Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by CeJay, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. Dnoth

    Dnoth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Location:
    In the illusion, but not of it.
    I agree that the captain (and XO) handled that well. It's very 'real' that you put those squabbles in. A lot of so-called professionals do not act the part. Fortunately, some develop it over time...or with a swift kick in the a**! ;)
     
  2. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
    Location:
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.
    ^ Ditto that! As the more militaristic members of the crew, Mer'iab and Sh'Fane would be used to seeing things in terms of potential threats. It's what they understand, what they deal with. And as such, 'cooperate, or else!' would have more resonance to them than 'cooperate for the good of the team'.
     
  3. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Khazara, 2372


    She would never have admitted it to Subcommander Rekar, the Tal Shiar liaison and her temporary second-in-command, but Commander Toreth felt anxious about operating on the wrong side of the Neutral Zone.

    The last time her vessel had been outside the Empire a couple of years ago, it had ended rather badly for her, facing off with a Starfleet vessel and having been compromised by a Federation spy who had been in cahoots with her own people to smuggle defectors into Starfleet’s waiting hands.

    It had been an embarrassment from which she had not easily recovered. Her standing with the Imperial Guard had been severely damaged after that incident and it had bordered on a miracle that she had been able to cling to her command.

    Her past experiences were not the only reason why she felt anxious over this mission. She had in fact voiced her protests to what she had been asked to do before they had set out, it wasn’t as if she still had a reputation to defend, but it had fallen on deaf ears to both the Tal Shiar and Admiral Tomalak. It wasn’t often that the Romulan intelligence community and high-ranking military officers saw eye-to-eye on anything but Toreth suspected that both parties saw this mission as their own means for redemption.

    It had been less than a year that the ubiquitous intelligence service had been handed a sound and humiliating defeat by the Dominion in the Gamma Quadrant, a fact that the remaining Tal Shiar had tried to keep hidden from the general populace but had failed to keep a secret from many in the military.

    And Tomalak had suffered his own series of embarrassments over the years, especially at the hands of Starfleet, which had many left wondering how exactly he had managed to get himself promoted to his current rank. Some had speculated that the Senate had felt that he could do less damage to the Empire as a flag officer on Romulus than in command of a warbird patrolling the neutral zone.

    Toreth knew that somebody had seriously underestimated the admiral’s drive and ambition as well as his determination to try and deal the Federation payback for the humiliation he had endured at their hands.

    “Commander, we are now entering our destination star system,” reported the uhlan in charge of piloting the majestic D'deridex-class warbird.

    The ship lurched as it encountered sudden resistance to its forward momentum.

    “Report,” Toreth barked as she steadied herself in her chair.

    “We are encountering increased gravimetric distortions the closer we get to our destination,” the uhlan at the helm said.

    Toreth uttered a heavy sigh. They had travelled at full impulse for the last five hours to approach the Iota Crucis system and now that they had finally gotten close, another obstacle had been put into their path. “Tell engineering to double our output to the engines, I do not want to lose any more time than necessary. Keep us at full sub-light no matter what.”

    “Yes, sir,” he said and began to contact the engineering compartment.

    “We should be in communications range by now,” said Sub-commander Rekar. “Hail the Xenarth and let me begin my negotiations.”

    The commander shot the man on her right a dark glare. Toreth had no love for the Tal Shiar and their overbearing officers, something that hadn’t changed after she had been fooled by a Federation spy who had impersonated herself as an intelligence officer on her ship. “Sub-commander, I do not know what kind of assignments you are used to and frankly I do not care,” she said in a sharp tone. “On this vessel I am the person giving the orders and I will be carrying out the negotiations.”

    He took a step closer to her chair and spoke to her softly. “I do not care for your tone, Commander.”

    “Nor do I for yours,” she shot back in an equally low tone. Her crew was well aware of her dislike for the Tal Shiar but she also understood that open conflict with Rekar could potentially lead to an early grave once this mission was over.

    Rekar held his tongue, for now deciding it best to give the ship’s commanding officer some leeway in carrying out the mission how she felt best. Toreth had no illusions that he would swoop in again once he thought that things were not proceeding in the best interest of the Tal Shiar.

    “Centurion, have you established communications with the Xenarth leadership?”

    The second officer nodded sharply. “It appears our intelligence reports were accurate, Commander and I have been able to open a direct line to Scholar Queen Klestra, the current leader of the Xenarth Aggregate.”

    Rekar had a self-satisfying smile on his lips. “You doubted the accuracy of our reports?”

    “It wouldn’t have been the first time the Tal Shiar was wrong,” said Toreth.

    The dark scowl on the intelligence officer’s features told her that she had gone too far and she made a mental note to reign in her distaste for the man. She glanced back at her second officer. “Put her on screen, Centurion.”

    Moments later the distinctive insectoid face of a presumably female Xenarth appeared on the main viewer at the front of the bridge. It took all of Toreth willpower not to show her disgust for the clearly non-humanoid creature’s appearance. She couldn’t help herself, the Xenarth reminded her of the vile insect-like race which infested the Romulan world of Aranthka IX.

    “What is the meaning of this intrusion? Who are you?” the female insectoid said with a noticeable clicking noise in her speech, her feelers twitching in angry excitement.

    The commander rose from her chair. “My name is Toreth and I represent the Romulan Star Empire,” she said. “We have observed your recent embrace of advanced technology with great interest and believe that you may be ready to become a significant ally to our people.”

    Toreth couldn’t be certain, of course, but she thought those large and dark compound eyes considered her with suspicion. “We have no interest of foreigners meddling with our affairs.”

    She smirked at this. “I’m afraid you have no choice in this matter if you value your continued existence.”

    “You threaten us?”

    Toreth quickly shook her head. “Absolutely not,” she said resolutely. “I simply wish to warn you of the dangers of pursuing an isolationist policy in this region of space. You may not be aware of this yet, seeing that you have only recently developed technology able to probe deeper into space, but you are surrounded on all sides by powerful forces, some reasonable and friendly like the Romulan Star Empire and some corruptive and hostile like the Federation.”

    “The Federation,” she nearly spat. “We have had dealing with them in the distant past.”

    That threw Toreth off for a moment and she allowed herself a quick glance towards Rekar. His reports had not indicated that the Xenarth had made previous contact with other races. As far as she had been told the Xenarth had been an insignificant pre-warp civilization until very recently when they had suddenly developed space-faring technology and more importantly commenced work on synthesizing a power source far beyond what even the scientists in the empire had ever successfully achieved. To Toreth it had sounded like an improbable scenario from the first time she had heard of it and secretly she was pleased that the Tal Shiar had clearly not been as knowledgeable of Xenarth history as they had claimed.

    That much was obvious upon studying Rekar’s now blank expression. But before he could suggest a remedy for this lack of intelligence, Toreth decided to gamble and she turned back towards the screen. “So you must know then of their contemptible attempts to try and corrupt all people they encounter.”

    It was difficult to tell if she was on to something or not, the Xenarth’s face was not easily read and the queen remained silent.

    “I expect that they have noticed your recent technological advancements just as we have and that they have dispatched an invasion force as we speak. However if you agree to ally yourself with us, the Star Empire will protect you from their meddling influence.”

    “What guarantee do I have that you will not do the same?”

    At that she smiled. It was a good-natured smile, one she had spent countless times practicing in her mirror. “If you tell me now that you do not wish our assistance, that you’d rather deal with the Federation and their powerful military apparatus by yourself, I will order this ship to turn around immediately and we will never bothered you again,” she said. She could hear a nervous Rekar take a step forward, clearly not happy about the way she was handling these so-called negotiations. She held up a hand towards him in a way that Klestra couldn’t see from her vantage point, keeping the Tal Shiar agent at bay. “However, I must stress to you that this is the only offer of assistance that we shall make. We have our own resources to consider and we expended quite a few of to come here today. If you wish to face the Federation by yourselves and you eventually realize that you don’t like what they have to offer. The Star Empire will be in no position to help you fight off the foreign soldiers which by then will certainly have invaded your sovereign lands.”

    Queen Klestra uttered a number of clicking noises in quick succession. The fact that the translation matrix did not provide an interpretation in Romulan led Toreth to believe that those hadn’t been actual words. The insectoid fell silent again for a moment, then glanced off screen before eventually focusing on the Romulan commander again. “My predecessors were foolish,” she said. “They believed that they needed no allies while the Colony was at its weakest and most vulnerable. Then, when we were almost destroyed because of Federation intercession we turned away from the very technology which could have made us great again. I will not let the past repeat itself. The Xenarth will once again rise as a power to be reckoned with.”

    Toreth was in the inevitable position in which she had no clear understanding as to what the insectoid queen was referring to. Clearly there was much more to the Xenarth than the Tal Shiar had been able to learn. She decided to go along with it. “The Romulan Star Empire can help you to achieve greatness again, Queen Klestra. All the Federation has ever been interested in is to keep those they conquer and corrupt in line with their narrow-minded morals and ideology. We on the other hand want to see you fulfill your entire potential.”

    “You are welcome to approach New Xenarth,” she said. “And we shall discuss your proposed alliance in more detail.”

    Toreth smiled. “I’m looking forward to meeting you in person, Queen Klestra.”

    That smile and appearance of confidence disappeared from her face along with the image of the insectoid on the screen as she let herself sink back into her command chair.

    Any reasonable observer may have guessed that Toreth knew exactly what she was doing. The truth however was that she was heavily improvising. Neither Tomalak nor Rekar had told her much about the true nature of this mission or what it was exactly that made the Xenarth so valuable as to risk open confrontation with the Federation. She hated to be left in the dark and she was determined to remedy this situation as soon as possible.
     
  4. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Well played by Toreth, who’s already dancing on the edge of a razor and taunting her Tal Shiar minder. Leave it to the Romulans to stumble blindly into an already dicey situation and make it ever so much worse!
     
  5. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Just got completely caught up. This is a great story, CeJay! I'll add my kudos for your great character work in this story.

    Captain Donners is having to walk a razor's edge between following her orders and following her command instincts in a situation that is becoming more complex with each chapter. Now with the Romulans in the mix, the chance for a catastrophic outcome has grown by geometric proportions.

    Maya seems up to the task - she's shown herself willing to deal with recalcitrant senior officers while listening to the counsel of her senior NCO and of course, the Counselor. Texx is also showing his moxie as First Officer. But the relatively young and often volatile crew may be facing a challenge that will stretch them to the breaking point. Truly a tense and dramatic tale with major consequences not just for the Federation but the entire quadrant.

    And I'm also enjoying the flashback to the Lexington and Commodore Wesley and co. You're doing a great job portraying them as well! :)
     
  6. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Lexington, 2267


    “The swarm ships have detected us and are altering course. Two minutes to intercept,” said Terrence Lawford while peering through the sensor hood on the navigation console.

    “Steady as she goes, Ensign,” said Wesley, once more starring intently towards the screen were a small cluster of flickering space indicated the presence of hundreds of tiny ships heading straight for Lexington. The commodore toggled his comm unit. “G’arv, are the shield modifications ready?”

    “Ready as they’ll ever be,” he responded sharply. “They should hold for about five minutes. After that all bets are off.”

    “Bring the shield online and siphon every last bit of energy you can spare into the grid.”

    Not a moment later the lights on the bridge noticeably dimmed and Wesley could hear the telltale sounds of power being rerouted from all non-essential systems around him.

    “Shields are up,” Lawford said.

    “How long until we reach the planet?” Wesley wanted to know.

    “Four minutes and thirty-two second until standard orbit if we maintain full impulse,” said Zha’Thara.

    This prompted the first officer to step next to his captain and slightly lean into him. “No guarantee they will let up once we get there,” he said in a whispered tone of voice which for the man known as the Bear turned out to be not much of a whisper at all.

    Wesley simply nodded, already fully cognizant of the risks inherent of this plan.

    “Here come the bugs,” said Aliz Bathory and instinctively held on to her console.

    She didn’t need to have bothered. The shield modifications held and while Lexington began to shake and tremble once more, it was much gentler this time around.

    “They’re on top of us and opening fire. Shields are holding but not for their lack of trying,” said the Andorian who monitored the swarm ship’s effort through her sensor viewer.

    Wesley turned in his chair until he faced his communications chief, sitting behind him and next to the turbolift entrance. “Lieutenant, any sign of communication from the planet?”

    Oudekirk held her earpiece a little tighter and manipulated a few buttons on her console as she looked over her shoulder. “I’m picking up a lot of chatter between the swarm ships and Iota Curcis IV. I cannot make out what they’re saying yet but the UT is starting to catch on. Whatever they are saying to each other, it has become a lot more urgent in the last few minutes.”

    “They’re getting nervous,” said Kuznetsov.

    “Can you blame them?” asked the science officer, turning from her own station. “They have an unknown, well-armed and seemingly unstoppable ship on direct course to their world. I’d be nervous, too.”

    Wesley considered that for a moment and then nodded. “They see us as a threat,” he said and then to Oudekirk. “Open another channel, Lieutenant, this time directed towards the planet.”

    She gave him a quick nod to know he could speak.

    “Attention, this is Commodore Robert Wesley from the Federation starship Lexington. We come in peace and only wish to talk to you. We do not have hostile intentions. I say again, we come in peace.”

    He waited a moment and then looked back at the Dutch comm officer. But she shook her head. There had been no apparent reply.

    “If we can’t understand them yet, perhaps they can’t understand us,” the first officer suggested.

    “Keep sending that message in a continuous loop. Perhaps their translators are more efficient than ours.”

    Oudekirk nodded and went to work.

    Just then the bridge trembled sharply almost causing Ketteract to be thrown to the deck before he could grab hold of the railing. “God, I thought those shields were going to hold,” he said.

    “This is what you asked us to do, Doctor,” Kuznetsov shot back, showing zero sympathy for the man. “Get to this planet, no matter what.”

    “The swarm ships have picked up the pace, sir,” said the Andorian after checking her readings. “I don’t think we have as much time as we thought.”

    Moments later Commander G’arv from engineering put a much finer point to it. “Bridge, whatever we’re doing, we’re making them angry. We don’t have enough juice in our circuits to keep those shield modifications up for more than a minute or so. Commodore, I strongly suggest a new course of action or you won’t have a ship left to worry about.”

    Bob Wesley left his chair and stepped up right behind Cilla Oudekirk as if his physical proximity to the communications console could will the other end to respond to their hails. “Anything on the UT yet?”

    She shook her head. “Sorry, sir. It’s having a tough time with the alien syntax.”

    Lexington’s captain looked back at the screen were he could see nothing but a moving mass of black and brown which had completely enveloped his ship. He had to steady himself by holding on to the back of Oudekirk’s chair as the deck plates under his feet trembled with increasing severity. He thought he could see specks of the sepia-colored planet not far beyond the bug ships.

    “We’re beginning to lose main power,” said Zha’Thara and as if to stress her point, the bridge lights began to dim further. A few non-essential console went completely dark, startling the officers manning them.

    The first officer found Wesley’s eyes. “Fight of flight time?”

    Wesley nodded and then looked back towards Oudekirk. “Open the channel again.”

    “Channel open.”

    “Attention, this is to whoever can hear me on Iota Crucis IV. We will not be deterred to reach your planet even if you are successful in destroying us in the process.”

    This caused a few bridge officers to shoot their captain, the man they trusted with their very lives, surprised glances. Some even gasped openly, not having expected this to become a suicide run.

    Most telling of all perhaps was Bendes Ketteract, who judging by his confused facial expression wasn’t quite sure how he should feel about being killed in pursuit of a scientific excursion he himself had practically demanded.

    “But note this: If you are successful in destroying this vessel, many more will come to investigate and you will be unable to defend yourself against a dozen ships similar to this one. Your desperate attempts to remain isolated will fail.”

    The bridge fell silent except for the increasing sounds of the battered shields and a ship sailing through rough and worsening waters. Most eyes remained on Oudekirk who frantically tried to send and resend the commodore’s last message through whatever channels she could open quickly enough.

    G’arv’s angry voice pierce the silence. “Bridge, you’ve had better made peace with your creator. Shields are failing.”

    One bridge console after the next began to explode in a spark of flames and a number of officers were thrown from their seats. But as quickly as the chain reaction had begun did it cease again.

    And then, as if having cleared a storm, the deck plates stopped rattling and their ride smoothed out. Like dissipating clouds, the swarm ships disengaged to allow a clear view on Iota Crucis IV now just a few hundred kilometers away.

    Alexei Kuznetsov couldn’t help himself and an uncharacteristically large grin spread over his face. “Remind me never to play poker with you, Commodore.”

    Wesley gave him a blank look in response. “Who said I was bluffing?” he said and headed back to his chair.

    Ketteract couldn’t stop his jaw from hanging wide open, not able to quite process how close he had come to being killed before ever getting a chance to get a good look at his wonder particles.

    Zha’Thara however seemed to know better and her little smile seemed to give away that she had never once doubted Wesley and his ability to get them through that rough patch in one piece.

    “Commodore, we are being hailed,” a clearly relieved Oudekirk announced.

    “Put it on screen, Lieutenant,” Wesley said after he had settled in his chair again, looking as stone-faced and professional as ever.

    The main viewer shifted for a moment and then displayed an entirely alien face. The person on the screen, and no one on Lexington’s bridge could tell for certain if it was a person at all, male or female for that matter, possessed a body which appeared to have more in common with a large insect than a human. Its toughened skin appeared more like an exoskeleton in some places. Its oblong head had two huge and pitch black eyes which were positioned at its sides. Two v-shaped feelers protruded from its frontal lobes and not too far below sat two large mandibles which looked razor-sharp. Most of the rest of the creature’s body was hidden but it did appear to have at least four arms.

    The bridge crew stared at the screen with poorly hidden surprise and disgust.

    “It’s hideous,” said Aliz Bathory under her breath before she could even think about her words.

    “Ensign, belay that,” Wesley said sharply.

    “Sorry,” she mumbled and then forced herself to look down at her station instead.

    The creature didn’t appear to have noticed the outburst but instead began to talk in an urgent series of clicks and tones which were incomprehensible to Wesley and his crew. From the way its mandibles and antennae twitched, the insect-like creature was furious.

    “Lieutenant, the universal translator,” said he commodore without ever taking his eyes off the creature.

    “Coming online now,” she reported. “I think it made a breakthrough.”

    No sooner had she spoken, the previously strange voice began to make sense. “… sovereign territory of the Xenarth Colony. You are to turn around immediately and leave this system or face destruction,” said the creature with what the universal translator had clearly interpreted as a female sounding voice.

    “I apologize for the intrusion and I assure you we have no hostile intentions against you and your people. My name is Robert Wesley and I represent the United Federation of Planets. To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?”

    The creature on the screen seemed to ponder those words for a moment, as if considering if they were even worth her response. “You are addressing Warrior Queen Quelphi, representative of the Xenarth Aggregate. You have five lirkiks to turn your vessel around and leave our space before I will order your destruction.”

    If Wesley was intimidated by the threat he did an impressive job of hiding it. Instead he only looked more resolute as he leaned forward in his chair, displaying a much more relaxed and comfortable image of himself compared to his agitated counterpart. “Queen Quelphi, I am not certain if you appreciate our situation. According to our records, the planet which you are currently occupying is uninhabited and within the borders of our Federation. So you see, it is in fact you who has intruded into our space and I am duty bound to investigate this matter fully.”

    This seemed to irritate Quelphi further. “This is not our concern. This planet and this system have now been rightfully claimed by the Xenarth Colony,” she stopped herself and looked off-screen as if somebody there had caught her attention. Then with something akin to a frown she turned back to face Wesley. “You will hold your position until I contact you again. Failure to follow these instructions will lead to your annihilation.” The channel was closed with no further notice.

    The commodore turned his chair to face his senior officers. “Thoughts?”

    “She’s aggressive,” said the first officer immediately. “As you would expect from somebody with the title of Warrior Queen. But unsure of herself, that much seemed obvious. Like she knows she doesn’t belong here.”

    Wesley nodded. “The question is then, where did they come from and why did they choose to come here. If there had a choice in the matter that is,” he said and then looked at his science officer next.

    “Fascinating, as my Vulcan colleagues would say. They are a species of highly-evolved insectoids with a social structure not unlike more primitive anthropoid life-forms. The fact that she referred to herself as a warrior queen seems to imply that she is merely one of many other similar queens to make up their ruling establishment. Judging by the way she seemed to defer to somebody else, I’d say she isn’t the leader or at least not in a position to make final decisions by herself.”

    “Commodore, may I remind you that this isn’t an anthropological survey. We’re here to investigate the energy radiation that may very well be prepared for a weapon of imaginable power even as we speak,” said Ketteract, once more injecting himself into the conversation without a second thought.

    “I haven’t forgotten, Doctor. But in order to learn more about these energy readings, first we have to gain these people’s trust and that means learning more about them.”

    “Sir, they are hailing us again,” Oudekirk reported.

    “Put her on, Lieutenant,” he said and swiveled his chair around again to face the main viewer.

    Quelphi reappeared. “Robert Wesley, do you intend to challenge our claim to this world?” she asked bluntly.

    “On the contrary,” he responded without missing a beat. “I’m perfectly willing to open negotiations between your people and mine so that we can come to a mutually beneficial agreement.”

    That seemed to have thrown off the warrior queen who had apparently not expected this response. Wesley quickly understood that Quelphi was exactly who she claimed to be. She was a warrior and certainly not a diplomat.

    “We are mostly curious about the events which have brought you to this place. We have detected strange and unknown energy readings emanating from your world and would like to learn more about yourself and this energy you employ.” No sooner had he said this, Robert Wesley came to regret his words. He knew almost immediately that he had pushed too far, too quickly.

    The warrior queens renewed signs of alarm were obvious. “None of this is your concern and we are not interested in sharing any knowledge with you. I repeat my previous ultimatum. You now have –“

    Wesley decided to become more bullish himself, interrupting this latest threat before it could be fully formed. “This is not getting us anywhere. As I have pointed out, you are technically our guests. I have shown my willingness to open friendly negotiations with you but if you are unwilling to do so you will leave me no choice but to summon my fleet which will treat you as the intruder that you are.”

    This prompted another look to somewhere off screen and whatever was transpiring between Quelphi and persons unknown seemed to disturb the warrior queen even more. Finally she turned back towards Wesley. “What is it you propose?”
    The captain of the Lexington fought the urge to reveal a triumphant smile. “I propose a face-to-face meeting to discuss this situation further. Myself and a small number of my crew could meet your official representatives on the surface –“

    Now it was her turn to interrupt. “Unacceptable.”

    Wesley nodded slowly almost as if he had expected this response. “Very well. In that case perhaps you would like to join us on board of my ship to open our negotiations.”

    The fact that she didn’t dismiss this out of hand gave Wesley hope.

    “Agreed. Expect our representative to join your vessels shortly. You will maintain your position and make no further attempts to approach this planet or you will be –“

    “Annihilated. Yes, I get the drift.”

    Queen Quelphi feelers twitched angrily one more time and then she disappeared from the view screen again.
    “Is this a bad time to point out that I used to burn ants with a magnifying glass when I was a kid?” said Lawrence with a smirk.

    Wesley stood from his chair. “Listen up folks,” he began, his voice carrying his usually firm and authoritarian tone across the bridge. “I appreciate that these Xenarth look strange and alien to us and that they have an undeniable resemblance to certain insects we may not be particularly fond of. But we cannot lose sight of the fact that these are sentient and clearly highly-intelligent beings. As Starfleet officers it is our mission to respect all life, no matter what form it takes. I expect you all to live up to those ideals while we negotiate with these people.”

    Lawrence and Bathory looked sufficiently chastised and apologetic for their remarks even if the commodore had not singled them out as he spoke to the bridge. Instead it had been the Bear who had shot them both warning glances, making it perfectly clear that he would hold them accountable for whatever inappropriate remarks came over their lips. It was a warning not to be taken lightly.

    But Wesley was happy to leave it at that. He had made his views clear and expected no further problems. “Commander Zha’Thara, I want you and Doctor Ketteract to start scanning the planet and the surrounding space for any signs of this mysterious energy. Inch-by inch if necessary. Learn whatever you can from your sensors.”

    The Andorian nodded and went straight to work. Ketteract on the other hand did not appear to be satisfied and shook his head. “That’s not going to be enough. We need to get down there and analyze the source of these readings up close.”

    “One step at a time, Doctor. For now, find out what you can from here and I’ll see what I can do to make sure you get your name written into the history books,” he said with a dry sarcasm which apparently was lost on the scientist but not on his first officer who couldn’t keep that smirk off his face.
     
  7. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Okay, and I thought Jim Kirk was good at bluffing! :eek:

    The commodore’s gambit was as dangerous as it was successful, and one thing is for certain, Bob Wesley knows how to make a First Contact!

    After all is said and done, I sincerely hope the Bear has the opportunity to toss Dr. Ketteract down a turboshaft.
     
  8. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
    Location:
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.
    I must admit that as much as I enjoy the Agamemnon segments (a lot!), I enjoy the Lexington scenes even more. Perhaps it's simply due to the rarity factor, most fanfic I've read has concentrated on the TNG era or later.

    The crew's reaction to the sight of Quelphi was a very nice touch, showing that in this era humanity is still learning how to accept alien species.
     
  9. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Agamemnon, 2372


    “Hard to believe that Starfleet has been able to keep this a secret for over 100 years,” said Vej after Maya had briefed her senior staff on exactly what they were up against.

    It had not been an easy decision to make and in truth she hated the idea that her first significant command decision after receiving her captaincy had been to violate her orders.

    She blamed her counselor. After all it had been after one of her regular session with Vej and following his advice to study Commodore’s Wesley’s classified logs of his own encounter with the Omega Molecule, that she had started to believe that she had no choice but to bring in the rest of her senior staff.

    Maya aimed a pointed look at the Ulian who sat to her immediate left in Agamemnon’s spacious observation lounge, after he had been the first to speak up. Vej’s inclusion in this meeting could have been seen as an especially grievous disregard of the Omega Directive considering that he wasn’t even a Starfleet officer. As far as she was concerned, she valued his opinion the most.

    He understood the look for what it was. “A secret which naturally shall remain absolutely safe with me,” he continued.

    She nodded and turned to the rest of her crew, most of which were still focusing on the wall-mounted screen which showed as much information about Omega as Amaya had been comfortable sharing with her crew and she hadn’t held back much. After all if she needed her crews help in dealing with this, there was little point in keeping them ignorant of what Omega was or what it could do.

    Judging by their faces, they were all astonished of learning of this immeasurably powerful particle’s existence.

    Chen, who Maya noted had chosen a seat next to their Xenarth guest, seemed especially interested in learning about this new power source which was hardly a surprise considering his profession. “The practical applications of a stabilized Omega molecules must be close to infinite,” he said as he mandibles clicking excitingly. “It could revolutionize the way we power our starship, our planets and open up possibilities we’ve never even thought off before.”

    “Its power is unquestionable,” said Queen Ket. “My people used it to travel many thousands of light-years in a mere instant.”

    Most eyes in the room focused on the Xenarth with amazement.

    “How is that possible?” asked Doctor Sessar-Rass

    “We call it the Heaven’s Portal,” she said. “Forgive me for I cannot provide you with a technical explanation as to its operation but the device, along with this power source were the means with which we came to be on New Xenarth.”

    “Astonishing,” said Allenby. “I’ve heard of the Iconian gateways but I suppose this puts even that technology to shame.”

    If Lure Mer’iab’s was as excited by these revelations as the rest of the senior staff, he did a good job at hiding it behind his stern, avian visage. “What about military applications? Weaponizing this molecule could make any power in the quadrant unstoppable.”

    “Until your enemies get their hands on it,” said Sh’Fane who sat at the opposite side of the room, no doubt on purpose. “Then what you get is a war of attrition with collateral damage in epic proportions.”

    The security chief nodded his head without gracing the marine with a look. “Not necessarily. With two or more nations in possession of weapons of this magnitude, it could result in a balance of power in which the mere presence of such weapons creates a mutual deterrent for war.”

    “Right,” she said sarcastically. “And that’s a good thing because?”

    The avian noticeably ruffled his feathers in a sign of annoyance before glancing her way. “I did not say that this was a preferable outcome but simply a possibility,” he said and then focused on the captain. “My tactical assessment is that the mere existence of such a weapon would pose a great threat to galactic security and stability.”

    Maya nodded.

    “I disagree.”

    All eyes turned towards Wayne Daystrom but the sudden attention did not seem to bother the young and barrel-chested science officer. “And I think it is a mistake to allow ourselves to merely think of the dangers of a new discovery and let that determine our entire approach to it. There is no doubt the Omega molecule can be dangerous but at the same time it can be so incredibly valuable that we cannot allow our fears to blind us to its incredible potential. Starfleet has kept this a secret for a hundred years but no matter how hard you try to keep something hidden, we all know it will come to light eventually. Why not reveal this now? In a controlled manner and on our terms. As Commander Chen has pointed out, the potential of what this could mean to the Federation, the entire galaxy even, is staggering.”

    Maya had worried about precisely this. Daystrom, by now, had had plenty of time to give the matter further thought, and considering his history with Omega and his own reservations which he had raised when she had first approached him, it came as little surprise that he would try again, this time with an audience. Of course there was no doubt in her mind that his carefully rehearsed speech had been addressed at her while trying to pick up supporters in the senior staff.

    “Lieutenant, this is neither the time nor the place to discuss Federation policy,” said Texx. “Even if we wanted to, we are not in a position to influence Starfleet’s strategy on this Omega molecule.”

    Maya was about to jump in to fully agree with her first officer when Daystrom beat her to it. “Why not? How else do you change something that is so blatantly wrong? You have to start somewhere and it might as well be here,” he said, his voice beginning to reflect the passion he felt for this issue. “And surely Starfleet listens to their captains,” he said and then focused in on Donners at the head of the conference table. “If you were to tell them –“

    She interrupted him. “Let me stop you there, Wayne,” she said with a little smile. “I’m flattered that you think I have such influence but the truth is that you have a rather exaggerated view of my importance within the hall of powers. May I remind you that I’ve been a starship captain for less than two weeks.” She shook her head. “I’m afraid I haven’t earned my right to tell Starfleet what to do and rightly so. And quite honestly I doubt even the most accomplished Starfleet officer in the fleet would be able to change the way Command feels about this.”

    Daystrom was clearly not satisfied with his response. “We can at least try,” he said. “If we all just give up before even attempting to change the wrongs of the galaxy then nothing will ever change.”

    The captain stood from her chair and she felt every set of eyes in the room follow her as she walked over to the screen which continued to display the details on this controversial particle. Next she glanced out of the sloped forward-facing viewports, staring out into space for a moment and towards their destination.
    Then she faced her assembled senior crew. “Let’s be clear about this,” she said. “I am not entirely certain that this Omega Directive is the wrong way to deal with something so enormously powerful.”

    “Destroying what we do not understand?” the science officer said. “How does that not go against everything we’ve been led to believe Starfleet stands for?”

    She nodded slowly to accede to that point. “Starfleet is also responsible for the well-being of billions of life-forms all across the known galaxy and sometimes that means to make difficult and uncomfortable decisions,” she said and immediately held up a hand as Daystrom was looking to butt in again. “The dangers of Omega are well-documented and plain to see to anyone who has studied it. They simply outweigh the potential benefits and that is the reason this decision has been made. Am I perfectly comfortable with withholding information and aggressively destroying Omega wherever we may encounter it? Of course not. But I understand how it is not a decision for any of us to make. And I’m thankful for that.”

    She let her gaze wander across the room until it fell on Vej who looked at her with a somewhat troubled expression. Maya immediately understood why. Her speech notwithstanding, he understood better than anyone else in the room that she was incredibly torn on this issue herself and that as a result she had not been as convincing in her argument as she should have been. She had allowed her own doubts to shine through and allowed this conversation to go on for much longer than may have been wise. Perhaps a more veteran starship captain would have ended this entire debate much sooner and much more resolutely.

    “If I may speak?” asked Queen Ket.

    Maya was thankful for the distraction and graced the insectoid with a warm smile. “You do not need permission. Please go ahead.”

    The Xenarth considered Daystrom first but then addressed all the people at the table. “I cannot hide my amazement over your open dialogue which this matter has invited. It would be something unthinkable among my own people, specifically after the Aggregate has made a decision on how to proceed. I find this refreshing. However, I would be remiss if I did not allow you to see my own perspective on what my people call the Xendaru particle. Our scholars have studied it in great detail for many generations, much longer I presume than your own. And ever since the days we have first discovered it, we have attempted to utilize its awesome potential. I am not a scholar but I can tell you that the sacrifices, both in lives and resources that we have had to pay have been near incalculable. And when we were finally at a stage were we thought it could be safely utilized we found ourselves at the brink of collapse following an invasion by an alien force more powerful than anything we had ever encountered before. We were left with no choice but to use Xendaru to try an escape from their single-minded aim to secure it for themselves. Millions of my people perished defending our word and millions more when the Heaven’s Portal transplanted the Colony to New Xenarth.”

    It took a moment to let Ket’s abridged Xenarth history sink in with the officers around the table.

    It was Mer’iab who spoke first. “This alien race that attacked you? Do you know who they were?”

    Texx stepped in. “I think we should remain focused on the core message of the Xenarth’s experience with Omega.”

    Maya sat back in her chair. “Agreed,” she said and focused on the insectoid. “It’s disturbing to hear that after everything your people have been through they would attempt to risk everything yet again by synthesizing this molecule a second time.”

    Ket jerked her head sideways in a sign of her agreement. “It is the reason I have sought you out, Captain. I’m hoping that together we can avoid repeating the same mistakes.”

    She nodded but then her facial expressions hardened. “We have something called the Prime Directive,” she explained. “It means that we are not allowed to interfere with other races internal matters and developments. This Omega Directive overrides this but you have to understand that the Prime Directive is one of our most important rules and has been drilled into us since the very first day we attended the Academy. We have all sworn an oath to uphold it. It will not be easy for any of us to try and stop your people while finding a way of least interference.”

    “Nor has it been easy for me to seek you out, Captain, and ask your help to turn against my own kin.”

    Maya immediately felt somewhat ashamed of not having considered Ket’s own sacrifice before. She was risking everything by coming here and asking for Starfleet’s help.

    “I can only imagine how hard this is for you, Ket,” said Chen as he focused on the fellow insectoid and beating the captain to stress her support. “I am certain that Captain Donners and this crew will do whatever we can to prove that your trust in us has not been misplaced.”

    “I wholeheartedly agree,” Maya said.

    The Artisan Queen appeared grateful for the sentiment.

    “The question then, ladies and gentlemen,” said the captain, “is how do we help Queen Ket and the Xenarth to avoid potentially destroying themselves and half the quadrant along with it?”

    Daystrom as expected looked pained by that question and Maya immediately noticed. “Lieutenant,” she said, addressing him directly. “As difficult as this may be for your, we will rely on your expertise with Omega to try and neutralize it.”

    To his credit he didn’t delay his response. “Of course, sir, you will have it.”

    She didn’t miss his sudden stiffness or the neutral tone in his voice but decided that it had to be good enough for now.

    Texx regarded the Artisan Queen. “What can you tell us about the location of the Omega facility?”

    “Supreme Klestra is not as careless as our leadership had been when we first meddled with this power. She made the wise precaution to move the facilities charged with synthesizing the particles onto our moons. To my knowledge there are two expansive facilities, one on each of our smallest satellites.”

    “Considering the unstable nature of the Omega particle and the destructive force it may unleash in an accident I recommend a ground assault,” said Beatiar Sh’Fane.

    Maya turned to look at the security chief, fully expecting a harsh rebuke from the avian.

    “I agree that it is our best option.”

    Maya and Arden Texx exchanged surprised looks at finding the marine and the security chief in agreement for once.

    “And considering the scope of the operation we would probably require a combined force of security personnel and marines,” he continued.

    The captain suppressed the urge of cracking a wide smile at Mer’iab’s statement. She found that the Andorian wasn’t quite able to and she noticed the tiniest of smirks on her lips. Perhaps the first she had ever seen on the serious woman’s face. It was gone in a flash.

    “I’d be happy to produce a full assault plan,” she said after the brief moment of amusement had passed.

    Mer’iab’s head jerked into her direction, clearly not please by her initiative.

    Maya spoke up before the little détente between the two officers could be undone by another confrontation. “I need you two to work together on an assault strategy as soon as we have a better idea what we are up against and we have a plan on how to neutralize Omega. To be clear, this is a contingency plan only at this point. I have no intentions of carrying out a full assault unless there is no other way to persuade the Xenarth Aggregate to discontinue Omega-related research. I’d much rather find a peaceful –“

    The shrill alert klaxon warbling through the speakers cut her short.

    “Red alert. Captain, please report to the bridge,” the voice of Bobby DeSoto called out over the blaring sound of the alarm.

    Maya was up and out of her chair in less than a second and already heading towards the exit. The rest of her officers were close behind.


    * * *​
     
  10. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Hmmm. Captain Donners really put herself and her career out on a limb by bringing the senior staff into the loop. Still, a Starfleet captain often has to make tough calls far from the bureacracy of Starfleet command. I think she made the right call, but it might cost her.

    Daystrom is troubling. He seems almost obsessed with the Omega Particle. I hope he's as committed to obeying Donners' orders as he says, otherwise . . .

    And now the ship has gone to red alert. Trouble is brewing and Maya Donners is getting her real initiation as a starship captain. :eek:
     
  11. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    A surprisingly tense Bobby DeSoto turned from where he stood in the middle of the bridge to face Amaya Donners as she stepped into the room with the senior officers following closely.

    “Report,” she asked as she made her way towards her chair.

    “We’ve just detected another ship near Iota Crucis IV,” he said and then quickly stepped up to the helm station, clearly eager to resume his normal post and leave the captain to deal with whatever he had discovered.

    “Romulan Warbird,” Lure Mer’iab said before he had reached the tactical station even if by now few had to be told after seeing the imposing emerald-colored starship looming large on the main view screen. Most were fully aware that the warbird was just as threatening as its huge size and aggressive design implied.

    “The Romulan vessel is still over twenty AU away. At our present maximum speed of full impulse we wouldn’t be within weapons range for at least another eleven hours,” said Allenby after taking her own seat and bringing up the sensor information. She shot the helmsman a telling look. “Hardly a reason to call red alert.”

    Texx came to the young officers defense. “Better save than sorry.”

    DeSoto aimed a grin at Allenby which she responded to by rolling her eyes, an exchange which went unnoticed by the rest of the bridge crew.

    “Agreed,” said Maya, “but let’s stand down from red alert and switch to yellow. I don’t want to come into this with an overly aggressive posture.”

    Texx, sitting next to her, hit the right panels on his console and the alert klaxons and flashing red lights died away to be replaced by a much gentler mustard-colored glow.

    Amaya considered the deceptively large image of the Romulan Warbird on screen. As a Starfleet officer assigned to starships and bases she had faced opponents in battle countless times over her career but never before as the person ultimately responsible for an entire ship and her crew. This would be her first real test as a commanding officer and the notion of having to take her ship into battle so soon after taking command was not a pleasant one. It would be a test not just of her abilities to lead but also of Agamemnon and how her crew would perform under pressure. She couldn’t resist a quick glance at the display integrated into her armrest to find out the overall response time to the red alert. She was pleasantly surprised to find that the crew had responded swiftly to prepare for battle stations in what marked a clear improvement over the time achieved during initial drills. She made a mental note to congratulate Chief Holly at coming through on his promise to whip the crew into shape.

    They had prepared for the worst for the last few days. Now it was time to put all that practice into action and hope for the best.

    “Head-to-head, Lieutenant,” Texx asked the security chief. “What’s your tactical analysis?”

    “In pure offensive capabilities we’re probably just about even,” said the avian. “I’d give us a slight edge thanks to better speed and maneuverability. There is no definitive precedent of a battle considering our current circumstances and my suggestion would be to avoid setting one. But if it were to come to a fight, I’m confident we could win. It would make for a good measure of our own abilities.”

    The Bolian smirked and looked at the captain. “You have to appreciate the aplomb.”

    “If we are looking at a battle here,” said Vej, “we might help start something the Federation can ill afford. Last time I checked we’re not on the best of terms with the Klingons and the Dominion is not exactly crazy about us either.”

    Maya nodded in agreement. “We don’t need to make any more enemies,” she said. “Let’s see if we can put off testing all our fancy offensive weapons to another day.”

    “These Romulans,” Queen Ket asked form where she stood near the science station, “our people have not come across them before. Are they as dangerous as you seem to imply?”

    “They’re not the kind of people who are likely to invite you over for dinner,” said DeSoto without taking his eyes off his station. “And if they do, it’s probably because you’re on the menu.”

    The Xenarth considered the young helmsman curiously, apparently not following.

    Texx was quick to help. “What Ensign DeSoto is clumsily trying to explain, Queen Ket, is that the Romulans are first and foremost looking out for their own interests. They are indeed a very powerful empire and you are lucky not to have had previous run-ins with them before considering that their border is only a stone’s throw away from here.”

    “If they are here now, violating the Neutral Zone this blatantly, it’s only because they see an opportunity for themselves which is tempting enough to disregard previous agreements,” said the security officer.

    Maya shuddered at the idea of what that meant exactly. “Then let’s find out, shall we? Hail the warbird, Lieutenant.”

    It didn’t take long for them to respond. A middle-aged, female Romulan officer with a sharp military haircut sat comfortably in her throne-like command chair on her bridge, her posture and body language just relaxed enough to show that she had been expecting this call and was prepared for it. “My name is Commander Toreth of the Imperial Romulan Warbird Khazara. I extend cordial greetings to our friends in the Federation. May I inquire as to your business in this system?”

    Maya couldn’t help but envy the seemingly effortless manner in which the other woman presented herself and she knew that as much as she wanted to emulate it, her own body language and tone was likely coming across much more rigid. “Commander Toreth, I’m Captain Amaya Donners of the Agamemnon. I must say I am surprised to find a Romulan vessel on this side of the Neutral Zone. You may not be aware of this but this system lies within the sovereign territory of the Federation.”

    Toreth feigned surprise. “Within the Federation you say? How odd. My records show that Starfleet has avoided this part of space for over one-hundred years.”

    Maya cracked a humorless smile. “Regardless of our past deployments you will find Iota Crucis IV to be firmly within Federation territory to which the Romulan Empire has never made a legitimate claim. So you must forgive me for asking what would make you decide to enter this system unsolicited.”

    “I am saddened that you would think so little of us to believe we would come here uninvited, Captain.”

    Maya frowned. “I don’t understand,” she said and immediately regretted the phrase which put a wide smile of triumph onto Toreth’s own face, momentarily shifting this conversation into her favor. Maya was painfully reminded that every interaction with a Romulan, even a verbal one, was akin to battle itself.

    “I’d be more than happy to educate you, Captain. What you call Iota Crucis IV is in fact inhabited by a sentient race called the Xenarth who have no interest whatsoever to have any business with the Federation. Now remind me if I’m wrong, Captain, but doesn’t current Federation policy allow sovereign races to make up their own mind about their allegiances? Within your territory or otherwise.”

    Maya didn’t take the bait this time. “Are you trying to imply that the Xenarth have chosen to align themselves with the Romulan Star Empire? Voluntarily?”

    Now Toreth looked offended. “I do not care for your implication, Captain. And to answer you question; yes, they have indeed. The Xenarth have chosen to become allies of the Star Empire and therefore now enjoy our protection.”

    Ket stepped forward. “Our people would not choose to ally themselves with a foreign power so easily.”

    The Romulan Commander glanced at the insectoid. “And you are?”

    “Artisan Queen Ket of the Xenarth Aggregate. I speak for my people.”

    “Ket,” she said as if remembering the name from somewhere before focusing on Donners again. “Captain, are you aware that you are sheltering a Xenarth criminal and traitor to her people on your ship? I know that no formal extradition treaty exists between our two nations but on the behalf of the Xenarth Colony, we would be extremely grateful if you turned this fugitive over into our care so that we may return her to her people to face punishment for her crimes.”

    The Artisan Queen’s agitation was palpable as she her mandibles clicked nervously and her feelers stood at attention. “I am no traitor.”

    “I am not interested in arguing Xenarth politics with a criminal,” Toreth responded icily and looked at Donners, eagerly awaiting her decision.

    “Do you expect me to take all this at face value, Commander?” she said. “That the Xenarth just happen to ally themselves with you and declared one of their own leaders an outlaw?”

    The smile on the Romulan’s face caused a cold shiver to run down Maya’s spine.

    “Of course I do not,” she responded. “Sadly the relationship between our two people is not one based on trust. Thankfully it doesn’t have to be today,” she said and gestured to one of her officers who quickly attended his station.

    The image on the view screen split in half to allow the face of a Xenarth not unlike Ket to appear next to the Romulan commander. “Captain Donners, I have been able to monitor your conversation with Commander Toreth. I am Supreme Klestra of the Xenarth Aggregate and I can confirm to you everything that has been said. The Xenarth Colony is under the protection of the Romulan Star Empire. I expect you to fully acquiesce with our wishes and to surrender Queen Ket to us before you depart this system.”

    “Klestra, you are making a grave mistake by trusting these Romulans,” Ket spoke up before anyone else had the chance. “We don’t know anything about them except that they only appear now after we have begun our recent experimentations with powerful technology”

    The Supreme considered the Artisan Queen for a moment. Maya couldn’t be certain but she thought the look on her insectoid face was supposed to mirror disgust and disappointment. “And you think this Federation is any different? Your obsession with their previous visit to New Xenarth is based on nothing more than the questionable stories left behind by your own kin. And even if those stories are to be believed, their interest in us has only ever been to destroy what we have created. The Romulans are offering us the greatness which is our birthright.”

    Amaya stood from her chair before addressing the Xenarth leader. “That offer comes at a high price, Supreme. Are you certain you are willing to sell out your race into slavery for a chance at greatness that may never be allowed under your new leadership?”

    “As I have told you, Supreme, the Federation is trying to use lies an intrigue to paint an unfavorable picture of our benevolence,” said Toreth and then drilled her eyes into Donners’. “Tell us, Captain, what do you plan to do with what the Xenarth have discovered? Can you honestly say that you will help them fulfill their potential the way we are able to?”

    She hated to admit it but Toreth was good at what she did. She had maneuvered Maya into an untenable position. Revealing her orders to destroy the Omega Molecule would only strengthen the Supreme’s dedication to stick it out with the Romulans. The alternative was to lie about her true purpose here and that would only backfire in the long run. She focused on the Xenarth instead. “You are inviting disaster by meddling with powers you do not fully comprehend, Supreme. And the Romulans will show no qualms to sacrifice you and your people in getting their hands on that power. We can help you find another way that will guarantee the safety of your people as well as the entire quadrant,” she said, knowing that she had lost the argument before it had even begun.

    “Klestra, please listen to her. As difficult as it may be to believe and as hard as it may be to try and turn your back on something as powerful as Xendaru, it is not worth putting at risk the entire Colony over it,” the Artisan Queen pleaded.

    Predictably the supreme was not to be swayed. “I have made my decision and it will stand. Your title has been stripped and you are considered a traitor for your involvement with an enemy of the Colony,” she said and focused her large compound eyes towards Donners. “Captain, my directive is unchanged. Surrender your prisoner to the Romulans and leave this system at once.” And with that her imaged blinked out, leaving only Toreth left on the screen.

    “You’ve heard the lady,” said the Romulan commander with all the smugness of a person knowing she had the upper hand. “I do not wish any conflict with the Federation but if you try to interfere any further with Xenarth affairs you will, by implication, be interfering with Romulan affairs and that I cannot tolerate. Your failure to comply in this regard could be interpreted as an act of war and surely that is an outcome neither of us favors.”

    Maya had the strong urge to sit down again but she forced herself not to show any more weakness in front of the Romulan commander.

    “We will rendezvous with your vessel in six hours and twenty-two minutes and expect you to hand-over the fugitive Ket without incident. Then you will depart this system at once.”

    Toreth didn’t cut the link and instead seemed to savor this moment of apparent triumph over the Starfleet officer.

    Maya nodded sharply. “We’ll be there. Agamemnon out.”

    The Romulan was once again replaced by the image of the imposingly large Khazara and Donners sat back in her chair, fully aware that every set of eyes on the bridge was now focused on her. None as concerned and perhaps anxious as those belonging to the former Xenarth Artisan Queen.
     
  12. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Agamemnon, 2372


    The main science lab was empty except for Daystrom and Chen. While the captain had shared knowledge of the Omega Molecule with her senior officers, she had made it perfectly clear that no one else in the crew would be privy to their true mission details and had sworn her officers to secrecy.

    Whatever work needed to be done in order to accomplish this mission had to involve the least amount of personnel.

    For the chief science officer and chief engineer that meant that they had to seal themselves into the lab and find a way to destroy the controversial sub-molecular particle by themselves. And the captain had given them a tight timetable to produce results.

    “I do not understand why you doubt this method,” said the Xindi as he considered the computer simulation running on the monitor. “It appears to have proven successful when breaking down the molecule in the past.”

    “According to our long-range scans the Xenarth are not using the same resonance containment chamber design as last time they tried to synthesize the molecule,” the scientist responded. “We will not be able to simply inverse the isofrequency to destabilize the particles.”

    “Then we construct our own resonance chamber and transfer the molecules inside to be destroyed.”

    But Daystrom had since turned away almost as if no longer interested in partaking in this conversation.

    Chen’s feelers twitched in confusion. “Lieutenant?”

    “Listen to yourself, Commander,” he said without turning back to face the chief engineer. “You are talking about wanton destruction. About tearing down ideas and new technologies which could be beneficial to billions of people.” The young man turned around. “Shouldn’t we be in the business of preserving those things? It just feels so wrong.”

    The insectoid engineer considered this for a moment. “My people used to build massive underground lairs by digging out many dozens of meters into the soil,” he said and getting a blank look from the scientist in response. “In fact many Xinid-Insectoid colonies still prefer to live underground in that manner. But sometimes those colonies become infected due to diseased roots or plant-life and the only choice is to fill in the colony and effectively destroying it before starting over somewhere else.”

    “I don’t understand the reference,” said the scientist.

    “On some occasions you have to destroy in order to survive.”

    “But this is different,” Daystrom insisted. “We’re not allowed to start over anywhere. We’re not even allowed to think or know about Omega. What if the Xindi leadership told your people that you cannot built underground colonies anymore because they are too dangerous even though thousands of Xinid prefer to live in exactly that manner?”

    “You imply that the majority is always correct,” he responded. “Just because a great many people want something to be a certain way does not make it right, or safe. And yes, the Xindi leadership has deemed certain areas off-limit to underground colonies because of the inherent dangers to dig there. We have to accept that they know better than we do and that they make those decisions purely for the welfare of the many.”

    Daystrom clearly didn’t care for that answer and stepped away from the chief engineer. “Right,” he mumbled and then finally turned back to face Chen when he had reached the far bulkhead “And what if they don’t know better? What then?”

    Chen moved his large head from side-to-side in a motion designed to mirror a human headshake. “It occurs to me that this conversation is neither productive nor appropriate at this time, Lieutenant. Our orders are to come up with a plan to destroy the Omega Molecule. As Starfleet officers we are not supposed to questions our orders.”

    “That’s not true,” he said quickly, stepping closer. “Starfleet doesn’t want mindless drones …” he stopped himself and his face turned into an embarrassed grimace at using the term while addressing an insectoid.

    “Not offensive,” Chen clarified after sensing the man’s discomfort.

    “There is something called an unlawful order which should be disregarded. In fact it would be our duty to do so. It’s in the regs,” he quickly went on.

    “And you are implying that Captain Donners and by implication Starfleet Command has given us an unlawful order? I suggest you seek out a JAG lawyer before making these kinds of accusations.”

    Daystrom unsuccessfully tried to figure out if Chen had made a joke. It was difficult to tell with his non-humanoid facial gestures and body language.

    Finally he uttered a heavy sigh, perhaps realizing that he would not be able to win this argument today. He stepped back up to the workstation and entered a few commands. “Building a resonance chamber from scratch would take too long. I suggest we simply disengage the power flow to the containment chambers without disturbing the containment field itself.”

    The chief engineer considered the new simulation Daystrom had entered. “A simple yet elegant solution, Lieutenant. If we use the right modulation the particles would simply fizzle out and disengage, thereby neutralizing them quickly.”

    “Lex parsimoniae,” said Daystrom in lackluster fashion and without affording his colleague with another glance.

    “Indeed,” said Chen, understanding the human expression most often referred to as Occam’s razor for reasons he wasn’t fully aware of.

    “Excuse me, Commander,” he said and then swiftly left his chair and headed for the doors and before the chief engineer could even inquire about his hasty departure.

    Chen didn’t remain alone in the lab for long. His feelers straightened tellingly when the only other person outside the ship’s senior officers who had been given leave to enter the science lab stepped inside, leaving the security guard tasked to escort her by the doors outside.

    “Queen Ket,” he said.

    “Please,” she said quickly. “My title has been stripped by my people. Ket will suffice.”

    The Xenarth and her unique blend of insectoid and humanoid characteristics were fascinating to the Xindi chief-engineer who in his Starfleet career had often struggled to identify with his fellow officers. And while Ket shared many attributes with humanoids, she unquestionably saw herself first and foremost as an insectoid. The bond that they had created in the short time they had known each other went beyond the simple acknowledgement of their similarities. In fact their differences were still significant. Ket for example was a clearly female member of her species while Xindi-Insectoids were asexual even if Chen had long since made the decision to identify himself as a male to simply social interactions.

    The most notable physical similarities between them, like their similarly shaped skulls, their compound eyes as well as their feelers and mandibles made Chen more adapt at reading Xenarth body language than anyone else on the crew.

    And at the moment he could easily tell that she was in a despondent mood.

    “I apologize for the delay,” she said. “My briefing with Lieutenants Mer’iab and Sh’Fane took longer than expected.”

    “You have not missed much other than Lieutenant’s Daystrom’s doubts over our current strategy.”

    “I have noticed the lieutenant leaving the lab,” she said. “I am not able to easily read human expressions but if I am not mistaken, he did not appear pleased. Has no progress been made?”

    Chen gestured towards the monitor to show her the last simulation they had been running. “On the contrary, we believe we have a solution which we can present to the Captain.”

    She studied the screen shortly but not being a scientist or an engineer she quickly gave up understanding the details of this plan.

    “Forgive me for saying so,” said Chen. “It is you who appears dispirited.”

    She fixed those large dark compound eyes on him. “You find this surprising? My own people have marked me a traitor and demanded I be returned to them as a prisoner when all I ever wanted was to ensure that they do not destroy themselves by meddling in powers beyond our comprehension.”

    “Captain Donners has made it clear that she will grant you asylum if you request it. You mustn’t fear being handed over to the Romulans.”

    “And yet I have an armed guard which shadows my every move on this ship as we continue to head towards a rendezvous with the very people who expect me to be transferred into their care,” she said with her mandibles clicking anxiously.

    “The guard is a routine precaution and follows you as much for your own safety as for the safety of the ship. We continue to head towards your world while the captain decides if to follow through with the destruction of the Omega Particle. You should not be discouraged by these factors,” he said.

    Her mandibles constricted tightly and Chen figured that if they worked anyway like his, then this gesture was an equivalent to a human smile.

    “I am grateful for your words, Lieutenant Commander Chen. They are soothing and greatly appreciated.”

    “If you insist on me disregarding your title, I must ask that you extend me the same courtesy.”

    “Then so I shall,” she said with her mandibles constricting a little further. “Chen.”

    While it was obvious that her spirits had been lifted slightly, her overall sadness was not easily dispelled. “I have faith in Captain Donners to resolve this matter with the Romulans and your people. She may be young for a starship captain and she may have limited experience but she is resourceful and has a good crew to provide her with sound advice.”

    “I do not doubt her wisdom,” she said, her feelers twitching slightly. “Or that of her crew.”

    “If we are successful your people may be able to see their mistake in trying to pursue the Omega Particle and casting you out.”

    “You don’t know my people as I do. You don’t know Supreme Klestra. She has waited a very long time to come to power and take over the Aggregate. Differently to her predecessors, she embraces technology but only for the purpose of making the Colony strong again. She has visions of a second Xenarth empire and I fear she will stop at nothing to try and grow her influence. She considers those who are in her way expandable,” she said and jerked her head slightly to the side before turning away and glancing towards the far bulkhead. “She will ensure I’ll never set foot on New Xenarth and be surrounding by my own people again.”

    “There are other alternatives,” he said. “You claim you have always held a fascination for the stars and the Federation in particular. Why not become an emissary of your people to the Federation. You can learn from us while you teach us about the Xenarth. And if you required a guide in your journeys, I would be glad to offer my services.”

    To that she turned back to face him. “You would leave your vessel?”

    He took a step towards her. “I am an explorer. But some discoveries cannot be made on a starship.”

    “I might come to enjoy that,” she said and then leaned her head forward as if starting to nod.

    Chen mirrored the gesture until their feelers touched. It was a sensation unlike anything Chen had ever experienced before.


    * * *​
     
  13. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    She took a knee an then placed the plate with the large chunks of replicated raw meat onto the floor. Cosmo was ripping into his dinner the moment it was eye level, smartly using his large right claw to hold the food in place, and then tearing at it with his razor sharp teeth.

    Maya watched the le-matya devour his meal and couldn't quite help but feel a tiny tinge of jealousy.

    Cosmo had been with her for most of her life. Discovered as a cup on a seized Orion vessel by her parents while serving on the Border Service cutter Thrasher, they had given him to her as a present and companion in lieu of being able to make real friends as the daughter of two career service members. After all, for many years, she had called home various starbases and occasionally even the Thrasher or other vessels not designed for a civilian crew.

    It hadn’t been until she made chief engineer on the Columbia that she’d had enough clout in her career to be able to keep Cosmo on her own assignments and even then it had not been an easy task to get permission from Starfleet bureaucrats to keep a wild animal as a pet.

    The feeling of envy were new for her. But lately she couldn’t help wonder what exactly Cosmo had to worry about in his life. Just over twenty years old and what did he really do but eat, sleep and play. Right about now it seemed to her as if Cosmo had it made.

    She petted his head which garnered her a quick, uninterested look before he went back to tearing up the fake meat. “You don’t even know how good you have it, do you?” she said to him, even as he paid her no further attention.

    “I’m sure he appreciates all that tender love and care you extend his way,” said Texx who stood by her desk in her ready room, holding a padd. A large smirk on his lips. “Le-matya’s are nowhere as cold and emotionless as their Vulcan planet-mates.”

    She stood and turned to face her first officer. “Judging by the tongue baths I’ve endured over the years I tend to agree.”

    Texx handed her the padd. “Mer’iab and Sh’Fane have come up with a plan for a multi-pronged ground assault on Iota Crucis IVa and IVd using both Starfleet security personnel and Marines.”

    “So quickly?” she said as she studied the padd.

    The Bolian nodded. “And I’ve looked it over. It appears promising. They’ve used long range scans of the two moons to get an indication of the layout of the facilities and interviewed Ket for information about expected troop strength, weapons and abilities. Doctor Rass took extensive scans to better understand Xenarth anatomy. Sh’Fane and Mer’iab both believe that the results may help their assault strategy.”

    “Honestly, I’m just impressed they managed to work on this together without killing each other first.”

    “I’m more concerned about Daystrom to tell you the truth.”

    Maya looked up from the padd and towards the sofa on which Vej had made himself comfortable. “He’ll be fine. I know he isn’t crazy about the idea of destroying Omega but he’s a Starfleet officer and when push comes to shove he’ll do his duty.”

    “Don’t make the mistake to take that for granted,” the counselor warned. “Right now he’s displaying all the classic signs of experiencing a serious internal conflict over what he thinks is right and what he has been asked to do. Starfleet officer or no, sometimes people decide to follow their conscience instead of their orders.”

    The captain sighed. “What do you suggest I do? Sideline him for the rest of the mission?”

    Texx shook his head. “If we are serious about going after this molecule we can’t afford not having his expertise. From what I understand he knows more about Omega than the rest of this crew put together.”

    “I appreciate that,” Vej said. “All I’m saying is to keep an eye on the young man and not to push him to hard or to fast or you might invite a disaster when you least need it.”

    “As if this isn’t one already,” said Maya and picked up a small white ball with red stitching which she had been told was used in a once popular sport on Earth. It had been a gift from Terrence Glover when she was on Deep Space Five, no doubt in trying to establish himself as an avid athlete in her eyes. Of course the gesture had changed nothing between them and she had little use for the obscure sport. Nevertheless she had liked how the ball felt in her hand and therefore kept it near her desk.

    Her two advisors watched her curiously as she began to pace her ready room and throwing the baseball into the air, a bad habit she had developed when pondering serious thoughts. A moment later, Cosmo, having completely devoured his dinner, prowled behind her, his eyes eagerly following that ball.

    “Gentlemen, I’m not ashamed to say that I feel a little bit in over my head here. With the Romulans in the equation this has become even more of a powder keg situation which could quite easily lead us down a road to interstellar war if we don’t tread carefully,” she said and stopped to turn and face the two men. “If we carry out the Omega Directive to the letter we will not be able to avoid a battle. If we do nothing and tug in our tails and run away, the Romulans will get their hands on what may be the most powerful force in the galaxy, either changing the balance of power in the galaxy for good or leading to an arms race and quite possibly destroying half of subspace in the quadrant in the process.”

    Vej smirked. “Still enjoying sitting in the big chair?”

    She fixed him with a scowl and the counselor wiped that smile off his face.

    “We could hold our ground and wait for reinforcements to arrive,” said Texx.

    But Maya quickly dismissed the idea. “To what purpose? Besides if our reinforcements are moving in, I guarantee so are the Romulans. Instead of two ships facing off we end up with two fleets. That’s only going to complicate matters further,” she said with a sigh. What she hadn’t revealed yet were her own doubts about the Omega Directive itself. Maya had been truthful when she had told Ket earlier that it would be difficult for some Starfleet officers to carry out an order which so blatantly violated the Prime Directive even if it had been legitimized. What she hadn’t mentioned was that she counted herself as one of those officers. The Prime Directive wasn’t just some high concept or another Starfleet regulation to her. It had been indoctrinated into her so effectively that she found the idea of imposing her will onto an alien race which wanted nothing to do with the Federation nothing less than repulsive.

    “It occurs to me that this is a matter of weighing the costs of our actions versus our inactions,” said Vej. “A potential war and millions of deaths if we take action against the Romulans or an end to the galaxy as we know it we take no action and risk an Omega Molecule accident,” he added and looked first at Texx and then at the captain. “There are too many hypothetical scenarios and ethical quandaries in there for anyone to be expected to make well-founded decision.”

    “Not to mention the epic scope of either implication,” said the first officer.

    “Gentlemen,” she said and placed the baseball onto her desk. “You are here to help me find solutions and not to remind me what a difficult decisions this is. Trust me I’m already well aware of that.”

    “Sorry, Cap,” Texx said. “I suppose what I’m trying to say is that perhaps there isn’t a right decisions to be made here, just two inherently bad ones.”

    “Agreed,” said the counselor. “You will have to deicide which one is the lesser evil. And most importantly, which one you’ll be able to live with.”

    “I think Cosmo wants to play fetch,” said Texx.

    Maya turned around just to see the large cat having managed to put both his paws onto her desk to get to the ball sitting there.

    “Hey!”

    But Cosmo had already pushed the ball off the desk so that it bounced onto the floor and then quickly scooped it up in his large wet maw.

    “That’s not yours, it’s mine,” she said angrily and then reached right into his mouth to dislodge the ball. Cosmo hissed in protest at first but eventually relented and the salvia-covered orb was set free again. She wiped it clean on her uniform pants with one hand and grabbed the large animal’s jaw with the other, pulling it up so his eyes were focus on hers. “We talked about this. You have your things and I have mine. You can’t have mine.”

    Texx and Vej exchanged an amused look at the captain’s interaction with her pet, both getting the distinct impression this was one of many similar ‘talks’ they’ve had.

    Maya was unconcerned by her audience and kept hold of Cosmo. But her gaze had wandered off. “You can’t have mine,” she quietly repeated to herself.

    “Cap?” Texx said when he realized that she didn’t appear to be thinking about the le-matya anymore.

    Cosmo finally managed to free himself from his master’s grip and trotted back to his favorite place below the window.

    She turned to glance at the first officer with a little twinkle in her eye.

    “I don’t think I like that look,” said Vej.
     
  14. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Just catching up on this one, and man oh man, Maya can’t catch a break, can she? :eek:

    Having to balance the competing interests of the Prime and Omega Directives is hellish enough for a rookie captain, but now she’s facing off against the Romulans and their machinations? I don’t envy the decisions she’s going to have to make sooner rather than later.

    She’s getting good counsel from her senior officers, though it’s a good bet that Daystrom’s over-active ‘conscience’ is going to prompt him to do something stupid before all this is over. Whatever it is, I hope it’s not sufficient to cut short what otherwise appears to be a promising career.

    Your characterizations are spot on here, with crisp dialogue and a flowing narrative that draws the reader farther into the story with each successive chapter.
     
  15. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
    Location:
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.
    I've just caught up with the latest chapters. It continues to impress, with good characters and believable dialogue.

    The steady escalation of the situation increases the drama, and makes it look like a successful resolution is impossible. But Maya seems to have had a revelation, and I'm fascinated to see what it will be.
     
  16. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Good to see you were able to get caught up, this thread had gotten a little quiet lately.

    And yes, Maya's not in an enviable position here, is she? Now to see if this so-called revelation is going to prevent this mission into escalating into a full blown disaster.

    Thanks for reading and commenting. Next segment coming later this week.
     
  17. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Khazara, 2372


    The door chime to her quarters sounded to announce a visitor and she barked, “Enter,” without ever taking her eyes off the padd she had been studying diligently.

    Rekar stepped into Commander Toreth’s spartan quarters and walked up to her desk. “You wished to see me,” the Tal Shiar operative said, keeping the tone of his voice haughty as if coming here was a great imposition to him.

    Toreth responded by holding up a finger towards him and without affording him a single glance as she kept her eyes on the padd. It was a gesture likely to rankle the man on purpose.

    She left him stewing for nearly half a minute. Toreth had never much cared for the Tal Shiar, considering their methods of fear and intimidation counter-productive and their agents even more arrogant than most Romulan officials. Secretly she had hoped that after their decimation at the hand of the Dominion things would change within the empire. Instead what was left of the intelligence apparatus had tightened its grip on Romulan society even further, perhaps in fear that otherwise it might slip out of their grasp for good.

    She finished reading the document and then, without warning, slung the padd at the man’s chest who struggled catching the device for a moment as it nearly slipped through fingers. “What is the meaning of this,” he seethed.

    Toreth fixed the man with a glare of her own. “That’s what I want you to tell me, Sub-commander.”

    Rekar visibly suppressed the urge to further demonstrate this inappropriate behavior, fully understanding that no matter his own sense of importance, on the Khazara, Toreth was the ultimate authority. He glanced at the padd and after reading just a few lines, his eyes widened and he shot her a disbelieving glance. “How did you obtain this?”

    Toreth stood. “Do not concern yourself with how I acquire my information, what matter is that I did. Now I want to know, is it true?”

    The man needed a moment to compose himself. “You have not been authorized to –“

    “Is it true, Sub-commander?” she barked.

    Rekar took a small breath and returned the padd back onto her desk before returning her accusatory stare in kind. “Do you really think we would be here if what the Xenarth had to offer was not immensely valuable to the Empire?”

    “You call that valuable,” she said and snatched the padd up again, quickly scrolling down the many pages it contained. “According to this the entire Psi Velorum star system was made impassable by our own scientists’ failed experiments with this molecule,” she said and kept scrolling. “Three hundred civilians and soldiers were killed in a separate incident in the Borderlands. According to statements by every respected molecular scientist within the Empire, the inherent risks of trying to synthesize this particle far outweigh the possible benefits.”

    “I’m certain those are the same warnings leveled against the first people trying to utilize fire,” he responded smugly.

    “You and Tomalak are willing to start a war over a substance which we may never be able to even control? Are you insane?”

    Rekar expression darkened significantly. “Commander, I’m willing to extend to you the respect that you deserve as the commander of this vessel and I will put up with your eccentrics up to a point. But you are dangerously close to crossing that line,” he said, his voice cold as ice. “You cross that line and you may never be able to step back into your place.”

    “You are my first officer,” she said dismissively.

    “I am a Tal Shiar agent,” he shot back. “And you can be assured I will use all the resources and privileges my organization affords me to see this mission fulfilled.”

    “Does the Senate know what we are doing here? How about the Praetor?” she said.

    “You are a solider, Commander. You mustn’t concern yourself with politics. All that is required of you it to follow the orders given to you by your superior officers. And those order are to secure the particle at any cost before it can fall into enemy hands.”

    She waved the padd at him. “We both know that the Federation already knows about this and that they are not here to secure it for themselves. Captain Donners didn’t come out an say it but it was obvious that their mission is to find a way to destroy it.”

    “We cannot allow this to happen.”

    “Even if it that means war with the Federation?”

    Rekar smirked. “If it comes to war, it will be because of their doing. It will be Starfleet firing the first shot.”

    She considered those words for a moment. “You seem quite certain of this.”

    He nodded. “Why wouldn’t I be? Don’t forget, we are in the right here. The Xenarth have voluntarily asked for our protection and they have no intention of surrendering their most powerful weapon to the Federation. If Agamemnon doesn’t back down, we are entirely within our rights to defend the good people of New Xenarth from foreign aggression.”

    She frowned. “And then what? We take the particle for ourselves and trust that our scientists won’t blow up another star system by mistake?”

    The Tal Shiar operative headed for the doors but stopped short to turn and face her once more. “Your problem, Commander, is that you worry too much about matters entirely outside your control. Follow your orders, protect the Xenarth and ensure the particle is safe. Leave all other considerations to the people better equipped to make those decisions,” he said and then promptly stepped out.

    “I haven’t dismissed you, you bastard,” she mumbled after the doors had closed behind him.

    She glanced towards the single, forward facing viewport in her quarters. Somewhere out there a seemingly unavoidable confrontation was heading towards her and her vessel. Toreth had served with the Imperial Navy long enough as not to let an encounter with the enemy scare her anymore. She was confident in the superiority of the Khazara and the skills and abilities of the men and women who crewed her. If it came to a fight, she knew she could win.

    But for the first time in her long career she wondered if victory was in the bet interest of the Empire. The galaxy even.
     
  18. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
    Location:
    Im in ur Tardis, violating ur canon.
    Despite being nominally on the same side, Toreth and Rekar have their own agendas. Very believable.

    Slight typo, Rekar's “What is the meaning of this,” should really have a question mark at the end. But these things easily slip through. Other than that, up to the usual high standard. :bolian:
     
  19. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Thanks for the catch.

    The God Particle will go on hiatus for a few weeks while I recharge my batteries. In the meantime, here's a little sneak preview at my next project.

    [​IMG]



    “Is it time for spring cleaning already?”

    Wenera turned to find DeMara Deen leaning casually against the bulkhead.

    “Dee, I didn’t see you there.”

    The Tenarian smirked. It wasn’t very often that she could go unnoticed amongst a crowd. She enjoyed her rare inconspicuous moments. “No wonder,” she said, “you were too busy spinning your people’s heads.”

    Wenera took a step closer to the operations manager, concern now edged on her face. “You don’t think I was too hard on them, do you?”

    She shook her head and stood away from the wall. “No, I just think you’re confusing the hell out them,” she said. “And after watching a nice relaxing play that is.”

    She smiled. “You were fabulous, I really mean it.”

    “You liked the play?”

    Wenera nodded eagerly. “It’s one of my all-time favorites.”

    Deen shot her a suspicious look.

    “What?”

    “I thought I remember you saying that before.”

    “Maybe I mentioned it once,” she said and then stepped away and began removing equipment from one of the cabinets in preparation to have them all re-ordered.

    Deen followed. “It’s a bit suspicious that we are suddenly putting on your favorite play, don’t you think?”

    She shook her head. “Don’t be silly. The crew was in dire need for some relaxation. The fact that it’s my favorite play is a mere coincidence,” she said and moved on to the next cabinet.

    “Sure. And then, all of a sudden you get your entire sickbay reorganized. Oh and of course there is that senior staff dinner the captain has so conveniently scheduled for this evening. I suppose those are all coincidences as well.”

    Wenera didn’t say anything to this.

    The golden-haired Tenerian stepped closer to the doctor. “Not to mention those subtle mood changes I’ve been observing lately,” she said. “And you look, I don’t know, fuller, I guess. But it’s not weight gain. It’s something else.”

    The doctor froze.

    “You want to know what I think?”

    Wenera shot the younger woman a sharp look. “Come with me,” she said and then turned to head into her office. She closed the doors behind Deen and then walked to her desk.

    “I think you are with child, Doctor,” said Deen with a wide grin on her face now. “I think the captain knows about it and has been putting up this whole –“

    “I’m leaving Eagle, Dee,” said Wenera after she had sat down in her chair.

    That smile dropped off her face. “Say what now?”

    “Tonight,” she added. “I’m making the announcement at the dinner this evening.”


    This Fall in
    The Star Eagle Adventures V:
    Shadows In The Haze
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2012
  20. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Agamemnon, 2372


    She hadn’t even been consciously aware that she was pacing the space in front of her chair until she caught the subtle frown on Vej’s face. She froze in her tracks and mentally chided herself for displaying such blatant anxiety in front of her crew.

    Maya turned to face Tess Allenby at the operations console. “Time to intercept, Lieutenant?”

    “Just under five minutes, sir,” the young officer responded promptly.

    “Captain, I recommend that we raise shields and power weapons,” said Mer’iab from tactical in a firm and confident tone.

    “Why would we want to do that?” quipped Texx. “We’re just here to make a drop off,” he said with a smirk and when his eyes found Ket he promptly shot her an apologetic look.

    The former Xenarth queen showed no outward signs of having been insulted.

    The tactical officer however didn’t appear to appreciated the levity shown by the Bolian first officer. “With all due respect, sir, the Romulans have already indicated that one perceived misstep could have severe consequences. We should be prepared for anything.”

    “What’s the Khazara’s status?” asked Maya.

    The Aurelian looked noticeably uncomfortable answering that question. He didn’t even have to check his board. “Their shields are down and their weapons are offline. But I still believe –“

    “Noted, Lieutenant,” she said. “But you said it yourself. One misstep is all it takes. I’d rather not be the one triggering hostilities here today. Keep a close eye on that ship and advise of any changes immediately. If they raise shields, so do we. If they power their weapons, I want our phasers and launchers hot and ready to blow her apart.”

    “Yes, sir,” he said, responding to the belligerent tone in her voice.

    “They’re hailing us,” said Texx.

    “Showtime,” added Vej, shooting the captain a quick, reaffirming glance.

    Maya nodded and took her seat. She crossed her legs by the knee and straightened her shoulders. She was determined to present a more tranquil and confident appearance this time around even if inside she felt anything but. Toreth had clearly owned their last meeting but this time Maya wanted to turn the tables on the Romulan and negotiate from a position of strength. She allowed herself one last little breath of air. “On screen.”

    “Captain Donners,” Toreth said without preamble as her image appeared on the main viewer. “We stand ready to receive the prisoner.”

    Maya took her time to respond, deciding to give the other woman a thorough once over first, almost as if seeing her for the first time. “I’m afraid there has been a change of plans, Commander.”

    “Is that so?” she responded, cocking an eyebrow in a manner that would have made a Vulcan proud.

    “Queen Ket has requested political asylum on board my vessel. After hearing her case I am concerned that she may be subjugated to what we would consider harsh and inappropriate punishment resulting in serious bodily harm or even death. Leaving me with little choice but to grant her request.”

    “And I suspect you would not be swayed even if I’d personally guarantee her safety,” the Romulan said.

    “As we would have limited means to verify this, I will have to stick to my decision.”

    Toreth leaned forward in her chair. “Captain, I find it curious that you decided to advise me of this new development only now. You could have contacted me at any time over the last few hours to tell me this.”

    “I’ve arrived at this decision only very recently,” she lied. Toreth had already told her what she wanted to know without having to spell it out. The Romulan commander would make very little fuss over this decision even if it would anger their new allies that they had been unable to secure Ket to stand trial as a traitor. This meant that Toreth was most likely as eager to avoid a confrontation that could lead to interstellar war as she was. The thought greatly encouraged Maya.

    “Of course. You do realize that the Romulan Senate is likely to lodge a formal complaint over this to the Federation Council on the behave of the Xenarth Aggregate,” she said with very little bite in her tone.

    Maya smirked. “It’ll be a matter for politicians and diplomats to resolve,” she said.

    The little nod she received in response gave proof that Toreth was about as weary of such figures as she was. “Indeed,” she said and remained silent for a moment as if to appreciate one of the few similarities she shared with her Starfleet counterpart. “I expect you and your ship to turn around and leave this system immediately.”

    Maya forced herself to maintain her calm demeanor. “I won’t be able to do that.”

    Toreth looked downright disappointed. “Captain, we have been through this. The Xenarth are now under our protection and unwilling to stand for Federation interference. Are you telling me that you are willing to risk a war over this?”

    She quickly shook her head. “Of course not. And the Federation respects the wishes of any sovereign government even if those include alliances with foreign powers.”

    The Romulan woman’s frown was born of genuine confusion. “I’m not entirely sure that I follow your logic here, Captain. You appear to be contradicting yourself.”

    “Not at all,” she said. “I’m fully committed to this. You may even advise the Xenarth leadership that we are more than happy to assist their relocation to a world within the Romulan Star Empire if they do not have the capacities to do so themselves.”

    “The Xenarth have no intention of relocating,” she said sternly as her facial features hardened. “This system is their home.”

    Maya did her best to take on a concerned look. “I’m afraid that is no the case,” she said. “Our records clearly indicate that this system was entirely uninhabited just over one-hundred years ago which implies that the Xenarth arrived here at some later point. They settled on Iota Crucis IV, a Federation world, without our permission. By interstellar law we are within our right to request that the Xenarth immediately vacate this system. Particularly if they wish to align themselves with a foreign power.”

    Toreth considered the Starfleet captain for a moment, her expressions as stone-faced as that of a gargoyle. “I appreciate that you may not have much experience in these matters, Captain, so I must ask you, are you certain this is the path you wish to pursue? I urge you to reconsider.”

    Now it was Maya’s turned to look annoyed by the clearly condescending tone her counterpart had allowed to slip into her voice. “Commander, my decision on this matter is guided by Federation and interstellar law and I will stand by it.”

    Neither of them spoke for a moment as they appraised each other carefully in a manner which reminded Maya of a high-stakes poker game in with each player had thrown all their chips into the pot. She wasn’t certain if she held the better hand just yet. Not until Toreth revealed hers.

    “A shame, Captain,” the Romulan commander finally said and then stabbed a control on her armrest, causing her face the blink out from the screen.

    “Well played,” said Texx. “You had her on the robes.”

    But Maya was not sharing his first officer’s enthusiasm. “Lieutenant, talk to me, what’s the Khazara doing?”

    “Her status is unchanged and … strike that, they’re powering weapons.”

    “Red alert, shields up,” Texx barked.

    Maya looked at the Bolian. “Not well enough, it would appear.”

    “Our position is legitimate,” the counselor offered. “You’ve taken away their moral high ground. If they open fire and consequently start a war now, they will be seen as the aggressors.”

    But Maya shook her head slightly. “I don’t think that will be much of a consolation to the casualties.”

    “Captain,” Bobby DeSoto said urgently, “they are approaching in a standard attack run.”

    “Weapons range in ten seconds,” said Allenby, her fingers flying over her own console as she braced herself and the ship for imminent battle.

    “We shouldn’t allow them to get the upper hand and open fire first,” said the tactical officer. “I recommend we go on the offensive before we are forced to play a defensive game.”

    The captain uncrossed her legs and grabbed her armrests tightly. “Transfer all available power to the shields, including everything we’ve got in our weapons.”

    Mer’iab didn’t appear to understand or agree with this tactic which clearly went completely against his own recommendation. “Sir?”

    “Do it, Lieutenant.”

    To his credit he didn’t hesitate again. “Shields at one-hundred forty percent. The shield grid will not be able to absorb this amount of energy for long.”

    Texx leaned towards the captain on his left. “We blow the grid and we lose shields for good, Cap,” he whispered.

    She responded with a sharp nod.

    “Romuans entering weapons range,” Allenby said, her voice now unable to hide her anxiety any longer.

    “They’re opening fire,” Mer’iab said.

    Maya mentally cursed herself for her apparent miscalculation and held on tighter to her chair as she braced herself for the incoming volley.

    It never came.

    Instead every eye on the bridge watched the screen as the imposing warbird came within seemingly a hair’s width of Agamemnon to perform a strafing attack but instead simply shot past them.

    Arden Texx looked as confused as the rest of the bridge officers. He stood from his chair and turned to look towards Mer’iab. “Lieutenant, what just happened?”

    Clearly the avian seemed slightly flustered himself as he double checked his instruments. “They … they powered up their weapon emplacements and our sensors picked up massive energy spikes implying an imminent weapons discharge. But they never actually fired.”

    Vej smirked. “It was a bluff, Lieutenant,” he said and glanced at Donners. “And we didn’t blink.”

    “They are preparing for another pass,” DeSoto said.

    Texx looked at the captain. “What are the chances they go for the same trick twice?”

    “Zero to none,” she said. “Lieutenant, redistribute shield power to weapons before we blow out that grid. Ensign, evasive pattern Omega. Stand by to return fire on my mark, target their weapons and engines.”

    Maya noted that her crew reacted instinctively to her orders.

    “Captain, I have a new contact at two-four-six mark eight,” Allenby said.

    “More Romulans?” Texx asked.

    “Where did they come from?” Vej wanted to know.

    “Must have been cloaked,” said Maya as her face twisted into an ugly frown. Things had been bad enough with Agamemnon having to face off one warbird. She realized that their chances to survive this encounter battling two or more were miniscule at best.

    “It is not a Romulan vessel, at least no design we’ve ever seen before,” Mer’iab said.

    Texx clearly didn’t appreciate the surprisingly vague report. “So who is it, Lieutenant?”

    For a second time today the tactical officer appeared stumped. “I am not entirely certain,” he said, “computer identifying now.”

    Tess Allenby seemed to have an answer sooner. “Sir, I recognize this design,” she said and swiveled around in her chair to face her superior officers, her eyes wide as saucers. “It’s the Borg.”