Star Trek: Full Speed Ahead

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Zefram_Cochrane, Jan 30, 2008.

  1. Zefram_Cochrane

    Zefram_Cochrane First Faster Than Light Red Shirt

    Jan 17, 2008
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    :rommie: Yeah, not quite. I mean, the sentiment's in the right place but the execution will be more to Ariel's style. No "noted for future reference, here." Please, how's a guy supposed to hang onto his authority when his eyes keep roaming over her body?

    -- ZC
  2. Zefram_Cochrane

    Zefram_Cochrane First Faster Than Light Red Shirt

    Jan 17, 2008
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    Thanks. :) T'Cirya's part of Leone's inner circle, yes. But not for the reasons you might think. Act III reveals that T'Cirya is Leone's former captain.

    -- ZC
  3. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Sedatives. Highly localized injectible sedatives. :lol:
  4. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    I like this a lot so far. Hargraves is cleary on the war path with plenty of persoanl baggage to ensure this is going to be one dirty fight.

    I thought the counselor was a little too intrusive with her mental probing. I wonder if that's simply her character. In any case as a counselor she proably better served with more sensitivity.

    And talking about sensitvity looks like Kincaid has stepped into a well oiled machine here. I wonder how Leone and Ariel are going to deal with him.

    Oh and what's with that lieutenant's reaction to Ariel?

    A lot of fascinating characters you bringing together here. The most intersting thing is how they'll be working together ... or against each other.
  5. Zefram_Cochrane

    Zefram_Cochrane First Faster Than Light Red Shirt

    Jan 17, 2008
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    Act II is here!


    "Please state your name, rank, position, and assignment for the log."

    "Nieves, Wilson. Lieutenant. Chief of Security, USS Farragut."

    Commander Hargreaves regarded the man seated across from her within the conference room allocated for her investigation. Nieves served as the chief of security on the Potemkin under then-Captain T'Cirya. Leone also served aboard Potemkin, as the executive officer. Undoubtedly, Nieves' relationship with Leone would cloud his judgment, she determined after sizing him up.

    "Lieutenant," she began, "as you may or may not be aware, the Inspector General's office is investigating to determine what, if any, violations of Starfleet regulations occurred while Farragut operated within the territory of the Tristnor Hegemony."

    "I understand," replied Wilson with a nod.

    "I require direct answers to my questions."

    "Commander, should I have counsel present?"

    "These aren't formal proceedings, but if you feel counsel is warranted, you may request it and we can reconvene when your counsel has had some time to prepare," said Hargreaves. "However, it would be difficult to find counsel with high enough clearance to read the mission reports."

    Nieves' expression never wavered, to her dismay. "I take your meaning, sir. I do not require counsel. Please proceed."

    Hargreaves' padd came into view. Her fingers touched it to access some information. "On Stardate 43222, you were listed as being on leave. Why were you aboard Farragut?"

    "I arrived at the Antares Ship Yards on Stardate 43220, along with Lieutenant Commander Ariel Elannis," answered Nieves evenly. "My purpose was to attend the change of command ceremony for Captain Leone, which I did on Stardate 43222."

    "Shortly after, however, the ship was scheduled to conduct warp trials and report for duty here at Starbase 310. Why were you carried on the ship's roster as part of the senior staff rather than as a passenger?"

    "As a gesture, Captain Leone asked me to stand in as the chief of security. Lieutenant Hunter, the appointed officer, was waiting here for Farragut to arrive and assume his duties."

    "Which he never did."

    There it was. The first crack in the hard shell. He showed a brief sign of discomfort with the question, but recovered quickly. "I regret that Lieutenant Hunter was reassigned, but with all due respect, we were competing for the same job. I do not regret wanting to be here for my colleagues, putting me in a position to usurp the position from him. All things being equal, had I been awarded this berth in the first place, I would not have waited for the ship at Starbase 310."

    That answered her next question; whether or not he felt it fair. She moved on. "On Stardate 43224.75, you made contact with the first Tristnor ship. You were ordered to surrender and prepare for boarding, according to the ship's log."

    "Yes, sir."

    "Captain Leone instead gave the order to fire."

    "Not immediately, Commander," replied Nieves with a raise of his hand. "She made several attempts to dissuade them. She stressed that our mission was one of peace. They were unconvinced and maintained their hostile position."

    "You exaggerate, Lieutenant. She informed them once prior to giving the order to fire, unless Captain Leone's own recollection is false. Is that what you're telling me?"

    Another crack. He sure didn't like the implication of calling his captain a liar, did he? "No, sir," he said, coldly. "I did not say anything of the sort. I respectfully submit that you're drawing your own conclusions instead of searching for fact."

    She ignored his barb. "Captain Leone ordered weapons fire upon first contact with a new species, is that correct?"

    "Only after they fired, first."

    "Their primary weapon had already been determined as useless against Federation technology. You believe that such a fruitless attack warranted a disproportionate response?"

    "Their primary weapon was useless, yes, but-"

    She interrupted him, hoping to throw him off-balance. "Thank you, Lieutenant."

    "With all due respect, sir, you're not allowing me to state all the facts."

    Excellent. Now he adopted a defensive stance. It made it easier to dismiss his claims as biased supposition. "Proceed."

    "Thank you. As I was saying, their primary weapon being sonic-based, did prove useless against a non-crystalline hull structure. However, their crystalline-based projectile weapons did carry some effectiveness against our defenses... especially with regard to the shield harmonics, coupled with the fact that we had traveled through a quantum field that played havoc with our systems."

    She countered, expecting his response, "Limited effectiveness, according to the data provided by your chief engineer, Lieutenant Bartlet. Return fire would not have been necessary in order to escape the engagement zone."

    "That's your opinion, sir. May I ask how many years as a starship captain you've served?"

    Hargreaves failed to cover her displeasure quickly enough. She saw the pleasure in the lieutenant's eyes as he most certainly scored a direct hit. "You may not. The destruction of the Tristnor vessel did not go without notice. In your own report, a wide-band transmission detailed a kill-on-sight order from the Hegemony central command. In short, Captain Leone's actions plunged the Federation into a direct conflict with an alien race it knew very little about."

    "With all due respect, Commander, Starfleet Intelligence knows everything we know."

    "Which is, to say, Lieutenant, that you didn't really know much to begin with."

    "Is this an investigation or a prosecution, sir?"

    "I beg your pardon?"

    "I'm a security officer, sir, so I've done my fair share of law enforcement," he replied.

    "I do not recall asking for your service record, Lieutenant. Kindly keep your responses to answering my questions directly and refrain from offering your own speculation."

    "If only you could do the same."

    She narrowed her eyes. "Consider it a direct order, Lieutenant."

    Wilson rose from his seat. "I have nothing more to say on this subject, Commander."

    Hargreaves did the same, putting her hands flat on the table's surface and leaning forward to address him. "I'll decide when this is over. Sit down."

    "If you have a problem with me, I suggest you take it up with my commanding officer." Wilson stopped short of the door and gave a parting shot, "Good luck with your investigation, Commander."

    ---- SCENE CHANGE ----

    As soon as they entered the observation lounge, Ariel raised her hand. "Before you begin, I want to apologize for shortchanging you like that on the bridge. It won't happen again."

    Taken aback by her sudden admission, Jesse stammered, "I-I... all right. I appreciate you saying that."

    "T'Cirya, Krys, Wilson, and I all served together on the Potemkin. We're very familiar with one another," she explained. "I realize that might put you in a position of being on the outside looking in, and I didn't help matters any by talking over you."

    "No, you didn't," he agreed, putting a hand on the back of one of the chairs as she spoke. "I know that you and Captain Leone have a long history of serving with one another, so I might be stepping into a live fire exercise, here, but my position was confirmed by the captain this morning. I intend on carrying out my duties, regardless of whether or not you have a close working relationship with the old lady."

    Ariel smirked. "I dare you to call her that to her face."

    It was a figure of speech used by many Starfleet officers. Referring to the captain as either the "old man" or the "old lady;" no disrespect was intended. In fact, to some it was a term of endearment under the right circumstances. In spite of the usage, he blushed at her words. "And that's another thing."


    "I don't know you. But you speak to me with such casual familiarity, I find it very disrespectful."

    "I'm Ariel Elannis, you're Jesse Kincaid."

    "Commander Jesse Kincaid," he emphasized his rank. "I would prefer to be addressed by my rank or title, until such time as we develop a close working relationship. Am I understood?"

    "The mating call of the candy-ass," she muttered.

    "Excuse me?"

    "When an officer of superior rank underlines his request with 'am I understood' or some other variation, Krys calls that the 'mating call of the candy-ass.' As in a candy-assed officer."

    "I know what it means," he said, letting some of his temper flare. "Am I to understand that you're referring to me as such?"

    Ariel regarded him with a jaundiced eye. "Permission to speak freely?"

    "I think you've already been doing that. But granted."

    "I would say, then, that it remains to be seen. I've served in Starfleet for nearly twenty years, now, include four as enlisted before earning my commission at OCS. Around here, we don't have to rely on our rank to enforce authority. You may think I have contempt for you, but I think you might've forgotten the first rule of command at the Academy, Commander."

    Jesse turned his head, but kept his eyes on her. "And what's that?"

    She stepped in close to him, letting her scent fill his nostrils that he breathed in and felt suddenly at ease. With her voice barely above a whisper, Ariel leaned in and told him, "Attitude reflects leadership."

    He took in a deep breath to steady himself before responding. "You're not making this easy for me."

    She looked down, before looking back up at him. "No, I'm making this pretty hard, apparently."

    "Your... heritage..." he started to say haltingly.

    "Is one of my personal weapons, Commander," she finished for him. "I thought perhaps you needed a demonstration."

    Jesse worked hard to regain control of his senses after the blitzkrieg-like assault. "Stand down, Commander," he ordered.

    Ariel shrugged, taking a step back from him.

    It allowed him a chance to recover enough to direct a bit of his frustration at being so easily manipulated by her. "Your reputation is well-earned," he spat, using the back of the chair a little more now than he did before. He realized what he said, and looked up at her. "I'm sorry. I didn’t mean it like that..."

    "Yes, you did." She sighed. "I'm used to it."

    He blanched at her words. Although she tried to shrug it off, it only made him feel worse to be like everyone else she might've served with that expressed a similar opinion. This was not the way he wanted her to remember him. "No, I apologize. It was completely out of line."

    "Don't worry about it."


    "Look, I understand where you're coming from," she changed the subject. "You're the new guy, and you're joining a team with history. I'll try to help you out where I can, all right?"

    The cloud of words she threw at him did little to cover him his misstep. He stood there, feeling like an absolute heel. "O-Of course. I appreciate any help you can provide me."

    "Are we done?"

    "Yes. Thank you."

    She passed by him to exit using the opposite door, intending to bypass the bridge to get to the turbolift. Obscured from his view, he did not see the quiet smile on her lips as she left.


    Act III coming soon.

    -- ZC
  6. Zefram_Cochrane

    Zefram_Cochrane First Faster Than Light Red Shirt

    Jan 17, 2008
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    Act III is here, as promised.


    "'Convoy duty,'" repeated Leone as she spoke to T'Cirya within her ready room. "You're pulling us off the border to escort a freighter to Deep Space Four?" After the news of the reassignment made it to her ears, she demanded an audience with her.

    The rear admiral, seated on the other side of the desk, merely nodded. "That is correct."

    "May I ask why?"

    "The Inspector General's office-"

    "I'm not about to go rogue with Starfleet hardware, sir. You, of all people, should know that."

    T'Cirya continued speaking, in spite of Leone's interruption, "-feels that due to the investigation, Farragut should be placed on low-priority assignments for the duration. My assessment of the situation is irrelevant. This order came from Starfleet Command, directly, Captain."

    The news of Command's involvement in this investigation put the whole matter into perspective for Leone. She would have to investigate things on her own, from her end, and without T'Cirya's help. She changed the subject, "Who will replace us on the border?"

    "I've ordered Majestic to take your place for the time being."

    Leone frowned, her brow furrowing. "I'll bet Ben Maxwell will be pleased by that."

    "He did express some consternation at having to replace a heavy cruiser with a destroyer, yes. However, as you have your orders, he has his."

    "Very well. I will take my heavily-armed cruiser on a milk run, until the investigation is complete."

    "Those are your orders," said T'Cirya, matter-of-factly. "I trust you will cooperate with the investigator."

    "I'll do my best, although she seems to have already determined my guilt."

    "I am aware of Commander Hargreaves' service record. I brought her record to the attention of Starfleet Command, and they stressed that she be placed on the investigation team."

    Leone's eyes widened. "What?"

    "There was no room for interpretation in their response, and I attempted to contact the Inspector General himself to no avail."

    That was T'Cirya's way of trying to help her out. Leone nodded, but did not smile. "I appreciate that, sir."

    "Unnecessary," replied the admiral as she stood from her seat. "I was merely attempting to assure you had an impartial analysis of your wayward mission."

    Leone rose along with her. "Sir, I..."

    T'Cirya raised her hand and inclined her head. "You're welcome, Captain."

    The captain took in a deep breath and released it. "As soon as the pod's installed, we will depart."

    "Very well. I will take my leave, then."

    "I appreciate you taking the time to see me, sir," said the captain as she escorted the admiral onto the bridge. Mister Reynolds still manned the tactical station, while Greg had the conn.

    T'Cirya's features remained unchanged, but the eyes betrayed their mirth. "I would not pass up the opportunity to tour your new command, Captain."

    Leone grinned. "Of course."

    "Hargreaves to Lieutenant Aspinall," called the investigator from below decks.

    Both the captain and the admiral turned their heads to Greg as he responded with a furtive sigh and slap of his commbadge. "Aspinall, here."

    "Please report to conference room two. Hargreaves, out."

    Leone tilted her head toward the turbolift. "Go ahead, Greg. I'll take the conn."

    ---- SCENE CHANGE -----

    "Please state your name, rank, title, and present assignment for the log."

    "Lieutenant, junior grade, Gregory Aspinall. Lead flight controller, USS Farragut."

    Tricia Hargreaves paused before asking her questions. She had to be very careful with this one. His mother, Vice Admiral Joy Aspinall, was the present vice-chief of Starfleet Operations, which made her the third-highest ranking officer. Investigating to discover charges was one thing, but tampering with Starfleet politics was quite another, and she had had enough dismal luck rising through the ranks as it is.

    "Lieutenant, are you aware of the nature of this investigation?"

    Greg smiled as he placed his clasped hands upon the table. "Yes, sir, I am."

    "You were on the bridge when Farragut entered the quantum field, correct?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "You were also present when the ship encountered the Tristnor Hegemony vessel?"

    "Yes, sir."

    "Did Captain Leone order Farragut to participate in a clandestine operation which resulted in the destruction of a orbiting research facility?"

    "No, sir."

    Hargreaves looked up in surprise. "Excuse me?"

    "I said, 'no, sir.'"

    "Her mission logs indicate-"

    Greg raised a hand. "I understand that one might draw that conclusion, sir, but the fact is that the facility activated their self-destruct program. We never opened fire on the facility directly, only the ships that were attacking us."

    "Three of which were destroyed while you had the conn."

    "Yes, sir," he said proudly. "Captain Leone showed a tremendous amount of confidence in me. I did not want to let her down."

    "Did you not consider this action to be in violation of regulation? General Order Number One, in particular?"

    "Sir, as I understand it, the Prime Directive applies in situations where the development of an alien race may or may not be altered by our intervention."


    "However, in this case, one faction of the war already intervened by bringing the ship to the Beta Quadrant in the first place. Our presence forced us to defend ourselves, which the captain did. I'm sure she was following another regulation, by doing so."

    "But the Prime Directive supersedes all other regulations."

    "I agree, sir. As I said earlier, the captain determined that the Prime Directive doesn't apply, due to the nature of our arrival within Tristnor space."

    "Did you agree with her determination?"

    "Yes, sir, I did."

    "Did you suspect that it was the wrong decision to make?"

    "Well, sir, I figured that Starfleet Command went to the trouble of training Captain Leone and had enough confidence in her to entrust command of the ship to her. I expect that they also entrusted her to make the right decisions."

    "I see." She pretended to be distracted by notes on her padd, but the truth was that she did not have anywhere else left to go with him. The risk to her career was too great and sitting across from her was an officer who could destroy her life with a call home to his mother. "May I ask how you personally felt about the mission?"

    "What do you mean?"

    "Were you happy to return home?" She winced inwardly at such a dumb question.

    Greg smirked. "Is that really part of your fact-finding mission, sir?"

    She made a mental note to edit that part of the log out. "Forget I asked it, please. Instead, I'd like to go over some of your report regarding the first meeting with the Kasui fortress command staff on Stardate 43225. Captain Leone sent Lieutenant Commander Elannis aboard the fortress as a liaison officer. According to another report I have here, it was speculated that Commander Elannis engaged in sexual intercourse with, uh, Prime Barris. Is that correct?"

    "I don't know."

    "What do you mean?"

    "I mean, sir, that I wasn't in the bedroom with them. I don't know if they had sex or not."

    "Could you speculate?"

    "All the time, but I don't think any of that is to be considered fact."

    "Speculate, Lieutenant."

    "I speculate that they fucked their brains out. Sir."

    "Now, let me ask you, as the son of a vice admiral-"

    "Oh, hell."

    "Do you think that to be proper conduct of a Starfleet officer?"

    "Commander, you really don't want my opinion on what is and is not proper conduct."

    She was beginning to become frustrated with the banter. "Let's say that I do."

    "Fine," sighed Greg. "Captain Leone and Commander Elannis are very old friends, and they've served together for a number of years. I'm certain they're aware of their strengths and weaknesses..."

    "I'm not sure I know what you're getting at."

    The helmsman gave her a toothy grin. With a hand he gestured as he spoke, "Come on, Commander. Have you seen Commander Elannis?"

    Hargreaves decided to let that line of questioning go. "On Stardate 43232.5, Captain Leone carried a battalion of Kasui troops with the intent of landing them on the Tristnor facility. Is that correct?"

    "A battalion in the loosest sense of the word, but that's fair, yes."


    "Lieutenant Aspinall, report to the bridge," said Captain Leone over the ship's intercom.

    Greg slapped the table. "Saved by the bell." He slapped his communicator and began to speak, but never got a word from his mouth.

    "Excuse me, Lieutenant," said Hargreaves angrily. "I tell you when to leave, not the captain."

    Captain Leone's stern tone replied on his behalf, "Lieutenant Commander, you don't have the authority to countermand my order. Mister Aspinall, to the bridge. Now."

    "With pleasure, Captain," he replied. Greg could not help but shake his head with a smile on his face as he departed the conference room.


    Act IV on the way.

    -- ZC
  7. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest

    Simply awesome! There's no doubting Leone's crew's loyalty. Hargreaves is going to have a devil of a time putting together a plausible case. I'm beginning to wonder if Hargreaves wasn't sent in order for her to make such an ass out of herself that she torpedoes her own career.

    Terrific stuff, all the way around. Pray continue, good sir!
  8. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    Okay, the first officer is not off to a good start here, is he? And it turns out that Ariel is a pretty damn good manipulator. He asked to speak to her so she could put her in her place and it ends excactly the other way around, pretty impressive.

    I like the ongoing interogation, especially as Hargraves is not getting anywhere so far. But heavens help Leone if she finds something to really bite into here.
  9. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Commodore

    Dec 13, 2003
    Another very strong character study. The first officer's going to have a difficult time of it dealing with the rest of the senior staff unless the captain gives him her full support--otherwise he's going to end up nothing more than a cipher. It'll be interesting seeing how you write the dynamics of this crew. Will Kincaid be able to carve out a niche for himself? Or will he throw in the towel?

    As for Hargreaves--it's obvious Command knows about her history with Leone--who's being set up and by whom is what remains to be seen. An interesting question also arises--is Leone the real target? Remember, Ariel did not acknowledge her order--if she lies to protect Leone...
  10. Zefram_Cochrane

    Zefram_Cochrane First Faster Than Light Red Shirt

    Jan 17, 2008
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    At long last, here is Act IV. We're moving right along.


    As she stepped out from her ready room, Leone regarded the bridge with a smile as everyone manned their stations for the first time since the ship completed its refit. "Listen up," she announced. "We're escorting a convoy of three freighters from Starbase 310 to Deep Space Four. They're already in formation near the inner marker, where we'll join with them and provide protection. Jesse?"

    Commander Kincaid sat in the executive officer's position, and visibly bristled at the use of his first name. "Sir?"

    "Is that new pod attached to our hull for real or is it just decoration?"

    "It is online, sir," he replied as he stood to address Petra. "Mister Bartlet?"

    "I'm finishing up the last of the diagnostic cycles, now, sir," said Petra, from the engineering console. "It will be fully operational before we reach the outer marker."

    Wilson grunted, "It's too bad we won't be able to test it on something."

    "The pod's staying with us for a good long while, Willie. I'm sure we'll be able to find something to shoot at, eventually," noted Ariel as she turned around to face him.

    Leone moved toward the empty center seat and sat down. "Let's not get all trigger-happy, people. Jesse, would you please take us out of dock and into formation with the freighters?"

    He nodded. "Aye, sir. I have the conn. Mister Nieves, signal Starbase Operations for clearance to depart."

    "Aye, Commander," replied Wilson quickly. He began to speak quietly to his console.

    "Mister Elannis, signal all decks to make preparations for departure and clear the airlock for sealing."

    As Ariel acknowledged the order, Wilson announced, "Departure clearance granted, Commander."

    "Lieutenant Bartlet, bring all shipboard energy outputs to condition green status and stand by to switch us over to internal power."

    "Airlock cleared," reported Ariel. "Standing by to seal airlock and clear all mooring beams."

    Bartlet added, "Warp core and fusion reactor energy at normal levels, Commander."

    Commander Kincaid folded his arms over his chest and nodded. "Seal the airlock and switch us over to internal power."

    "Airlock sealed," Ariel told him, immediately.

    The overhead illumination gave the barest of flickers before Petra announced that they had switched from the Starbase's power feed to the energy generated by the ship's fusion generators.

    "Clear all moorings."

    "Moorings cleared."

    "Helm, take us to one hundred meters from the port and then reverse thrust toward the spacedoors."

    Greg keyed in the commands as quickly as possible, since their new first officer had taken to putting his left foot on the base of his console and stood over him. "One hundred meters, aye, sir. Engaging reverse thrusters, now."

    "Rear angle on main viewer."

    The viewscreen flashed briefly to show the one of the sets of massive doors. They began to open as Farragut approached under its maneuvering thrusters rather than the impulse drive. By the time they reached the departure lane both doors slid open to rest flush against the outer hull of the base.

    "We're in the lane," reported Greg. "Thirty seconds to outer perimeter."

    Kincaid pushed away from the flight controller's station to return to his seat next to Captain Leone. "Stand by to engage impulse drive."

    "Standing by."

    "Mister Nieves, secure from condition blue and set condition green for cruising mode."

    Wilson nodded from above him. "Aye, sir." The alert status indicator on the main bridge ceased its cobalt flash and quieted. "Ship secured from condition blue, Commander."

    Open space greeted them as they passed through the doors. "Helm, come to relative bearing one-eight-zero Mark zero and take us to the outer marker at one-half impulse power."

    "Making my course one-eight-zero Mark zero relative, aye, sir," replied Greg. The screen showed the stars angling around as the ship's bow and stern traded places. "Speed is now one-half impulse power."

    The Starbase on the main view loomed for a moment before retreating as the ship sped away from it. "Forward angle on main viewer," ordered Kincaid.

    "The lead freighter is the SS Cat's Meow," Captain Leone informed them, "Captain Paul Longshore is the owner and operator."

    The scan readings on Ariel's console returned immediately. She noted, "Looks like three Puma-class carriers."

    "Lead ship is hailing," reported Wilson.

    Kincaid nodded. "On screen."

    The trio of ships disappeared to give way to the view of a human male wearing civilian clothing. His shaggy mop of blonde hair covered the tops of his eyes, and he had to tilt his head back to get a good look at them. "Captain Leone, I presume?"

    Leone slipped from her chair and onto her feet as she replied with a smile, "You presume correctly. Is this Captain Longshore?"

    "In the flesh, ma'am," he replied with a nod. "Paul Manfield Longshore, owner and operator of the Crazy Eights Transport Company and master and commander of the Cat's Meow, at your service."

    Leone decided to forgo the correction of the honorific; he meant well by it. "Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Captain."

    "Likewise, ma'am," he grinned. "We've been contracted by the Federation for a shipment of hazardous materials to Deep Space Four. We're mighty glad you decided to join us."

    "Your HazMat code?"

    "Code X-Ray-One."

    With the exception of Captain Leone, everyone tensed at the mention of the worst kind of hazardous material the Federation classified. X-Ray, level one indicated that whatever his cargo was, it was highly volatile and posed a dangerous threat to Federation citizens. Leone nodded; Admiral T'Cirya made her aware of the danger in the mission briefing, but she wanted her crew to know as well. Better they heard it from the horse's mouth directly.

    "All of your freighters are classified similiarly?" she asked.

    "Correct, Captain. Due to the instability of our cargo, we recommend warp five for the convoy speed."

    Leone sighed, but gave her assent with a slight inclination of her head. "Agreed. As soon as we clear the Starbase's outer marker, we will proceed at warp five." She approached Ariel's seated position and declared, "Lieutenant Commander Elannis will be the convoy liaison officer. Please contact her should you require anything."

    Longshore's eyes drifted toward Ariel, then back up at the captain. "Will do. We'll await your signal to proceed."

    "You'll have it momentarily, Captain. Farragut, out." As soon as the viewscreen blinked to show the freighters, she turned around to return to her seat. "Jesse, let's get underway."

    "Aye, sir. Helm?"

    Greg nodded. "We're now in formation with the freighters, Commander."

    "Signal the convoy we're approaching the outer marker at full impulse power."

    Wilson reported, "Signal sent, sir."

    "The freighters are moving to maintain their distance." Ariel tapped in a few more commands. "Recommend diamond formation for maximum coverage."

    Kincaid stood from his seat again. "Agreed. Mister Nieves?"

    "Updating the convoy, now, sir." Wilson waited patiently for their response. "They're moving into position, now."

    "Confirmed," replied Ariel.

    Greg announced, "We're clearing the outer marker."

    "Stand by for warp speed, Mister Bartlet."

    Petra called from the rear of the bridge, "Aye, sir. Warp speed available on all modes."

    "Lay in a course for Deep Space Four at warp five."

    "Course laid in, sir."


    Greg replied, "Engaging. Speed is now warp five, sir."

    Leone leaned over and smiled, "Well done, Jesse."

    Kincaid lowered his voice, but did not return the smile. "Thank you, sir. And might I ask a favor?"

    "What is it?" asked the captain, keeping her voice low.

    "I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't use my first name, sir."

    "Yeah..." replied Leone with a half-smirk. "We haven't really had The Talk, have we?"

    "No, sir."

    "Ariel, you have the bridge."

    ---- SCENE CHANGE ----

    Within the privacy of the ready room, Captain Leone had the service record of her new executive officer in front of her as he sat across from her with a expectant expression upon his face. As they moved into the room from the bridge, she said nothing to him. And as she suspected, he was a good enough of an officer not to speak out of turn, especially since his captain requested his presence in the first place.

    "Let's get the most pressing matter out of the way, first," Leone began. "You don't like being called by your first name? What would you prefer?"

    "I don't mean any disrespect, sir-"

    Leone interrupted, "Neither do I."

    "I just... I mean, no one's ever called me by that name since I left home for the Academy."

    "Do you prefer Miguel?"

    "My middle name? Uh, no, sir... I've always been referred to as my rank and last name."

    The captain tilted her head. "And your friends?"

    "They call me Jess."

    "So, you prefer me to call you Jess?"

    A brief look of consternation flashed on his features before he composed himself. "With all due respect, sir..."

    "Speak freely, Jess. You're my XO, so I'm going to expect some straightforwardness from you."

    "Thank you, sir. As I was saying... with all due respect, I would rather you refer to me as my rank and last name."

    "Am I not a friend to you, Jess?"

    "I didn't mean that, sir."

    "But you said that only friends call you by your first name, and now you're telling me otherwise."

    Her executive officer's face wrote the definition of the word perplexed. "Sir, I don't mean to imply that you... I mean, I apologize if you read any impropriety into my statement, I just meant to say that I'm a little more formal than you might be used to."

    She said nothing, instead fixing her most severe glare upon him.

    He tried not to squirm under her scrutiny, but the long pause in the conversation eventually began to wear him thin. "Sir?"

    Enough was enough. Leone's lips broke into a smile. "I apologize, Commander. I was having a little fun at your expense."

    Kincaid let out a held breath and sighed. "I see..."

    "I think the first thing you need to do is head down to the ship's stores and requisition yourself a sense of humor."

    "I'm not used to this type of command style, I guess..."

    "No, you're not," she replied, dropping any pretense of humor. "I don't hide behind the trappings of titles. I may be the master and commander of this starship, but this crew operates as a team."

    "I agree, sir, wholeheartedly. However, I do observe standard Starfleet protocol when addressing my subordinates. Aboard the Valdemar, I enforced the wishes of Captain Masterson, and he allowed me a wide latitude when it came to handling the crew," said Kincaid. "I'm used to that style of leadership."

    Leone nodded. "I'm a little more hands-on with the crew than your typical starship captain."

    He snorted, "I noticed."

    "That's more like it," she said with a grin. "You need to unclench a little. Sounds like Captain Masterson ran a tight ship."

    "Yes, sir. He sure did," he said with an edge to his tone. "I believe that I left a ship in excellent discipline.

    "Discipline can be maintained under many circumstances, Commander. I don't subscribe to the notion that it can only be achieved through distance and formality."

    "I will submit myself to your instruction, sir."

    "Don't do that."


    "Don't couch your responses in clichés. Don't fall back on the formality when you think you need to say something bluntly."

    He sighed. "Maybe you need someone else for the job, sir."

    Leone leaned forward. "You're going to run away, now?"

    "No, sir, but it seems to me that you'd prefer someone a little more..." he trailed off, searching for the right word to use.

    She helpfully filled in, "Loose?"




    "No," she replied with a short exhalation. "I don't think so."


    "I know I've made the right choice." She grinned. "Unless you're telling me that you're presuming to second guess my judgment."

    "No, sir, I wouldn't want to presume anything."

    "Good, then it's settled. Your presence here is serendipitous. It's a decree from on high."

    Kincaid chuckled, "Yes, sir." The chuckle settled into a wide smile. "I suppose it is."

    "Then given that we're both in the right place at the right time, do you think that perhaps you would let me call you 'Jess?'"

    He took his time in responding. His eyes fell down to the desk for a long time before he lifted them back up to her. With a wide grin, he told her, "With all due respect, sir, I would really like it if you called me Jesse."


    I'm working on Act V and interestingly enough, I'm doing a lot of writing on Episode Six. Please let me know what you think.

    Thanks for reading,

    -- ZC
  11. Zefram_Cochrane

    Zefram_Cochrane First Faster Than Light Red Shirt

    Jan 17, 2008
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    Yeah, I had a good laugh while I was writing it. I figured that if I found it funny, you guys would find it hilarious, too :)

    -- ZC
  12. Zefram_Cochrane

    Zefram_Cochrane First Faster Than Light Red Shirt

    Jan 17, 2008
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    Ariel's a sly little minx, isn't she? There's a lot going on there and we're only into episode four. The fifth episode has another scene that you might find interesting... I have it outlined, and I'm eying it like the last slice of really good cake, y'know?

    -- ZC
  13. Zefram_Cochrane

    Zefram_Cochrane First Faster Than Light Red Shirt

    Jan 17, 2008
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    See Act IV for the Leone/Kincaid discussion. And it centers around the use of his name. ;)

    Hargreaves' presence there is not as much of a coincidence as Leone might think it is. Everything happens for a purpose. :)

    -- ZC
  14. Zefram_Cochrane

    Zefram_Cochrane First Faster Than Light Red Shirt

    Jan 17, 2008
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    And now, Act V of Episode Four, "Milk Run."


    "Please state your name, rank, title, and present assignment for the record."

    "I am Lieutenant Petra Gisele Bartlet. I am the chief engineering officer of the USS Farragut."

    Hargreaves felt guilty for even asking the question in the first place. The diminutive nature of the engineer, coupled with her timid demeanor, went well beyond the normal aggressive stance she usually took with deposing potential witnesses. "You were logged in as being with the ship while it was trans-located to the Beta Quadrant."

    "Yes, sir."

    "May I ask where you were when the ship was pulled into the quantum field?"

    "On the bridge, at my station."

    "Is your station not in main engineering?"

    Petra's eyes darted away from Hargreaves' hard glare. "N-Normally, I would be, yes. But, I was m-monitoring the p-primary systems in preparation for the warp trials."

    "But those trials were never conducted."

    "No, sir."


    "I-I mean," said Petra, closing her eyes as she tried to compose herself, "I only meant that the trials were completed after we returned."

    Hargreaves made the proper notation; more of a note to herself regarding to how to handle this officer in future sessions. "I see," she told her. "How did they go?"

    Petra sighed and her stuttering reduced significantly as she launched into an area of comfort. "Very well. The navigational deflector required degaussing, but I felt the replacement of the warp coils following the second trip through the field had less of an impact than the first one did. If it weren't for the fact that we had complete replacements aboard for the trials, we might have been stranded there with no means of achieving FTL speeds."

    "Er, yes," replied Hargreaves, losing her grip on the technospeak. "Of course. Were you also on the bridge while Captain Leone issued her order to join the Tristnor conflict?"

    "I was on the bridge limitedly, as I had a limited engineering staff and there was a lot of damage to be repaired. I was not on the bridge when she altered course to arrive at the Kasui fortress."

    She looked at her notes in surprise. "You weren't?"

    "N-No, I was overseeing repairs below decks."

    "I'm sorry, I guess I had some incorrect information," she lied. Hargreaves pretended to look through her notes, to give the chief engineer the impression that she had the upper hand. "Uh, bear with me, please."


    "Okay, so after the decisions had been made to place Farragut within the conflict, did you have any opinions on captain's decision?"

    "Not really, sir."

    "None at all?"

    "No, sir. My job was to keep the ship in excellent working repair. The captain is burdened to make those kinds of decisions, as Starfleet expects her to," said Petra, matter-of-factly. "Although..."


    "I mean, I know we're supposed to maintain a tight grip on regulations."


    "In some other way, I suppose the captain might have parted with the spirit of the Prime Directive by interceding."

    "In some other way?"

    "Well, I mean if we were on an exploration mission, and we made first contract with a race that was in the middle of a civil war, I could see that the Prime Directive would most definitely apply."

    Hargreaves grinned. She finally got one of her officers to admit it was a violation! "That's the way I see it, as well."

    "If I might be allowed to continue, sir?"

    "Of course."

    "We did not make first contact with them, sir. They deliberately sought us out, and determined that the best chance for success was through an underhanded maneuver to force us into a position to fight our way out," explained Petra. "Shall I continue, sir?"

    "Might as well," sighed Hargreaves.

    Petra grinned. "I know it's not the answer you were looking for, sir, but you did ask my opinion. The fact is that I believe that the captain came to the right conclusion. They brought us there in order to force our hand, and there was very little choice in the matter."

    "Of course, she had a choice, Lieutenant... she could have turned tail and warped out of there."

    "Since we're playing armchair captain, sir, I don't think we would have survived a long trip back. We had limited weapons, a limited tank of deuterium, and a limited supply of antimatter. There would have been a need to trade or barter with aliens we've never heard of before, and that would have placed us at a much greater risk in the long term."

    "W-Well," stammered Hargreaves, "I think I have everything I need for now, Lieutenant. If I have any further need for you..."

    Petra rose, seemingly not so timid anymore. With a little smile, she nodded. "Of course, sir. You know where to find me."

    ---- SCENE CHANGE ----

    "That sounds like a hell of an interrogation to me."

    Within the lounge on deck ten, four of the nine senior officers sat around a table in one of the dark corners of the dimly-lit room. Three of them looked toward Greg, who just finished recounting his experience with Commander Hargreaves within the conference room.

    The helmsman chuckled. "Yeah, I thought I did very well, but I'm sure I'm going to be called at any moment for round two."

    "As amusing a story as that is, I do not find anything illogical about this investigation," said Doctor Sovera, enjoying a glass of water while the other enjoyed something stronger. "The Inspector General's office is entitled to discover whether the captain acted improperly."

    Wilson looked at the doctor with an accusatorial glare. "You think there's merit to their case?"

    "Not at all. I was merely pointing out that they're acting within their province. I found the captain's actions to be very logical under the mitigating circumstances of the predicament, though perhaps trending toward the unconventional."

    Ariel snorted. "Perhaps, yes. Anyway, I can't wait for her to get to me."

    "I'd love to sell tickets to that show," muttered Greg. "Maybe Wilson can make the popcorn or-"

    The ship shuddered underneath them and the red alert klaxon wailed. As the ship noticeably slowed to impulse speeds outside the forward viewport, the voice of Commander Kincaid called out over the ship's public address. "Red alert. All senior officers report to the bridge."

    No other words were spoken. Everyone emptied out of the lounge as they moved to get to their duty stations under the heightened state of readiness. The four of them arrived on the bridge at the same time and took their positions.

    Captain Leone sat on the bridge as everyone slipped into place. She brought them up to speed, quickly. "One of the freighters has just been destroyed with all hands. There was no warning and no signs of trouble beforehand." She rose from her seat and addressed the bridge, "We're not moving a damned inch until we find out why."


    I'm already working on episode five, "Eternal Midnight." Please send over your feedback :)

    Thanks for reading,

    -- ZC
  15. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    Oh no, Code X-Ray-One! I sense bad things are about to unfold. Why did it have to be Code X-Ray-One? :lol:

    Especially liked the Kincaid/Leone segment here. You write your dialogue with a lot of wit making your characters feel very real.

    Obviously any loose ship needs one guy whose a stickler for the rules. I was a bit disappointed that Leone won that round so easily (I guess, she's a smart gal) but hopefully they'll be more clashes here in the future.

    Very well done.
  16. Zefram_Cochrane

    Zefram_Cochrane First Faster Than Light Red Shirt

    Jan 17, 2008
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    LOL, I got that code from Starfleet Dynamics as a hazardous materials classification.

    Thanks. That's a real nice compliment :)

    Most definitely.

    Thanks for reading! :)

    -- ZC
  17. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Commodore

    Dec 13, 2003
    I also enjoyed the Kincaid/Leone dialogue--Like CeJay, I'm hoping that Kincaid will hold his own a bit more in the future as this character has great potential. While a stickler for the rules, he's by no means a martinet--at least I hope he isn't. To be honest, I'm hoping he'll be able to hold his own against Ariel and even Leone when necessary.

    And, it's looking like the 'milk run' isn't going to be such a milk run after all...
  18. Zefram_Cochrane

    Zefram_Cochrane First Faster Than Light Red Shirt

    Jan 17, 2008
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    Kincaid's just another patch in the quilt called Farragut. He's got some secrets, though, and I'm looking forward to exploring those. I've been holding off on writing his complete bio on the Star Trek Expanded Universe wiki because it might give away too much detail before it's time.

    And yeah, I went for irony on titling this story Milk Run ;)

    -- ZC
  19. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Dec 5, 2007
    Between the candle and the flame
    I forsee Kincaid getting the upper hand at some point when his regulation-quoting proves to be a viable solution-but that's just my speculation. Really enjoying the interrogation scenes!
  20. Zefram_Cochrane

    Zefram_Cochrane First Faster Than Light Red Shirt

    Jan 17, 2008
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    The interrogation scenes allow me to do some character exposition. For example, in the last act, we learned Petra's middle name is Gisele. Greg's mother is the current Vice-Chief of Starfleet Operations. I like scenes where I get to show you more of their background.

    Oh, and did I mention that Ariel's scene is coming up? :)

    -- ZC