Star Trek : Angel

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by unusualsuspex, Oct 6, 2009.

  1. unusualsuspex

    unusualsuspex Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Location:
    Norfolk UK
    I see that people actually post their stories here whereas I just gave a link to my site! :alienblush:

    Thought it might be an idea therefore to give you a taste of Star Trek : Angel with the first chapter!

    C&C Welcome :angel:

    LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is trademarked and copyrighted by CBS Studios.
    NO infringement is intended and no profit shall be made from it. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.

    STAR TREK : ANGEL
    BOOK ONE
    THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE

    Prologue

    Her name was Chariscarpia. In the old language it meant gatherer of knowledge. Of course nobody had called her that in almost two hundred turns, but then there had been nobody to speak to her; not since The Loss.

    Acha type star, three gas giants, two planetoids, no habitable planets – catalogued – probes recovered.

    Chariscarpia didn’t know if her crew was alive or dead wherever they may have disappeared to. With portions of her memory lost forever, she might never know, but their work would live on through her. Since leaving home and traversing across almost half the width of the galaxy on their generational mission, she had seen wonders beyond count and each one was catalogued carefully, at least she thought they were...

    Launch secondary probes – configured – 007/55/122

    …no she hoped they were. The information was always sent for storage, but her memory troubled her more each day. She couldn’t access many of the data catalogues anymore because she seemed to have forgotten how. The probes didn’t talk of course. They were limited to recording what they saw in all the spectrums available, then returning to simply download it. Conversation wasn’t a design aspect, which she regretted. Even talking to a probe would be better than the silence…

    Secondary probe 4 report – Theras class civilization discovered in artificial construct around planet reference G5DD5/3.

    She immediately checked her screen and was gratified to find it active. Recalling the probe on a stealth trajectory that would avoid direct contact with the discovered sentients, she halted her forward motion and waited. A passive scan showed no bustle of activity that might indicate she had been detected and she slowly withdrew to a safe distance from the system.

    As she waited for the return of the probe, she once again felt the longing to call out to the newly discovered species even if they couldn’t understand each other. In her travels alone she’d monitored the transmissions that seemed to flood the ether near populated planets and then in the lonely times between stars she would study the syntax attempting to claw meaning from the babble.
    She used to be able to do it so easily. This was something she hadn’t forgotten how to do; she simply found that she could no longer access the means to do it. Or did that mean she had forgotten how to access it?

    Secondary probe recovered – data download in progress

    She reluctantly bade a silent farewell to the sentients, and focussed on her next target. Mapping new star systems, cataloguing civilisations, charting routes, she found peace and stability in her function. But the loneliness persisted.

    Her name was Chariscarpia.


    1

    USS ANGEL
    UTOPIA PLANITIA YARDS – DRY DOCK 7
    SYNCHRONOUS MARS ORBIT
    August 30th 2371 - 0300 FST

    Captain Dan Fishlock knew he should be in bed. He also knew that even if he were, sleep wouldn’t be forthcoming. Prowling the corridors of the USS Angel in the semi-light of the Gamma shift, his mind wandered from routine matters of staffing and supplies to galactic matters of war and peace.

    You should have taken T’Sell’s hint and got to bed with a sedative he thought. But of course then he wouldn’t have had this last opportunity to commune with his ship.

    HIS ship. It was a thought that still amazed and pleased him, though to be accurate the ship wouldn’t officially be his for another nine hours. The Angel’s launch was scheduled for 1200 hours with all the pomp and circumstance that naturally attended the ceremony. He just hoped that his body wouldn’t pick that crucial moment to decide that sleep was finally a good idea.

    He stopped in his tracks. Commune with my ship? It was the second time he’d waxed lyrical about the Franklin class refit in the past couple of hours, and yet he couldn’t bring himself to ignore the fact that over the past few months, he’d sensed a developing character about her.

    The Franklin class had originally been designed as a medium cargo and support vessel and had served Starfleet faithfully in that role. The Angel had taken that basic design and turned it into a different ship altogether though. Gone were the expansive cargo bays, their space now filled with state of the art medical facilities and an enlarged hangar bay. The defensive weapons that had been meant to provide backup to escorting starships were now replaced with enhanced phasers and torpedo mounts and supported by a pair of Valkyrie fighters. With the addition of twin, high power tractor beams the ship had been transformed into a frontline Combat Search & Rescue Vessel.

    As Fishlock approached the hangar deck, he slowed. Between the new medical facility and the hangar deck was a deceptively empty area with large multiple transporter pads port and starboard. This was the designated triage area and a place that would resemble hell when the time came for it to see action. Direct access from the hangar would allow patients transported by the shuttles and runabouts to be assessed quickly and the transporters with their multiple pattern buffers were dedicated purely to moving casualties.

    He shook his head. Being a starship captain required making life and death decisions he knew, but it tended towards the impersonal. Here, the blood on your hands would make it all too personal and despite being married to a nurse, he knew it was a job that he could never do and his silent admiration went out to those skilled staff that would be at the heart of that operation.

    He carried on through triage into the main hangar deck which was almost completely dark. The exception was a pool of light surrounding one of the Valkyrie class fighters in the starboard bay, the Gunr. Beneath it, grunting and swearing like the seasoned non-com he was, laid Master Chief Petty Officer ‘Spider’ Tarrant.

    The nickname had allegedly begun when it was found that no matter how inaccessible a repair was, Spider could get to it. There were those who knew him better though and it seemed his nickname was better applied to the man at the centre of a quadrant wide supply web. If a spare part was needed, Spider knew where to find it, who to speak to and how much it was likely to cost him in favours. Resourceful could well have been a word invented for Spider alone.

    “How now?” His voice echoed through the darkness to be answered by a world weary but equally competent colleague, Senior Chief Petty Officer DeBat. The appellation of Dingbat seemed to refer to his surname, but anybody who knew him recognised it more as a character reference. The pair were a virtual legend in Starfleet engineering circles and were aboard the Angel now as ground chiefs for the pair of advanced Valkyrie fighters that were part of her complement.

    “Nope, looks like it’s peaked out at 128. Face it Spider you’re never gonna make it 130.”

    “Like hell I won’t. Pass me that field modifier and hold the buffer open when I give you the nod.”

    Sounds like they can do without me sticking my oar in here thought Fishlock, and quietly left the pair to their arcane rituals.

    With his circuit of the ship complete and everything looking ready for the launch, Fishlock didn’t have the heart to haunt the Gamma shift with his presence and reluctantly headed for his quarters. Like the rest of the ship it smelt new as if the wrapping had only just been taken off it.

    He took off his black SpecOps jacket and looked at it wistfully. From here on in it was command red for him, and it was the new pattern uniform that Starfleet had issued to the crew of the Angel as a trial before general issue. He looked at the new jacket and began to realise just how much a small change in uniform could affect the appearance of its wearer.

    The undershirt was still red and there were red cuff stripes to denote department, but with a padded gray yoke and black body it seemed to reflect the changing times in the Alpha Quadrant. War was on the horizon with an enemy as implacable and unknown as any the Federation had ever faced. The Dominion.

    He lay on his bed, hands behind his head and tried to put the thought from his mind. He knew that when - not if - war came, the Angel and her crew would likely be in the thick of it. It was with that thought that he at last slipped into an uncomfortable sleep.

    USS ANGEL – CAPTAIN’S QUARTERS
    UTOPIA PLANITIA YARDS – DRY DOCK 7
    SYNCHRONOUS MARS ORBIT
    August 30th 2371 - 0630 FST

    Commander Kat Gray tried the door announcer one last time, convinced that she would have to use her override to enter the Captain’s quarters, but instead a dishevelled Dan Fishlock appeared blinking in the bright light from the hallway.

    “Glad you could join us”, she grinned.

    “What the hell are you doing awake at this hour? You’re worse than me.” He rubbed wearily at his face and invited her in.

    “You do realise that “this hour” is 0630 don’t you?”

    He stopped rubbing his face and checked the chrono by his bed. “Bugger it. Oh this is just great why didn’t…”

    “Relax Dan, the paperwork’s done awaiting your signature, the crew manifest is up to date and with the exception of your crew inspiring speech for 0800, we’re ready to fly.”

    She grinned as he stopped trying to struggle into his red undershirt, his eyes peeking out from its still zipped collar.

    “See,” his voice came out muffled as he tried to disentangle himself, “I knew there was more to you than just a pretty face.”

    “That’s right,” she replied with a wicked grin. “There’s a first officer who’s just busting to relieve you of command because you can’t drag yourself out of bed! Ready room in half an hour?”

    He sighed as the shirt at last came free. “Yes Ma’am now get out before I show you my ass, I’m having a shower.”

    “Already seen it Sir. Galvan V? Ring any bells?”

    He threw the balled up shirt at her rapidly retreating back and it bounced harmlessly off the door. Kat Gray was one of the closest friends he’d ever had and they had worked together many times in both Special Operations and at the Academy. It was no surprise then that a dynamic had sprung up between them that made their partnership both close and effective.

    Doesn’t mean she can insult my ass though he thought, then grinned again.

    BORG TRANSWARP HUB
    SPATIAL GRID 986
    DELTA QUADRANT
    August 30th 2371

    The Borg Queen smiled. It was an affectation she was somewhat vain about in the sense that she alone amongst the Collective was capable of it. Standing at the centre of the vast, almost fractal construction that was the transwarp hub, she watched and monitored the comings and goings of her cubes as they continued their galaxy wide mission of assimilation.

    Yet despite the thousands of locations that the transwarp conduits led to, her attention remained fixed on the Alpha Quadrant. It was here that she had suffered one of the greatest blows to her power when the intractable Federation had routed her incursion at Wolf 359. Worse still they had taken Locutus from her, and that was a transgression too far; one that they would ultimately pay for.

    The patience of the Borg was endless, and recently the Queen had been debating with herself whether their assimilation was worth the price of more cubes. Surely it would be better to remove them as an adversary altogether, even if it meant the ultimate loss of Locutus.

    The answer to her musings had come from nowhere. If the Federation was never to be formed, then they would be nothing more than individual planetary systems fighting for their own place within the quadrant and easy pickings for well placed cubes. To achieve this end though, she needed a reliable way of sending a cube back through time to prevent the flight of Zefram Cochrane from ever occurring, for that had been the catalyst which fomented the birth of the Federation. With a foothold in the past, she knew the Alpha Quadrant would quickly fall to her drones and the Borg would be one step closer to galactic dominion.

    She returned her attention to the now, deciding that she could afford to dispatch another cube to the Alpha Quadrant to join the two that were currently prowling its perimeter in the search for reliable time-travel technology. The time would come when her plans saw the downfall of the Federation and for an outcome like that her patience, like the Collective’s, was open ended.

    USS ANGEL – HANGAR DECK
    UTOPIA PLANITIA YARDS – DRY DOCK 7
    SYNCHRONOUS MARS ORBIT
    August 30th 2371 - 0800 FST

    Fishlock had stood here atop the dais in the main hangar deck once before, addressing the crew in his first welcome brief. Since then he had met and spoken with many of them personally and as he looked across the mass of faces gathered here this morning, he recognised the look of anticipation that he knew he wore as well.

    “I feel like I’m standing in a pulpit ready to deliver a sermon,” he joked somewhat self consciously, “though I suspect if that were the case I’d already be preaching to the converted. This isn’t a sermon, but a thank you because in just four hours time, the USS Angel will be commissioned into the inventory of Starfleet and much of that is due to your hard work over the past couple of months.”

    He noticed a swell of well deserved pride ripple through the room, and was pleased.

    “It’s a maxim in Starfleet circles that a captain is only as good as his crew and ship. Well the Angel has yet to prove herself, though I have little concern over her ability to show what she’s got. As for the crew, I have no doubt whatsoever that the pride you deservedly hold in your own performance will reflect favourably on your captain. For my part, I’ll do my best to earn that.”

    And he meant it. In his years of service he’d seen his share of commanders who were inept in most every aspect of their position, but had ridden on the coat-tails of damn fine crews. He refused to be one of those commanders.

    “I realise you all have tasks to attend to, so I ask you to accept my thanks and in return I offer my best wishes for your careers aboard the Angel. Let’s make it a launch to remember, ladies and gentlemen. Dismissed.”

    As the massed ranks dispersed to their duty stations, he was met by Kat Gray at the base of the dais and they headed for the ready room.

    “You know I remember a time when your idea of an inspirational speech tended towards “last one to their posts buys the first round in the bar”. You’ll be growing grey hairs next.”

    “For your information Commander, my family has tended away from grey hair until old age which I hasten to add, has not struck me yet. Besides I remember a time when a Captain got some respect from his first officer.” The mock serious scowl he added to the remark took the sting out of his words. For her part though, Gray stopped and looked at him seriously.

    “Trust me, the more I see of you in this rank, the more respect I have for you Dan, I mean that. You might not have seen the change in yourself, but I know others have; me especially. You made the right choice in accepting this post.”

    He tilted his head and raised his eyebrows. “Commander Gray, are you attempting to curry favour with your commanding officer?”

    Shaking her head with a sigh, she slapped him on the arm and said “I really don’t know why I bother.”

    USS ANGEL – CAPTAIN’S READY ROOM
    UTOPIA PLANITIA YARDS – DRY DOCK 7
    SYNCHRONOUS MARS ORBIT
    August 30th 2371 - 1030 FST

    Of the four cadets standing in front of his desk, he already knew two personally. The big Remvellian security cadet, LJ Xantharik, had been the first Academy student to attend an Advanced Tactical Training course led by Fishlock earlier in the year, one that had ended in disaster when an attack by what appeared to be Breen assault ships destroyed the USS Trevallion and almost killed the entire ATT course on Adreman.

    Then there was the strawberry blonde, Cadet Siobhan Dixon. Had it not been for her actions for which she deservedly received the Starfleet Medal of Commendation, Fishlock himself wouldn’t be here today. The accident right here in the Utopia Planitia Yards had almost taken his life and that of another cadet yet despite her lack of experience in EVA, she had managed to recover both of them.

    The other two cadets were new to him but again their reputations preceded them.

    The young Asian girl, Hiroshi Misaki, had been recommended by Kat Gray after aceing her tactical training at the Academy and going on to prove her skills as a pilot, both desirable qualities in her new role as a combat medic.

    Finally there was Cadet Anya Vischenko, a girl whose Russian accent was as distinctive as her looks. Her recommendation had come directly from Captain Montgomery Scott. His eloquent closing line had been “If she cannae fix whatever’s bolloxed up yer weapons systems, I’ll gladly buy ye a bottle of yer favourite poison.” Fishlock was willing to bet a year’s credits that he’d never collect on that.
    As he stood, he saw them tense in the manner he’d learned himself at the Academy and smiled to himself. Some things never changed.

    Noticing their expectant looks, he decided not to prolong their misery being as none of them had any idea why the Captain should call them to his ready room this close to the launch.

    “I’ve called you here just to explain a new directive that’s come down from Starfleet and the Academy. It’s recently been decided that cadets should receive longer shipboard and facility assignments to better prepare them for regular service. It means you may be with us for some time, assuming that it suits you to be here.”

    He noticed a look of anticipation in all their faces at that news. Previously, assignments had proven to be of too short an endurance to provide cadets with the experience that they may well need should the Dominion choose to start aggressions. Personally he agreed, because the threat of a war with the Dominion would mean that these young men and women would become line officers damn fast. He’d hate to think that they were going to be thrown into the maelstrom of war unprepared.

    “Along with that change in thinking,” he continued with a knowing smile, “is another one which you might also find agreeable.” He reached behind him and picked up four small boxes that had been sat on his desk. “Concurrent with amended Starfleet policy, it’s my duty and privilege to promote you all to the field-brevet rank of Ensign as of this stardate 48661.47. Congratulations.”

    Each cadet took the proffered box containing the ensign pip as if it were their own personal holy grail. Fishlock broadened his smile. “This means you all need to go sort out a current service uniform to pin them on. Wouldn’t do to have ensigns walking around dressed as cadets, even brevet-ensigns.”
    Snapping to attention with a chorus of yes sirs, he dismissed them and smiled sadly to himself. He hoped that whatever the future brought, to the Federation as a whole and the cadets in particular, he would have the time to make sure that they were prepared for it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2009
  2. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    I haven't read this yet but I did follow the link to your site.

    I'm a sucker for Academy stories and I've started reading the first few chapters of Starfleet Academy. Really drew me in. Going to read some more today.
     
  3. CaptainSarine

    CaptainSarine Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2009
    Location:
    Lyon, France
    Firstly, welcome! :) You'll find we're a simple, pleasant folk, only eating the weakest of our new writers.

    Kidding! :devil:

    This is really good. I like the fact that you introduced the Borg Queen apparently preparing her First Contact (?) and also the rapport between Captain Daniel and his XO. The scene with the cadets made for a nice segue into your Academy story (I'm assuming) which I may just have to check out as well.

    Are you going to be posting your story chapter by chapter here or should I go to your website to follow this?
     
  4. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Your first chapter has caught my attention. I like the premise and the characters that have been introduced so far. Looking forward to more. :)
     
  5. unusualsuspex

    unusualsuspex Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Location:
    Norfolk UK
    Thanks to all for your very kind comments! My labours have not gone unrecognised!!! :guffaw:

    Seriously though, to answer some questions:

    1. The stories of STARFLEET ACADEMY, STAR TREK : ANGEL and the VIGNETTES series are all intertwined and while it isn't necessary to read all of them, it increases the depth of the stories to do so.

    2. The introduction of the Borg Queen and the search for time-travel technology is indeed a lead up to FIRST CONTACT but also will prove crucial as you read Book One of ANGEL. (No spoilers!!)

    3. I've attempted as far as possible to weave established Trek events and characters into the stories. This I believe helps people to relate the stories themselves to events that they're already familiar with in the Trek 'Verse (or at least I hope it does!)

    4. Canon...:censored: I've tried as far as possible to remain true to Trek canon. My main difficulty is what Trek canon means to individuals, and how much does that canon interfere with story telling? I would hope that those who read my efforts would point out where I've gone astray! (Kindly though, I'm old!)

    5. The ACADEMY series begins before ANGEL, and as such is a prequel to it. As I said earlier though, the series are effectively stand alone so can be read independently of each other.


    I think that covers it! I'll post the next chapter of Angel up here today if you like (and if that's easier for you guys) and if you think it's a good idea I'll follow suit with the ACADEMY books as well.

    Thanks once again for the warm welcome and kind comments crew! I is feeling all warm and tribbly!
     
  6. unusualsuspex

    unusualsuspex Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Location:
    Norfolk UK
    STAR TREK : ANGEL
    BOOK ONE
    THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE
    2


    DRY DOCK CONTROL – DRY DOCK 7
    UTOPIA PLANITIA YARDS
    SYNCHRONOUS MARS ORBIT
    August 30th 2371 - 1145 FST

    Admiral Shaun Connors checked the chrono above the large port that gave the gathered guests a perfect bow view of the smooth graceful lines of the Angel as she hung in dry dock. Small work bees and utility craft were finally completing their duties and scurrying to docking ports either aboard the vessel or in the dry-dock itself.

    As the time flashed to 1145, he tapped his glass with a small fork from the buffet table and in his deep Scottish brogue said, “Ladies, gentlemen, honoured guests, if you’ll excuse me I have important duties to attend to.”

    Followed by his honour party, he made his way down from the control room towards the umbilical that connected the Angel to the dry dock. He smiled as he recalled a young Commander Dan Fishlock delivering an impassioned presentation on the need for a vessel such as the Angel shortly after the events of Wolf 359.

    “Sir,” he’d said, “we had to watch as ship’s MedCentres were swamped beyond capacity with casualties. That’s assuming that they had time to drop shields and beam those casualties aboard. Ships without power were trapped in a hostile firezone because the tugs were too unprotected to get them out, and more lives were lost. It’s my proposition Sir that Starfleet undertakes a review of its combat search and rescue facilities and procedures with a view to producing a dedicated vessel for such purposes.”

    Connors had been impressed by Fishlock’s enthusiasm and passion for the project but played devil’s advocate.

    “Commander, I agree that circumstances at Wolf 359 have proven to be inadequate, but what makes you think that a dedicated vessel is currently justifiable? With no current hostilities is it not a waste of design time and vessel allocation?” He’d hated saying that. How could you levy the lives of Starfleet crews against a Federation balance sheet? But if he hadn’t asked it, he knew somebody would have further down the line.

    “Let me answer that in several parts Admiral. Firstly, immediately before the Borg incursion there were no hostilities. Had I have made this same proposition at that point, the exact same question would have been asked. We went from relative peace to fighting for our very survival in the briefest of periods and look what it cost us. Secondly, I would suggest that rather than design a brand new vessel from scratch, we refit and save both time and production costs.”

    Connors nodded his approval. “Good thinking Commander. Any suggestions?”

    Encouraged by Connors reaction, Fishlock quickened his pace. “Absolutely Sir.” He brought up a schematic of two different ships. “As you can see Sir, both transports but different configurations. The Bristol class still uses the container system for transportation which would allow us to carry mission adaptable containers. The problem there would be fragility of structure; the four warp nacelles, the container coupling. In a fire fight they’d be liabilities. My suggestion would be a conversion of the Franklin class Sir. She’s sturdy, offers more space for both hangar deck extension and converting the unused cargo space into medical facilities, the nacelles are pulled in tight; upgrade her weapons and tractor capability and she’d be my platform of choice Sir.”

    From that initial proposition, Connors had taken the idea – but not the credit – and eventually championed the design that had finally become the USS Angel. Fishlock had been delighted, and as far as Connors was concerned there was no better choice for Commanding Officer.

    He suddenly realised that his musings had brought him to the Angel’s main airlock where the Officer Of the Day awaited him.

    "Admiral Connors and honour party, requesting permission to come aboard," he said.

    "Permission granted, Sir," the OOD replied, stepping back and snapping to attention as he was piped aboard.

    “This way please Sir, the Captain is on the bridge.” As the OOD led Connors to the turbolift, he smiled at the formal exchange. It was hardly likely that the captain would be anywhere else, but of course tradition had to be followed.

    Connors arrived on the bridge at 1158 giving him just enough time to be greeted by Fishlock and Gray before stepping in front of the main viewscreen - and consequently into the pickup that broadcast his image over the network - at precisely 1200 hours.

    “Honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is my honour today to welcome the latest ship of the line into Starfleet service. The USS Angel will today become a pioneer in ship design and mission role. It is a design that will save lives and a mission role that will provide comfort to those placed in peril by war or natural disaster.”

    The cameras briefly left Admiral Connors to show images of the MedCentre, the flight deck, and views of Angel from outside as he described it all in detail.

    Finally the pickup returned to the Admiral once more.

    Angel has been designed from the outset as a mobile disaster relief vessel with a mission profile to match. In times of peace she can respond instantly to sites of natural disasters with the capability of providing medical relief as well as specialist engineering and security teams. Despite her technology, it is the trained professionalism of her crew that will be the deciding factor in her success or failure. Our teams in the design and construction sector merely provide the tools; it is they who provide the compassion, care and professionalism that ultimately saves lives and we salute them.”

    He turned then, indicating that Dan Fishlock should join him.

    “It is fitting that the man who will become Angel’s commanding officer today is the man who originally posited this idea to the Advanced Starship Design Bureau, a man who I have worked closely with over great distances to help bring this day to fruition. Captain Dan Fishlock.”

    Dan self consciously shook the Admiral’s hand and acknowledged the applause that he knew was spreading through the ship, across the yards, and beyond.

    As the applause subsided, Connors turned once more to the screen for the final traditional part of the ceremony, one that had been re-enacted many times since the launch of the first true starships.

    “In 2119,” he intoned, “mankind was ready to spread his wings within the galaxy. It was in this year that the Warp 5 Complex was dedicated and I’d like to present to you this recording of that dedication speech.”

    An image of the father of warp flight Zefram Cochrane appeared on the screen beginning his inspirational speech “On this site, a powerful engine will be built. ...”
    The honour party stepped forward at this point – “…An engine that will someday help us to travel a hundred times faster than we can today…” - and carefully unwrapped the dedication plaque from within the UFP flag. “Imagine it, thousands of inhabited planets at our fingertips!” - The flag was taken and ceremonially folded by two of the party. “…And we'll be able to explore those strange new worlds and seek out new life and new civilizations...” – While the young ensign stepped forward holding the plaque, just as the speech concluded with “This engine will let us go boldly where no man has gone before.”

    The view switched back to the bridge once more as the Admiral and Captain nodded their appreciation and took opposing sides of the plaque, eventually mounting it in the pre-prepared brackets at the rear of the bridge.

    As the camera zoomed in on the plaque, the Admiral described it.

    “All Starfleet vessels carry a dedication plaque such as this. It is quite often seen as the heart and soul of each ship, naming all those instrumental in bringing her into service. Each plaque also carries a specific dedication; historic lines from literature, poetry or inspirational lines from world leaders. Angel’s plaque quotes from Jean Paul Richter:

    The guardian angels of life sometimes fly so high as to be beyond our sight, but they are always looking down upon us.

    “It is a fitting sentiment to bestow upon a vessel whose very nature demands that she be a guardian of the safety of others.”

    Turning once more to Fishlock, he said, “Dan, the years we have worked together on this project have finally delivered the ship you envisioned so long ago and it is with pride and a great deal of pleasure that I commend her to your care. Oh and I have one final surprise; Mrs Fishlock, if you would?”

    The camera switched to the inside of the dry dock control annex to show Fishlock’s wife Megan standing in front of a small lectern. Fishlock’s mouth hung open in surprise as his wife stepped forward with a smile to depress the single switch mounted at its centre and a bottle of champagne released from the dry dock gantry high overhead sailed serenely across the gap between them to smash against the hull just forward of the registry NCC-92553.

    The Admiral declared his final line through a smile at Fishlock’s obvious pleasure. “By the power invested in me by Starfleet Command and the United Federation of Planets, I declare USS Angel operational and duly entered into Starfleet service at 12.15 hours, stardate 48661.5.”

    Connors turned and, deferring to the new captain of the vessel, began a fresh round of applause that resounded throughout the ship and beyond. Fishlock found he had to swallow a lump in his throat, as the importance of the moment finally sank in.

    As the officer in command, it was now his duty to escort Admiral Connors off the bridge. Connors turned to him as they left and said quietly “She’s all yours Dan, make it work.”
     
  7. unusualsuspex

    unusualsuspex Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Location:
    Norfolk UK
    STAR TREK : ANGEL
    BOOK ONE
    THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE
    2 (cont)



    STARBASE 621 – ADMINISTRATION RECEPTION
    TZENKETHI COALITION BORDER REGION
    UFP SPACE
    August 30th 2371 - 1300 FST

    Commander Anthony Winston III was a bear of a man sporting a broken nose and the acerbic gallows humour of a man who had seen much of life’s worst moments. Not just in his personal life, though he had had his fair share. It was his duties as a combat medic that had shown him how frail and fragile human life could be when exposed to the trauma of combat in the unforgiving medium of space.

    And yet he was a gentle and well spoken man. He had trained in most facets of the medical profession and served as counsellor, medic, and senior neurosurgeon in his career. He now awaited his latest posting, that of Chief Medical Officer aboard the new Franklin class refit USS Angel.

    Starfleet, in its over-bureaucratised manner, had managed to completely bungle his orders leaving him stranded out on the borders of Federation space to await the arrival of the Angel. Winston however took it all in his world weary stride. If life gives you lemons he thought, nobody notices.

    Standing at the administration reception desk, he grinned in his slightly lopsided manner. The broken nose had come early in his life during the emergency evacuation of the USS Camberwick, his first posting as a Counsellor. Strangely it had been in this very region of space in 2360, during the Federation-Tzenkethi conflict, and it was a memory that still haunted him.

    He’d been shepherding the medical crew to the escape pods with the last of the wounded when there had been an explosive decompression just forward of the lifeboat deck. The pressure door that should have sealed the corridor jammed partway to the deck, leaving Winston and a small group of medics scrabbling for purchase as the atmosphere vented to space. He’d watched helplessly as, one after another, his colleagues had eventually lost there grip and been slammed mercilessly into bulkheads and stanchions and their broken bodies eventually expelled into the cold dark of space. Finally, unable to maintain his own grip, the inexorable pull of escaping atmosphere tore his hands free from the railing and he was thrown face first against the top of the jammed door, miraculously freeing its mechanism. As it slammed down inches from his face, the last thing he remembered was being grabbed by his own CMO of the time and forced into an escape pod.

    “Commander?”

    The insistent voice of the duty clerk brought him back to the present. He had no idea how long she’d been calling him and felt slightly foolish as he gathered his thoughts.
    “I’m sorry, I was…well it doesn’t matter. Erm, I’m booked in for a brief stay awaiting the Angel? Commander Anthony Winston III.”

    The clerk scanned her list briefly. “Yes Sir, I have your details here. You’ll be staying in our transit accommodation, deck 37, section 15. Will you need any help with your luggage?”

    He looked at the meagre collection of battered hand luggage he’d brought with him.

    “No, I don’t think so, but thank you. If you could just give me directions please?”

    She smiled at his polite, well mannered demeanour. It made a change from the usual demanding clientele that passed through. Handing him the electronic key to his temporary quarters, she pointed to the bank of turbolifts at the end of the corridor.

    “Certainly Sir. Down to deck 27, turn right out of the lift and it’s the second cross junction. All the rooms are signed. Enjoy your stay Sir.”

    He nodded his gratitude. “It has to be quieter than my last visit to these parts.”

    Ambling away with his luggage, the clerk couldn’t help being reminded of a large, sad teddy bear.


    USS ANGEL - BRIDGE
    UTOPIA PLANITIA YARDS – DRY DOCK 7
    SYNCHRONOUS MARS ORBIT
    August 30th 2371 – 1400 FST


    Dan Fishlock sat at the centre of perfectly ordered quiet as he watched the final seconds tick away. As the chrono finally flicked to 1400, he turned to his right. This is it he thought.

    “Mr DeSalle, request clearance departure from dry dock control.”

    The tall and muscled Chief of Security bobbed his shaved head as his fingers tapped at the panel. “Aye Sir, clearance departure requested.”

    From mission ops to his left, Lieutenant Amanda Gittings chimed in, “All decks secured for departure Sir.” His first officer, Kat Gray moved to stand behind his seat, with no position available for her at the moment.

    Looking to DeSalle once more, Fishlock watched as the security chief’s dark eyes scanned his board before looking up with a smile and saying, “Dry Dock Control reports they are ready for our departure Sir. Message from Admiral Connors, Godspeed and don’t scratch the paintwork.”

    Fishlock chuckled. “Hope you heard that Ensign Pharana?”

    The young Denobulan conn officer swallowed hard. “I did indeed Sir, I’ll do my best. Helm ready Sir.”

    “That’s all I ask Ensign, that’s all I ask.”

    "Yard command signalling clear, Sir.” DeSalle routed the departure lane clearance through to ops.

    “Mr Edwards, clear all moorings.” Fishlock felt his heart beat a little faster. “Conn, mooring thrusters to standby, aft thrusters to one-quarter.”

    “Port and starboard to standby, aft to one quarter aye Sir.”

    Pharana worked her board at conn like a concert pianist and imperceptibly, Angel began her journey. Work bees and shuttle craft scurried across Angel’s path in a co-ordinated ballet of movement as the sleek vessel gathered speed.

    “Let’s give them some lights Mr Edwards.”

    Around the huge ship running lights, navigation lights and anti collision strobes lit up with the final light being the one illuminating the Angel’s name and registry forward of the bridge.

    “Dry dock reports us clear and free to manoeuvre Sir.”

    “Conn, take us out, half impulse. Let’s make it one for the books.”

    The Angel, free at last from her constraints, came alive as the thrum of the impulse engines transmitted the heartbeat of the ship through her deck plates. It seemed to combine and concentrate the anticipation of every member of the crew as the Utopia Planitia Yards receded behind them and they passed the navigation marker buoys. He smiled up at Gray, the pride plastered across his face a sight to see.

    “Free space Sir, warp online, and ship secure.”

    Fishlock looked up at the main viewscreen. “Excellent. Lay in a course for Starbase 621; warp five as soon as we clear boundary markers Ensign. Commander Gray if you’d join me in the ready room, Mr DeSalle you have the bridge.”

    He stood, heading for the ready room to the port side of the bridge, and with a mischievous grin said “Children don’t break anything; I’ll only be next door.”

    As the last of the Yard vessels peeled away from their escort duties, Angel headed out into her natural environment, her mission at last under way and the adventure just beginning.


    USS ANGEL - ENGINEERING
    UFP SPACE
    EN ROUTE TO STARBASE 621
    August 30th 2371 – 1600 FST


    Vonny Dixon, her shiny new ensign pip pinned to her brand new uniform, felt a sense of excitement she thought would never abate. The warp core thrummed happily and the cathedral like atmosphere of the engineering deck momentarily took her back to her childhood.

    Her mother and father had taken her to London to visit relatives and they’d done the usual sight seeing trip. It was a visit to St Paul’s cathedral that had made the young Vonny stand in awe that such a vast space could be so quiet and breathtaking. The huge domed cathedral had weathered the storms of world wars virtually unscathed unlike the rest of London and its atmosphere of history and something that Vonny couldn’t place left her wide eyed.

    “So, Ensign,” came a voice from behind, “was it all ye expected.”

    Vonny self consciously brushed the shiny single pip at her collar as she turned to face Lieutenant Commander Andi Machilveen, the Chief Engineer.

    “Yes ma’am and then some. When the warp core came on line and…” Vonny gestured around her, for once at a loss for words.

    Machilveen chuckled. “Don’t worry, I know exactly what ye mean. Still gets to me too.” Her Glaswegian accent, usually just a low hint, strengthened slightly as she looked at the quiet professionals at work around her. “It’s times like this lass that ye’ll remember. Still,” she said, shaking her reverie, “work tae do. Let’s see if we cannae work a few more miracles before Starbase 621.”

    ******

    Vin DeSalle had returned to security following the departure from the Yards, and was now briefing the Beta shift team on their duties. The shift ran from 1600 to midnight ship’s time and for the present appeared to be trouble free.

    “Janowski, I want you to rotate duty controller between you, Hannar and T’Mass. Get a feel for the shift cycle ok? I also want to play shift deployment by ear for this first cruise. Let’s see where duty stations are best located.”

    Janowski nodded. As Beta shift supervisor, it would be his responsibility to deploy the personnel of security on patrols. Like all the other duty positions on the ship however, in the event of an emergency, control reverted to the Alpha shift leader who was usually the section Chief.

    “You have the shift Lieutenant, let’s keep it safe.”

    ******

    Lieutenant John Dorian closed the supply cabinet and looked at the young crewwoman perched on the edge of the biobed. The flashburn on the back of her arm was far from serious, but still painful. He’d applied an analgesic cream and now gently set to work with a regenerator.

    “You know I think we should put up a small plaque to you.”

    She gave him a slightly baffled look. “Sir?”

    “You have the distinct honour, Miss Palmer, of being our first ever patient. Maybe a small picture as well? Just over there by the main entrance.”

    “I think I’d rather live in anonymity for this one thank you doctor. Ten minutes out of dry dock and I get injured?” She grinned wryly at the dubious honour. “Not good.”

    “Don’t worry,” he smiled, “I’m sure there have been less auspicious starts to careers.” He turned off the regenerator and inspected his handiwork, the skin healed and showing little more than a fresh pinkness for its ordeal.

    “Shame all my jobs aren’t as simple as this. Best keep the steriwrap on for the rest of the day though.”

    “Thank you, Sir.”

    As she carefully donned her tunic, he packed away the equipment and said, “If I promise I won’t put up a plaque, will you promise to keep your bodily parts clear of faulty EPS conduits?”

    She laughed as she hopped down from the biobed. “You can count on that Sir. Thanks again.”

    As she left, a lieutenant in ship’s services yellow hobbled in favouring his left leg. Turning to Misaki who’d been observing his work he asked for a snap diagnosis.

    “I would say leg or back strain. The fact that he is still mobile in a non-crisis situation suggests that it is probably not a fracture but we should treat it as such until proven otherwise.”

    He nodded. “Good, and treatment?”

    She paused. “If it is a fracture, then bone regeneration and analgesic treatment, to remain off duty for at least 24 hours. A sprain simply requires deep muscle regeneration.”

    He nodded, pleased with the answers. Moving to the injured lieutenant, he helped him up on to the biobed. “Lieutenant, unfortunately you missed the honour of being our very first patient but to compensate I would like to offer you this once in a lifetime chance to be treated by our star combat medic Ensign Hiroshi Misaki. Hasn’t lost a patient yet so she tells me.”

    Despite his obvious discomfort, he smiled. “Then let’s hope I’m not the first.”

    JD rolled his eyes skyward. “Oh ye of little faith. Thank you lieutenant, that’s appreciated.” He held out his hand for Misaki to proceed, and said dryly “Now you remember which end the legs are?”

    ******

    Dan Fishlock hugged the mug of raktajino appreciatively and watched as Kat Gray replicated her favourite blend of Assam tea.

    “So come on, how long had you known about it?”

    Her face was guileless as she looked at him. “Know what?”

    He adopted a hokey thinker position. “Hmm, let me try and recall the exact words…’Oh and I have one final surprise. Mrs Fishlock if you would?’ Yep I’m fairly certain that was how it went.”

    Gray couldn’t hold it in any longer and released one of her trademark laughs that Dan was sure could be heard through two doors and out on to the bridge.

    “Oh but your face was such a picture!” She set down the china cup and saucer on the desk and sat, crossing her long legs.

    “Well I’m so glad that your commanding officer was available to give you such a much needed funny boost!” He relaxed back into his chair taking a swig of the hot, bitter Klingon coffee. “Thanks Kat that meant a lot to me however you managed to arrange it.”

    “Seriously, I just mentioned it as a nice idea to Admiral Connors. He cleared the way for it, but you’re welcome.”

    They sat in companionable silence for a while watching the stars streak past outside the ready room window. Finally Dan said, “Think we should go show our faces round the ship then?”

    Kat rolled her eyes. “Please! If the crew see any more of your face, they’re gonna have nightmares. Let ‘em be for tonight and give Megan a call.”

    Dan chuckled as he stood and stretched the kinks from his back. “Yes ma’am.”

    Kat stood to leave Dan to his call when he said, “Still sure you want to serve with a newbie?”

    She held the ready room doors for just a moment as she said “I wouldn’t be anywhere else.”

    As they closed behind her, Dan thought neither would I.
     
  8. unusualsuspex

    unusualsuspex Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Location:
    Norfolk UK
    By the way, I'd like to take this chance in a knowledgeable public forum to thank my good friend William Johnson.

    I'd been searching for a long time for a vessel that could fulfil the functions that I had planned for the USS Angel. It was purely by chamce that I stumbled across William's design for the USS Mainstay at SciFi-Meshes.

    After a very minimal period of begging, William was only too happy to allow his design to be refitted as the USS Angel and he continues to supply me with top notch renders still.

    William, my heart felt thanks for giving my characters a playground! You're a star!
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2009
  9. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    You've established a cast of engrossing characters and a newly refit ship straining at the reigns to begin her first mission. :)

    The change of command ceremony was nicely handled (how come everybody gets one of these except my captain? :D) and Captain Fishlock seems a great fit for the ship, given the role he played in her conversion.

    Here's hoping things stay mellow in the vicinity of the Tzenkethi as the Angel heads to pick up the CMO.
     
  10. unusualsuspex

    unusualsuspex Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Location:
    Norfolk UK
    LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is trademarked and copyrighted by CBS Studios.
    NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.

    3

    TZENKETHI COALITION BORDER REGION
    UFP SPACE
    September 1st 2371 - 0615 FST

    Chariscarpia had retrieved all the survey probes and studied their downloads in depth. The race whose territory she now skirted was a ferocious people and already she had found herself quickly avoiding any vessels that came out her way. None had seen her of course, but she would rather play this game of hide and seek than risk the possibility of a confrontation.

    Strangely, it wasn’t that she was afraid of such a meeting, or rather of losing it. Despite the hundreds of turns she had been in flight, the automated weapons were continually serviced and tested by the automatons. No, it was a belief that had crept up on her since being left alone. The thought of unnecessary violence and the pointless taking of life had now become abhorrent to her. In a case of self defence, it may become justifiable, but with her ability to hide herself that should not become an issue.

    For now she studied the hissing, mewling sounds captured by her sensors that were the primary language of this race that called themselves the Tzenkethi, and decided that she could afford to rest a while.


    USS ANGEL – HANGAR BAY 1
    UFP SPACE
    EN ROUTE TO STARBASE 621
    September 4th 2371 – 0900 FST

    The hangar deck was a hive of activity as crewmembers serviced and prepared the assorted complement of small craft for duty. The port and starboard hangar bays were the sole reserve of the Valkyrie fighters however, and very much sacred turf as far as Master Chief Petty Officer Spider Tarrant was concerned.

    As Lieutenant Eski Martari made her way to her craft, Spider turned with a smile.

    “Morning Lieutenant.” He pointed up to the sleek craft. “Hope you like the facelift?”

    ‘Mo’ Martari was the pilot of the USS Hildr, the Valkyrie that was Spider’s pride and joy. Checking the craft, she saw that a brand new trim of yellow had been applied to the cockpit area and down across the swept back wings.

    “Lieutenant Richmond got blue. Apparently thought yellow was a little too girly for his liking.”

    “Spider, as long as you haven’t put lacy curtains in there, I’m happy. How is she?”

    Spider grabbed the omni-present rag from his pocket and dutifully rubbed his hands. Mo noted that the transfer of oil and lubricants always seemed to favour the rag and smiled.

    “She’s as sweet as a…” He stopped and looked slightly abashed at what he’d been about to say. While he could curse fluently in several languages, he was old fashioned enough to plug it in front of a lady. “Let’s just say you won’t get that twitch on boost any more, and despite my erstwhile colleague in Bay Two telling me it couldn’t be done, your targeting is pinned at 130.”

    Spider was convinced that Dingbat’s continual stream of ‘can’t be done’s' was entirely meant to drive him on to actually do it, though he’d never let on.

    “Chief you never cease to amaze me, you really don’t. I do believe the little present from Homer and me was worth every credit.”

    “Present?”

    She folded her arms and gave him a sideways look. “Chief, I don’t have the years on deck that you have, but I know that when my ground chief performs above and beyond he deserves an adequate reward and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

    Spider had the good grace to look embarrassed. “Thank you ma’am, me and Dingbat appreciate that.”

    “No problem Spider. Anything else you need before we brief?”

    “Actually, yes. It’s been bugging me for a while.” He led her around to the front of the fighter and pointed at the bay door.

    “That worries me big time,” he said, pointing at the overhead.

    “A door worries you?”

    “Yes ma’am and it should worry you too. I might be wrong, in which case you can make a note of it in your personal log ‘cos it’s a rarity, but have we made any launches while this ship has been making simulated evasive manoeuvres?” He stood with his hands on his hips as Mo pondered the question. Eventually she shook her head.

    “No they’ve all been straight and level shoots, why?”

    “Seems to me and Dingbat,” he said, “that if you go for a shoot just as the ship heaves, either that door stanchion or the deck is gonna want to kiss your bird. Structural integrity fields and inertial dampers ain’t gonna matter a damn when she’s off the deck and manoeuvring under her own power, or am I missing something?”

    Mo’s eyes went wide. “You know, that’s not even been covered in the simulator rides. I honestly don’t know.”

    Frowning, she turned on her heel and called across the hangar deck to Lieutenant Andre ‘Homer’ Richmond, her wingman. “Homer! On me. Chief can you spare an hour?”

    “Ma’am, for the pilots who just got me and Dingbat a present, you got all day!”


    STARBASE 621 – CREW LOUNGE
    TZENKETHI COALITION BORDER REGION
    UFP SPACE
    September 4th 2371 – 0900 FST

    Winston felt that the old military maxim of ‘hurry up and wait’ was long past its sell by date, and yet it seemed that no matter where he went, it persisted. After Starfleet had rushed him out of his post on the Federation colony Nehru, he’d had to cool his heels awaiting the arrival of the Angel. It had given him time of course to catch up on his reading, a part of his life that he was more than passionate about.
    Medical journals, old science fiction holo-novels, biographies; Winston could lose himself in their myriad worlds at an instant and so the down time hadn’t been totally wasted. He just couldn’t quite get his head around the fact that when Starfleet said hurry, the end result actually required quite the opposite.

    Still, the Angel was due in three days, and after reading all the latest briefing material it was a post he realised he was itching to get into.

    “Good grief Anthony, is that another book?” Winston turned in his seat to see the Chief Medical Officer of Starbase 621 enter the lounge shaking her head. He stood and greeted her warmly.

    “Kate if I didn’t have a book, my mind would seize up completely; you should know that by now.”

    Katherine Pulaski shook her head. “How long have I known you?” She held up a hand to forestall the answer. “It was a rhetorical question Anthony. Please don’t remind me how many years we’ve put in.” In truth they’d spent much of their early career together, first at Starfleet Medical during training and later on a number of ships. “In all that time, I’ve only ever seen you once not having your nose stuck in some book or other. Even then it was only because you were in intensive care.”

    “You, Commander Pulaski, are becoming crotchety with age.”

    Sitting down opposite him, she sighed and nodded. “You, Commander Winston, may well be right.”

    Winston sat forward, sensing an air of despondency about his long time colleague. “Care to talk?” He took a sip of his, by now, long cold tea and wrinkled his nose.

    Pulaski favoured him with a wry expression. “Ever the counsellor Anthony?”

    “Call it a freebie for old time’s sake.” He pushed the half empty tea cup aside and put his PADD face down on the table.

    Resting her head tiredly on her hand, she looked at him. “Anthony, do you ever get tired…I mean in your soul tired, of patching people back together because of conflict? I mean day to day medical problems I can deal with; broken bones, cuts, sniffles, pregnancies. But to see young adults no older than my grand daughter being carried into theatre, their lives on the verge of being snuffed out because some damned idiot claims this or that bit of space and damn the consequences.”

    Winston, despite the dig about his counselling, immediately fell into old routines and realised where this was going.

    “You’re serious about retiring then?”

    Pulaski sat up straight. “Where did you here that?”

    “I didn’t, until you just gave it away Kate.”

    She relaxed once more. “I’ve given it some thought yes.”

    “Then I suggest you rethink Kate, seriously. Even if you weren’t the friend that you are I’d tell you that. In the business we’re in, all those minor ailments can be treated by those just starting in this vocation. It’s the way they earn their stripes Kate, and you know it.” He sat forward again, intensely serious. “But when it comes to saving lives, it’s the experience that years have given us that can make the difference Kate. The profession can’t afford to lose you and those people out there even less so.”

    “You’re a good man Anthony Winston.” Her eyes seemed to have regained a little of the vitality he remembered. “A little sickly at times, but it comes with the territory I suppose.”

    “I might think about charging if the insults continue.”

    They both laughed, the sombre mood temporarily broken.

    “Kate, seriously, you’re looking at the symptoms of the problem rather than the cause. We’re all out here serving at our master’s beck and call and it’s only they who can change what happens out there. We, in the meantime, pick up the pieces and make sure that suffering doesn’t become part of the problem.”

    “You could have just said snap out of it, but I guess that’s what comes from reading all those books.” She smiled at her old friend, grateful for his counsel. “Thank you Anthony.”

    “Oh I didn’t do it for altruistic reasons Kate,” he replied, concealing a grin. “I need the practice before the Angel arrives. Any cranky old doctor would have been fair game.”

    She gave him a hug and said quietly, “Well I’m glad it was this one.” She went to leave, and then turned back. “By the way, if you want to visit an old fashioned MedCentre before you board your shiny new ship, the invite’s open.”

    “Love to.” He held up his PADD. “I’ve nearly finished this book.” She shook her head in exasperation and waved goodbye, leaving with a happier expression than when she’d entered.

    The bizarre fact was that Commander Anthony Winston III had once had exactly the same thoughts as his friend. Physician, heal thyself he thought mockingly.


    USS ANGEL – CAPTAIN’S READY ROOM
    UFP SPACE
    EN ROUTE TO STARBASE 621
    September 4th 2371 – 0950 FST

    “You can’t be serious?” Admiral Connors face gave little away but the tone of his voice made it quite obvious that he couldn’t believe this had been overlooked. Dan beckoned for Chief Tarrant to join in at that point.

    “Sir, we honestly don’t know if this is a problem right now, but when the computer simulations are complete we’ll know more.”

    Connors nodded, stroking his grey goatee thoughtfully. “What’s your honest call on this Chief?”

    “Gut feeling tells me it’s gonna be a problem Sir. Back when Starfleet introduced fighters, they were launched from carriers prior to entering a combat zone. Squadrons were out and protecting fleets and convoys before the shooting began. If they weren’t it meant the carrier was in big trouble anyway ‘cos they were the prime target.” He raised his hands. “This whole ship and her mission are a brand new kettle of fish Sir. The places we’re likely to go and the situations we’re likely to face could well force us to launch under fire, or at least while the Angel’s making heavy manoeuvres. Pardon my Ferengi Sir, but it looks like somebody screwed the pooch on this one.”

    “Thank you Chief. Dan, keep the simulations going and let me know the results. I’ll kick up a fuss at ASDB and find out just what the score is. In the meantime, see if you can sort out a work round. I will not have those fighters launch when there’s a danger to both them and the ship.”

    “Thank you Sir, we’ll work on it.” The screen blanked to the UFP logo and Dan turned to the assembled fighter pilots and ground chiefs.

    “You heard it people. If we don’t find a way round this, those nice shiny Valkyries could end up as so much ballast.”

    Spider muttered something that Dan heard and agreed with.

    “Not quite how I would have phrased it Chief, but I understand the sentiment. Let’s make this a priority assignment.” He looked at Spider. “Chief Tarrant, contact me when the computer simulations are done.”

    With a curt “Aye Sir”, he left the ready room at a jog and Dan turned his attention to the two Valkyrie pilots. “I’d like you two to grab the combat medic pilots and get down to the holodeck. We’ve been so concerned about launching the fighters, we never gave a thought to the runabouts that might have to launch under the same conditions. Let’s run some extreme training.”

    As they left him alone in the ready room, he cursed under his breath. Looks like the other shoe’s finally dropped.
     
  11. unusualsuspex

    unusualsuspex Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Location:
    Norfolk UK
    3 (cont)

    BORG TRANSWARP HUB
    SPATIAL GRID 986
    DELTA QUADRANT
    September 5th 2371

    The Queen was dismayed. Little of any value had been gained in their search for the ultimate means to the Federation’s destruction. Inside her, a dark voice that was of her but not from her whispered “We must find the answer. We are Borg. Our memory is timeless, and our patience infinite.” The Queen didn’t question the origin of the command. It was as it had always been and she would obey, just as others had before her.

    She examined the locations of those cubes that she felt best able to deploy on this ever more important mission. Within a matter of days, the assets would be available to deploy to the Alpha Quadrant. While it would still be a mission of stealth, she would accomplish it. In the meantime her cubes in the other three quadrants would continue their search as part of their mission of assimilation.

    Never once did she doubt that they would find the answer.


    TZENKETHI COALITION BORDER REGION
    UFP SPACE
    September 5th 2371 – 2218 FST

    Chariscarpia hadn’t been sleeping. She never slept. Nonetheless, the small Tzenkethi vessel had caught her unawares. She had been studying a further language, one that she had heard more and more of as she had progressed through this region of space, and it had absorbed her totally. Right now though, she put aside her study of this ‘Federation’ to attend to her own protection.

    The Tzenkethi vessel, a small craft, would pass within 8,000 divisions of her current location. To move now would increase the likelihood that her drives power signature would be detected and so she sat and waited.

    Within moments, a second vessel appeared of similar design but larger. The strange sound of their guttural language still eluded her translation, but when the second vessel fired, it became apparent that the first was fleeing. Knowing she could do nothing to help lest she give away her own position she watched as the fire from the larger ship tore at the shields of the smaller.

    It wasn’t long before a drive nacelle was torn free and the small ship began to tumble lazily, its lights darkening and its atmosphere venting to space. The larger vessel paused, and then hurriedly wheeled hard about to race back towards the home world that she had detected some weeks ago.

    Chariscarpia was surprised again when seconds after the larger Tzenkethi vessel had departed a still larger white vessel had appeared in a burst of radiation she knew was connected with certain forms of subspace drives.

    It carried the markings of the ‘Federation’ and she watched with interest as first they attempted to contact the stricken Tzenkethi ship, and then harnessed the vessel with a beam similar to her own collector. Within moments, she recorded a distinct energy signature between the two ships before the ‘Federation’ ship sped away into subspace once more.

    With her curiosity piqued, Chariscarpia singled out the trail of the streamlined vessel and plotted a slow and careful course to follow it. She once again resumed her studies of the Federation language, ensuring even as she did so that the radius of her proximity alarms was increased.


    STARBASE 621 – TRANSIT ACCOMODATION
    TZENKETHI COALITION BORDER REGION
    UFP SPACE
    September 5th 2371 – 2307 FST

    Winston had just finished eating a late meal when his communicator warbled. It took him several seconds to find it under the pile of PADDs by his bed, but eventually he thumbed it.

    “Winston.”

    “Sir, I’ve just had a call from Dr Pulaski, she’s asking if you could attend sick bay as soon as possible. She requires some immediate help on a difficult procedure.”

    Winston was slightly baffled. It wasn’t as if the station was short of qualified personnel unless there had been a major incident and he was fairly certain that he would have known of that by now.

    “Advise Dr Pulaski I’ll be there straight away…erm, where is it?”

    “Deck 35 Sir; I’ll get somebody to meet you at the turbolift.”

    “Thank you.” He thumbed the connection closed and hurriedly dressed in lightweight clothes. If Kate needed help in a surgical procedure he’d need to change fast.

    As he exited the ‘lift on deck 35, he was met by a young medtech. She hurriedly ushered him to a section of the MedCentre that was obviously in the middle of a crisis.

    “Anthony, over here. Nurse, get that stimulator over here stat.”

    It was only as he ran over to where Pulaski was quickly donning surgical reds that the situation became clear. A gurney rushed past him carrying the badly injured form of a male Tzenkethi, his fur matted where it had been burned or slicked with blood.

    “Work first, questions later. Get changed, and we’ll hit the scrub chamber.”

    As he scrambled into a proffered set of surgical reds and passed through the scrub chamber, Pulaski briefed him.

    “We have four Tzenkethi, two adults and two children. We’ve already lost another two before they could get here. I really need your help here; you’re the closest I’ve got to an expert.”

    Winston paused. “It was a long time ago Kate I…”

    “Damn it Anthony, I will not let innocents die. Now the adult male has compression fractures, internal bleeding…” and so the list went on as she described the injuries of each of the survivors. Winston realised that they were all consistent with depressurisation and blunt trauma so presumably a spaceborne accident. He rapidly but carefully inspected all four casualties and shouted out orders, his previous reticence disappearing as memories of his previous time out here resurfaced. They were memories that had been long buried.


    STARBASE 621 – MEDICAL ANNEX
    TZENKETHI COALITION BORDER REGION
    UFP SPACE
    September 6th 2371 – 0928 FST

    It had taken the combined skills of all four primary surgical teams to complete the surgery that had saved the Tzenkethi’s lives, and it wasn’t over yet. The adult male was still in a critical condition while one of the youngsters required constant monitoring.

    Winston had acted as co-ordinator for many of those procedures. While there were certainly records of Tzenkethi anatomy and biology, he was the only one currently resident on the Starbase who had ever performed surgery on one of the big feline aliens. During the last Federation-Tzenkethi conflict, few had been taken alive preferring to die in combat rather than be captured, so his first-hand knowledge had proven vital during the long night.
    He rubbed at gritty eyes, knowing they desperately wanted to close, when through blurred vision he saw the Starbase Commanding Officer enter the annex. He attempted to stand and found his legs were several seconds behind his brain.

    “Please Doctor, don’t get up. I know it’s been a tough night for you. I just wanted to pass on my personal thanks for your work.” Captain Alexia Perez was a short and pretty Latino woman whose reputation was one of no nonsense business. Right now she looked almost as tired as he felt though.

    “I have to confess that this isn’t purely a social call Doctor. I know after action reports are going to be a while forthcoming and I needed to know if any of your patients said anything.”

    “Said anything?” Winston racked his fatigue drugged brain for any recollection but it was all a blur of blood and controlled chaos. “I don’t believe so, but then I was moving from patient to patient. I’m honestly not sure. Have I missed something?”

    Perez shook her head. “Probably not. You were out here during the last conflict weren’t you?”

    He nodded, remembering how the fight to save Tzenkethi lives last night had transported him back to those days.

    “Well the winds seem to be changing out here. The people you saved are likely refugees looking for asylum and their numbers are growing by the week. Right now there are upwards of 300 Tzenkethi resettled on a colony planet deep within the Federation home worlds.” She looked at him with something akin to hope. “It looks like the youngsters are tiring of conflict Doctor, and the Autarch doesn’t like it.”

    “Hence the reason they were hunted down,” he said.

    “Exactly.” Her face fell. “It’s an uphill struggle Doctor, but then liberty always is. The view from the top is always worth the climb though.” Standing, she squeezed his shoulder. “Once again, thank you.”

    As she left the annex, Winston stood and shuffled unsteadily into critical care. The adult male lay on a biobed, patches of skin showing bare where his injuries had been tended to. The nurse tending him looked up and smiled in recognition, though to be honest he was too tired to remember her name. Instead he returned her smile wearily and left to look in on the female and her children. He recalled one of the seemingly thousands of quotes that his brain grabbed and stored at random. Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

    It might well be that this small family had just won one of the most important battles of their lives, and he’d played a small part in it, a thought which bolstered his flagging spirits.

    So it was with some concern that he saw the female Tzenkethi out of bed and stalking across the recovery room, the two male medtechs concerned about restraining her because of her wounds. They looked at him for guidance and he waved them back, hoping not to further panic the stricken female.

    Speaking quietly, as he’d learned to do back in the conflict, he said “Can you understand me?”

    She stopped, shaking her head and pawing at her ear. The decompression had ruptured one ear drum and the other was in a poor state so Winston was well aware of the disorientation she must be feeling.

    “Where is he?” She stopped her pacing and her ears fell flat against her head, but her tail remained motionless. It was more a sign of uncertainty or fear than the overture to an attack he knew.

    “Please, sit and we’ll talk.” Despite her injuries, her movements were still lithe and controlled. She looked at him silently for a moment before turning and sitting back on the bed.

    “What is your name?” He needed to establish a rapport quickly before the fear caused her to panic and lash out.

    “Zahaan”, she whispered. “You are the healer yes?”

    He nodded, mentally parsing his speech into the Tzenkethi form. “I am one of many here. You were very lucky Zahaan though we were unable to save two of your fellow travellers.”

    Her head dropped, the ears slowly rising again. “Yes, they died before we were rescued.” Looking back up at him, she said “The children? My mate?”

    He resisted the impulse to smile too broadly. Baring his teeth, even in friendship, would have been too close to the Tzenkethi expression of challenge or anger. “They live Zahaan though your mate is still seriously ill. We must tend him for some while yet. Would you wish to see the children?”

    She stood and raised her hands, palm up and claws retracted. “My thanks healer.” He reciprocated the gesture and then led her into the ward where her cubs lay. Sitting awkwardly in the too small chair by their beds, she whispered small purring and cooing noises as she stroked their cheeks. She looked up from the small forms, surprising him with moist eyes. He had assumed incorrectly that like their racial cousins, the Caitians, the Tzenkethi were unable to shed tears.

    “We ask for sanctuary healer.”

    Recalling Captain Perez’s words, he nodded. “I believe it will be granted and there will be safety for you. Will you wait here?”

    “You have my word healer.” And Winston knew that was a bond that was never broken by a Tzenkethi.

    Stepping back into the side ward, he called one of the medtechs, asking him to contact Captain Perez as the Tzenkethi were requesting asylum. By the time she arrived though, Winston had already fallen asleep sitting beside Zahaan.
     
  12. unusualsuspex

    unusualsuspex Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Location:
    Norfolk UK
    LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is trademarked and copyrighted by CBS Studios.
    NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.


    4

    USS ANGEL – CAPTAIN’S READY ROOM
    UFP SPACE
    APPROACHING STARBASE 621
    September 7th 2371 – 0950 FST


    Spider and Dingbat stood to one side of the desk and the other side was occupied by Mo and Homer. Behind the desk, a grim faced Fishlock shook his head.

    “It’s official ladies and gentlemen. Admiral Connors has just informed me that ASDB royally screwed this one. Their intention was, and I quote, that “the Valkyries were part of a proof of concept trial and were not expected to be launched in combat conditions.”

    “Begging the Captain’s pardon,” interrupted Spider, “but just what the hell were we supposed to do, throw flowers?”

    Dan held his hands up in supplication. “I’m with you on this Chief believe me, which is why I’ve advised Admiral Connors that unless they wish to recall the Angel and dry dock her until the problem’s sorted we’ll instigate a field modification and ASDB be damned.”

    It was with a great deal of concealed joy that Dan saw Spider exchange a look with Dingbat.

    “How much latitude do we have Sir?”

    Dan seriously considered that. “Would I regret asking how much you’re requesting?” He was privately relieved when Spider avoided a direct answer.

    “We’ll get the job done sir. All I ask is a layover at Zethander, which I believe is a day out of Starbase 621. 48 hours and the problem won’t exist.”

    Fishlock reached a decision. “You have it Chief. Give me a full time estimate later and we’ll try and rotate some shore time for the crew. In the meantime let’s make sure that all the flight crews are kept in the loop on this modification. I don’t wanna get caught flat-footed.”

    As they filed out of the ready room, he heard Spider say to the pilots “Sir, Ma’am, I’d like you to come and see something…”

    He turned to Kat who wore an expression that he distinctly disliked. “What?”

    “Hmm let me see. Captain of the ship for just short of eight days, you basically give the finger to ASDB and then tell Spider Tarrant he’s got carte blanch? You’re either very confident or you want me to get a command faster than I’d expected.”

    “Confidence, amongst a string of other appellations, is one of my middle names. Now, your honest opinion.”

    He was glad when she smiled. “Good call.”

    “Why couldn’t you just have said that in the first place?”

    Chuckling in what Dan was sure was an overly evil way, she headed for the bridge saying, “Because it’s my job to make sure you don’t get complacent!”


    STARBASE 621 – OBSERVATION DECK
    TZENKETHI COALITION BORDER REGION
    UFP SPACE
    September 7th 2371 – 1200 FST


    Winston stood in companionable silence with Kate Pulaski as the Angel approached the space dock and slowly disappeared inside.

    It was Pulaski who broke the silence, slipping her arm through his and leading him over to the replimat. “One for the road?”

    “How could I refuse such a charming offer? Tea please, no sugar just milk.”

    She grimaced as she placed an order for an espresso. “I still can’t understand the draw in drinking that ditch water.”

    He laughed, pointing at her cup. “Because the alternative is drinking that road tar you laughingly call a beverage!”

    “Touché Doctor.” She took a sip of the piping hot coffee and wiped the residue of foam from her top lip.

    “It’s a brew for heathens.” He made a show of delicately taking a sip from the cup he held. “Much more dignified.”

    “Alright already, I surrender!” she laughed, and the conversation flowed on. Eventually, the talk turned to the Tzenkethi.

    “Zahaan was sad that you weren’t allowed to say goodbye.”

    Winston nodded. “Me too. Once I’d slept off the operating time, we had a long talk. They really are serious about starting afresh you know.”

    “It’s good isn’t it? Makes you feel like there really is some good in what we do.” She held up her hand. “If you say I told you so you’ll possibly live to regret it.”

    Wearing a look of innocence that fooled nobody, he swore it hadn’t even crossed his mind. “I assume that your decision to resign has been postponed then?”

    “Thanks to my counsellor, yes.” She placed a hand on top of his. “I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again Anthony. You’re a good man, and a damned good friend.”

    “Even though I drink tea?”

    “Even though you drink tea, yes.” She laughed as they finished their drinks and, arm in arm, headed up to the departure lounge for Anthony Winston III’s new post.


    TZENKETHI COALITION BORDER REGION
    UFP SPACE
    September 7th 2371 – 1521 FST


    Chariscarpia wasn’t totally sure why this ‘Federation’ held such interest to her. Having again been unable to activate the translation modules, she had studied the language herself and as she gradually began to understand more, she was enthralled at the reach of this coalition of planets. Perhaps more importantly, they worked towards a unified goal of peace and exploration, subjects that so closely reflected her own mission parameters.

    Certainly she’d seen the same hopes and dreams in other species as she’d travelled, but this time it spanned whole star systems despite the warlike coalitions that so closely adjoined their borders. She considered, after some debate with herself, that it would not be against her mission objectives to learn more about the ‘Federation’ and decided that when the sleek ship that had just arrived at the station eventually departed, she would discretely follow it.


    USS ANGEL – TRANSPORTER ROOM 2
    STARBASE 621 CENTRAL DOCK
    September 7th 2371 – 1600 FST


    “Commander Anthony Winston III requesting permission to come aboard sir.”

    Dan held out his hand in welcome as he said “Permission granted Commander, welcome to the Angel. Captain Dan Fishlock. Mr Daniels here will see that your effects are delivered to your quarters.”

    Stepping down from the transporter pads and shaking his new CO’s hand, Winston said “There’s precious little in the way of effects I believe Sir. Most of them are still trying to catch up from Nehru so they’ll probably spend the next five years chasing me around the quadrant, but thank you.”

    “All part of the service Commander.” Leading him out into the central corridor that effectively bisected the ship on this deck they strolled leisurely towards the nearest turbolift.

    “I hear your layover was an unexpectedly busy one?”

    As they discussed the Tzenkethi rescue and Winston’s part in it, Dan found himself looking at the man in a new light. His cultured British accent was backed up with a dry wit and a sharp intellect and he was beginning to believe that losing the mordant Baillins to Starfleet Medical had been the ship’s gain.

    “We won’t be in dock too long. There’s some maintenance work that needs a short layover at Zethander.”

    “Maintenance? Didn’t she just leave the Yards?”

    “Ah now thereby hangs a tale Commander. You see…” The turbolift doors closed behind them as Dan told the whole sorry story and by the time they’d reached the bridge, Winston’s respect for his new CO had also been elevated by several notches.


    USS ANGEL – BRIDGE
    STARBASE 621 CENTRAL DOCK
    September 7th 2371 – 1900 FST


    Dan had just finished his evening meal and decided that tonight would be a good night to turn in early with a holo-novel. That was about the same time his comm badge chirped.

    Tapping it, he spoke to the ceiling in that unconscious mannerism that most Starfleet crews had found themselves falling into.

    “Fishlock.”

    “Sir, we’re ready to leave dock at this time.” It was the voice of his Vulcan Beta shift chief, Sendok.

    “Thank you Mr Sendok. No issues from me and my thanks to Control for a speedy turn round.”

    “Aye sir, laying in a course for Zethander at this time and I will relay your thanks. Sendok out.”

    Dan smiled at the thought of the dry Vulcan. Typically, his face barely ever registered emotion beyond the regulation raised eyebrow. Atypically, his sense of humour – at least to those he was comfortable with – was as dry as his demeanour, though naturally he would decry any such emotional tendency.

    With his new CMO comfortably ensconced in his quarters the crew of the Angel was at last complete. All it required now was the launch bay problem resolving and Dan could at last begin to relax into his post properly. Of course he’d known that as a shakedown cruise, it was likely to bring to light problems that only free flight could; but he was immensely angry that the Advanced Starship Design Bureau had got their end of the program so badly screwed up.

    At least for now, he felt more comfortable and relaxed back on his bed as the low pitched thrum of the impulse engines increased in pitch slightly and the Angel slipped her moorings for free space once more.


    USS ANGEL – HOLODECK 1
    EN ROUTE TO ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 7th 2371 – 1925 FST


    LJ carefully paced out a semicircle on the grid of the holodeck and held his arms out horizontally.

    “You see, keeping this distance allows a free zone of fire that then overlaps with those either side. Of course,” he shrugged, “it is not always that simple.”

    The big Remvellian towered above Hiroshi Misaki, but having spent a year with him already at the Academy, she found it comforting rather than distracting now. LJ, Hiroshi and the other two brevet-ensigns, Vonny Dixon and Anya Vischenko, were all from the same quad at the Academy though in different years. Both Hiroshi and Vonny were sophomores while Anya was in her junior year. LJ had just begun his senior year and already impressed the Academy staff with his exemplary work. All four had seen trying times, and through them become the best of friends.

    Hiroshi wiped the sweat from her forehead and let out a long sigh.

    “I really appreciate this LJ. The only thing that worries me is that if it ever comes to shooting at live targets I will freeze.” Her petite Asian frame disguised the fact that she was a third dan in the Korean martial art of Kuk Sool Won, but that was a form of self defence, never one of offence.

    LJ led her from the Holodeck, the big doors wheezing open with a pneumatic hiss.

    “That is precisely why we have just practiced Hiroshi. If you ever find yourself going on the offensive, then something is seriously wrong. Your job is being a combat medic who may have to defend herself and possibly her team mates should circumstances require it, but it is security’s job to perform that task primarily.” He placed a large hand on her shoulder and said gently, “You will do well Hiroshi, you always have.”

    Hiroshi blushed and laughed. “If you are not careful Mr Xantharik, I will inform your fiancée that you are bestowing compliments on other women.”

    LJ’s eyebrows shot up at the mention of his fiancée.

    “Computer’” he said slapping at his comm badge, “what time is it?”

    “The time,” came the response, “is 23.17 hours FST.”

    Hiroshi tried to stifle a giggle but failed miserably. “You’re late again aren’t you?”

    LJ’s shoulders slumped. “Again.” He truly sounded crestfallen. “I hope Jo will understand.”

    “LJ, how many times have you missed calling Jo on time while she’s been on Adreman?” Hiroshi crossed her arms and scowled at him.

    “This is only the second time but…” She slapped his arm playfully, interrupting him.

    “Then I’m certain she will understand as long as you do not make a habit of it, now go!”

    As he jogged off up the corridor he called back over his shoulder. “I’ll meet you all in the lounge in half an hour.”

    She shook her head and smiled after his rapidly retreating form, then headed for her quarters and a welcome shower.


    USS ANGEL – CREW LOUNGE
    EN ROUTE TO ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 7th 2371 – 2000 FST


    Spider sat back in the bar chair contemplatively and scrolled through the list on the PADD.

    "How badly do we need the parts?"

    "Well we ain’t gonna launch the fighters in combat without ‘em."

    He pursed his lips and then a wicked grin lit up his face.
    "Remember Ganyol?"

    "Oh no Spider, no no no NO!" Dingbat blanched, but knew the decision was made.

    “Look, stop worrying. Ganyol’s legit now and he owes us a big favour or three. We’re just expediting the flow of free commerce.” Spider seemed to be trying to convince himself as much as Dingbat. “Besides, we’re only dealing with his office on Zethander. He’ll be living the high life on Risa as usual right?”

    Dingbat held his hands up in surrender. “Hey, I retire in eighteen months, what do I care?” He drained the tankard he’d been nursing most of the evening and gave Spider a knowing look. “Just like old times eh?”

    “Exactly.”

    Dingbat so hated it when Spider got that look.

    ******

    Vonny gave Anya a nudge. “You still with us?”

    “Hmm? Oh, sorry.” Anya shook herself back to the present. She’d been lost in thought as she watched the stars streak past outside the lounge window. “Is beautiful sight. I never get tired of watching it.” Her Russian accent, always thick when she became engrossed in technology, was soft this evening and Vonny noted it was tinged with sadness as well.

    “Thinking about Jase?”

    Anya nodded. “It seems when we travel in space like this, he is somehow nearer. Does that sound silly?”

    Cadet Jase Gillings had been their quad leader at the Academy, but was missing believed dead after the loss of the USS Voyager. Anya had come close to letting his loss destroy her, but with support from her quad mates, Starfleet and, most importantly to her, Jase’s family she had regained her life and career and gained a mentor in Captain Montgomery Scott.

    Vonny felt the bittersweet melancholy of Jase’s memory too. He had been more than just a friend, he had been somebody they had respected and aspired to emulate in their journey through the Academy. To Anya, of course, he had been so much more.

    “It’s not silly Anya, believe me. I often remember what Anjar said back when we had all watched Jase’s last message. He said, “Nothing we do can bring Jase back...”

    “…but what we do with our lives will make sure he isn’t forgotten,” finished Anya nodding. “And is true. He would be proud I think. Not just of me, but all of us Vonny.”

    “Then here’s to Jase, wherever he may be,” Vonny said as she raised her glass. Anya tapped her shot glass against Vonny’s and smiled.

    “To Jase.” They each downed their measure of synthehol, but only Vonny spluttered as it went down.

    ******

    “…so the Orion says ‘yeah, and that’s not my phaser!’ ”

    Asath Ress, the Ch'Tharian security officer hissed in amusement as Homer held his sides at the ancient joke.

    Do you think,” said Shathrissia, “that there is a universal male gene that forces normally sane men to giggle like school children over jokes about genitals?” The Andorian woman was Ress’ partner in security and the rhetorical question was aimed at Mo Martari who nodded in a world weary manner.

    “Yep, and it only seems to affect them in bars and clubs. Hey Homer!”

    He sat up and wiped his eyes, still chuckling. “Yes my somewhat humourless leader.”

    “Try this for funny. It’s your turn at the bar.” She folded her arms and watched as his chuckle subsided.

    “Oh c’mon, you’re doing this on purpose.”

    The austere surroundings of the bar were only matched by that of its current hostess, Aranath. Her age was probably that of the four officers combined and it was a surprise that her permanently pinched expression didn’t sour the drinks. Fortunately, her post was only temporary until they arrived at Zethander where the new hostess was due to join the ship, but even so nobody was quite sure how she’d ever acquired the position in the first place.

    Mo simply smiled and nodded at the bar.

    Reluctantly, Homer gathered the four glasses and headed off to refill them.

    “That wasss mossst unfair Mo.” Asath grinned wickedly at her, as only a Ch’Tharian could.

    “Well he’ll either have to learn to count how many drinks he’s collected or stop telling inane jokes. Besides,” she said with an equally carnivorous grin, “I think Aranath has taken quite a shine to him.”

    ******

    Kara Asheen also noticed the way the bar tender preened herself when Homer approached the bar. It was perhaps even more noticeable to her with her enhanced vision.

    The Sezdati race were very much humanoid in their appearance with the exception of their eyes which were almost like pools of mercury. They were descendants from a group of early colonists who crash landed on a harsh unexplored world swept with cosmic radiation and free floating mutagens in the atmosphere that within a short time began to transform them. Lost and without contact with the Federation, it was little short of a miracle that they survived at all much less build a colony that became a society. Their eyesight became a fading sense, replaced by receptors both in their frontal cranial area and behind those opaque eyes which saw the world in much different, and often more accurate, ways.

    She shook her head as Homer’s face blossomed with the heat of embarrassment as he quickly ordered the drinks.
    The hostess’ attempt at a coy smile didn’t help either.

    “You’re so cruel Kara Asheen, y’know that?” Alex Edwards, the Alpha shift ops officer was doing all he could not to be amused as well. “She’s old enough to be his mother, no his grand mother!”

    “Ah, but some men prefer the more mature woman.” Pharana, the Denobulan conn officer, didn’t even try to hide her mirth. “Though I suspect mature is possibly an understatement in this case.”

    “You girls just can’t leave the poor guy alone can you? Sadists the pair of you.” Edwards rose and stretched. “Well I’m calling it a night before you start on me too!”

    “Such sensitive creatures aren’t they?” quipped Pharana as she nudged Kara.

    “Oh definitely, egos as fragile as Kayab eggs.”

    “Ok ok I’m leaving now.” Edwards rolled his eyes as he headed for the door, deftly dodging a rapidly retreating Homer. “I’ll see you harpies on the bridge bright and early.”

    As the doors slid closed behind him, Pharana laughed. “And so easy to bait as well!”
     
  13. unusualsuspex

    unusualsuspex Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Location:
    Norfolk UK
    LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is trademarked and copyrighted by CBS Studios.
    NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.


    5

    USS ANGEL – BRIDGE
    UFP SPACE
    APPROACHING ZETHANDER
    September 9th 2371 – 1030 FST

    Kat Gray vacated the centre seat as Dan Fishlock entered the bridge from his ready room.

    “Zethander control reports ready to receive us Captain. Governor Ferith extends his greetings and asked if you could contact him when we’ve docked.”

    “Thank you Commander.” He checked the status screen on the arm of the chair. “Still no luck working the kinks out of the warp drive?”

    For the past six hours, the warp drive had been slipping slightly out of synch requiring a manual override and reset to bring it back in again. The computer saw no faults and therefore didn’t try to compensate until prompted. It was an annoyance rather than a danger at the moment, but not a situation that Dan would watch deteriorate.

    “Commander Machilveen says she’ll be able to reboot the system in dock. Apparently she’s seen it happen before on new ships as the drive settles in. It means we’ll have to extend to a minimum 72 hour layover though.”

    Dan nodded. It would be time well spent and also give the two Chiefs time to work on the hangar deck, something they said they had the perfect fix for. They hadn’t gone into detail and for the moment Dan trusted them to get the job done.

    “I think we can schedule that shore leave then; standard rotation other than essential crew.” Kat nodded making a note on her PADD. “Ensign, take us in.”
    As Dan took the big seat, Kat moved aft to mission ops and Pharana conned the huge starship towards the orbital docking facility in geo-synchronous orbit above Zethander.


    UFP SPACE
    CLOSE TO ZETHANDER
    September 9th 2371 – 1030 FST

    Chariscarpia had followed the Federation vessel at a discrete distance, safe in the knowledge that she was undetectable even at much closer range. She had used the time in transit to further study their language and felt she was close to an understanding, at least on a very basic level.

    It worried her, though, that her ability to access something that she had once taken for granted was no longer possible. Or was she just imagining that she could once access something so wonderful? Were there other things that she had once been able to accomplish that were now beyond her recall? Of course, if that was the case then she wouldn’t know about them and saw little point in worrying about it.

    So why did this wondrous ability to translate languages, or rather her lack of accessing that ability, so concern her? It didn’t impact on her primary mission tasking. In fact it was precisely those orders that kept her hidden from the cultures she encountered.

    She sidelined her self analysis as the Federation vessel entered the space dock above the blue green world and Chariscarpia studied its teeming life; multiple species coming and going with a thousand destinations in mind.

    In all her years of travel, of all the unions of planets she had seen, this Federation seemed the most promising. She’d seen societies more technologically advanced, but they had become introspect with no further wish to explore or communicate. She had seen larger empires forged, but the majority had been dictatorships ruled under iron law and not voluntary unifications. Studying them now she sensed a distant kinship with the worlds she had left so many hundreds of turns ago.

    And her sense of loss and loneliness deepened.


    ZETHANDER GOVERNOR’S OFFICE
    CORAL CITY
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 9th 2371 – 1200 FST

    As Dan looked out of the window of Governor Ferith’s office, he was struck by the awesome beauty of Coral City spread out below him. Crystalline spires of glass and steel arched up and over the surrounding natural beauty connected by spider web latticework. It was built like some modern day Venice although it hadn’t been flooded by the forces of nature. Rather it had been constructed around nature, rising on shock resistant stilts above the translucent waters allowing a breath taking view of the ruby red coral formations below. It appeared as if it were floating above burning coals.

    “I assume this is your first visit Captain Fishlock?”

    “It is Governor, and I have to say that holos just don’t do it justice.”

    Ferith walked over and stood between Dan and Kat, eager to extol on the beauty of his planet.

    “Quite something isn’t it? Twenty five years to construct and it’s still expanding though naturally we ensure that we don’t encroach on nature. Planning the whole project and any expansion takes second place to the coral beds.”

    Walking back to his desk he checked his chrono. “I don’t mean to be rude Captain, but I have a finance committee meeting that I’d like to avoid, but sadly it comes with the territory. Naturally your request for shore leave is approved under standard Starfleet regulations, and if there’s anything else that we can provide?”

    “No that will be fine sir thank you. The docks have approved us berthing space for the 72 hours we need so I think that should be all.”

    Shaking hands, the Starfleet officers bade the Governor goodbye just as his aide arrived with a group of somewhat officious looking representatives.

    Out in the corridor, Dan turned to Kat with a smile as he pictured the dull meeting about to begin behind him. “It’s times like this I appreciate the quiet life of commanding a starship.”

    “That’s only because you first officer handles all the paperwork.”

    “Then it’s a good job I rule the ship with an iron fist.”

    Kat hit the button to call a ‘lift and folded her arms. “May I remind the Captain of a man by the name of Bligh? Didn’t work out too well for him I hear.”

    As the lift arrived, Dan waved his hand for Kat to enter.
    “That’s only because he lacked my charismatic charm.”

    Kat rolled her eyes in exasperation as the doors closed. “Not to mention your abundance of modesty.”


    USS ANGEL – FLIGHT DECK OPERATIONS OFFICE
    ZETHANDER DOCK
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 9th 2371 – 1305 FST

    The Flight Deck Operations Office was the nerve centre of small craft operations aboard the Angel. Planning, control and maintenance were all co-ordinated from this one small room overlooking the hangar deck and on this particular morning it also served as the workspace for Spider and Dingbat.

    “Good news Chief, the computer simulations prove in theory it should work.” Mo beamed at Spider who wore a look that suggested it only confirmed what he already knew; in truth he’d been secretly concerned that even at this late moment some minor error would prove his work round unfeasible.

    “My reputation would have been ruined if it didn’t Ma’am. How have the flight crews handled the revamped launch routines?”

    “To be honest it’s probably made our jobs easier. Most of it will be computer controlled until we’re away from the ship, and in free space it’s where we do our thing. All the holodeck exercises have run like clockwork.”

    Spider nodded. “That’s cool.” The first weight lifted from his shoulders with the knowledge that in theory the system worked. Now all he needed to do was procure the final missing parts. Replicating them wasn’t an option due to the materials that were required, but with any luck the source he needed was right here on Zethander. “Well all we need to do now is fabricate and fit which is our end of the job, so if you’ll excuse us Ma’am, Dingbat and I have some serious work to do.”

    As Spider stood, Mo placed a hand on his arm. “Spider, I know the boss has thanked you for all this but I want to add our thanks.” She indicated Homer and herself. “This could have gone to hell in a hand basket real quick.”

    He lowered his eyes slightly embarrassed at the praise.

    “Mo I’ll be honest, it was real lucky that we did notice. If it hadn’t been for a late night session in the hangar and Dingbat losing his balance on a…well long story short, we got lucky.” He rubbed his hands together, relishing the job in hand. “Anyways, we can’t afford to lose pilots this early in the cruise. That would really have ruined my credibility.”

    Mo shook her head as Spider grabbed Dingbat by the arm and steered him out of the office. “C’mon, places to go, people to see.”

    Dingbat gave Mo a quick shrug before he disappeared from view.


    USS ANGEL – ENGINEERING
    ZETHANDER DOCK
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 9th 2371 – 1330 FST

    Lieutenant Axel Strandberg muttered something profane in Swedish and reset the diagnostic.

    “Still nothin’?” Andi Machilveen said.

    “No Ma’am and I simply can’t think of any other standard diagnostic we can run.”

    The chief engineer was just as confused. “Looks like we’ll have tae commit tae a full reboot then.” She’d expected minor wrinkles to appear during the shakedown cruise and if she was honest, this fluctuation in the warp drive didn’t rate highly in the engineer’s problem scale. It was more the fact that it was an untraceable fault that rankled.

    Turning her head to the platform above her, she called up to Vonny Dixon.

    “Presumably nothing up there Vonny?”

    “’Fraid not Ma’am. It’s almost as if there was an external force distorting our warp field but I’ve checked all sensor records from Starbase 621 to here and nothing shows up at all.”

    “Damn. Alright,” she said placing her hands on her hips, “listen up ladies and gentlemen. The primary and secondary core control systems are going to have a full reboot. Secure your stations and I’ll inform the Captain.”

    Turning, she glared at the warp core. “Ye’ll no be getting’ the better of me!” I hope she added to herself.
     
  14. unusualsuspex

    unusualsuspex Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Location:
    Norfolk UK
    LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is trademarked and copyrighted by CBS Studios.
    NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.



    5 (cont)

    USS ANGEL – CAPTAIN’S READY ROOM
    ZETHANDER DOCK
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 9th 2371 – 1505 FST

    “Sir I have an incoming transmission for Commander Gray.” Dan looked to Kat who simply shrugged and indicated that the message could be piped into the office.

    “Thank you lieutenant, Commander Gray says she’ll take it here.”

    Dan offered Kat his seat as the screen cleared from the UFP logo to show a dark skinned woman wearing an inconceivably large, broad brimmed hat.

    “Guinan?” Kat grinned uncontrollably. Kat hadn’t seen Guinan in a long time, certainly not since her early days aboard the Covington.

    “Well well, Commander now? The rank suits you Kat.”

    Guinan’s eyes twinkled in amusement as she apprised the young woman she’d mentored all those years ago.

    “Well it’s you I need to thank for that.” Dan, who had politely stood out of pickup range, raised his eyebrows. “I’ll explain it over a drink Dan.”

    “Is that the good Captain?”

    “Yes, we’re in the ready room at the moment.”

    “Good because I have a favour to ask and it’s one I think you might just find works in your favour.” Kat beckoned for Dan to join her and as Guinan explained, they both smiled knowingly.


    HASKAN INDUSTRIES REGIONAL OFFICE
    CORAL CITY
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 9th 2371 – 1330 FST

    The broad open plan foyer spoke of a well organised and affluent business operation which didn’t surprise Spider at all. Ganyol had been many things in his time, but as a businessman he reigned supreme. Now that he’d gone legit, it seemed to only have increased his business acumen which was a good sign as far as Spider was concerned.

    As they approached the front desk that carried the company name in holographic chrome letters, a beautiful Orion woman smiled at them in greeting. If the smile was as blinding as a phaser blast, the pheromones she exuded were the equivalent of a photon torpedo broadside and Spider suddenly found himself concentrating hard to remember why he was here.

    “Ma’am…erm…Mr DeBat and I are old business associates of Mr…” His thoughts trailed off elsewhere as the receptionist smiled.

    “Ganyol,” supplied Dingbat in a stage whisper.

    “Yes Mr Ganyol and we were wondering if it was possible to get a message to wherever he may be at the moment.”

    The Orion lowered her eyes in what Spider thought was a very seductive manner until he realised she was simply scanning a computer screen. Snap out of it man he thought. Ganyol had certainly found a way to put visitors off their stride that was for sure.

    “And you would be Sir?”

    “Mr Tarrant. We, erm, knew Mr Ganyol on Tilaak Prime.” If nothing else, Spider knew that would grab Ganyol’s attention.

    With a sensuous wave of her hand, the receptionist asked them to wait in a comfortably appointed annex. Taking a seat in the bodyform chairs, Dingbat gave Spider a somewhat forlorn look.

    “Are you sure about this Spider?”

    Spider shrugged. “What’s not to be sure about? We need maglev compensator sleds, heavy duty ones at that, plus those assorted spares we can’t replicate. Ganyol’s business, or at least one of them, deals in industrial mass transit systems, and the good part is we just deal with him from a remote regional office.” He relaxed back into the chair with his hands behind his head. “Works for me.”

    Dingbat, ever the pessimist, still looked worried, and Spider sighed realising that he wouldn’t be comfortable until business was concluded. “Look Dingbat, what we did on Tilaak Prime saved Ganyol’s life. Admittedly he had to leave the planet with nothing but his underwear but I figure that was a good trade. Being the businessman he is Ganyol should appreciate that.”

    “And if not?” Dingbat raised his eyebrows expectantly and Spider shook his head in resignation.

    “Have you always been this morose or is it old age?”

    Before Dingbat had chance to form a retort, the door opened and the receptionist entered on a waft of expensive perfume.

    “Gentlemen, if you’d like to follow me, Mr Ganyol would be delighted to see you.”

    The two Chiefs sat bolt upright at that.

    “See us? He’s here?” Dingbat was already envisioning being removed forcefully from the building while Spider quickly adjusted his sales pitch.

    “Yes Sir. Actually you’re lucky to catch him; he was just about to leave for Bajor.”

    “Oh yes that was very lucky,” quipped Dingbat, “wasn’t it Mr Tarrant?” But his expression conveyed exactly the opposite as the receptionist led them to the ‘lift.


    CENTRAL PLAZA ARCADE
    CORAL CITY
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 9th 2371 – 1330 FST

    Vonny leaned on the railing that overlooked a twenty metre drop to the calm ocean below. Aquatic creatures of various hues and sizes swam in and out between the hydraulic stilts that supported the city, with the coral reefs providing a perfect ruby backdrop to their motions. The fresh tang of sea air was bracing, and Vonny breathed it in deeply.

    “This is just so perfect,” she sighed, taking more holos of the stunning scenery.

    “I couldn’t agree more,” rumbled LJ beside her. “Perhaps I can persuade Jo to take a holiday out here when we both have the chance.” The wistful look on his face made Vonny stop her manic snapping.

    “You’re really missing her aren’t you?”

    His big shoulders slumped as he sighed. “She’s due to arrive on Adreman the day after tomorrow.” Vonny couldn’t recall seeing LJ looking so lost in a long while. “Is it that obvious?”

    “Only to somebody who knows you,” she smiled. “Don’t worry I won’t ruin your fearsome reputation as the big tough security Ensign.” She caught herself grinning at the appellation. “Ensign still sounds so weird LJ. I mean I know it’s only temporary but it’s like…I don’t know, as if we’re really part of something now.”

    LJ puffed out his already expansive chest in mock pride. “Well of course for us old hands who have already held the substantive rank…”

    Vonny slapped his arm. “Whatever. You’re as chuffed as I am so stop pretending!”

    Leaning back on the railing, he relaxed once more. “How is Tevara?”

    “Oh she’s fine. Still shuttling back and forth between San Francisco, Paris and enough worlds to fill a travel directory.”

    Tevara was Vonny’s partner on Earth, a fellow cadet studying with the Diplomatic Corps. Her current field assignment was working with Ambassador Kaylene Jennings on the Dominion effort, though it appeared that they had reached an impasse. The Dominion refused any form of parley which left a diplomatic solution somewhat unlikely.

    “She’s really enjoying her work, but she’s terribly worried about the whole Dominion situation.”

    LJ humphed and nodded. “As are we all. Still,” he smiled, offering his arm to Vonny, “There is no point us worrying about it when there is so much to see and so little time to see it. Shall we?”

    With the sombre mood broken, Vonny placed her diminutive arm through his. “Thank you kind sir, I shall report your gentlemanly conduct to your fiancée.”

    Rolling his eyes he said “Not you as well?”


    CEO SUITE
    HASKAN INDUSTRIES REGIONAL OFFICE
    CORAL CITY
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 9th 2371 – 1345 FST

    When Ganyol entered the office closely followed by two extremely “heavy” types, Dingbat feared his expectations were about to become reality. To his surprise, Ganyol came up and shook their hands offering them a drink.

    “It’s a real pleasure to see you gentlemen. I apologise that my hasty departure from Tilaak Prime didn’t allow me the proper chance to thank you.” He turned to the two minders, and with a nod they disappeared into an adjoining office.

    “Though it would have been nice if you could have at least provided me with more in the way of clothing.”

    Handing them each a snifter of Saurian brandy, he showed them to comfortable seats around a solid wood table inlaid with the company crest.

    Spider indicated the expensive suit that Ganyol now wore. “Looks like you made up for it though. Cheers.” He raised the glass then downed it in one, barely suppressing an expulsion of air as the brandy hit his stomach.

    “Still a philistine I see Spider. You’re supposed to appreciate it, not extinguish it.” Ganyol shook his head in mock horror.

    “I shouldn’t even be drinking real alcohol on duty. Thought I’d better drink it fast before my wiser compatriot here reminded me of the fact.”

    “Ah, so it’s not a social call then?” Ganyol had figured as much already but didn’t say so.

    “Much as I adore your company blah blah, we’re here to request your help for a change.”

    His interest piqued, Ganyol sat forward in his large chair. “I’m listening.”

    Over the next twenty minutes, Spider outlined the problem they faced and his innovative fix requiring parts that simply couldn’t be replicated aboard a starship.

    “The sleds are no problem, but the thennite bearings and runner couplings are. We can replicate them but they break down much faster than the production versions. With the amount of pressure we’ll be putting them under, I can’t afford that.”

    “So you came to the acknowledged leaders in industrial mass transit systems,” Ganyol said preening slightly.

    “Actually, it was a case of you or space dock.”

    Ganyol deflated again. “Your business etiquette needs a brush up as well Spider. Still, we have what you need I’m sure. Considering the debt I owe you two gentlemen, I’m sure that can be arranged.”

    Dingbat had sat through the whole conversation occasionally interjecting with some technical specification or other, but on the whole remaining quiet. As the meeting appeared to be drawing to a close though, he spoke up.
    “Ganyol, I gotta ask…” He paused, fearing the answer. “Maria?”

    Ganyol shook his head sadly. “I’m sorry Dingbat. But rest assured she went out like the true lady she was.”

    Spider covered his face with his hands. “It was a yacht for god’s sake! And he’s still pining!”

    Dingbat wore a look of unrequited love. “Yea but she was a real beauty.”

    Within an hour, Ganyol had secured the required parts and arranged for their delivery to the Zethander Dock with little more than a well placed call.

    “Seriously gentleman, I owe you my life, despite the somewhat slapstick circumstances. Thank you.” He presented each of them with a vintage bottle of brandy remembering it was one of their favourites. “I won’t tell Starfleet if you don’t.”

    Spider smiled appreciatively. “Y’know I never thought I’d live to say this but for a real pain in the ass, you didn’t turn out too bad Ganyol.”

    “I’ll take that as the compliment I think it was meant to be.”

    He shook their hands as they left the ‘lift into the foyer once more. “If you ever need anything, just call.”

    Heading out into the busy street, Dingbat shook his head in disbelief. “How do you do it?”

    Spinning the thousand credit bottle in his hand, he looked at his life long buddy and simply said, “Balls of steel Dingbat, balls of steel.”
     
  15. unusualsuspex

    unusualsuspex Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Location:
    Norfolk UK
    LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is trademarked and copyrighted by CBS Studios.
    NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.

    6


    USS ANGEL – FLIGHT DECK OPERATIONS OFFICE
    ZETHANDER DOCK
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 11th 2371 – 1420 FST


    Dan seated himself as best he could in the cramped office, cramped only because it was now holding more than its fair share of people. Along with Dan and the two ground chiefs was his first officer, Kat Gray; the two Valkyrie pilots, Mo Martari and Homer Richmond and his Chief Engineer Andi Machilveen.

    They all looked tired and Dan was well aware that it was because of their round the clock efforts to prepare the new launch system. When he’d looked out over the hangar deck a short while ago, he’d seen little change and wondered just how the new system would work. He was about to find out.
    Spider stepped forward to lead the presentation smiling broadly at their achievement.

    “OK Sir, a little background first. The problem we had was that the computer simulation showed any severe manoeuvre made by the Angel in an operational environment would adversely affect the launch of small craft. Normally, at least until now, they would never be launched during evasive or combat manoeuvres. It’s always been Starfleet’s directive that they remain hangared until it’s safe to launch.”
    He began the simulation on the monitor. “Our mission dictates otherwise. You can see here that the more aggressive the manoeuvre of the Angel, the longer the lag with the structural integrity fields and inertial dampers. It’s like when you’re on the bridge and we take a hit, that brief moment when the systems trying to compensate? Add to that an impact from an outside source and you get this.”

    The screen showed a computer simulation of the hangar deck, a Valkyrie sitting at rest. “OK, I’ve slowed the playback. We order a launch just as the ship enters a high rate turn.” The Valkyrie lifted from the deck and slowly edged towards the open hangar bay door. “This is where the Angel’s manoeuvre begins.”

    Outside the door, the stars began to wheel as the big starship entered a max rate turn. “Now watch the Valkyrie. The fields lag behind the ship’s turn momentarily so the fighter drifts. Not drastically, but enough to do this.”

    The graphic of the fighter hung motionless for a moment before sliding sideways as its forward movement continued.

    “A second manoeuvre, all part of pre-programmed evasive patterns, and this happens.” Now the fighter had gained a vertical vector in its motion, heading forward, up and sideways at the same time. The impact was plain to see coming and Dan winced as the fighter smashed cockpit first into the overhead door supports. “Now watch it in real time Sir.”

    The simulation ran again, but this time it was over in seconds. “No pilot, and I realise we got the best here, but no pilot has the time to react to that. Even allowing for computer input to the launch, it would have to anticipate random manoeuvres from the conn.”

    “Not good.” Dan looked expectantly at the Chief. “So your answer is?”

    “History Sir.” Seeing Dan’s puzzled look he invited Dingbat to take over.

    “Chief Tarrant and me like naval history sir is what he’s trying to say.” He leaned forward and ran a holo of a twentieth century nuclear carrier in heavy seas. “Much like Starfleet, the old navies on Earth weren’t keen on launching aircraft in adverse conditions unless the situation genuinely warranted it. But when they did, this is how they did it.”
    The image showed a sleek fighter jet sitting on the deck, a blast deflector raised behind it and steam being whipped away from the channel where the catapult would run.

    “As well as providing the initial launch velocity, the catapult provides control of the launch in two dimensions here sir; laterally along the deck stopping the bird from sliding sideways and, in a sense, vertically. You see the bird stays on the deck as long as it’s attached to the catapult. Once up to speed she’s free to fly. We’ve taken that concept and brought it kicking and screaming into the 24th century.”

    “A catapult launch?” Dan couldn’t believe something so simple could be the answer.

    “In effect yes sir, but no clunky old steam cats to spoil the nice new ship. Come and look at this.”

    Spider led the way down to the hangar floor then took them into the starboard launch bay where Mo’s Valkyrie, the USS Hildr, sat looking lethal in repose.

    “You see where we’ve laid lengths of maglev tracks into the deck forward of the craft here?” The job was neat and Dan struggled to spot the twin lines of the newly installed track, but eventually nodded.

    “OK, now look under the Valkyrie. She’s attached to a sled which will keep her in control both laterally and vertically till she exits the hangar bay. But just to make sure, we installed micro tractors just below the flight deck ops office. They’ll restrict the bird’s movement to a straight and level launch until it clears the bay.” He pointed up to where semi-concealed tractor emitters poked out from the superstructure. “The only thing I can tell you for sure is when this bird launches, there’s only one direction she’s going and that’s straight forward and out and the sled stays right here.”

    Dan shook his head in wonder. “Chief, you and your team just earned a pay rise. I just can’t believe that ASDB couldn’t come up with something this elegant.”

    “Sir, I don’t know much about designing a vessel, I just fix ‘em and keep ‘em flying but my guess is they were blinkered with Starfleet’s old doctrine of launching before entering combat, or grounding the birds until safe to launch.”

    “Blinkered or not, it could have cost lives.” Dan found himself torn between anger at the desk bound designers who missed the flaw and pride in his team for rectifying it. The latter won out. “Ladies and gentlemen, you have no idea how proud I am of what you’ve done here. You might think you were just doing your jobs, but I’ve seen a team solve a problem that could easily have put the Angel back into dry-dock while they hummed and hawed about it.”

    He nodded his thanks to each one of them. “I want you to pass that on to every crew member who took part in this, thank you. Now all we have left is the test of the system.”

    “Well, Lt Martari here tells me we’re ready to go right…”

    Dan held his hand up cutting Spider short. “No way. For now you’re all ordered to take 24 hours R&R. You can do it on the ship or ground side, but none of you will set foot in this hangar until you’re rested. Much as I appreciate what you’ve achieved here, all of you, you now need rest.”

    Seeing the crestfallen look on Spider’s face, Dan added “If needs be, I’ll get the CMO to back me up, although I’m sure that won’t be necessary will it?”

    They all shook their heads and Dan was sure he some of them bravely attempting to stifle yawns.

    “Glad to hear it, now go get some down time, you’ve all earned it.”

    As the team filed out of the hangar bay, Dan stopped Spider and Dingbat.

    “Chief, this was damn fine work, thank you to both of you especially.”

    Spider grinned lopsidedly at the compliment. “What makes it even better sir is that everything was legit, though it would be nice if a personal letter of thanks could be sent to a Mr Ganyol of Haskan Industries. Couldn’t have done it without him.”

    “Consider it done Chief.”

    “I’m sure he’ll appreciate it Sir. Now me and Dingbat are gonna take your advice and investigate a small bar on Zethander that escaped our last visit.”

    Spider and Dingbat’s planet side activities were legendary but Dan wasn’t about to begrudge them the chance to let off steam.

    “Promise I won’t have to bail you out?” Dan grinned when they both had the grace to look embarrassed. “You’re still here Chiefs, beer’s getting warm.”

    As they left Dan standing alone in the hangar bay, his renewed sense of pride and anticipation put him in just the right frame of mind for his next task.


    USS ANGEL – TRANSPORTER ROOM 1
    ZETHANDER DOCK
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 11th 2371 – 1500 FST


    Two figures materialised on the transporter platform in front of Dan and Kat, and it was immediately obvious which one was Guinan. Dressed in a floor length purple smock and matching hat, she was every bit the master of her environment. Stepping down from the platform she greeted Dan with a beatific smile and a firm handshake, and then hugged Kat warmly before turning and introducing the young woman who was with her.

    “Captain, Commander, this is my daughter Melista.” The resemblance was obvious from the dark brown eyes that had obviously seen more than most, to the warm chocolate tone of her glowing skin. Her outfit was, however, slightly more contemporary.

    “You’ll be glad to know she’s inherited her mother’s brains as well as her looks Captain.”

    “Which knowing my father,” quipped Melista, “is a good thing trust me.”

    Dan smiled at the impromptu double act. As he escorted them from the transporter room towards the crew lounge, they fell into companionable conversation regarding the Angel, her mission and her crew.

    “Seems to me,” said Kat eventually, “that you’ve inherited the El-Aurian capacity for listening as well Melista.”

    “Yep, mom has a lot to answer for as far as the El-Aurian side of me’s concerned,” chuckled Melista. Her smile and general demeanour was infectious to the point that Dan was slightly shocked when they both halted abruptly in the doorway to the crew lounge.

    “Captain, I need to ask, has there been any hints of mutiny amongst your crew?” Guinan said it with a half smile but her distaste at the state of the crew lounge was obvious.

    “Only from my first officer and I’ve learnt to ignore that now.” Kat poked him in the arm. “I assume you’re going to tell me I’ve had a lucky escape?”

    “And then some,” Melista said wearing exactly the same expression as her mother. “I don’t know who, far want of a better word, decorated this place but you should ask for your deposit back Captain. I’ve seen better…”

    Guinan raised a hand. “Hey, don’t insult the Captain’s ship Melista. You haven’t got the job yet.”

    Dan managed a self conscious shrug. “Actually, I couldn’t agree more Melista, which is one of the reasons I’d really like somebody who can change it into the place it should be. Job’s yours if you can handle it.”

    He knew he’d sold it with that last seemingly throw away comment and Melista’s reply.

    “Captain, there isn’t a lounge or recreation room in the Federation I couldn’t turn around, though this one’s quite the challenge.”

    Dan knew she was right. The outgoing hostess had seemed more interested in simply working her passage home to Zethander after three years at the Academy campus than turning the crew lounge into a respite for off duty crew members.

    Melista looked to her mother. “Does Afron still owe you a favour mom?”

    “Most people do hon, why what do you have in mind?”

    Instead of answering her mother straight away, Melista turned to Dan. “Captain, I’d love to take the job if I can have a relatively free hand in here?”

    He turned to Kat with a questioning look and she shrugged.

    “Hey, it can’t get any worse than it is and I get the feeling that the hostess gene has been passed on with the good looks.” Guinan rolled her eyes.

    That was good enough for Dan. “In that case, welcome aboard Melista. It’s all yours.”

    “Thank you Captain.” She hesitated. “Just one thing, might I ask if you could close the lounge for the next 24 hours while I do a little tidying up?”

    Dan considered that for a moment. He knew they weren’t scheduled to break orbit for at least that long and with excellent facilities available dockside, he felt the minor inconvenience would hopefully be worth it and nodded.
    “I’ll advise the crew.”

    “You won’t regret it Captain trust me.” She turned and took her mother’s arm, leading her inside the lounge and the last thing he heard her say before the doors closed with a hiss was, “That thing has definitely got to go.”

    Dan had no idea what ‘that thing’ was and Kat obviously saw his look of apprehension.

    “Too late to worry now brave Captain, you’ve just given away the keys to the Kingdom.”

    “Oh that makes me feel so much better, thank you. However,” he said turning on his heel with a cunning look, “as I’m now delegating responsibility of the crew lounge to my trusted first officer, I’m sure I have nothing to worry about.”

    “You’re what?” Kat found herself having to jog to catch up with her laughing commanding officer.


    USS ANGEL – JUNIOR CREW QUARTERS
    ZETHANDER DOCK
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 11th 2371 – 2010 FST


    “So how is Adreman?” LJ smiled as always as he spoke to his fiancée.

    “I get the feeling you wouldn’t recognise the place LJ. I mean there’s a brand new infrastructure here; accommodation, admin, the whole works. They even have a duty ship assigned to the unit now.”

    LJ nodded remembering his one and only visit to Adreman when it was little more than a backwater unmanned training reserve with a small science outpost. The events that led to the loss of the Covington combined with Starfleet’s increased training regimen had now made it much more.**

    “Then your stay there is likely to be much more comfortable than mine was thank goodness.” He grinned sardonically at the gross understatement. “By the way Vonny, Anya and Misaki say hello.”

    “So how are they taking to the new rank?” The orders hadn’t officially reached Adreman yet so Jo was still wearing her standard cadet uniform.

    “Like chickens to water my love.”

    Jo shook her head. “Ducks LJ, that’s ducks.”

    Keeping a straight face with some difficulty, he replied “I know exactly what I meant to say thank you. Oh and they have armfuls of souvenirs as well so be prepared!” A small chime came over the comm to indicate that their allotted comm time had once again run out.

    Jo heard it on the comm at her end as well. “I have no idea who sets these time limits but I swear one of these days I’m gonna hack the system!”

    “Tut tut, on an open channel as well.” He shook his head dramatically. “Even worse, confessing the crime before it is committed to a member of Starfleet security. This doesn’t look good Ms Wickes.”

    “Oh shut up ya big lunk.” Turning serious, she blew him a kiss which he returned. “Take care out there please?”

    “You too my love. We will speak soon.” The screen faded to the familiar UFP logo and LJ gave a heartfelt sigh. He loved the job he did and the posting he had aboard the Angel, but he never realised just how much he would miss Jo being this far apart.

    (** The story of the previous events on Adreman is covered in the STARFLEET ACADEMY series of stories available on my site!)


    THE EVENT HORIZON CLUB
    CORAL CITY
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 11th 2371 – 2100 FST


    Spider and Dingbat had spent the better part of the early evening simply wandering the busy thoroughfares of Coral City, occasionally stopping into a bar or shop along the way. The atmosphere was almost like being on Risa, without some of the more exotic options of course.

    As the second of the three moons rose above the distant horizon, Spider breathed in the briny air and smiled contentedly.

    “It’s times like this my good friend when life seems good.”
    Even Dingbat’s usually pessimistic attitude seemed absent this evening.

    “Couldn’t agree more; in fact, I’ll go as far as to offer the first round at The Event Horizon.”

    Spider studied his friend closely. “There’s a catch right?”
    “I sir,” said Dingbat clutching at his chest, “am wounded by your evident mistrust.”

    Spider held his hands up in surrender. “Whoa, far be it from me to cause a rift in our perfect working relationship. Lay on MacDuff and spend some credits.”

    ******

    The Event Horizon was a night club and restaurant owned by Ganyol and he’d sent an invitation to the crew of the Angel to attend an open mic evening following Dan’s communiqué of thanks. So it was no surprise that when they eventually arrived, there were many familiar faces already there enjoying the sumptuous atmosphere.
    Spider and Dingbat sidled up to the bar just as a young crewman from engineering was leaving the stage, accompanied by good natured catcalls about his inability to carry a tune in a bucket.

    “There ya go Dingbat, your chance to impress the ladies.”

    Spider indicated the stage with a grin.

    “Oh ha ha. If I remember correctly, the only reason Antoinette used to ask you to sing at the Red Dragon was to clear the place at the end of the night. Now do you want a drink or sarcastic repertoire?”

    “Ok ok, surprise me, as long as it comes in a normal size glass and no umbrellas.”

    As Dingbat ordered up the drinks, Spider watched a group of young women at the far end of the bar obviously trying to coax one of their number up to sing. Eventually she relented, and with much cheering and applause the young woman climbed up on to the small circular stage and spoke to the leader of the small backing band. After a moment he nodded and she took a seat on the stool at centre stage.
    Spider was sure he recognised her from the science department on the Angel, a serenely beautiful young woman with the mirrored eyes of the Sezdati.

    As Dingbat handed him a shot glass of extremely smooth whiskey, the lights dimmed and the band launched into the quiet opening of George Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’. As the haunting chords lulled the audience to quiet, the young woman spoke.

    “I’m not quite sure why I agreed to do this, so you need to blame my comrades at the bar for inflicting me on you tonight.” The group of women once again gave a small round of applause. “I chose this song because it takes me back to when I was a child. It was something my mother was always humming around the house and it’s stayed with me ever since.”

    As the music faded, she closed here eyes and began to sing…

    “Summertime, and the living is easy…”

    All conversation in the bar ceased as the pure tones of her voice sailed above and around the audience, the band taking a quiet counterpoint in the background. Spider thought it had to be the most beautiful rendition of the song he’d ever heard and became lost in the weaving melody and soaring talent of the young woman.

    “…so hush little baby, don’t…you cry…”

    As the final chords faded, he realised that, like many of those around him, he’d been lost in the beauty of Kara Asheen’s voice, oblivious to the drink in his hand or indeed anything other than the slight girl on stage. There was silence for several seconds and then as if the spell of her voice had been lifted, a roar of approval and calls for an encore lifted the roof.

    Realising that she wouldn’t be allowed to leave the stage without at least one more song, she spoke once again to the band leader who turned with a smile and launched into a catchy upbeat version of ‘Beyond Antares’.

    Heads bobbed, people smiled and couples danced. Spider was certain that should Kara Asheen ever give up her career in Starfleet there was a quadrant that would pay good money to be entertained by her. He knew that this would be one of those evenings that would live in his memory for a long time.

    Little did he realise just how prophetic that thought was to be.
     
  16. unusualsuspex

    unusualsuspex Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Location:
    Norfolk UK
    LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is trademarked and copyrighted by CBS Studios.
    NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.

    7

    BORG TRANSWARP HUB
    SPATIAL GRID 986
    DELTA QUADRANT
    September 11th 2371


    The Queen had at last allocated the resources she required across the four quadrants for a general change in patrols. Cubes had been recalled, others had been dispatched and events spun on around her controlling centre.

    The latest cube assignment was the one destined for the Alpha Quadrant. A region of space known as the Azure Nebula had captured her attention nestled at the intersection of Klingon, Romulan and Federation space. The cube would investigate the anomalous readings that had been recorded there and determine whether a larger force should investigate.

    As she devoted her concentration to transmitting her orders to the cube, events elsewhere in the hub began to unfold.

    Corrosive lubricants that were normally contained in shielded and flexible conduits had seeped through a miniscule crack on to a group of information transfer cables. A small hiss of melted cable was the only visible sign of the forthcoming catastrophe.


    UFP SPACE
    CLOSE TO ZETHANDER
    September 11th 2371 – 2310 FST


    While the probes had completed their stealthy scan of the system, Chariscarpia had continued her study of the Federation language. She was well aware that she was nowhere near a full understanding of this multi-faceted language, but she believed she was now conversant with its basic concepts and meanings. Unshielded communications both in-system and out to worlds beyond had provided her with a wealth of material to study.

    She had heard little more from the ship that she had followed to this system, a ship that she was now fairly certain was called Angel having monitored its unencrypted transmissions. She knew it had rested here for a while to undergo some form of maintenance and that with that work close to completion it would shortly be leaving. She was currently debating whether to follow it further on its travels or continue on her previous course and had decided that with none of the original crew left to provide a determining answer, her choice would be as good as any. As long as the mission continued, then her duty was done.
    She once more settled into her monitoring and deciphering and felt a quiet sense of satisfaction in what she was achieving.


    USS ANGEL – BRIDGE
    ZETHANDER DOCK
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 11th 2371 – 2310 FST


    As Beta shift commander, especially in dock, Sendok had found little in the way of stressful duties coming his way. Organising the rotation for his shift’s shore leave had been the closest to hard work he’d had to contemplate during their stay here. Of course it had given him ample time to study, particularly the latest science journals of which he was an avid reader.

    Checking the chrono built into the arm of the centre seat, he realised that it was almost time for the change to Gamma shift. He bookmarked the PADD he’d been reading and stood to begin a tour of the bridge stations. Normally while in dock, a skeleton crew would man essential stations on any ship making a maintenance layover, but the on-call mission of the Angel had prompted the requirement for a manning level halfway between skeleton and full. Even given the recall time of off-ship personnel, the ship would be ready to launch within an hour maximum.

    Right now, many of the members of the reduced bridge staff were finding the quiet duty shift an ideal time to rehearse secondary duty posts and were acquainting themselves with the bridge positions they would be expected to man in a crisis situation.

    For instance the Beta shift Conn officer, Lieutenant Tara Courtney, was at the moment being mentored by Lieutenant Patrick Mahoney at the Ops Management console next to her usual post.

    Ensign Gava bal Chag, the Tellarite Mission Ops officer was studying the tactical console under the tutelage of Lieutenant T’Mass from security.

    Sendok was surprised that even the usually pugnacious Chag was quietly attending to the calm and orderly tutelage of the Vulcan security officer and realised that he had a group of professionals around him who would be prepared for any eventuality.

    “Ladies and gentlemen, please note we are shortly due for shift change. Any outstanding tasks should be completed and your positions secured for handover.”

    He was answered by a chorus of ‘Aye Sir’s from around the bridge as the Beta shift returned to their duty posts.

    Sendok had to admit that he was now more than ready to be back in free space once more and looked forward to their departure from dock tomorrow afternoon with some relish.


    BORG TRANSWARP HUB
    SPATIAL GRID 986
    DELTA QUADRANT
    September 11th 2371


    As the Borg cube approached the entrance to transwarp aperture 837, the Queen watched in fascination. When the ship passed through this aperture into conduit 12, it would project a structural integrity field ahead of itself to compensate for the extreme gravimetric shear it would encounter as subspace was folded over on itself.

    Accelerating to speeds up to thirty times faster than a vessel travelling at warp 9, the cube would enter the Alpha Quadrant within minutes to begin its inspection of the Azure Nebula.

    It was at the exact moment that the cube entered the aperture that the information transfer fibres corroded through causing the targeting sensors and locks for the transwarp conduit to fail.

    In milliseconds, the exit aperture for the conduit became unanchored and the conduit flailed in subspace like a torn mooring cable. By the time the automated system had switched to backups, the exit aperture had already swept through multiple locations, and eventually tore a hole in subspace just outside the orbit of Zethander. Seconds later, chaos erupted into real space.


    UFP SPACE
    CLOSE TO ZETHANDER
    September 11th 2371 – 2312 FST


    Chariscarpia was immediately alert as she detected the tear in subspace. The event itself was serious enough to gain her attention, but it was the associated sensor readings that sent a wave of panic through her.

    In all her turns of travel she had managed to avoid the scourge of the Borg and had believed them to be left far behind in the Delta Quadrant. The sensors now indicated otherwise. Switching the scans across all the spectrums at her command, she watched in horror as a fissure opened on the far side of the asteroid field she was using as cover. It began not unlike an ugly bruise on space itself before splitting with discharges of energy and becoming an open rent in the very fabric of subspace.

    As she monitored the distorted aperture, she wasted precious moments deciding whether to run or remain hidden amongst the asteroids.


    USS ANGEL – BRIDGE
    ZETHANDER DOCK
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE

    September 11th 2371 – 2312 FST


    As Sendok returned to the centre seat, he heard the chirp of an incoming transmission from the tactical console to his right. Turning he saw T’Mass raise one delicate eyebrow.

    “Lieutenant?” he queried.

    “Sir, it is Zethander Space Dock Control with an all stations emergency code.”

    Sendok sat bolt upright in the chair, his forgotten PADD clattering to the deck. Around him, the Beta shift crew not already at their stations hurriedly ran to them.
    “On screen Lieutenant.”

    “…repeat, subspace report: bearing 310 mark 020. Detecting tri-quantum waves and subspace distortions with field magnitudes exceeding 2.9 teracochranes. Readings consistent with known Borg technology. All staff to report to duty stations immediately. This is not a drill, I repeat, subspace…”

    The repeated call was silenced as Sendok held up his hand.

    “T’Mass, Red Alert and Captain to the bridge immediately. Mr Chag, begin immediate crew recall procedures. Conn, Ops, initiate dock departure clearances.”

    Sendok stood now, facing the view screen. “Lieutenant T’Mass, do we have a visual on the event?”

    “Standby Sir.” T’Mass flicked through the available sensor feeds from the station and eventually brought up the one directed at the section of space beyond the asteroid field. The asteroids were silhouetted against an ever brightening and expanding rip in space that pulsated with sickly green flashes unlike anything Sendok had ever seen before. Behind him the bridge doors hissed open and Dan ran on to the bridge.

    “Mr Sendok, report.” Dan stopped dead in his tracks as he saw the gathering maelstrom on the screen. “What the hell is that?”

    Sendok turned. “Trouble Sir.”


    THE EVENT HORIZON CLUB
    CORAL CITY
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE

    September 11th 2371 – 2315 FST


    Around the club, the party atmosphere of moments before had vanished as Starfleet crew members hurried outside to designated beam out points. They knew that a general recall was rarely made unless the situation was dire. Spider waited until the last of the crew had departed the club then tapped his comm badge.

    “Tarrant to Angel.” He watched as the remaining patrons stared bemusedly at the frantic departure of three quarters of the clientele and shrugged his shoulders before heading out into the cool night air.

    “Go ahead Chief.” He recognised the voice of Lieutenant T’Mass and was glad for a calm influence amongst the recall procedures.

    “Ma’am, I have a good portion of the planetside crew in my location at this time. Unless there’s a problem that prevents it might I suggest using the triage transporters as well?”

    “Thank you Chief. Transport commencing at this time. The Captain requests that we get the Valkyrie’s out immediately on your arrival.”

    “Acknowledged, Tarrant out.” Running quickly into the orderly mass of bodies, he managed to grab both Dingbat and Homer out of the crowd and quickly explained the order.
    “I have no idea what’s going on up there, but this doesn’t sound good.”


    UFP SPACE
    CLOSE TO ZETHANDER
    September 11th 2371 – 2317 FST


    With a flash of decaying radiation, the Borg cube burst forth from the spatial rift at a velocity that left it no chance to avoid the wall of asteroids. Despite the
    structural integrity field it had projected ahead of itself, the damage was crippling as tumbling asteroids the size of starships were smashed into motion by the runaway cube.

    Realising almost too late that the whole section of asteroids she was hiding amongst was suddenly in motion, Chariscarpia brought the engines on line and attempted to manoeuvre away from the worst of the impact area. By this time it was too late though as the planetoids obeyed the laws of physics stating that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    Asteroids splintered in the spinning confusion of impact and the Borg cube, slowed but not by much, ploughed on through their centre totally out of control. Chariscarpia swung round to aim for a large gap that had opened in the dreadful ballet of rocks and wreckage and applied full power. It mattered little now if she was detected. The only other option was destruction.

    The ship swung wide of the penultimate asteroid and darted forward, Chariscarpia believing that by some miracle she had escaped. Just before blackness descended on her, she felt the impact of the Borg cube as it struck a glancing blow, and then she knew no more.


    BORG CUBE
    UFP SPACE
    CLOSE TO ZETHANDER
    September 11th 2371 – 2317 FST


    Ten of Nineteen, Primary Adjunct of Unimatrix 217 was neither panicked nor afraid as events unfolded. He was Borg. Fear was irrelevant.

    As the cube began to die around him, he reported the failed mission to the Queen through the Collective but received no reply.

    He turned his attention to the screen that now showed what remained of the cube heading directly for a blue green planet, preceded by large remnants of asteroid propelled by their collision. Even the jar of yet another impact didn’t slow the work of the drones. There was no thought that attempting to continue repairs on the ship was futile. Rather, the work continued unabated even as the planet filled the screen before him.


    USS ANGEL – BRIDGE
    ZETHANDER DOCK
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 11th 2371 – 2325 FST


    “Bridge this is Chief Tarrant, both Valkyrie’s now launched. Remaining runabouts on standby, hangar deck secure.”

    “Thank you Chief, bridge out.” Dan turned to Mission Ops where Kat Gray had taken over from Chag. “How’s the recall going?”

    “Three more minutes and we’ll have full manning. All sections report ready for launch Sir.”

    “Thank you Commander, we’ll bring the rest up on the move until we have to raise shields. Tactical, report.”

    Chief of Security DeSalle was at Tactical rapidly working the board.

    “Borg incursion confirmed Sir, but the cube has suffered major damage from asteroid impact. Power failing, weapons offline and direct heading for the planet. I don’t believe it’s a controlled heading Sir.”

    “Plot an impact point for the cube and the asteroids please and relay to Sciences and to the relevant planetary authorities. Conn take us out, and Tactical give me shields as soon as we clear dock. Commander, you have that long to get aboard anybody still planetside, otherwise they beam up to the station.”

    Dan weighed his options carefully. The cube itself looked as if it wouldn’t provide a coherent threat, but the damage both it and the asteroids would cause on impact was likely to be immense. He watched on the screen as the Valkyrie fighters left dock ahead of them and silently prayed that the impact zones planetside would be uninhabited.

    As DeSalle transferred the information to the screen on Dan’s chair, he realised that the hope was forlorn.
     
  17. unusualsuspex

    unusualsuspex Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Location:
    Norfolk UK
    LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is trademarked and copyrighted by CBS Studios.
    NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.

    8


    USS ANGEL – FLIGHT DECK OPERATIONS OFFICE
    ZETHANDER DOCK
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 11th 2371 – 2326 FST


    “Raptor One check.”

    “Raptor Two check.”

    “Eyrie this is Raptor Flight checking in.”

    Lieutenant Jean ‘Eyrie’ O’Hara plotted both of the fighters on her board as they left dock and turned to intercept the rapidly approaching cube, or what was now left of it.

    “Raptor flight this is Eyrie. Control established. Suggest you get above the inbound and follow it in. Tactical says it has failing power and weapons are offline, but I wouldn’t trust ‘em as far as I could throw ‘em.”

    O’Hara was herself an ex-fighter pilot who now served as the fighter controller aboard the Angel. It was her duty to co-ordinate the two nimble craft until they were in a position to take over a combat intercept themselves.

    “Acknowledged Eyrie, we’re climbing now. Advise Tactical that some of the slower asteroids look like they’re breaking up. It could be they’ll pose a problem to the dock on their current vectors.”

    “Relaying now Raptor One. Are you happy to take the mission?”

    Mo accepted control, and O’Hara hurriedly contacted Tactical to relay the asteroid warning.

    ******

    Dan relied, as all good commanding officer’s did, on the professionalism of his crew and their ability to mesh as a team. He also knew better than to try and micro-manage and sat silently for now as the subdued hum of work continued around him.

    “Sir, message from Raptor flight.” DeSalle transmitted the updated asteroid plot to Dan’s chair. “The expanding asteroid field looks like it could threaten Zethander dock.”

    “Thank you Mr DeSalle. Science, I need a continually updated plot on the asteroids and immediate notification if there is any threat to Zethander dock that their shields and defensive weapons can’t handle.”

    “Aye Sir.” T’Sell, the Chief Science Officer was currently manning science one behind his right shoulder.

    “Commander Gray, anybody who isn’t aboard now misses the ride.” It was unavoidable but Dan wasn’t about to leave dock without shields.

    “Good news sir we got ‘em all.” Kat brushed an errant strand of hair behind her ear as she grinned at Dan.

    “Good timing Commander. Mr DeSalle, shields please. Let’s take a look at this mess.”

    Angel soared out into free space and her viewscreen at last showed him first hand the devastation that had been wrought by the arrival of the cube. Asteroids that had previously maintained a relatively stable orbit were now being ricocheted around as collisions broke them into smaller random moving pieces.

    T’Sell broke into his thoughts. “Sir, update on the impact points. Several will land close to Coral City, more offshore. The offshore ones will possibly be just as devastating however. I’m estimating multiple tsunami effects. The Borg trajectory puts its impact point inland approximately 50 kilometres south of the city.”

    Alright Dan, just like a simulation, piece by piece and prioritise, he thought to himself.

    The Borg were no longer part of the equation right now. If any survived the impact, then they’d deal with them at that stage. He didn’t dare open fire on the cube in case it fragmented and posed an even greater threat planetside. Similarly, he daren’t risk firing on the asteroids, though there was another option.

    “T’Sell, I want you to plot the asteroids that pose the greatest threat and prioritise them on screen. Commander, get the runabouts out and down to the planet ready to assist in evacuation procedures. Mr DeSalle, prepare tractor beams on the priorities assigned by Science.”

    He plotted the pieces of the jigsaw in his mind and saw them starting to come together. He just hoped it would be in time.


    RAPTOR FLIGHT
    UFP SPACE
    CLOSE TO ZETHANDER
    September 11th 2371 – 2330 FST


    Mo was appalled to see the bodies of Borg drones adrift in the wake of the rapidly disintegrating cube. She had no love for the Borg of course, but each body she passed had once been a sentient being plucked from their everyday lives and assimilated to serve the needs of the Collective.

    The cube, even battered and torn as it was, was still huge and its very appearance made Mo shudder. Under normal circumstances, it would have classed her as insignificant, wiping her out without even pausing for breath. The dark grey slab sided form bled green light from numerous gashes along its flanks and the whole forward face was nothing more than a tangled mass of metal. It now ran far ahead of the asteroids and still showed no sign of slowing or acknowledging their presence.

    “Raptor flight this is Eyrie.”

    “Go ahead Eyrie.”

    “Raptor flight, command requests that unless you have anything out there that needs attention, you recover to home plate this time.”

    “Standby Eyrie.” Mo switched channels to talk to Homer on their discrete tactical frequency. “Any point in watching this close up my man?”

    Mo heard the shudder in Homer’s voice and immediately sympathised with him. “It’s like a graveyard out here Mo and we ain’t achieving a damn thing.”

    She nodded and reselected the command frequency. “Eyrie this is Raptor flight, show’s over out here, returning to base this time.”

    “Received Raptor, Eyrie out.”

    As the pair of Valkyrie’s turned for home, Mo thought that what made the sight worse was that many of the Borg were still alive, adapted by their assimilation to operating in vacuum indefinitely. Their’s would either be a lonely death as they drifted out into the frigid coldness of deep space, or a mercifully brief one as the friction of planetary re-entry incinerated them.

    Mo didn’t like the thought of either.


    USS ANGEL – BRIDGE
    UFP SPACE
    CLOSE TO ZETHANDER
    September 11th 2371 – 2336 FST


    Dan watched as the Valkyrie’s climbed up and above the cloud of debris currently heading towards Zethander allowing Angel a clear run at the first target. T’Sell had marked many of the asteroids as zero threats which would either burn up on re-entry or land in un-populated zones without causing damage to the planetary infrastructure. Of the one hundred and twenty two left, eighty five were of low threat, twenty seven medium and the remaining ten were the highest threat. Dan knew he had to work quickly to negate as much of that threat as possible.

    In the Crisis Control Centre, or C3, situated between the bridge and the briefing room aft, co-ordinating operations were underway to evacuate those areas at the highest risk from impact. Time was now their greatest enemy.

    “Alright Mr DeSalle, your chance to shine.” Dan noticed that his Chief of Security’s shaved head was covered in a thin sheen of sweat but his expression was one of calm determination. “Time to lasso an asteroid. Commander Machilveen, ready?”

    His Chief Engineer was now at her bridge engineering station ready to co-ordinate the massive energy reserves required to deflect the asteroid.

    “Ready as we’ll ever be Sir.”

    Good enough he thought. “Time to first impact Commander T’Sell?”

    “Twenty seven minutes and thirty five seconds sir.”

    Nowhere near enough time to get all of them, but they still had to try.

    “Ok the operation’s yours Commander T’Sell.”

    Dan stood and walked to the rear of the bridge to stand next to Kat Gray. Right now the mission was in the concerted hands of his crew and he would do nothing to interrupt.

    He followed the intricate operation on the Mission Ops console. First the huge starship laid in a parallel course to the priority target before power was fed to the two huge tractor emitters and the asteroid was snared. Now came the time consuming part. It only required a course change of a few degrees to deflect the asteroid away from a critical area on the planet ahead, but those few degrees had to be accurate to prevent it smashing into yet another vulnerable area.

    The mass and momentum of the asteroid meant that the change was slow but it seemed just moments before T’Sell called “Release!” and the operation began all over again on target two.

    Dan’s attention was distracted by an incoming signal.

    “Bridge, this is flight deck ops.”

    “Go ahead Eyrie.”

    The Irish brogue of Jean O’Hara sounded slightly perplexed.

    “Sir, Raptor flight has discovered a vessel out by the entry point of the Borg cube.”

    Dan was immediately alert. “Do we have a visual?”

    Kat transferred a feed from Raptor One on to her console screen.

    The vessel was the purest white except where the remains of the Borg cube had impacted marring its pristine surface. It consisted of a central body tapering to the rear and on each side were three extensions tipped by what appeared to be the main propulsion units, though what powered them remained a mystery. The head of the ship was an open ring not unlike a letter C with the opening facing forward. Fishlock thought that in plan form it resembled a huge immobile and albino scorpion. You really have to stop thinking like that he thought to himself, especially when it involves bugs.

    “Raptor One says scans show no life forms aboard and power is at minimal levels Captain. Zethander Dock says they have no knowledge of the ship either and it doesn’t correspond to anything in the data banks. Would you like me to get Raptor Flight to check it out?”

    He certainly didn’t want the Valkyrie’s coming back aboard while their asteroid deflection was ongoing, and it was quite possible the new ship might have been dragged through the spatial rift with the Borg. Prudence dictated that it should be checked out sooner rather than later.

    “Do it Eyrie. Keep the feed live to Mission Ops, I’ll monitor it from there.”

    “Aye Captain.”

    He raised his eyebrows at Kat who simply shrugged. In the background he heard T’Sell order “Release!” again, and so it began once more.


    RAPTOR FLIGHT
    UFP SPACE
    CLOSE TO ZETHANDER
    September 11th 2371 – 2347 FST


    “Raptor Flight, cleared to intercept bogey, Command is monitoring your feed.”

    Kat acknowledged the call then switched to the tactical frequency to co-ordinate with her wing man.

    “Homer, intercept pattern Gamma. If it looks clear we’ll go scan and cover.”

    “Gotcha. Ready for the split.”

    The pair of aerospace fighters diverged at Mo’s signal to approach the apparently dormant ship from opposite directions. Although initial scans showed no overt sign of activity, Mo wasn’t about to let that lull her into a false sense of security. Once they had ascertained as far as possible that the ship presented no apparent threat, Mo would start a close in scan while Homer held off at a distance to provide cover.

    “Don’t know about your side Mo, but it looks clean from here.”

    “This side too apart from that one nasty ding in the mid section. Scans are showing that it was probably hit by the cube. You happy to start scan and cover?” As Homer called affirmative, Mo switched the sensors in her fighter from passive to deep scan.

    She ran the length of the mysterious white ship with Homer running a parallel track some 500 metres out before flipping over and under to repeat the process. Finishing the scan, they withdrew to study the results.

    “Still no life forms, but I get a null node just aft of where the cube hit. You see that?”

    “Yea got it Mo. Think it’s sensor shielded or an artefact of the impact?”

    Mo shook her head even though Homer couldn’t see her puzzled look. “No idea my man. Let me feed it back to Eyrie and they can worry about it.”

    She switched channels to the fighter control frequency. “Eyrie, sensor dump coming in. Request further instructions, Raptor Flight standing by.”


    USS ANGEL – BRIDGE
    UFP SPACE
    CLOSE TO ZETHANDER
    September 11th 2371 – 2358FST


    While T’Sell was tied up (poor time for puns Dan thought to himself) with lassoing asteroids, Science 2 had been manned by the young Sezdati Ensign, Kara Asheen, who was now poring over the data received from Raptor Flight. Dan leaned in over the console and pointed.

    “Is that the null node there?”

    Asheen nodded bringing the area into greater magnification.

    “Yes Sir. To be honest, it could be anything from a shielded computer core to a crew emergency bolthole. If the Valkyrie scans can’t penetrate from that close in, I doubt we’ll find out anything more without a boarding party.”

    She looked up at him quickly in embarrassment, her mirrored eyes reflecting a distorted image of his face and he smiled.

    “I’ll take that into consideration Ensign, thank you.”

    “Sorry Sir.” Dan realised she was mortified at making mission suggestions unprompted to her commanding officer and he tried to ease her discomfort.

    “Don’t worry, I expect any member of the crew to furnish opinions when they feel it’s necessary Ensign.” Her smile of relief was evident so Dan pushed on quickly. “What else do the scans tell us?”

    “Well the ship’s alive and in remarkably good condition. Power to all sections of the ship, some low level automated activity, just apparently no crew Sir.”

    “Thank you Ensign, keep working on it.” She nodded once more and he returned to Kat’s side. “Get an away team together, science, medical, engineering and security. Remember though, If there is anybody over there I don’t want them to think we’re invading. We just need to be able to offer effective assistance if we can.”

    “On it Sir.” Kat waved over Amanda Gittings who relieved her at Mission Ops and as Kat left the bridge, he heard T’Sell pronounce, “That’s number eight. Targeting number nine, Conn take us in.”

    Dan was too afraid to ask if they were ahead of the curve so wisely kept quiet as he wandered back over to Science 2 and studied the Scorpion.
     
  18. unusualsuspex

    unusualsuspex Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Location:
    Norfolk UK
    LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is trademarked and copyrighted by CBS Studios.
    NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.

    9

    RUNABOUT USS KOCH
    CH’HANDRA MEDICAL FACILITY
    CORAL CITY
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 12th 2371 – 0001 FST

    Misaki had sat in the cockpit of the USS Koch for thirty minutes now as the next party of children was loaded aboard. In the dark sky above, evidence of the forthcoming asteroid storm was plain to see as bright streaks of light split the darkness. The smaller debris was burning up before reaching the ground right now, and according to the latest update all of the major threats had hopefully been diverted.
    Misaki knew though that there were still over twenty medium threat asteroids still approaching and scores of low threat. It was one of the medium threats that had provoked the evacuation of the coastal hospital. While civilian transports rapidly cleared the coastal residences, the Angel’s runabouts with their onboard medical facilities were aiding in moving the elderly and infirm.

    Misaki couldn’t help but smile when she heard the ooh’s and aah’s from the youngsters as they watched the night sky. In other circumstances, she could imagine standing and watching the display with her younger sisters Sakura & Asami. It had been a fluke of nature (or so Misaki believed) that had cured her youngest sister of Chendari Syndrome otherwise she too would have spent what was left of her young life in hospital.**

    “Koch from Angel.”

    Misaki tuned out the children as she answered the comm.

    “Go ahead Angel.”

    “Be advised, we have an asteroid split. Point of impact is estimated three kilometres off shore in 23 minutes. Low threat according to Science but be prepared. They also report that the Borg cube will impact within eight minutes now estimated 63 kilometres south of your location.”

    Misaki quickly calculated their flight out to the evacuation centre and back and knew they should have enough time for the final run.

    “Koch acknowledges, out.” She turned to Ensign Mara Hannick supervising the rear compartment. “Mara, are we ready?”

    The dark skinned young woman checked over her charges then came and joined Misaki in the cockpit.

    “All strapped in. They’re having a whale of a time back there. Buster is having to tell them stories!”

    Misaki smiled knowing the big medic would be absolutely hating it.

    She applied lift and routed south to head inland, pushing the runabout to its atmospheric limit. She knew that every second she could shave off the journey now would be extra seconds of safety for the children.

    (** The story of Hiroshi Misaki’s sister is covered in VIGNETTE 3 – HIROSHI MISAKI available on my site!)


    BORG CUBE
    ENTERING ZETHANDER ATMOSPHERE
    September 12th 2371 – 0011 FST

    Ten of Nineteen continued to monitor the last seconds of the cubes life in typical Borg coldness. He issued instructions to Four of Seven, Intermediary of Trimatrix 4745, ordering a strengthening of buckling shields at their location but received no response.

    It was at that point, some 3000 metres above ground that a vast store of volatile gas and liquid storage in the lower levels of the cube ruptured. The explosion tore out the surrounding three levels obliterating them in an incandescent detonation but more importantly it affected the cubes trajectory. The blast and subsequent downward jet of ignited chemicals reduced the descent speed and pushed the shattered cube sideways. Leaving a thick black trail of noxious gases in the clear night air it blazed inexorably down and on its new path Ten of Nineteen noted with indifference that the cube would now impact in the ocean off the coast of the large peninsula.

    Initiating one last command into his failing console, it was 9.6 seconds later that Ten of Nineteen ceased to be.


    RUNABOUT USS KOCH
    EN ROUTE TO CH’HANDRA MEDICAL FACILITY
    CORAL CITY
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 12th 2371 – 0011 FST

    They’d made good time to the evacuation centre and immediately had the children transferred off the runabout to begin their final trip. Misaki programmed the final descent into the grounds of the hospital and had just finished checking in with the ground team when the runabout bucked wildly. Fighting to regain control she swore in her native language as the remains of the Borg cube tore the air above the small ship, its shockwave almost spinning them out of control.

    “Kuso!” Reacting purely on instinct, Misaki raised the nose and killed all power momentarily before reapplying it again. The resultant porpoise motion of the runabout slowed it slightly and the upward vector pushed it above the layer of turbulence left in the cubes wake, but it produced an equally dangerous side effect as they were battered by wreckage detached from the plummeting cube.

    “Mara, get a distress call out, I am not going to be able to keep us airborne much longer!” Already Misaki saw the telltale flashes of red warning tabs flicker up on her display, but Mara was frozen in her seat, the sight of the Borg cube paralyzing her.

    “Mara NOW!” As if a switch had been flicked, Mara’s eyes went wide and she worked the panel rapidly. Misaki had little time to listen as the computer reported multiple failings where wreckage had impacted with the runabout. Spotting a relatively level area of land in the suburbs to her left, she swung the stricken craft toward it and prayed there would be enough open space.

    She had the chance to shout “Brace for impact!” before the port nacelle kissed the ground and they began to plough a destructive trail across the plain.


    OPEN OCEAN
    105KM NORTH OF CORAL CITY
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 12th 2371 – 0011 FST

    Despite the loss of over half it’s mass due to impact with the asteroids and atmospheric erosion, the Borg cube was still immense. Perhaps the only thing that prevented a planet wide catastrophe was the shallow angle and reduced speed at which the cube eventually hit but even so the results were cataclysmic.

    There was no explosion as much of the cube’s volatile material had already detonated. Instead the massive patchwork of assimilated parts tumbled across the surface, digging deeper and shedding more parts as it went.
    Observers in Coral City could see little of the impact but the sound was like the coming of Armageddon and rolled ominously across the city.

    Eventually the noise subsided and in its wake was silence broken only by the quiet tinkle of falling transparisteel. It was a silence that wasn’t to last for long.


    USS ANGEL – BRIDGE
    UFP SPACE
    CLOSE TO ZETHANDER
    September 12th 2371 – 0012 FST

    “Sir!” Kara Asheen stared wide eyed at her console and Dan rushed over to see the cause of her panic.

    “It’s the Borg cube Sir. I don’t know what happened but its trajectory and speed altered shortly before impact.” She worked her console quickly, scrolling back through the automated sensor logs and eventually spotting the detonation above the surface.

    “There Sir.” She pointed at the spiked readout. “A massive detonation. It must have been somewhere in the lower half of the cube.”

    “Why do you say that?” Dan tried to follow the rapidly changing graphics that Asheen monitored with ease.

    “Change in vector Sir. Its speed slowed and its angle of descent decreased. Essentially it changed direction and travelled further and that’s the problem.” She widened the image and Dan saw immediately that the problems he’d felt they were now on top of had just been trebled.

    He tapped the commbadge on his chest. “Fishlock to C3.”

    The call was answered by a Benzite lieutenant in the Crisis Control Centre aft of the bridge.

    “Lieutenant Modrak, go ahead Sir.”

    “Lieutenant, I need all runabouts back to the coast immediately for evacuation duties. Advise them that the Borg cube has landed out to sea and they should expect imminent tsunami effects. Science will update you with a time estimate shortly.”

    “Aye Sir.”

    As the link went dead, he turned to Asheen. “How much time do we have?”

    She looked at him with her silvered eyes and said quietly “A little over 15 minutes Sir.”


    RUNABOUT USS BARNARD
    MUNICIPAL PARK EVACUATION STATION
    CORAL CITY
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 12th 2371 – 0014 FST

    Lieutenant Ariana Meredith’s eyes went wide and as she broke the connection, she leapt from her seat to drag Shathrissia sh'Loran to one side. As she explained the latest report from the Angel, the Andorian security officer’s face visibly paled.

    “Thriss we need to expedite the load up. We might get another run in but I doubt it. Pile ‘em in, I don’t care if we need to run at ground level. Children, women, and then men.”

    Thriss nodded before disappearing through into the aft section to relay the message to the security ensigns helping to supervise the evacuation. While they didn’t dare share the reason for the sudden change in loading, the evacuees were remarkably compliant. Thriss felt her heart go out to those who would likely never see loved ones again.


    USS ANGEL – BRIDGE
    ZETHANDER – GEOSTATIONARY ORBIT
    UFP SPACE
    September 12th 2371 – 0015 FST

    “Sir we’re simply not going to manage with the runabouts even with the civilian transports helping.” Lieutenant Amanda Gittings had run the figures several times at Mission Ops and they stubbornly refused to change.

    Dan almost slapped himself for his stupidity. “The transporters!” The combination of monitoring the asteroid operation, the mystery ship and all the other intricacies that were unfolding around him had almost made him forget the primary function of the converted vessel.

    Opening a ship wide channel from the centre seat he broadcast a message that he hadn’t expected to use for some while yet.

    “All hands this is the Captain. All transporter crews to emergency stations, standby for emergency evacuation procedures. Mission Ops will co-ordinate.”

    As his voice echoed through the busy corridors and annexes of the Angel repeating the order, crew men and women previously attending to secondary tasks broke into a run to their emergency posts. It was with a sense of quiet pride to Dan that the teams were in place within two minutes and the CMO reported ready to receive casualties some 20 seconds later.

    “Do it Lieutenant!” As Gittings began the co-ordination of beam out sites and numbers he turned to T’Sell.

    “T’Sell, how are we doing with the asteroids?”

    She looked up briefly from her board. “All major threats neutralized Sir, 15 medium threats also neutralized.”
    “Thank you.” With adrenaline coursing through his veins, he knew that the Angel was making a difference. How much of one was now dictated by time and tide.
     
  19. unusualsuspex

    unusualsuspex Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Location:
    Norfolk UK
    LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is trademarked and copyrighted by CBS Studios.
    NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.

    9 (cont)

    RUNABOUT USS BARNARD
    MUNICIPAL PARK EVACUATION STATION
    CORAL CITY
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 12th 2371 – 0018 FST

    Thriss shook her head, briefly confused as a large group of evacuees twinkled in a transporter effect and disappeared. Of course! She thought.

    “Ladies, gentlemen, please listen.” The slightly surprised mass of people quietened at the sound of Thriss’ call. “The Angel has started an emergency evacuation using transporters on the ship. I want you to follow these directions to the letter please...”

    The crowd were watching her intently as she paused, and then they too heard the noise. A quiet susurration as of distant surf, more felt than heard.

    A low murmur broke out amongst the crowd, people looking around uncertainly. Thriss realised she needed to focus their minds elsewhere and quickly.

    “Please, I need your attention!” Her shout was harsher than she would have wished, but under the circumstances she didn’t care.

    “When you reach the ship, you need to immediately evacuate the transporter pads and follow the directions of the crew there. Do you understand?”

    There were nods around the crowd and a sense of order seemed to restore itself as a second group disappeared. She tapped her commbadge and was answered by Gittings.
    “Do you need us to disperse the crowd into groups down here, or are the transporter teams happy to take what they can at a time?”

    There was a momentary silence as Gittings attended to something on her panel before she said “Leave them as they are Thriss. Have you briefed them on arrival procedures?” Gittings’ soft Welsh tones were soothing to Thriss’ ears as she nodded to herself.

    “All done.”

    “Good luck then, Angel out.”

    Thriss knew that luck was something they would all need tonight.


    RUNABOUT USS KOCH
    SUBURBS OF CORAL CITY
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 12th 2371 – 0018 FST

    Misaki shook her head which only seemed to make the cockpit blur and spin more rapidly. She tried to move and winced as pain shot through her side. Broken ribs she diagnosed seeing that there was no external wound. Every other part of her body ached, but nothing seemed to be permanently damaged. She didn’t dare apply an analgesic until she’d attended to the rest of the crew.

    Looking around she could see the spread eagled form of Mara Hannick lying against the aft bulkhead.

    “Mara?” With no response, she tried again. “Mara!”

    Her friend stirred slightly but didn’t respond. Misaki sighed in relief; it was good enough for now. Managing to drag herself to her feet she checked Hannick over noting the gash across her forehead but the tricorder reported no internal injuries. Misaki administered a stimulant and waited until she groggily opened her eyes.

    “Mara, just stay here. We are safe for now, but I need to check on Buster and Abbi ok?” Hannick nodded and immediately regretted it, but waved her hand to signal that Misaki should go.

    The scene in the rear compartment was much worse.

    Lieutenant Abbi Gethyn was crumpled in a far corner, her leg at an unnatural angle. As she turned to search for the big, good natured medic Buster Hammond her eyes went wide and her hand flew to her mouth.

    One of the structural beams that supported the attachment of the rear module had snapped and passed clean through the centre of his chest pinning him to the wall. Bile rose in her throat, not at the sight of his terrible injuries but more at the vision of his perfectly composed expression. It was one of almost gentle surprise. The wound had obviously been immediately fatal.

    She leaned against the wall until eventually the dry heaves subsided then made her way to Gethyn in the corner. She was careful to avoid glancing in Buster’s direction as she ran a scan on Gethyn; fractured fibula, knee shattered and an open wound. This was something Misaki was trained to deal with and she efficiently set about treating the injuries. Analgesic, sedative, bone regeneration, auto suture for the wound; the work was enough to distract her from the grizzly sight in the corner.

    She eventually applied a stasis support to the knee, something that her equipment was ill equipped to deal with, and then made her way back to the cockpit keeping her eyes carefully averted.

    By the time she returned, Hannick was more alert and sitting in the co-pilot’s seat. Seeing the look on Misaki’s pale face, was enough to tell her that something awful had happened.

    “I am so sorry Mara. We lost Buster.”

    Hannick closed her eyes in quiet pain. Buster was a bear of a man but the gentlest soul she’d ever known and somebody she had grown increasingly close to over the past few weeks. When she looked back at Misaki, her eyes were moist but her look was determined.

    She stood somewhat uncertainly and said, “I’ll move Abbi forward while you contact the ship.”

    Misaki wanted to warn her about what she would see, but the look on Mara’s face said that no matter what she had to see it for herself, and Misaki simply nodded.

    As Mara disappeared aft, Misaki tapped her commbadge.
    “Koch to Angel.”


    USS ANGEL – BRIDGE
    ZETHANDER – GEOSTATIONARY ORBIT
    UFP SPACE
    September 12th 2371 – 0026 FST

    Gittings was content now that all transporters were functioning to capacity and the evacuees were being moved rapidly from planet to ship to safety.

    Having temporarily taken over comms duties while DeSalle worked the tractors, her panel beeped and she saw that it was the Koch calling.

    “Go ahead Koch.”

    As Gittings listened to Misaki relate the crash and death of Hammond, she was already tasking one of the minor transporter teams to recover them.

    “Hang tight Misaki, I’ve got a transport team ready to take you out shortly.”

    “Acknowledged Angel, thank you. Koch out.”

    It was yet another sign that they weren’t having everything their own way, and she knew it was still to get worse.


    RUNABOUT USS BARNARD
    MUNICIPAL PARK EVACUATION STATION
    CORAL CITY
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 12th 2371 – 0028 FST

    As the numbers of evacuees had diminished at the evacuation station, the bizarre sound of the sea had continued to become louder. The forefront of the approaching tsunami had drawn the sea back away from the beach revealing the red and black coral reefs in all their beauty, but there was nobody to see it. The few people still left in Coral City were already on the verge of being evacuated and had little time to notice the beauty of their city revealed.

    Thriss was the first to see the luminescent wall of water. It rose some 40 metres high dwarfing the single storey sea front buildings and the noise was that of an approaching avalanche travelling at close to 400 kilometres per hour.
    The last group of evacuees from her evacuation station sparkled out of existence and Thriss shouted through into the cockpit over the massed heads of those in the aft compartment.

    “Ariana, we’re clear! Go!”

    As the rear ramp lifted, Thriss watched in awe as the wave approached the shallows. It slowed perceptibly and grew even higher as the following waves mounted up behind and bullied it forward. Her last sight as the Barnard staggered into the air was of the wave striking one of the crystalline like pinnacles that had been built out over the coral reef, shattering it like so much plastic. Then the ramp sealed and Thriss closed her eyes.


    CORAL CITY
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 12th 2371 – 0028 FST

    The wave had now reached the zenith of its energy and was at its most destructive as it piled ashore. In its sixteen minute journey inland, it had been barely visible on the surface, but as it reached shallower water so it climbed in height. In its midst it carried detritus and wreckage from the Borg cube that had given the tsunami birth, flotsam that was about to become lethal in its destructive carriage.

    Not all the rescue ships were lucky. Two were caught on the ground, unable to lift with the crush of refugees they were carrying. Another three were too late in lifting, their overburdened engines unable to cope with the demands being made on them, and they were ripped from the sky to be smashed against inland high rise edifices.

    Its power still unabated, the wave crashed through the pristine canyons of the almost deserted city sweeping people, vehicles, houses and office blocks away in its wake. The destructive wreckage it swept forward with it became the grinding teeth of an insatiable monster and the screech of torn metal and shattered concrete became the city’s death cry.


    RUNABOUT USS KOCH
    SUBURBS OF CORAL CITY
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 12th 2371 – 0029 FST

    Misaki and Mara watched in horror as the wave finally broke reducing once proud spires to stunted wreckage and hurling debris and spray high into the air. The ground beneath their feet was trembling before the oncoming onslaught and buildings along the periphery of the park they had crash landed in began to sag and topple, their foundations unable to withstand the tremors.

    Misaki found herself about to tap her commbadge, and then dropped her hand in defeat. By the time the ship answered, it would be too late. She looked at Mara, took her hand and squeezed it just as the chime and sparkle of the transporter took them.
     
  20. unusualsuspex

    unusualsuspex Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Location:
    Norfolk UK
    LEGAL DISCLAIMER: Star Trek is trademarked and copyrighted by CBS Studios.
    NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.

    10

    SCORPION
    CLOSE TO ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 12th 2371 – 0030 FST

    The away team sparkled into existence amid pristine white corridors, their surfaces mirror bright and spotlessly clean, and the security contingent of five officers spread out in a defensive perimeter around Kat Gray and the combined engineering and medical team.

    With the Angel’s complement of runabouts already tied up in operations on Zethander the away team had managed to squeeze in a transport between incoming refugees and were now set to explore the mystery vessel.

    Lieutenant Asath Ress looked across to LJ Xantharik who nodded briefly from his position at the corridor junction.

    “Clear.”

    When he received clear reports from the other three officers at their locations he waved to Kat Gray.

    Tapping her commbadge she said “Gray to Angel, away team secure. Nobody seems to be home.”

    Dan’s voice answered her. “Well just in case they’re in the bathroom, tread quietly ok?” She chuckled and the tension eased around her.

    “Will do Captain. We’ll keep a permanent tricorder link open. Gray out.”

    Looking back over to Ress, she shrugged her shoulders. “Any signposts Mr Ress?”

    The Ch’Tharian bared his teeth in a broad grin. “Sssorry ma’am, it would ssseem one direction isss asss good asss any other.”

    “Then you’re our pathfinder Mr Ress, head towards the null node that sensors reported and we’ll take it from there.”

    “Yesss Ma’am.” He flicked a taloned hand to LJ who moved forward to the next junction and squatted to peer round the corners. He waved his hand to signal that the team move forward and so they continued for a while, junction to junction.

    Their first surprise came as they rounded a corner into what seemed to be the central thoroughfare of the ship. A side door, one of many such doors they had already passed, hissed open. LJ rolled to the side of the open door, phaser drawn as Ress took up position on the other side. The team froze with the rear guard closing in for protection.

    Ress pointed to himself then at the ceiling; he then pointed at LJ and the floor. LJ nodded and at Ress’s signal dove down, his phaser sweeping the lower half of the room. Ress meanwhile had stepped forward to cover the upper half of the room with a wide sweep of his own phaser, but it was empty. Like many doors aboard Federation vessels, it had obviously been designed to detect nearby movement then open.

    “Clear Ma’am.”

    “Alright, time out team. Lieutenant, give me a security perimeter around the room and we’ll see if we can find any clues about Scorpion.”

    Scorpion had become the adopted name for the ship, primarily because that’s exactly what the Captain had said it looked like and the name had stuck. Further scans had proved no more enlightening than the earlier ones with the single mystery being the null node where so far absolutely nothing showed up at all.

    As the security team took up their perimeter posts, Ress entered the room first with Kat and the rest of the away team following. The room itself was spacious enough to accommodate them all and appeared to be some form of living quarters. Decorated in sumptuous earth tones of brown and beige it had a wonderfully organic feel to it.
    On one wall, small niches held knick knacks of uncertain use but by their appearance were of decorative purpose only.

    The science team scanned and recorded each one and confirmed none of them showed any form of power source.

    There was a door in the second bulkhead leading through into another room and the third wall had ports looking out into surrounding space.

    The final wall held what appeared to be a view screen. At the moment it flashed glyphs in an unknown language, but their red colour seemed to indicate either a warning or a fault. Again holos and scans were taken before the team moved on into the adjoining room.

    If function followed form, the comfortable pallet on the floor seemed to be a bed and there was familiar looking furniture around the room with enough differences to assure its alien provenance.

    “Ma’am?” Kat looked over to where a Betazoid science ensign was pointing at a small screen which slowly rotated images.

    Bingo! Thought Kat. The images ranged from landscapes showing rolling hills and mountains to cityscapes of unimaginable designs. The most interesting images portrayed aliens of a common race both singly and in groups.

    They were generally humanoid in appearance showing radial symmetry with two arms and two legs and of graceful build. The face too was humanoid with the exception of its lack of a nose. Instead there appeared to be small gill like flaps in the sides of the neck. Finally, protruding from just inside the hairline were four segmented and bifurcated antennae.

    “Nice looking people. Let’s hope we get chance to find out how nice.”

    The ensign looked at Kat. “Do you really think there may be some of these people left aboard Ma’am?”

    With a shrug, Kat said “Only one way to find out Mr Kallam and that’s to keep looking.” She looked around the room. “Everything scanned and recorded people?” With a full chorus of “yes Ma’am”s she indicated the exit. “Time to move on then. I suspect our Captain might get a little impatient if we sightsee for too long.”

    Ress met them at the door and reported that nothing untoward had occurred in their absence.

    “In that case Mr Ress, lead on once more. Let’s see what else we can find.”


    CORAL CITY
    ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 12th 2371 – 0105 FST

    As the tide slowly receded from the streets of Coral City, the full extent of the loss and damage began to become apparent. Those surviving parts of the city that had been built over the reef were now isolated islands, their connecting lattice of road and walkways washed away.
    The once beautiful and delicate buildings were mere foundations having borne the full initial impact of the tsunami, twisted metal remains reaching upwards like skeletal hands.

    The seafront was equally devastated, the majority of the single storey buildings no longer in evidence. Remains of one of the civilian rescue vessels lay like the carcass of a beached cetacean displaying its grid of structural members like a skeleton picked clean by scavengers. Of the refugees who had been aboard, there was no sign here. The power and fury of the tsunami had washed their fragile bodies away, first inland with the initial push before dragging some back out to sea as the water receded.

    An overpowering smell of decay and destruction hung over the shattered city. Mercifully, the nature of the force that had destroyed it had ensured that fires were unlikely though it was of little consequence in the short term; there was really little left worth burning.

    Miraculously however there were survivors amongst the ruins. What quirk of fate had spared their lives when others around them had perished they would probably never know. Mud covered, disorientated, in deep shock, they staggered from the wreckage seeking help.

    But also stirring amongst the mud and debris was something else. Something that didn’t seek solace. Something single minded and implacable. Something whose very nature was as black as its appearance, making the night its ally.

    SCORPION – NULL NODE AREA
    CLOSE TO ZETHANDER
    UFP SPACE
    September 12th 2371 – 0110 FST

    The away team had spent the last 40 minutes systematically working their way aft, searching, scanning and cataloguing each open room they had discovered along the way. There had been many accommodation rooms close together which gradually gave way to assorted storage rooms containing sealed cases.

    Kat had decided to merely mark their positions for further follow up teams. In the event that they did discover survivors, she didn’t want to have to try and explain that they weren’t ransacking the place. Besides, without being able to decipher the labels, Kat knew they could just as easily be opening cases of poisonous chemicals rather than possible clues.

    Workshops or possibly laboratories followed full of arcane equipment that the team pored over without touching. None of it appeared to have active power supplies but it was all as clean as the corridors outside.

    “Do you sssuppose, Commander, that thisss isss evidenccce that the crew may ssstill be here?” Ress waved a taloned hand at the pristine room.

    Kat conceded the possibility. “On the other hand it may be that they just have a very good maid service.”

    Ress blinked his eyes slowly, the Ch’Tharian equivalent of rolling them. “If that isss the cassse I may asssk if they make houssse callsss.”

    At last, the team finally reached the null node that still stubbornly resisted scans. It appeared as a spherical enclosure some twenty metres in diameter, its surface unmarked with no evidence of an entrance or indeed any other kind of seam that might be exploited to gain entry.
    Vonny Dixon finished her circuit of the sphere and approached Kat Gray.

    “Ma’am, whatever it is I honestly don’t see that it could be a safe haven for surviving crew. There are no access points at all. It looks as though however it was manufactured, it was created as a single piece.”

    Kat had very much considered the same thing herself. “Any educated guesses?”

    “If I was basing those guesses on Federation technology, possibly, but any theory would require at least some access.” Vonny shrugged disconsolately. “Besides, despite the relatively familiar appearance of the rest of the ship, or at least what we’ve seen of it so far, its alien Ma’am which means our guesses aren’t really worth very much without further evidence.”

    Kat was about to reply when without warning she was hit from behind and carried to the deck.

    “Everybody! Down!” It was the rasping shout of Asath Ress and it had been his body tackle that had floored Kat Gray. He now knelt over her prone form with his phaser pointed upwards at a small white sphere that hovered silently above them.

    “Where the hell did that come from?” Whispered Kat.

    “It emerged from the sssphere Ma’am. An opening appeared roughly two thirdsss of the way up and it sssimply drifted out.”

    And there it sat making no sound and no movement, the opening having sealed behind it without trace.

    “Mr Ress, get your team to holster weapons.” Seeing that the Ch’Tharian was about to protest, she cut him short. “Lieutenant, if it had meant to harm us it could have done so without warning. That doesn’t mean I don’t want you ready but threatening it isn’t on the cards.”

    Ress reluctantly agreed ordering the team to holster their phasers, but equally advising them to remain alert.

    “Ma’am?” It was Vonny Dixon again who was playing her tricorder across an otherwise unremarkable section of deck.
    Kat slowly rose, dividing her attention between Dixon and the small sphere. “What ya got Ensign?”

    Following Kat’s lead, the rest of the team slowly rose and stood observing the sphere above their heads.

    “It’s similar to a data feed trace, but very faint and it’s heading towards the large sphere.” Dixon slowly backtracked, her concentration fixed on the tricorder as it led her across the deck aft toward a bank of doors.

    “Ma’am, it isss moving.” Ress pointed upwards and indeed the small sphere had moved, very slowly as if trying not to pose a threat, towards Dixon.

    “A little caution Ms Dixon,” whispered Kat, “you’ve attracted somebody’s attention.”

    Dixon looked up and saw the sphere tracking her but now remaining at a constant distance. She visibly gulped but nodded her acceptance of the warning before continuing towards the doors.

    She eventually looked up as she reached the third door in line and pointed with the tricorder. “This is where it goes Ma’am.”

    Kat weighed up the situation and made a decision. “Everybody is to remain in position other than Lieutenant Ress, you’re with me.”

    Walking towards Dixon’s position by the door, the only sound was that of Ress’ talons tapping on the smooth floor behind her. “No automatic opening this time surprise surprise,” she commented almost to herself.

    She began to feel along the edge of the door seeking some sort of indent or blemish that might mark a means of entry. Dixon copied her movements on the other side until Ress tensed and hissed “Ma’am!”

    She looked back and saw the small sphere slowly descending towards them, still not presenting a threat but this time not slowing either. “Step clear of the door, let’s see if it reacts.” They all retreated two or three metres and the sphere eventually ceased its descent, placing itself between them and the door.

    There were no obvious markings on the sphere but Kat had the unerring feeling that it was watching them. Without a sound it rotated 180 degrees, or at least appeared to, and moved over to hover by the door. For several seconds it remained motionless before, with a sound like the whisper of soft silk, the door rippled out of existence. The sphere then moved away from the exposed entrance and halted between Dixon and the other two officers.

    Looking at Ress, Kat quietly suggested “An invitation?”

    Ress looked far from happy as he replied “Or a trap.”

    Deciding there was only one way to find out, Kat went to step towards the door, but halted as the sphere quickly blocked her path. Apparently happy that she wasn’t about to move, it returned to its previous position.

    “Ensign Dixon, I do believe you may have been chosen as its favourite.” She indicated the door. “If you would?”

    Dixon closed her eyes momentarily, took a deep breath, and then slowly walked towards the entrance. The sphere gently bobbed along behind her making no effort this time to stop her.

    “Don’t take it persssonally Ma’am,” Ress snickered.

    “I’ll try not to Lieutenant.” She leaned sideways to follow Dixon with her eyes. “Ok Ensign what do you see?”

    “Whatever it is Ma’am it’s quite a mess. There are what look like term…”

    Her voice was abruptly cut off as the door reformed with the same soft sound as before, then silence.

    “Oh merde!” cursed Kat. She slapped at her commbadge.
    “Gray to Dixon.” The negative connection chirp told her all she needed to know,

    “Merde indeed,” rasped Ress.
     

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