UT: Refugee Crisis / Bluefin - "Trajectory"

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by TheLoneRedshirt, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    CeJay - thank you! Akinola is in way over his head so, as usual, he'll just make it up as he goes along. :lol:

    Sgt_G - thanks for reading. I am a bit surprised you think I write fast, considering there is a more than a year's gap between chapters 7 and 8. :alienblush: Hopefully I can maintain momentum and get this beast finished. Sorry you're annoyed about the plot device thingy but thanks for the "great minds" compliment. ;)

    Chapter 10 is now under construction.
  2. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 5, 2013
    Well, who would I be to talk? I let my story sit for six years.

    I plan on doing some typing later today. Need to recover form mowing the yard first. We're already at 92F, going for a high of 99-102. I've had sun stroke before, so I have to be extra careful in the heat.
  3. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Chapter 10 - Down the Rabbit Hole

    Stardate 54657.6
    USS Bluefin
    Sector 7432

    The Bluefin kept pace with the giant alien vessel, a minnow alongside an enormous whale. USS Resolute followed some distance behind, impotent to alter the ponderous trajectory of Zhar the ancient. Each passing minute brought them closer to Klingon space.

    On the cutter’s hangar deck, Captain Akinola addressed the gathered boarding party as they prepared to depart on Stallion 02. Commander Strauss, Lt. Sarnek, Senior Chief Brin, Corpsman Sanders, Lt. T’Lyr, and Petty Officer Steiner were accompanied by Resolute’s Chief Engineer, John Vanboerner. Each wore armored environmental suits and carried sidearms. Steiner also carried a daunting array of heavy weaponry including an ion lance that could burn through a foot of solid Duranium in under a minute. Commander Vanboerner and Lt. T’Lyr were loaded down with an assortment of engineering tools. All wore combat scanners integrated into the forearms of their suits – hardened versions of the ubiquitous tri-corder.

    “I won’t waste your time with a pep talk,” began Akinola. “So I’ll cut to the chase. You have two hours in which to board that ship and convince whoever or whatever is controlling it to stop or at least change course away from Klingon space. Failing that, you will attempt to take control of the ship and disable it. Any questions?”

    “Yes sir,” replied Strauss. “What if we can’t gain access?”

    “Then you return to the ship and we proceed with Plan B.”

    “What’s Plan B?”

    Akinola was silent for a moment. “Let’s focus on Plan A first. XO, you’re mission commander for this. Most likely we will be out of communication so you will make the calls. Are you up to it?”

    “Absolutely, sir!” she responded with more enthusiasm than she felt. If she screwed this up . . .

    The Captain nodded. “Good. You all know your jobs so do them well. Remember, you have two hours, no more, then return to the ship. Load up.”

    They boarded the Star Stallion with Sarnek taking the pilot’s position and Strauss in the right seat. The others settled in aft.

    Akinola noted that Solly Brin lingered behind on the deck. He turned to face the Orion NCO.

    “Waiting for an engraved invitation, Solly?”

    Brin stepped closer, speaking in a quiet tone. “Those quantum warheads Mr. Bralus and I brought over from Resolute are Plan B, aren’t they? Only we both know even a quantum burst wouldn’t slow down that monster. That tells me those warheads are something other than advertised. So what is Plan B, Skipper?”

    Akinola jaw tightened and he turned his eyes to the Star Stallion. “Get on the boat, Senior Chief.”

    Solly Brin kept his gaze on Akinola a moment longer. They had known each other for more than thirty years but at the moment, they were completely alien to each other.

    “Aye, aye, Captain,” Brin finally replied before turning and climbing into the Stallion.

    * * *

    Solly settled into one of the aft seats across from Steiner, a stony expression on his face. The Petty Officer gave the Orion an appraising look.

    “Something bothering you, Senior Chief?”

    “Mind your arsenal and shut your pie-hole, Steiner, before you blow a hole in the hull with one of your toys,” Brin growled.

    Steiner’s eyebrows lifted in surprise. “Sure, Senior.” Man, who pissed in your corn flakes?

    * * *

    Akinola strode onto the bridge and barked, “Status?”

    Lt. Commander Simms vacated the command chair as the Captain stepped down onto the lower level of the bridge. “No change in speed or course. At this rate, we’ll enter Klingon space in a little over fourteen hours.”

    The Captain grunted as he took in this new information. “Lt. Rune, can our sensors punch through this murk? I need to know if there are any Klingon ships waiting on the other side of the border.”

    “No sir, the gravity field from the alien vessel is too strong. I’ve been thinking though, we could launch a class-one probe with a warp booster and program it for a return trajectory. It would take about four hours but we would know more than we do now.”

    “Do it,” ordered Akinola. He turned back to face Simms. “You have the bridge, Commander. I’ll be in sickbay.”

    “Are you okay, sir?”

    Not even close. “Fine. But I need to speak with Captain Franklin. Notify me immediately of any changes, especially if our boarding party manages to get on that thing.”

    “Aye, sir, will do.”

    * * *

    The probe streaked from the forward port torpedo launcher and quickly sped up to half the speed of light. At a predetermined distance from the ship, the warp booster kicked in, propelling the probe to warp 6 on a course toward the Klingon empire.

    * * *

    “No, absolutely not! Captain Franklin is sleeping and her healing process is still underway. This isn’t a hangnail we’re dealing with; she suffered a severe brain injury. Give her two more days and I can probably release her.” Dr. Castille crossed his arms, blocking the way to the patient cubicles.

    Akinola suppressed a sigh. “Doctor, I wouldn’t ask if this weren’t vitally important. I promise I won’t take more than five minutes. Surely that won’t jeopardize her recovery?”

    The CMO glowered at the Captain a moment longer before throwing up his hands in frustration. “Oh, alright! From what little I know of the situation I can imagine you can use all the help you can get. But fair warning – one second longer than five minutes and I’ll slap a hypo-spray against your neck and you won’t wake up until I decide to retire.”

    “Thank you, Doctor,” Akinola replied, dryly.

    The balding physician led Captain Akinola to the cubicle where Captain Samantha Franklin, C.O. of the USS Resolute, lay sleeping peacefully. The bio-monitors beeped quietly as Castille adjusted a control. Momentarily, Franklin drew in a deeper breath and her eyes batted open. She glanced at Castille and Akinola in puzzlement for a moment.

    “Captain, do you know where you are?” asked Dr. Castille, softly.

    She glanced from the CMO to Akinola and back to the doctor. “I’m pretty sure this isn’t Risa, so I’ll guess I’m on the Bluefin.”

    Castille snorted. “Everyone’s a comedian.” He pointed a finger at Akinola. “Five minutes, no more.”

    “Aye, aye, Doctor.”

    The CMO departed, muttering under his breath. Akinola turned his attention back to Franklin.

    “How are you feeling, Captain?”

    “Like someone replaced my gray matter with Tribble fur. And I thought we’d agreed to forego the ‘Captain, my Captain’ bit.”

    He smiled. “It seems your memory is fine, Sam.” The smile faded. “Best I get to the point before Dr. Castille puts me in stasis.” He pulled up a stool and perched on it, speaking in a quiet voice. “Those Alpha weapons we brought on board . . . do you know what they are?”

    Her gaze turned to the ceiling and she closed her eyes. For a moment, he thought she had gone back to sleep, but then she spoke.

    “Yes. I’m not supposed to know, but I found out. Don’t ask me how.”

    “I don’t care how you did it, I just want to know what we’ve loaded in tube one.”

    She reopened her eyes and looked back at him. “Are you really sure you want to know?”

    He nodded. “I have to know . . . it matters what kind of collateral damage to expect. If I pull the trigger, what is going to happen?”

    “Yeah . . . I needed to know that too, especially in light of what almost happened with the QE VII.” She sighed heavily. “The warhead with the serial number ending in 0811 is a multi-kinetic neutronic device that was utilized by the Borg. I have no idea how we obtained it, so don’t ask. I do know it is capable of producing a shock wave out to five light years and can take out an entire star system.”

    Akinola felt his blood go cold. “You can’t be serious.”

    “All too serious, Joe. Do the math and you can figure that we would not survive deploying that weapon, even if we jumped to warp.”

    “Gods . . . and what of the second warhead?”

    She snorted. “Oh, it gets better. The casing with serial number ending in 6499 contains an Isolytic Subspace weapon that utilizes a 500 isoton tri-cobalt warhead as the trigger.”

    The Nigerian C.O. grimaced. “Those weapons are banned by the second Khitomer accords.”

    Franklin nodded. “Yes, they are. If you use it, subspace will be destabilized for parsecs around, not to mention the destructive power of a tri-cobalt device. And again . . .”

    “We wouldn’t survive,” he finished, grimly. “Not to mention that using either weapon will affect Klingon space as well as ours. I doubt the powers-that-be on Q’onos would take that lightly.”

    “No . . . no they wouldn’t. It would likely be construed as an act of war.”

    “And who could blame them?” He shook his head. “Damned if I do and damned if I don’t.”

    “Joe . . . I’m sorry for putting you in this predicament. Look, I’m well enough to take back operational command and . . .”

    “Forget it. Doc says you’re a long way away from being okay. Shifting the burden won’t make the problem go away.”

    She cocked an eyebrow. “I could pull ‘rank’ on you . . . tactically superior vessel, and all that.”

    He smiled wanly. “You forget, Bluefin now has tactical superiority, at least until we unleash Armageddon.”

    “What are you going to do?”

    “For now, pray that our away team can get on that ship and at least change its course. Failing that, let’s just say I’m not of a mind to commit mass suicide or incite a war with the Klingons.”

    “But the orders from Admiral Brandies are . . .”

    “Damn the orders and screw Admiral Brandies!” he said with heat. “I would rather live out my days in prison than do something that I know is not only wrong but downright insane!”

    “Joe,” she began, measuring her words carefully, “don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.”

    “Sam, I’m just a cutter driver, but I’m no fool. No rear-echelon S.O.B. can envision every possible scenario and issue blanket orders without missing a thousand exceptions to their rules. Look me in the eye and tell me that obliterating a non-hostile, heavily damaged ship just to keep the Klingons from seeing it makes any sense, not to mention that we would all die and probably start a war in the process.”

    She did not waver under his scrutiny, but neither did she argue the point. “Okay then.”

    “Okay what?”

    “Screw the orders, at least the ones that require Alpha weapons. Hell, I’ll probably go to prison too. Maybe we’ll end up in New Zealand; I hear the weather is nice.” She paused. “But there’s another factor to consider.”

    “Which is . . .?”

    “Both our ships have been out of contact with our respective chains of command. I guarantee you that we’ll have company sooner or later. And do you know the scary thing about that?”

    Akinola shook his head.

    “Some of those captains would not hesitate to fire off an Alpha weapon.”

    * * *

    “Beginning closure to the alien vessel,” announced Lt. Sarnek as he piloted the Star Stallion. “117.46 kilometers and closing at 544.2 meters per second.”

    Commander Strauss shifted in the co-pilot’s seat uncomfortably. The heavy environmental suit and helmet were fine for ambulating around but not for sitting. Their slow descent, while prudent, seemed like it was taking forever.

    “I don’t see a welcome mat,” she quipped.

    Sarnek frowned. “I do not understand the reference.”

    “No sign of an opening,” she clarified.

    “Ah. No, but Lt. Bralus was at 84.2 kilometers distant when the opening appeared before.”

    “Then we will know soon enough whether the invitation stands,” Strauss mused.

    “Indeed,” he replied.

    A few more minutes passed before Sarnek announced, “80 kilometers and closing.”

    Strauss felt a pang of disappointment. “Nothing. Maybe if we change our angle of approach? When Solly and Bralus were . . .”

    “There,” interrupted the Vulcan.

    Inga lifted her head to have a better view over the chin ring of her helmet. Sure enough, a hole at the base of the Star ‘Shroom’s head irised open.

    “Scanning,” announced Strauss, watching her display for radiation spikes or other threats.

    Sarnek watched the display. “Radiation levels are elevated but within acceptable tolerances for our environmental suits. We should be safe for 10.27 hours.”

    “More than enough time,” she concurred, “considering we have less than two hours before we RTS.”


    “Clearance?” she queried.

    “Adequate,” he replied. “Based on our dimensions we will have exactly two meters clearance on all sides. Apparently, we are expected.”

    “Welcome to my parlor said the spider to the fly,” she murmured.

    * * *

    To be continued (eventually)
  4. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    So glad you've resumed this tale! :D

    A genuinely awkward moment between Joseph and Solly, and I'm not sure whether Akinola's refusal to divulge what he knows about the Alpha weapons will permanently damage the men's longstanding friendship.

    Lots of potential for disaster here, and so few opportunities for success. But, hell, Bluefin's crew is filled with survivors. Here's hoping that luck holds...
  5. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    It's been far too long but this newest chapter is chuck full with awesomeness. I really liked Akinola's chat with Franklin and I like that they've kinda reached an agreement about the AWs and like Franklin, I too, can think of a couple of captains who wouldn't hesitate to go nuclear in this situation.

    Naturally you're ending this just as it gets (more) interesting. And I do not appreciate that little 'eventually' at all. Do think of us poor fans, clamoring for more of this excellent tale and don't keep us waiting another couple of years. Pretty please?
  6. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Chapter 11 – The Clock Ticks

    Stardate 54657.7
    Star Stallion 02
    Sector 7432

    The strobe lights from the Star Stallion cast staccato shadows inside the alien ship’s landing bay. The small craft settled with a gentle thump onto a wide, featureless deck as the impulse engines spooled down.

    “Engines in standby mode,” announced Lt. Sarnek. “Gravity reading of point 825 standard.”

    “Atmosphere?” asked Strauss.

    The Vulcan shook his head, though the gesture was obscured by his helmet. “No pressure reading at all, it seems that . . .”

    As he spoke, a monitor on the control panel revealed that the hole that had allowed them to enter the ship was slowly dilating. As their way of escape closed, faint illumination came on in the cavern though the source of lighting was indeterminate.

    “Fascinating,” remarked Sarnek. “The bay is beginning to pressurize . . . Oxygen, Nitrogen, trace amounts of Argon and Helium . . .”

    “It appears that we are expected,” said Strauss. She wasn’t sure if she felt reassured or not. “Still, we will proceed with suits and helmets in case whatever system is providing the atmosphere breaks down or changes its mind.”

    “A prudent precaution,” agreed Sarnek. “Especially considering that radiation levels are still dangerous for anyone without protective gear.”

    Strauss stood. “Let’s get organized and on the move. We have less than two hours.”

    “One hour, fifty one minutes, seventeen seconds,” corrected Sarnek. He could not see Strauss roll her eyes.

    * * *

    Stardate 54657.7
    USS Akagi
    Sector 7431

    Captain Shiran Ch’Hranuth sat ramrod straight in the command chair of the USS Akagi. The tall Andorian was as disciplined as a Vulcan, as fierce as a Klingon, and as crafty as a Human. He had proven his mettle as a warrior during numerous battles with the Dominion, earning accolades in the process.

    With the war’s end, Shiran found himself a soldier without a cause. The skills that served him so well during war were not highly regarded by Starfleet Command during seasons of peace, thus he was relegated to command of an older but well equipped heavy scout ship. Many captains would have taken umbrage at what some would perceive as a demotion of sorts, going from an Excelsior-class starship to a Rigel-class scout, but it was not in Shiran’s nature to complain. In fact, he relished the freedom he had with his new command to carry out missions against the resurgent Maquis. Diplomacy and exploration were not his forte’.

    When Admiral Brandies enlisted him as part of Operation Vanguard, Shiran quickly volunteered his ship and services for the deep space mission to confront the approaching horde of alien ships. Instead, he was tasked to stay in Federation space, ready for any early arrivals – random interlopers, who might pose a threat.

    Two days earlier, the call had come. He was to take Akagi to intercept a transient vessel of unknown origins, preventing it from an incursion into Klingon space by any and all means necessary.

    The Andorian had no moral qualms about using the special weaponry, known only to himself. Honor demanded he carry out his orders. Duty was the ‘D’ in his DNA.

    He only knew that two other Federation vessels had already intercepted the alien ship but had failed to stop it and were either unable or unwilling to respond to attempts at communication. Admiral Glover had hinted that Captain Franklin of the Resolute might hesitate to use all the resources at her disposal, hindered by moral compunctions common to Humans.

    Shiran would not allow ethics to interfere with his orders. If Admiral Brandies and Starfleet Command deemed these invaders to be a clear and present danger, who was he to argue? He knew from experience that hesitation cost ships and lives.

    That was a mistake he would not make.

    “Time to intercept?” he asked of the helm officer, an Asian female.

    “Six hours, fifteen minutes at present course and speed,” replied Lt. Shen Yu.

    “That’s cutting it close,” remarked Commander Karim Patel, the Indian First Officer. “Based on long-range scans they will cross into Klingon space in twelve hours.”

    “Leaving us six hours, Commander,” replied the Captain. “That will be enough to carry out our mission.”

    Patel did not reply. Truth be told, he was troubled by their mission, particularly since Captain Ch’Hranuth was reticent to share details. All Karim knew was that they were to intercept an unknown alien vessel and divert it from Klingon space. But the early data indicated the vessel was massive, far beyond the abilities of even a fleet of Starships to turn with tractor beams. If those operating that ship could not be persuaded to change course . . .

    But that was madness. Surely the Captain had no intentions of attacking the alien ship?

    * * *

    Stardate 54657.7
    USS Kittiwake
    Sector 7432

    The Border Cutter USS Kittiwake burned through subspace at a blistering warp 9.6. Not a record-setting pace for modern vessels but certainly a near-record for a 70 year old Albacore-class ship.

    “Captain, the mains won’t take much more of this,” objected Chief Engineer Lt. Preedo Ontu’k, a purple-eyed Altairian. He wrung his six-fingered hands in a parody of Human anxiety.

    “Sure they will,” replied Captain Quinn Elena Destrehan, C.O. of the Kittiwake. “They have to hold together.” She pointed at the viewscreen. “One of our own is out there, very likely in distress and unable to communicate.” She fixed him with her pale blue eyes. “Thus, we will continue at warp 9.6 or better until we either find Bluefin or come apart at the seams. As Chief Engineer, it is your job to ensure that the latter does not happen. Are we clear on that, Mister?”

    Preedo’s headcrest wilted in a submissive gesture. “Yes ma’am.”

    Destrehan regarded Preedo and suppressed a sigh. He was an excellent engineer but, as typical for his race, he was bound by ‘the book’ and uncomfortable with pushing the design limits of the ship. She, on the other hand, tended to think and act outside of the box, a trait that had earned her both commendations and the occasional reprimand.

    “Look,” she continued, “I trust you, Preedo. That’s why I feel confident that we can push the envelope. These are tough ships and you’ve trained your crew well. If the mains shut down, well, that’s on me.”

    The Altairian considered her words and his headcrest lifted in relief. “We’ll do our best, Captain.” He turned and made his way to the turbo-lift.

    Destrehan turned to her Executive Officer, Lt. Commander Dee Dee Townsend. “I’ll be in my ready room, XO. You have the bridge.”

    Townsend watched the door to the ready room slide shut, then turned to the helm officer, Lt. Emil Broussard. “Emil, you have the bridge. I’m going to talk with the Skipper.”

    As Townsend disappeared into the ready room, Broussard turned to the Ops officer, Lt. (j.g.) H’Nahr and grinned. “Guess I’ll turn the bridge over to you so I can grab a Raktajino.”

    “No sirrr,” replied the Caitian with an amused rumble. “I have not rrreceived command trrraining. Besides, who would pilot the ship?”

    “An excellent point, H’Nahr. I suppose I must bear the burden of command a bit longer.”

    * * *

    Destrehan glanced up from her desk as the buxom executive officer entered. An expression of amusement mixed with annoyance crossed the young Captain’s face.

    “That’s funny, Dee. I could have sworn I just turned the bridge over to you.”

    Townsend ignored the jibe. “Quinn, Preebo is right – you’re pushing too hard. We won’t do Captain Akinola and the Bluefin any good if we lose the warp engines and have to be towed home.

    Quin stood, a spark of anger flashing in her eyes. “We’re the Border Dogs, Dee. We have to go out . . . we don’t have to come back, or have you forgotten that?”

    “I haven’t forgotten, Skipper,” Townsend replied, calmly. “And I served on Bluefin for four years or have you forgotten? I have close friends on that cutter. But as XO, it’s my job to point out the ramifications of your decisions. Respectfully, ma’am.”

    Destrehan exhaled sharply but settled back into her chair. “I know that. Sorry, Dee . . . I shouldn’t take my frustrations out on you. But for a legend like Akinola to disappear, not to mention that Akira-class starship, the Resolute . . . well, my mind is reeling with worst-case scenarios.”

    Townsend regarded her friend and C.O. for a moment. “You’re thinking about the Amberjack, aren’t you?” USS Amberjack, their sister ship, had been destroyed in a Maquis ambush less than a year earlier. Captain Destrehan had once served with Amberjack’s C.O., Sylvia Reuben.

    Quinn nodded. “Of course I am. And maybe if Amberjack had received backup in time, Sylvia and her crew would still be alive.”

    Townsend shook her head. “It happened too fast, Quinn. Even at maximum warp, the nearest ship would not have reached them in time.”

    Captain Destrehan turned in her chair to gaze out at the streaming starfield. “Well, I do not intend to have any regrets. Keep pushing at warp 9.6, XO, and don’t back off unless the core redlines.”

    * * *

    Stardate 54657.7
    Star Stallion 02
    Aboard the Alien Vessel

    Star Stallion 02 sat in a landing bay somewhat wider and longer than the one on Bluefin. Structural ribs curved overhead, giving the space a cathedral effect. Faint illumination emanated from the walls revealing an otherwise featureless space, save for two round openings situated on the forward bulkhead, ostensibly to corridors that led to other areas of the ship. Beyond the openings lay darkness.

    “From what our sensors show, there are nearly 50 kilometers of corridors on this ship – far too many for us to explore, even if we split up,” remarked Commander Strauss. “Bio readings are faint and scattered, but the radiation may be affecting our sensors.”

    “The tactical drones can provide additional data,” pointed out Lt. T’Lyr.

    “But with just three drones available, we will only be able to cover 6.13% of the accessible corridors,” interjected Sarnek.

    “True,” continued Strauss. “So we have to decide where and how to allocate our resources in the time remaining. Commander Vanboerner, any suggestions?”

    Resolute’s Chief Engineer raised his eyebrows. “Considering the lack of warp nacelles, my best guess is that the warp drive is located within the forward section – perhaps an annular ring similar to Vulcan designs.”

    T’Lyr chimed in. “That is plausible, Commander, but without concise data we are merely speculating.”

    “Unfortunately, Lieutenant, we do not have the luxury of consulting ‘concise data’ as you put it,” responded Vanboerner. “Time is short and as Commander Strauss said, we must make quick decisions.”

    “It would seem that logic dictates we guess,” said Sarnek, earning a startled glance from T’Lyr.

    “Yes, Mr. Sarnek,” agreed Strauss, grateful that her helmet hid her amused expression from both Vulcans, “but let’s give it our best-educated guess. I believe Mr. Vanboerner has the right idea – let’s proceed on the assumption that the warp drive is in the forward section, the ‘head’ if you will. Let’s allocate two of the tactical drones for the forward section and one to head aft.”

    “But what of a command and control center?” asked T’Lyr. “Most space-faring races in our quadrant separate the control area from the drive section for safety purposes.”

    “That’s true,” concurred Vanboerner. “But it’s also true that on the ships with which we are familiar it is possible to control the ship from engineering.”

    “Our primary job is to divert this ship,” reminded Strauss. “If we can find their drive section, we may have a chance to effect a course change or at least drop this vessel out of warp. We can always offer explanations to any crew afterwards.”

    Vanboerner grinned. “Easier to gain forgiveness than permission, eh?”

    “Something like that. Let’s pair up then send out the drones. Corpsman Sanders will accompany Lt. T’Lyr and you will investigate that forward corridor to starboard. Steiner, you will accompany Commander Vanboerner and take the port corridor. Senior Chief, you and I will seek to find a way aft in case our assumptions prove wrong. Any questions?”

    “How much time?” asked Vanboerner.

    “Be back on board in one hour, forty five minutes. Keep track of your time and don’t get too far out. If the drones find something, either biological or technical in nature, they will scan it and notify it. As to rules of engagement . . . well, do not fire on anyone or anything unless fired upon. So far we’ve experienced no hostile actions. Let’s hope that continues.”

    “Something let us on here,” pointed out Solly. "That doesn't mean they will be so quick to let us out."

    “Yeah, I hadn’t forgotten that Senior Chief. Steiner, launch the drones. Everyone check your suits – turn on your helmet lights, weapons set to stun, and for God’s sake, stay in sight of your partner. Communications may not be reliable.”

    The boarding party exited the Star Stallion and at last stood on the deck of the alien vessel. Strauss suppressed a chill of nervousness. The silence and darkness within the corridors made for an eerie environment. She was pleased to have the large Orion NCO accompanying her. There were few things in the quadrant that could spook Solly Brin.

    Petty Officer Steiner activated a control on his forearm and the three tactical drones flew silently from their compartments on the Stallion. Their on-board sensors were linked to each of the boarding party’s environmental suits and could provide real-time input via the head’s up displays in their helmets.

    “Move out,” ordered Strauss.

    * * *

    Zhar was aware that the small craft had landed in its bay. The re-pressurization sequence was programmed by Zhar’s creators eons ago, though Zhar did not know if the provided atmosphere was life-giving or deadly. It’s ability to control such things had been lost.

    As the creatures from the small craft emerged, an ancient memory was stirred. Despite its degraded memory banks, these beings seemed familiar somehow.

    The ancient computer summoned reserves from long dormant systems to analyze this new data. Unfortunately, most of these systems were likewise corrupted by time and battle damage. Feedback from the effort to interconnect dead data banks created a cascade failure, rendering Zhar’s already damaged comm system completely inoperative. Additionally, its external navigation sensors failed.

    Zhar was now blind and mute.

    * * *

    Stardate 54657.8
    Sector 7433

    The class one probe passed out of the gravity field and into clear space one hour and twelve minutes after launch from the Bluefin. The advanced sensor array on the tiny craft immediately began to search for other vessels in its vicinity. Forty three minutes later, it detected a slight subspace disturbance tracking along a linear course that would ultimately intercept the Bluefin and the alien vessel. The sophisticated onboard A.I. then activated its tachyon sensors, confirming with a high degree of probability that this was a cloaked vessel, specifically a Klingon ship, D-7 class.

    Its pre-programmed mission completed, the probe made a 180 degree course correction and jumped to warp, en route to rendezvous with the Bluefin.

    * * *

    To be continued
  7. mirandafave

    mirandafave Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Apr 26, 2008
    Plan A. Stick to Plan A. Plan B sucks. The strained awkward moment between Akinola and Solly is tense and short but a whole lot went unsaid. Akinola's suspicions about the weapons (later confirmed by Franklin) are the exact same suspicions an experienced hand like Solly has. Akinola has the awful choice to make it seems and perhaps Solly understands that the skipper may make a decision use Plan B to get the job done even though he knows Joseph he knows there are certain mission parameters that need to be met - like stopping this strange and dangerous vessel from getting to Klingon space.

    The ship itself continues to be weird and different. The Stallion crew boarding feels very isolated (and oh so few of them into the bargain) and a little suffocating too. Meantime, we get impressions from the ship itself that it is dying and losing all control of itself. Is it trying to help the crew to help it stop? Or will it inadvertently lead to killing them in defensive manner? I don't know. There's something very foreboding about these last two instalments.

    And with new players entering the field things are going to get very messy and complicated. A gun-ho Andorian itching for a purpose after the close of the Dominion War and a Klingon ship zeroing in on them. This is getting decidedly hot and dangerous.

    Awesome return.
  8. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    A great many variables in this story, no wonder you had a hard time with this for so long. With all those different parties with different agendas, this is going to be one hell of a party once they all converge on each other. Already looking forward to the likely disaster this will spell.

    I like how you give us an idea on how massive that ship is. And it doesn't help that it's of an entirely unknown design. But I am concerned, if engineering or the bridge are at the wrong end of the ship, and if there are no reliable turbolifts or other means of transportation, the away team will never reach it in time. Somebody should have brought Segways.
  9. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    The Klingons are late to the party, but I doubt they'll be too heartbroken to crash the scene with weapons blazing.

    I'm intrigued to see how this plays out for all involved.
  10. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    MirandaFave- yeah, plan B definitely sucks, which is why Akinola is willing to risk prison to avoid it. Unfortunately, the Andorian C.O. Of Akagi thinks plan B is da bomb. Get it? Da b . . . Oh, never mind. :mallory:

    CeJay - Yeah, I made this story WAAAY too complicated and overloaded with characters. I finally have an end game figured out. It won't be pretty but it will come to an (in)glorious end. As to the miles of corridors on the ship, the drones will help cover territory but time is against them.

    Gibraltar - oh, yeah, KLINGONS!!! :klingon: they're always fun at parties.
  11. Tribble puncher

    Tribble puncher Captain Captain

    Jan 17, 2012
    Washington, OK
    Yay! so glad this is back, and the Tension is mounting.....

    So we are starting to get a glimpse inside the Alien vessel, obviously it's hurt, lost and confused, losing it's senses one by one, here's hoping it doesn't lash out in fear of what may or may not be out there....

    Will the crew be able to communicate with it in 2 short hours? will they be able to reason with it? can it be reasoned with or is it too far gone and just an animal now? who knows? and what about the "lifeforms" it's carrying...who or what are they? so many questions....

    ......and now you have a ship captained by a person who isn't afraid to blow up the sector to complete the mission given to him, A Klingon commander in route (He seems a reasonable fellow, I think he and his ship will prove good allies...) and another cutter coming into this mini insurrection thats starting to ferment among Bluefin and Resolute....can't wait to read more...woohoo!
  12. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Chapter 12 – The Labyrinth

    Stardate 54657.8
    Star Stallion 02
    Aboard the Alien Vessel

    “Strauss to Lt. Sarnek.”

    “Sarnek here, go ahead Commander.”

    “How do you read me?”

    “Signal strength is steady and clear. Apparently the gravimetric field is not causing comm interference within the vessel.”

    “About time we caught a break. Solly and I have discovered a corridor leading aft. Drone 3 is moving ahead of us and scanning for bio-signs and power sources. We will check in at fifteen minute intervals unless we discover something significant. The other teams are moving forward and have the same orders to check in with you. Strauss, out.”

    Sarnek settled back in the pilot’s seat and gazed out the forward viewport at the dark landing bay. He understood and accepted the logic in remaining behind. After all, someone needed to stay with the Star Stallion should they require a hasty departure. As designated pilot, the task fell to him. Already, he had worked out several scenarios whereby they could escape the ship should the hangar airlock fail to open. Unfortunately, he had no way to test his theories without compromising the vessel and possibly damaging the Stallion. He kept the engines in standby mode, whereby he could bring them to full power in 3.62 seconds should the need arise.

    Typical of most Vulcans he could readily subdue his emotions, thus he felt no disappointment in his inability to explore the alien ship. Still, his innate curiosity lent to a slight sense of dissatisfaction. The ancient ship intrigued Sarnek – from whence did it come? How old was it? What was its purpose? Who built it?

    Unfortunately, those answers might never be known. Their task was to redirect the ship not research it, a fact which admittedly caused Sarnek regret.

    * * *

    Commander Inga Strauss felt like a rat in a maze.

    The corridors of the alien vessel were laid out in a haphazard fashion. Some went fore and aft but others branched off in random directions only to dead-end after a few meters. She wondered at one tunnel that went straight up and ended after about ten meters.

    Other than the structural rib members the corridors were smooth and featureless. There were no hatchways, control surfaces or anything that resembled writing. Fortunately, their suit sensors were functioning properly and provided them a return route back to the Stallion.

    “You’re awfully quiet, Senior Chief,” Strauss remarked to break the silence. The red Orion had been unusually taciturn as they explored the ship.

    “Not much to comment on, ma’am. One corridor looks pretty much like the next. I just hope we’re not wasting our time.”

    “That makes two of us.” She paused suddenly as she received a signal from the tactical drone. “Solly, are you getting this?”

    “Yes ma’am . . . but what is it?”

    She activated a control on her forearm and the image on her head’s up display cleared somewhat. “A chamber of some sort . . . about 150 meters ahead.”

    Solly stepped around Strauss and took point. She noticed the phaser in his hand.

    “What’s up, Senior Chief?”

    “The bio-readings – they’re stronger this way. Might be someone waiting in that chamber.”

    “Maybe. But don’t go in there with guns blazing. Our goal is to persuade a course change if possible.”

    “Yes ma’am. That’s why I’m holding a persuader set to heavy stun.”

    She sighed. “Port arms, Senior Chief. If there is anyone alive in there and they see a nearly two meter tall red Orion sporting an attitude, I think that will be persuasion enough.”

    “What attitude?” he replied, but his tone was lighter.

    “Oh, nothing, nothing at all. Lead on, Senior Chief.” Despite her instructions to Brin, Strauss drew her own phaser and held it at the ready.

    * * *

    Commander John Vanboerner and Petty Officer 2C Eric Steiner trudged through the maze of corridors leading into the massive head of the star ‘shroom. The Commander turned back toward Steiner.

    “Can I help you carry any of that gear?”

    Steiner’s grin was visible through the polarized face shield of his helmet. “Thanks, sir, but I’ve got it. I used to carry heavier loads when I worked my day job as a jarhead.”

    Vanboerner’s face registered surprise. “You were a Marine?”

    “Oorah! Force recon, sir, during the war. All Marines are weapons’ specialists, but I got to play with some of the more fun stuff. This is just light ordinance to me.”

    The Commander hardly considered an ion lance and a mark V heavy phaser rifle ‘light’ but he did not argue the point. “How did you end up in the Border Service?”

    Steiner shrugged as best he could in the heavily armored space suit. “You know how it is, sir . . . during times of war it’s all, ‘let slip the dogs of war.’ During peacetime it’s ‘keep off the grass’ for the Devil Dogs.”

    “Hmm. Yes, unfortunately that has been true for most of human history. But why the Border Service? With your experience you could have gotten a billet as a security officer on a Fleet ship.”

    “No offense, Commander, but Fleet security pukes tend to have short life spans. Goes back to the redshirt days, I guess. Out here, our rules of engagement are more, uh, flexible, plus . . .” he patted the ion lance affectionately, “the Border Dogs and Devil Dogs have a lot of the same toys.”

    Vanboerner chuckled. “I see.”

    They walked on in companionable silence for several more minutes until they reached a dead end and paused. The tactical drone which they had followed lay on the deck, motionless. It appeared undamaged but it was obviously out of action.

    Steiner moved quickly ahead of the engineer, but Steiner checked him with a hand on his shoulder.

    “Wait, I’m getting some peculiar readings,” cautioned Vanboerner. Steiner waited as ordered, but he held his phaser rifle at the ready, his eye trained on the targeting scanner for the appearance of any adversary.

    The lack of energy readings from the downed tactical drone were far less intriguing than the presence of an energy damping field a scant five meters ahead.

    “The drone must have activated some sort of defensive screen. A few more steps and we’d also be laid out on the deck.”

    “But why here?” asked Steiner, puzzled. “It’s a dead end.”

    “Perhaps not,” replied the Commander, frowning at the readings on his scanner. “I’m picking up significant energy readings just ahead, beyond that bulkhead. It may be the source for their star drive.”

    Steiner removed the ion lance from his back. “Say the word, sir, and I’ll get us through that bulkhead in short order.”

    Vanboerner shook his head. “Even if that thing works from 15 meters, it’s no good.”

    “Why is that, sir?”

    The South African looked up, a troubled expression on his face. “That bulkhead is comprised of pure neutronium.”

    * * *

    Lt. T’Lyr moved forward, concentrating on the data readout from the drone that scouted ahead of them. Thus far, they had come across nothing of significance – only seemingly endless corridors that snaked at random angles and inclines toward the head of the star ‘shroom.

    “This ship gives me the creeps,” opined Corpsman Sanders.

    “Creeps? Please clarify,” replied T’Lyr.

    “Sorry ma’am, it’s an old Human expression. It means I’m uneasy, nervous ya know.”

    She paused and turned to face the Corpsman, an elegant eyebrow arched. “Why are you nervous, Corpsman Sanders? We have thus far come across nothing threatening.”

    He gestured around. “What about this weird lighting? It comes on as we approach and turns off as we move past. Don’t you find that at all strange?”

    “On the contrary, it seems to be a logical use of energy resources. Apparently the ship can detect the presence of a life form in a given area and provide illumination as needed. Such technology has existed on your home world for over four centuries.”

    “Maybe so,” he admitted grudgingly. “But what about the lack of doors or rooms? Just kilometer after kilometer of empty corridors.”

    “I agree that the layout seems odd by our standards but that does not mean . . .”

    A signal from the drone interrupted her. She paused to read the data stream on her helmet display. “The tactical drone has discovered a power source,” she announced.

    “The star drive?” asked Sanders, hopefully.

    “Unlikely. The power output is too low, more likely it is a power node similar to one of our EPS junctions. Let’s move along and investigate.”

    “Gladly,” replied the lanky Corpsman, grimacing as the lights went out behind them. “I wish they would stop doing that,” he muttered.

    In less than two minutes they came upon an intersection in the corridor. The tactical drone hovered over what appeared to be a meter-tall inverted cone, perfectly balanced on the deck in defiance of generally accepted laws of physics. The cone was featureless and smooth – the same muted brown color as most of the vessel’s interior. It did, however, emit a slight hum.

    “Curious,” remarked T’Lyr, as she scanned the object. “The object has no gravity field, centrifugal forces, or method of thrust to remain in an inverted position. It should fall over.”

    “What’s causing that hum, Lieutenant?”

    “Unknown. It may be indicative of a power source but that is purely conjecture at this point.” Intrigued, she reached toward the object.

    “Uh, Lieutenant . . . I don’t think that’s a good idea,” warned the Corpsman.

    She began to lower her hand. “Perhaps you are righ . . .”

    An energy field suddenly engulfed the Vulcan engineer, freezing her in place, her eyes wide with surprise. The field shimmered and pulsed, the crackling hum increasing in intensity with a sound like many thousands of angry hornets.

    * * *

    Stardate 54657.8
    USS Bluefin
    Sector 7432

    “Bridge to Captain Akinola.”

    The Captain started and blinked. Fatigue was taking its toll and he had dozed off at the desk in his quarters. He cleared his throat and tapped his comm badge.

    “Akinola, go ahead.”

    “Sir, the probe is on approach. We’re about to tractor it into the landing bay.”

    “Good. Download the data once it’s aboard. I’ll be on the bridge momentarily.”

    * * *

    Lt. Nigel Bane and Ensign Maya Vashtee were crowded around the sensor station when Akinola strode onto the bridge. Nigel looked up as the Captain approached.

    “Jackpot, Skipper. There’s a Klingon ship en route, an old D7 running cloaked, for all the good it does ‘em.”

    The Nigerian C.O. folded his arms and sighed. “So much for keeping the Klingons in the dark. By now, half of Q’onos knows about that alien ship.”

    “Perhaps not, sir,” interjected Vashtee. “The subspace transceivers on those D7s are hardly state of the art. It’s likely that the same interference we’re experiencing is affecting them as well, even at this range.”

    “Keep thinking those happy thoughts, Maya,” replied Akinola with a slight smile. He rubbed his chin in thought. “If my memory serves me correctly, the Klingons kept one of the old Romulan-specced 'gray backs' at Ke’PucH station. Maya, check the database on that.”

    “Yes sir.” Momentarily, she found the answer. “You’re right, sir. The IKS SarTuQ is the only active D7 within three sectors.”

    “Mertok,” mused Akinola.


    “Captain Mertok of the Klingon Imperial Navy. Hell of an old war-T’arg. Lost his leg against some Orion pirates when I was still an enlisted man.” He thought a moment. “Could be good, could be bad.”

    “How do you mean, Skipper?” asked Bane.

    “I mean Mertok is no fool. He’s not one of the hot-headed young commanders dreaming of glory, so he won’t do anything rash. But he’s a wiley old bastard and proud to boot. I have no doubt he would give the order to ram that monster ship if he thought he could defend the empire.” He paused. “Heed well an old space-farer’s proverb, Mr. Bane.”

    “What’s that?”

    “Never underestimate a one-legged Klingon in a gray back D7.”

    * * *
    To be continued . . .
  13. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    Nice bit of interactions and a great creepy bit of atmosphere here as the various teams explore the mammoth vessel. I'm naturally a bit worried about the redshirts. Yeah, I know, nobody is wearing the doomed color here but everyone on that ship without a backstory is in danger, case in point, T'Lyr, who as a Vulcan really should've known better.

    And something tells me that Akinola's proverb is absolutely correct.
  14. mirandafave

    mirandafave Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Apr 26, 2008
    LOL! Excellent words of sage wisdom from Akinola as to be expected. Looks like things are hotting up out and about as a Klingon is soon to enter stage left. One though that Joseph knows - which is a good thing - save that actually it may be a bad thing - after all, how does Joseph know him, what run ins have they had?

    Meantime, the mystery aboard the alien craft continues as we get lots of curious finds aboard the vessel, all of it giving a TOS like vibe, especially with shout outs to the Doomsday Machine. All very intriguing. All very troubling. Excellent.
  15. Maxillius

    Maxillius Commander Red Shirt

    Jan 6, 2007
    Excellent, I find this story 2 years after its begun and it's still not finished lol. You've got me hooked, but please don't make me wait until we have new leaders for a conclusion!