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Old November 18 2008, 01:18 AM   #1
Graywand2's Avatar
Location: Graywand2
The Briar Patch War

Hello, everyone. This is a reimagining if you will of my story in this section Ashes of the Columbia. I just received writing books which made me reevaluate the entire way I do things in this regard.

Historian's Note: Set six months after the Star Trek: Enterprise episodes "Demons" and "Terra Prime" and within days of the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "Boiling Rock."


Where Men Have Gone Before

"Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the master of the house cometh."

-Mark: 13:35

The Starfleet vessel Columbia sailed through the ominous region of space. The region they were in had many names, the Klingons called it Klacht D'Kel Bracht. Humanity, on Earth at least, called it the Briar Patch. The deceptively ungainly looking vessel, with a main hull that looked like some giant had squished two poorly made tea saucers together, attached some metal struts and stuck lit cigars in metallic foil on the end, sailed through clouds of brilliant orange and red, the colors of fire and blood. The clouds of this region were so vast that it made the large vessel that sailed through them seem like an insect compared to them, and the dangers of this region could crush them like one. Right now, the bridge crew in the little top of the amalgamated saucer, that to any observer looked like it should be sitting on some mammoth humanoids table, was setting a course to a newly-discovered system.

Captain Erika Hernandez strode onto the Columbia's bridge. Settling into her black leather command chair at the center of the advanced and modern command center, the blue-jumpsuited fortyish woman with brown hairtook a moment to listen to the reassuring thrum of the warp engines reverberating through the hull before she set to work immediately. "Report," she ordered. Her ship had been charting this area of space for weeks now, preparing for the war everyone back home knew was coming against the forces of the Romulan Star Empire. This is technically part of my orders, but I prefer to see this detour as fulfilling our mission statement back when we left spacedock, to explore strange new worlds and seek out new life and new civilizations. And go where no man has gone before

It was her science officer, Commander Arya Naidu, an Indian woman in her mid-thirties with shoulder-length black hair that answered her from her science station on the port side of the bridge. "One star in the system, sir, G-Type. One world in the system, M-Class. And," she said with a hint of curiosity in her voice, "with a moon that is remarkably similar to Luna."

"Show me," she said, her interest piqued. And the viewscreen built into the wall in front of the helmstation at the front of the bridge changed to show a moon that, as she said, looked entirely similar to Luna in every respect, right down to geography. Yes, she thought as she gazed upon the sight on her viewscreen. It does look like our Moon. If I imagine just right, I can see every sea, I can also see Tycho City, New Berlin, even the majestic dome-enclosed expanse of Lake Armstrong from this exact place near Earth.

"Show me the planet," she ordered. And the image on the viewscreen changed to show the planet. Her breath caught in her throat. She was staring at a big blue marble with white whisps of cloud and capped, almost lovingly, with two poles like her homeworld. There was a huge main continent, brown-green from space like the continents of her homeworld, half surrounded by a cluster of smaller islands as though a bowl. The main continent appeared to be in the middle of the geologic process of splitting into three smaller landmasses, she could see the splits from here. It gave the primary landmass a look a lot like that of a huge crustacean with even larger claws reaching out to consume the smaller brown islands that surrounded it as if they were detrius.

"How big is the main continent?" She asked urgently, eager to hear the answer to the question.

Commander Naidu looked into the hooded viewer at her science station. After a few moments she stood up and looked at her, saying, amazement in her voice, "Roughly the size of Gondwanaland, sir."

Damn, she thought, amazed at the concept. That means it roughly the size of India, virtually all of Eurasia, North America, and South America north of the mouth of the Amazon combined. "Prep survey teams to go down, Commander." She ordered, or would've ordered had not a sensor alarm rang out from the tactical console on the port side.

"Sir," the tactical officer, Lieutenant William Gleason said from his station starboard of her command chair, surprise in his voice. "We're picking up a Romulan warship bearing 145 mark 54."

What, she thought, incredulously, How did they sneak up on me? Aloud she said, "Show me." The viewscreen changed images to reveal a green, horseshoe crab shaped vessel coming at them. The incoming enemy vessel had upswept wings on either side that were tipped with curved warp nacelles that glowed green at the ends. The vessel lunged with the terrifying speed of a raptor streaking towards an unfortunate rat.

This rat has a few tricks up her sleeve, she thought. "Tactical alert," she ordered. Instantly the lights dimmed slightly, red lights started blinking on every bridge panel, and muted versions of the alarms blaring throughout the ship rang through the bridge.

"The enemy vessel is powering disruptors, sir," Gleason said, fear lacing his voice. Then another alarm rang off the console. "They're firing."

"Evasive maneuvers," she ordered, standing up. "Delta sequence." Even as she said it she watched as two green blasts lanced from the enemy vessel. She watched the viewscreen pitch to starboard as the ship lurched violently to avoid the enemy fire, the ship's inertial dampeners maintaining the illusion that the ship was still flying straight. "Return fire," she ordered.

"Aye, sir," the tac officer said, his hands playing along his board as if it were a musical instrument, and he was its grand master. After an instant it sang back its response that the ship's weapons were obeying his command. She watched as two angry red beams of light lanced out at the Romulan ship. She watched with satisfaction as the two beams of light made contact with the enemy vessel, striking her directly in the crab shaped main hull.

"Direct hits," Gleason said, sounding satisfied with his work at first. Then he let loose with a frustrated sigh. "Minimal damage." The console blared out it's alarm and he said, "They're firing again."

It was as if the hammer of some ancient god had struck the Columbia. Erika's world suddenly jolted with a gut-wrenching intensity to the right. In those few moments before the inertial dampeners could compensate for the pummeling the ship had just undergone, she felt the deck disappear out from under her. She flung out her left arm, acting on instinct, but she watched the deck rush toward her and knew it couldn't help. She felt a bone-jarring pain rip through her head when she collided headfirst with the warm deck with a sickening thud. Her last sensations of her bridge before the darkness claimed her was the sight of her helm officer lying unconscious in front of her, the young woman's panel ablaze, and the acrid smell of smoke filling the air.


The Columbia hung in space in the skies above this world, a terrible smoking wound in her back, heralding the great ship's impending destruction. The Romulan bird-of-prey streaking away into the night had wounded her mortally, hitting her in just the right place to guarantee her destruction when her protective hull plating didn't polarize the way it was supposed to, exposing her warp core, the device that allowed her to traverse the stars and her beating heart, to the devestating fire of the Romulan enemy. As her killer speeded away into the fiery clouds, half the saucer broke apart, hull plating shearing away to float in the vacuum of space. Launching from the exposed sections of the vessel, like the teeth of the dragon, were dozens of cylindrical objects, carrying the crew of the dying vessel away from her. For an instant they hung in space, floating among the wreckage of the ship. Then automated engines blared to life on them, and sent the pods hurtling through the space between the ship and the planet, heading for comparative safety in the main continent. An instant later, Columbia flared to life in a burst of orange and crimson light as the explosion of the warp core ripped through her superstructure. Most of the pods had managed to speed away before the ship's final, violent demise, there tough hulls protecting the precious lives inside from the heat of re-entry. However a few pods hung there for an instant too long, speeding away from the wreckage too late. The wake of the explosion shoved those pods away from their fellows, straight toward the island chain.

Straight into the jaws of fire.

A/N: Hernandez belongs to CBS/Paramount. The world below belongs to Viacom and Nick.

Last edited by Graywand2; November 18 2008 at 05:32 AM.
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Old November 18 2008, 02:04 AM   #2
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Location: NE Ohio
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Re: The Briar Patch War

The deceptively ungainly looking vessel, with a main hull that looked like some giant had squished two poorly made tea saucers together, attached some metal struts and stuck lit cigars in metallic foil on the end, sailed through clouds of brilliant orange and red, the colors of fire and blood.
Awesome description!
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Old November 18 2008, 02:30 AM   #3
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Location: US Pacific Northwest
Re: The Briar Patch War

A promising start! A graphic battle between the Romulans and the unfortunate crew of the Columbia. One wonders what the survivors will discover on the surface.

And a war in the Briar Patch... now there's an idea for a 24th century story that could be pretty compelling.
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Last edited by Gibraltar; November 18 2008 at 06:43 AM.
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Old November 20 2008, 08:30 PM   #4
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Location: Between the candle and the flame
Re: The Briar Patch War

Sweet. I hope you plan to continue this...
...sf fandom is only a personality disorder if you do it right.-Klaus - archive stories! for honest gaming

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Old November 30 2008, 04:57 PM   #5
Graywand2's Avatar
Location: Graywand2
Re: The Briar Patch War

Chapter One: Under the Night

"If the creator had a purpose in equipping us with a neck, he surely met for us to stick it out."

-Arthur Koestler, in Encounter

Katara stood at the edge of the exposed main atrium of the Western Air Temple, letting the cold air mountain blowing in from the west blow the tiredness out of her sky-blue eyes. Most of Aang's followers came from warmer climes, but the fourteen year old, almost fifteen, slender as a reed with dark skin and long brown hair came from the South Pole and, having been away from home for so very long, she found the cold almost a touch of home. She sighed. She hadn't been able to sleep through the night since they had been forced to flee here to this cliff-side haven a fortnight ago after the failed attempt to invade the Fire Nation. It was in that moment an orange light flared into existence in the sky above her. She watched, awed at the sight, as the new sun glowed ever brighter, turning light into day, throwing light on cliff, rock, and shrub, blotting out the stars and reducing the moon to impotence. Then, just as suddenly as the sight had appeared, it dimmed and disappeared, gone as if it had never come. What was that? She thought to herself as she stood there, unable to move with shock. That was unlike anything I've ever witnessed. She heard footfalls behind her and turned to see a young man of about sixteen with pale skin, golden eyes, and black hair running out into the atrium.

"What was that?!" Zuko said, panting as he stopped a few short feet from him, sweat running, dust on the dark red tunic he normally favored.

For a brief second he was tempted not to tell him anything, but, to her surprise, she found herself saying, "I haven't the faintest idea. I've never seen anything like it." Angrily, all the mistrust she felt for the man entering her voice. "I've endured your people's raids my entire life, you know, and I am familiar with every signal flare your military uses." She spat the words your people at him like venom. It was his people, the Fire Nation that was responsible for the war they were fighting, after all. They had started it and were determined never to rest until the rest of the Four Nations, the rest of humanity, was under their thumb.

Zuko, enraged said, "Must you be so hateful of me! I gave up everything to teach Aang Firebending and end this war! I've stuck my neck out for you people in more ways than one, I even helped your brother rescue your father! Everyone trusts me now, except you. Why is that?"

Katara saw red at that moment, and she slapped him, hard across the right cheek, leaving an angry red mark that marred his normally handsome features. Paying no mind to the Dao swords at his belt or to the fact that he was a Firebender, she grabbed the lapels of his red shirt and dragged his face down roughly until it was level with hers, watching as his eyes grew wide with shock, fear, and, she could have sworn, respect.

"How dare you," she growled, ignoring the latter emotion. "I was the first one to trust you, remember! Back in Ba Sing Se! But you betrayed me, betrayed us all!"

"I'm sorry," Zuko said, meeting her eyes, unwilling to show weakness against her more aggressive stance. "I wouldn't be here today if I didn't regret what happened back there. How can I make it up to you?" She sensed he was honestly sincere, which only put fuel on the fire of her anger towards him.

"You want to make it up to me!" She said angrily. "How about you, personally, lead an army to retake Ba Sing Se in the name of the Earth King! Or, and I would love to see you accomplish this feat." And, giving Zuko a look of unabashed hatred and distrust. "How about you bring my mother back." And with that she let Zuko go. They stood there, glaring at each other for a few tense moments. She was about to go to bed when Zuko's eyes widened.

"What," Katara said roughly. Zuko pointed to something behind and above her. She turned to see, to her shock, dozens of fiery meteors streaking through the sky towards the eastern horizon behind the mountain. Katara and Zuko, all mistrust briefly laid aside as they watched the sight. They noticed that there was one fireball that was on a different trajectory from the others, seeming to come at them head-on, rather then streak above their heads. Katara heard a distinct roaring sound that grew larger as the bright red ball grew larger and brighter.

"Oh, shit," she said, realizing all at once what was going on. She turned and ran at breakneck speeds for the safety of the inner areas of the temple with Zuko next to her. She jumped in right as the meteor hit.

Zuko thought the world was coming to an end around him. The shaking was intense, the roaring was as painful as it would've been without his hands over his ears. Finally, the shaking stopped and the roaring died, and Zuko opened his eyes, surprised to find himself inside the temple itself, along with a similarly stunned Katara, who was staring, wide-eyed with shock mixed with fear back out into the atrium. He followed her gaze and saw, to his shock, a large cylindrical metal object, surprisingly covered in frost, sitting on the deck amid the rubble of several columns, the fountain and some of the stone paneling that had been above the entrance.

"What is that?" He said aloud, amazed at the sight, which was unlike anything he'd ever seen before.

"I don't know," Katara said, walking outside. Zuko followed her after a moment, still trying to piece together what he was seeing. An artificial object had exploded in the Great Dark above their world, and some of it had crashed into what had become the patio of the eleven people living here now. He walked out with her, intent on getting a closer look. As he walked out, stepping lightly as to not send the entire structure crashing to the earth below. There were markings along the sides of the object, characters that he'd never seen before. He heard a stampede of crazed feet behind him behind him and turned around to see the rest of Team Avatar that was currently not on mission stampeding out onto the deck. The five people were the only inhabitants of the Temple right now, Aang and the rest of them were out for supplies and wouldn't be back for a week.

"Whatthellisthatthing?!!" Sokka, Katara's brilliant but annoying fifteen year old brother said. Zuko rolled his eyes, reactions like that to the unexpected were typical of the brown-skinned, blue-eyed warrior.

"Your inarticulate expression of shock notwithstanding," Zuko said. "It's some sort of metallic object." He hit it with his fist, and to his surprise, the sound reverberated through the object.

"It's hollow," Katara said, surprise in her voice. She walked around it, intent on finding something that would allow them to gain access to the inside.

After a moment, she called around from behind the object, "Hey, there's something that looks like a door over here!" Zuko ran around to where was Katara was standing and saw that there was, indeed, a roughly door-shaped portion that appeared to have been fused shut by the intense heat.

"How are we supposed to get inside?" Zuko asked.

"Allow me," a female voice said from behind them and they turned around to view Toph Bei Fong. The black-haired, light-skinned thirteen year old girl stared, annoyed, at each of them with light green. sightless eyes. She touched the hunk of metal with her hands, then slid into an earthbender stance and smashed her fist into the metal, causing it to rend and snap with a loud snapping sound. Immediately it released the stench of burning materials into the air, causing everyone to back away from the pod. After a moment Zuko stepped forward cautiously and entered the dark space of the pod, bending a flame into his hand that dimly illuminated the inside of the pod. He heard the others follow himself inside a moment later.

There was wreckage everywhere, a bank of some sort of machinery lay smashed and destroyed against one bulkhead. He noticed two disturbingly similar silhouettes in the dark away from his flame, and moved his flame to shine a light on the other wall. He, and along with everyone else with the exception of Toph, who had to have what they had just seen explained by Sokka, exclaimed in shock. Resting against the wall, their necks snapped, were the bodies of a man and a woman. They were dressed in one-piece blue suits that were decorated with various insignia and patches he'd never seen before. What was even more disturbing was that they were obviously humans, though one had red hair, a color he'd never seen before, at least not on humans.

Katara walked forward and felt for their pulse on their wrist. After a moment she shook her head and stood up. Zuko looked at her, as did everyone else. The chain of command was ingrained into the psyches of everyone there: with Aang and the others gone, Katara was the leader of Team Avatar at the Western Air Temple.

After a moment, Katara addressed the crowd.

"Prepare to move out," she said, putting down her fear and speaking in her best boss voice. "We have reason to believe more of these pods are out there somewhere, pods that contain living people and answers to our questions. We'll take the airship Sokka captured, it should still be fully stocked "

I captured that airship too, Zuko thought, annoyed at being slighted by Katara again. To be honest he liked Katara but he couldn't stand the fact that she seemed unwilling to let go of the mistakes of the past and took every opportunity to insult him and marginalize his contributions to the group. Granted he understood why, but still it was annoying.

"Sokka, Suki, move the bodies to Cargo Bay One," she said. "Then we'll all head to bed. We leave at first light." As everyone scattered to either carry out their assigned tasks or scurry off to bed, Zuko attempted to go to bed himself only to be stopped by Katara's voice.

"Not you, Zuko," she said.

Zuko turned to face her, determined not to show weakness against what was sure to be Katara's latest round of invective.

"Look, I don't like you and you don't like me," she said. "But I need with someone with experience in these matters to help me pull this off. So, for the duration of this mission, I'm willing to put our past aside, so long as you agree to be the second-in-command on the Fearless."

For a moment, he just stood there stunned. After a moment, Katara, annoyed with his silence, spoke again.

"I'm throwing you a bone here, Zuko," she said. "I recommend you take it."

Zuko, still floored by her offer, merely nodded silently. Katara nodded back and turned to walk away. Katara was at the entrance to the pod when Zuko asked, "And afterword? What then?"

Katara turned to look at him and said, "We'll see." And she turned and walked away, leaving him alone in the pod.


Captain Jonathan Archer of the Starfleet vessel Enterprise was lying in his bed when the call came, throwing his prized water polo ball against the bulkhead of his quarters and catching it with ease as he tried to fall asleep. The powerfully-built man in his early forties woke up and slapped the intercom to stop the ringing it was causing in his ears.

"Report," he said.

"Captain Archer," the efficient, dispassionate voice of his Vulcan first officer, Commander T'Pol, filled the room. "We have a Priority One Communication from Starfleet Command. It's Admiral Gardner, sir."

"Pipe it through down here," he said quickly, closing the channel. With that, he threw aside the covers of his narrow bed and walked over to the data terminal sitting on his desk. Once he was seated he touched a button on the control panel, replacing the status screen displaying the ship's current operating condition with the United Earth flag, the same adopted by the UN two centuries ago. A moment later it was replaced with the silver-haired face of Vice Admiral Samuel Gardner sitting in his office in Starfleet Command back on Earth, the Golden Gate Bridge clearly visible behind him through his window, illuminated by the setting sun.

"Did I wake you, Jonathan?" He said.

"Of course not, sir," he said, trying to hide the fact that if it wasn't for his willful blindness about the Romulan threat leading up to the signing of the Coalition Compact he'd still have his Commander Tucker as his chief engineer, and not have to wait him for coming back from whatever secret mission he was running among the Romulans.

"I'll be blunt," he said. "We sent the Columbia to the Briar Patch to scout the area in the event it became a theater in any future conflict with the Romulans. Now, due to the unique spatial anomalies of the Briar Patch, communication with the Briar Patch and the rest of the galaxy are impossible. Columbia was supposed to return a week ago and report in. It's been two weeks."

Archer was stunned, the Columbia's captain was a personal friend of his, awhile back they'd even dated, until he got promoted and he had to break it off.

"We want you to set a course for the region and ascertain what happened to her," the elder flag officer said. "Understood?"

"Of course, sir," Archer said.

"Gardner out," he said. Immediately Archer got up and walked over to the intercom.

"Archer to the Bridge,"

"T'Pol here," the female voice on the other end of the line said.

"We have new orders from Starfleet Command," he said. "Have Mayweather lay in a course for the Briar Patch and engage at maximum warp. Summon all senior officers to the conference room in five minutes."


"Archer out." With that he walked over to the armoire and got dressed; he could sleep later. He had work to do.

A/N: Yes, this uses Enterprise: The Good that Men Do as a reference. Katara, Zuko, Sokka, Toph Bei Fong and everyone else their is the property of Viacom/ Nick.
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