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Old October 5 2009, 03:10 PM   #136
Duncan MacLeod
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

That's one of the things I like about her. She knows she's a Mary Sue and doesn't care. It makes her a fun character to read about.

And if you're still looking for a face for her, might I suggest this one.



Her eyes are green rather than Polly's blue but that's not really that big a deal is it?

Just a thought.
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Old October 5 2009, 08:35 PM   #137
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

I like the brainstorming-that's a realistic problem solving tool that any competent leader makes use of. The big unanswered question is-who's got the Neptune?
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Old October 10 2009, 10:54 AM   #138
The Badger
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

Sorry for the delay, meant to finish this by Wednesday but real life (such as it is) wouldn't cooperate.

Nice pic,Duncan MacLeod. She certainly has some Polly like features!



UES Enterprise. Sick Bay.
4th May 2151.

Captain Archer opened the hatch to Locke's office, stepped in, and immediately stepped back out again. He used his pad to waft some of the cigarette smoke away. A nearby environmental sensor beeped as if annoyed. Right now, he knew, alert lights would be flashing in the maintenance section. An on duty crewman would be diverted to ensure a fire had not broken out. He called maintenance and let them know all was fine. A second call, to life support, ensured the extractor fans in the office would run at maximum power for half a minute.

When he re-entered the office, thirty seconds later, the roar of the fans was returning to their normal whisper. The room was very cold, and Locke himself was blowing on his hands for warmth. Cigarette butts lay scattered around an ashtray the size of a dinner plate. A red light on this room's environmental sensor showed it had been deactivated.

"And to what do I owe the pleasure?" Locke grunted.

Archer dropped into the opposite seat and held out his pad. "Just wanted to double check your results, Doctor."

"I'm not in the habit of making mistakes."

Archer lifted his hands in a placatory manner. "I know, I know, it's just that there's something here that doesn't add up."

Locke snorted. "If we were to take all the things about this mission that don't add up we'll be here till the stars go cold. Anything in particular?"

"A matter of timing. I see from your post mortem reports that you have a pretty clear estimate of the time of death for the Vulcans. There are two groups. Those from the Premier's party were killed on the 27th April. Well, we pretty much knew that anyway. That's the day the T'dara Len arrived, just a little ahead of us. Right?"

Locke made a vaguely affirmative noise. He picked up a cigarette packet, found it was empty, and tossed it at the bin. It missed, joining three others already on the floor.

Archer continued. "Now, there's the station staff themselves. We've only found twenty two bodies so far." That had been a grisly discovery. One of the smaller storage rooms had been packed with bodies. An examination of the scene suggested that they'd been killed there. He could imagine it. The station crew captured, taken at gunpoint to the room, then callously murdered.

He shook himself, trying to get the image out of his head. "Now, your reports suggest they died several days previously. Around the twenty first or so."

"Give or take a day or so, yes. What's the problem? The attackers arrived around the twenty first, killed the crew, then waited for the Premier to show up. They then killed his staff and kidnapped him. Seems pretty straightforward to me."

"And it did to me. But then there's the other matter. You analysed the, er, waste matter we found in those containers."

With a smirk, Locke said "If by 'waste matter' you mean urine and faeces, yes. And found out quite a lot. Including the fact that, in addition to nine humans, seven men and two women, there was one Vulcan female, almost certainly from the region of the Voroth sea."

"How can you tell that?" Archer asked, intrigued.

"The DNA markers are quite distinctive. It is possible, I suppose, that she came from somewhere else, but only if both her parents were both from there. In which case she'd likely learn to speak with their accent. Although you'd have to ask Sato about that."

Hoshi, Archer knew, had spent a lot of time listening to the recording of the female docking coordinator, trying to narrow her accent down even further. "Can you tell how long they had been hiding in those crates?" he asked.

Locke nodded. "Best part of a week, I'd say. Couldn't have been very pleasant."

"No. And when do you think they emerged?"

"Hmm. Not sure. Give me a minute here." He disappeared through the connecting door to his lab.

It took closer to five minutes, but he returned closely perusing a pad. "I've run a quick test on one of the samples. Bacterial and fungal development. This is only a provisional result but I'd say sometime between the nineteenth and twenty third of last month."

Archer gave a short sharp nod. "That pretty much confirms what I've been told. Trip and his people have been checking the life support systems we found in the crates. Almost a weeks worth of use. Deactivation around that time."

"Well if you knew that what are you bothering me for?" Locke snapped.

There was steel in Archer's voice. "This is an important matter, Doctor. One that requires a certain thoroughness."

"Well, I still don't see the problem."

Rubbing the back of his neck, Archer said "Why wait? Why wait nearly a week inside a cramped packing crate before getting out and killing the station crew?" He stood and started pacing. It wasn't very effective: the office was to small to properly pace, leaving him almost turning on the spot. "So the station crew expect a cargo ship. One arrives, they think it's the scheduled one. In fact it belongs to the conspirators. They let it dock, and a confederate on board takes care to bring the attack force on to the station undiscovered..."

By this time Locke had found a cigarette. He took a long drag. "Just a minute. Why all this rigmarole with smuggling people across? Why not just dock and take the station by force? As far as I know the station crew had minimal armaments."

There was an idea here, tantalisingly out of reach. Archer held up his hand near his temple, as if trying to shove the thoughts straight into his head. "Ah, this is no good. I can't think. Never can think straight wearing this monkey suit."

Locke looked at the Captain, realizing for the first time that Archer was in full dress uniform. "So, why are you wearing that?"

Archer paused at the door. "For the memorial service." Seeing Locke's blank expression, he added "For the Vulcans."

Locke dragged himself to his feet. "Hmm. I suppose you want me to attend. What time does it start?"

"Two hours ago. I came here just after it finished." said Archer, before leaving.

Locke stood, staring at the closed door, for about half a minute. Then he sat, took another drag on his cigarette, and went back to his work.


Archer's Quarters.

Perhaps the Captain was right about the dress uniform retarding his thought processes, as it was only after he had removed it to take a shower that the idea he'd been chasing down began to solidify into something usable. He let it percolate away whilst he finished his shower, having spent too long on ships where hot running water was a rare luxury. Towelling himself down, he went into the main room and folded out the small desk. After quickly checking the mail--all routine--he sent a series of questions to T'Pol.

He dressed, mulling the matter over further. He forced himself to deal with the routine mail first. Not so much because it needed to be done, but because he, if he was honest with himself, was scared that he might be wrong, that on closer inspection his idea would turn to dust.

Eventually though he had to face it. He studied the reports his people had sent him about the station. Trip's team had found, as the engineer had predicted, a device in the communications array. It could have sent false signals, convincing the station crew that an incoming vessel had authorization. More than that, it could also be used to signal outwards, though for what purpose Archer was only now beginning to suspect.

Next, he pulled up the star charts for this area. That in itself didn't tell him much, but in combination with data on Vulcan cargo transports....

"Yes..." he said to himself. "That might be it."

A ping from his computer alerted him to new mail. T'Pol had answered his questions in considerable depth. He forced himself to go through it carefully, not just skim through.

It'd be a lot easier if Tavik were still here, he thought. The Vulcan ship had left earlier that day, not even waiting for the Memorial service. An illogical waste of time, no doubt.

So then, now he had an idea of how to proceed, but would have to go it alone, without being able to inform anyone. The Vulcans would be sending more ships to investigate once Tavik had made his report, but with the Premier's life at stake Archer was unwilling to wait. They'd have to leave a signal buoy at the station, explaining his reasoning.

He picked up his handset, and called the bridge, asking Hoshi to summon his senior staff, plus T'Pol.

"To the briefing room Sir?"

"No, the bridge." he said. "And when you call Trip, tell him to start warming up the warp system before he joins us. Recall all personnel still on the station too"

Sato sounded surprised "Are we leaving Captain?"

"I think so. Unless someone points out my reasoning as being terribly flawed, that is."



The Bridge.

There was a gap between the forward consoles and the view screen, just wide and long enough for Archer to pace up and down satisfactorily. He glanced around at his people. Most were back in regular uniforms, though Hernandez and Sato were still in full dress, and the Professor was in the subdued black trouser suit she'd worn at the memorial.

Travis Mayweather and Haleh Moshiri both looked slightly stunned. With the evidence mounting, and rumours flying, he saw no point in keeping the crew in the dark, and had informed them of developments earlier. Even the most militant members had seemed shocked at the idea that humanity was responsible for the massacre.

Hoshi looked up from her console. "Shuttle bay reports all boarding parties have returned Sir."

Archer nodded. "Thank you. Commander Hernandez, double check with all department heads that everyone's on board. I don't want to leave anyone behind."

Hernandez was clearly curious about his plans, but said simply "Aye Captain." and started to call the various departments.

Trip Tucker arrived. "Main engine's are powerin' up, Cap'n."

"Thanks Trip. Now I suppose you are wondering why I called you all here. I've been going over this matter in my mind, and I've come to a conclusion."

He quickly outlined the problem he'd been mulling over. Why would the attackers spend nearly a week in hiding? They could have taken over the station by force immediately that their ship docked. If stealth were desirable for some reason, why so long? It'd be uncomfortable, but someone could easily squeeze into a regular cargo crate without having to modify them, and there'd be less chance of detection when bringing them on board.

Polly raised her hand. "Captain Archer, as a professional clever-clogs and know-it-all, I'm used to asking all the questions and having all the answers. I can tell that you've worked it out, and now you're just showing off how difficult it all is, to make yourself look even cleverer when you get to the reveal." She flashed him a dazzling grin. "Good technique! Well done!"

Archer grinned back, then continued. "And then, a little while ago, it hit me. T'Pol, can you tell us when the ship carrying the luxury goods from Vulcan was due to arrive?"

An eyebrow lifted slightly. "As I informed you by e-mail earlier Captain, it was scheduled to arrive on the eighteenth of April, in your calender."

"Thank you. And what would be standard procedure on the station, should the supply ship not arrive?"

T'Pol said "Typically the crew would wait five days before using the tachyon transmitter to inform the High Command."

Hoshi frowned. "Why so long?"

"Delays are relatively common in this sector, whilst genuine cases of ships becoming lost are low. Given the high cost of using the transmitter, it is inefficient to use it unless a vessel is significantly behind schedule."

Archer leant forward, hands on the helm and navigation consoles. "And tell us, please, given the high number of delays--"

"Relatively high." T'Pol clarified.

"--relatively high number of delays, how would the Vulcan High Command deliver a high priority cargo?"

"They would attempt to find an alternate delivery system. In this case, the cargo was placed on the T'dara Len itself."

Mayweather, at the helm station, was mulling this over. "An alternate delivery system..." he muttered.

Archer could see comprehension dawn for Polly and Trip. He continued. "It's the only thing that makes sense. The people in the crates weren't hiding for days from the station crew, maybe for a few hours but not for days. They were hiding from the crew of the ship that delivered them. And given that there's no reason to hide from their fellow conspirators...."

He let the sentence trail off. Hernandez picked it up. "...they must have been hiding from someone else. They must have used a third party to deliver them."

A sudden moment of self doubt hit Archer. "So how's my reasoning?" he asked Polly.

She grinned again. "Flawlessly logical. I admire your mind."

T'Pol raised an eyebrow at this. "Even if the conspirators did engage the services of a third party, that still leaves us little closer to finding or identifying them."

Polly blew a loud raspberry. "Party pooper."

Hernandez thought for a moment. "It'd have to be someone the Vulcans trust, are used to dealing with...."she mused.

"Someone fairly local, to get here in that time frame" Haleh Moshiri added.

Mayweather said "And if they delivered cargo, but still had their own crew on board....merchants, they had to be merchants."

Archer nodded. "Right. Or at least, that's the same conclusion I came up with."

T'Pol looked dismissive. "Captain Archer. There are numerous warp capable civilizations nearby. How do you propose identifying the one responsible?"

Archer shrugged. "I'll admit, I have no idea. But if we are looking for merchants nearby, there is one obvious place to start. Hernandez, have all stations reported in?"

"Yes sir, all present and correct."

"Good. Hoshi, prepare a message buoy. We'll leave it here to let the Vulcans know where we've gone."

"Aye sir."

Archer took a deep breath. "Haleh, I recall from your briefing that there is a trading post some two and a half light years away. Set a course, best possible speed. Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to meet the Tellarites."
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Old October 10 2009, 01:51 PM   #139
Duncan MacLeod
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

I thought Taylor might be what you were looking for. She's 5' 4" tall, 107 pounds, in her late thirties, and is British; born and raised in Gateshead, in the northeast of England. Her accent may be wrong for Polly but that's your call, you know how you want Polly to sound. To me, Polly's speech seems more cultured than Taylor's, more like Dianna Rigg as Mrs. Peel, but that's just the way I hear her in my head.

Excellent chapter, but I have to admit I personally find Locke a disgusting excuse for a human being. Still, it'll be interesting to find out what secret he's hiding that's making him so vile tempered and self-destructive.

Last edited by Duncan MacLeod; October 11 2009 at 12:37 AM.
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Old October 10 2009, 03:33 PM   #140
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

An intriguing chapter. I'm looking forward to the Tellarites.
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Old October 12 2009, 09:09 PM   #141
Mistral
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

I'm looking forward to your take on the Tellarites. And a very good solution to the cargo containers, too!
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Old October 14 2009, 03:01 PM   #142
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

Mistral wrote: View Post
I'm looking forward to your take on the Tellarites. And a very good solution to the cargo containers, too!
I suspect the Tellerites as well. So far so good. Very enjoyable!
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Old October 15 2009, 11:53 PM   #143
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

UES Enterprise. En route to Tellarite Trading Post D4. Warp 3.77
6th May 2151.

A polite, slightly embarrassed, clearing of the throat. "Professor? Professor Partridge? Do you mind...that is to say..."

Polly looked up. "Hello, yes? Crewman Daniels, isn't it? How can I help?"

Daniels cleared his throat nervously again. "I'm very sorry, but, er, would you mind not doing that here. It's the fumes. They are bothering some of the er, people, and, er, well, er..."

She looked around. "Oh! Oh, of course. I'm most terribly sorry. I really wasn't thinking. Sorry."

She waved away some of the fumes. Despite advances in technology there were some tasks that still needed a good old fashioned soldering iron, and working on her new pet project was one of them. There was no denying the fact that it smelled a bit, so perhaps she really shouldn't have been working in the mess hall. She said "Sorry!" a few more times, louder, and directed towards the inhabitants of the nearby tables.

After a few moments she could no longer smell the solder, which was not a good thing as it meant she could now smell the food. Spaghetti bolognese. Supposedly. She'd tried a bit. Having never consumed warm wallpaper paste she could not honestly say that was an accurate comparison, but it was what came to mind. She found herself remembering the novel Treasure Island. It'd been many years since she'd read it but she could sympathise entirely with the castaway, Ben Gunn, dreaming of toasted cheese.

She became aware that Lieutenant Reed and a couple of his lads were standing nearby, holding trays and looking for somewhere to sit. She beckoned them over, and started packing away the tools that covered her table.

"Thanks, Professor." Reed said, sitting next to her. Dumont, one of the medics, sat opposite. Next to him was a short, wiry, smiling Marine she'd not met before. He looked to be Indian or perhaps Nepalese, and his name tag read 'Tharpa'.

"No problem." she said, putting her pet project away.

Curious, Reed looked at the object as she put it in her case. It was a metal rectangle, perhaps thirty centimetres long, twenty five wide and a little over fifteen thick. Both ends were open. A glass plate covered one, whilst a tangle of wires protruded from the other. There was a circular hole about two thirds of the way down one side.

"I see you're busy with, er, science stuff." he said. Inwardly he cringed. 'Science stuff'? I must sound like an absolute prat!

She finished fastening her case. "Yes. Science stuff is the sort of stuff I do best." she said with the merest hint of a smile. Gradually she became aware of a familiar--and appealing--scent, but couldn't quite place until Reed lifted his tray's cover to reveal an enormous plate of baked beans on toast. It smelt far too good to be any of the resequenced food they'd been having recently. It must have been part of Lieutenant Reed's personal supply.Fortunately the hustle and bustle of the mess hall drowned out the rumbling of her tummy.

"So, Professor," Dumont asked, "will you be joining us?"

Still mesmerised by Reed's plate she was only vaguely aware of the question. "Hmmm?"

Dumont glanced at the others. "For the landing party tomorrow? Meeting the Tellarites?"

"Oh, well. I haven't really decided yet. So, you are going?"

Reed nodded. "The Captain thought it wise to have some security around. Low key, but nearby just in case. He and Lieutenant Sato are going to handle the investigation, myself and these two reprobates will keep an eye on them. We'll be going by shuttlepod, so with Mayweather piloting there's one spare seat."

Polly thought about this. "Why you three?"

"A mixture of skills and abilities. Dumont's a medic, always useful. Tharpa's a close combat specialist, which is the sort of environment we'll be operating in, according to the Vulcan database. Apparently the Tellarites built most of their base underground, in an old cave system. And I'm in charge, so I get to go on the cool missions. Plus, we all speak reasonable Vulcan. Heck, Tharpa's Vulcan is better than his English."

"And better than yours!" the smiling marine told his officer.

Speaking Vulcan was pretty much a requirement in this part of space. As they were the most powerful local group, their language had been adopted by all the nearby warp capable civilizations for most trading and diplomatic purposes. Having worked with Vulcans on many occasions Polly spoke the language quite well.

"Our first strange new world." she mused. "I really should go along, I really should. Only...according to the data the Vulcans gave us, at this time of year there are a lot of storms around that area. I don't want to fly through one of those."

Dumont said "I shouldn't worry Professor, those shuttlepods are very sturdy, and Ensign Mayweather is an excellent pilot. You'd be in no danger."

"It's not that I'm frightened. Well, I am, but that's not the problem. I tend to get a bit...icky...when travelling. I don't want to ruin our first contact with another species by being copiously sick in the corner."

"Could be seen as a diplomatic faux pas." Reed said.

Still, Polly thought to herself, if I do throw up at least I'll be able to taste something.

"These Tellarites," Reed went on, munching a piece of toast, "they're pig like, aren't they?"

Dumont handed his pad over. "Yes sir. This is all the data that the Vulcans have given us." The picture on the display was of a humanoid creature with a distinctive snout, prodigious facial hair, and eyes that could only be described as 'piggy'."

Polly put her glasses on and examined the picture. Fascinating. Clearly an evolution from porcine stock, probably a high gravity world judging from the stature, likely quite strong....damn, I fancy a bacon sandwich right now, two rashers, soft white bread, salted butter, a big dollop of brown sauce....DAMN IT! Get a hold on yourself woman! You're becoming obsessed!

Her stomach rumbled again.

"Says here they're an argumental people." Reed said. "Tend to get into shouting matches just for the fun of it, even insulting complete strangers to get things started."

"Vulcans must love that." Tharpa said.

Reed grinned. "Oh, yeah, they're best pals. Let's see. Strongly emotional, stubborn pride...ah, the Vulcans do consider them trustworthy. All the same, let's keep it cool tomorrow. Dumont, nip by sick bay when you've eaten. Ask Doctor Locke if there's anything we should know about. Cross species diseases, that sort of thing. I think he'd probably say if----"

He broke off as Polly snatched a piece of toast, dripping with beans, from his plate. She took an enormous bite, eyes closed and a blissful expression on her face.

"Sorry." she shrugged. "I really should have asked. But you might have, you know, said no."

The marines looked somewhat surprised. "Let me guess, you're on the resequenced stuff?" Dumont asked, pointing to her plate.

She nodded, too busy chewing to give a spoken answer. They looked sympathetic.

"It's not usually this bad." Reed explained. "What with all the extra people carried in the first part of the mission, the President and his party, it put a bit of an extra strain on the protein resequences. Also, the chef Captain Archer lined up for us couldn't make the new launch date. Pity. He's supposed to be good."

Still smiling, Tharpa asked "Why we not pick up fresh supplies from Vulcan station? They had food."

Polly stared at him, realized it was a good idea, and that they'd missed it. She swore, quietly, but emphatically. Dumont, sitting opposite, found himself witness to an intriguing phenomena. Any swear word, when said by a woman with a cut glass English accent, sounds much much filthier. He was shocked and turned on in equal measure.

"Perhaps Tellarites have food to trade." Tharpa went on.

Polly pointed to him. "Promote this man Mister Reed, that's officer level thinking!"

Absently she wiped the sauce from around her mouth with her fingers, which she then licked clean. Dumont forced himself to remember all the Presidents of United Earth in reverse order, a technique he often used when he needed to clear the mind of distractions. He tried to ignore the prickling of sweat along his brow.

Reed said "If you are desperate for proper food, I'm sure some people will donate some of their own supplies. Usually before long haul flights people pack too much of one particular type, their favourite, and end up as sick of that as the resequenced stuff. So I've got a couple of cans of beans I can spare..."

"Oh thank you Mister Reed, that's very generous. I think though I'll save them for another time. I'm wearing a skin tight, air tight catsuit with built in gloves and boots. If I guff off in this thing, it's got no where to go except out of the neck hole. That won't be pleasant." She stood. "If you'll excuse me gentlemen, I've got more science stuff to do."

Dumont watched her leave, enraptured by the view. He became aware his superior was watching him. "Er, I was just thinking, er, it's a little unusual to hear a noted scientist use the term 'guff off'. Sir."

"Ah, and it was this discongruence that so captured your attention. Nothing at all to do with her appearance?"

"No Sir!"

Reed nodded, a faint smile barely visible. "Nothing to with the sparkling blue eyes, the dazzling smile, the porcelain skin, the golden hair?"

Dumont was squirming now. "No Sir!"

"And of course it has nothing to do with those long, shapely legs of hers, that start at the ground and go all the way to heaven? Those wide hips beneath that tiny waist? That has nothing to do with it? Or what about..."

"Sir! Sir! Stop it, please!" Dumont hissed frantically. Next to him Tharpa was shaking his head and gesturing for him to stop. But Reed was enjoying himself. Well, if you can't embarrass your subordinates now and again, what is the point of being an officer?

"Nothing to do with that chest of hers, like two artillery shells under a tarpaulin? Or the arse, which let's face it, is so perfectly shaped that......she's behind me, isn't she?" Finally he'd caught on to the way that his men had been looking past him, not at him. They nodded silently.

"Excuse me, I forgot this." Polly said, picking up her case. She shot Reed a look that he had no idea what to make of. Was it amusement? He hoped so. It could just as easily have been contempt though. He stammered out an apology that she waved away. But even that was ambiguous. Did she think that there was no need to apologise, or that she wouldn't accept it?

Only when she had left, and he was sure she'd left, did he let himself relax. "Hell, that was scarier than fighting the Axanar. Better stay out of her way for a few days."

Tharpa nodded sagely. "Hope for storms sir. Hope she stays on Enterprise. Otherwise....not many place to hide in small shuttle pod."
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Old October 16 2009, 04:17 AM   #144
Duncan MacLeod
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

Oh, I loved this one. Poor Reed. Never seen a worse case of Foot-in-Mouth before. The fact that every word of it was true just made it worse.
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Old October 16 2009, 01:57 PM   #145
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

Polly wanting a bacon sandwich after looking at a picture of the Tellarites was priceless. mmmmm bacon Makes you wonder though. Perhaps the Gorn desire a good leg of chimp (or the Gorn equivilant of a chimp) after seeing a human, it would certainly make interstellar relations more interesting.
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Old October 16 2009, 08:40 PM   #146
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

That was funny! Right out of a caption contest- "She's behind me, isn't she?"
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Old October 20 2009, 11:59 PM   #147
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

Thanks for the comments guys. I was worried that the set up for the joke might have come across as sexist, but it seems to have worked as planned.

Apologies for not updating faster, touch of the writers block. I know what I need to do next, but I'm having difficulty getting it out of my head and onto the screen.
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Old October 21 2009, 11:08 AM   #148
Duncan MacLeod
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

Well, we are getting a bit impatient.

But, as a writer myself, I certainly understand and sympathize with what you're dealing with.
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Old October 21 2009, 06:38 PM   #149
adm_gold
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

Very well done Looking forward to the meeting with the Tellerites.
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Old October 24 2009, 11:26 PM   #150
The Badger
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Re: Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

Tellarite Trading Post D4.
Captain's Log. 7th May 2151. We've arrived at our destination and have been given permission to send down a landing party. Technically speaking this won't be a first contact situation, as our ambassadors on Vulcan been introduced to the Tellarites at various diplomatic functions. Despite this I am still somewhat nervous. This will be the first significant meeting between our species without the watchful eye of the Vulcans acting as chaperone.
In addition there are several ships in orbit, three of which are from species we've not yet had contact with and only know through the Vulcan database. Quite apart from it's impact on our current mission, our actions here could have long term ramifications for humanities relationship with other space faring powers.


A chill wind blew into the shuttlepod as soon as the hatch opened, carrying with it a sulphurous scent. Archer crinkled his nose in distaste. He glanced around the cabin. Mayweather was shutting down the primary systems. Archer gave him a nod of respect. Landing in this weather would have been tricky, but the young helmsman had pulled it off well. The ride down had been a little bumpy, but nothing too serious.

Hoshi Sato was pulling on a thick parka and grabbing her gear. Her eyes twinkled with excitement, and she grinned at Archer. Despite his nerves he grinned back. This was, after all, what the UESPA was all about. New life and new civilizations.

Reed and his marines were checking their side-arms. Pistols only. Going in waving assault rifles was not the best way to make friends. The marines weren't too happy about that but Archer had insisted. Still, unlike regular military forces Reed's people had a lot of training with 'shorts', as they called their pistols. As an elite Pathfinder unit, they had skills that most soldiers only dream of.

When Polly Partridge had declined the chance to join the party, having taken one look at the meteorological data, Reed had brought in another one of his people to fill the vacant seat. Grant, the red haired woman Hoshi had met when visiting Corporal James in sickbay, usually acted as a sniper. That set of skills wasn't needed under these circumstances, but she spoke Vulcan well so had been a good choice to come along. Inevitably, given both her hair colour and Reed's love of James Bond, she was known as 'Red' Grant.

Archer had noticed some sort of private joke amongst the marines. At one point Dumont had asked Reed if he had plans to appear in a pantomime at Christmas. Reed, obviously puzzled, had said "No. Why do you ask?"

Dumont had then said that if he had been doing a pantomime, then they would help him learn his lines. The three marines then chorused "She's behind you!", and fell about laughing. This was the first, but by no means last, comment they'd made about someone being behind Reed. They found it hilarious. He found it embarrassing. Archer found it mystifying, and resolved to ask Reed about it later.

There was a distant rumble of thunder, and a thin spattering of rain began to pepper the windscreen.

Archer said "OK. Travis, stay here and keep in contact. Everyone else, with me."

They dashed across the landing pad, down the short flight of stairs, and towards the only building in sight, a low, wide concrete bunker. By the time they reached it the rain was falling quite heavily, whipped up by the gusting wind.

Their approach must have been observed, as the hatch swung open as they got near. A short stocky figure waved them in. As their eyes adjusted to the darkness they could make out it's little piggy features.

Archer cleared his throat. In Vulcan he said "Greetings. I am---"

"An idiot." the Tellarite interrupted in the same language. "Only an idiot would try to land with the solstice storms approaching."

For a moment Archer was nonplussed, before remembering the Tellarite's argumentative nature. "Well, perhaps if I weren't dealing with a race so foolish as to place a valued trading post in the path of a weather system that can be predicted by any one with half a brain, the situation might not have arisen."

The Tellarite snorted. "Yes, the Vulcan's told us of your race's arrogance."

"I wouldn't take everything they tell you as true. They neglected to tell us just how spectacularly hideous you are." Archer said. He waited until the other had opened his mouth to reply before adding "On my ship there is a scientist who is convinced that there is no God. I'll introduce you to her someday, I think you'll change her mind. There's no way evolution alone could have lead to something so repulsive."

There were a few moments of silence. Then the Tellarite emitted a strange hacking sound, which Archer eventually recognized to be laughter. "Walk this way." he said, leading to a flight of stairs.

"If I could walk that way I'd see a doctor." Reed put in, earning a dirty look from the Tellarite.

They descended the stairs. The Tellarite led them into a network of caves, adapted into quite cosy rooms. Some sort of polymer had been applied to the ground to provide a flat stable floor. Doors had been added to some of the cave entrances, forming rooms. At one point they passed what was obviously a bar of some sort, with numerous patrons. There were several games of chance and skill being played, and the stacked credit chips suggested that wagers were being made.

"Oh, sir, perhaps we should stop here for a moment? Get a feel for the place?" Hoshi said.

"We've got a job to do, Lieutenant." Archer reminded her. "Stick with me." he added. It'd be just like Hoshi to wander off in search of a chance to make a few bets.

After a couple more minutes they arrived at what looked like an administration area. Their guide told them to wait, and went through a large door. Through another door, half open, Archer could see some sort of space traffic control centre.

"Reed, you and your people head back to that bar. Have a look round, see what you can pick up."

"Yes sir."

Hoshi glared at the marine's backs as they left. "That was my idea! I wanted to go!"

Archer said "I need people out there looking for information, not wagering half our deuterium supply on a coin toss."

Hoshi held up a finger. "One time. I did that one time. You'll never let me forget that will you?"

The door opened and their guide leaned out. "Where are the others? They better not be causing trouble."

"They had to leave," Archer explained. "They couldn't stand the smell."

They were lead into a large, gloomy office with a big desk. Next to a large viewscreen stood another Tellarite, even shorter and rounder than the guide. His nose was more upturned, and his eyes so deep set they resembled small holes in his face. He wore a metallic uniform, mostly silver with large gun metal coloured squares.

"I am Gran, administrator of this facility." He touched a control on the viewscreen. An image of the Enterprise came up, shot, Archer guessed, from one of the satellites they'd detected in orbit. Gran examined it for a moment, then turned to face Hoshi. "Small, ugly, and unfit for any purpose."

Having played chess most of his life Archer recognized a trap being prepared. If Hoshi defended the ship Gran would make it clear his comments applied to her. If she took his description personally then the Tellarite would claim he meant the ship, and follow up with a comment about humans being paranoid or lacking perception. Fortunately Hoshi spotted the trap herself.

"Small, ugly, and unfit for any purpose?" she echoed. "Small, ugly, and unfit for any purpose. Hmm. Please excuse my surprise. I wasn't aware it was Tellarite custom to describe their genitalia at first meeting."

Archer suppressed a smile. Behind him the guide gave a hacking laugh.

Gran grunted, and gestured to the guide. "You can go, Lak. So, what brings your pitiful species crawling all the way from that chunk of te'rath you call home."

Archer sobered as he remembered the mission. "Perhaps we should sit, administrator, this may take some time...."


***
Back in the bar Reed ordered four glasses of Altair water. It wasn't his usual poison, but it wouldn't do to get drunk. Vulcan credit chips were an acceptable currency here, and the marines had been issued a reasonable stipend for purchases. Reed gave the Tellarite behind the bar a little extra, enough for a drink for himself, and asked a few general questions.

The UEMA Marine forces are all well trained to begin with, and there are a number of special units within their ranks. Though not specifically tasked with espionage, Marine Pathfinders often have to act in support of intelligence missions, and all it's members have basic training in spy craft. To Reed's constant disappointment he'd never been called upon to infiltrate an enemy base whilst wearing a tuxedo, but he did know how to talk to people, and more importantly get them to talk to him, without raising undue suspicion.

He could also tell when he was being watched.

Of course, as newcomers to this region of space, they were bound to get a certain amount of interest. Curious glances followed their every move. But there was one who seemed unduly interested. Perhaps such intense scrutiny was merely his species' way, but Reed doubted it. The alien had been deep in conversation with two others, of a different species, when the humans had entered. They'd clearly all been enjoying themselves, knocking back their drinks and laughing uproariously, but that particular alien had gone very quiet on seeing Reed and his men. His drinking companions had given them a curious glance, then gone back to their chatter. Even from this distance--they were at the far end of the bar--it was clear they were surprised by the other's sudden reticence. Several times they asked him what was wrong. He made a shushing gesture.

He doesn't want them drawing attention to him, Reed realized. He glanced at his people, seeing in their eyes that they'd picked up on it too.

Whilst still talking to the bartender, he used the reflection of the bar mirror to observe the alien. Humanoid. Short. Bald head, pale wrinkled skin. Small eyes and nose, large rodent like ears. An indented ridge running from the tip of the nose to the back of the head. No apparent thumb, four fingered hands. Dressed in a dirty brown leather like substance that had clearly seen better days.

Without finishing his drink the rodent like alien got to his feet and made for the exit. His two companions exchanged glances and shrugs. Reed drained his glass and followed, his men close behind him.

Out in the corridor the alien began moving faster, not running but certainly in a hurry. He glanced over his shoulder, saw the Enterprise men and quickened his pace.

"Hey! Excuse me, I want a word with you!" Reed called. The alien slowed, but it was not to exchange words. From under his coat he pulled a large, and familiar looking, side arm.

Reed dropped out of the line of fire, bellowing at his men to do the same, and drew his own gun. The alien fired, the pulse of orange-red plasma passing over Reed, close enough to feel the heat. There was a loud crack as the bolt impacted the wall. Reed raised his gun to return fire, but the alien grabbed a Tellarite passing by, forcing him into the line of fire.

Alarms began wailing, and there were shouts and screams from the bar. The alien ran. Reed followed, barging past the startled Tellarite and tried to line up a shot. The corridor was too crowded, he didn't dare risk it.


***

It's often difficult to tell what aliens are thinking. Body language can be very different. But there are many similarities, and Archer could tell that Administrator Gran was deeply shocked to hear of the attack on the Rexus station. He seemed more concerned that the attackers might target his facility next than he was for the Vulcan Premier, but that was understandable. Archer didn't think that likely, but did nothing to disabuse him of that fear. Whilst he'd never have deliberately misled the Tellarite, he couldn't say for certain that the fears were wrong, and it did seem to be encouraging a more cooperative attitude.

Gran was promising that he'd have his people look into it when the alarms began sounding. The fat little Tellarite leapt from his seat and waddled to the exit, telling Archer and Hoshi to stay there.

Archer's communicator chirruped. "Archer here."

It was Reed. He quickly filled the Captain in on events. "And sir, the weapon he fired at us, it was a Widowmaker."

"Are you sure?"

"I've had them fired at me often enough."

Archer thought about this. Widowmaker's were cheap and nasty guns that had been used during the Alpha colony rebellion. They were designed to be made from commonly available parts. An unpleasant suspicion hit him. Could the design have been passed on to others? It was bad enough when just the rebels knew how to make them, but with a proper manufacturing base this sector could be flooded with guns.

Reed continued. "Sir, the local security forces have arrived, I think we'd better cooperate."

Despite the fact Reed couldn't see him, Archer nodded. "Stand down Mister Reed. Which way did your attacker go?"

"Towards the landing pads."

"Understood. Hold on in there, we'll get this sorted. Archer out." He changed channel. "Travis. Anything happening?"

After a few seconds Mayweather responded. "No sir, all quiet."

The door opened, and the guide from earlier beckoned them out. He lead them to the traffic control centre he'd spotted. Gran looked displeased.

"In our base for less than an hour, and already you cause trouble."

"That's not how..." Archer started, but Gran waved him down.

"We have recordings of public areas, we will see what really happened."

One of the consoles started bleeping. As the Tellarites gathered around it Archer's communicator signalled.

"Mayweather here. Someone just blasted off, in a real hurry. From the energy discharge it looks like they're running their engines without pre-heating. That can't be good."

"Perhaps they're trying to get away before the storm hits." Hoshi suggested.

Mayweather must have heard her. "I guess it's nice and cosy down where you are. The storm's here. Damn heavy too. I could get through it safely, but there's not many else got a hope."

Given Mayweather's customary cockiness it was difficult for Archer to tell if that was an accurate assessment. He signalled Enterprise. "Hernandez, we've got a ship trying to fly through this storm. Keep an eye on it."

"Aye sir, we're tracking it already. Professor Partridge picked up a signal some moments ago."

Archer thought about this. The shuttles he'd seen parked outside looked to be short range only, so the alien must be heading towards one of the ships in orbit. He was probably telling them to get ready for his docking.

The door opened. Reed and his men were escorted in by uniformed and armed Tellarites, obviously security. Quickly they filled one another in on events.

"According to Vel, the head of security here," Reed said, "the alien was from a race called the Yridians. They're known as smugglers, and information brokers. If there's anything going down in this sector---"

"They know about it?" Hoshi asked.

"Or they're part of it. Not a major part, but getting info or items from A to B."

The beeping console suddenly wailed. Around it the Tellarites started jabbering. Archer pulled his communicator.

"Hernandez, anything happening?"

"God, yes. There's been a ---what? Are you sure?" A short pause. "Damn. It looks like that shuttles lost control. It's losing altitude fast, could be lightening strike, but....hold on.....It's signalling again...long signal this time, we can't make it out but it's being recorded, we can try translating when Sato's back....it's gone sir. Looks like it hit the ground some hundred and twelve kilometres north east of you. Exploded on impact."

There were sounds in the background. Polly Partridge, her voice recognisable but her words indistinct, saying something.

"Did you get that sir?" asked Hernandez.

Archer replied in the negative.

"One of the other ships up here has begun charging it's warp engines, and is pulling out of orbit. I could try to cripple it sir, the plasma cannons are---"

Archer caught the look on Gran's face. "Absolutely not! We are not going to open fire unless absolutely necessary. Especially when guests in another species' territory! Do I make myself clear?"

When the answer finally came it was clearly through clenched teeth. "Yes. Sir."

"Try to track them for as long as possible. Get a vector when they go to warp. Archer out." He snapped the communicator shut before Hernandez could respond.

Gran approached. "Captain Archer. Go wait in my office. I must organise a search and rescue attempt for the shuttle pilot. Futile, I know, but we must make the effort. Then, we have much to discuss. I may have a possible lead for you..."
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