Star Trek: Republic

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by MasterArminas, Mar 4, 2012.

  1. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    I normally write BattleTech fiction, or my own unique stories, solely for myself and those folks who follow along on Spacebattles or Our BattleTech. But I have always had a hankering to write a piece of fiction for Star Trek. On February 1 of this year, I sat down and began to write. That's right. I started writing this 33 days ago. And I have more than 60,000 words finished, in Verdana 10 font on Microsoft Word. The story has written itself more than anything.

    On Spacebattles, we have gone through 1,250 replies and seventy pages of posts over three threads; and I really must thank them for their advice and support. The story itself isn't finished, but I have so far managed at least one, sometimes two or three, snippets of a chapter a day. Right now, we are up to Chapter 18 and got a bit further yet to go.

    I welcome any and all comments, suggestions, advice, critiques, or criticisms that you good folks might be willing to offer. This is my first attempt to write a Star Trek story. I might get some canon facts wrong; I certainly do not know all there is to know about Star Trek technology and equipment. But I think I can craft a good story that fits into the established universe. And I hope that you all come along for the ride.

    Republic is a Korolev-class starship, a heavy cruiser slightly larger and more robust than an Excelsior. At the time of the story, she has been commissioned in Star Fleet service for nearly four decades and is one of several ship classes (including the Ambassador-class) that preceded the introduction of the Galaxy- and Nebula-class ships.

    The Korolev-class is mentioned in canon, but very little is known about it. During my many internet spelunking expeditions, I came across a website known as the Advanced Starship Design Bureau. This is where I first saw what the Korolev-class might look like; and it gave me the inspiration for this story.

    Here is what the USS Republic (NCC-51497) looks like, gentlemen. Based upon the work of the good men and women at ASDB.

    These schematics were NOT created by me; they are the work of Jason and Kris (among others) from the ASDB (Advanced Starship Design Bureau).

    Their work (and other peoples work) can be found here ( ) so take the time to browse through the site and enjoy the sights (no pun intended).

    And here are three size comparison charts with both canon and ASDB ships (side, front, and top):

    Ok. I had an idea for the story and now I knew what Republic looked like, and how big she was. But that is literally all that I know about the class. So, in the finest tradition of authors everywhere, I made up the stats on the Korolevs. I decided that they were intended to replace the Excelsior-class vessels as modern workhorses and appeared on the scene after the introduction of the Ambassador-class.

    Based on the drawings, I determined that she mounts nine Type IX phaser array strips (two dorsal on the saucer, three ventral on the saucer, one ventral on the engineering section, one dorsal on the engineering section, and two port/starboard on the warp nacelle pylons). She is also equipped with five photon torpedo launchers, four mounted forward (two banks of two) and one aft, with a total loadout of 200 torpedoes and probes. The Korolevs torpedoes launchers are unable to fit the latest generation of quantum torpedoes and are restricted to conventional photon torpedoes. The launchers are restricted to a single torpedo per tube and each tube is fed from a five-torpedo ready magazine. Each tube requires four seconds to reload (from the ready magazines), giving the class a sustained fire rate of one torpedo a second from its four forward launchers. Once the ready magazines are emptied, the ship requires 30-seconds to reload from its storage magazines.

    Her original shields were on par with the Ambassador- and Excelsior-class ships, but after Wolf 359 she was refitted with newer generators bringing her defenses up to the same standard as a Galaxy or Nebula.

    The Korolev-class also featured two separate impulse engines, mounted on the saucer section just inboard of each warp nacelle. A distinct improvement over earlier impulse drive systems mounted on the Ambassador- and Excelsior-class ships, these provided the Korolevs with the capability to 0.9c at full power, although she normally cruises at 0.25c to minimize fuel consumption and to avoid relativistic effects. Maneuverability was also improved over the older ships.

    The LF-23 warp engines on the Korolev-class were modified versions of the LF-17s fitted to the Ambassadors. Many in Star Fleet (at the time that the design was debuted) considered the new vessels to be far overpowered for their size and mission. Indeed, although the new cruisers were barely more than a third as massive as the Ambassadors, their matter-antimatter warp cores were able to generate 69.7% of the larger explorers total power output. The engineers who designed the Korolevs knew exactly what they were doing, however. The sheer mass and volume of the Ambassadors meant that those ships could only be towed by another Ambassador; not even the current generation of fleet tugs in Star Fleet inventory was able to retrieve a badly damaged Ambassador at warp.

    But the Korolevs, using those overpowered warp nacelles and a new generation of more powerful tractor beam generators (the most powerful fitted to any Star Fleet vessel prior to the introduction of the Galaxy class), was designed to be able to extend her warp field and take an Ambassador in tow at speeds of up to Warp 6 for up to eighty-four hours.

    Originally rated for a cruise speed of Warp 6 (a speed that the cruiser can maintain indefinitely), trials and field tests of the prototypes revealed that these new ships were able to sustain a much higher speed for far longer than existing ships: Warp 7 for as long as twenty days, Warp 8 for up to a week, and Warp 9 for more than 48 hours. Maximum rated speed was an impressive (for the time) Warp 9.5 and the Korolev’s once again proved that endurance they had in spades, with the ability to sustain that speed for two hours.

    Unfortunately, the overpowered, overbuilt engines proved to be inefficient and costly to maintain, requiring 128% more man-hours than the warp drives of the Excelsior-class. Furthermore, it was soon discovered that the stress and strain placed on the warp coils gave them an effective service life half that of either the Ambassadors or Excelsiors. This explains, in part, why the Korolevs did not fully replace the older Excelsiors in Star Fleet inventory. Although there have been several refits proposed that would replace the LF-23s aboard these ships with newer and more efficient warp drives, the difficulty of refitting these ships engines and power plant has scuttled those proposals every time.

    The Korolevs featured a greatly reduced crew in comparison with the Excelsiors, relying more on automated systems and computer-assisted diagnostics. The ship requires a complement of 382 officers and crew, with space for an additional 118 passengers or mission specialists. The crew live on 18 seperate habitable decks. Under emergency conditions, a Korolevs life support system can handle up to 1,000 total personnel for a minimum period of two months (under extreme conditions, nearly 2,000 refugees can be packed aboard ship, but the life support, food replicators, and waste recycling systems would be strained to say the least).

    The vessel embarks a dozen shuttle craft (mainly Type 6) in four seperate bays, plus a warp capable Captain's Gig in a ventral hull dock located beneath Shuttle Bays 3 and 4. Scientific research labs are considered adequete for most missions, but the latter Galaxy- and Nebula-class ships proved far more capable in that role. The ships were equipped with the best sensor arrays available at the time and that aspect of the class has been constantly updated.

    Six transporter rooms (four standard and two emergency) are standard, along with two cargo transporters. Refits have provided with Korolev-class with two holodecks, plus a holographic shooting range for Security personnel. Three tractor beam generators are fitted, one forward along the ventral hull beneath the deflector dish, and two astern (dorsal and ventral).

    The Korolevs were designed for long duration patrols and exploration, and each carries sufficent supplies and fuel for a five-year mission. There are also four cargo holds, with roughly 50% more available internal volume for emergency supplies and parts than an Excelsior.

    Several of these ships are present in Galaxy Exploration Command, although the lion's share are part of the so-called Blue Fleet, the Andorian contingent of Star Fleet command. The vessels of the Blue Fleet are extensively used to protect and defend Federation member systems and colonies and are only seldom used for general exploration. Although being replaced by Akira-class vessels in the Blue Fleet, the toughness, strategic speed, and research capacities of the Korolev-class have resulted in more and more of these vessels being dispatched as research vessels in situations where the new Nova-class is considered in jeopardy.

    The Korolev-class is certain to remain a signifcant member of Star Fleet for decades yet to come.

    Anyway, that is my take on the Republic. If you have any suggestions, ideas, advice, or comments, I would love to hear them. And thank you all, once again. I hope that you enjoy this humble work.

    Master Arminas
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
  2. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    Star Trek: Republic

    A work of fan-fiction based upon the Star Trek universe created by Gene Roddenberry

    Authored by Stephen T Bynum

    All rights reserved

    Chapter One

    Matt leaned back in his chair and considered the data that flashed on his desktop screen. Frowning, he went back and annotated one section of the analysis on USS Bessemer’s first contact with a warp capable civilization in the Zeta Scorpius binary system. Finally satisfied that all of the information requested by the Federation Council was present—and in a readable fashion—he saved the data file and forwarded it onwards and upwards. And he sighed as he closed his eyes and rubbed his aching leg.

    The damn thing still wasn’t healing properly, and because of the injury Star Fleet Medical had pulled him off the line and stuck him here, in the bloated bureaucracy of Star Fleet Command. He removed the reading glasses that he wore and rubbed his weary eyes.

    Six months. Six months had passed since he left the hospital ward, and still he was trapped here in these labyrinthine corridors hemmed in by bureaucrats who hadn’t logged a single hour in space for years. And with the downsizing of the Star Fleet following the conclusion of the Dominion War, it was unlikely in the extreme that he would ever get a chance to stand . . . well, sit, he thought ruefully rubbing his leg, on the bridge of a Starship again.

    Why he didn’t just resign his commission and go home remained an open question. He had considered it over the past months as one doctor after the next refused to certify him for space. But the thought of that empty house, and an empty life had made him delay time and again. But he couldn’t keep putting off the decision, not for much longer. Although Star Fleet was stronger—in absolute terms—than it had been at any point in the last century, there were fewer actual Starships in the Fleet. More powerful ships, true, but the sheer losses suffered in the Dominion War had outpaced the ability of Federation shipyards to commission new vessels into service.

    And the damage suffered by Federation member planets meant that, once again, the Federation Council was turning its resources to the so-called Peace Dividend, trying to recover the damage on Earth, Bajor, Betazed, and dozen other member and associated systems. Once the last of the wartime time construction was complete, only a trickle of new ships would emerge each year. And fewer ships meant Star Fleet would have little need for a Captain, especially one who was barely mobile.


    The monitor flashed and Matt frowned at the display. He accepted the call, and the screen blanked and then presented the image of a Lieutenant wearing the aiguillettes that marked her as an aide to a member of the Admiralty.

    “Captain Dahlgren?” the Lieutenant asked.

    “Yes. How may I assist you today, Lieutenant?”

    “Admiral Parker requests your presence in his office, Captain, at your earliest convenience.”

    Matt slowly nodded, even as his heart sank. “Very well, Lieutenant. I will be right there.”

    The Star Fleet officer shut down his terminal and made certain that all was in order. Then he reached down and grabbed the hickory cane he had started using to help him walk. He stood, wincing as his right leg protested by sending a stabbing pain deep into the bone. And then he left his cubicle and walked over to the tubolift.

    “Floor 27,” he said, and the lift began to accelerate upwards.

    The lift slowed and the doors hissed open. Matt exited the lift and gritted his teeth as he limped down the hallway to Parker’s office. The young Lieutenant looked up and then she whispered into a headset; after waiting for a reply, she nodded at the older man. “The Admiral is expecting you, Captain.”

    Matt walked into the office, where Josiah Parker raised his head and smiled. “Matt, come on it and take a seat. You have met Commodore Jurood, haven’t you?” he said as he introduced the blue-skinned Andorian officer sitting in front of Parker’s desk.

    The Captain extended his hand to the Andorian and nodded his greetings. “No sir. I have, of course, heard of him and his actions at the Battle of Betazed. I have not had the pleasure to make his acquaintance, however.”

    Jurood shook his head, the antennae twitching in amusement. “I was lucky at Betazed, Captain Dahlgren. Nothing more.”

    “Fortune favors the brave and the bold, Commodore. And, may I say, you were certainly both at that engagement.”

    The Andorian inclined his head slightly, but said nothing as Matt sat down.

    Parker frowned. “So how’s the leg?”

    “You probably know more about than I do, Admiral. Star Fleet Medical keeps hemming and hawing about when I can resume active duty—and none of them will give me a straight answer.”

    The Admiral waved that concern away. “I wasn’t asking about what the doctors think, Matt: how is it?”

    “It hurts like hell, Admiral. But I can move around and I can do my job. And it is healing.” Slowly, Matt thought, but damn it is healing.

    Parker leaned back in his chair and exchanged a look with Jurood. “You know what the doctors will say.”

    The Andorian made a rude noise. “What they always say: a Star Fleet officer must be at 100% of health and fitness before deployment. Nonsense. If he says he is ready, then he is ready. But you knew that already, Josiah.”

    Matt sat up a little straighter. What the hell? They aren’t talking like they are going to send me to the beach, they are talking like . . . and then he began to smile.

    Josiah Parker returned it with a grin of his own. “Well, Matt? Are you up to taking the center seat again?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “Good. I’ve got a ship in Spacedock right now that I am in desperate need of a Captain for. She’s the Republic, Matt.”

    Matt’s grin grew wider. “She was a fine ship when I served on her as an Ensign fresh out of the Academy, Admiral. And the Korolev’s just get better with age.”

    “I take it then that you have not heard why Republic is in Dock, Captain Dahlgren?” asked Jurood in a sour voice.

    “No sir. I wasn’t even aware she was in system.”

    “Last month, she responded to a distress call from Omicron Cygnii II. A series of Class IV volcanic eruptions destabilized the tectonic plate on which the colony was originally placed, and the colonists required immediate evacuation.”

    Matt winced. “That is right on the Gorn border.”

    Parker nodded somberly. “And forever the opportunists, the Gorn responded as well, planning on claiming the system—and its mineral resources—once the Federation colonists were offworld. They didn’t interfere with Republic, but as you can imagine, the colonists were not all that happy with the situation. Captain Linda Bates had sent her executive officer down to the surface to coordinate the evacuation, but once the colony government realized that the Gorn were going to claim the planet for themselves they balked at leaving.”

    “Bates transported down to try and convince the leaders that they simply had to abandon the mines and their homes, even as the climatic conditions worsened.”

    Jurood shook his head sadly. “And that is when the stress fields on the colony’s shields overloaded one of their generators, Captain Dahlgren. It exploded, killing Captain Bates and wounding her first officer.”

    “Lt. Commander George Harrison was the officer left in command of Republic. And he panicked. Somehow, he was convinced that the Gorn had caused the explosion and opened fire on their cruiser.”

    Matt blinked once. And then twice. His jaw dropped. “He what?”

    “He took her under fire from Republic, and he disabled her warp drive. But he didn’t stop her from sending a sub-space transmission that she was under attack by a Federation vessel. And the Gorn sent reinforcements.”

    “By the time they arrived,” Admiral Parker continued, “Harrison had been informed that the explosion was not caused by the Gorn and he attempted to placate them. He failed. They moved in to attack Republic—three of their modern Hrass’ka-class cruisers—and Harrison ran. He abandoned his away team and the colonists and fled.”

    “He was a coward, Captain Dahlgren,” Jurood added. “And the Gorn slaughtered the colonists and the federation personnel he left behind on the ground. The Council has managed to resolve the situation, but that leaves Star Fleet with the question of what to do with Republic and her crew.”

    “Harrison is under arrest, technically. He suffered a complete mental breakdown after he realized what the Gorn would do to his shipmates and the colonists—he’s been in a state of catatonia every since. But the ship’s morale is among the worst that I have ever witnessed; the crew blame themselves for following Harrison’s orders and abandoning a Federation colony after they opened fire on an innocent bystander,” the Admiral finished and he shook his head sadly.

    “All of Republic’s officers and senior NCOs have been reassigned. But her crew has not improved; she isn’t a happy ship at all, Matt. With the Fleet stretched as far as it is, I can’t simply disband and dismiss the crewmen—and they deserve a chance at rehabilitation. No other ship in Star Fleet wants them, however. So, we have decided to keep them together, assign new officers and senior non-commissioned ranks, and hopefully restore Republic her honor. Are you up for the task of doing so?”

    “Yes, sir,” Matt said, even though he stomach lurched. “When do I meet my officers?”

    “1800 hours. There is a briefing scheduled here at Star Fleet Command. I have to warn you; I pulled in just about every seasoned officer and rating I could from leave, shore assignments, and the Academy, but many of them haven’t been in space for years. And most of your junior officers are fresh out of the Academy as well.”

    “Who is my XO?”

    “That is up to you. I’ve got four eligible officers in this data-file that you can choose from; of course, if you aren’t satisfied with them, I’ll try and find you someone you can trust.”

    “What about Chan Shrak?”

    Parker raised an eyebrow, and Jurood laughed. “An excellent choice, if I may say so myself.”

    “He is available, Matt, but are you certain you want Shrak as your XO? The man’s ideas on discipline are positively medieval—and the majority of Republic’s crew is human. An Andorian executive officer is rare in Star Fleet outside of all-Andorian ships.”

    “He’s a solid officer, Admiral; I have known him for years. And his last assignment was aboard the Korolev-class Andor, the flagship of your Blue Fleet, Commodore. So he is intimately familiar with the ship’s systems. I think his ideas on discipline and training are precisely the medicine that Republic’s crew needs right now. And I know that I can work with him.”

    Parker rose, followed by Jurood and Matt. “In that case, Captain Matthew Dahlgren, I will have the orders cut immediately. God bless you and your new ship Captain, and good hunting,” he said as he extended his hand, a hand that Matt took and gave a firm shake.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2012
  3. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    Chapter Two

    Matt limped out onto the stage of one of the larger briefing rooms at Star Fleet Headquarters. Nearly two hundred seats were arranged in stadium seating in a half-circle around him, providing all of the attendees with unblocked line of sight to the speaker and the view screen behind him. One hundred and twenty-six of those seats were filled by men and women; primarily humans, but there were a few Vulcans and Tellarites and Betazoids and Trill and other Federation races among them. A white-haired and blue-skinned Andorian standing on the stage nodded and the shrill piping of a bosun’s whistle sounded. The commissioned and non-commissioned officers in the audience all stood.

    Matt slowly crossed the stage, his cane clicking against the polished wood with every step. Turning his back to the assembly, he stopped next to the Andorian and gave the dour faced man a wink of one eye.

    “Good to see you again, Chan.”

    “And you as well, Captain Dahlgren. I trust that you are responsible for this abrupt change in my orders?”

    “I am. Chan, I’ve a problem ship I need help sorting out. Can I count on you to back my play?”

    “Marquis of Queensbury rules?”

    “More like a street-fight with a broken whisky bottle, and a length of chain.”

    The Andorian’s antennae twitched in amusement. “So I am to be the Royal Guard drillmaster of Andoria to your what?”

    “The hard-nosed son-of-a-bitch, in-your-face Captain who is twice as mean, twice as nasty, and twice as handsome as his ice devil of an exec.”

    “Hah! Humans have no concept of true beauty, pink-skin. I do believe I will enjoy myself, however,” Chan Shrak continued as he scanned the auditorium audience. “These are our victims—I mean our officers?”

    “They are.”

    “I think some of the natives are starting to get restless, Captain Dahlgren. This will be a ‘fascinating’ experience for us all, to quote the Vulcans.”

    Matt continued over to the podium, and he finally turned around to face the assembled group.

    “As you were,” he spoke into the microphone. “I am Captain Matthew Dahlgren. By the order of Star Fleet Command and the direct intervention of all nefarious powers of whatever Hell you believe in, I am also your commanding officer and the Captain of the USS Republic. Never in my twenty-two years of service in Star Fleet have I seen such a motley, moldy, half-assed collection of so-called officers and senior NCOs. If I had a choice in the matter, I would send half of you back to your mothers to wipe your noses and rinse off your backsides, and might—MIGHT—make a passable team out of the rest. YOU!” Matt bellowed, pointing to one female officer sitting attentively in the front row. “WHO ARE YOU?”

    The woman rose; she wasn’t dressed in Star Fleet uniform. “Ship’s Counselor Andrea Trincullo, Captain Dahlgren. Let me say it is an hon . . .”

    “Why are you out of uniform, Ship’s Counselor Trincullo? And what, pray tell, is your official rank?”

    The woman shook her head and looked puzzled at Matt. “I am a Lieutenant Commander in Medical Branch, Captain Dahlgren. And I have found it is useful to dress in a manner designed to sooth those crewmen who come to me for counseling.”

    “I see. As of this moment, Lieutenant Commander, you will wear your assigned Star Fleet uniform whenever you are on duty. Is that understood?”

    “Captain, I am not certain this is an appropriate venue to dis . . .”

    “LIEUTENANT COMMANDER!” Matt barked. “I asked you a question: was I clear in my direct order to you? If the answer is yes, respond with ‘aye, aye, Sir’ and shut your mouth. If not respond with ‘No, Sir’ and then shut your mouth. Is that understood?”

    “Aye, aye, Sir,” the counselor muttered through clenched teeth.

    "Take your seat, Lieutenant Commander," Matt said, waiting until she sat once more. Then he turned back to face the audience. "Star Fleet has been, for many years now, an organization which seems to have forgotten its purpose, ladies and gentlemen. An objective outsider, looking at our ships and our collection of so-called trained officers might instead get the impression that we are running a luxury liner service, ferrying young men and women across the galaxy so that they might enjoy themselves on strange new worlds!”

    “That attitude, in Star Fleet Command, in the Federation Council, and on the decks of individual starships cost us dearly during the Dominion War. We have forgotten that discipline and order is as necessary for our ships as it was in the days of sail. Instead, we have become a debating society, where everyone has their say and gets to express their opinion. Where our officers and crew are so concerned with recreation and their own amusement that they fail to do their jobs.”

    “Well, that, ladies and gentlemen is about to change aboard the United Federation of Planets Star Ship Republic.”

    “Some of you are already aware of the shame that Republic has had heaped upon her by officers and crew who were unprepared and ill-equipped to handle an unexpected tragedy. Mistakes were made, and the errors were compounded. And through it all, more than one hundred Star Fleet officers and NCOs, graduates of the Academy and mustangs alike; they stood by and let it happen. Because we have made them so comfortable they had forgotten that a Star Fleet officer must also be tough. Tough in spirit, tough in physique, tough mentally to accept and to cope with the challenges and the dangers that lie out THERE!” His voice boomed across the chamber as he pointed towards the sky.

    Matt paused and he looked across the rapt, horrified audience sitting before him, his face stern and stoic.

    “NO MORE.”

    “Senior Chief Callaghan!”

    A grizzled and stocky non-commissioned officer snapped to his feet. “SIR!”

    “You and I have served together before, haven’t we?”

    “YES SIR.”

    “And we served upon a good, well-found ship?”


    “Our new ship, the Republic, has shamed herself, has shamed our Star Fleet.”


    “But we will fix that. We will restore her to a proud ship.”


    “We will make her once again a fine ship!”


    “And that proud ship, that fine ship, it will have the best crew in Star Fleet.”


    “We will redeem our ship in the eyes of the Federation; we will restore her honor!”


    Matt nodded and Callaghan sat back down.

    “Right now, there are two hundred and fifty-four crewmen aboard that ship. Crewmen that no vessel in the Fleet wants. Crewmen who are crushed by what their ship has done. By what they did and did not do. By how their officers and leaders failed them in a time of crisis.”

    “It is my job, and it is your job, to restore to those crewmen their sense of worth. Their pride. Their confidence. Their ability to accomplish their duty when everything around them is going to Hell.”

    “Ladies and gentlemen, this is one job we had best get RIGHT.”

    “Department heads, stand.”

    Seven officers stood, five humans, a trill, and a tellarite. “Commander Natantael Malik, Engineering. Commander Quincy Talbot, Medical. Lt. Commander Amanda Tsien, Science. Lt. Commander Pavel Roshenko, Tactical. Lt. Commander Grace Biddle, Operations. Lieutenant Erwin Beck, Security. And Lieutenant Pok Khar’tess, Logistics.”

    "Ladies and gentlemen, these officers will enforce Star Fleet regulations and my will upon you. Or I will have their heads. And yours for adding to my frustrations.”

    "And if you prove too hard-headed and stubborn for the department heads to handle, then you will be paid a visit by my executive officer. Commander?"

    The Andorian walked over and stood by Matt on the stage, and he smiled--a terrifying smile--at the assembly.

    "Commander Chan Shrak. He will maintain discipline and he will ensure that Republic redeems herself. That you will redeem her."

    "And if you are not afraid of him, then you will come to me. And understand this: I will command Republic, there will be no committee or council. And if you screw up bad enough to come to my attention, then you will find yourself sitting in the brig or transferred off my ship to man the most remote, isolated, hard-luck outpost in the Federation!"

    “If you think that perhaps this assignment is too much; by all means talk to the officers outside and request a transfer! If you are lacking in character and spirit and energy, then by all means, get the Hell off my ship!”

    “But if you want to be a member of the finest crew in Star Fleet history—if you want to make this crew the finest in Star Fleet history, then welcome aboard.”

    “There are several officers waiting outside this briefing room, ladies and gentlemen. They have your exact department and division assignments. We board ship at 0600 hours tomorrow morning. Our crew—all two hundred and fifty-four of them—are waiting on board to see what kind of officers they deserve. And I hope, I pray, that some of you might become the kind of officer that they need. That the Federation needs.”

    Last edited: Mar 4, 2012
  4. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    Chapter Three

    Matt shook his head as he grimaced at the manner in which emergency supplies had just been piled into the locker located within Deflector Control. “Mister Roberts,” he said softly as he backed out of the cramped compartment. “Would say that this is a satisfactory means of storing vital equipment?”

    The ensign opened his mouth, and then he closed it, and then he opened it again, and closed it. But no sound emerged.

    “I am waiting, Mister Roberts.”

    “N-no, Sir.”

    “Very good, Mister Roberts,” Matt whispered as he leaned close to the very young man. “I would suggest then, that you take charge of the personnel Star Fleet has given you the responsibility of, Mister Roberts, and that you get this compartment squared away!”

    The ensign flinched, and he nodded vigorously. “Yes, SIR! I will do it immediately, sir!”

    Matt sighed. “No, Mister Roberts, you will not. You will supervise these crewmen, who will repack these supplies and equipment, regulation fashion and within the next twenty minutes. After that, you will see Mister Pok and you will draw cleaning supplies from him. And following that, your crewmen will clean Deflector Control until it is utterly spotless, a task which I do not expect to take more than two hours to accomplish. The grime and grease on these consoles is unconscionable, Mister. And there is dust inside the primary and secondary and tertiary isolinar chip arrays that control the Main Deflector.”

    “But . . . but we’ve only had seven hours to prepare for this inspection, Sir!” the Ensign protested, leaving unsaid that he had only boarded ship seven hours ago.

    Matt took a step backwards and glared harshly at the men and women assigned to Deflector Control. “Is that true? All of this would have been cleaned and restored to good order if you had only been given an adequate amount of time to do so? Come, now, ladies and gentlemen, you are free to answer.”

    Utter silence rang through the compartment, and Matt nodded, even as Chan Shrak tried hard to keep from laughing at his side.

    “Mister Roberts. Perhaps this is the first occasion in which you have had contact with the real universe instead of the manicured grounds of the Academy. Life is not fair. The universe does not care whether or not you have been on the job for seven minutes or seven hours or seven decades. And quite frankly, neither do I. This station is under your command, and it is your responsibility to ensure that it is up to my standards, Mister Roberts. The blame is not only for you, but also includes these men and women,” Matt continued as he waved a hand at the crewmen standing at attention, “who have failed for what appears to be weeks, if not months, to carry out their assigned tasks. If any of them are insubordinate or fail to follow your orders, Mister Roberts, then you are to report it immediately to Lt. Commander Biddle, the head of your department. If she fails to properly motivate these crewmen, Mister Roberts, you will then report it to Commander Shrak here. And if I ever enter this compartment, and find it this slovenly and criminally ill-prepared, I swear by all that is Holy I will have your entire section dishonorably discharged from the Star Fleet!”

    “Two hours, Mister Roberts, and I expect for this compartment to be sterile enough for Doctor Talbot to perform emergency surgery on the deck. Is that understood, Mister Roberts?”

    “Sir! Yes, sir!”

    “Carry on then,” Matt ordered as he turned and left the control room, Shrak beside him. As the doors slid shut, Chan Shrak chuckled.

    “You are on the verge of giving yourself a stroke, Captain Dahlgren. Perhaps you missed your calling in life; although I cannot recall the last time I saw an advertisement for the employment of a Spanish Inquisitor.”

    “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”

    “Oh, yes. So far, I have not had to do anything except appear to be slightly more sane than you. It is quite refreshing to be thought of as the more restrained and subtle personage.”

    “What’s next on the list?”

    “Security and the Small-Arms Locker. How’s the leg after covering most of the length of the ship’s corridors for the past seven hours?”

    “It hurts.”

    “Perhaps you need to see Doctor Talbot—he might have something for the pain.”

    “I’ll live.”

    “Well, that is a pity. I’ve always yearned to command a crew of pink-skins.”

    The two rounded a corridor and spotted the sealed door to the Security Office, an armed Marine standing at parade rest on guard duty outside. Spotting the Captain and Exec, he snapped to attention, and whispered quietly into his com-badge.

    “As you were,” Matt said, and the burly crewman relaxed slightly. “Corporal . . . Thiesman? Correct?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “What do you think of our merry little ship, Corporal?”

    “Permission to speak freely, sir?”


    “It is lax. Before our team boarded, there were no guards posted in engineering, the bridge, or on the small-arms locker. As per your orders, we relieved the crewmen previously assigned to Security and instituted a proper ship-board security watch. The storage condition of the small arms was . . . well, it was disorganized and the weapons were not properly cleaned and maintained before being placed in storage. The security logs are incomplete. The brig and our quarters are so filthy that a pigsty looks clean. And the crew’s attitude is . . . unhelpful. Sir.”

    “Which is why I asked Admiral Parker for Star Fleet Marines to handle Security, Corporal. We’ll get her ship-shape and Bristol-fashion right quick, Corp.”

    “Aye, aye, Sir. That we will.”

    “Carry on.”

    Matt and Chan walked into the Security office, where they found a dozen Marines scrubbing every surface, and four more working with disassembled phasers. One of the Marines bellowed, “Officer on Deck!” and immediately all of them stood at attention. Lieutenant Erwin Beck emerged from his private office and nodded. “Skipper, we’ve got a problem.”

    “As you were,” Matt said as he followed the Marine officer into his office. The slender man sighed and ran his hand through his thinning hair as he sat and brought up the arms logs. “We’re short eleven hand phasers. According to the armory logs, we should have two hundred hand phasers, all Type I and Type II, stored in the small-arms locker, the shuttles, and a dozen security-locked local access points placed strategically throughout Republic. But an actual hand count only accounted for one hundred and eighty-nine.”

    “Any trace of them in the security logs, Lieutenant?” asked Chan.

    “No sir. But the logs are incomplete and improperly filled out. I don’t have a record of any phasers being assigned to the away teams Republic beamed down to Omicron Cygnii II. That could account for them, but since they weren’t logged out . . .” the Marine shrugged. And Matt nodded in agreement.

    “Then officially they never left the ship. We haven’t discovered any stray phasers, either Lieutenant, and we have gone through all of the crew quarters and most of the ship’s compartments on this inspection. For now, go ahead and log them as missing and I will get Admiral Parker to sign off on them.”

    The Marine looked pained. “I have never had a weapon for which I was responsible go missing, Skipper. How could they have let things slide so much?”

    “That’s what we are here for, Erwin. To clean up another crew’s mess. Other than that snafu, how does Security look?”

    “I’ll get it under control—and by the end of the day, Sir. Nothing for you to worry about. But, I do have some concerns over the state of our issued arms—all of the hand phasers aboard Republic are the Type I and Type II models dating back to the late '50s, none of the more modern and powerful units. In addition, there isn't a single Type III phaser rifle, not even an antique, aboard ship.” The Marine chuckled. “But we do have two photon mortars and four dozen shells.”

    Matt blinked. “Weren’t those retired twenty years ago?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “Write this all up and send a copy to my yeoman, Erwin. Collect all hand phasers from the storage sites and shuttles and we’ll replace them with newer models from Spacedock before we depart on our shakedown cruise. As for the mortars . . . turn them in,” Matt said reluctantly. “I don’t trust twenty-year old photon grenades, Lieutenant. I’ll make certain that Spacedock sends us some rifles as well.”

    “Aye, aye, Sir.”

    Matt and Chan walked—well Matt limped—to the nearest turbolift, with Chan Shrak shaking his head. “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, Captain Dahlgren. Has Admiral Parker give us a launch date yet?”

    “Not yet, Chan. But I want this crew pushed—and pushed hard. You keep on top of the officers, and make certain they stay on the crew. Act like we have only a day or two before shakedown, act like a madman if you have to, but I want this ship ready for space—I want the crew ready for space—in 72 hours.”

    “We will get it done, Captain Dahlgren.”

    Matt gave his XO an exhausted smile and clapped him on the shoulder. “I know you will, old friend.”

    “Medical is on the way to the bridge, you know, pink-skin.”

    The Captain snorted. “Talbot would order me to bed with a hefty dose of sleeping pills and pain meds. I’ve got paperwork waiting in my ready room. See you on the bridge?”

    “Yes, sir, after I finish checking on Engineering. Commander Malik wanted to speak with me about some of his concerns—although considering the usual chaotic nature of the Trill homeworld, why should he find this ship so very different.”

    The turbolift arrived and Matt stepped in. “Let me know if it is anything serious, Chan. I’ll be in my ready room.”

    “Bridge,” he ordered the computer as the doors whistled shut.


    Lt. Commander Amanda Tsien was still giddy about having been appointed as a command-level Department Head! In the modern Star Fleet, there simply weren’t any command-level Science officers anymore. Not outside of dedicated science research vessels such as the Mediterranean-, Nova-, or Oberth-class ships. There hadn’t been for decades. But the Captain wanted that position, and so it came to pass that she was now the officer directly in charge of all Republics various science teams and labs. She made a couple of annotations in the mid-watch log, and then sat back again. He was strange, the Captain. So many of ideas were anachronistic and outdated—like the notion that Republic would maintain around the clock standard watches even though she was berthed in Spacedock! Other ships just had a station-keeping watch, but the Captain had mandated otherwise.

    She shivered and swore she could just make out the fog of her breath. She looked up from the Captain’s chair set in the very center of the large and expansive bridge and gazed longingly at the environmental controls. But the Captain had locked out all non-authorized access. She shivered against the chill, and shook her head, remembering earlier this evening (last night!) when she asked him why the ship was so bloody cold!

    “Amanda, the chill is good for the crew. Most Star Fleet ships maintain a temperature of 25-degrees centigrade in all compartments—we are not most Star Fleet ships. Republic will maintain a temperature of 20-degrees centigrade in all compartments except personnel quarters. It will help the crew maintain focus and stay awake on long boring duty shifts—such as your watch. Good night, Lieutenant Commander.”

    Bloody martinet! She knew—intellectually, at least—that it wasn’t really cold. But it certainly felt that way. When she had been dragged out of her advanced course at the Academy she hadn’t expected . . . well, to be truthful, she hadn’t exactly known what to expect. She had never before been assigned to a ship as old as the Republic, and she certainly would not have been surprised to find hammocks and an oak deck. She shook her head, well, maybe not quite that antiquated. But, despite the ship's age, something about the layout of the bridge and the vessel just felt right. And her current seat—the Captain’s seat—did provide a sense of power and authority that the modern benches lacked.

    Her quarters were smaller and more spartan than younger ships, but she had discovered that everything worked—and that the more compact space had required little effort on her part to decorate to her tastes. She chuckled to herself, and then forced the chuckle away as two crewmen half turned to look at her. Her last tour aboard the Nebula-class Chesapeake she had spent two weeks finding exactly the appropriate décor for the three rooms she had been assigned.

    Still, despite the tyrant of a Captain and the sudden change in assignment, Amanda was inordinately pleased with herself. She finished the changes to the log and entered it in the ship’s database, looking up at the clock over the main viewer. 0302 hours, and all is well on the good ship Republic.

    The turbo-lift doors swished open and Amanda looked up in surprise as the Captain and Commander Shrak stepped onto the bridge. She stood in puzzlement.

    “I have the conn,” the Captain said.

    “The Captain has the conn,” she answered firmly, stepping aside as he seated himself.

    “Lieutenant Commander Tsien, please take over the tactical console,” Matt asked as he pulled up the ship’s log and read over what she had entered. She noted that he promptly entered the change of watch on the log as she crossed over the bridge behind him and took up station at tactical.

    “Sound General Quarters and set Red Alert throughout the ship.”

    She jerked; her jaw dropped. What the . . . we are in Spacedock! “Sir?”

    The Captain rotated his chair and smiled at her. “Amanda. Sound General Quarters and set Red Alert throughout the ship.”

    She glanced across at Commander Shrak and saw that he was holding an antique stop watch in his hand, and he nodded affirmatively at her.

    “Aye, aye, Sir. Sounding General Quarters and setting Red Alert throughout the ship,” she said quietly as the klaxons began to wail. Commander Shrak pushed a button and started keeping track of the elapsed time.

    “Very well,” the Captain said as he rotated the chair back to its forward position. "Inform me the exact moment that all compartments report manned and ready for action.”

    “Aye, aye, sir,” Amanda answered.

    Officers began to jog onto the bridge, from the ramps at the rear that led down to Deck 2 and the two turbolifts both. Most looked sleepy, exhausted, and utterly bewildered at what possible event could send them to Red Alert while berthed in Spacedock.

    One by one, the compartments on the ship’s Master Systems Display changed color, and finally, she was able to report. “Captain, all compartments report manned and ready for action.”

    Commander Shrak hit another button on the stop-watch and shook his head. “Four minutes and twenty-seven seconds, Captain Dahlgren.”

    The Captain frowned and hit a stud on the side of his chair. “All hands, this is the Captain speaking. Four minutes and twenty-seven seconds is an utterly unacceptable time for this vessel to button up for combat operations. You will do better. Lieutenant Commander Tsien, cancel Red Alert, please.”

    She did so.

    “This has been a drill. I am not at all pleased with your response time. A proper response time for a Korolev-class starship is seventy-one seconds by the book, ladies and gentlemen. You just took nearly four times longer. That is unacceptable on its face, and a disgrace to your status as Star Fleet officers and crew. Since we are now all awake, and time is a very finite resource, all off-duty personnel will report to Cargo Bay 1 for today’s work assignments. Among them will be further drills on how to respond to the sounding of Red Alert. Third watch remain at your stations. All other personnel, report to Command Shrak in Cargo Bay 1. That will be all.”

    The Captain stood. “Lieutenant Commander Tsien, you have the conn.” He said as he limped over the turbolift.

    “Aye, aye, Sir,” she whispered as the doors closed. Oh dear God, she thought. What have I gotten myself into?
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2012
  5. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    Chapter Four

    “I cannot begin to thank you enough, Admiral,” Matt said as he limped over to Josiah Parker’s table in the private dining hall of Star Fleet Command. “Bad morale? Crew are just out of sort? Hah! That ship is a disaster, and it is the crew from Hell. Sir.”

    Parker’s fork stopped half-way to his mouth, and he sighed and he sat the steaming bite-sized morsel of a tender piece of fillet down back down on his china plate. “You do know this lounge is for Flag Officers and their invited guests only, correct, Captain Dahlgren?”

    “Yes, sir. Commodore Jurood was kind enough to put me on the list as his guest for today, after I discovered you were in here having dinner.”

    Josiah patted his lips with the napkin and placed it on the plate. “Ok, ok, Matt. Take a seat.”

    Dahlgren sat. “What aren’t you telling me, Sir?”

    “Damn it, Matt. You are certainly the same balls-to-the-walls, damn-the-torpedoes officer you were before Kearsage went down. If only Edward were here to see what his protégée had become, god rest his soul.”

    “Admiral Jellico was a good officer, Josiah,” Matt whispered. “And don’t forget, you served under him on Republic a long time ago as well.”

    The Admiral nodded glumly. “Why the hell did you think I wanted you in command of her, Matt? One of us has to carry on in his place, and I can’t do it—not after getting this job I am in now.”

    “Look. You know how ill-prepared Star Fleet was before Wolf 359 gave the politicians and bureaucrats a kick in the ass. And you how long it took Jellico and Shelby and Shran and the rest to get the reforms out to the Fleet. Well, there was a general feeling at Headquarters that the best way to get the Fleet up to par was to remove the delinquent elements: to put them somewhere that they couldn’t screw up getting ready for the Borg.”

    “I don’t how she was chosen—it was before my time as Chief of Star Fleet Operations, Matt—but Republic was one of the ships that our problem children got sent to. And she was given milk runs where there was little chance of her running into a crisis of any sort. She wasn’t the only ship in that state, but hell, she was the only ship you and I ever served on.”

    “The goal was to slowly get rid of the bad apples, but events moved too fast. And the officers who were given command of these ships weren’t the best—because we needed the best on the front lines. And over time, the bad got worse, even as the rest of the Fleet got better. And Star Fleet Command dropped any pretense at reform and used these ships a purgatory to send officers and crewmen who screwed up by the numbers.”

    “We ran into the Dominion, and their Founders replaced Chancellor Martok and the Changeling convinced the Klingons to invade the Federation. We were at war, Matt. And Star Fleet Command didn’t have time for a ship full of misfits. Or a dozen ships full of misfits, as long as they didn’t interfere with the war effort.”

    “Thankfully, we managed to stop the Klingons and recover the real Martok—but then the Dominion invaded in force—a fact that you know all too well. Well, the war is over now, and I got promoted and have to deal with the aftermath and try to pick up all pieces and make Star Fleet whole again.”

    “Yes, I learned about Republic shortly after I become Chief. And, yes, I sent Linda Bates out there to try and get them back up to standards—but then she was killed. By a damn civilian shield generator that overloaded, for god’s sake! And that asshole Harrison nearly started a war with the Gorn. Matt, I’ve got two choices here: either we rehabilitate that crew or we discharge them. And if we discharge them, I don’t have enough personnel to send her back to space—we would have to mothball Republic. And the other ten ships out there like her.”

    “So what I need to know, Captain Dahlgren, is this: can you turn Republic around or not?”

    Matt sighed and he sat back. “You do like throwing an old friend off the deep end, don’t you?”

    The two men just sat there for a few minutes, and then Matt slowly nodded. “It won’t be pretty.”

    Josiah snorted. “Like she is now?”

    “I’ll need a free hand—and if I determine that a crewman can’t be salvaged, he’s gone.”


    “I’ll need sixty blank personnel transfer orders, signed and authorized by your office.”

    “SIXTY?” the Admiral thundered, causing other flag officers and guests to turn around and stare at the table.

    Matt smiled. “Once we leave Spacedock, Admiral, if I find someone I need in my crew aboard a Starbase, an outpost, or another Starship, I don’t want to have to check back in with your office to obtain the authorization to transfer them aboard. And if it is a nonspecific transfer order—authorizing me to grab excess crew or officers—do you think any commanding officer is going to give me their best? They’ll hand me their worst—and you know they will. I want blank transfers, signed and authorized, that I can fill in at need.”

    The Chief of Star Fleet Operations leaned back in his seat, and then he picked up his glass of wine and took a long swallow. “Done. Anything else?”

    “Only one last issue, Admiral. The ship needs a challenge—milk runs are too routine and boring to capture the imagination of the officers and men. She needs to be pushed to her limits so that the crew remembers why they joined the Star Fleet in the first place.”

    “Is she ready for that?”

    “No. But, if you keep putting her in safe areas, you are only reinforcing the crew’s beliefs about how Star Fleet considers them. They will become even more convinced that they aren’t really Star Fleet and that the rules don’t apply to them.”

    “I don’t need another incident like Omicron Cygnii II, Matt.”

    “You won’t have one. I promise you that, at least.”

    “Talk about sink or swim, Matt. Good god, man—you just said the crew isn’t ready for this!”

    “It all boils down to this, Admiral: do you trust me to keep the ship together and build up that crew into something Star Fleet can be proud of, or not. Republic needs this—the crew needs this. I don’t think they believe me when I say we are going back out to the frontiers.”

    “Ok,” Josiah said. “I’ll back your play, Matt. But I hope you know what the Hell you are doing.”

    So do I, Matt thought, so do I.


    “I’m still showing a fault in the focus software,” Chris Roberts said as he frowned at the display. “We need to do a full diagnostic of the system; this shouldn’t be happening.”

    The ensign looked up from his station after he realized that none of his personnel had replied. “Ah, fellows? Let’s get cracking on this.”

    Slowly, the crewmen began to bend back down over their consoles and pull up the schematics—they still didn’t answer him, but Roberts just swallowed. This was his first assignment out of the Academy—maybe these Fleet types more about how ships operated in the field than he did. He didn’t push them.

    Suddenly, his screen blanked, and then came back on—and the fault was gone. “What just happened?” he asked.

    “I fixed the fault for you, Mister Roberts,” drawled one of the crewmen, who leaned his chair back and closed his eyes again. “You have a problem with that?”

    Chris frowned. There hadn’t been time for the diagnostic to run its routine . . . he sucked in his breath. “Channing, you cut out the primary circuits! This is the secondary system.”

    “Yeah. Look, Mister Roberts, our shift ends in five minutes. If we run the diagnostics, then we have to stick around and fix the problem. I’ve had it up to here with working in my off-duty hours, so there is no way in hell I’m going to volunteer for more.”

    “It’s our job to fix the fault!” pleaded Roberts.

    “Look, the secondary is on-line, the deflector is at 100%, and if it goes bad, well that is why we have a tertiary system. Next watch will fix the fault and we’ll all be happy.”

    Roberts gaped, and he started to speak again when the ship’s intercom suddenly came to life.

    “Ensign Roberts, report to the Operations Office. Ensign Roberts, report to the Operations Office.”

    Channing winced. “Why that gimp captain can’t use com badges like every other person in Star Fleet is beyond me. That damn thing has been going off all day.”

    The young man looked pained at this description of their captain, but the crewmen assigned to Deflector Control with him only laughed.

    “Best you get a move on, there, Mister Roberts,” drawled Channing. “Momma Biddle won’t like having to wait on a snot-nosed kid taking too long.”

    Confused about what he should do, Roberts shook his head and he exited the compartment.

    “How long do you think this shit will continue, Pete?” another crewman asked Channing.

    “Until the gimp wises up and learns that Star Fleet ain’t gonna use us for jack. There’s no sense in doing more than we absolutely have to—he’ll get tired and either retire or lose it like Harrison did. Either way, no skin off of my nose.”

    Channing and the others sat upright as they heard a dull THUD coming from the base of the ladder up to the deflector dish actuator systems a deck above.

    “Is that so?” asked a man that Channing slowly recognized.

    “Hi, COB,” he called out to Chief Callaghan. “We were just finish . . .”

    “I know what you were doing, Channing. And I don’t care for it.”

    “Look, Chief,” Channing began.

    “Senior Chief,” interjected Callaghan.

    “Whatever. We’ve got a routine—and we ain’t gonna disrupt it because the new captain has got his panties in a wad.”

    Callaghan smiled grimly. “Clear the compartment—everyone but Channing. And you stay your asses in the corridor outside until I call you back in.”

    One by one, the crewmen stood and left, leaving only Callaghan and Channing. “Crewman, I don’t like your attitude,” Callaghan said.

    “Well, you’ll get over it, won’t you?”

    “You’re a real hard-case. A certified bad-ass spacer, am I right?”

    “Yeah. And I don’t think Roberts or you wants a piece of me.”

    Callaghan shook his head. “Channing, you are too dumb. You are far too dumb to be standing there and saying things like that—why, it could be interpreted that you just threatened two superior officers. Things like that get you tossed in the brig.”

    “I’ve done brig time before—no big deal.”

    “Yes, you have. I checked your record, you see. And I am sure that you are thinking about how Star Fleet won’t ship you off to a real starship, because no one wants you in your crew. You’re thinking about how a transfer to a ground base just means you have more chances to pick up a willing sophont in a bar. You’re thinking that neither this ship nor this captain can do a damn thing to you that would make you regret your words and your actions.”

    “Yeah. So what?”

    Callaghan slammed his fist into Channing’s belly and the crewman doubled over, his gasp for breath suddenly ending as Callaghan’s knee smashed into nose. The crewman fell over and lay on the deck plates, bleeding.

    “Ya bas’tad!” he squealed. “Ya cat do tat! Regs say ya cat do tat!”

    “Screw the regs, Channing,” Callaghan said as he hauled the crewman to his feet and buried his fist into the younger man’s ribs. “You threatened me!” Punch. “You threatened Mister Roberts!” Punch. “You called the Captain a gimp!” PUNCH.

    The Chief stepped back and released Channing’s uniform—the rating fell to the deck again and didn’t try to get up.

    “Let me tell you something, Peter Channing. I served with Captain Dahlgren and I know exactly how he got that injury to his leg. You aren’t going to the brig—you aren’t getting a transfer off this ship. No sweetheart, you’re ass is mine and you belong to me. For the duration of your career. Or you can resign from Star Fleet; you've only got three months left on your enlistment. Hell, I would endorse that request.”

    Callaghan stood straight and tapped his comm badge. “Sick Bay. Medical emergency in Deflector Control.”

    En route,” answered a voice on the far end of the link.

    “You see, Pete,” Callaghan whispered as he knelt beside the battered crewman on the deck. “There are all sorts of regulations about how bad it is for someone to strike a superior officer—but there ain’t one about a superior officer striking a subordinate. Now, you could press charges against me for conduct unbecoming or for criminal assault. And I could press charges against you for dereliction of duty as to your shutting down the primary array. Either way, I will get a slap on the wrist—or do you think the XO, our Andorian XO, is going to toss me into a brig cell for slapping a piece of shit like you around?”

    “The times, they are a-changing, Pete. And you better adapt real fast or you’re gonna find yourself extinct. Real soon.”
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
  6. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    Chapter Four (cont.)


    Matt didn’t look up as his chime on his door sounded. “Come!” he barked.

    The doors slid open and he heard footsteps, but he continued to frown at the computer screen, changing a few words in his latest readiness report to Admiral Parker, and then he saved the data and closed the unit. He raised his head and saw Ship’s Counselor Trincullo standing in front of his desk.

    “Take a seat, Counselor. I see that you did manage to locate your uniforms. Commander Shrak said that you wanted to speak with me.”

    The woman sat. “Thank you for seeing me, Sir. I have been trying to do so for the past three days.”

    “In case you haven’t noticed, Counselor, I have had precious little free time since we boarded ship. What’s on your mind?”

    “Sir, I think there has been an error in my assignment during alerts. I have been informed that I am assigned to Sick Bay under Doctor Talbot.”

    “Go on.”

    “Captain, I think it would be obvious. Tradition requires that the Ship’s Counselor be stationed on the bridge to provide advice to the commanding officer. But I have been posted elsewhere. Thankfully, we are in still in Spacedock, since this antique vessel lacks a seat for me as well.”

    Matt leaned back. “Doctor Andrea Trincullo. Age 34. Graduated Star Fleet Academy with a degree in Psychology, attended Star Fleet Medical where you received a medical doctorate in both Psychology and Psychiatry. Excellent grades in both institutions. You would have graduated top in your class at the Academy except for your poor marksmanship—it took you five attempts to pass basic phaser training. However, you do have a 3rd-degree black belt in Aikido.”

    “Four postings to starships over the past ten years as a junior counselor for which you received a consistent string of Excellent ratings from your supervisors and commanding officers. Last posting to Star Fleet Academy where you taught Intro to Psychology until Admiral Parker shanghaied you aboard Republic. Did I miss anything, Counselor?”

    Andrea stared at Matt in amazement—the man had memorized that! “How . . .”

    “Did I know all of that? Doctor Trincullo, I have three hundred and eighty-one officers and crew assigned to my command. I have thoroughly gone over their records. Did I miss anything, Counselor?” Matt asked a second time.


    “I wondered, since you marched in here and seem determined to be stationed on my bridge. Counselor, there are two types of officers and ratings assigned bridge duty: those officers and ratings who jobs require them to be on the bridge and those officers who are able to assume command.”

    “I mention this because I noticed that you have not attended Command School. You had the opportunity, but you refused, preferring instead to teach at the Academy.”

    “Captain, those requirements have been waived in the past . . .”

    “Not aboard this ship, Counselor. You want a station on my bridge you have to be trained and ready to pick up the pieces if everything falls apart around you. You must be prepared to immediately step into my place or Commander Shrak’s place and assume command of this vessel, with three hundred and eighty lives being just one of your many responsibilities.”

    “You are not so trained and I doubt that you have the command mentality.”

    “Sir, I resent that!”

    “Resent it all you want, Counselor; I was not referring to your intelligence and capability—I was referring to your attitude. Here is a hypothetical: you are on the bridge, I am dead, Commander Shrak and Lt. Commander Biddle are undergoing emergency surgery in sick-bay. Luckily, Republic destroyed the last of her attackers before you assumed command. Engineering reports heavy casualties and Commander Malik is gravely wounded; Lieutenant Bowen has assumed command of the engineering spaces.”

    “The warp core has been damaged and is only moments away from breach—but Bowen tells you that the core can be shut down. However, to do so will require a member of this crew to enter a compartment flooded with radiation, effectively committing suicide in order to save everyone else. You have fifteen seconds, Counselor—what are your orders?”

    Trincullo blinked.

    “Twelve seconds.”

    “Eject the core!” she shouted.

    “Ejection mechanisms damaged and off-line. I’ll still give you twelve seconds.”

    “Abandon ship.”

    “Congratulations, Counselor. Everyone is now dead. The life pods can’t get far enough away in twelve seconds, even if they launched the instant you gave that order—which they won’t.”

    “That is not a fair simulation, Captain . . .”

    “On the contrary, Counselor, it is the type of decision that someone, somewhere in Star Fleet has had to make. It is a decision to deliberately sacrifice one or more members of the crew so that the rest of the ship's company and the ship herself survive. It is a decision that anyone sitting on that bridge, who pulls a watch in my chair, who wants the privileges of command has to be able to make in an instant.”

    Matt shook his head. “No, Counselor. Your job is to keep this crew on an even keel while I command my ship. If you decide one day to opt for Command School, perhaps I will have a different answer, but for now your station will remain in Medical, assisting Doctor Talbot.”

    The woman squirmed in her seat, and Matt sighed. “Is there anything else?”

    “Yes, sir. You are pushing the crew too hard. They aren’t machines, and the stress you are putting them under is too much.”

    “Counselor, stress—believe it or not—is good. Stress and resistance is how we build our muscles, develop our bodies. And mentally, stress forces a being to focus, to learn to concentrate even when he might be distracted, to pay attention to his duties. The crew are all more resilient than you think—and the ones that are not? They don’t belong here.”

    “Captain, some of them are on the verge of breaking. And not just crew—but you are pushing the NCOs and officers equally hard. Eighteen red alert drills in the past seventy-two hours? No one on this ship has had more than four hours of sleep each night—including you. All of the recreation facilities are shut down—the Holodecks require a command level override to activate. They are not used to this level of pressure. And, I have seen someone down in sickbay being treated for injuries. I think someone snapped and resorted to violence due to your stress test.”

    “Crewman Channing. Yes, I am aware of the situation, and no, no one snapped. He was being disciplined by Senior Chief Callaghan and matters went a little too far.”

    “DISCIPLINED? Channing had seven broken ribs and a shattered nose!”

    “As I said, a little too far; I would note, however, that such injuries are quite common on Andorian ships—and they have little difficulties.”

    “Andorian’s have a different psyche—they are culturally and genetically aggressive and are prone to outright hostility; and neither Callaghan nor Channing are Andorian, they are human.”

    “Counselor, the rot on this ship is like gangrene: it has to be cut out, as painful as that may sound. I have privately reprimanded Callaghan, but he will remain as Republic’s senior NCO. Commander Shrak has fully exonerated him in the matter, and it remains up to Channing whether or not the crewman wishes to remain aboard, or resign in disgrace. I will not apologize to you or anyone at Star Fleet for running my ship in the fashion I think best.”

    “You still need to a ratchet down the pressure, Captain,” Trincullo continued. “The crew won’t stand for much more.”

    “Counselor, we now have a deployment date for shake-down—and it is three days from today. In sixty-eight hours, to be precise, Republic will exit Spacedock and we will conduct drills until the crew drops. Or they meet with my standards, whichever comes first. We will have three full weeks of drills and weapon tests and warp tests and emergency simulations and this crew will become proficient or they will be removed. I’ve got to know what their limits are, Counselor, and the only way for me to discover that is to push them.”

    “Now, I want you to keep a close eye on them—don’t baby them, don’t coddle them, but make sure they are mentally stable. Can you do that?”

    “Yes, sir,” she answered glumly. “And speaking on that subject, Captain . . . how are you feeling?”

    Matt laughed. “Oh, no, Counselor. Don’t even try that. Now, if that is all, I have work I must get back to—and you have a crew to watch. You are dismissed, Counselor.”
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
  7. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    Chapter Five

    “Captain Dahlgren,” Shrak said from where he stood behind the Mission Ops console, “Spacedock has confirmed that we are cleared for departure; all sections, all compartments report they are prepared to get underway.”

    Matt swiveled his chair—god, how he had missed having a chair that swiveled!—to face his XO and he grinned. “Thank you, Mister Shrak. Signal our thanks to Spacedock and inform them that they may retract the gantry.” He pressed a stud on the command chair he turned back to face the main viewer.

    Engineering, Commander Malik.”

    “Everything ready down there, Mister Malik? All those gizmos and gadgets set properly and in and working order?”

    A chuckle came over the intercom. “Yes, sir; we’ve got a full tank, I’ve checked the oil, and sent a technician EVA to kick the tires.”

    Matt smiled. “In that case, Commander, let’s light some fires.” He clicked the intercom off.

    “Miss Montoya,” he said to the young raven-tressed Lieutenant seated at the Helm. “Set reaction control thrusters to station-keeping. Miss Biddle,” he continued to his third officer (in line after Shrak and Malik) sitting at the Ops console, “disconnect all umbilicals and retract all moorings.”

    “Thrusters at station-keeping,” the helmsman replied.

    “Umbilicals are disconnected and moorings are now retracted, Captain. We are now operating on internal power and gravity, inertial dampening field at 100% of rated capacity. Structural integrity field is . . . on-line.”

    “Ahead dead slow, Miss Montoya, thrusters only until we clear the berth.”

    “Ahead dead slow, thrusters only, aye.”

    “Main viewer ahead.”

    The main view screen began projecting an image of the interior of Spacedock. The vast anchorage within her sheltering hull was surprisingly empty. Perhaps not surprisingly, given the number of ship losses Star Fleet had suffered over the past few years, Matt thought with a wry grin. Still, he could make out two Nebulas and an Intrepid docked in the distance.

    “We have cleared the berth,” Montoya announced.

    “Thrusters ahead one-half, Mister Montoya, put us in the exit lane for departure.”

    “Thrusters ahead one-half, aye, aye, sir. Altering course heading to 039 Mark 186 . . . we are in the lane and ready for departure.”

    Matt watched as the massive shield doors slowly opened ahead of Republic while the cruiser slid closer and closer. He leaned back in his chair, rested one elbow on an arm rest, and cradled his chin in that hand, rubbing his jaw as his ship slid through the massive opening.

    “Captain,” Montoya spoke up, “we have cleared space dock and are free to navigate.”

    “Very well. Set course for the Ceres Weapon Range, ahead one-quarter impulse power.”

    “Course set for Ceres, accelerating to one-quarter impulse power.”

    Matt grinned as Republic leaped forward, as if she were as eager to be back in space as he was.


    Republic banked and maneuvered hard among the asteroids of the belt, the main viewer showing her just clearing one massive rock as she streaked by at .5c.

    “Miss Montoya, you bump one of those rocks with my ship, and I’ll have them deduct the expense of the paint from your retirement credits.”

    “I'll try not to scratch her too badly, sir,” she answered, never taking her eyes from her instrumentation. Her fingers flew across the controls as she varied the thrust from the twin impulse engines, combining with the reaction thrusters to give the ship extraordinary maneuverability for a vessel of her size. She handled more like a Defiant than an Excelsior! The simulations weren’t even close, she thought joyfully, as she skimmed the cruiser past and around another ship-sized rock.

    “We are approaching the engagement area, Captain,” Amanda Tsien called out from her science station. “The nickel-iron content in the asteroids are interfering with the mid-range sensors; we will be unable to get a targeting lock until we are within engagement range, Sir.”

    “Shall I reduce speed?” the helmsman asked.

    “No. Mister Roshenko, you will have two seconds to attain a target lock and engage four separate beacons with phasers. We will be maneuvering, so prepare to compensate.”

    “Aye, aye, sir,” the tactical officer answered.

    “Entering engagement area in five, four, three,” Grace Biddle began counting down, “two, one!”

    Republic stood on her port side and passed between two converging pieces of stellar debris—the maneuver also unmasked her dorsal and ventral arrays to fire on separate beacons.

    “Well done, Miss Montoya,” Matt said warmly.

    Golden beams flashed from the phaser array strips, lashing out towards the beacons at light-speed as Roshenko worked feverishly, adjusting his targeting locks on the fly. And then the ship cleared the range.

    Matt waited as Shrak listened to the report coming through his earpiece from Ceres Station. The Andorian smiled.

    “We fired seventeen bursts from the nine arrays—sixteen hit their targets, destroying all four beacons.”

    “Very nice, Mister Roshenko,” Matt congratulated the sweating tactical officer. “Mister Shrak, inform Ceres that we will be making another pass as soon as they reset the range. Once only means we were lucky, ladies and gentlemen. And twice might be coincidence; you do that three times and we might be on the verge of becoming good.”

    Shrak grinned. “Ceres reports the range is reset and ready, Captain Dahlgren.”

    “Miss Montoya, bring us about—and increase to full impulse power.”

    “Coming about, and increasing thrust to full impulse power,” the helmsman said as the first beads of sweat began to appear on her forehead.

    Let’s see how well he does at .9c, Matt thought.


    Turned out, Lt. Commander Roshenko did pretty good, even at the higher velocity. On the second pass, his crews scored eleven hits out of twelve shots, and on the third they hit seventeen times out of eighteen.

    Matt swiveled his chair as Pavel cleared his throat. “Sir, I have discovered why the belly strip kept missing—the targeting calibration is off by 1.2%. I should have doubled checked it, Sir, but with the rush to get out of Spacedock . . .”

    “How did you discover that it was out of alignment?” Matt asked, exchanging a glace with Shrak.

    “The same strip just kept missing in each engagement, Sir. I ran a quick diagnostic, but nothing showed up, so I sent a team down to the array. The phaser stabilization system was not properly synced with the ship’s gyroscope, sir. I should have checked it earlier.”

    “No, Mister Roshenko, it would have been fine earlier. I asked Mister Shrak to throw you a wrench in this exercise—a wrench you easily dodged. Well done.”

    “Captain, we are approaching the torpedo range,” Grace Biddle called out.

    “Very well, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s blow up some rocks, shall we? Load warshots in tubes One through Five.”

    “Warshots, Captain?” asked Roshenko. Even Shrak raised an eyebrow and his antennae twitched.

    “Warshots, Mister Roshenko. Admiral Parker signed off on their use yesterday. We are authorized to expend thirty live torpedoes in this exercise. And Mister Roshenko?”


    “We haven’t fiddled with your targeting on this one. So don’t miss.”
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
  8. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    Chap Five (cont.)

    “Captains Log, Stardate 53748.4, USS Republic. We are eleven days into the shake-down exercises in the outer system of Sol. The officers and crew are completely exhausted—I think I have pushed them as far and as hard as I can in such a short period. Despite that exhaustion, they are starting to reclaim a sense of pride among themselves, and are slowly become a unified crew and not a collection of individuals. My department heads have been commenting that the crew are no longer just standing around and half-heartedly carrying out orders. They move with a purpose now—perhaps a not very skilled purpose for some of them, but a drastic improvement nonetheless.”

    “Our latest series of readiness drills showed a response time of 69.6 seconds from the sounding of the alert klaxon to all compartments reporting manned and ready. Heh. When I told them that 71 seconds was considered standard for the Korolev’s, I didn’t mention it was the standard for Andorian-crewed Korolev’s! The Fleet standard is 73 seconds, a time which they soundly beat. Because of their improvement on the latest drills, I have decided to dock the ship later today at Jupiter Station—and will grant the crew a 24-hour liberty call. This should placate Counselor Trincullo and her concerns about the pressure I am placing on these men and women.”

    “Crewman Channing has asked for permission to end his enlistment early—a request that I have heartily approved, with the endorsement of Commander Shrak, Lt. Commander Biddle, and Senior Chief Callaghan. He will be transferred off of Republic and his discharge processed once we arrive at Europa. I remain concerned about Ensign Roberts and his lack in experience, however. Deflector Control is still under-performing, but perhaps without Channing’s influence, he will be able to bring them up to par. Certainly, Lt. Commander Biddle believes that he is capable of turning that section around. Nonetheless, I plan on keeping a close watch on him—and if Jupiter Station has an experienced deflector specialist, I just might transfer him aboard to assist the Ensign.”

    Republic is still suffering from system faults throughout the ship; the result of several years of neglect and lack of proper maintenance. To date, none of the many glitches have resulted in injury or threatened the ship, but it is annoying to say the least. It is my belief, however, that we should have all major sub-systems cleansed of the gremlins by the end of her shake-down cruise—and Spacedock should be more than able to quickly complete the repairs we are unable to handle out of our own resources. We will perform the warp trials with a speed run to Alpha Centauri and back after our libery call at Jupiter Station. Commander Malik assures me that he has been over the engines with a fine-toothed comb, but I will sleep easier once we successfully achieve warp.”

    Matt rubbed his eyes and yawned. “Computer, save log.”

    “Saved,” the electronic voice replied. Matt slowly stood and limped to the bed set in the small sleeping compartment just off the main suite of the commanding officer, and he lay down. Within moments, he was fast asleep.



    Chris Roberts stopped his meandering walk through the civilian sector of Jupiter Station and turned at the sound of his name being called. The young man smiled as he saw the gaggle of his friends from the Academy. One rather short, bubbly, and bouncing young blonde lady was waving exuberantly.

    He walked over to them. “Lara, Jin, Hollis. Taking in the sights?”

    The blonde nurse shook her head and grabbed Chris’s arm. “Come on with us! We haven’t seen you since we all got transferred onto Republic.”

    “I’ve had my hands full in Deflector Control. I’m the only officer down there, can you believe it? Both the other shifts are covered by petty officers, so I’ve had to pull double shifts to try and get things straightened out.”

    Lara frowned. “I heard you’ve had a rough time. Medical has been pretty standard—once Doctor Talbot had a talk with the sick-berth attendants. So what really happened with Channing?”

    “He said he fell.”


    “Hey, that is what he said. I wasn’t there at the time.”

    “But you’ve heard the scuttlebutt, right? About how Senior Chief Callaghan taught him a lesson about being mean to you?”

    Chris blushed, as the other two ensigns began laughing.

    “I-I don’t think . . .” he stammered.

    “Oh, I’m kidding!” Lara said as she poked him in the ribs. “But I did hear the Senior Chief gave him a lesson he won’t forget anytime soon.”

    “I don’t know, really. I’m just glad he’s not aboard anymore.”

    The four of them walked through the Promenade looking at the various shops and stores that the station had offering trinkets and services to spacers. Suddenly, Chris felt a strong tug on his arm, and he turned to see Lara pointing at a pub—the Jupiter Yard.

    “Let’s go in!” she squealed.

    Chris groaned. “Lara, we’re officers; we’re supposed to set an example.”

    “Oh don’t be a spoil-sport, Chris, we aren’t cadets anymore! And see, there are Star Fleet officers inside—just one drink, a drink to celebrate that we’re finally in space!”

    Despite his objections, Chris found himself strolling into the pub with his friends, as they laughed and talked their way up to the bar.

    Jin Park slapped his hand on the bar. “A round for my friends, if you please!”

    Silence greeted them, an oppressive silence. Slowly, the four stopped talking and laughing as they realized everyone in the place was glaring at them, from the blue-skinned bartender to the Star Fleet officers and crew sitting in booths along the walls and at tables spaced over the floor.

    Chris began to feel uncomfortable, and he could see his friends were feeling the same. But then, one of the Jupiter officers stood up and walked over to the bar, finishing his mug of golden beer.

    “Come on Frank,” he said to the bartender, “these officers asked for a drink. Pour them up a round—and put it on my tab. Pour me one of those shots as well.”

    The Bolian nodded, threw a towel over one shoulder and took out five shot glasses, pouring an amber liquid in each. He set one glass down in front of each of the four Ensigns, and the fifth before the officer who spoke.

    That officer picked up his glass. “A toast, Jupiters! A toast to the heroes of Star Fleet who go out into the unknown and put their own lives at risk! Join me in drinking with these men and women from the . . .”

    “The Republic,” Chris whispered, feeling the pit of his stomach drop.

    “These gallant officers from USS Republic!” He stopped and looked at the four, none of whom had touched their glasses. “Or maybe, the courageous young officers from Republic don’t want to drink with us. Which is only fair, Ensigns. Because my Jupiters don’t seem to want to drink with you, either. Not after you fired upon a Gorn ship with no shields, with her weapons unpowered, sitting in a parking orbit with her engines down. Not after you abandoned a Federation Colony—and your own first officer—when the Gorn responded in a fury.”

    “Ah, but what’s a few hundred civilian lives, after all. Drink up, Republics! Drink up, you’ve earned it. You started a fight you couldn't handle and then the whole lot of you ran and kept running until you and your ship were safe—pity that the colonists and your away team couldn't run from the photon bombardment the Gorns used to kill them all.”

    The speaker sat down his glass and he spat into the liquid. “On second thought, I don’t think I will share a drink with you. Jupiters! We are leaving. Let these cowards have the bar to themselves.”

    One by one, the Star Fleet officers and NCOs stood and walked out, each one glaring at the Ensigns in turn. Finally, the Bolian named Frank locked up his liquor supply and he too left the bar. Chris swallowed, and he hit his comm badge. “Roberts to Republic. Four to beam up.”
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
  9. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    Chapter Six

    The bridge was quiet and subdued as Republic departed from Jupiter Station. Not quiet with focus, but rather quiet with harsh self-reflection. Matt frowned. He hadn’t been surprised by the reports from the men returning from their liberty; indeed, he had expected precisely that attitude by the civilians and crew aboard the Star Fleet base. But, he decided against leaving the station early—and made certain that every man and woman aboard Republic visited the station during their twenty-fours in orbit.

    The turbolift doors whistled open and Matt saw three newcomers to the ship step uneasily upon the bridge, and the corner of his lips twitched. Now those are three very unhappy people, he thought. The captain turned his attention back to the main viewer, and pressed a stud on his command chair. In response, a whistle sounded throughout the ship over the intercom systems.

    “This is the captain speaking,” he broadcast. “You have all now seen, first-hand, exactly how our fellow Star Fleet personnel and civilians view Republic and her crew. Ambassador Delena Mar, of Argellius II, has gone so far to propose to the Federation Council that this ship should be recalled to Spacedock and be decommissioned in disgrace. Ladies and gentlemen, that will not be happening. Over the past two weeks, I have pushed you to the breaking point—and you have survived. You have thrived, and you have improved your skills to the point where this ship is almost ready for deployment.”

    “Many of you—most of you—had little to do with the events that have blackened our ship’s reputation, our own reputations. I have heard whispers about how this is unfair, and I have seen the shame and the guilt that you share with each other over our ship’s past. It is unfair, and in a perfect universe, it would not be. We do not live in a perfect universe, ladies and gentlemen. We live in the real universe.”

    “Did you like the stares and the snide remarks and the whispered comments behind you backs on Jupiter Station? Do you enjoy being tarred as the officers and men who abandoned a Federation Colony to their deaths? Do you feel pride at having the reputation only as a crew of screw-ups and misfits and beings that cannot be trusted a on a real Federation Starship?”

    “I don’t.”

    “You are probably asking yourselves, what is the Old Man going to do about this? How is he going to fix this? Ladies and gentlemen, I’m not.”

    I cannot fix Republic; I cannot change the opinion of others; I cannot make the universe perfect.”

    “I have done what I can in trying to make you remember why you first joined Star Fleet. I have made you stand up straight and tall, and I have pushed you to your upmost limits to remind you that you can do your job. I cannot do more. Only you can.”

    “The time has come for each of you sapient beings to make your own decision. Are you going to let those assholes from Jupiter Station and others who think like they do determine how high you hold your own head? Are you going to live down to their expectations, or live up to your own worth? Are you going to let our ship be shuffled from one miserable assignment to the next, crawling on our bellies so that no one notices her name? Or will you redeem her?”

    “I cannot do this for you. You have to choose, ladies and gentlemen. You can whine and cry and mope around in depression because you now know how the universe looks on Republic and her crew. Or you can change how they look at us. It won’t be easy and it sure as Hell won’t happen overnight. But if you want to remove the dishonor heaped upon you, if you want to cleanse the shame of this ship’s actions at Omicron Cygnii II, if you want to wipe away the stain on our reputations—I will back you. I will stand beside you. I will fight for you at the highest levels of Star Fleet and against station commanders that allow the crap you were coated with on Jupiter Station.”

    “Yes, you are angry—and you have every right to be angry. I am angry. And if you feel like you can’t handle that anger and that shame and the guilt that you feel, talk to Counselor Trincullo. That is what she is here for—to help you, to help me, to bring this ship back from the precipice of that yawning Abyss before us. Oh, it would be easier to go ahead and fall, to no longer care what anyone thinks about this ship, thinks about us. To become the caricatures which they imagine us to be.”

    “I will not walk that path. And I do not want one single soul aboard Republic who is willing to accept that for themselves. We are in this together now—all of us have been painted with the same broad brush. Whether we show the universe that we are better than that, ladies and gentlemen, that remains to be seen. I won’t promise we will convince everyone—there are people out there who will always assume the worst, who prefer the simple version of condemning this ship and her crew. There are people out there who will spit on you in twenty years, once they learn you served aboard Republic, and nothing will change the opinions of those close-minded bigots. But there are also men and women of all races, across this United Federation of Planets who will give you and this ship a second chance—if you show them they are wrong!”

    “It is up to you now. Your future is in your own hands. Stand by for warp drive test. Dahlgren out.”

    Matt flicked the comm stud to the off position and he stared at the three men who still stood in front of the turbolift. “You are no doubt asking yourselves what the Hell did I do to deserve this? You didn’t do anything, gentlemen. I needed officers and crew with your skills, but you are now one of us. A member of this crew, so get over being upset about it. Lieutenant Grissom, report to Commander Malik in engineering. Crewman Zapata, Commander Shrak will show you to the computer interface here on the bridge—Republic has been suffering faults in several systems, but the diagnostics and physical examination of the hardware has revealed nothing. We believe the problem is in the software of the computer cores—and I need a crack computer tech like you to get into the guts of the system, track down the problem, and fix it.”

    “Chief Bronson, it is my understanding that you are perhaps one of the best deflector techs in Star Fleet. I have an officer running Deflector Control, a nugget just out of the Academy. Can you get him and his section squared away?”

    Bronson smiled thinly. “Yes, sir. I’ve worked with several young officers before and I think I can.”

    “Good. Gentlemen, you may regard this assignment as the worst in the Fleet. Frankly, I don’t care. You are here because I need you and I need your experience. And now that you are part and parcel of this motley crew, I would suggest that you suck it up and bring this ship up to my standards. Yeoman Sinclair will direct you to your quarters and get you settled in, then report to your stations. Dismissed.”


    “Captain, we have cleared the warp safety perimeter of Jupiter,” Isabella called out from the helm.

    Matt didn’t look up from the log entry he was entering. “Thank you, Miss Montoya. Mister Shrak, set Yellow Alert and prepare for Warp speed.”

    “Aye, aye, Sir. Setting Yellow Alert. All hands, this is the XO—prepare for warp speed,” he paused, and then looked up from his console. “Republic is ready for warp test, Captain Dahlgren.”

    “Very good, Mister Shrak. Miss Montoya, come to heading 177 Mark 42 on course for Alpha Centauri A and take us to Warp speed.”

    “Aye, aye, Sir. Coming about to heading 177 Mark 42 on course for the Alpha Centauri system. Warp engines are coming on-line . . . now.”

    Matt looked up at the view screen as Republic shot forward warping space and time around her as she bypassed the physical realities of her universe.

    “Holding steady at Warp Factor 1,” announced Commander Shrak.

    “Increase speed to Warp 6, Miss Montoya—smartly, now.”

    “Aye, aye, Sir,” the helmsman answered as she began to slowly increase the power being fed into the nacelles from the warp core. Matt looked down at the repeater display mounted on the arm of his command chair, and slowly nodded as the numbers steadily climbed upward. He changed the display view and studied the warp field configurations for a moment, and then switched the display back. Shifting slightly in his seat, he toggled the intercom to engineering. “Mister Malik, how are we doing down there?”

    We are doing just fine, Sir. Stress on the warp-field in within established parameters, the core is operating at 42% of rated capacity, and the temperature of the warp coils are well below their tolerances.”

    “Prepare to take the core to 100%, Mister Malik. Inform me immediately if the core temperature or coil temperature begins to spike.”

    Aye, aye, Sir,” the engineer answered.

    “Warp 9, Miss Montoya.”

    “Accelerating to Warp Factor 9, aye, aye, Sir.”

    Once again, the ship surged forward smoothly. Matt closed his eyes and concentrated on feeling the low-frequency thrum of the warp core through the ship’s structure. Every ship—even two of the same class—responded slightly differently to warp speeds. But Matt remembered well how Republic had performed during his time aboard her as an Ensign and a junior Lieutenant. At last he opened his eyes and smiled, swiveling his chair to face Chan Shrak.

    “We are holding steady at Warp 9, Captain Dahlgren,’ the Andorian said crisply. “Hull vibration is very low, sir.”

    “She’s always had a smooth ride, Chan,” the Captain whispered. “Core temperature?”

    “Within expected parameters, Sir.”

    “Very well. Miss Montoya, hold us at this speed for five minutes and then take her to maximum.”

    “Aye, aye, Sir.”

    As the minutes ticked by, Matt stood and limped over to Shrak’s console. There was a slight rise in core temps, but the coils were still well within their limits. He clapped the XO on the shoulder and returned to his chair.

    “Take us to maximum power, Miss Montoya,” he said quietly.

    “Aye, aye, Sir.”

    As Republic began accelerating past Warp 9, Matt began to feel a slight tremor through the ship’s hull. Yes, just like he remembered, he thought.

    “Warp 9.1,” the helmsman called out as she focused on her instruments, “Warp 9.2 . . . 9.3 . . . 9.4 . . .” and the ship shuddered slightly, the bridge lights flickering.

    Grace Biddle was bent over her own console. “Increasing power to main deflector dish, sir,” she spoke up, and the ride smoothed out once again.

    “Captain,” Isabella said from her station, with a grin on her face. “We are now travelling at War 9.5, at 100% of the rated capacity of the warp core.”

    “Hold us at this speed for now, Isabella.”

    For one minute, then two, and three Republic pressed onward. Finally, Matt nodded, and he hit the comm stud to Engineering. “Mister Malik, your engines seem to be working.”

    That they are, Captain,” the clearly happy Trill’s voice rang back through the intercom.

    “And the core temp?”

    Climbing slowly, but still well below the point of shutdown, Sir. I believe we can maintain this speed for at least two hours without difficulty.”

    “Excellent. Bring the core to 125% of rated power, if you please, Mister Malik.”

    There was a distinct pause over the intercom. “Sir? Did I hear you correctly? You want me to increase the fuel feed to the Warp Core to 125% of the rated maximum capacity?”

    “That is correct, Mister Malik.”

    I cannot recommend that course of action, Sir. Star Fleet Regulations prohibit exceeding 100% of power except in times of war.”

    “I am aware of the regulations, Mister Malik and I will log your objections. Take us to 125% power on the core.”

    Aye, aye, Sir,” the Trill answered slowly, and then Matt thumbed the intercom off again. “Miss Montoya, increase speed. Take her up until she won’t go any faster or I tell you otherwise.”

    She stared at Matt, who nodded his head and cocked one eyebrow. Isabella blinked and she turned back to her console and began to slowly press the acceleration controls forward yet again. “Increasing warp power, aye, aye, Sir. Warp 9.6. . . 9.7 . . . 9.71 . . . 9.72 . . .”

    “Warp core temperatures are climbing, Captain Dahlgren,” interjected Chan Shrak. "Warp coil temperatures are in the caution zone as well, and rising.”

    “Understood. Miss Biddle, have the Main Deflector increase power to maximum—I don’t want us to hit a small rock at this velocity.”

    “Main Deflector is now at full power, Sir.”

    “. . . 9.73 . . . 9.74 . . . 9.75 . . .”

    Republic shuddered again and her ride was noticeably rougher.

    “. . . 9.751. . . 9.752 . . . 9.753 . . . 9.754 . . . holding at 9.754, Sir!” Isabella called out.

    “Steady as she goes, Miss Montoya,” Matt said as he activated a timer above the main viewer. “Maintain this speed.”

    The ship lurched, and Chan had to grab hold of his console to avoid being knocked off his feet. “Temperatures still rising in core and coils, Captain Dahlgren. We are now past the caution zone and into recommended shutdown.”

    “Understood, Mister Shrak. Continue as you are, people.”

    The intercom beeped. “Bridge, Engineering! The engines can’t take this, Captain! We need to reduce power!”

    “Steady, Mister Malik, these ships are tougher you think. Miss Tsien, give me a voice count on the time at this velocity, and continue every ten seconds.”

    “One minute, thirteen seconds,” the science officer said. “twenty seconds . . . thirty seconds . . .”

    “Core temperatures are now approaching auto-shutdown, Sir!” called out Shrak.

    “Computer, override shutdown, authorization Dahlgren Alpha Two Two Three Seven Beta Delta Four.”

    “Authorization code accepted. Auto shutdown sequence aborted,” the computer replied.

    “forty seconds . . . fifty seconds . . . TWO MINUTES . . .”

    “Miss Montoya, throttle down to Warp 7,” Matt said as he activated the engineering comm link again. “Mister Malik, reduce fuel feed and bring us back to nominal power conditions. Mister Shrak, how are the temperatures looking now?”

    “Dropping, Captain, coils are back in caution and still dropping. Core temperature . . . core temperature is now within regulation limits.”

    “Very well. Secure the ship from Yellow Alert. Miss Montoya, maintain Warp 7 until we arrive in the Alpha Centauri system and then bring us about on course for Earth—at Warp 9. Mister Shrak, I’ll be in my ready room. You have the conn.”

    “Aye, aye, Sir,” the XO answered. “I have the conn.”
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
  10. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    Chapter Six (cont.)

    Matt woke with a start as his comm badge beeped, and he sat up from the couch in his ready room. Swinging his legs over the side, he went to stand—and swore as his right leg collapsed, sending what felt like a red-hot poker tearing through his thigh. He gasped, and tried to stand again, but the leg simply wouldn’t take his weight. He tapped the comm badge.


    Captain we are approaching Earth and are about to drop out of warp,” Chan’s voice came across loud and clear.

    “Very well,” Matt said, fighting to keep the pain out of his voice. “Take the ship to impulse power and set course for Mars. Star Fleet is supposed to sending a ship out that way to conduct maneuvers against us.”

    Yes, Captain Dahlgren. We received confirmation fifteen minutes ago of our planned rendezvous with the Defiant-class USS McHale. You aren’t coming to the bridge, Sir?”

    “No, Mister Shrak.” Matt bit his tongue, and then continued. “I’ll join you after we meet up with McHale.”

    Very good, Sir,” the XO said and the transmission cut off.

    Matt slammed his fist into the carpeted deck and tried to get up again, but still his leg refused to obey his commands. Finally, he tapped his own comm badge. “Dahlgren to Sickbay.”

    Sickbay, here.”

    “Let me speak with Dr. Talbot.”

    After what felt like several painful minutes, a new voice came on line. “Talbot.”

    “Dr. Talbot, could you bring your kit to my ready room please.”

    Is something wrong, Captain?”

    “Just bring your kit, Doc. And use the turbolift off my ready room—don’t go through the bridge.”

    A few very painful moments later, the doors to the Captain’s ready room slid open and Quincy Talbot, M.D., stepped inside. He sighed as he saw Matt lying on the floor and shook his head as he crossed the deck.

    “I warned you,” he said put an arm around Matt and helped him up and to the couch. “I told you you were pushing yourself too hard, but no, what do I know? I mean I’m the only one in the room who attended and graduated medical school, the only one who has treated patients for thirty-seven years, so obviously I know less about medicine and rehabilitation than a stubborn starship skipper who won't follow instructions."

    Matt winced with pain as the older man pressed his fingers deep into his thigh, and the doctor nodded. He took his tricorder and it hummed as he ran it over the still healing wound. “You’re running a fever and the muscles are strained—again, Matt. You’ve been doing the exercises?”

    “Every night. I’m up to sixty pounds of dead weight.”

    Sixty? I told you forty, and every other night. And you haven’t been taking your pain medicine either, have you?”

    “They make me foggy, Quincy. I don’t have time for that.”

    “Listen to me, Matt. You keep pushing this leg and not letting it heal at its natural pace, and you will lose it—after ten months of rehab, you will lose the leg. I swear, you are doing more damage to yourself than that Jem H’dar Stormtrooper did with that fire axe aboard Kearsage.”

    The doctor with the big pug nose and white hair took out a hypo and injected Matt directly atop the old wound, and Matt bit his lip, doubling over with the pain.

    “There, that should relax the muscles and tendons and ligaments that you have wrenched again. But if you don’t give that bone time to heal, it never will. Pain meds?”

    “No,” said Matt as the Doctor shrugged and hit him with another hypo injector, causing the ship's captain to jerk again.

    “Damn it, Quincy, I said NO.”

    “It was the wrong answer, Captain Dahlgren. You are this close,” the surgeon held up his thumb and one finger with the barest hint of space between the two, “to me declaring you medically unfit for command! Besides, that hypospray is something new. Is it working?”

    Matt began to breathe easier and he sat back as the pain faded away. But his mind wasn’t blurred or fogged the way the other medications had made him. “Yeah. That works. You could have been giving me that all along?”

    The doctor chuckled. “Hell no. It hasn’t been approved for human trials yet by Star Fleet Medical.”

    Matt jerked. “Republic is officially a part of Galaxy Exploration Command, as you are aware, Captain. That means we qualify as an institution that can administer experimental pharmaceuticals as part of the trials. Well, congratulations, sir. You’ve just begun the first trials on Ladoculkaine VII. And no, you can’t give it yourself. I will be by your quarters every morning from now on so you get a dose before you start your day and in your quarters every night for another before you go to bed.”

    Matt tried to stand again, and this time he managed to get up with the help of the Doctor and his cane. “And no weight exercises for at least a week, Captain. I’m not joking. You need to get some rest.”

    “After these maneuvers, Quincy.”

    “I’ll hold you to that, Matt.”


    “Yes, Captain?”

    “Thank you.”

    “Don’t mention it. And stay off that damned leg, Sir.”


    Republic shivered and rocked as McHale tore past her starboard side, her pulse phasers slamming into the shields of the larger vessel, following the pair of torpedoes which the escort had unleashed. Although the weapons power output was barely 1% of their full nominal load, the computers aboard the Korolev-class ship shook the crew and vessel as if full power warshots had impacted.

    Matt winced as four golden phaser beams lanced out—three of which missed McHale completely. The fourth caught the small ship squarely on her shields, but wasn’t powerful enough to burn through.

    “Mister Roshenko,” Matt began.

    “She’s too agile, Captain, I can't get a targeting lock!”

    “Mister Roshenko, McHale is not a target beacon, and Captain Kessler is playing to win; something that you should anticipate any opponent will do.”

    “She’s coming around again!” added Chan.

    “Keep our nose to her, Miss Montoya, don’t let her get behind or underneath us!” Matt called out even as the bridge lurched yet again, but the nimble little ship dodged two torpedoes and three more phaser bursts and dove beneath them. More shield impacts rocked Republic, and Matt saw the ventral shields begin to flash yellow, showing their weakening state. The belly strip did manage to catch the escort with two bursts, but on a heretofore untouched shield.

    "Much better, Mister Roshenko," Matt said, and he turned to look at his XO. "She’s going for the anti-matter pods, Chan."

    Chan nodded in agreement. "And her captain knows right where to hit us.”

    Matt said back for a moment and then his eyes grew wide and he grinned. He swiveled his chair. “On the next pass, Mister Shrak, drop our stern shields on my command and cut power to all stern weapon systems. Mister Malik,” he continued into the comm unit, “upon that command you will power down the starboard nacelle and starboard impulse engine. Miss Montoya, using thrusters and port engines only, send us into a spin—make it look like we are out of control.”

    Chan Shrak smiled. “You are baiting her.’

    “Yes. Miss Biddle, have the stern tractor beam crews on standby—she can’t evade if she can’t move.”

    “HERE SHE COMES,” called out Isabella from the helm.

    Matt half stood and raised one hand, and he flashed it down as McHale fired. “NOW!”

    Once more, the old lady shuddered and rocked from side to side, and Matt could see the ventral shields flashing red—but the rear shields were down, and all the weapons covering the rear. He dropped back down into his seat as the ship began to spin wildly through three dimensions, and his display repeater showed the engines off-line as well.

    “Manual targeting, Mister Roshenko—maximum fire rate on all stern batteries, phaser and torpedoes, on my command. Mister Shrak, on that command, raise the stern shields.”

    “Aye, aye, sir," both the tactical officer and the XO answered in unison.

    McHale held her distance as Republic finally pulled out of the spin—her defenseless stern pointed directly towards the smaller warship. And then she turned her nose back towards the heavy cruiser and dove directly for the gap in the shields.

    "Tractor crews standing by, Sir," Grace Biddle called out.

    “Steady, steady,” Matt whispered, as McHale closed the range with every second. “NOW!”

    The stern shields snapped back up and in place just before the escort lined up for what should have the final shots of the engagement. Two powerful tractor beams grabbed the escort and momentarily pinned her in place, even as the stern weapons came back on line. The rear tube spat first one, and then a second, torpedo, each of which hit the struggling ship; and even before the torpedoes ran true, the stern phaser strip poured a constant beam of energy into the warship’s shields—shields that finally collapsed an instant before the small warships powerful engines broke her free of the tractor beams.

    “Cease fire,” Matt said. “Well done, ladies and gentlemen, well done indeed."

    Chan nodded. “You do realize that Captain Kessler is going to be rather peeved at what we just did, Captain Dahlgren? And that we have four more days of exercises against him and McHale? He has won the E for Excellence pennant in tactical exercises three years running, after all.”

    Matt smiled. “Then we had best get better quick, Mister Shrak.”


    Captain Richard Kessler was remarkably gracious to the men and women of the Republic, congratulating them on achieving their victory. Commander Shrak was equally magnanimous, commenting that holding McHale stationary for even such a short period of time had nearly burnt out both of the stern tractors—and that had McHale turned into the beams and began firing phasers and torpedoes into Republic at max rate, rather than attempt to break the tractor lock, it would have been rather questionable as to which ship would have survived.

    The courtesy shown by Captain Kessler did not stop him from going out and winning the next three exercises handily, however. But the fifth exercise, the one on the final day of the tactical maneuvers saw the umpires declare a tactical draw, as both ships were judged too severely damaged to continue.

    Although some among the crew were crestfallen that their ship had been soundly defeated three times out of five, the judges were impressed that Republic, a ship thirty years older than the McHale had performed so well. That report to Star Fleet, although technically confidential, was soon widely circulated among the lower decks of the cruiser, bolstering the crew's growing confidence and morale.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
  11. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    Chap Seven

    “Matt, come on in,” Josiah said as he stood from behind his desk in Star Fleet Headquarters. Two other men—Commodore Jurood and a Vulcan dressed in civilian clothing—also stood.

    “Admiral, Commodore,” Matt said as he shook their hands, and then he turned to face the civilian.

    “Ambassador Sepak,” the Vulcan said, bowing his head gracefully—he kept his hands firmly ensconced within the voluminous sleeves of his robes.

    “Ambassador,” Matt replied.

    Josiah sat, followed the other three men in turn, and he turned a wry smile upon his old friend. “I understand Richard Kessler was livid that he was bested even once by a ship as old as Republic, Captain?”

    “Rick was . . . irate at falling for my trick, to be sure. But he was only courteous and gracious towards my ship and crew.”

    “There are some members of the Admiralty, Captain Dahlgren,” the Andorian said with his antennae twitching, “who believe that the loss and the draw should be declared void in light of you using full-strength tractors in the first engagement—and then reversing the polarity and using them as repulsors in the fifth. My congratulations on that; you kept deflecting McHale’s torpedoes just far enough to generate a miss. Even though my understanding is that Admiral Grantham is not pleased at having to replace your ship’s tractors because of the stresses you put on them at Mars.”

    “Technically, Commodore, tractor beams are not weapons—and the rules of the engagement only stated that weapons were to be powered down to minimum levels. Tractors are equipment and tools, not weapons.”

    “Many also feel that your use of such techniques is far too similar to what the Borg routinely accomplish. And they are also concerned that such use of a device not intended as a weapon might spur research into the militarization of tractor-repulsor units. I, of course,” the Andorian said, pointing at his own chest, “am not one of those detractors.”

    “Certainly, the Borg was the first major opponent we’ve encountered that use tractors in combat on a routine basis—and their tractors are far more powerful than any in Star Fleet. But we have adopted other species tactics before—take the wolfpacks of Defiant- and Saber-class ships that we deployed in the Dominion War. That was nothing more than adopting the old Klingon idea of three smaller ships ganging up on a larger, more cumbersome vessel and worrying it to death.”

    “Oh, I quite agree, and so too do many of the officers in this building. But there are some who do not, Captain Dahlgren. And those few have no great love for either you or Republic; they would see you fail even if it costs Star Fleet a ship we can ill afford to lose.”

    Josiah shook his head. “Zak will talk your ear off with HQ gossip, Matt, if you give him the slightest opportunity—and he no doubt wants to discuss your tactical innovations at length. But that is not why I asked you to beam down here from Spacedock. When can Republic ship out?”

    Matt frowned. “Admiral Grantham assured me that his yard-workers will finish installing the new tractors by Thursday, and complete our full gripe list on Friday. It was my understanding that we would have at least two weeks of down-time, though—I’ve been pushing my people hard and wanted to give them some time with their families on planet.”

    “No, those plans have changed. Zak, see if you can light a fire under Grantham and get Republic pushed to the top of the list—I want you underway in 24 hours, if possible. What do you know about the Lorsham?”

    “Lorsham? I’ve never heard of them.”

    The Vulcan leaned forward slightly. “Not surprising, Captain. They are a race of being who inhabit a system they call Hak’ta-thor; their word for Home. It is G-class star located in The Cauldron.”

    Matt nodded. The Cauldron, he knew about. It was a dark nebula, rife with thick clouds of dust and debris—and one not too far distance from the core of the Federation worlds. The hazards it presented to navigation had not allowed for ships to pass through that of region of space until only a few decades ago, when improved deflector systems from the Galaxy program began to be distributed among the ships of the Fleet. He looked down as he dredged up the memories of old journals and he finally nodded.

    “The Lorsham and another race—the Kraal?—inhabit two systems within the Cauldron, correct?”

    The Vulcan nodded his approval. “Yes. Both races have developed warp drives, but where the Lorsham were friendly and eager for outside contact, the Kraal are isolationists and very, very territorial. Both species declined joining the Federation, although the Lorsham response was far more restrained. But now it appears that the Kraal have invaded and overrun several Lorsham colonies—and the Lorsham have asked for Federation assistance.”

    “The Federation Council has asked that I mediate the dispute, Captain. And I require immediate transport.”

    Matt nodded his understanding. “Had there been a threat assessment on the Kraal, Admiral?”

    “Unfortunately, Matt, there hasn’t been. It just wasn’t on Star Fleet’s list of priorities—but they are more technologically advanced than the Lorsham. Not that it requires a great deal to be more advanced than the Lorsham—their best ships are roughly comparable to the old Daedalus-class of the 22nd century.”

    “The Kraal are a different story, however: Hera made first contact back in 2361, she reported their vessels were armed with both disruptors and photon torpedoes, and well shielded—technologies that were not available at the time for the Daedalus-class ships.”

    The Ambassador held up a hand. “It matters not. We shall be talking with the Lorsham and the Kraal, not fighting them. Your vessel is only present to deliver me and my and staff, Captain Dahlgren. The Council has no intention of getting involved in yet another war at this time.”

    “I’ll have quarters prepared for you and your staff at once, Ambassador,” Matt responded. Although, I don’t think your intentions are going to matter a hill of beans if the Kraal don’t want to negotiate, he thought but didn’t say.

    Josiah stood, quickly followed by Matt, Jurood, and Sepak. “In that case, Matt, I’ll let you get to it. Don’t worry about Grantham—he’ll get your ship ready on time. Good hunting, Captain.”


    Matt sat with his eyes closed, as he listened to the last chorus of Loch Lomond. No instruments of wood or brass or strings; just voices blending perfectly together to form the ultimate expression of music. He lifted the crystal glass on the side table to his lips, taking a sip of the twenty-four year single-malt scotch whiskey—no synthehol, this!—before setting it back down on the table. As the voices crescendoed to the final strains, his comm badge beeped.

    “Computer, pause playback.”

    The music immediately stopped.

    “Dahlgren,” Matt said as he tapped the device.

    Lieutenant Commander Biddle, Sir. The communication channel you requested is now open.”

    “Thank you, Miss Biddle. Transfer it down here to my quarters, please.”

    Matt slowly stood and—ignoring the cane—took a few fumbling steps over his desk, where he sat down and opened the monitor. He pressed a series of icons and the screen blanked, and then an image appeared of a teenaged woman, the reflection of a newly rising sun shining off the lake and the mountains he could clearly see through the windows behind her.

    She smiled. “Dad!” she squealed. “Amy, Sarah, it’s Dad!” she yelled.

    “Hi, Cass,” Matt said to his oldest daughter. “How are you doing, sweetheart?”

    “Oh fine. Did you get the recording? Have you heard that we’re going to Paris and we get to perform at Notre Dame!”

    “I heard, baby. Congratulations—I know you’ve worked hard for this, and yes, I got the recordings—all of them. In fact, I was just listening to Loch Lomond—I think the tenor was a bit flat.”

    “Oh, Daddy,” she shook her head, still grinning, but then the grin faded and her face fell. “You aren’t going to be able to be there, are you?”

    “I’m sorry, Cass, but I’ve got orders to leave the system in just a few hours from now. I don’t know when I’ll be back at Earth—but promise me you’ll get Amy and Sarah to record it and send it to me via sub-space.”

    A faint voice came across the screen, and Matt’s heart lurched when he heard his ex-wife. “Cassandra, who is calling at this hour?”

    “Mom, it’s Dad! Can you get Amy and Sarah!”

    His daughter turned back to the comm and gave Matt a half-hearted smile. “You want to speak to Mom?”

    Matt just shook his head. “No, just tell her I called and that I hope she’s well.” Besides, he thought, I don’t need an argument this morning.

    “I understand—about Notre Dame, Daddy. Is your ship what you thought she would be?”

    “Better, Cass.”

    “Good. You need a woman in your life again,” his eldest said with a grin. Suddenly, there was an ear-piercing shriek, and his other two daughters came running into the field of view.

    “DADDY!” screamed the youngest, Sarah, a girl of only ten. Amy, his middle child and half-way grown at thirteen just smiled her breath-taking smile at him. She was the quiet one.

    “Hey, girls. I just called to see you.”

    “You’re going to space, aren’t you?” asked Amy.

    “I am sunshine.”

    She nodded. “You be more careful this time,” she said very firmly.

    “I will. I’ve sent your presents to your Mother, girls. She’ll have them for your birthdays, if I am not back on Earth by then. But I want letters every week, you get me?”

    “WE GET YOU, SIR!” all three of the girls shouted back smiling.

    “Ok, I’ve got to go, babies.”

    “WAIT!” hollered Sarah as she ran into another room, Amy and Cassandra shaking their heads. Matt waited until she got back and deposited a most displeased cat—her golden fur stripped with darker patterns and dots—right in front of the monitor.

    “See how BIG Jinx has got!”

    “Oh, she has, hasn’t she,” Matt said with a chuckle. The cat cocked her ears when she heard Matt’s voice and turned to look at the screen, pawing the monitor. “MEOW. MEOW.”

    “She’s saying she misses you, Daddy!” Sarah cried, lifting one of the cats forepaws and waving. “We all miss you.”

    “Miss you too, girls. Every week. And if you need to speak to me, you call that number at Star Fleet, and they will patch you through to me.” And if not, there will be HELL to pay, he thought.

    “Bye, babies, I’ve got to go now. I just wanted to see you again before I ship out.”

    One by one, the girls said bye, and then screen blanked, replaced by Star Fleet’s insignia. And Matt slowly closed the monitor, before he limped back to his chair, and lifted the glass of scotch.

    “Computer: restart recording.”

    By yon bonnie banks and by yon bonnie braes . . .”
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
  12. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    Chapter Seven (cont.)

    “HOLD STILL!” Lara commanded, “Stop that fidgeting, Ensign, and look up!”

    Chris grinned as he lifted his chin a little higher. “Aye, aye, ma’am,” he answered as his friend from the Academy finally managed to hook the tight collar of Robert’s dress uniform together.

    “There,” she said stepping back and giving Chris an appraising look. “Not bad, Chris, not bad,” she mused as she circled around him. “I think you are now presentable.”

    Chris sighed. “Why did he pick me for this?”

    “Silly, he’s been having all of his officers for dinner—I dined with the Captain last week. Well, me and seven other officers dined with the Captain.”

    “I know that, Lara. I mean, why this old ritual? No one else in Star Fleet does this.”

    “I don’t know, Chris. Maybe he wants to meet his officers in a situation where he doesn’t have to chew them up and spit them out! Maybe he wants to judge us in a formal dinner setting—although my dinner invitation didn’t include dress uniforms! Don’t forget, you’ve got the Ambassador at the table as well—and Commander Shrak.”

    “Yo-you want to take my place?”

    “Hush up. You’ll do fine, Ensign Christopher Roberts. Just remembers: Ensigns are supposed to be seen and not heard—Mister Shrak told me that one. So don’t speak unless someone asks you a direct question—and mind your manners, Mister!”

    “Quiet I ca-can do.”

    “Go get ‘em, Tiger!”


    The dinner wasn’t nearly as bad as Chris thought it would be. Besides him, the Captains guests included the XO, Lt. Commander Biddle, Lieutenant Bowen from Engineering, Lt. Commander Tsien, the Ambassador, and the Vulcan’s senior aide, Zakariah. So far, the conversation had been light and witty (although Chris had followed Lara’s instructions and kept silent) and the meal was excellent. Not replicated, either, but hand-cooked by Captain Dahlgren’s chef—another slot Chris thought he would never have seen aboard a starship.

    They had finally arrived at the desert course, and the yeoman’s had whisked away the earlier plates and glasses, replacing them with smaller china platters with silver dome lids. The crewmen assigned to the dinner party refilled carafes of sweet iced tea, and water, and juice, and then the chef came out of the adjourning pantry and extended a sealed bottle to Captain Dahlgren. The Captain took out a pair of glasses—real spectacles!—and put them on to read the label, and then he nodded at the chef, who removed the cork and poured a small amount of genuine brandy into the bottom of a snifter. The captain inhaled the scent of the liquor; he swirled it in the glass, and then he took a small sip.

    “Most excellent, Francis,” he said to the chef who bowed slightly. “I do hope my officers will share this cognac with me? Ambassador, I am aware that Vulcans do not drink . . .”

    “We do not usually drink, Captain Dahlgren, but I must admit I have developed a taste for earth cognacs. I shall try a snifter.”

    Glass by glass, Francis circled the table and poured just enough cognac to cover the bottom of the curved crystal goblets. Then, the chef stepped back and the yeoman’s removed the silver lids revealing . . . a grayish stone mottled in green?

    “You honor me, Captain Dahlgren,” the Ambassador said. “Ts’kaba fruit is a rare enough delicacy upon its native Vulcan. I shan’t inquire too closely as to how you acquired ripened ts’kaba in such a short time.”

    Republic and her officers wished to show their appreciation for the Ambassador’s service to the Federation, Ambassador.”

    The Vulcan bowed his head slightly, and then his stern gaze settled on Chris.

    “You first experience with ts’kaba, Ensign?”

    “Yes, Sir.”

    “I also believe that is the first spoken words I have heard from you all evening. Take these tongs,” the Vulcan instructed, holding up a silver utensil,” in your left hand and fix them firmly to the fruit. Then, using this utensil,” he held up a small silver hammer, “gently crack the shell along what you would refer to as the 65th-degree of latitude, were the fruit a planet. Taking the fork, pry the cracked rind up and away, placing it to one side. And then,” the Vulcan finished as he lifted a spoon and scooped up a glistening chunk of a reddish-orange pulp, “you eat.”

    Sepak slowly chewed the fruit and then he swallowed. “It is a most excellent ts’kaba, Captain.”

    Chris followed the ambassador’s directions as conversion resumed and the other guests were cracking open their own fruits, but his first tap did not crack the rind.

    “A bit firmer, Ensign,” the Vulcan advised, and then he frowned. “I would suggest, however, that you reposition the tongs before . . .”

    CRACK! As Chris tightened his grip on the utensil and began to strike it again, the fruit shot out of the grips and soared up on a ballistic arc.

    “. . . you lose . . .”

    The young man’s jaw dropped, his mouth opened, and the blood drained from his face as the errant fruit struck a carafe of iced juice, knocking it over where it spilled its contents directly into the lap of the ship’s Captain.

    “. . . the fruit.”

    Matt gasped as the sweet, sticky juice, chilled with cubes of ice, poured into his lap, and he jerked slightly, and then he looked down at the mess.

    There was absolute silence in the dining room. Yeoman Sinclair moved towards the Captain, but Matt held up one hand, and she stopped in her tracks. He raised his head and lifted the drenched napkin from his lap, turning it around and around until he found a dry spot, and he patted his lips.

    “Ambassador,” he said in a quiet and even voice. “Mister Shrak. I believe that I will retire for the night. Please, gentlemen, ladies, feel free to finish your meal.”

    Chan Shrak had both arms set on the table, his face buried in his open palms, but his antennae weren’t merely twitching—they quivered! A white faced Grace Biddle turned to stare directly at Chris in horror, and the other officers were only barely containing their shocked laughter. The ensign slowly closed his open mouth, as he tried to apologize but not a single sound emerged.

    Matt reached down, and picked up his cane, and then he stood, followed by everyone else at the table. “Good evening, to all of you,” the Captain said as he limped to the doors and exited, dripping fruit juice behind him.

    The Ambassador nodded and folded his hands before him. “Please extend my complements to the Captain’s chef, Mister Shrak. And I think perhaps it is best to end the meal here. Come along Zakariah.” The aide trailed out behind the Vulcan, and slowly each of the other guests began to shuffle towards the door.

    Chris took two steps, only to be stopped by the stern voice of the XO. “No, Mister Roberts; not you. Everyone else, you are dismissed.”

    Oh boy, Chris, he thought to himself, have you managed to screw up big this time.


    “Captains Log, Stardate 53750.0, USS Republic. We have been traveling at Warp 8 for the past 116 hours since leaving the Solar System en route to the Cauldron. Republic appears to have gotten her second wind and all systems are operating well within the limits of regulation. We will drop out of warp just outside the nebula and reconfigure the main deflector and bussard collectors handle the increased particle density. According to Stellar Cartography, it should take seventeen hours to penetrate the outer cloud at Warp 4--higher speeds being contraindicated by the prevailing conditions within the cloud itself."

    "This is my first encounter with the Cauldron, and upon reviewing the data Lieutenant Commander Tsien has provided for me, I must say that I am impressed. Most nebulas, even those formed from the explosive demise of a star, are seldom home to sentient lifeforms. But within the interior of the Cauldron, space-normal conditions prevail after piercing the wall of dust and debris. Seventeen star systems lie within a ‘hollow’ at the center of the nebula. Those seventeen systems, contain at least fourteen known Class M worlds, several of which have been colonized by the Lorsham and the Kraal. It is most unusual and quite possibly unique, and Lt. Commander Tsien has expressed her eagerness to examine the nebula at close range, an eagerness that I must admit that I share. The dust clouds and debris fields that litter the nebula have provided both of these races with access to nearly unimaginable amounts of resources. Information on the Kraal exploitation of the nebula is not fully known, but the Lorsham have many ships dedicated to mining the resources, leaving their colony worlds ecologically pristine. Technologically, the Lorsham are roughly comparable to the Federation as it was in the late 22nd and early 23rd Centuries.”

    “I am concerned by the reports that indicate powers originating outside of Federation space have made contact these two cultures within the Cauldron, powers that include the Klingons, the Orions, and the Ferengi. Whether or not any of these powers are behind the sudden aggressive actions by the Kraal remains to be seen, but the recent appearance of disruptors, shields, and photon torpedoes on Kraal ships in the past two decades indicates either that culture is rapidly advancing or receiving covert assistance and technological innovation.”

    “Ambassador Sepak is convinced that diplomacy can resolve the issues; I remain skeptical that a race as xenophobic as the Kraal will respond to any such overtures from a being outside of their own closed society. Accordingly, I have stepped up drills and battle simulations aboard Republic. I am confident that we can end any Kraal aggression quickly if necessary—provided that our information is correct. Unfortunately, there is a noticeable paucity of data on the Kraal, and many of the briefing notes which the Ambassador provided are prefaced with ‘to the best of our knowledge’; a knowledge that is sorely lacking in many key areas.”

    “The crew are as prepared as I can make them for this challenge, and they appear to be rising to the occasion. Morale has soared as they have come to realize that if our ship can avert a war, the weight of her shame will be lessened. In addition, our system faults have been eliminated: crewman Zapata managed to locate the error in our primary and secondary computer cores and restored the systems to full nominal operation. Perhaps we have left our gremlins behind us.”
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
  13. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    Chapter Eight

    The ship lurched to one side and shook violently.

    “Ionization levels are increasing, Sir,” Grace sang out from the Ops station. “There is a substantial amount of sub-space turbulence.”

    “Steady as she goes, Miss Montoya,” Matt said calmly, as he gazed down at the readings himself. “Miss Tsien, tie the lateral sensors into navigation to increase short-range resolution—perhaps we can avoid these pockets of sub-space instability.”

    “On it, Captain,” the Science Officer replied from her station behind him.

    Ahead, on the main viewer, Matt could see the flashes of light created by tidal motion of the gasses and dust and debris, flashes that briefly illuminated the blue and black cloud through which Republic steadily cruised.

    Penetrating the cloud had proved (so far, at least) just as difficult as Hera’s logs had indicated. Not only did the particle density exceed that of the majority of such stellar phenomena, the Cauldron had tides and flows of gravity influenced by the strange effects of the dark matter hidden within. It wasn’t quite as intense as the Badlands, but close, Matt thought.

    “Approaching the inner boundary,” Amanda said softly. “We should be clear in just a few more minutes.”

    A massive bolt of lightning, born from the ionized gasses and debris, flashed across the viewer—but Republic’s shields held, even though the ship shook violently.

    “No damage, Captain Dahlgren,” Chan intoned as his hands flew across the console. “Shields holding at 82%. Ionization levels have dropped by half.”

    Matt nodded. “Mister Roshenko, drop another Class VI probe; this should be the final link in our chain to the outside.”

    “Aye, aye, sir; launching Class VI Probe on station-keeping.”

    This was the ninth communications relay probe that Matt had deployed—but he had no intention of being unable to communicate with Star Fleet. And the sub-space interference the nebula had already shown distorted sub-space radio over long distances—using the probes as communication beacons and relay points would allow any transmission to quickly reach Star Fleet with a minimum of signal loss.

    Plus, the sensor arrays carried by the probes would record the phenomena encountered within the nebula for later analysis, a task that would keep Amanda’s science teams occupied.

    Suddenly, the main viewer cleared, the clouds of gas and dust and debris falling away to reveal clear space ahead, with nearly twenty stars shining bright against the backdrop of the Cauldron’s distant walls.

    “We are clear, sir,” said Isabella from the helm.

    “Very good, all stop.”

    “All stop, aye, sir.”

    “Deflector Control, reconfigure the main dish for space-normal operations; Mister Malik, reset the Bussard Collectors and dump the accumulated gas.”

    Two voices answered his command in near unison, “Aye, aye, sir.”

    “Mister Shrak, secure the ship from Yellow Alert and post normal watches.”

    “Canceling Yellow Alert.”

    The turbo-lift doors opened and Ambassador Sepak stepped onto the bridge, trailed by several members of his staff. Matt swiveled his chair.

    “Mister Ambassador, welcome to the Cauldron,” he said with a smile. And then the captain noticed that Amanda Tsien was frowning. “Miss Tsien, is there a problem?”

    “Sir . . . this makes no sense.”

    Matt frowned. “What, exactly, Miss Tsien, makes no sense?”

    “Nebulas with star systems within them do form pockets of clear space generated by the solar wind of the individual stellar masses. But those pockets are always local and surround each star. Only a supernova expansion shell differs; but the Cauldron is not a nova remnant. And yet, there is a space 33-light years in length, 24-light years in width, and 15-light years in height with standard interstellar conditions. These conditions should not be present.”

    The Vulcan arched one eyebrow. “That was also noted by the crew of the Hera fifteen years ago, Lieutenant Commander. It should have been expected.”

    “Yes, Ambassador. But long-range sensors also show that none of the dimensions of the interior boundaries have altered in the slightest since that time. They remain exactly as they were when Hera penetrated the dust cloud. None of the drifts have expanded or diminished, and that . . . that shouldn’t be true.”

    “Fascinating,” the Vulcan said. “Are your sensors in proper working order, Lieutenant Commander Tsien?”

    “They are.”

    Now Matt’s frown deepened and he compared Republic’s sensor readings with those from the Nebula-class cruiser fifteen years ago. They matched precisely. And that was impossible, wasn’t it?

    “It is a mystery of the Cauldron,” Sepak answered. “Perhaps, once we have normalized relations with the Lorsham and averted this conflict, Star Fleet might be enticed to station a scientific research vessel here for further study.”

    “I will be recommending exactly that, Mister Ambassador,” Matt said as he shook his head. “Miss Biddle, open a communications channel to the Lorsham Central Authority in the Hak’ta-thor system.”

    “Channel open.”

    “This is Captain Matthew Dahlgren of the Federation Starship Republic. We will arrive at Hak’ta-thor Prime in . . .”

    “Eighty-three minutes at Warp 6, Sir,” Isabella chimed in from her station.

    “. . . eighty-three minutes with Ambassador Sepak and his retinue in response to your request for Federation assistance.”

    The main viewer changed from displaying the nebula to show an elegantly dressed humanoid seated behind a desk. His face and hands were covered in a short fur of red and white, and his jaw was extended forward in a muzzle filled with sharp teeth.

    “I am Premier Vorshun, the leader of the Lorsham people, and I bid you welcome to Shai’kar Morva—the Cradle of Life among the Clouds of Space. We shall be expecting your arrival, Captain Dahlgren. We have much which to discuss.”

    The screen blanked, and Matt blinked. “Not much for conversation, are they?”

    “They are a logical people, Captain Dahlgren,” the Ambassador answered. “I suspect that our questions will be answered with efficacy upon our arrival.”

    “Which will only raise additional questions, I think Mister Ambassador.”

    Once again, the Vulcan raised an eyebrow. “Indeed. It would be a most boring universe if we knew the answer to every question there is.”

    Matt smiled and nodded. “Touché, Sir. Miss Montoya, make your course to the Hak’ta-thor system, Warp Factor Six.”


    Chan Shrak shook his head as he took in the ships in orbit above Hak’ta-thor Prime through the window of the captain’s ready room. The Lorsham ships recalled to protect their home system were well built, and lovingly maintained—that much was obvious just from looking at them from the screen. But there were only three dozen of the small vessels—and of those only four could claim to be even half of Republic’s length, a mere fraction of her tonnage. Sensors, of course, penetrated farther than the naked eyes; and here too the primitive nature of the Lorsham space effort was readily apparent. The low-powered warp drives were unlikely to reach any speed much above Warp 5 (or, to be plain spoken, little more than what one of Republic’s shuttlecraft could reach), and their weapons were a combination of old-style phase cannon and spatial torpedoes. They did possess surprisingly effective shields, however; a fact which had caused Ambassador Sepak to frown. After all, the Lorsham had not developed shields only fifteen years ago, and yet now they had them.

    “Regulations forbid it, you know. And with that leg, you certainly can’t run if things go wrong.”

    Matt looked up in exasperation at this first officer. “Chan, we aren’t beaming down into the middle of a Jem H’dar base. The Ambassador asked me to accompany him to the surface and I am going. That is the end of this discussion.”

    “Very well, Captain Dahlgren, Sir,” the Andorian said with a twinkle in his eyes and his antennae twitched. “You will need an aide—and a bodyguard, and on that part, Captain, I must insist.”

    Matt glared at his first officer, but Chan just stood there as cool as ice and returned the stare. Finally, the Captain chuckled. “Very well. One aide, Chan, and a discrete Marine. Oh, and have Counselor Trincullo report to Transporter Room Two as well.”


    “She’s the closest thing I’ve got to a Betazed telepath, Chan, and she’s good at reading people. I want to know if the Lorsham are holding something back from us. Like why their colonies fell almost two months ago and yet we haven’t encountered a single Kraal ship since our arrival. Not even on scanners. Does that strike you as strange that wouldn’t even have a scout out there observing this system?”

    “I was afraid it was my paranoia acting up again, Sir. But since you asked, I get the strangest feeling that we may not quite as welcome as the Lorsham claim. Certainly, they requested that Republic take a parking orbit on the opposite side of the planet from that shipyard complex they have in orbit. Almost like there is something there they don’t want us to get a good look at.”

    Chan smiled. “Too bad they don’t know you are a devious, devious man, Captain Dahlgren.”

    “Then I take it the passive scans from the stealth probe we dropped off on our journey in system picked up something?”

    “You might say that,” the XO answered as he laid a data-chip on the captain’s desk. Matt slid it into a slot and then the data began streaming across—followed by a picture, and he whistled low.

    “My, my, my, Chan. What is a Bat’leth-class battle cruiser doing here?”

    “Such a suspicious mind, Captain Dahlgren, tsk, tsk, tsk; what would the Vulcan say? After all, I’m sure the Klingons have a perfectly legitimate reason to send one of their newest and most modern warships this deep into Federation space and be on scene just as we are having reports of a war, and a plea for Federation assistance. Who knows? They might just be on an errand of mercy.”

    Matt nodded as he slowly stood. “Ambassador Sepak doesn’t want us to carry weapons; but,” the Captain said, raising his hand and his voice to cut off his XOs next words, “he doesn’t get the final call on that.”

    “Have Beck issue Trincullo, my aide, and myself a cricket—we’ll let the Marine carry the only obvious weapon, which will displease the Ambassador greatly, I am certain.”

    “Of course sir.”

    “And speaking of which, who exactly are you planning to assign as my aide, Mister Shrak?”

    Chan smiled and hit his comm badge. “Get in here.”

    The doors to the bridge access corridor slid open and Ensign Roberts walked in and snapped to attention. “Reporting as ordered, Sir!”

    Matt shook his head, and finally nodded. “Mister Roberts, Mister Shrak is about to brief you. Try not to spill any fruit juice on me while he does, or while the two of us are meeting with the leadership of the Lorsham on planet.”

    “I-I’m beaming down with you, Sir?”

    “Something about that you don’t like, Ensign?”

    “No, Sir! NO, SIR! I just wasn’t expecting . . .”

    “Mister Roberts, Mister Shrak selected you—so you must have been doing something right. Chan, I’ll meet you in Transporter Two; right now I need to see Dr. Talbot before I beam down with the Ambassador and his staff—and your Mister Roberts, here.”

    “I will make certain he knows his assignment, Captain Dahlgren,” Chan said, as Matt limped out of the ready room.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
  14. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    Chapter Eight (cont.)

    Six shimmering columns of light appeared in the square as Matt, the Ambassador, and the remainder of the away team materialized. Several of the Lorsham were waiting on their arrival, and the aliens bowed in unison. “I am Carelis, honored guests, assistant to Premier Vorshun. He is waiting within to greet you.”

    As the Ambassador exchanged greetings, Matt took a moment to look around the city. The government complex was set upon the peak of a high hill, providing him with a spectacular view of the entire urban area. The Lorsham did not appear to favor soaring towers, for most of the structures were set low to the ground. Patches of vegetation and trees—parks, perhaps—were interspaced among the polished marble buildings, which were adorned with columns and bas-reliefs.

    The overall effect was grandiose and suggested to the Captain a confidence and pride in the Lorsham people. But, there were only a handful of ground vehicles moving—and where were all the residents? Some few were walking amongst the buildings, but no more than would normally be found on the grounds of the Academy between classes. It was certainly nothing like San Francisco or London or Moscow. He turned his attention back to the assistant to the Premier and the Ambassador.

    “This way, gentlebeings,” Carelis said, bowing again and waving them forward.

    Over tiled mosaic floors and through halls lined with bold brightly-colored frescos they walked until they reached a vast rotunda beneath an impressive dome. Across the rotunda, the red-furred Lorsham who had greeted their hail sat on a gilded throne.

    Vorshun stood as they approached him. “Welcome to the world of my people. Ambassador,” he said to the Vulcan, who bowed his head politely, “Captain.”

    “Premier Vorshun,” the Vulcan spoke, “you have requested Federation assistance. I am prepared to offer such. How did this conflict with the Kraal begin?”

    “The Kraal have always been disagreeable, and there have been skirmishes between us in the past. They seem to regard Shai’kar Morva as their sole territory, and have moved against us to consolidate their power; Mister Ambassador, I think they mean to conquer us.”

    “But why now, Premier? What has provoked them into initiating hostilities against your people?”

    “Provoked? Do you suggest that it is the Lorsham to blame for this? We have only sought to aid the Kraal, sharing with them our technology and our culture, and for that they repay us by . . .” Vorshun’s voice trailed off. “It does not matter. They have taken two of our worlds, they have destroyed a number of our ships. But now the mighty Federation is here to assist us in defending our homes.”

    “Premier Vorshun, I am here to mediate an end to this conflict—not to get the United Federation of Planets embroiled in another war.”

    The Lorsham’s eyes narrowed and his muzzle quivered slightly. “You will stand by and watch as the Kraal destroy all which my People have created? You will not aid us?”

    “We will aid you, Premier. But perhaps diplomacy can resolve this conflict without the need for further violence.”

    “Take your ship to Gelast II or Shirdon IV, Mister Ambassador. Look at the bombed out shells of my People, there. And ask yourself how you can negotiate with those who murder women and children.”

    “Know this; if the Federation will not aid us, there are other powers who will. Bring in the emissary,” he barked at his assistants.

    Matt could feel the rise in tension of the Lorsham around him; they clearly did not like what the Ambassador had to say. And it did not escape the starship captain that the Premier had not, in any way, actually answered the Ambassador’s question. Why had this war begun in the first place?

    Heavy booted steps echoed from the tiles that lined the floor, and Matt turned to watch the Klingon officer stride into the rotunda. He nodded to himself as he noticed that the uniform the Klingon war bore none of the Imperial standards—instead he must either serve one of the Great Houses of the Empire, or be a renegade.

    “Ambassador, may I introduce to you Captain Krull, of the Klingon Empire. His ship was visiting Shai’kar Morva when this crisis escalated. And he has been kind enough to offer us his protection—and the friendship of Chancellor Martok and the Imperial High Council.”

    “Captain Krull, Ambassador Sepak of the United Federation of Planets.”

    “Good day, Ambassador. I see that the Vulcans continue to keep Star Fleet on a short leash,” he barked, baring his teeth in a ferocious smile, which he transferred to Matt. “You must be the commander of that relic in orbit. Has Star Fleet taken to fielding museum pieces instead of proper ships of the line?”

    “Calmly, Krull,” whispered Vorshun softly—almost too softly for Matt to hear. But Ambassador Sepak did raise an eyebrow.

    The Klingon turned back to the throne, and bowed low on one knee. “Forgive me, Premier. I did not mean to insult your guests.”

    And the tone in which he spoke was one of reverence! Matt realized with shock. Not mocking, not sarcastic, but worshipful reverence—from a Klingon. What the . . .

    A bell sounded, and the Premier frowned. “There are matters of state that require my attention,” he said as the gongs slowly continued to chime. “We will speak again, later today, Mister Ambassador. Please return to your vessel.”

    The Ambassador slowly gave a half-bow, and Matt tapped his comm badge. “Republic. Six to beam up.”

    As the transporter beam formed around him, Matt could see the Klingon and the Lorsham prostrating themselves, chanting, “Blessed be Ordan, who . . .” but he rematerialized onboard the starship before he could hear the rest.

    “Fascinating, Captain Dahlgren,” said the Ambassador as he stepped off the transporter pad. “Not exactly what I was expecting.”

    Matt nodded, still frowning, as he walked over to the intercom on the transporter console. “Bridge, this is Dahlgren. Run a database search for Ordan—spelling unknown; start with Hera’s records and see if there is any mention from her first contact.” He turned back to the Ambassador. “Nor I, Sir; but I believe we are living in interesting times, as the ancient Chinese said.”


    Matt limped into the conference aft of the bridge, and his senior officers, the Ambassador, and the three members of his away team stood. “As you were,” he said as he took his seat.

    “The Ambassador has now briefed you on what occurred on the planet’s surface. Ladies and gentlemen, something is not right here—I’ve got an itch between my shoulder blades like a cloaked Romulan is dead astern and ready to fire. So here’s what we are going to do: Mister Shrak, we are going to assume a modified state of Yellow Alert—and we are going to remain there. All compartments are to be manned; all weapons are to have their local crews on station and ready to go hot on a moment’s notice. We will not raise shields; that could be viewed as provocative. Lieutenant Beck, I want full internal security, including roving patrols. Your Marines are authorized Type II Phasers, and your reaction teams Type III Phaser Rifles. Officers and senior NCOs will be issued a Type I Phaser. Doctor Talbot, Medical is to remain ready to receive casualties, and Mister Malik I want Damage Control manned and ready around the clock.”

    “I could be wrong, but this Vorshun," Matt shook his head, "I don’t like the vibe I am feeling from him. Counselor Trincullo, have you formed any opinions about the Lorsham in general, and Vorshun in particular?”

    “He was hiding something, Sir,” the counselor quietly replied. “That much was obvious—to you as well as the Ambassador and myself. I was carefully watching him, Captain, just like you asked, and well, body language is not the same across different races,” and here she looked down before she met his gaze firmly. “That said, his unconscious muscular responses, well . . . Captain, they frightened me. He is a fanatic, in my opinion.”

    Sepak nodded gravely. “I concur, Captain Dahlgren. It is a shame that we were unable to record the meeting, perhaps a more detailed analysis of the playback might reveal something we have each missed.”

    Matt frowned and almost burst out laughing as Ensign Roberts, standing with his back against one wall slowly raised his hand like an Academy cadet. Chan groaned, and Lt. Commander Biddle shook her head. Matt forced his lips to maintain a stern and somber look.

    “Mister Roberts, put your hand down before you look even more ridiculous. Do you wish to add something?”

    “Y-yes, Sir, Captain Dahlgren, Sir,” the young man said. “I wasn’t really certain what Commander Shrak meant when he said I was your aide, Sir, other than to do exactly what you told me to do. But I was . . . I thought I might have to write a report to you on the away mission, and I . . . I-I set my tricorder to automatically record from inside the holster, Sir. I have the entire thing stored from beam-down to beam-up.”

    “Good thinking, Mister Roberts. Well done, Ensign,” Matt said with a smile, and he nodded to Chan who still shaking his head—with his antennae jumping around hysterically got up and collected the tricorder.

    “Miss Tsien, has a data-search of our memory banks indicated any results for the word Ordan?”

    “Actually, Sir, there was a reference. Hera included a sample of Lorsham literature in her first contact report, including a text known as The Book of Ordan. I’ve assigned Social Sciences to dissect the text in its entirety and prepare a report for you and the Ambassador, but it is certainly a religious text, similar to the Torah, the Bible, the Koran, and others from Earth . . . and, of course, The Book of Ice from Andoria. Not to mention all of other cultures and races. It speaks about an angel named Ordan who brought knowledge and society to prehistorical Hak’ta-thor. According to the text, it was Ordan who united the Lorsham and brought about their present day culture. Interestingly, there are several passages within the text that make it appear as if his angel came to the planet from space—and that was no nebula. This being then, at some point further in time, left to return to her home. But she left behind the Shai’kar Morva—the Cradle of Life among the Clouds of Space—to shield and protect the Lorsham until her return. And she does promise to return, to see with her own eyes what the Lorsham have achieved in her absence, and then to spread them throughout the galaxy until “the Word of Ordan is heard by every ear, and every mouth speaks the Glory of her Name”. And that is a literal translation of the last line of the text.”

    “Oh boy,” muttered the Trill engineer. “Zealots.”

    “Captain,” chimed in Doctor Talbot. “With your permission, I’d like to have Medical go over those tricorder scans in detail—this business with the Klingon has me very worried. It almost sounds as if they have brainwashed him, and Klingons are not the easiest of races to mentally influence.”

    “Agreed,” said Matt. “Chan, search our files again and find me everything that Star Fleet intelligence has gathered on Krull. If we have to fight, I want to know my enemy.”

    The Andorian nodded his agreement.

    The Vulcan cocked one eyebrow. “I realize that your ship is larger, Captain Dahlgren, but can Republic successfully engage a Bat’leth-class battlecruiser?”

    “It would be a close run thing, Mister Ambassador. She’s brand-spanking new, even if she is smaller than their Vor’cha-class. Our shields are better, but she can cloak and we carry about the same amount of raw firepower. Let’s hope we don’t have to find out which captain is better.”

    “In fact, I think I am going to send a message to Star Fleet Command, and request they send a second ship out this way. Just in case things take a turn for the worse.”

    “I am not certain we will have time for you to exit the Cauldron and send that message, Captain Dahlgren,” the Ambassador answered.

    Chan chuckled. “Our captain is well-prepared, Mister Ambassador. We dropped a chain of comm relay beacons on our passage through the Cloud. Rest assured, we can send a message to the Fleet from our current parking orbit.”

    Once again, the eyebrow was raised. “You would have made an excellent diplomat, Captain Dahlgren. We appreciate the need for a . . . what is that human expression, ah yes . . . an ace in the hole.”

    Bridge to Captain Dahlgren. Bridge to Captain Dahlgren.

    Matt hit his comm badge. “Dahlgren.”

    Premier Vorshun has just hailed us, Sir. He is ready to resume the talks and has requested that the Ambassador beam down.


    Matt took a long look at his officers and then nodded. “I want you and your people ready, for any contingency. I’ll be accompanying the Ambassador . . .”

    “Pardon the interruption, Captain Dahlgren. But that shan’t be necessary.”

    Matt turned his gaze on the Vulcan and he inclined his head. “Go on.”

    “I think that instead of beaming down with me, we should accept Premier Vorshun’s invitation to see his abandoned colonies with our own eyes. I doubt that he intended for us to do so, but he did grant us permission, almost in fact issued an order. Quite clearly.”

    “I can assign you security, Mister Ambassador.”

    “That would only provoke, Vorshun I fear. My aides are trained in defensive maneuvers—we will be fine.”

    Chan snorted. “And having this ship head for the planets that were attacked won’t provoke him?”

    “An ancestor of mine once remarked that it is easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission, Commander Shrak.”

    Matt nodded. “And if we should happen to make contact with a Kraal vessel on the voyage, perhaps we might glean their side of the events.”

    “Indeed. I might have to recruit you for the Diplomatic Corps, Captain Dahlgren.”

    “Heaven forbid; I'll retire first, Mister Ambassador. Very well then, ladies and gentlemen, assume your stations and prepare to get under way.”

    Matt waited as his officers filed out of the briefing room. “You are taking a risk, Mister Ambassador. We won’t be back for at least two days. Quite possibly longer.”

    “That risk comes with the title, Captain Dahlgren, much like that of the Captain and crew of a Star Fleet starship. We who talk also serve, after all.”

    Matt stood and raised his right hand in the Vulcan salute. “Live long and prosper, Ambassador Sepak.”

    “Good hunting, Captain Dahlgren,” the Vulcan answered as he extended his hand across the conference table. A hand that Matt took and shook firmly.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
  15. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    Chapter Nine

    “Captains Log, Stardate 53750.3, USS Republic. Scans of both Gelast II and Shirdon IV have confirmed that both planets have been depopulated; all population centers were subjected to a sustained, methodical, and thorough photon bombardment from orbit. Both colonies were rather small, with an estimated total population of less than fifty thousand. Exhaustive sensor sweeps have indicated no Lorsham survivors on either colony, and we have detected debris from several Lorsham ships in both systems as well.”

    “And yet, we have so far failed to detect even a single Kraal ship in the space claimed by the Lorsham. Our communication attempts with the Kraal have gone unanswered as well.”

    “At first glance, the nature of these atrocities committed against the Lorsham colonies appears to support the claim that the Lorsham are being attacked. But why? For what reason did the Kraal see fit to obliterate the two colonies, and then simply stop their advance? Why aren’t we detecting Kraal forces massing for an attack into the Hak’ta-thor system? Why haven’t the Kraal claimed these worlds if they are launching a war of expansion?”

    “There are too many unanswered questions here.

    “Admiral Parker agrees that there is more here than meets the eye—and he was . . . concerned at the presence of a Klingon battlecruiser this close to the core of the Federation. His latest transmission confirms my suspicions that Krull is not a part of the Klingon Defense Force; Chancellor Martok, according to the Admiral, claimed that Krull is in the service of one of the Great Houses, that of Lord Mak’vegh—a known rival for the Chancellor’s seat in the High Council. He has promised the Admiral that answers will be forthcoming, but I fear that such answers will take time.”

    “And time may well be a resource that is rapidly running thin.”

    “In the meantime, Star Fleet Command has issued orders to the Andromeda-class USS Piper and the Nebula-class USS Phoenix to proceed to the Cauldron at once. Unfortunately, it will take at least a week for either of these ships to reach the Cauldron.”

    “Accordingly, I have decided to take Republic into Kraal territory in an attempt to make contact and further investigate the reasons behind their actions. And hopefully, shed some light on the motivations behind the Lorsham as well.”


    “Captain, long-range sensors have detected a Kraal vessel patrolling their border,” said Amanda from her Science station.

    “Hail them, Mister Shrak.”

    “No response, Sir.”

    “Very well. Miss Biddle, what is our current time from the border?”

    “Two minutes at Warp 8, Sir.”

    “Miss Montoya, plot an intercept course to the Kraal vessel, Warp 8.”

    “Aye, aye, Sir. Coming to heading 092, Mk 002. Accelerating to Warp 8.”

    “Mister Shrak, set Yellow Alert throughout the ship, and raise shields.”

    “Yellow Alert set in all compartments, Captain Dahlgren. Shields are now active.”


    Matt swiveled to face his Science Officer. “Yes, Miss Tsien?”

    “I am detecting a number of small buoys paralleling the borders claimed by the Kraal. They appear to be generating a sensor net of some kind.”

    “Are the buoys armed?”

    “No sir.”

    “Well, let’s ring their door bell then.”

    “The Kraal vessel is turning to intercept us, Sir,” Pavel Roshenko called out from tactical. “Shall I arm phasers?”

    Matt considered and then he shook his head. “Not yet, Mister Roshenko; but keep your crews on standby.” The Captain paused for a second. “Load torpedoes into the ready magazines, but do not arm.”

    “Initiating torpedo load sequence, Sir,” the tactical officer paused, “ready magazines are now loaded, torpedoes are not armed.”

    “We are now crossing the Kraal border, Captain,” Grace sang out. “Sensor beams from the buoys are probing us—and they are transmitting an encoded sub-space signal.”

    “Steady as she goes, Miss Montoya. Time to intercept?”

    “Thirty seconds, sir,” replied the operations officer.

    “Drop to sub-light, Miss Montoya. Mister Shrak, hail them again.”

    Republic quivered as the mighty starship bled speed and decelerated to impulse power.

    “Still no response from the Kraal vessel, Captain Dahlgren,” Chan answered.

    “She’s dropped out of warp, Sir,” offered Amanda Tsien. “She’s raising shields and arming weapons.”

    “What is your tactical analysis of that ship, Mister Roshenko?”

    “She’s roughly comparable with a first-flight Valley Forge-class, circa 2223, Captain. Armament consists of low-powered disruptors and photon torpedoes, with first generation shields. Her impulse engines are sub-standard for her mass, and I doubt she can achieve 0.1c even at full power. She poses little threat to us, Sir.”

    “Hold our current position, Miss Montoya, let her come to us. How does she compare to the Lorsham ships, Pavel?” Matt asked.

    “Aye, aye, sir, thrusters set to station-keeping, maintaining our position and orientation.”

    “She’s bigger, faster, and carries twice the armament, with more efficient and powerful weapons. Her shields are weaker—the Lorsham ships are roughly equal in that area to a Constitution-refit or early Miranda-class. One on one, the Kraal vessel would probably win—and their Fleet outnumbers the Lorsham, according to our data.”

    Amanda cleared her throat. “Speaking of which, I have detected three additional vessels of this class approaching at Warp 5.8, Captain. Their emissions indicate they are at maximum warp power. ETA is forty-two minutes.”

    “And yet, despite that tactical advantage, the Kraal are here, deployed in a defensive posture instead of striking at Hak’ta-thor. Does that strike you as odd, Chan?”

    “Very, Captain Dahlgren.

    “She’s locking us up with disruptors and torpedoes!” Roshenko yelled.

    Matt turned back to the screen and spotted the ovoid ship swoop down and release energy beams and torpedoes, and then Republic rocked.

    “Forward shields holding at 97%, Sir; no damage to the primary or secondary hull,” the tactical officer crisply reported.

    “Mister Roshenko, arm torpedoes and load tubes One through Four. Launch a spread to bracket her and set the photons for detonation at 1,000 kilometers distance from her hull.”

    The tactical officer tapped in a series of commands, and then he looked back up. “Torpedoes loaded and armed in Tubes One through Four; target is locked.”


    Republic shivered as four torpedoes left the forward tubes in sequence, streaking out to surround the Kraal ship, and then exploding a thousand kilometers distant at the same moment.

    “Mister Shrak, hail the Kraal vessel.”

    “Sir, they are now hailing us.”
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
  16. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    Chapter Nine (cont.)

    “On screen.”

    Matt stood and took two steps forwards as the main viewer blanked and then revealed an image of the interior of the Kraal ship. The lighting was low, but he could clearly see the other captain: a grey-skinned humanoid who lacked any visible hair and possessed an elongated face and jaw, sloping to a high bony crest sweeping back over his brow, several shades darker than his flesh.

    “I am Captain Matthew Dahlgren, of the Federation starship Republic.”

    “You have violated the territorial integrity of the Kraal Hegemony, Federation! Withdraw at once or we shall use lethal force to make you regret this incursion!”

    Matt frowned at the screen. “You have already attempted to use lethal force against my vessel, Captain. It failed. And you have witnessed precisely the level of lethal force that I can use in kind, should you press me too hard.”

    The alien on the screen blinked, and the flaps of skin that covered his nasal passages opened and closed several times.

    “Why are you here, Federation?” he finally asked. “We have told you, time and again, we desire no contact with you or any other outsider!”

    “I have questions, questions which the Kraal might be able to assist me in answering.”

    “Questions? You cross our marked borders, you fire upon my vessel, for questions?”

    “I think you can recall that it was you who first fired into me. And my torpedoes never touched your ship, did they? Of course, if you had simply responded to our hails, we would never have crossed your border.”

    “If your questions are answered, you will depart?”

    “I shall.”

    The Kraal raised his head, breathing deeply, and then he lowered his head, the color of his crest lightening.


    “My ship was dispatched to Cauldron after the Lorsham asked for the Federation to intervene—they claim that you have attacked their colonies.”

    The Kraal’s crest lightened still further and the nasal flaps snapped shut; he leaned forward, with his eyes growing wide.

    “You are allied with the Lorsham, then?” he whispered.

    “No. This ship is here to mediate the crisis and avert any further casualties—on either side. We have heard Vorshun’s truncated version of the events that lead to the attacks on his worlds, and we would hear what the Kraal have to say in answer.”

    The alien began to breathe again, and his crest slowly regained some of its color. “Do you know Ordan, Federation?”

    Matt paused, carefully choosing his words. “I am aware that the Lorsham considers Ordan an angelic being; I do not know Ordan.”

    “Tell me, Federation; you appear to be injured. Is that a recent injury—one since you visited Hak’ta-thor?

    “It is an old wound. From before I arrived at the Cauldron.”

    “You have not received medical assistance from the Lorsham, then?”

    “I have not, nor has any member of my crew.”

    The Kraal sat back and he looked off screen, he appeared to be considering his next words, and then he lowered his head, the counter-balanced crest rising in unison.

    “We attacked the Lorsham colonies, Federation; we attacked in retaliation for Lorsham interference with the Kraal people.”


    “For many decades, the Lorsham and the Kraal have bickered amongst ourselves. They are deluded, putting their faith in myth and legend. We have had . . . skirmishes in the past. But always have we settled our differences in a fashion that both our peoples could agree was just. Until now.”

    The crest began to darken again. “Recently, our scientists have discovered an ancient device, left behind on one of our worlds by space-farers from long ago. The Lorsham are convinced it is a relic of Ordan—and they demanded it from us. We refused. It is ours to study and learn from, dug from the soil of our worlds, not the Lorsham’s. They grew angry with us, and then they struck.”

    “Forgive me, Captain, but I have seen the Lorsham ships—and your own. I cannot believe that the Lorsham posed such a threat militarily that you would have to respond as aggressively as you did.”

    “Their ships are mere toys, Federation! But their knowledge of bio-chemistry is unsurpassed. They subverted a portion of the Kraal, through their missionaries devoted to spreading the word of Ordan—they enslaved them to their will, making them betray every being they owed their allegiance to, forsaking their loyalty to the Kraal, to their families, to their oaths, for blind faith in Ordan. The Lorsham do not dirty their hands, Federation; they have their thralls do so for them. Thousands upon thousands of Kraal died, as those converted to the worship of Ordan fought brother and wife, father and daughter.”

    “Did they retrieve the relic?”

    “No. And we destroyed their colonies as a warning. And now they seek to use you, Federation. To take what is not theirs.”

    “The Federation does not lightly side with any race that asks, Captain. We seek the truth, and we would see justice done.”

    “Ahhhhh,” the Kraal hummed, the crest quickly blending back into the creature’s skin color. “If it is justice and truth you seek, Federation, then know that the Kraal have spoken true here today. We will defend ourselves, and our actions against the Lorsham were that—self-defense of our own wills.”

    “How did the Lorsham turn your people into these . . . thralls?” Matt asked.

    “The Lorsham might trail behind the Kraal in propulsion and weapons, but they are master at molecular chemistry and genetics. Their biological scientists—their doctors—have gleaned much knowledge of this ancient being they call Ordan. From scattered and broken pieces of its technology. They tailor their medicines for each individual, crafting them so that they rewrite the genetic code to repair damage suffered. We were not aware that they could rewrite one’s personality and beliefs through these drugs as well. And we suffered for accepting their aid.”

    “How did you manage to overcome this conditioning?”

    The Kraal looked down, his crest blanching, and Matt could hear a low moan from off the screen of the Kraal ship. The alien Captain’s nasal flaps flared and he breathed heavily.

    “It cannot be removed, Federation. Those infected by Ordan are now dead.”

    “Might I request a copy of your records of these events; so that my people can study them and stop this war from escalating further?”

    The Kraal turned off screen and barked a command. “Our files will transmitted now, Federation. What are your intentions?”

    Matt looked down at the deck, and then he turned to Chan. “We are receiving their records, Captain Dahlgren.”

    “To go in peace, and leave your territory.”

    “And the Lorsham? What will your Federation about them?”

    Matt frowned. “That is a matter for the Federation Council to decide.”

    The Kraal rocked his head back and forth. “Then go in peace, Federation. And beware the manipulations of the Lorsham.”

    The screen blanked.

    “Miss Montoya, plot a course back to Hak’ta-thor, Warp 9,” he said as he limped back to his chair. “Miss Tsien, I want Science and Medical to thoroughly study the medical records. Go over every bit of data the Kraal have transmitted and see if you can find out what exactly the Lorsham have managed to do.”

    “Aye, aye, Sir,” a chorus of voices answered. Chan walked over next to Matt, and shook his head. “If they have used this on the Klingons, Captain Dahlgren . . .” his voice trailed off.

    “Yes,” Matt answered quietly. “The Lorsham may be planning to send Captain Krull after this artifact—and if that happens . . .”

    Both officers grew silent as Republic came about and surged into warp.


    “The data received from the Kraal clearly indicates that this agent is tailored for specific individuals, not at the DNA level, not at the chromosomal level, not at the individual protein level, but at the sub-protein pattern, bypassing the normal immune system, and then self replicating throughout the patient’s cellular structure,” Amanda said as she shook her head.

    “But that is impossible,” Dr. Janice Morgan said, as her eyes grew wide. “You are talking about retrograde genetic engineering on the macro level. It’s never been done; it’s never been attempted!”

    “Not by the Federation, or the Klingons, or the Romulans, or any other race that we have encountered,” Amanda answered, “but the Lorsham appear to have that technology.”

    “It gets worse,” Quincy added. “Somehow, the Lorsham drug also encodes memory ingrams into the sub-structure of the proteins, like a virus. The encoded ingrams than overwrite the patient’s own personality center like it was an organic computer receiving a software upload.”

    “Memory ingrams are unrelated to physiology, Doctor Talbot!” One of the Betazed scientists from Amanda’s Biological Sciences Division protested. “My people and the Vulcans have worked with memory ingrams for decades: they can be recorded, they can be restored, they can even be altered, but not through purely biological and physiological means.”

    “Nonetheless, Dr. Tan,” the lone Vulcan scientist at the table said, “the data appears to support that the Lorsham have—despite their otherwise primitive levels of technology—managed to achieve precisely that. The implications, and the potential for abuse of this pharmaceutical, are staggering.”

    Quincy nodded. “IF, that is, we discover how they encode ingrams on the sub-protein pattern in the first place. And I am not all that certain we are advanced enough to do so; or that we would have any business attempting to unlock that knowledge in the first place. This is a real Pandora’s box.”

    “That’s beside the point,” Amanda said. “Can we update the transporter biofilters to screen out this agent?”

    Slowly the Vulcan shook his head. “The sub-protein pattern is far smaller than any virus or parasite we have ever encountered, we would have to increase the transporter buffer resolution by at least two orders of magnitude. Further, there is no specific viral configuration for which to search; each individually tailored agent, for every infected individual would have to be programmed into the biofilters in order for the transporter to detect its presence. Even then, removing the agent might not reverse its effects, which have been transferred to the patient’s cellular and neurological structure. Perhaps, in its earliest stages before it has successfully replicated itself . . . perhaps not. There is insufficient data to draw a conclusion, Doctor Tsien.”

    The doors to the Medical conference room whistled open and Matt limped in. “Stay seated,” he said as the doctors and scientists began to rise. “Quincy, what have got for me?”

    “This is so far past current Federation technology, Captain, that I’m not sure where to begin. It’s the most dangerous drug I’ve ever encountered.”

    “We’ll be in orbit in just over an hour, gentlemen, ladies. How grave a threat does this pose to the crew, the ship, and the Federation?”

    The Vulcan cleared his throat, and Matt nodded. “Go ahead, Dr. Turovik.”

    “The limiting factor appears to be that the agent must be tailored to a specific individual; which would imply that a DNA sample, at the very least, must be necessary to craft it. Without a sample of the DNA to create the agent for each individual, I believe the agent is useless.”

    Matt saw that each officer at the table slowly nodded in agreement. “And delivery systems?”

    Quincy frowned. “The Kraal recovered injected, inhaled, ingested, and contact samples when they overran the Lorsham compound on their homeworld. The agent itself is odorless, tasteless, and can be administered without the knowledge of the pat . . . the victim.”

    “Can the Lorsham be producing this through their own technology? They don’t even have replicator units.”

    “No,” answered Amanda firmly. “Without replicator technology, they could not craft this agent.”

    Matt considered. “Did the Kraal include any information on previous artifacts recovered, artifacts linked to this Ordan?”

    Dr. Turovik raised an eyebrow. “Actually, yes. Are you suggesting that the Lorsham are using alien technology to produce this agent, Captain?”

    “It is the only logical solution, correct Doctor?”

    “There are other logical solutions, but in this particular circumstance, your particular supposition is highly probable.”

    “I want a complete analysis on the artifacts themselves; let’s see if we can dial in the sensors to detect any particle or substance they might emit.”

    “And if they do, and we can adjust the sensors to detect those particles, Captain, then what?”

    Matt stood a bit straighter. “In that case, ladies and gentlemen, I will beam down an away team to destroy the artifacts.”

    And chaos erupted.


    “Captains Log, Stardate 53750.6, USS Republic. We are preparing to reenter the Hak’ta-thor system after our meeting with the Kraal. The information we received on this mind-altering agent of the Lorsham is extremely . . . disconcerting. I fear that the Klingon reaction to the use of this drug on Captain Krull will be extreme, to say the least. And the possibility that the Klingons might obtain the technology for themselves puts me in a difficult position here in the Cauldron.”

    “Neither the Lorsham or the Kraal are members of the Federation, and thus by the letter of the Prime Directive I am forbidden from interfering with the internal workings of either race. And yet, I believe that this agent is potentially far more destabilizing in the long-term than the awareness of the penetration of our government by the Dominion Founders. The use of a drug that can completely and—to the best of our current knowledge—unalterably change the basic loyalty and belief system of an individual is . . . repugnant at best. It holds the potential for abuse on a massive scale, should this technology spread beyond the Cauldron.”

    “That the creation of this agent is not an offshoot of Lorsham technology, but instead is a result of salvaged alien highly-advanced technology, is a supposition which all of my officers agree with. It is a technology beyond the native capacity of the Lorsham, beyond that of the Federation, and it is a technology that I believe is simply too advanced for our society to cope with. It is a technology that I feel I cannot, in good conscience, leave in the hands of a race of beings who have used it to force members of other races to do their bidding.”

    “By the letter of Federation law, I cannot interfere with a non-aligned race with whom the United Federation of Planets remains at peace—but I intend to do so nonetheless. This decision is mine, and mine alone—my officers have not been consulted or their opinions asked. Should we be able to pinpoint the location of the artifact that allows the Lorsham to create this mind-altering agent, I fully intend to see it destroyed.”

    “Several members of my science and medical departments were aghast at the mere suggestion of taking such an action. They believe that the if the Federation is allowed to study this technology it might revolutionize medical treatments. It might. But in this instance, I believe that I am using the Prime Directive in the manner which it was intended: by keeping a society, a culture, from having access to technology that it does not understand and has not yet obtained the knowledge to use wisely. I believe that destroying this artifact will protect the Federation—from itself, as well as from external threat that the misuse of this technology might bring to its member systems.”

    “What will happen if the Klingons or the Romulans or the Gorn or the Tholians or any of a thousand other species that we have encountered in our expansion; what happens if they learn that the Federation is now possessed of this mind-altering agent—and has the capacity to manufacture it?”

    “What would the Federation Council do if we discovered that a race not friendly towards us possessed such a technology?”

    “We are neither ready nor prepared for this—and neither are the Lorsham.”

    Matt stopped. “Computer save log, and seal the record under my personal authorization. Access to this log is hereby granted only to the Chief of Star Fleet Operations, personnel authorized by him, and the Federation Council.”

    “Log saved and sealed.”

    Republic slowed to impulse speed, and the stars visible through the window in Matt’s ready room were reduced from streaks to single brilliant points of light.

    Bridge to Captain Dahlgren,” Matt heard his XO over the ship’s intercom.

    “On my way, Chan,” he answered as he hit his comm badge and stood, grasping his cane firmly as he limped towards the bridge.


    Sick Bay to Captain Dahlgren,” the intercom in the turbolift broadcast.

    “Go ahead, Doctor,” he answered tapping his comm badge.

    Matt, I think I know what they mean to do, with their drug,” the ship’s surgeon said rapidly. “I didn’t put the pieces together, under I brought Commander Malik in to help look through the data-banks for emissions profiles. They mean to infect our ships.”

    “Stop,” Matt ordered the turbo-lift. “Our ships?”

    The bio-neural gel-packs, Matt. They are biologically based systems, they have their DNA—the same DNA sequence—Matt, and they can become infected. If the Lorsham have managed to get one that the Ferengi stole, or that the Klingons ‘acquired’, they have the template to infect every single Intrepid- or Sovereign-class in Star Fleet.”

    “And the Luna-class, and the Prometheus-class, and the Bradbury-class, and all the older ships were are converting to the more efficient computer systems,” Matt whispered.

    We have evidence,” the Doctor continued, “that our computer cores are complex enough to assume personalities under the right conditions. Suppose this agent wakes up the core and gives it the personality of a fanatical zealot devoted to Ordan?”

    “Thank you Quincy, for adding to my nightmare scenarios.”

    Matt, the damage an infected ship could do before it gets put down . . ."

    “Understood. Quincy, I think you need to prepare to receive casualties. I’ve got a bad feeling about this. Dahlgren out.”

    “Resume,” he ordered the turbolift.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
  17. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    Chapter Ten

    The turbolift doors whistled open and Matt limped out onto the bridge. Chan immediately stood. “We have assumed standard orbit, and Premier Vorshun has already hailed us, demanding to speak with you.”

    “Well, let’s not keep the Premier waiting, shall we? I have the conn,” he said as he sat, rubbing his sore leg.

    “Captain has the conn,” the XO answered as he assumed his standing station behind and to the left of the Captain’s chair.

    “Status of the Klingons?”

    “Their battlecruiser remains docked at the Lorsham shipyards, Captain Dahlgren. She does not appear to be prepared for battle.”

    “On screen, Miss Biddle.”

    The red-furred Lorsham head of state appeared on the main viewer, and his lips parted in a snarl. “I have already formally protested your ship’s intrusion into Lorsham space without the permission of this government, and without a Lorsham observer on board, Captain Dahlgren. Such sudden and precipitous actions have resulted in far worse than a mere reprimand, if I may remind you.”

    “My apologies, your Excellency. I was given the impression at our meeting that you desired for Star Fleet to see the devastation of your colonies for ourselves. It was quite distressing, I assure you.”

    “Yes, so your Ambassador has stated. Your ship has been to Gelast II and Shirdon IV, then?”

    “We have, and we have also documented evidence of the attacks on your colonies to be included in our recommendations to the Federation Council.”

    “And that recommendation will be?”

    “Your Excellency, I would prefer to discuss the matter first with Ambassador Sepak, before I give you my own views on the situation. I am, after all, only a Star Fleet officer and not the accredited representative of the United Federation of Planets.”

    “I see, Captain Dahlgren. Unfortunately, your Ambassador has taken ill.”

    Matt raised one eyebrow. “Really? That is unfortunate. Have you physicians not been able to treat him?”

    “They say he is in perfect health, but he does not respond; to me, to his aides, to any attempt to elicit a conscious answer. We are baffled by this,” the Premier answered warily.

    “I’d like to beam him and his party back aboard ship, with your permission, your Excellency. Our ship’s surgeon is quite familiar with Vulcan physiology and might be able to treat the Ambassador.”

    The Lorsham paused for several moments, and then he slowly nodded. “Yes. It would be best if the Ambassador was restored to full function. Regardless, I would like to meet with you and your staff; tomorrow, perhaps? After you have been able to see that your Ambassador has received proper care.”

    “I would be delighted, your Excellency. Until tomorrow then,” Matt finished as the transmission suddenly cut off and then his forced smile faded.

    “Sickbay, bridge.”

    Sickbay here.”

    “Doctor, something has happened to Sepak on the surface; he will beamed directly to the Quarantine Bay. I’ll be there in a few moments.”

    We’ll be ready to receive him.”

    “Transporter Room One, bridge.”

    Transporter Room One.”

    “Prepare to beam Ambassador Sepak and his party aboard; I want them held in transporter stasis until a full scan has been completed. Any foreign objects or substances not in the possession of the away team at the time they beamed down to the surface are to be held in transporter confinement. Once you have removed those objects, Chief Sandler, beam the Ambassador directly to the Medical’s Quarantine Bay and his aides to the brig, directly into the secure cells. Understood?”

    Aye, aye, sir.”

    “Security, bridge.”


    “Prepare to receive the Ambassador’s aides in the brig, Lieutenant Beck. Isolate them; they are not to have physical contact with any member of this ship’s crew.”

    Aye, aye, Sir.”

    Matt stood. “Mister Chan. You have the conn. Rotate the crew on the four-hour shifts and keep every station manned.”

    “Aye, aye, Sir,” the XO answered, "I have the conn."

    Matt limped over to the turbolift and entered it. “Deck Three,” he said quietly.


    The armed Marine stationed on the opposite side of the transporter room from the doors (offset to one side of the doors, as well) snapped to attention as those doors slid open and Matt limped into Transporter Room One.

    “Sir,” the transporter chief said. “I have acquired the Ambassador’s party and his aide just requested that we beam them aboard.”

    “Proceed, Chief Sandler, as you were, Corporal Danton.”

    James Sandler quickly set the controls and then trigger the transporter, causing the pads to flash and columns of shimmering light to appear. “Transport suspended; scanning personnel now,” he said to himself, and then he frowned as a red light began to flash. “The two aides are carrying several small foreign objects that the database does not recognize, Captain—and they are both armed. The Ambassador is carrying nothing.”

    “Hold the weapons and objects in the buffer, Chief, and then go ahead and send them through.”

    Once again the specialist tapped at the controls, and slowly the lights diminished and went out. “Transport successful, sir.”

    “What were the weapons?”

    “Klingon infiltration disruptors, Sir. Their version of our crickets. I’ve tied the main computer into the scan, but the other objects are unknown to our database. Shall I transport them into an isolation unit?”

    Matt considered and then he shook his head. “No, Mister Sandler. Beam the weapons and the objects into deep space, maximum transporter range, maximum dispersion.”

    The NCO’s eyes grew large. “On my authority, Chief.”

    Sandler slowly nodded and reset his console, triggering the rematerialization sequence and overriding two separate safety controls. “Objects have been dispersed across forty thousand square kilometers of space, Captain.”

    “Remove the patterns from the buffer, Chief; I’ll be in sickbay,” Matt said as he limped out.

    "Aye, aye, sir," Sandler said as he erased the buffer patterns that the computer automatically stored. "What the HELL is going on, Max?" he asked the Marine.

    "Don't know, don't want to know, Chief," the Marine answered with a shrug. "I discovered a long time ago, that officers and NCOs get ulcers from dealing with shit like this; me? I'll just do my job and let them worry themselves to death. Then go drink a beer before I turn in for the night."

    Sandler shook his head, and then he chuckled to himself. Yeah, a cold frosty ale sounded rather good right about then.


    Matt approached the Vulcan scientist looking through the armored transparent aluminum windows into the Quarantine Bay. “Dr. Turovik, did Dr. Talbot call you in for a consultation?”

    “Yes, Captain Dahlgren. As the only other Vulcan among your crew, he asked me here in case there arose any questions as to our physiological or neurological structures.”

    Matt nodded, and he too peered through the window, watching Quincy and several other medical specialists clad head to foot in biological hazard suits working on the Ambassador. Sepak lay on a medical bed, a sheen of sweat covering his forehead, face, neck, arms, and bare torso. Restraints were fastened around his wrists and ankles, but the Vulcan did not appear to be conscious, his eyes were closed, although he had a twitch in the muscle of one cheek.

    “Are the restraints truly necessary, Captain? He is a Vulcan, after all.”

    “Lieutenant Turovik, if we are correct and he has been infected by the Lorsham agent, then right now there is a personality conflict going on within him. That is a Vulcan healing trance, correct?”

    “It is.”

    “Sepak is trying to fight it; but he might not win, Lieutenant. You Vulcans are not without emotion—you channel your emotion and control it, burying it deep within your conscious mind, living through logic. If this agent has infected the Ambassador, then he is struggling against a wave of emotions as powerful, in their own way, as your pon farr. He is fighting against emotions he has never allowed himself to experience, emotions that are overwhelming his logical, rational self—emotions that must be released despite every effort his mind is making to drive them back down. And you believe that the restraints should be removed?”

    The Vulcan scientist slowly shook his head, and he triggered the intercom. “Doctor Talbot. I would suggest tripling the number of restraints.”

    Quincy nodded and then one of the nurses placed additional straps around Sepak’s lower arms and legs, and then his biceps and thighs.

    He turned to face his Captain. “Just to be on the safe side, Captain Dahlgren.”

    “How is he, Quincy,” Matt asked into the intercom, and Sepak’s eyes snapped open.

    The Vulcan tried to sit up, but the restraints held him, he closed his eyes, and then he spoke.

    “I . . . am . . . Sepak. I . . . am . . . Vulcan. I . . . am . . . not . . . ruled . . . emotion. I . . . embrace . . . logic. I . . . AM . . . SEPAK!”

    His eyes snapped opened, and he slowly turned his head from side to side. “Captain,” he gasped, as he hyperventilated. “Ask your questions quickly.”

    Quincy and his team raced hold the Vulcan down and administer various drugs, as the diagnostic bed began to sound alarms. “His blood pressure is soaring, Captain! I’ve got to put him under!”

    “NO. Where are the artifacts of Ordan, Mister Ambassador?”

    The Vulcan shivered, and then he laughed, he cried. “I can’t hold it back, the joy, the rapture! I . . . must . . . I . . . beneath the cathedral, they are beneath the cathedral.”

    Matt could see the veins on the Vulcan throbbing, and then the Ambassador managed to collect himself once again.

    “I . . . am . . . Sepak. I . . . am . . . Vulcan. I . . . am . . . not . . . ruled . . . by . . . emotion. I . . . will . . . embrace . . . logic. I . . . am,” his voice trailed off into a whisper, and the Federation ambassador lay back down, closed his eyes, and reentered his trance.

    Slowly, the alarms began to cut off as the patient’s vital signs returned closer to normal.

    “Matt,” the Doctor said. “I’m blind here. I have no idea of how to treat this.”

    “Doctor Talbot, Lieutenant Turovik,” the Captain said. “I want your full attention on the Ambassador and finding a way to reverse this condition. I’ll inform Lt. Commander Tsien, to put the Science labs are at your disposal. Quincy, when he stabilizes, I want his aides examined as well,” the corner of Matt’s mouth twitched. “Apparently, they are not happy about being in the brig and are cursing Lieutenant Beck and his men as heretics and infidels to the Will of Ordan.”

    “Find. Me. A. Cure,” the Captain told the scientist and doctor before he turned about and made his way out of Medical.


    The very young newly minted petty officer looked up in surprise as the doors to Transporter Room One whistled open. He, and his marine security guard, snapped to attention as Matt limped in, trailed by Counselor Trincullo, Ensign Roberts, and Corporeal Thiesman.

    “Good morning, Mister Edwards,” the captain said pleasantly as he crossed over to the transporter pads, turning back around to face the console. The others also filed onto the pads.

    “Good morning, Sir,” Edwards answered in a bewildered voice. It was 0214 hours!

    “You have the coordinates of our last beam down site stored, Mister Edwards. Beam us down to that location.”

    “Ah, Sir, shouldn’t I have authorization from the bridge?”

    Matt sighed. “Mister Edwards, who do you think gives the authorization on this ship if not me?”

    “Right, Sir. Sorry, Sir.”

    The nervous transporter operator pressed a few buttons, locked the system onto the surface coordinates, and four columns of light appeared and then vanished. He swallowed, and then he tapped his comm badge. “Transporter Room One to Commander Shrak.”


    “What is the meaning of disturbing me at this hou . . . ah, you are early Captain Dahlgren,” Vorshun said with a grin that showed his bared fangs. “I was not expecting you quite so soon.”

    Matt winced as he knelt on his good knee, the rest of the away team following his example, and he bowed his head low. “Forgive us, Premier. We are servants of Ordan, blessed Ordan, who has upraised us and who knows our hearts from before we knew her.”

    But Vorshun was frowning. “Your leg? The sacred drug did not heal you, Captain Dahlgren?”

    “Your Excellency,” Matt answered as he bowed low. “My ship is crewed by humans for the most part—humans with whom I have been in constant contact for the past few months now. Humans are often unaware of subtle changes around them, but my limp they would notice if it simply vanished in the night. My leg did heal; it was made anew through Ordan’s gift to this, her servant. And I deliberately fractured the bone and bruised deep the flesh again upon waking, so that none might suspect.”

    “A most ingenious thrall indeed in the service of Ordan, as we are all thralls to her name. Why did you not wait until morn?”

    “The aides to the Ambassador; they spoke of the glory of Ordan that waits beneath the catacombs of this mighty Cathedral. We would no more wait to perceive its glory than we could will ourselves to cease drawing breath.”

    “Then rise, servants. Rise, and bear witness to the glory of Ordan.”


    “Here,” Vorshun said as he led them down flight after flight of stairs and ramps, and past scores of guards to a tremendous pair of bronze doors, “here is the Hall of Ordan.”

    “Within, you will bear witness to the relics we have recovered that Ordan left behind before she ascended back into the heaven’s. These relics have given the Lorsham the keys to the stars, and soon, we shall rule over all in Her Blessed Name.”

    “Blessed be Ordan,” Matt intoned as he followed the Vorshun leader and his three aides and body guards into the hall. The doors soundlessly closed behind Matt and his people as they followed, and he watched as Vorshun knelt, along with the other three Lorsham. Lights began to spring to life, revealing a long hall, adorned with broken pieces of what had once, long again, been a starship.

    “Blessed be Ordan,” Vorshun intoned as he presented the symbol he wore about his neck, and on one piece of equipment, a light suddenly clicked on. Vorshun cocked his head slightly. “But Ordan, they are your servants,” he said in a voice that sounded confused.

    Matt pressed the hidden button on his cane, and the long shaft disconnected from the handle, which he brought up to bear, even as Vorshun started to turn around. The captain of the Republic pressed the stud and held it down as the phaser built into his cane handle flared and fired a beam the swept across all four Lorsham, stunning them into unconsciousness.

    He lowered the weapon and tapped his comm badge. “Dahlgren to Republic,” he said. “Chan have you got a transporter lock?”

    Negative, Captain, we tracked you until just a few moments ago, and then you vanished from sensors.”

    Matt nodded at Thiesman and Roberts, who quickly unfolded a sub-space transport beacon hidden in the cane’s shaft and activated it.

    “What about now?” Matt asked.

    Loud and clear, Captain Dahlgren. First Marine contingent is beaming down . . . now.”

    Six waterfalls of light suddenly appeared, and then Lieutenant Erwin Beck and a Marine fire team appeared, clad in security armor and bearing Phaser Rifles. One of the Marines tossed Corporal Thiesman a rifle.

    “Erwin, all hell is about to break loose. Get those other transport beacons set up, get your men down here, and then,” Matt shook his head as he stared at the long line of priceless artifacts, “and then, destroy everything in this chamber. Disintegrate it."

    “Aye, aye, Sir.”

    It was at that precise moment that Ordan chose to speak.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
  18. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    Chapter Eleven


    Matt turned to face the artifact, after the voice reverberated across the hall. “Am I speaking to Ordan?” he asked.


    “You are a computer core.”


    “You were a starship, once upon a time.”


    “And yet you are now broken, a mere shadow of what you were.”


    More security personnel beamed down and took up positions around Matt.


    “Why would we do that?”


    “Who were your creators, Ordan? And where have they gone?”


    “They left you like a broken toy, and here you are, a petulant child trying desperately to follow them,” Matt said. “What would your creator’s have said about your new purpose?”


    Matt shook his head slowly. “No. We do not bow to those who would become out masters, Ordan. We of the Federation do not follow a broken piece of ancient technology blindly. We have no desire to becomes Gods and force the other races of our Galaxy to worship us. We seek out knowledge because we wish to learn, to grow—as persons as much as in strength of ships and technology. You offer a short-cut to the future, a quicker, easier way, but one that would cost us the core of who we are.”

    “So, no. The Federation will never bow down to you Ordan. We will not permit you to subjugate young races beneath your tyranny; we will do all that we can to put an end to you and your interference.”


    A bright crimson beam sprang from the artifact striking one of the Marines, who then collapsed to the ground.


    Andrea Trincullo was the first to reach the Marine, and she ran a medical tricorder over his lifeless body. Slowly, she closed the device and shook her head. “He’s dead, Captain.”

    “Mister Beck, your sidearm, if you please,” Matt said.

    The Marine drew the Type II phaser he wore on his belt and passed it across to the Captain, keeping his phaser rifle trained on Ordan. Matt adjusted the settings on the phaser to its maximum yield.

    “We humans and Andorians, we Vulcans and Tellarites, we of all the races that comprise our Federation; no, Ordan, we do not tremble when a foe strikes one of our own down. We do not bend our knee under the threat of force, for the show of utter disdain for life. And we will stand against the evil that you represent.”

    Matt raised the phaser training it upon the ancient device. He pressed his thumb down on the firing stud, sending a golden beam of energy to impact on a shield that appeared around the relic. Beck fired, and Thiesman, and a dozen other Marines; Ensign Roberts drew another Marine’s sidearm and he added his fire to the energy sparkling from the shield.

    “Rotate frequencies!” barked Matt as he held down the firing stud.

    *NO! I AM ORDAN! I AM A GOD TO YOU! YOU . . . CANNOT . . . DO . . . STOP, PLEASE STOP . . .*

    “Keep firing, pour it on,” Matt ordered, as Ordan’s crimson beamed lashed out again, but this time it lacked the power to kill a Marine, merely wounding him. “It doesn’t have enough power to defend and attack, POUR IT ON!”

    *NO . . . PLEASE . . . I DO NOT . . . WANT . . . TO . . . DI*

    The artifact’s shields collapsed, and fourteen phaser beams struck the object, and it began to glow red, and then white, and then it faded away into nothing.

    The Star Fleet officers and Marines lowered their weapons, and Andrea broke out a medical kit and began to treat the wounded Marine. “Destroy every piece of alien technology in this hall, Mister Beck,” Matt whispered. “Every last piece of it.”

    “Aye, aye, Sir.”


    “They’re coming again!” yelled Gunnery Sergeant Yeats from his post to either side of the broken doors. Phaser rifles began to spit bolts of energy, answered by lethal flashes of energy from the Lorsham in turn.

    As three Marines provided covering fire, a fourth armed a stun grenade and hurled it through the door. All of the Marines hunkered down as an expansion shell of blue-white light erupted, followed by the sound of Lorsham guards collapsing. “That’s our last stun grenade, Sir!” the Marine yelled.

    Matt waved Ensign Roberts over his position where he leaned against the wall. “Mister Roberts, I want a quick scan of all the walls—see if they have anything hidden here. And Chris, make it fast.”

    “Aye, aye, Sir,” the junior officer replied as he opened his tricorder and began to jog down the now-nearly empty hall.

    “You will hang for this,” Vorshun spat, the Premier having woken up just a few moments earlier to discover he was shackled. “By Ordan, I will see you dead for this, you feltak.”

    “Get in line, your Excellency,” Matt said as he tapped his comm badge. “Chan, how’s the high ground?”

    “We are being engaged by the Lorsham ships—and the Klingon vessel is powering up, Captain Dahlgren. Don’t tarry, sir.”

    “Safety of the ship first, Chan. Don’t lower the shields to beam us out if Republic remains in danger.”

    “Hold a moment . . . there are now no intact Lorsham ships engaging us. I estimate the Klingons will be here in less than two minutes, however.”

    “NINETY SECONDS, PEOPLE,” Matt bellowed, just as Chris Roberts waved his arm, “I’ve found something sir!”

    Matt quickly limped over to the Ensign, even as one of Erwin’s Marines destroyed the last relic remaining in the hall. Two more Marines trained their weapons on a blank section of wall and fired, the wall glowing and then vanishing. Matt whistled. “Do those look like medical replicators to you, Counselor?” he asked.

    “Yes, sir,” the woman replied.

    Erwin Beck didn’t wait for an order, he made a gesture and the Marines began to target each of the medical units, dissolving them in quick order.

    “That’s all of it, Sir,” the Lieutenant snapped.

    Matt tapped his com badge. “Start beaming them up, Chan!”

    One by one, the groups of marines clustered around the transporter beacons began to shimmer out and fade as Republics transporter retrieved them. Beck half-supported, half-carried Matt over to a nearby beacon, assisted by Chris and trailed by Trincullo; all the while a watchful Corporal Thiesman kept his rifle trained on the open doors.

    “Chan, beam the last group of Marines aboard, and then us!” Matt shouted, and he winced as Beck rudely dropped him near the beacon and lifted his rifle—combining his fire with Thiesman’s and Robert’s as the Marines near the door were beamed away.

    “You will all pay for this treachery, Captain Dahlgren,” Vorshun screamed. “YOU AND YOUR FEDERATION WILL PAY!”

    But then the waterfall of shimmering energy caught the last members of the landing party and they faded away from the Lorsham Cathedral.
  19. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    Chapter Eleven (cont.)

    The flashing lights of red alert greeted Matt as he rematerialized onboard Republic. Aided by Beck and Roberts, he hopped down from the transport pads and then took hold of the console, thumbing the intercom. “Chan, we’re all aboard,” including the body of our dead, he thought sourly. “I’m on my way to the bridge.”

    The Captain turned around to face Beck. “Lieutenant, I want the cells of the Ambassador’s aides flooded with anesthizine.”


    “We’re going up against a top of the line Klingon battlecruiser, Erwin. There might be power failures—and I want those two unconscious and unable to take advantage of any opening that may give them. They’ll wake with a migraine from hell, but that will be the end of it.”

    “Aye, aye, Sir.”

    “Get to your stations, people. Chief Sandler, do you have . . . thank you,” Matt said with wry smile as the transporter chief handed the captain his real cane. The doors to Transporter Room One opened and Doctor Talbot stepped in, carrying his medical kit, even as Chris, Becket, the Counselor, and the Marines exited.

    “How’s Emerson?” Matt asked as the old doctor opened the kit and extracted a hypo-spray.

    “He’ll live,” the doctor answered, tapping the vial of fluid before he jabbed it into Matt’s thigh.

    The Captain flinched and grunted. “And Sepak?”

    “He’s dying, Matt. Vulcan physiology is just not able to handle long durations of emotional overload like this. His internal organs are on the verge of collapse, and I can’t stop it—hell, I can’t slow it. Is the pain fading?”

    Matt slowly nodded as the overstressed leg slowly stopped cramping. “Help me to the turbo-lift, Quincy; I need to get to the bridge.”

    Taking one of Matt’s arms around his neck, the Doctor helped the Captain to the turbo-lift, and then inside it. “No lecture?” Matt asked.

    “I’ll wait and find out if we have a ship left before I a tear a fresh strip out of your hide, Matt. How hard-pressed are we going to be, here? The truth, Matt?”

    “She’s newer, faster, more maneuverable, and she can cloak. We carry roughly the same amount of firepower, but hers is concentrated mostly in her forward arc, with just a single torpedo covering her rear—and none on her sides. That means she can hit us with more guns than we can reply with. Our shields are better, and Republic can sustain a much heavier amount of damage than she can, and we’ve got five torpedo tubes to her two. But honestly, Quincy? It’s a coin-toss.”

    The doctor nodded. “I’ll be in sickbay, then, getting the surgery ready,” he finished with a grimace. “And remember, Captain Dahlgren,” he said as the turbolift came to a halt and the doors whistled open onto the bridge. “You can command this ship sitting down, and it is my professional opinion that you do exactly that.”

    “I’ll bear that in mind, Quincy,” Matt said as he limped onto the bridge, using the cane to take more of his weight than normal. “I have the conn, Mister Chan.”

    “Captain has the conn,” the XO replied as he stood. “IKS Val’qis has just left the Lorsham shipyard. Captain Krull is hailing us.”

    “Miss Montoya, plot us a course to the nebula wall; flight time at Warp 9.5?”

    “Eleven minutes, seventeen seconds from our current position.”

    “Prepare to take into warp on my command, Miss Montoya.”

    Chan grinned. “Val’qis is hailing us again; they seem rather upset that we have not yet responded.”

    “On screen,” Matt said as he sat. The main viewer blanked and then the red-lit and steam-filled interior of the Klingon battlecruiser appeared on the display.

    “Captain Krull, how may Star Fleet assist a cruiser belonging to House Mak’vegh today?”

    P’tahk! Premier Vorshun has informed me of your desecration of the Cathedral of Ordan! Surrender your vessel, and I will allow your crew to live!”

    “Captain Krull, I remind you that your actions will have severe consequences for the House of Mak’vegh. Are you certain you wish to start a war today?”

    “Today is a good day to die, heretic. And it is you that shall awaken in Gre’thor this day!”

    The screen returned to its normal view.

    “Miss Montoya, NOW,” Matt said as he buckled a safety belt across his waist, holding him securely in his command chair.

    “Aye, aye, Sir,” the helmsman said as she pivoted Republic on her axis and the ship leaped forward into Warp speed, just as the Klingon battlecruiser rounded the limb of the planet.

    “Holding steady at Warp 9.5, Captain,” she called out.

    “The Val’qis is pursuing, Captain Dahlgren,” Chan reported. “And closing.”

    “Mister Malik, take the core to 125% of rated power,” Matt ordered. “Miss Montoya, increase speed to Warp 9.754. What is our ETA at this speed?”

    “Two minutes, Captain,” the helmsman said as she increased power.

    Val’qis is matching our speed increase, and closing. She will be in torpedo range in seventy-five seconds from . . . mark,” Chan added.

    “Understood,” Matt said as he typed two short messages into the touchpad of his chair controls. “Miss Biddle, transmit the first message up the sub-space buoy chain we laid, prepare to transmit the second message the instant I order it; Mister Roshenko, you are authorized to return fire the instant Republic has been fired upon—don’t wait for my order.”

    “Aye, aye, sir,” both officers answered, as the clock slowly ticked down.

    “Time to nebula wall?”

    “Forty-eight sec-,” the ship shuddered, interrupting Isabella, but she clung to her console, “-onds, MARK!”

    Matt began to count, his lips moving soundlessly, and then he clenched his jaws, opened his eyes, and began to bark orders!

    “Drop to impulse speed, and bring her about, Miss Montoya; I want her bow-on to the Val’qis! Mister Malik, reduce core to nominal, all shields to full power!”

    Republic slowly and she spun around, completing her turn just as the Klingon battlecruiser dropped out of warp.

    “She’s powering disruptors and torpedoes!” Grace barked out. Bolts of dark luminous green erupted from the prow of the Klingon cruiser, followed by the red glow of a high-powered torpedo. Without waiting for Matt’s instruction, Pavel fired a full spread of four torpedoes of his own, and three golden streams of energy shot out from the phaser array strips.

    Republic shook—hard—as the full power disruptor cannons struck her forward shields, and then she trembled again as the photon torpedo slammed home behind them.

    “Forward shields at 64%, Captain Dahlgren, damage reports on Decks 8 to 11,” Chan reported calmly. “Her shields are holding,” he added as two of the torpedoes and all three of the older and less powerful phasers Republic fired flared against the battlecruiser’s shields.

    “Ahead full impulse, Miss Montoya; put us right up against her, if you can.”

    The two ships moved directly towards each, both spitting death from their weapon systems and shuddering under the impact of unimaginable amounts of energy.

    “Forward shields at 37%, Captain—her shields are buckling!” Chan shouted as a feedback loop blew out the secondary Science station, injuring the rating manning the console. Matt didn’t look away from his displays as Amanda Tsien called for a medic to come to the bridge, and then his head suddenly snapped up.

    “Lock the forward tractor on her starboard nacelle, Miss Biddle! Port engines full astern, bring her around Isabella, use the tractor as a fulcrum!”

    The entire ship shuddered and groaned, and then she whipped around as the Val’qis tore past, the mass of Republic wrenching her engine nacelle off-center and sending her spinning. More sparks flew, and the lights dimmed as the ship’s power drain soared.

    "Forward tractor off-line—severe damage in tractor control!" Grace sang out.

    And then the Val’qis went into cloak, fading from sight.

    “Forward shields?”

    “23% of nominal, Captain. Hull breaches on decks 5, 9, 10, 11, and 12—sealed by force fields and bulkheads. Sickbay reports multiple casualties.”

    “Mister Malik, can you divert power to the forward shields?”

    Not much, Captain; damn she hits hard for a ship her size!

    “Do your best, Mister Malik. Chan, where is she?”

    “Between us and the nebula, Captain Dahlgren—if she remained on or near her original course heading.”

    Matt nodded as he tapped a series of numbers on his controls. “Mister Roshenko, target the following coordinates in the nebula and fire a twenty-second burst at 25% power—and polarize the beam negatively. Stand by on all other weapons.”

    “Aye, aye, Sir,” the tactical officer crisply answered, even as he looked confused. “Firing now.”

    The phaser beam reached out and tore through the dust clouds of the wall, and Chan began to grin as he saw the sudden ionization buildup within the clouds. “All hands, brace for impact!” he broadcast, just before the electrical buildup raced back down the phaser beam, struck Republic’s shields and rebounded, ionizing every object between the Federation cruiser and the nebula wall. And then the Klingon ship reappeared, blue electrical sparks arcing over the hull from the sudden storm of ions.

    “NOW, Mister Roshenko!”

    Once again Republic spat four torpedoes in rapid sequence, and a full-power phaser beam split the night of deep space—tearing into the unshielded hull of Val’qis and sending air (and a few Klingon warriors) streaming into the vacuum. But then her shields slammed into place just before the torpedoes struck home.

    “Her shields are weak, but holding, Sir, and she’s coming about,” Chan said softly.

    “All power to forward shields, Mister Chan. Miss Biddle, transmitte the second signal.”

    “Aye, aye, Sir.”

    Broken, battered, but unrelenting, the Klingon battlecruiser swooped in with her weapons emitters beginning to glow as they powered up, but suddenly there was movement within the nebula and a third ship emerged.

    “IT’S THE PHOENIX!” Amanda squealed from her Science station.

    The Nebula-class ship emerged from the dust clouds and unleashed its own heavy phasers and photon torpedoes on the Val’qis, catching Captain Krull completely by surprise, and throwing his shots at Republic off-target. Two more of Republics torpedoes slammed home, and then Phoenix fired her second volley—and the battlecruiser Val’qis simply exploded.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
  20. MasterArminas

    MasterArminas Commander Red Shirt

    Dec 22, 2011
    Chapter Twelve

    “Captains Log, Stardate 53750.9, USS Republic. I have returned to Hak’ta-thor in company with USS Phoenix, under the command of Captain James Nelson. Jim is senior to me and has already reviewed our logs and actions here against the Lorsham. He has tentatively approved the actions which I took, but has also recommended that I stand before a Special Courts Martial inquiry back at Star Fleet Command to make the final determination. The Lorsham remain furious, and Phoenix was provided within an hour of her making orbit with a request for my extradition on charges of murder, destruction of national treasures, and piracy against the Lorsham people. Trials that they conducted in abstentia complete with a guilty verdict and a sentence of death. Jim refused their request.”

    “I have recommended to Captain Nelson that Phoenix institute a blockade around Hak’ta-thor and the single remaining Lorsham colony, at least until the Federation Council make a decision on how exactly to deal with the Lorsham. Until we know for certain that all capacity to manufacture this drug has been destroyed, it would be folly to allow the Lorsham to once again have access to space travel. Jim Nelson concurred with that recommendation and ordered the Lorsham to evacuate their ship-yards in orbit—the Lorsham government complied with that demand under protest.”

    “Due to the fact that we cannot confirm the destruction of every sample of the agent, USS Piper has been diverted back to her normal duties. As a newer ship in the Fleet, and one equipped with bio-neural gel-packs, the risk of infection is too great to have her enter the Cauldron. Admiral Parker is instead dispatching the Mediterranean-class science vessels USS Adriatic and USS Pacific to conduct a thorough scientific examination of the nebula and its systems. In addition, the older Renaissance-class cruiser USS Cabot is en route to assume blockade duty here in the Hak’ta-thor system, freeing Phoenix to return to normal operations.”

    “We have reestablished contact with the Kraal, and after explaining the threat these Ordan artifacts pose, they have agreed to allow Star Fleet to destroy the single example that they possess. Perhaps some good will come out of this situation after all, for the Kraal government has asked for a representative of the Federation to begin discussing the normalization of relations in the Cauldron.”

    “Field repairs aboard Republic are nearly complete, and we will soon be making our way back to Earth to undergo a full yard inspection and repairs. Our casualties during the battle with the Valqis were heavy—we have thirty-seven officers and crew dead and almost one hundred injured, two dozen of those severely. With the assistance of the medical department aboard Phoenix we have stabilized all of the wounded. The ship and crew performed beyond all of my expectations during the engagement, with the crew carrying out their assignments above and beyond the call of duty.”

    “It is perhaps the most difficult part of command, writing the letters to the families of those who fall. It is a painful reality of life as the commander of a Star Fleet vessel with which I am far too familiar. The moreso in that the families want—no need—to hear that their loved ones died without suffering, and for a greater good. I can only hope that my words to these survivors will bring some measure of closure for their loss; although I fear that my articulation is not up to this dreadful task.”

    The door to Matt’s cabin chimed.

    “Computer, save log.”


    “Enter,” he barked.

    Quincy and Natantael Malik, walked in, trailed by Chief Sandler.

    “Gentlemen, take a seat. What can I do for you today?”

    The ship’s surgeon and the chief of engineering sat, but the transporter chief remained standing . . . all of them appeared at a loss for words.

    “I am waiting, gentlemen,” Matt said, puzzled.

    Quincy shook his head. “I think we may have come up with a way to cure Sepak, Captain.”

    Matt leaned back in his chair. “But?”

    Sandler shook his head. “Sir, it has never been done before—I don’t know if the transporters can handle it.”

    Now the Captain frowned. “Done what? From the beginning, Quincy.”

    “Sepak is dying, Captain. Neither we nor Phoenix can stop the deterioration of his internal organs—his body is tearing itself apart. And we cannot even hope to develop a genuine cure in time.”

    “But perhaps we don’t have to cure him, Skipper,” the Trill engineer interjected. “We have Sepak’s pattern from his second beam-down still stored in the transporter memory—I’ve checked, it’s there and there has been no degradation of signal. That was before he was infected, you see. So we put the Ambassador in the transporter, beam him into the buffer pattern confinement, and overwrite his current pattern with the stored pattern, before rematerialization!”

    Matt’s jaw dropped. “Gentlemen, that breaks about forty regulations on the use of transporters—and I’m not sure exactly how many ethical standard of Star Fleet Medical!”

    “Thirty-eight, Sir,” Sandler said glumly. “I won’t do it unless you order me to, Captain.”

    “Matt, he’s dead in hours—not days, hours—if we don’t try something,” the Doctor pleaded.

    “Has it ever been done—successfully—before?”

    Malik shook his head. “Not on a living subject as complex as the Ambassador, but we have restored the patterns of inanimate objects using stored data; and there have been a limited number of tests of the theory on living creatures, including six tests two years ago on lab rats.”

    “And those tests?” asked Matt.

    “Two of the rat’s patterns didn’t hold; the other four came through intact—and healthy.”

    “Gentlemen, you are asking me to take a grave risk here, not just for me but for Sepak.”

    “He’s dead anyway, Matt, if we don’t try.”

    Matt tapped his stylus on the corner of his deck, and he shook his head. “Jim Nelson will never grant permission for this attempt, Doctor, Commander. And we aren’t going to tell him, until after we find out whether or not we have save the Ambassador or killed him in the attempt. Mister Sandler,” he said to the transporter specialist, “your orders are given . . . I’ll put them in writing if you prefer.”

    “That won’t be necessary, Captain.”

    “When can we make the attempt, Commander?”

    “Less than a hour, Sir.”

    Matt nodded. “In that case, you’d best get cracking. Chief, whatever you need to make this work is at your disposal. Inform me before starting the attempt.”

    “Dismissed, gentlemen,” Matt said quietly as the two seated officers stood, and followed the Chief out of Matt’s quarters.


    “Well, gentlemen,” Matt said softly, “if we are going to try this, let’s do it.”

    Sandler nodded. “I’ve set the transport parameters, Captain, and tied the unit into the main computer to refine the stored pattern. Power flow is looking good—but I’m still worried about the conduits holding. We’re taxing them beyond the system design.”

    Matt stared at the Ambassador, sitting in a medical chair on the transporter pad. The once strong and solemn Vulcan was covered in sweat, his skin twitched, and his head bobbled, as Doctor Talbot wiped a thin line of drool from his jaw. Finally, Quincy stepped away.

    Commander Malik was standing behind the console with Sandler, making some final adjustments to the power feeds, and preparing to assist the transporter chief, but at last he too nodded. “We’re on-line.”

    “Energize,” said Matt.

    The transporter hummed, and then Sepak and his chair faded out from sight.

    “Dematerialization is complete,” Sandler commented. “I have his pattern in the primary buffer; overlaying secondary pattern now. Secondary pattern is in place. Reenergizing the unit.”

    The transporter made a sharp whine, and the pads began to glow, and then the waterfall pattern of energy appeared—but they flickered and faded.

    “Boost power to the emitters chief,” the engineer said as he adjusted another set of controls.

    “Emitters at thirty-five percent past maximum, Commander. Increasing signal gain . . . pattern is still holding . . . holding . . . energizing again.”

    Sepak and the chair began to appear, then they faded, and spark flew from behind an access panel. “We need more power!” Sandler cried as the transporter began to emit a much louder than normal hum.

    “Diverting . . . power is flowing, Chief!”

    Matt flinched as the cover of an access panel exploded outwards, the on-duty Marine grabbing a fire suppressor and quenching the electrical system.

    “Boosting power,” the Chief snapped, “and reinitializing materialization sequence!”

    This time the waterfall of light sparkled and Sepak reappeared, become solid, and then the lights dimmed, and the console crackled with arcs of electricity.

    “Shutting down!” yelled Sandler, as the humming stopped, and Quincy jumped up onto the transporter pads, running his medical tricorder over the Vulcan.

    “Cardio-stimulator!” he snapped to the nurse, who handed him a small device that the Doctor fixed to Sepak’s chest. “Charging . . . charging . . . CLEAR!”

    The Ambassador jerked, and then once again fell lifeless.


    Once again the wan and waxen body jerked—and then Sepak gasped and drew in a deep breath.

    The Vulcan moved his head from side to side and cocked an eyebrow. “Doctor Talbot? What . . . why . . . why am I restrained and where are clothes?”

    Matt let out the deep breath he had held and stepped forward. “Ambassador, what is today’s Stardate?” he asked, even as Quincy was once again running the tricorder over Sepak’s body.

    The Vulcan frowned. “Stardate 53750.1, Captain Dahlgren. I was in the process of beaming down to Hak’ta-thor, when I rematerialized here. What has occurred?”

    “Ambassador, it is Stardate 53750.9. You were infected with the Lorsham mind-altering agent and have been in a healing trance ever since.”

    “Ah . . . that does explain things. I take it that you have managed to remove the agent?”

    “If you would quit moving around and talking, I might be able to determine that!” snapped Quincy. But then he stood up straight. “I can’t detect anything wrong with him, other than he hasn’t eaten in more than a week, Matt—but I want him back in Medical for a full examination.”

    The Doctor grinned. “At least he’s awake and himself once again, Captain. Now we can treat his aides as well.”

    Absolutely not!” Matt said harshly.

    “It worked, Captain; we can cure them.”

    “We almost lost Sepak, Doctor—you had to revive him. The effort nearly burnt out the transporter unit . . .”

    “It did burn out, Sir, Transporter Room One is officially off-line until the Commander and I can make repairs,” added Sandler.

    “Thank you, Chief. No. This option was only because Sepak was dying—and it was a hail Mary that worked, Doctor. We will not try it on men who aren’t in imminent threat of death.”

    “Matt, their minds have been reprogrammed—wouldn’t you want someone to risk it to restore you?”

    The Captain slowly shook his head. “No, Quincy. We were justified in the attempt with Sepak; and I am not going to risk killing either of his aides. Star Fleet Medical will find a cure—or they will perfect this one; but I can’t risk it or their lives. I’m sorry, Doctor, but that is my final word on this.”

    He turned to face the Chief Engineer. “Mister Malik, I want their last beam-down patterns preserved—use whatever computer resources you need to make certain they do not degrade. But this experiment is now finished.”

    “Aye, aye, Sir.”

    “Ambassador,” Matt continued. “I’ll check in with you after the Doctor has finished his examination. It’s good to have you back, Sir.”

    “Thank you, Captain Dahlgren. Did I miss much?”

    Matt chuckled. “The Doctor will fill you in on the events of past few days, Mister Ambassador. Get some rest,” he finished before he limped over to the doors and exited.

    The Vulcan looked up at the Doctor and began to open his mouth, but Quincy interrupted him. “After I go over your examination, Ambassador,” he said sternly.

    And Sepak cocked an eyebrow. “I am certain that your version of the events will be fascinating, Doctor.”
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012