borg. The deflector is down. One of the Persepheron’s crew has already been attacked and injured by a Borg raiding party. All of this is happening while we are going warp three and pushing a damaged Borg vessel in front of us as a makeshift deflector shield.”

Townsend held up her hand, palm towards Ridgeway as she took a deep breath in attempt to calm herself. “And now you want to risk members of this crew to satisfy your curiosity?”

As soon as the words left her mouth she regretted them. Townsend knew she had gone too far. “I’m sorry sir, that was out of line. It’s just...”

Ridgeway interrupted, “It’s a valid question Lieutenant.” Ridgeway looked at each of his future crew seated at the table. “I want each of you to know that at any briefing I am holding, you may assume permission to speak freely. That being said, I would appreciate if you would not abuse that privilege and try to keep your comments constructive and avoid purely emotional outbursts.”

He noticed that T’Noor raised an eyebrow when he mentioned emotional outbursts. Smiling briefly, he continued, quickly becomming serious. “So, to answer your question Lieutenant, No, I do not want to risk the lives of anyone onboard Persepheron to satisfy my curiosity. Unfortunately, we have encountered Borg unlike any ever seen before by the Federation. Believe me, part of me wants to ditch that ship into the nearest star and be done with it.”

“But I cannot, in clear conscience, pass up the opportunity to discover, or at least try to discover, why that ship is here, why the Borg on it are so different, and if there are more like it headed towards the Federation.”

“I’m not going into a history lesson, because I am sure all of you are aware that the Federation has just been through two of the most costly wars in its existance. One of those was with the Borg. If there is the slightest chance that this isn’t just an anomaly, isn’t just a lost and forgotten piece of a centuries-old derelict, and is instead part of a new invasion force, then our inaction could prove a far greater threat to the Federation than any risk to us caused by our actions here.”

A subdued Beverly Townsend asked quietly, “Who are you taking on the away team?”

Ridgeway shook his head. “I’m not leading the team, you are.”

Shocked, Townsend managed to blurt, “But I’ve never even seen a Borg before today, other than holodeck simulations.”

Putting just a little edge to his voice, Lieutenant Commander Ridgeway assumed more of a command presence. “To the best of my knowledge, no one aboard the Persepheron, myself included, has actually been onboard a Borg vessel. In that respect, everyone is in the same boat. The only thing that makes me any different, Starfleet protocol against commanding officers going on away missions not withstanding, is that I had a starship blown out from under me by the Borg at Wolf 359. As contrary as it may seem, that makes me more valuable on the bridge of the Persepheron in the event of any more ship level activity.”

Townsend, having regained her composure somewhat, asked “Who’s on my team?”

Ridgeway didn’t ask for volunteers, but all four other officers seated at the briefing raised their hands. Great, Ridgeway thought to himself, now I have to worry about not letting someone go on this away mission.

“I think we should keep this away team small to avoid problems. Hopefully these Borg will follow the pattern of prior reported encounters and ignore anything that seems to pose no threat. I’m assigning Ensign Dulak to the team. His job will be to interface with the computer systems onboard the vessel and record any pertinant data recoverable in a limited time frame, say five or ten minutes.”

“Other than that, Lieutenant Tara will go as security. I expect you to use force only if the situation turns dire. If you actually engage the Borg, Tara, your only mission will be to get you and the team out in one piece.”

“Any larger group than that, and I think they might perceve it as a threat. Oh, and Lieutenant, your other job will be to scan as much as possible with your tricorder for later analysis.”

“Captain O’Connel, Lieutenant T’Noor, Lieutenant Brak, I think you all would be more valuable here. Brak on the helm, T’Noor on the sensors. We’re going to have to drop out of warp to transport, and I want the Borg ship monitored closely for any sign that it is regenerating. Captain, just in case we get casualties..”


USS Persepheron
Bridge

Ensign Dulak stepped onto the bridge, looking around curiously. “Commander Ridgeway sent me to help repair the subspace transmitter,” he said to no one in particular.

A hand waved from underneath one of the bridge consoles. Dulak, puzzled, walked over and peered at the prone figure partway inside the open access panel. “Are you trying to fix the transmitter? I would like to look at whatever diagnostics you have run so far, if they are available.”

Another hand, holding a mag-wrench, reached out and grasped the top of the console and the crewman heaved himself out from his position inside. Standing, he started to brush off and straighten his coveralls, but as he saw the Cardassian his hands slowed to a crawl.

“I didn’t know there were any Cardassians in Starfleet?” Dulak had to give the man credit. Most people just went around looking slightly uncomfortable with the question unasked. His candor was actually refreshing.

Dulak smiled, his eyes widening slightly, “I assure you, I come in peace. There are two of us, I believe. A female is currently in her second year at the academy, an orphan from Bajor as am I. But there will be time to chat later, I think we should focus on getting that transmitter up or we might find ourselves having this conversation in Borg machine-code.”

The joke went over Davis’s head, but he attempted a polite chuckle anyway. “OK, here’s those diags.” Davis reached over to the console and punched up the level four and level five diagnostics he had run.

Dulak looked at them for less than a minute before commenting. “I think the problem may be in the signal encoder, or possibly the transceiver buffer. We should close up here and run a level three diagnostic. We can check the results from the equipment room.”

Davis looked at Chief Prak, “Chief, the Ensign seems to know what he’s talking about. I’d like to go down with him and check it out.”

Chief Prak didn’t even look up from his tractor beam controls. He just barked, “Bah, what are you asking me for, get going.”

Davis started closing up the access panel when Chief Prak made it apparent he was paying attention to his bridge. “Still here? I’ll have someone else do that, run your level three and scram.”

“Aye Chief.” Davis answered, already punching in the diagnostic codes from the panel. He motioned for Dulak to follow him out the door, and walked quickly off the bridge.


USS Persepheron
Engineering

Master Chief Arthrun looked at Chief Marconi and nodded. “Alright Chief,” he allowed himself a slight grin at Chief Prak’s likening Marconi to an Earth-style pasta, but that was all. “We’ve got a new assignment, I’m sure you heard. Let’s get to it. Petty Officer Thompson, do you have someone who can relieve you at the tractor beam station?”

The crewman nodded and called out, “Richelieu!” From around a corner a crewman answered “What?” in a nasally voice.

“Get over here, I need to you to watch this panel.”

Around the corner walked the skinniest Bolian Master Chief Arthrun had seen in his decades in Starfleet. So far, the diverse nature of the crew went a long way to explain why not much fuss had been made about the four non-human members arriving enroute to the Shepard. How a blue skinned Bolian had ended up with a name like Richelieu, the Master Chief had no clue, but he dismissed that question as trivial.

“What am I watching Thompson?” The Bolian asked.

“Nothing much, just these three tractor beams we have hooked onto the Borg ship that wants to assimilate us. Chief Prak is up on the bridge making some wild adjustments to the power levels from there. All you have to do is keep them from red-lining. Can you handle it?”

Despite the threat of the Borg, Richelieu seemed cool and collected, almost relaxed. “No problem PO.”

Thompson took a few seconds to point out some of the more common adjustments Chief Prak was making and how he had been compensating for them. The Bolian nodded and Thompson stepped away, relinquishing the controls.

“Alright Master Chief, let’s fix us a deflector.”

While his grammar left something to be desired, the intent was correct. Master Chief Arthrun nodded at both Thompson and Marconi. “Let’s fix us a deflector,” he repeated.
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Old September 22 2007, 12:52 PM   #64
DavidFalkayn
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Re: Star Trek: Shepard; Recovery, Chapter 6

Don't worry about your story being too long. Let it proceed at its own pace--the worst thing you can do is to try to force it into something it isn't. You have a lot of characters and a complex situation--it's going to take a novella/novel length story to tell it. Brevity is important--but so also is properly building up your world and painting a good picture. One of the reasons why authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle and H.P. Lovecraft frequently come across as flowery today is because they were providing the sensual cues in their story that we take for granted in this age of television, CGI, and internet.

Turing to the story now: What we got in this part is some good insights into the character of Ridgeway--how his mind operates and how he's going to turn out as captain. We also got some more character work on Dulak. My main critique here is that you need to give him some flaws and maybe a degree of uncertainty--I think sometimes he comes across as a bit too confident and self assured for a fresh minted ensign--and one from a rather unpopular race to boot. I like the mystery of the 'primitive' Borg and am looking forward to some good insights on Townsend and Tara in the next chapter when they board what's left of that Borg vessel. You've got a good story here--like I said earlier, let it proceed at its own pace and don't sweat the length--we'll be happy to stick around for the ride.
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Old September 22 2007, 04:46 PM   #65
Dnoth
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Re: Star Trek: Shepard; Recovery, Chapter 6

^Agreed. Write your story for you. If any of us enjoy it, that's just a happy side effect.
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Old September 22 2007, 05:13 PM   #66
Dulak
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Location: Pacific NW
Re: Star Trek: Shepard; Recovery, Chapter 6

David, interesting observation on Dulak. In fact one of his flaws is in fact his strong desire to seem confident and self assured. Not in the wimpy, irritating way of a Benzite, but in the more behind the scenes way more typical of Cardassians. Not to give away too much, but wait till he get's in over his head. He is very good at certain things, due to early Cardassian mental training... but definately not infallable.

Glad you are enjoying the story..
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Old September 23 2007, 03:31 AM   #67
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: Star Trek: Shepard; Recovery, Chapter 6

Not much I can add to the above comments except to say you're doing a great job with this story. I'm enjoying it immensely!
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Old September 23 2007, 12:32 PM   #68
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Re: Star Trek: Shepard; Recovery, Chapter 6

Another great addition.

I would like to pick up on something David has mentioned. You made the concious decision to write this story with a cast of mostly inexperienced or at young officers and NCO's. I like that very much as it gives you the great opportunity to create not so flawless characters and have them learn and gain invaluable experience as the story progresses. I would love to see more of that.

This isn't a criticism. I like where this is going and as always am looking forward to more.
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Old September 25 2007, 01:33 PM   #69
Dulak
Lieutenant Commander
 
Location: Pacific NW
Star Trek: Shepard; Recovery, Chapter 7 (Part One)

USS Persepheron
Forward Equipment Room

Although officially designated a “room” the cramped space holding various components of the subspace transmitter and other electronic gear was little more than a cramped jeffries tube. On the Persepheron, where space was at a premium, one might even be able to say a little less than a cramped jeffries tube.

Almost six meters long, it was almost a meter and a half wide, and barely a meter tall in places. In two locations, pieces of equipment stuck down far lower than the overhead, making crawling necessary to get past them.

Davis was not fond of working in the small area, and allowed Ensign Dulak the privilege of entering first, and having to push the small tool case in front of him.

The designers had not even seen fit to install even a minimum LCARS control station at this remote location and Ensign Dulak looked about futilely for several seconds before Davis rescued him.

“Sir, there’s a portable control PADD in the tool case. It plugs into the interface on the left of that signal conduit.”

Dulak searched for another second before Davis spoke again. “It’s under a two centimeter flap guard. Here, I’ll show you.”

Davis crawled beside Dulak, who had the sense to open the tool case and retrieve the specially modified PADD and find the small jumper lead that fit into the access port. As Dulak powered up the PADD, Davis reached over and took the lead end and plugged it into the interface he had spoken of. “There, do you have the control screen?”

“Got it. I’ve never seen this configuration before.”

Davis laughed, “I’m not surprised Sir, most of the line ships have room to spare. I remember most of the equipment at engineering school is in big open spaces, plenty of room for a class to stand around and watch demonstrations, that sort of thing.”

It was Dulak’s turn to laugh. “I even did my cadet cruise on a Nova Class. I guess I never thought there’d be a reason to build a starship so cramped.”

Davis reached over, punched a few controls on the PADD touch screen and said, “Persepheron’s not a starship, remember, it’s only designed for relatively short term operations. I don’t even know how we got picked to go on this six-week mission. The longest we’ve been out before this is a week and a half. Most of the time we pull double duty as a regular starbase tug in local area to the starbase.”

Dulak did his best to shrug while leaning on one elbow. “I’m beginning to think everything isn’t going to be quite like they taught at the academy.”

Davis turned the PADD slightly so he could get a good look at the readout. Grinning as if at some private joke, Davis replied, “I wouldn’t know about that Sir, but things are definitely different than the Starfleet recruiter told me they’d be.”

“There, the level three is done. Here, take a look at this Sir.” Davis pushed the PADD around so Dulak could read the screen. Dulak looked at the screen and frowned.

“I don’t understand. It indicates the decoder on the bridge. The level four and five indicated eighty percent chance that the problem was down here, and only a twenty percent it was the decoder.”

Davis explained, patiently, “It did Sir, but if you’ll notice each diag listed different causes. Granted, both of the highly probable failures were here in the equipment room, but the percentages were so far off for each, it really was highly unlikely that the problem was down here.”

Dulak remained puzzled as he asked, “So why didn’t you tell me that on the bridge?”

Davis unhooked the PADD, saying “Mostly I just wanted to get off the bridge for a while, but also Chief Prak would have chewed me a new one if I’d openly questioned an officer in front of him, especially an Ensign.”

“Really, why is that? It wasn’t like I was giving you an order.”

Davis shook his head, “Sometimes Chiefs can be a bit overprotective of new ensigns.”

Dulak’s tone remained amiable, but he remembered to add Davis’s rank into his question. “Petty Officer Davis, what makes you think I am a “new” ensign?”

Grinning, Davis answered, “It’s your duffel bag Sir, it’s still got academy creases on it.”

Dulak laughed as he started backing out of the enclosed space. “You should have gone into Starfleet Intel with observational skills like that.”

The suddenness and intensity of Davis’s response surprised Dulak. “Hell No! I mean, Hell No, Sir.... Um, no sir. It’s just that my mom did twenty-seven years with intel, and...

Dulak interrupted the crewman, sympathetically, “No, no, I’m sorry, you don’t have to explain. Let’s get back to the bridge.”

The two scooted back out of the crawl space and Davis secured the hatch back in place.

USS Persepheron
Aft Overflow Berthing

Lieutenant Beverly Townsend stood, slightly stooped, and in front of the small mirror bolted to the bulkhead over the equally small sink. In the middle of braiding and tying up her wavy blond hair she managed to carry on a conversation with Lieutenant Commander Ridgeway, who was seated on one of the bottom bunks.

“I can understand why you want to keep the team small, but do you really think sending Ensign Dulak is a good idea? He probably graduated last week. T’Noor seems level headed, and she could probably pull off the computer interface. Either her or one of the two Chiefs. I’m sure, troublemaker or not, Chief Marconi probably has more experience, and Master Chief Arthrun seems savvy enough.”

Ridgeway almost lost his train of thought as he watched the pretty Australian’s fingers deftly braid her hair so that it wouldn’t get in the way on the Borg vessel. He shook his head, realizing that he was getting tired. Luckily, she probably just thought the pause was him thinking of an answer to her question.

“Beverly,” Ridgeway started, and was rewarded by a quick flash of her green eyes and a smile as she looked at him briefly. He continued, “You haven’t read his file, have you?”

“Read his file?” She asked, incredulous. “We only found out about this assignment yesterday, and haven’t had what I’d call a heap of free time since.”

Ridgeway nodded, “One of the benefits of being a CO, we don’t need as much sleep, hence more time for reading personnel files and the like.”

Townsend looked at Ridgeway and grinned sympathetically, “Yeah, I can tell you don’t need as much sleep. Well, what’s in his file that’s so impressive?”

“A couple of things,” Ridgeway elaborated. “First, did you know that most Cardassians have eidetic memories, or close to it?”

“Eidetic, you mean ‘photographic’?”

“Well, that’s the common terminology, not precise, but fairly close. Let’s just say that Mr. Dulak has a very good memory.”

Townsend shrugged, “So, what does that have to do with the academy?”

Ridgeway continued, “By itself, not much other than he probably didn’t have to study much for tests. But he’s also smart, and has quite an aptitude for computers. He challenged the normal first year computer course, and aced the test. They let him do graduate level coursework in computer operations and engineering while maintaining the rest of his normal course load.”

“So he’s no dimwit, what else?”

Ridgeway chuckled, “You want more? OK. His practicum coursework on ’The practical applications of multi-base self-programming machine code: Interfacing with alien technology’ was practically a doctoral thesis. Starfleet clamped a security classification on the document.”

Townsend asked, “So why wasn’t he grabbed up by some think tank, or science facility?”

Ridgeway shook his head, “The short answer is he turned them all down. There’s a list of assignments his detailer offered him. Dulak wanted to go to the fleet.”

Townsend quipped, a little sarcastically, “Well, that makes Dulak a bonzer prize for the Borg then, doesn’t it?”

“Let’s just hope that between you and Lieutenant Tara the Borg don’t get that opportunity.”

Townsend finished with her hair, splashed some water on her face and dried it with a towel. “Guess I better round up my people then.”

The comm panel beeped. Ridgeway stood up and punched the button, “Ridgeway.”

Through the speaker Dulak spoke, “Sir, this is Ensign Dulak, on the bridge. We’ve isolated the malfunctioning component, but it will take twenty minutes install and calibrate it. Petty Officer Davis is headed to the engineering to replicate the part. He should be back shortly. Davis said that he could do the repair faster by himself. Do you need me for anything?”

Ridgeway looked at Townsend who nodded once. “Yes Ensign, as a matter of fact I do. Meet me in the Aft Overflow Berthing.”

Dulak replied before clicking off the circuit, “Yes sir, I’ll be right there.”
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Old September 26 2007, 04:20 PM   #70
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: Star Trek: Shepard; Recovery, Chapter 7 (Part One)

Methinks Ridgeway has an eye for Townsend! You've developed an excellent cast of characters for your story and I like the level of detail you add. I am really enjoying this story!
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Old September 27 2007, 01:58 PM   #71
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Re: Star Trek: Shepard; Recovery, Chapter 7 (Part One)

To echo what Redshirt has said, you do an excellent job at characterization. This was definitely Dulak's episode, although we do see an interesting dynamic between Ridgeway and Townsend.

Looking forward to the next part.
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Old September 27 2007, 07:20 PM   #72
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Re: Star Trek: Shepard; Recovery, Chapter 7 (Part One)

I’d agree with the previous assessments. Good character work here, with some more clarification on Dulak’s background. I find myself not caring that they haven’t even reached the ship yet, because the character interplay is so rich.
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Old October 1 2007, 01:24 PM   #73
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Star Trek: Shepard; Recovery, Chapter 7 (part 2)

Maybe chapter isn't the right thing to call these sections, anyway, here is the next part. Enjoy.


USS Persepheron
Mess Decks

LTJG T’Noor sat across the table from her friend Tara. The two had been roommates at their last duty station. Despite the Vulcan T’Noor’s reserved demeanor, they had become friends. In accordance with her usual behavior pattern T’Noor studied her friend’s actions pensively before commenting.

Tara, busy studying the design of the antique phaser II pistol in her hands remained oblivious to T’Noor’s attention. She flipped the phaser over and cycled it through various power levels, finding the weapon well maintained despite its age.

T’Noor knew that there was more going on behind the facade-of-focus on the weapon. For as long as T’Noor had known the green Orion, Tara did her most intense thinking with something else occupying her external senses. T’Noor preferred to meditate in quiet with as few distractions as possible.

Tara had tried once to sit in reflection following the serene and still Vulcan method and found it too quiet, too stifling. She hadn’t lasted five minutes and had instead solved her quandary, what to do about a certain pair of LT’s who were interested in her, while rock climbing.

T’Noor found Tara’s behavior quite illogical on the surface, but fully embraced the infinite diversity in infinite combinations philosophy which allowed her to accept that Tara was different, and that Tara’s way of thinking probably complimented her own.

Finally, T’Noor broke the silence, “Tara, your abilities are more than adequate for this mission.”

Tara looked up and smiled at her friend, “I hope so, but how come I feel so nervous?”

One of the things T’Noor endeavored to do as often as possible was to avoid telling non-Vulcans when they said something illogical. She also stopped herself frequently from letting them know when they referred to any one of a plethora of illogical emotions. In her limited experience, neither response generated a useful reaction.

T’Noor had not yet, however, grasped the subtleties of rhetorical questions, and tended to take them literally. So, expounding on her knowledge of humanoid physiology she began, “When exposed to the uncertainty of a new and threatening experience the sympathetic nervous system triggers a flight or fight response in most humanoid species, in the case of Klingons a fight response. This results in large amounts of adrenaline being dumped into the body in preparation for possible combat...”

She stopped when Tara began laughing gently, “No, no.... I know that. What I mean is that I don’t feel as confident as you do in my abilities, that’s all.”

T’Noor raised an eyebrow, “That is illog...” then stopped herself. “I appologize.”

Tara leaned across the table towards her friend, a sad, pensive look on her face. “T’Noor,” she said, then after a pause added, “Got you!” and smiled, all trace of uncertainty and apprehension gone.

T’Noor merely allowed herself the slightest upward curl to one side of her mouth. “Indeed,” was all she said.

The Green Orion clarified her thoughts, which her friend had failed to ascertain, “I was just wondering how many shots I’d get with this before the Borg adapted, and whether it would be worth it to see if they’ve got anything bigger in the armory. Did you see the weapon that female crewmember carried by? It looked like it fired projectiles instead of energy.”

T’Noor nodded, “I did observe it, and her animated demonstration. Apparently the weapon has a considerable rate of fire. Perhaps you should attempt to acquire it for this mission?”

Standing first, Tara shook her head. “It’s not my style, but I’m going to check with the weapons locker. Want to go with me before you go to the bridge?”

Standing as well, T’Noor replied, “I will accompany you.”


USS Persepheron
Commander Ridgeway’s Quarters

It took several seconds for Ridgeway to identify the faintly metallic tapping from outside the closed door of his temporary stateroom as a knock. He realized that he shouldn’t have been surprised at the lack of door chimes, due to the overall Spartan-like layout of the Persepheron, but he was anyway.

The fact that upon opening the door he saw Dulak actually tapping on the bulkhead next to the doorway with a small piece of metal actually did take away some of his feeling of personal responsibility at not recognizing the knock as such.

“What are you doing, Ensign?” Ridgeway asked.

Dulak pocketed the piece of metal and stood to attention facing the Commander. “Sir, Ensign Dulak, reporting as ordered.”

“At ease Dulak. I can see you are here, what I meant was, why were you tapping on the bulkhead.”

Dulak relaxed his stance slightly, spreading his feet and clasping his hands loosely behind his back. “I am sorry sir. On Cardassia, when there is no electronic bell at the door, one knocks on a sounding plate beside the door with a small stone. Is there some other way to do this?”

Ridgeway laughed, “Yes, by all means. You simply rap on the door itself with your knuckles, like this.” Ridgeway demonstrated, then motioned for Dulak to enter the stateroom.

“Mr. Dulak, your personnel file showed you as being from Bajor, is that wrong?”

Dulak shook his head, “No sir, I assure you, I grew up mostly on Bajor. I lived on Cardassia only until my seventh year, when my father was transferred to Bajor. He was only a low-status maintenance man, and brought me to Bajor without permission. When he was killed by a resistance bomb, I had no one in the military to vouch for me, so I was orphaned.”

Ridgeway said, sympathetically, “I am sorry Mr. Dulak. Please, have a seat.” Ridgeway motioned towards the now vacant lower bunk. Dulak sat, awkwardly.

“The reason I brought you here was I wanted you to know that I am sending you on an away mission with Lieutenant Townsend and Lieutenant Tara. Your job, due to your studies of both alien technology and computers, is to patch into the Borg computer and capture any data you can without getting assimilated. Tara is going for security purposes and Lieutenant Townsend will be conducting tricorder scans to gather information that way.”

“I’ve reviewed what I could of your service and training records. I am quite impressed with your performance at the academy, and while I’d like to get you a lot more training before throwing you to the wolves, I don’t have that luxury.”

“The Borg, sir.”

Ridgeway took a second to look puzzled, “What?”

“It’s the Borg, sir. Throwing me to the Borg.” Dulak said with a totally straight face.

Not able to decide if the Ensign was attempting a joke, or merely didn’t understand the expression, Ridgeway let it slide.

“Right. Hopefully, the Borg won’t see you as a threat and Tara won’t have to engage them, but I also cannot say that there is no risk involved. Are you ready for this?”

Dulak’s reply surprised Ridgeway, “I would like to be able to take along some computer algorithms I wrote at the academy. I have them...”

Ridgeway cut in abruptly, “By ‘some computer algorithms’, do you mean you actually wrote a program to go along with your practicum paper at the academy?”

While he couldn’t be sure what the Cardassian version of looking sheepish was, if Ridgeway were forced to put money on it, he would have bet that it was the look Dulak gave him next. “Uh yes sir, that is one of them.”

“Are you aware that Starfleet has classified the paper, and I must imagine the program as well?”

Dulak looked to the ground and shuffled his feet in an entirely too human manner. “I am aware of the paper’s status sir, but I hadn’t completed the program by the time I left the academy. No one has seen it yet.”

It was Ridgeway’s turn to look uncomfortable. “Why do I get the feeling that you didn’t compile this program on academy time Mr. Dulak?”

Dulak met Ridgeway’s eyes and smiled. “That assessment is correct Commander. There were so many security protocols in place and so much oversight on all official class projects that I never would have been able to complete the program using official channels.”

Ridgeway did not smile back, inhaling deeply, turning away and exhaling slowly before facing the Ensign again. “Did it ever occur to you that those protocols, that oversight was in place for a reason?”

Dulak looked at Ridgeway, puzzled. “Why, yes it did sir.”

Choosing his next words carefully, Ridgeway spoke slowly. “Mr. Dulak, I highly suggest that unless you want your Starfleet career to be a very short one you had better not pull any stunts like that while under my command. You are not on Cardassia. You are not an orphan living by his wits on occupied Bajor. You are a Starfleet officer now, and we have rules, rules I expect you to follow.”

“Commander, I assure you, I wrote that program solely for the benefit of the Federation. I...”

Ridgeway raised a hand, cutting Dulak off. “Actually, ‘Yes Sir’ was the answer I was looking for, but since you brought it up... You misunderstood me Ensign. I don’t have a problem with you writing a computer program. In fact, I encourage you to keep that intellect of yours busy with innovative solutions and new ideas. What I meant was, don’t do it behind my back. Lieutenant Townsend and myself expect to be kept in the loop.”

“And of course, I am sure Master Chief Rexar will want to know about your projects as well. Just make sure not to forget that your primary duties take precedence, once we reach the Shepard that is.”

“Now about these programs.” Ridgeway moved on, considering the matter closed for the time being. “I assume they will help you interface with the Borg data? My concern is that the program not get assimilated and integrated into the Borg’s programming. I really wouldn’t want to be responsible for giving them something they can use against the Federation.”

Dulak nodded, relieved at the switch in topics. “Well sir, I wrote the program with built-in security measures. If any part of the code is accessed externally the program fragments and becomes random noise. There is no way the Borg could assimilate it.”

Ridgeway grinned. “I wish I shared your confidence Mr. Dulak, but I’m going to trust you on this one. Besides, in an hour even if they do hijack your program, that Borg ship has an appointment with a main sequence red giant. Whether or not they access your program won’t matter after that, so it will be a good test of your programming skills.”

“Better get to the transporter room. I’ll let Lieutenant Townsend know you are on your way.”

Dulak snapped to attention before responding, “Yes Sir,” pivoting and stepping out of the stateroom.

Ridgeway wiped the back of his hand across his forehead, wondering if his initial meet and greets with the rest of his crew would be as interesting. He hoped they wouldn’t.


USS Persepheron
Transporter Room

Holding true to the minimalist design throughout the rest of the warp tug, the transporter room was no surprise. While no one had to actually stoop to stand on the transport pad, anyone much over two meters would have. The pad itself was suspiciously similar to the emergency models used in larger ships, with the exception of only having a capacity of four. The design specs actually indicated five average sized humans as the high-end transport load, but those five would have to be quite ‘friendly’.

To make matters worse, clearances were so tight that the control console was actually designed to pivot to allow transportees access to the pad. On the positive side, it was possible for the transporter operator to ‘high-five’ members of the transport team prior to transport without either of them moving from transport positions.

Luckily, this transport was only three officers, and minimal equipment.

After Lieutenant Townsend, Lieutenant Junior Grade Tara, and Ensign Dulak stepped onto the pad, Crewman Parker, the Thompson SMG now slung over one shoulder, swung the control console into position and looked back at Commander Ridgeway, standing behind her. “Sir, I have coordinates locked in. Ready to transport as soon as we drop out of warp.”

Ridgeway looked at his team. Tara now carried an odd-looking rifle. It wasn’t any kind of phaser rifle Ridgeway recognized. He decided to wait until they came back to ask. Becoming more proficient at the com panels he quickly punched up the bridge, “Chief Prak, we are ready to transport as soon as you drop us out of warp. Make sure Lieutenant T’Noor stays on those sensors. I want to know the second the Borg start taking advantage of not playing deflector shield. Oh and what’s the ETA on the subspace transmitter?”

Gruffly, from the other end of the circuit came the Tellarite’s voice, “Are you finished?” Followed by a pause and some mumbling Ridgeway couldn’t quite make out. “Davis says another ten minutes on the transmitter.” Then with the com circuit still open, “Helm drop us out of warp, ahead half impulse.”

The transition from warp was audible as a previously unnoticed hum subsided. Ridgeway even felt a slight transition as the inertial dampeners adjusted.

The “We’re at impulse, go ahead and transport,” over the com channel seemed redundant. Ridgeway said, “Energize,” and watched as his team was engulfed in the familiar glimmer and dulcet tones of a federation transporter before disappearing.

From the way Parker monitored her console, Ridgeway didn’t need to say it, but he did anyway. “Keep a lock on them.”

Without looking back, Parker said, “Aye sir,” and continued what she was doing.

Immediately, Ridgeway regretted opting to send the away team over on com silence. Even though he knew it made their detection less likely, he still yearned to know what was going on. It was the first away team he had ordered as an acting CO, but not one he would have chosen for that distinction. Now all he could do was wait.


Borg Vessel, Designation unknown
Central Hub

The atmosphere onboard the Borg vessel was far cooler than the Persepheron and was also noticeably thinner. It also became quickly obvious that the oxygen level was marginal, and the smell of ozone from damaged equipment was strong. All in all, it was amazing that a ship this damaged had even minimal life-support, so no one on the away team commented.

Lighting was dim and greenish in color, some flickering regeneration bays were visible from where Townsend stood, back to back with the other two members of her away team, but no drones were visible. “Clear.” She said quietly.

Dulak’s view was much more spectacular, if disturbing. He stood, facing towards some of the most damaged sections of the ship. Actually, from his perspective, damaged was a bit of a misnomer. Missing was more accurate.

Both above and to the left, through mangled support beams, equipment dangled loosely from warped sections of bulkhead. Wires and what he could only assume was fiber-optic cable hung, like Spanish moss from a dead tree, in various places. The most unsettling part of the view was that in over half of his field of vision, the only thing visible was the star field outside with the Persepheron in an almost head-on view. Three tractor beams emanated from the tug, trisecting the visible backdrop of space in approximately even sections. Dulak swallowed, trying to moisten his throat to speak. “Clear,” he croaked.

From behind him her heard the unmistakable sound of a weapon slide being racked back, followed by the ramping-up hum of capacitors charging. Tara’s voice reached his ears, quiet yet clear. “We’ve got company.” Then much more quietly, practically a whisper, and questioning, “Master Chief?”
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Old October 1 2007, 08:53 PM   #74
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: Star Trek: Shepard; Recovery, Chapter 7 (part 2)

Well, either the main character from "Halo 3" is on the Borg ship or it's Rexar Arthrun. Whichever one it is begs the question, "How did he get there?"
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Old October 2 2007, 01:20 AM   #75
Dnoth
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Re: Star Trek: Shepard; Recovery, Chapter 7 (part 2)

I wonder if the Borg have anything to do with the Shepard, or is it an independent story line? I don't expect an answer...at least not yet.
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