UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Gibraltar, Jun 7, 2013.

  1. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound (Chapter 3)

    Chapter Three

    USS Europa

    “Lieutenant Shanthi and the Bynar pair are making steady progress in culling any hidden access permissions from Captain Sandhurst’s transwarp systems programming,” Wu noted as she strode along beside Lar’ragos down one of Europa’s corridors.

    Lar’ragos smiled grimly. “Perfect. Inform Captain Renault that we’ll be hanging on to oh-one and oh-two for the foreseeable future, on the authority of Admiral T’Cirya. I’m sure the good captain will agree that our regaining transwarp capability trumps whatever operational needs Gwendolyn has at the moment.”

    “And shall I use that exact phrasing, sir?” Wu asked as she made a notation on her padd.

    “Well, no. Be… you know… diplomatic.”

    “Aye, sir,” she said with a subtle clenching of her jaw. “I will employ... diplomacy.’”

    He offered her a saccharine smile. “See, that’s the spirit.” He stopped in the corridor in front of the door to his quarters. “Anything else on today’s agenda? If not, I have a date with a couple of dozen heavily armed holograms.”

    “Only one, sir. A Lieutenant Commander Ojana is requesting a meeting with you at your earliest convenience.”

    Lar’ragos appeared nonplussed. “Pell, actually,” he corrected gently. “She’s Bajoran.”

    Wu looked at him wordlessly.

    “She’s Galaxy Station’s XO,” he continued.

    Wu’s silence stretched on.

    “And… you don’t care,” Lar’ragos assessed with a chagrined smile.

    “Respectfully, sir, all I need to know is if you want to see her, and if so, when is convenient for you.”

    Lar’ragos considered that for a moment. “Thirty minutes, and send her down here to my quarters.”

    Wu logged the meeting on her padd. “Yes, sir.”

    Lar’ragos offered Wu the Vulcan salute. “Work long and proper,” he intoned.

    She didn’t even reward him with a raised eyebrow, allowing him only her infuriatingly patient stare. She lifted her hand in the same fashion and replied, "Same to you, sir."

    “Careful,” he countered with a wry smile, “That’s coming dangerously close to demonstrating a sense of humor, Commander. Goodness knows we can’t have that.”

    Wu looked at her hand and quickly placed it back down at her side. "Yes, sir." Though her face never expressed it, Lar'ragos picked up on her slight shift in her posture. The more time he spent with her, the easier it became to pick out her almost-imperceptible tells.

    “You’d like to leave now,” he offered.

    She stiffened slightly. "By your leave, of course, sir."

    He stepped through the doors into his cabin, “Dismissed, First.”

    The unorthodox title caused a visible twitch across her scarred cheek just before she turned to stride down the corridor. Out of her sight, Lar'ragos allowed himself an evil grin as the doors closed.

    * * *​

    Precisely one half hour later, the door’s annunciator chimed.

    “Enter,” he offered from where he sat behind his work desk, filing the last of the day’s datawork.

    Pell Ojana entered, looking somewhat ill at ease, as though she was walking into the lion’s den.

    “Come in, Commander,” Lar’ragos said, setting a convivial tone. “Please, make yourself comfortable.”

    Pell took a seat across from his desk, her face a mask of conflicted emotions. Lar’ragos sensed a mix of anger, apprehension, and resignation.

    “What can I do for you?” he asked.

    A petulant smirk flitted across her features. “I’m going to give you the satisfaction of hearing me beg, Pava.”

    Lar’ragos leaned forward to deactivate his computer display, before sitting back in his chair to appraise Pell. In his most business-like voice he said, “Commander, I’d remind you that I’ve extended you the courtesy of this meeting on short notice. I’ve done so despite an especially busy schedule as we’re making preparations for our departure. Were our positions reversed, I assure you that the last thing I’d try to do was to belittle you, most especially while standing onboard your post. In that spirit I trust you’ll show me the respect I’m due aboard my ship.”

    She gulped, “Yes… Captain. I apologize.” Pell would rather have provoked one of the old Pava’s sneering threats, and had been unprepared for the cool, reasoned response of a genuine commanding officer. “I’m here to request a transfer to Europa for the duration of your upcoming mission, sir.”

    He frowned. “For what purpose?”

    “You mission, as I understand it, is to make diplomatic contact with the less aggressive of the two Amon tribes, sir. I’m one of the most qualified diplomatic specialists presently assigned to Vanguard.”

    Lar’ragos ran his tongue along the back of his teeth as he continued to consider the unusual request. “Ambassador Epstein is perfectly capable of handling that aspect of our assignment, Commander,” he replied evenly.

    Pell continued, “It’s also obvious that you intend to exploit your friendship with Donald Sandhurst to try and sway that tribe’s loyalties to something more in line with Federation interests.”

    “I don’t recall any such provisions in our mission orders,” Lar’ragos noted evasively.

    Pell inclined her head. “That’s a guess on my part, but it’s an educated one. If that’s the case, my presence might prove an added inducement to Captain Sandhurst.”

    “It just might,” Lar’ragos conceded.

    Her eyes faltered, unable to maintain their lock on Pava’s. “I need to be there.”

    “For him?” Lar’ragos asked.

    “And for me,” Pell confessed. “I’ve been… unable to let go. It appears I’m in need of closure.”

    Lar’ragos scrutinized her. “When the Amon made their second appearance, it was you who convinced Captain T’Ser to fire on their ship with an Alpha Weapon, knowing full well that Donald was aboard. If you’ll forgive my saying so, you didn’t appear in especially great need of closure at that moment.”

    Pell’s eyes found Lar’ragos’ once again. “I’ve slept precious little since then. Under the circumstances, it was the correct course of action, but that hasn’t stopped me from agonizing over it.”

    “You were correct,” Lar’ragos advised. “You made the right call then, and I was the one in the wrong.” He shifted in his chair, bracing his weight on one arm rest as he leaned towards Pell. “Please know that it’s my hope and my intent to bring Donald back into the fold. Failing that, my orders direct me to try and forge an alliance with ‘his’ tribe against the Amon that have been launching attacks against the Alpha Quadrant.”

    She nodded softly. “As I surmised.”

    “However, if I discover that Donald Sandhurst has himself become a danger to the Alpha Quadrant, I will not hesitate to eliminate the threat he poses.”

    “Kill him, you mean,” Pell snapped.

    “By any means necessary,” Lar’ragos confirmed.

    Pell laughed loudly, a sardonic sound devoid of humor. “You think you could actually bring yourself to shoot him? I highly doubt that.”

    Lar’ragos’ expression and voice conveyed an absolute sincerity, somehow lacking in overt malice despite the subject at hand. “Your belief is not required, Commander. I have my orders, and I’d rather Donald die as the man he was, rather than live on for millennia as some alien sycophant.”

    Pell blanched, all traces of dark comedy having evaporated in the face of Pava’s stark admission.

    “You still want in?” he asked sharply.

    “Yes.” There had been no hesitation in her response.

    “Fine. If you can sell it to Commander Worf, I’ll propose it to T’Cirya.”

    “Thank you,” Pell said reflexively.

    “Don’t thank me, Commander,” Lar’ragos sighed. “You may well curse me before all this is over.”

    * * *​

    The Klingons arrived the next day, decloaking unexpectedly en mass within half an AU of Galaxy Station. There were a few tense minutes before Starfleet and their new allies could say with certainty that an attack was not forthcoming.

    The Klingon fleet was led by one of their mammoth Negh’Var-class heavy assault cruisers, one of only a handful of the ships the Empire’s brittle post-war economy had managed to produce. Ten Vor’cha-class heavy cruisers, and twice that number of light cruisers of assorted classes rounded out their merry band of destructive potential.

    Vice Admiral T’Cirya had called her two Klingon experts to her office, Captain Lucian Ebnal and Commander Worf. The Klingons had ignored repeated hails, and the admiral was right on the cusp of raising the defense condition of the station and the various starships in the vicinity when a youthful looking Klingon adorned with the rank insignia of a Brigadier General appeared on their viewscreens.

    “I am Brigadier Gan’Louk of the Klingon Defense Forces. The Klingon Empire offers its warriors and its ships in the Alpha Quadrant’s defense. We are ready to assist our Federation allies, as well as those local species that have joined in that honorable cause. Whomsoever stands as an ally to the Federation shall be an ally to the Empire.” The transmission ended with the image of the Klingon trefoil.

    In T’Cirya’s office, Captain Ebnal blew out a relieved breath at the brief statement. “At least they didn’t come out shooting.”

    The Vulcan admiral appeared to ignore Ebnal’s observation, turning instead to address Commander Worf. “What do we know about this Gan’Louk?”

    “Surprisingly little, Admiral,” Worf answered stolidly. “He has an enviable battle record, he is politically well connected within the High Council, and perhaps most importantly, all the right people appear to fear him.”

    “Who constitutes the ‘right people,’” she asked, directing that query to Ebnal.

    The formidably taciturn captain replied, “He beat out at least twenty-five other top military commanders to earn the honor of leading this battle fleet. That speaks to serious political clout, but Intel has next to nothing on who his direct benefactors might be. His supporters on the Council run the gamut from political conservatives to pro-democracy constitutionalists, which is nearly unheard of. The last person who was able to cobble together that broad of a coalition was K’mpec.”

    “You spoke of an enviable war record,” T’Cirya noted, turning back to Worf. “How so?”

    “During the Klingon/Federation war, Gan’Louk commanded a task force that pushed all the way into the Talosian Corridor before the cease-fire was signed. He participated notably in the Klingon invasion of Cardassian space, leading the assault on Udrok Nor and seizing Testamus Prime’s shipyards intact.”

    “I presume he was equally fortunate during the Dominion War?” T’Cirya inquired.

    “Suffice to say he earned great glory for himself, his house, and the Empire,” Ebnal summarized.

    “None of what you’ve told me could not be discovered in a simple alliance datanet inquiry,” T’Cirya observed.

    Ebnal nodded, “Which is unusual in and of itself, sir.” He shot Worf an almost apologetic look as he noted, “Klingons are larger than life, or at least they try and project that aura. They’re braggarts, shouting to the rafters about their accrued glory and deeds of note. Only, Gan’Louk doesn’t play by those rules. What we know of his victories are only due to their being transcribed in his house’s official history.”

    Worf very nearly smiled at Ebnal’s assessment. “I cannot dispute the Captain’s interpretation, Admiral. Brigadier Gan’Louk seems to have intentionally downplayed his own accomplishments. In Klingon culture, it’s highly unusual, and suggests someone who has something to hide.”

    T’Cirya considered that. “Who might be a resource in our discovering what Gan’Louk may wish to conceal?”

    Ebnal shrugged, and looked to Worf. The Klingon commander responded, “I will have to do some digging. Perhaps there is a scorned member of Gan’Louk’s house who may be willing to air their dirty laundry.”

    The Vulcan's agreement drew nothing more than a simple nod. "Captain, I'd like for you to liaise with the General for the forseeable future. I believe they may have expected Commander Worf, but I would prefer to disappoint them." Her gaze shifted to Worf. "Commander, you will continue to advise and report to Admiral Brotman."

    Ebnal nodded curtly. "Aye, sir."

    Worf stood. “Yes, Admiral. I will have estimates on Klingon capabilities and force strength to Strategic Ops as soon as I’ve compiled the data.”

    * * *​
  2. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    With all the personnel changes going on, necessary as they may be, it's good to see an old friend rejoining the crew. And the Pell-Lar'ragos-Sandhurst relationship is sure going to make things more complicated (read interesting).

    And yeah, I don't trust the Klingons one bit. They like to talk of alliances but we all know, the only thing they usually care about is their own honor. Better watch out for these guys.
  3. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    A few observations:

    * Wu needs to start replicating her underwear a size larger. Her current set seem a trifle too snug.

    * Pava seems intent on setting boundaries (while lightly tormenting his XO). He set a clear line for Pell. I wonder if he has set a line for himself.

    * Good call making Captain Ebnal the liaison with the Klingons. It won't be an insult - the Klingons, no doubt, have a very high regard for Ebnal as a warrior - but the choice might take a bit of wind out of their sails nonetheless. :klingon: This General Gan'Louk is definitely a wild-card. Wonder what skeletons lurk in his closet?
  4. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound (Chapter 3 cont'd)

    Chapter Three

    Bazaar Commercial Zone, Galaxy Station

    The name of the establishment was an unpronounceable garble to humanoid tongues, a Habertaem expression that translated roughly to ‘The Drinking Hole.’ It was to this tavern-like locale that Lar’ragos brought Europa’s senior officers, sans Wu and Counselor Liu. Wu had already established that she wasn’t the social type, and Lar’ragos had been unable to convince the reticent Liu to leave the holodeck where the man had been fly fishing a remote North American river.

    Europa’s relaunch was only two days away, and as the crew had been working long hours to have the ship ready in time for that deadline, Lar’ragos had wanted both to celebrate the achievement as well as foster camaraderie amongst the reconstituted senior staff.

    It was evident that Starfleet engineers had exercised some influence on the formerly Habertaem design of the bar, adding more humanoid-friendly chairs and tables to the existing lounging troughs that the scorpion-like aliens rested in.

    Lar’ragos was dressed casually in civilian clothing that seemed to defy categorization to any single era, but had replicated a Terran World War II-style bomber jacket for just this occasion. The back of the jacket was emblazoned with a ferocious looking cartoon rendition of a Luna-class starship, reminiscent of the design-team logos favored by the SCE. Around the image were the words, ‘U.S.S. Europa. Mess With The Best, Burn Like The Rest.’

    The others were dressed in a mishmash of uniforms or civilian attire, or a combination of the two. Ashok was clad in engineering overalls that still bore holes and stains from his day’s exertions in the ship’s access tubes, while Leone was dressed in a Starfleet Academy hooded sweatshirt and matching sweatpants.

    The ship’s new Ops Chief, Lieutenant Georgia Kirk, wore a sleeveless t-shirt and jeans, her mannish figure further accentuated by her closely cropped red hair. The great granddaughter of Peter Kirk, Georgia was the first of the family lineage to pursue a Starfleet career in the past seventy-five years. She had done everything in her power to disassociate herself from her family’s legacy within Starfleet, and had joined Task Force Vanguard with an eye toward making a name for herself separate that of her nearly deified great-uncle.

    A Habertaem server scuttled over to their table, taking drink orders as the creature’s glassy black eyes seemed to stare vacantly into their very souls. Those recent arrivals to the Delta Quadrant were still coming to terms with the horrific disfigurements the now deceased Husnock had inflicted on their slave species.

    Kirk shook her head as the server moved off to another table. “You’re telling me you folks have grown used to that?”

    The tall, ebony skinned Kuenre Shanthi smiled. “We’re getting there. The pheromone inhibitors we helped them to manufacture have taken the edge off the outright revulsion AQ’s typically feel when first meeting the Habertaem.” He craned his neck to look back at the entrance as a trio of large silhouettes darkened the doorway. “The fact that they’re genuinely the nicest people helps, too,” he added.

    Lar’ragos gave Kirk a look that suggested he was assessing her. “They were slaves for untold generations, Lieutenant. Despite all they suffered under the Husnock, they’ve made every effort to welcome us to this region, even when their warm welcome invited attack by the Amon.”

    Kirk didn’t shrink from his gaze. “I didn’t suggest they weren’t a trustworthy people, Captain. I’m merely noting that this part of the galaxy seems home to a higher-than-average number of exotically non-humanoid species.”

    “By design,” Lar’ragos countered. “The Husnock wanted to defile them so completely that they would always be remembered. In that, at least, they succeeded.”

    “Speaking of defilers,” Leone muttered, nodding his head towards the doorway.

    The hulking trio stepped into the dim light of the bar, revealing themselves to be swaggering Klingon warriors. They pushed past a Habertaem attendant as though the creature wasn’t there, moving farther into the room where they spied a table occupied by a quartet of Yaoshan traders.

    The three warriors surrounded the table, glowering at the occupants until the delicate, willowy Yaoshan decided to find a less hostile location to host their social gathering. The merchants beat a hasty retreat as the laughing Klingons seated themselves into their still-warm chairs.

    The server returned to deliver the Starfleet officers’ drinks, before clacking over to the Klingon table on its spindly, segmented legs. The Habertaem tried to take the warriors’ drink orders while one of their number amused himself by throwing Gramilian sand peas at the host’s head.

    Kirk closed her eyes and sipped at her ale. “I can’t stand bullies,” she murmured, reigning in her emotions.

    Ashok frowned but remained silent.

    Leone looked away, clearly disgusted but unwilling to risk a confrontation with their newly arrived allies.

    Lar’ragos exhaled slowly, and Leone observed his commanding officer’s posture shift ever so slightly, muscles relaxing in preparation for explosive movement. The El Aurian turned in his chair to address the Klingon trio. “Your brigadier claims our allies are your allies.”

    The sand pea tormentor paused his snack flicking assault just long enough to snort derisively. “What of it, human?”

    “I’m curious as to which of you is the liar, you or your general?”

    All three Klingons stood in unison, two of their chairs toppling over. The Habertaem server wisely decided to retreat.

    “Watch your tongue, Starfleet, lest I remove it,” called the Klingon that Lar’ragos had identified as the senior among them.

    “I would not behave as you have while aboard a Klingon station.”

    “You would not dare,” snarled the leader, his hand resting not so subtly on the handle of his d’k tahg knife.

    “You’re correct,” Lar’ragos answered reasonably. “I would not dishonor my uniform or my ship by my actions towards the helpless.”

    “Stand up and say that to my face, human,” the Klingon officer spat.

    “I stand in the presence of warriors,” Lar’ragos said simply, “not cowards.”

    The Klingon bolted forward as both Leone and Kirk began to rise from their chairs. The other officers, more familiar with Lar’ragos, remained seated. There was a flash of steel and a blur of movement, followed by a wet cleaving sound and nearly simultaneous grunts of pain.

    The first Klingon sank slowly to his knees, his own d’k tahg's blade plunged through his hand, pinning it to the table top. One of the other warriors was leaning against a faux-wood support beam, his hand pressed tightly to his throat as a trickle of blood seeped from between his fingers. The third man knelt on the floor, his hands grasping his groin as his eyes watered.

    “This was unnecessary.” Lar’ragos said quietly to the leader, squatting down to look at the man eye-to-eye.

    “What?” the officer hissed from between clenched teeth.

    “All I asked was that you comport yourselves as soldiers of the Empire.” Lar’ragos ran his finger along the curves and points of the Klingon’s family crest, seeming to admire the emblem. “When you or your friends come in here, I expect you to mind your manners. And the next time you pull a knife on me, you’d best have made reservations in Gre’thor beforehand.”

    Kirk and Leone shared a surprised look before slowly resuming their seats. Shanthi leaned over to the lieutenants and whispered, “Welcome to Europa.

    Lar’ragos reached out and tapped the Klingon’s comms device attached to his gauntlet. “This is Commander Lar’ragos aboard Galaxy Station. I would cordially invite Brigadier Gan’Louk to come collect three of his ‘honorable warriors’ who appear to have had too much bloodwine.”

    * * *​

    By the time Brigadier Gan’Louk and a host of Klingon soldiers arrived, station security had been summoned, as well as medical personnel whose ministrations the injured Klingons steadfastly refused.

    Captain Ebnal had entered moments earlier, but rather than assume command of the scene, he had melted into the background to observe.

    The general waved his entourage back as he stepped up to inspect the state of his three warriors. He turned his gaze on Lar’ragos, the only Starfleet member from Europa’s contingent not seated. “Your work, I presume?” he inquired in a disinterested tone.

    Lar’ragos leaned against the table in a casual posture, arms folded across his chest. “Your men were abusing the Habertaem. I attempted to address their behavior, and they chose to... escalate the situation.”

    Gan’Louk reached out and jerked the knife free from both hand and table, freeing his soldier. The man rose to his feet, clutching his wounded hand to his chest to staunch the blood flow. The brigadier gestured to the cadre that had accompanied him, and they moved to envelope the three troublemakers and usher them out of the establishment.

    With a flick of his wrist, Gan’Louk sent the d’k tahg flying towards the deck, where it lodged tip-first in the floor barely an inch from Lar’ragos’ feet.

    The El Aurian didn’t flinch, but it was a near thing. He hadn’t seen that coming.

    “It’s yours,” Gan’Louk offered in a neutral tone, showing none of the bluster and outrage one might expect. “You earned it.”

    “Thank you, no,” Lar’ragos demurred. “I’ve had more than enough Klingon toys in my day, Brigadier.”

    The comment seemed to generate the briefest flicker of anger behind the Klingon officer’s eyes. The heat had barely registered on Gan’Louk’s face before he banished it. He turned to address the Habertaem owner of the social club. “You have my apologies for the unwarranted actions of my soldiers. They have dishonored their uniform, their houses, and the empire. We will pay for the damages in the currency or trade goods of your choice.”

    Then Gan’Louk stepped close to Lar’ragos, leaning in to whisper, “You never fail to disappoint, outworlder.”

    Lar’ragos’ expression was hard enough to humble neutronium. He replied in an equally subdued tone, “Keep your dogs on a tighter leash, and I won’t have to repeat this lesson.”

    “Next time, bring the lesson to me in person,” Gan’Louk said in a lethal purr.

    A slow smile crept across Lar’ragos’ lips. “I await your invitation... General.”

    Gan’Louk turned on his heel and stormed out.

    Lar’ragos pulled out his chair and was about to take a seat when a hand on his shoulder stopped him. “Not so goddamn fast, Commander,” came the growling voice of Lucian Ebnal.

    Lar’ragos favored him with an innocent expression. “Yes, sir?”

    “We have an unscheduled appointment with Vice Admiral T’Cirya.”

    * * *​

    “So Commander Twinkletoes here decides it’d be a hoot to brawl with the Klingons in the bazaar, and then drag the brigadier into the mess to highlight the oafishness of his men.”

    Admirals T'Cirya listened to Ebnal's report from behind her desk with Rear Admiral Brotman standing near by. They had been mid-discussion when news of the altercation reached them. Brotman remained within the office at her insistence. "Your penchant for color notwithstanding, Captain, I prefer concise brevity when hearing from my officers," she said tonelessly.

    “Very well, sir. In that case, Pava started a fucking fight with the Klinks,” Ebnal enthused.

    Brotman began a chortle, but it bit off into a sudden coughing fit. "Pardon me, sir."

    T'Cirya paid Brotman no attention. She rose from her seat and approached the viewscreen on the left side of the desk. "Captain Lar'ragos?"

    Lar’ragos was seated with his legs crossed, looking rather disinterested in the proceedings. When addressed by T’Cirya, he stood. “Sir?”

    "Rear Admiral Brotman and I would appreciate a verbal report on your assessment of General Gan'Louk," she said. "It's timely, considering we were just discussing their strength. It would be helpful to know his character."

    “Yes, sir,” Lar’ragos answered crisply. “The brigadier came to the bazaar straightaway and apologized for his mens’ actions. He even offered restitution. It’s likely the three soldiers involved are already dead for having shamed their general.”

    Brotman scoffed. "That's to be expected, isn't it? Their idea of maintaining discipline has little to do with discipline at all." His demeanor and reaction betrayed his prejudice toward the Klingons. "Their style of military function is archaic. It's a wonder they've survived this long."

    "Thank you, Admiral," T'Cirya nearly cut him off, then turned back to face Lar'ragos. "And thank you, Captain. That's a rather interesting and useful bit of information about him. I daresay you've managed to uncover precisely what we were looking for."

    Ebnal stood with arms crossed, his gaze fixed on Lar’ragos. “They way you two spoke, I’d wager that wasn’t your first encounter. Where do you know Gan’Louk from?”

    For the first time since arriving in T’Cirya’s office, Lar’ragos appeared vaguely uncomfortable. “Metralus II. He led the Klingon contingent that ransacked our colony there when the Empire invaded. I was captured just before the armistice, and Gan’Louk and I had words. We’re not each other’s biggest fans.”

    That drew the very Vulcan expression of the lifted eyebrow from T'Cirya. "Indeed," she said. She returned to her desk and touched the control panel. "Lieutenant, please inform Captain Grelk that I will be delayed in meeting with him. And then, send for Commander Worf. Thank you." She addressed the group once more. "Captain Lar'ragos, Admiral Brotman will be in touch with you regarding any information that you can provide about the general. Furthermore, I believe that Brigadier General Bainbridge may see fit to receive you. He is here with Teams Six, Eight, and Nine."

    Lar’ragos inclined his head. “Good timing, sir. Additional assets from the Teams will be a definite force multiplier out here.”

    Ebnal continued to give Lar’ragos a skeptical look as the two men exited the office. “I don’t mind you slapping around a few Klingons for a good cause, Pava, but calling Gan’Louk out in front of his people risked kicking over the hornets’ nest.”

    Lar’ragos turned to face him. “I’ll keep that in mind, Captain. Thank you.”

    “See that you do,” Ebnal retorted. “I know you're demon of hand-to-hand combat, but if you’d fucked up and the Klingons had gone to disruptors, you’d have only been the first person they shot, not the last. You’ve got a crew to think about now, so no more of this interstellar cowboy shit.”

    “Less me, more Sandhurst?”

    Ebnal grunted. “Something like that.”

    * * *​
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2013
  5. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Gotta love Pava. Sometimes he's as subtle as a tossed hand grenade. :lol: Interesting that he has a "history" with the mysterious Klingon general. Not exactly BFFs, are they?

    And here I was, thinking the Feddies and Ridge-heads were going to sit around drinking tea and eating cucumber sandwiches. ;)

    Also interesting that Kirk's manly great-niece is now on Europa. I'm having all kinds of fun hearing her speak in Shatner's voice. :guffaw:Hope she can keep her shirt on better than Teh Awesome Kirk. That could be awkward.
  6. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    TLR, you sick little monkey, that hadn't occurred to me! :lol: Now I'm going to have that image stuck in my head. :scream:
  7. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    *shrug* Pava's gonna do what Pava's gonna do. These Klingons should have read the memo before stepping onto the station. Their own damn fault really.

    Now the big question is, can Pava grow to become more than an incredibly dangerous, near-undefeatable, kick-ass, ninja-style super-solider? Can he actually be more Sandhurst than Pava? Only time will tell.
  8. Tribble puncher

    Tribble puncher Captain Captain

    Jan 17, 2012
    Washington, OK
    I hope this story doesn't go the way of "Tales of the Bluefin: Trajectory"
  9. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    Gibraltar shared with the United Trek writers that he will be on hiatus for an indeterminate period. We all hope he is able to resume writing soon.

    As to "Trajectory," I apologize for the lengthy delay. :alienblush: Due to work and health issues, I haven't done any writing in over a year. Both situations have improved and I may get back to writing before long.

  10. Cobalt Frost

    Cobalt Frost Captain Captain

    That's cool, TLR; I always enjoyed your work. Also, I hope all's well with Gibraltar. I devour his stuff and can't wait to see how things play out.
  11. Tribble puncher

    Tribble puncher Captain Captain

    Jan 17, 2012
    Washington, OK

    Thanks for bringing us up to date. My comment was meant with the utmost respect, as I followed both this Story and Trajectory and was dissapointed when the new material stopped. I understand you guys do this out of love and have lives and issues that take precidence. That being said, glad to hear your health is improving and look foward to reading new stuff!
  12. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound (Chapter 3 cont'd)

    Chapter Three

    USS Europa

    The holodeck had been laid out in an exacting replica of Europa’s briefing room, as to make best use of the chamber’s holographic capabilities.

    Lieutenant(j.g.) Lightner was making his first presentation as the ship’s newly appointed Strategic Operations Officer. At Lar’ragos’ encouragement, he’d taken on that new assignment in addition to his helm duties. The captain hoped that it would become a first step for the young man into the larger world of command.

    The starship was underway at Warp Eight, on course for a system two sectors distant, the farthest push yet into the Delta Quadrant by a participant of Vanguard. En route, they would carry out tests to determine if the transwarp drive could be restored to operability.

    A bright yellow line traced its way through the starscape above their heads, denoting Europa’s present course to its ultimate destination. “This is us,” Lighner began. “As you can see, we are only one of a number of vessels undertaking operations in this theater at present.”

    An orange line arcing in the opposite direction was highlighted as Lightner narrated. “This is Valiant escorting the Gilsan Aggregate convoy to a Class-M planet that Giacobini surveyed six weeks ago in System D-463/8. Valiant will be helping them to establish a colony site and an orbital defense grid. That mission will likely keep Valiant's crew occupied for most of the next three months.”

    A green line, some parsecs distant, indicated yet another TFV vessel. “Ascendant is presently shadowing the alien fleet formation designated UIF-6 as it approaches the coreward-most shelf of the Norma Arm. We don’t know their intentions, as it appears most if not all the lifeforms aboard their ships are in cryonic suspension and the vessels aren’t responding to linga-code hails.”

    Lightner continued, detailing the assignments of a half-dozen other starships before moving on to address Europa’s latest mission.

    “Our task out here is two-fold. Our secondary assignment is to try and get the transwarp drive working again. Our primary task, however, is to attempt to locate Captain Sandhurst’s tribe of Amon who are believed to be operating somewhere in this region. Their pattern to date indicates they prey on the resulting confrontations between the incoming alien fleets and those settled societies in the refugee’s path.”

    The overhead image shifted, speeding ahead of Europa’s golden course marker to their destination sector. “One of our advance reconnaissance probes has been tracking two incoming fleet formations in close proximity to one another and traveling at identical warp velocities. From the probe’s observations, it appears their technology is sufficiently dissimilar to suggest they are separate species, and detectable damage to both fleets and recurring energy blooms believed to be weapon exchanges are indicative of sustained warfare between the two groups.”

    A red line charting the shared course of these two entwined formations traced towards a nearby star. “They are heading for a system containing a Class-M world that another of our probes identified as being home to a sentient species. The planet-bound species is estimated to have a level of technology analogous to that of mid-nineteenth century Earth. However, indications of derelict high-orbit artificial satellites and abandoned lunar installations suggest that the native species achieved some level of technological sophistication before a general societal collapse prompted their backslide.

    “The resulting struggle that we anticipate over this planet and its natural resources by these two more advanced cultures will likely involve in a significant death toll, which is why we believe it may be an opportune target for Amon ‘harvesting.’”

    With a nod, Lightner turned the briefing over to Shanthi. The tall Zulu stood, calling up an enhanced image of the bluish-green sphere. “This is Alanthal, the planet in question. We’ve begun attenuating our sensors to detect the dimensionally offset collection arrays the Amon typically place in orbit around worlds they’re feeding on. We haven’t identified any yet, but we’re still a long way out from the system.”

    “We’ve all read the brief,” an agitated Georgia Kirk remarked, holding up her padd. “And if we find the Amon, what then?” She was obviously unwilling to sit passively through the rest of Lightner and Shanthi’s scripted presentations. “What if they don’t want to talk? Have you seen the tactical specs on that souped-up cube they’re flying?”

    Shanthi looked down at her with hooded eyes. “Actually, Lieutenant, I’ve stood toe-to-toe with it. Many of those around this table have as well.”

    Lar’ragos considered intervening, but ultimately took a page from Sandhurst’s leadership guidebook and allowed the two officers to grind down one another’s rough edges via friction. He could sense Wu’s frustration with the ongoing interplay, but disciplined as she was, Wu refrained from looking to Lar’ragos or showing any visible sign of her irritation.

    “We’ll have an ‘in’ with Sandhurst,” Shanthi pointed out.

    “He’s one man,” Kirk replied disbelievingly. “And based on how he fought his way off this ship, they’d pretty well pickled his brains on life-essence already. You really think one AWOL Starfleet officer with a monkey on his back that size is going to sway an entire nation to our side?”

    A flicker of uncertainty clouded Shanthi’s expression. “We’ll have the captain… and Commander Pell,” he continued haltingly.

    Kirk waved one hand dismissively. “Oh, well then, by all means. Just so long as we’ve got a duranium-clad plan in place.”

    “That’s enough,” Wu called, verbally stepping in between the two.

    Kirk turned her gaze on the XO. “Respectfully, sir, you should be the one pointing all this out. I realize that most of the senior-staff have served together for years, and that to them this scheme might make some kind of sense, but to me it sounds like a blindly desperate stab in the dark.”

    “It’s the plan we have,” Wu uttered in a frosty voice. “This is where you shut up and listen, Lieutenant.”

    Kirk raised her hands in a mock gesture of surrender. “Aye, sir.”

    Shanthi directed a question towards Leone. “I trust you’ve had the chance to look over the tactical profile of the Amon vessel?”

    “I have,” Dom replied seriously. “My assessment of their capabilities would be that anything short of a devastating sneak-attack with an Alpha Weapon would leave us completely at their mercy. They’re hundreds of times our mass with the firepower to match.”

    The science officer’s response was a patient, “We’re not planning on fighting these Amon.”

    Leone held the taller man’s gaze effortlessly. “And have these Amon acknowledged receipt of that memo, Lieutenant?”

    Shanthi turned his back dismissively on Leone and looked to Lar’ragos. “A little help, sir? I don’t see that I have to justify our mission to anyone.”

    “No, of course not,” Lar’ragos agreed, sitting forward. “For those of you who are new here, I understand that I can’t expect the same confidence that I do from those I’ve served with previously. We’ve been through a great deal together, and that underlying trust is something that can’t be replicated quickly. I’ll have to ask each of you to extend me a certain amount of faith that I and those above me who planned this mission are more familiar with the circumstances and the players than you.”

    There was a grudging expression of acceptance from Kirk, and Leone appeared skeptical but resolute.

    “Sandhurst’s presence carries great weight among the Amon,” Lar’ragos explained. “It’s true that we don’t fully understand his particular significance and all it portends, but we hope that it can be exploited in order to foster an alliance between our peoples.”

    That seemed to quell the figurative murmurs of dissent from the newcomers, and Shanthi picked up where he’d left off. “The approach of the alien species to Alanthal will also give us better opportunity to observe their tactical strengths and weaknesses, should we eventually have to oppose either or both groups down the line.”

    “Dare I ask as to the fate of the indigenous population?” Counselor Liu inquired. “May I presume the Prime Directive is being invoked here?”

    “Yes,” Lightner confirmed, fielding the query for Shanthi who again wore a pained expression. “They have no weapons advanced enough to allow for any kind of effective defense. The best case scenario for them would be to hunker down and try to stay out of the way while the two spacefaring species plunder their world for natural resources.”

    Jaws set and eyes hardened around the table.

    Lar’ragos spoke up to dissuade another round of fruitless inquiries. “Tragic though it is, the plight of the native Alanthians is not our concern. We are interested in this world because it fits the profile we believe most tempting to the Amon.”

    “Collateral damage, then?” Liu said acidly, his unmistakable pout of distaste aimed directly at Lar’ragos.

    “Natural selection,” Lar’ragos countered without missing a beat.

    “Easy for you to sa—“ Liu began, only to be cut off in mid-sentence by Pava’s fist crashing down onto the table top.

    “Stop acting like a goddamn child, Counselor!” Lar’ragos barked, startling more than one person at the table. “A first-year cadet understands the why’s and wherefore’s of the Prime Directive, and I won’t waste my breath debating the subject with you out here on the bleeding edge of the Delta Quadrant. And while we’re on the subject, next time you want to flaunt your moralistic hand-wringing over the fate of a helpless victim species, perhaps you shouldn’t try it with someone whose whole race was annihilated by the fucking Borg!”

    A shocked silence followed and Liu appeared to be expending a great deal of energy on inspecting his hands resting in his lap, as everyone else wished mightily that they were exactly anyplace other than here.

    “We’ll try this again in two hours, people. When you return, leave your bleeding hearts at the door. We’re here to prevent a giga-deathcrime from being visited upon the Alpha Quadrant, and I’ll thank all of you to remember that.”

    Lar’ragos’ eyes scorched across everyone at the table. “Everyone except Commander Wu is dismissed.”

    After the others had beat a hasty retreat from the holodeck, Wu gazed impassively at Lar’ragos from across the table. “That may be one of the best impressions of Lucian Ebnal I’ve ever seen employed, sir,” she remarked dryly.

    Lar’ragos smirked. “It did the trick. I need them all focused on the big picture here, not obsessing over those we can’t save.”

    “Just between us,” Wu inquired blatantly, “just how much of a gamble is our present mission?”

    “A blind man grasping at straws blown by gale-force winds would stand a better chance of success than we do,” he answered with equal candor.

    She digested that in silence for a long moment. “Why me?” Wu asked.

    “You’re a soldier, like me,” he replied. “Come what may, you’ll follow orders and complete the mission, if at all possible.” Lar’ragos stood, turning away from her. “Before this is over, we may well be called upon to do… unspeakable things, Commander. I needed a hard hand, and a harder heart from my XO.”

    “You’ll have both,” Wu answered sincerely.

    “I know.”

    * * *​
  13. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005
    Glad to see you back and writing again.
  14. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    May 22, 2007
    ^ Ditto!

    Interesting glimpse into the complicated crew dynamics brought on by the influx of the noobs. I'm not sure how Pava will be able to pull off emulating both Sandhurst and Ebnal. If Lar'ragos turns out to be bi-polar, I fear for the existence of the universe. :eek:

    Now I understand Wu's value to Pava and the mission. She checked her compassion at the door and is ready to do whatever it takes to protect the Federation, whether it involves diplomacy, finesse or genocide.

    Brrr. :devil:
  15. Cobalt Frost

    Cobalt Frost Captain Captain

  16. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
    Wow, got all excited to see another segment posted.

    Pava's outburst was interesting. I can't really tell if it was completely calculated, in which case he came across a bit like a jerk, or if he lost control for a moment. Especially considering that he yelled at his counselor of all people. Don't want to do that.

    Regardless, his point comes across. And the term 'giga-deathcrime' needs to be added to the dictionary.
  17. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 5, 2013
    Query -- if this is Part III, where are Part I and Part II? I'd like to start reading at the beginning.
  18. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Feb 5, 2006
  19. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jul 5, 2013
    Okay, I figured it out. I had it set to display topics with posts in the last 30 days. I had to change that. Wow! That's a lot of reading material now. I should be writing, not reading.
  20. TrekkieMonster

    TrekkieMonster Commodore Premium Member

    Jul 9, 2001
    The Hub of the Universe
    Welcome back, Gibraltar, and thank you most heartily for the fortifying "fix". Both were sorely missed. Nice way to pick things back up again. It will be interesting to see how this mission plays out, as well as how these newbies integrate with the old timers.