Starship Enterprise "Broken Bow" (Alternate version)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by The Badger, Apr 27, 2009.

  1. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, really like your military writing-considering things I probably wouldn't take into account. Like the means of egress, and the design of the shuttle. Well done!
     
  2. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Rexus Station interior.
    27th April 2151.

    There was a knack to moving in zero gravity, even with magna-adhesion boots. First, you made sure your leading foot was securely placed, wriggling it slightly to be certain it wouldn't come loose. Then, carefully, you brought your torso forward. It was convenient to think of it as putting your weight over your leading foot, even though concepts such as 'weight' and 'above' didn't apply in this environment.

    The inertial effect of such a move made it easier to pull the trailing foot up off the deck without loosing contact at the front. You had to raise the back foot higher than you would under normal conditions, the adhesion field dropped off quickly with range, but it could still pull you back to the deck if you weren't careful. Then you brought that foot forward. Not straight forward, that could cause interference with the field around the leading foot, so you had to swing it out slightly. Practice taught you just how much of a swing was needed. You could always spot novices by the comical swaying from side to side as they walked with too much swing. Not enough swing, and their feet would slam together, or jerk painfully apart, or maybe they'd lose contact with the deck altogether as the adhesion field dephased.

    When the raised foot was in place, and the wise Marine checked visually before proceeding, it was lowered firmly but carefully to the deck. The whole process was then repeated with the other foot.

    Progress was slow, but steady. It was with a certain amount of pride that Reed could say his squad held the record for fastest time around the outer hull of Schofield Station, averaging only slightly less than walking speed under normal conditions. They were going slower now. When investigating an alien space station attacked by an unknown force, caution was the watchword.

    For convenience, the squad all walked on the same surface. It would have been easy to use the ceiling or walls, but by sticking to the floor everyone kept the same orientation. A faint green arrow in his helmet's HUD helpfully pointed 'down', ensuring he wouldn't lose track. It was easy to do, even for the experienced.

    A blinking yellow warning light in the lower left of his HUD caught his attention. It indicated a loss of communications with the landing craft. He paused. So did the other Marines, who'd received the same warning. After a few seconds the light went out as contact was re-established. He sent he quick status report to the lander, got one back, and proceeded down the corridor.

    The Line Of Sight, Infra Red system they were using for communications had a tactical advantage over conventional radio signalling. Radio waves were penetrating, making them easy to detect even through the hull. It would, quite literally, broadcast the presence and location of the Marines. The LOSIR system would not go through the hull. It could be stopped by thick enough paper. Unless there were sensors actually in the areas they were going through, the signals wouldn't be detected. And if there were such sensors, the Marines would be spotted whether they signalled or not.

    The problem with the system is that it only worked, as the name suggested, when there was a clear line of sight. You didn't have to be able to physically see the person you wanted to talk to, but there did have to be a clear uninterrupted line between you and them. Or, if not them personally, something that could relay the signal. Another Marine, placed so he could see you both, would suffice. Each suit had sufficient pass-along capability to ensure that a squad could still communicate efficiently if just one Marine could draw a LOS to all the others, even if none of them had direct contact with anyone else.

    In addition, as they progressed thought the station, Reed's people made sure to leave small relay units adhered in appropriate locations. About the size of a pack of playing cards, these linked back to the landing craft. Once docked with the station, the crew of the lander had used a powerful plasma torch to make a small hole in the hull. A probe was extended through, to check on conditions inside. The plasma torch then opened up a large enough entry point. With the Marines disembarked the lander crew shut their hatch, but left the probe extended. With a relay unit in sight, this allowed real time communication between the lander and the boarding party.

    The trouble was that there was so much debris floating round within the station. It was unlikely to damage the relay units--they were sturdy little machines--but was dense enough to temporarily degraded the signal as it zig zagged back along the corridors to the landing craft. It had happened four times so far, only for a few seconds each time, but it was enough to make Reed jumpy.

    Sandstrom's name came up in green on the HUD, letting Reed know who was speaking. The LOSIR system tended to compress the sounds of a transmission, making it difficult to recognise voices.

    "Sir, I've got...oh..oh God, it's a body."

    Moving forwards, Reed could see why Sandstrom was so put out. The body, a Vulcan woman with greying hair, hung at a grotesque angle near the ceiling. The right arm was missing below the elbow.

    Up until now the Marines had been using night vision, but that had it's limits. Reed activated his helmet's flash light.

    A green stain was spread across the chest of her tunic. Blood. Moving carefully around the body, he saw the cause. A deep hole, blackened and charred, was gouged in her back.

    "Looks like a plasma weapon. High output, probably overcharged to get that level of penetration. Very short range." he mused.

    Dumont, the medic, made his own examination, nodding in agreement.

    "Look, sir. These splash patterns on the floor, and the scorching. My guess? The artificial gravity was still on. She was shot, probably loosing her arm, and fell. She was then shot in the back."

    "Clearly someone wanted to make sure she was dead." Reed said. Overcharging a plasma weapon would make it a lot more powerful but risked a burn out of the pulse emitter. He and his people did it often in the border war with the Axanar, though they'd still been using the EM-400 then. Supposedly, the EM-414 would be powerful enough not to need it. He'd scrounged up a few spare pulse emitters, just in case.

    A thought struck him. "Hang on, if the gravity was on then main power must have been on, right?"

    M'boto said "That's right sir, assuming Vulcan systems are anything like ours."

    "But it looks like the generators were destroyed by weapons fire from another ship. So whoever did this--" he gestured to the body "--got on board before the station was attacked. In fact---"

    He was interrupted by Corporal James. "Contact left! Six meters! Single..AAAAaah!!"

    A red light pulsed on Reed's HUD.

    James' suit was no longer signalling.
     
  3. JJohnson

    JJohnson Captain Captain

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    Good job so far - I'm only on the first page, but I like it. Can you give a list of actors whom you'd imagine in the roles, if only to give a face to the characters?
     
  4. JJohnson

    JJohnson Captain Captain

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    Brandy Ledford over Tricia Helfer any day. Tricia is pretty, but too skinny. Brandy is actually curvy. Jeri is already used on Voyager, but you could get away by having her be an ancestor.
     
  5. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'm glad your enjoying it so far, and hope you continue to do so!

    As for a cast list, all those characters who were in the proper series would be played by the same actors. Whilst some were inconsistently written, and others badly underutilised, that was the writers fault. The actors themselves did fine, IMHO.

    There are a few changes, such as Reed speaking with a Yorkshire accent rather than the upper class one, but nothing major.

    I always pictured Michelle Rodriguez as Maria Hernandez. She looks right for the part, and has a tough edge that would be right for the role.

    I didn't have everyone in particular in mind for Haleh Moshiri. I was simply copying Gene Roddenberry, putting a Klingon on the Enterprise-D to show that today's enemies could be tomorrows friends. At the moment the middle east is perceived as the enemy, so I took that on board. As it happens a little after I came up with the idea I saw, on TV, the Iranian British stand up comedian Shappi Khorsandi, and have had her in mind since then.

    Philip Locke, as my Phlox replacement, should really be played by John Billingsley. However, whilst writing for him, I found him gradually transforming into Dean Stockwell. Undoubtedly I was influenced by his role as Cavil in nu-BSG.

    I see, JJohnson, that like many others you have taken up the challenge of casting Mary Sue, sorry, I mean Polly Partridge! I was originally inspired, if that's the right word, by Jane Fonda in Barbarella. Brandy Ledford looks great for the part, though I'm not sure a devout Christian would feel comfortable playing a total Atheist (though,as a professional actor, she should be able to). Tricia Helfer could manage it with appropriate padding.:devil:

    Jeri Ryan could be perfect for the role. So could Chuck's Yvonne Strahovski. She has some experience with a suitable outfit...
    http://godump.gameon.co.uk/tehdump/5304875305ys.jpg

    Kate Beckinsale has the looks and the accent, and her Underworld costumes are definitely right for Polly. I wonder how she would look as a blonde.
     
  6. JJohnson

    JJohnson Captain Captain

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    I'm not too familiar with the differences in Yorkshire vs. RP, but I can assume it's something like the Ninth Doctor's accent "every planet has a north!"

    As for Polly, perhaps part of her character development would be that she gradually grows into a faith, perhaps aided by Maria? Could give the two an interesting interaction dynamic, and continue Maria's little bit about interest in the Catholic services on board.

    Kate is nice, though she doesn't fill out the outfits as well as perhaps Michelle Ryan might, or a Page 3 girl like Sophie Howard, Keeley Hazell, or Michelle Marsh might. And a good actress, you're right, can get into a role, so I think Brandy would work.

    I kept thinking of the Doc in nu-BSG myself - a curmudgeon, but still with a nice heart and a very human view of things...I hope we get to see a softer side of him at some point.

    As for the ship, I kinda liked the NX class - it grew on me, but it does fit well with that vessel seen in TMP. For warp speed, are you using TNG scale, or the TOS (w^3) scale? And is the bridge the same or similar as in the TV show?
     
  7. Count Zero

    Count Zero Says who? Moderator

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    Great chapter! I liked how it was written from a military point of view. You obviously put a lot of thought into the details of this universe. Very nice. :techman:
     
  8. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Similar, but not quite the same. Reed's accent is rather soft. Think Sean Bean in Goldeneye, Sharpe or Lord Of The Rings and you'll be fairly near the mark!

    An interesting idea, but unlikely. Cards on the table, I'm a non-believer myself. I wanted to use Polly to present a positive Atheist character who didn't fit the 'Hollywood Atheist' stereotype (see http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HollywoodAtheist). Hopefully without getting too preachy.

    That said, I think Polly and Maria's conflicting viewpoints do have a dramatic potential, rather like TOS's Spock and McCoy. Two people who eventually develop respect, even friendship, but still argue.

    Also, If I continue beyond this initial story, I can see Polly and Maria in a reimagining of "Shuttlepod One". Seeing how these two different people cope together in the face of certain death could be interesting.


    Real answer? Ships move at the speed of plot:hugegrin:. I tend towards the TOS scale at the moment. It seems to fit.

    The bridge is similar to the TV show, except that it's darker, there are several support struts, lot's of exposed piping, and as of yet there is no dedicated science station. For the trip into the Rexus system Polly used the computer monitoring station next to the sensors station. Sensors, at this point, is prioritized for military applications, hence it's location next to gunnery.

    Thanks. I once read an essay by Kingsley Amis called 'The Fleming Effect'. It explained how Ian Fleming's James Bond novels gain realism through the use of details. Gene Roddenberry did something similar. He could have gone with a flying saucer or rocket ship design for the Enterprise. He realized that, by putting a bit of extra effort (and, this being television, a lot of extra money) into the design, he could make things seem more real. That's what I'm trying to emulate.


    Oh, someone I forgot from my cast list. Corporal Autumn James is of course played by Summer Glau.
     
  9. JJohnson

    JJohnson Captain Captain

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    Can't stand Summer Glau....ugh. (One of a string of anorexic-looking actresses to me). Lexa Doig? Monica Schnarr? Sarah Roemer or Laura Ramsey? Just a few options...but definitely keep up the timeline. Quite interesting.
     
  10. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Well, I like Summer (see my avatar!) so she's in my version, but you're free to imagine whoever you like in the role.

    Mind you, now you've mentioned Lexa Doig, I'll have to find something for her to do;).
     
  11. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Good entry sequence-now what could be alive in there?
     
  12. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Fantastic read, VERY well written. Would you describe Polly as more agnostic or atheist, I've alway found quite a bit of philosphic ground between the two.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2009
  13. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Thanks T'Girl, it is always nice when someone lets me know they are enjoying this:).

    Whilst there is a lot of philosophical ground between agnosticism and atheism, Polly leans very much towards the latter. It's her nature to only accept the existence of something when there is adequate scientific evidence, and so far she has seen none to suggest the presence of any deity.

    As a good scientist, were she to get such evidence, she would be duty bound to examine it critically and honestly, and see how it fits in with what is already known of the cosmos.

    It's a pity in a way that I've placed her in an alternative version of the 2150's. A meeting between Polly and Q could be interesting! Or even the 'God' from Trek V.

    Anyway, I'm currently working on the next part, hopefully it will be ready soon!

    (Oh, I just realized, I called the Marine medic 'Dent' earlier and 'Dumont' here. Errrr...they have two medics....)
     
  14. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Rexus Station interior.
    27th April 2151.

    Even as James' signal died, the words 'Energy Discharge', accompanied by a red arrow, pulsed in Reed's helmet display. He was already turning. He knew where she was.

    The Marines progress through the station was not random, it had a definite goal. The Command Centre. Using the schematics provided by Ambassador Soval they had plotted the quickest course. Along the way they passed numerous side corridors and passageways. When Sandstrom had found the Vulcan women's body, James had taken place by one of these corridors, guarding it until the team started moving again.

    James had lost contact with the deck. She was floating--distressingly still--about a meter up. Vapour jetted from a jagged hole in her suit, just above the abdomen. As Reed watched sealing gell bubbled though the gap, stopping any further leak. The barrel of her rifle was gone. It looked as if it had exploded.

    "Tipping, suppressive fire! Low power plasma, I want 'em alive! Dent, get James out of the line of fire!" Reed barked, getting a couple of acknowledgements.

    Despite the urgency of the situation, Reed was pleased to see Tipping take a fraction of a second to ensure he was secure against the deck. Even in low power mode the recoil on the EM-414 could send you spinning in zero-gee. He leant slightly into the corridor, far enough to do the job without needlessly exposing himself to enemy fire, and sprayed a long burst of bright white plasma pulses in the general direction of the presumed hostile.

    Suppressive fire. Not intended to harm the enemy. Just force them down out of the way so they can't shoot back.

    Low power meant that, even if Tipping hit, he'd be unlikely to kill. Nobody as yet had developed a truly non lethal weapon system--there were always risks--but a direct hit on bare skin from a low power shot would cause surface burns and bruising. Nasty, but unless it hit somewhere vital, not life threatening. In principle any form of space suit should provide complete protection, though the wearer would get jostled a bit.

    Of course, if the wearer was very unlucky, a hit to the face plate could cause it to shatter. Air pipes could be severed. Things can always go wrong.

    Rather than try to reach James and pull her back out of the way, Dent used a more direct approach. Bracing himself against a convenient coolant pipe, he hurled himself across the gap. His attempt to scoop her up in his arms didn't quite succeed, but he did knock her in Reed's direction. The impact sent him up towards the ceiling, where he scrabbled his way forward.

    As he did so a beam of blue-green energy scythed past him. It gouged a deep crevice into the opposite wall, it's edges glowing white hot. Tipping instantly adjusted his aim, sending several shots towards the beam's source.

    Laser? Reed wondered, before dismissing the idea. No, lasers are invisible in a vacuum. Besides, I could see that beam moving. It's fast, but definitely slower than light.

    "Dent, Tipping, keep up the suppressive fire. Dumont, see to James. M'boto--"

    He was interrupted by a transmission from the Enterprise. A two way tight beam laser link between the starship and the landing craft allowed communications via the LOSIR relays. "Archer to boarding party, what's your sit--"

    "Keep off this frequency!" Reed snapped. "M'boto, go to active scanning, they know we're here, no point sneaking around any more."

    M'boto examined his scanner carefully. "Got something sir. Looks like a single lifeform, environmental suit, at the approximate location of our hostile. Can't see anything else. And I think that...yes, it looks like there's another way round. Passing it through to your map."

    Reed looked at the display for a few seconds. "OK. Woo, Sandstrom, with me. M'boto, keep scanning. We'll be out of line of sight, so we'll have to use radio. Setting four, encryption alpha. Keep it to a minimum. Let's go!"


    ***************

    It took less than two minutes for the Marines to loop around behind the hostile. Whoever it was, they made no attempt to reposition, or to continue firing. To Reed that suggested they were facing some one without proper combat training, who had literally no idea of what to do in this situation.

    "Turn left next junction. Target three meters ahead." M'boto said, giving all the necessary information with the fewest words. Even if encrypted, there was no point broadcasting more than that.

    Reed's response was even more abrupt. He double tapped the transmit button for his radio, two clicks signalling his acknowledgement. As he reached the junction he peered carefully round.

    A figure, in an environment suit, was hunched near the floor. It didn't look all that threatening, but Reed could make out the large pistol in it's hand.

    With a series of hand signals he told Woo and Sandstrom what he'd seen. Deactivating his magna-adhesion boots, Reed floated around the corner, propelled by small bursts of compressed gas from his suits micro thrusters.

    The figure was looking the other way as Reed approached, visibly flinching as another burst of suppressive fire pored past. And then it started to turn.

    Reed hit the thrusters, jetting into the other figure. He'd been forced to make his move earlier than he'd had liked to, but he knew how to tackle as only a Rugby player can (pride did not allow for the possibility that a player of American football might also have succeeded). The two tumbled out into Dent and Tipping's line of fire.

    "Cease fire!" he called. "Sandstrom, help me with him!"

    The figure was struggling with remarkable strength. One arm wriggled free of Reed's grasp and immediately began pounding at the side of his head. There was no realistic chance that the Marine could be hurt through his thick armour, but it was best to stop the attack just in case. Things can always go wrong.

    With the big Marine's help, Reed managed to get the captive under control. He still struggled ferociously though.

    "Woo, get the pacifier on him."

    The 'pacifier' was a slightly curved thick metal plate, that adhered to the captive's visor. Once it was in place Woo hit the activation switch.

    "Sorry mate." Reed muttered. As part of their training all the Marines had been on the receiving end of the pacifier. It wasn't much fun.

    A powerful strobe light began to flash directly into the victims face, strong enough to dazzle even through screwed shut eyelids. Loudspeakers, pressed against the visor itself, broadcast a deafening howl. All that though was just a distraction, as a micro fine drill opened up a small hole, through which a potent sedative gas was pumped. The seal was air tight.

    The gas worked as advertised, with the struggling figure going limp after just a few seconds. To be on the safe side Reed ordered Tipping up to secure the figure's arms and legs before releasing it.

    ************************************

    Ten minutes later, the landing craft started it's return to Enterprise. With one captive, and one Marine in desperate need of medical attention, Reed had decided to cut short the expedition.

    "Look at this, sir." M'boto said, holding James' rifle. The front half of the barrel was gone. What was left was badly scorched.

    "What the hell?" Reed asked. He'd never seen anything like this before. "A hit from the enemy weapon?"

    "No sir. I was facing that way. James saw something, called out and shouldered her rifle. The barrel just exploded as she pulled the trigger. Can't say why." M'boto said.

    Reed thought about this. "Better run a full check on all the rifles as soon as we get back. If we've got faulty kit..." he trailed off.

    "Yes sir. Oh, one other thing. I'd bet a months pay it was that explosion that knocked out her suits communications systems. I've looked at the chip, it was a high voltage discharge for sure."

    "Hmm. I thought the suit systems were meant to be hardened against all forms of EMP?"

    M'boto grinned. "Yeah, but those chips were made by the manufacturer who promised the most whilst charging the least."

    Reed snorted, then made his way over to Dent. "How is she?"

    "Awake. I'll not be able to tell till we get this suit of her, but it looks like a pretty severe stomach wound. Whatever weapon he--" he gestured to the prisoner "--was using, blasted several shards of armour plate into her guts."

    Reed winced.

    Dent went on. "You think that's bad, they'd have been almost white hot at the time. Fortunately it looks like the sealant gel acted as a fairly effective coolant. Also, she's got electrical burns on her hands, probably from when her gun blew up. Anyway she came round as we were bringing her on board. I've got her doped up to the eyeballs, but there's not much more I can do here."

    "Doctor Locke is on standby. She'll be getting help soon." Reed said, trying to reassure himself as much as Dent.

    "What about this chap?" he asked, indicating the unconscious prisoner.

    Dumont looked up. "He's a Vulcan. Probably one of the station crew."

    "Poor bugger. Sees all his mates slaughtered, hides away in the darkness, and then we turn up. No wonder he started shooting."

    M'boto added "It's worth noting that he didn't shoot until after you used your flash light sir. There's no night vision on his suit. He probably didn't know we were there until then."

    "Damn it. Should have gone in with active scans from the start. This would never have happened."

    Woo was looking at him from his position near the front. He didn't say anything. Didn't need to. Reed's decisions were correct, according to current military doctrine.

    Some times things go wrong.

    "Everybody strap yourselves in." the pilot signalled. "We're about to land."

    *******************

    Even as Reed stepped down the ramp he was apologising. "I'm sorry Captain Archer, I shouldn't have shouted at you..."

    Archer held a hand up. "Stop right there Lieutenant. I had no business pestering you in the middle of a situation. We were monitoring your transmissions, and when it all kicked off...How is Corporal James?"

    He was answered by a torrent of foul language as the subject of his inquiry was stretchered off the lander.

    "...find the sunnovabidge who did this, I'm gonna rip 'im a new a..." James howled at the universe in general.

    "I think she's in need of some more painkillers, but apart from that, fine." said Reed, more relieved than his words would suggest. Nobody near death could be that loud.

    Doctor Locke, the ever caring, took a deep breath and bellowed "SHUT UP!!" into James' face. She was so startled that she did so instantly. So did everyone else in the shuttlebay.

    "Millington! Get her to sickbay and prepped for surgery. We have to get that metal out. Might do something to her vocal chords whilst we're in there."

    Dumont appeared at the top of the landing ramp. "Sir, the Vulcan's coming round. Still pretty much out of it though."

    Archer, Reed and Locke entered the landing craft.

    "...komihn...nashiv..komihn..."

    The Vulcan's voice was weak, Archer leant forward to better hear.

    "What the hell?"

    The Vulcan's eyes fluttered for a moment, then closed.

    "Captain, we have to get him to sickbay. Now!" Locke barked.

    Archer nodded, then got out of the way as Locke summoned a couple of stretcher bearers. There was a disturbed look on the Captain's face.

    "Sir, what is it? What did he say?" Reed asked.

    Archer looked conflicted for a moment, then, with a visible effort, seemed to make up his mind. "This is confidential Lieutenant, you tell no one without my express permission. Understood? Don't want rumours flying around."

    "Yes sir."

    Archer exhaled heavily. "I'll have to double check with Hoshi, she's the language whizz, but...I've been around Vulcans most of my life. He said...there must be a mistake. He said that the station had been attacked...."

    "Sir?"

    "He said it was attacked by humans."
     
  15. milo bloom

    milo bloom Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    After what felt like a slightly shaky start (esp with the over the top characterization of Mayweather), this is really turning out to be pretty darned fun. I've been constantly checking back for updates to this and Tesseract, and enjoying them both quite a bit.


    One thing though...the original title of Broken Bow came from where the Klingon crash-landed in Broken Bow, Oklahoma; are you still planning on tying that in somehow or do you have an alternate meaning to the words?
     
  16. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Great sequence. Didn't realize it was a Vulcan until you told me. And Humans! What's up with that?
     
  17. adm_gold

    adm_gold Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    more please
     
  18. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I was wondering when someone would ask that! There is indeed an alternate meaning. It should be referenced soon.

    Working on the next part now. Depending on how busy I am it should be up in the next couple of days. Again, I must apologize for not updating more often.
     
  19. The Badger

    The Badger Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    UES Enterprise. Rexus System.
    Captain's Log. 29th April 2151. It's been two days since Stran, the Vulcan we rescued from the station, made his troubling allegations. I'd been hoping that he'd just been mixed up, confusing the real attackers with our own boarding party. Given his semi delirious state, this is certainly possible. Sadly he seems to be sticking to his story, which has disturbing implications. He is still affected badly by his injuries, though, so until he is given a clean bill of health by Doctor Locke I'm going to take his statements with the proverbial pinch of salt. Ambassador Soval and his aide T'Pol are keeping watch on him. Understandably, he is somewhat wary to be in the presence of humans, though he hides it with typical Vulcan stoicism.
    In a piece of good news, Commander Tucker and his people have managed to restore partial power to the station. We are charging the capacitors for the tachyon transmission system, so we should be able to signal for aid from the nearest Vulcan colony.
    I only wish I knew what to tell them when they arrive.



    Hernandez looked round the briefing room as she entered. Captain Archer was present, talking in low tones to Lt. Sato. Reed was helping himself to coffee. He saw her and raised a mug, a questioning look on his face. She nodded and held up two fingers with one hand, pointing to the sugar with the other. When he gestured to the milk she shook her head. She drank it black in any case, but after the last couple of days she, like most of the crew, was operating mainly on caffeine.

    Doctor Locke sat staring at an unlit cigarette as if the intensity of his gaze could cause it to burst into flame.

    There was no one else present, so she figured the point of this suddenly called meeting was related to the rescued Vulcan's claims that humans had attacked the station. So far at least they'd managed to keep the stories getting out into the general population. As far as Hernandez was aware, the only people not in this room who knew were Cmmdr. Tucker, the President, the Vulcan ambassador and his aide, and Professor Partridge. Tucker was still on the station making repairs.

    Archer glanced at his watch, then sat at the head of the table. Sato sat by Hernandez, with Reed opposite. He pushed the steaming coffee mug in front of her.

    "Thanks." she said, meaning it. She inhaled deeply. She'd always found the scent more pleasant than the taste. After an inquisitive sip she added "You make a pretty good cup of coffee, Lieutenant."

    "I've always preferred it to tea, myself."

    She smiled above her mug at him. "An Englishman preferring coffee to tea? Is that allowed?"

    "Oh, you've clearly never read any Bond books then. James Bond." he added quickly, seeing her expression when he said the word 'Bond'. It was the sort of thing that, out of context, could lead to confusion.

    The hatch swung open and Partridge stumbled in, carrying a small case.

    "Sorry I'm late." she said, barely audibly.

    Hernandez and Sato exchanged glances. Partridge looked...smaller somehow. Partly it was because she was slouching, all hunched up as if carrying a heavy weight on her back. But she also seemed to have physically shrunk.

    It took Hernandez a few moments to realize why, and it was the sound of footsteps that clued her in. Partridge was wearing her black garment-- called a catsuit, Hernandez had learned--with the inbuilt boots. But these instead of her customary spike heels, she was in flats.

    The scientist shuffled over to the table and collapsed in to the chair besides Reed. With visible effort she lifted the case and dropped it with a loud thump onto the table.

    Archer leaned forward, concern etched across his face. "Professor, are you feeling all right? You look a little...unwell."

    Without taking his eyes from his cigarette, Locke said "Stress, lack of sleep, some emotional turmoil. This isn't exactly what she signed on for."

    Even though Hernandez could agree with Locke's assessment, there was something in the Doctor's attitude that provoked a reaction. "None of us signed on for this particular situation Doctor."

    "No, but we at least have had training or prior experience. She hasn't."

    Archer nodded. "That's a good point Doctor. We'd better keep an eye on all the civilians on board, to see how they are holding up. And Doctor?"

    "Yes?"

    "As a point of etiquette, please don't talk about people as if they are not present. It could be considered rude."

    Locke didn't speak, but after a moment glanced Archer's way with a vaguely affirmative grunt.

    Hernandez looked at the Marine. "Lt. Reed, perhaps you could fetch the Professor some coffee?"

    "Certainly."

    Archer regarded them sternly. "As I'm sure you are all now aware, the Vulcan, Stran, has alleged that the attack on the Rexus station was carried out by human forces. Now I don't need to spell out how unlikely this is. Given our distance from any Earth outpost, the chances of any humans aside from ourselves being out here is, well, minimal. All the same we cannot ignore the possibility."

    He leant back in his chair. "Professor, you said you'd been carrying out some studies that may shed some light on the matter. Professor?"

    "Hmm? Oh, yes, yes. Sorry. I'm, ah, finding it a little difficult to concentrate, what with all that's been going on. Oh, don't worry. I can do the science stuff just fine. It's just the talking and the walking, y'know, stuff like that."

    She took a long gulp of coffee. "Oh that's good. Mr. Reed, you'll make a perfectly wonderful husband to someone someday. Or wife, as the mood takes you. Mmm. Yeah."

    She opened up the case, and pulled out several small pieces of discoloured metal, which she handed around "These samples have all been taken from the station. You see those marks? Impact sites from plasma weaponry. We've been running a few tests and the results have been interesting."

    Popping a data chip into the slot on the table, she called up an image on the display screen. A bar chart of some sort, with a couple of dozen different coloured lines of differing heights.

    "This is a spectroscopic analysis of one of the impact sites. There's a certain amount of variation, but nothing significant, and this one is fairly typical. Now although all plasma weapons have one thing in common, they use plasma obviously enough, there are differences between different types. Amount of power per shot, frequency, mass of ionised gas, and so on. By examining the effects we can recognise the type of weapon. "

    Archer rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "A sort of finger print for weapons fire?"

    "Precisely. Now, using plasma generators in the science labs we have been able to replicate the know effects of sixteen different types of plasma weapon, ranging from civilian hunting and sporting types to Denobulan Defence Force carbines and Axanar riot guns. Of course, as we didn't have any of these weapons to hand our results are only approximate, but they do give us a bench mark."

    She tapped a couple of buttons. The bar chart shrunk to the top left of the screen. Several other charts, some similar to the original, others fairly different.

    "You'll notice that most are between fifty five and seventy five percent similarity. The laws of physics mean that there are only a limited number of ways you can use plasma effectively, so all weapons must by nature have some common ground."

    Reed pointed out one of the charts. "This one looks fairly close."

    Partridge nodded slightly. "You should be familiar with that one. The 'Widowmaker', I think it was called."

    Reed shuddered. "Yeah, the Alpha colony rebels used them. Simple but effective, providing they didn't blow up in your face. Made them themselves in workshops for the most part, although there were a few dedicated manufacturing plants."

    "It's not likely that any one from Alpha would be out here, surely?" Archer asked.

    "Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to imply that." said Partridge. She stifled a yawn, and took another swill of coffee. "'Scuse me. No. whilst the Widowmaker scored pretty high, eighty one percent, that's still not a significant amount. This, on the other hand, is much more interesting."

    She tapped a button. A new chart sprang up.

    Sato said "Now that is close."

    "Eighty nine point four percent. Statistically significant. Only just, but it is there."

    Archer examined the chart closely. "This red bar is a little high, and these two near the end a fraction low, but it does look close. So, Professor, is this our smoking gun? No pun intended."

    Partridge pinched the bridge of her nose. "This, ladies and gentlemen, is the signature of the EM-414 assault rifle, as used by select units of the United Earth Military Authority. I was able, thanks to Mr. Reed here, to test one of these directly rather than having to attempt to replicate it's effects."

    There was a moments silence, broken only when Reed swore loudly.

    "The 414 is only just coming into service." Hernandez protested. "There's only a couple of hundred in existence. They're all accounted for. No way someone can get them all the way out here. Just no way."

    "I'm with the XO on this one. I'm on first name terms with practically every officer whose people have been issued with the 414. You must be mistaken Professor." said Reed.

    "There is one weapon that scored higher. Ninety eight point nine percent."

    "Well don't keep us in suspense!" snapped Hernandez.

    Partridge rubbed her temples. "The EM-400. The forerunner to the 414."

    "Are you sure?" Archer asked.

    "Oh yes, we have several of those on-board. I was able to get a couple for experimental purposes."

    Hernandez nodded. "The regular security personnel use them. I authorized the loan to Professor Partridge myself."

    Sato leaned forward. "So what are we saying here? Humans did attack the Rexus station?"

    Partridge held up her hands "All we can say is that there is an almost total probability that the weapons used in the attack were EM-400's. We can't say more than that at this stage."

    "Your forgetting something Professor." Archer said, standing. "There's a Vulcan on board who claims we're responsible. Coupled with this data...well, that's pretty serious."

    He looked off into the distance for a moment. "I think I better check with Soval, see if Stran has said any more. Does anyone have anything else to add? No? All right, everybody dismissed."

    As they all stood Reed turned to Locke. "Doctor, how's Corporal James getting on?"

    "Almost good enough to leave sickbay, and good riddance."

    "She's not being a nuisance is she?"

    The meeting now over, Locke felt he could light his cigarette. He took a long drag on it. "Ah. No, not a nuisance. But she's lying in one of the beds, making the whole place look untidy.

    "At any rate," he went on, "she can have visitors now, though God knows who'd want to talk to her. Keeps jabbering on, wanting to know why her gun blew up."

    Partridge, who was packing away the pieces of metal, looked over. "Actually, I've been speculating about that. Mr.Reed, if you meet me down in sickbay in about ten minutes, and bring along an EM-414 in precisely the configuration that Miss James had it when it exploded, I believe I can shed some light on the matter."
     
  20. Count Zero

    Count Zero Says who? Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2005
    Location:
    European Union
    Quite mysterious. I'm really curious about what's going on.