ST: Independence - "Lucid Dawn"

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

  1. Dnoth

    Dnoth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Location:
    In the illusion, but not of it.
    Sorry for the delay, everyone. My internet has been sporadic lately.

    *****
    CHAPTER 4

    Supplemental
    USS Kitzingen, Ready Room
    Arbazan System


    The Arbazan Prime Minister looked at Musgrave with panicked eyes. She said, “Oh thank the Maker you are here, Issac.”

    Prime Minister Ujani was a pleasant enough woman to look at. She wore her hair up and permed. It was a light brown. Like all of her species, she had forehead ridges, but they were much less pronounced than Klingons’.

    The captain seemed uneasy when she addressed him in the familiar. “Prime Minister, we are in your star system and approaching the unknown vessel as we speak.”

    “Wonderful,” she rejoined, “if anyone can figure out what it wants, it’s you.”

    He stiffened up and prepared himself for the conversation ahead, “Prime Minister, there were several other Starfleet ships closer to your planet than the Kitzingen. You must stop requesting me personally when you deal with Starfleet. Know I understand we have a history, but using your pull as Prime Minister…”

    “But Issac,” she interrupted, “You’re the only Starfleet captain I trust.”

    Musgrave bit his lip, since had a course retort on his tongue. He settled on, “It is inappropriate.” He leaned in and added in a conspirial tone, “And people may begin to talk. Someone in your position may…”

    She said despondently, “I understand. Trust me, I understand.” Ujani perked up a bit and continued, “But you’re here now and my people need your help. Arbaz has no defense grid and our own ships are outdated.”

    Musgrave was glad to be discussing the mission again, “Has the ship tried to contact you?”

    “No, there’s been no response to our hails. It’s just sitting in orbit, for now.”

    He nodded, “Alright, we’ll find out what we can for you.”

    She smiled, “Thank you so much, Issac.”

    The smile wasn’t returned. He silently acknowledged her and closed the channel.

    Stardate: Unknown
    Location: Unknown


    …“Computer, target their aft shields.”

    “Target locked.”

    He began to see the yacht’s nacelles light up and the ship disappeared into subspace.

    Bin Nadal had a choice to make: let them go, or go after them. For a fraction of a second, he entertained the idea of activating his escape transporter and beaming back to the
    Independence. He had done his bit for the day.

    On the other hand, Collins and Section 31 had to answer for their transgressions. A 31 plant, Nicole Chase, had used and seduced him on the previous Independence. Chase had attempted to kill their whole crew in an effort to eliminate them and get an Interceptor class ship for their shadow fleet. It would have worked had it not been for the efforts of the late chief engineer, Lieutenant Jinal.

    Before that, Collins had attempted to kill him, Admiral Uhura, and Norah Satie. The only thing that saved his neck that time was the timely intervention of Commander Ivan Cherenkov.

    As he recalled these instances, his choice became clear. He had to try - for Jinal and all the others who died.

    Bin Nadal didn’t fancy the idea of confronting Collins and the android. One was challenge enough. He’d have to get the jump on them or this wouldn’t work. He set a pursuit course and engaged the warp drive.

    Immediately, the computer warned him, “Micro-fractures are expanding. Explosive decompression in 9 seconds.”

    Karim had caught up with the yacht in short order. He launched several volleys of micro-photons. Two hit. Their aft shields were down. It was now or never…

    …Karim woke with a start. There was some sort of alarm going off in his cell. It was so loud and irritating; he felt the need to cover his ears. His captors had never done this before. Something new was happening. In truth, he was glad in an odd sort of way. It was better than just wasting away in here, doing nothing. Though, he could do without the ear piercing noise. Thankfully, it stopped shortly after he stood.

    Immediately, he felt the pull of a transporter beam engulfing him.

    The Persian found himself in a sonic shower, minus his clothes. They hadn’t re-materialized with him. The hum of the shower started. He had to admit, it felt wonderful. The sensation didn’t last.

    A few moments later, he was back in his cell, still naked. There were clean clothes on the bench, however. There was a pair of simple, white pants and a matching shirt.

    He was less ashamed and more annoyed. He deliberately avoided the clothing. It was the only act of resistance he could do. “What do you want with me?” he called out as he had dozens of times before.

    There was no answer.

    The sudden excitement faded quickly. It just him, alone in his cage…again.
     
  2. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    I like the unexplained history between Musgrave and the prime minister. It hints at something inappropriate wish is doubly interesting since Musgrave is happily married with his wife right there on board with him.

    And now Kitzingen must investigate a strange, unknown ship. If this goes anything like other recent first contact encounters, things may turn ugly real quick.

    Also good to see that Karim's plot-line continue. Me thinks somebody is trying to have the man turned ...
     
  3. mirandafave

    mirandafave Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2008
    An interesting build up towards this alien ship with lots of interesting interactions going on. How this will pan out for the crew of the Kitzingen is another matter entirely. And poor Kimula. His mind is being messed with. For the purposes of turning him and/or finding out information from him. Awful. I can't wait to see where you go with this.
     
  4. Dnoth

    Dnoth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Location:
    In the illusion, but not of it.
    Once again, I must apologize for the delay. My muse has been groggy lately. ...but she woke up today! ;)

    *****
    CHAPTER 5

    Stardate: 54329.6 (15 Sep 2377)
    Starfleet Communications Research Center, Pathfinder Project
    San Francisco, Earth

    A cool ocean breeze gently drifted through the streets of San Francisco. It only added to the loveliness of the evening’s weather. The street was quiet, but hardly desolate. The footfalls of the quartet echoed slightly. Reg and Maril walked abreast of each other, noticeably not holding hands. Kimula and Maril’s cousin walked shortly behind.

    Barclay apologized to the group again, “I’m… sorry that we couldn’t just – that we couldn’t use Pathfinder’s holodecks. They really are only for official use only. But I’ve, I’ve been to this holosuite before and it’s a great place…it’s great.”

    And Maril reassured him again, “We really don’t mind going to a public holosuite theater.” Both Maril and her cousin, Christopher, were Eastern Europeans and spoke with a barely noticeable accent.

    Christopher, to his credit, tried to move the conversation forward. “So Kimula, I hear Andoria is really cold. I’m kind of surprised your people didn’t evolve to be more…well, more hairy.” He mildly grimaced as he said the last word.

    The Andorian didn’t seem to be phased by the observation, “It’s due to our blood. It contains a type of natural anti-freeze.”

    Maril chimed in, “Aren’t you hot here?”

    “Not really. When I first left my world, it took some time to adjust, but I’m used to it now.”

    The walk from Reg’s flat to the theater comprised of mostly silence punctuated by similar awkward attempts to strike up a conversation. Kimula was doing her best to enjoy herself and trying to prevent the evening from floundering.

    Soon, they found themselves looking through the holo-novel menu outside the suite.

    “How about this one,” offered Reg, “It’s set in the 20th century. A group of disgraced soldiers for hire…”

    “No,” interrupted Maril. “I don’t want anything violent tonight.”

    Chris noted, “Well, that cuts down about half of them.”

    Kimula had a somber look on her face as she scrolled through the offerings, “I hadn’t realized so many holo-programs had come out about the war.” She went on with a twinge of disgust, “Some even seem to be glorifying it.”

    Maril and Chris had no idea what to say, neither were in Starfleet.

    Barclay seemed to be equally at a loss. The only combat he ever saw was on the Enterprise, before the Dominion War. Shortly after war broke out, he was assigned to Pathfinder. Finally, he ventured, “Then… I guess it’s a good thing we won’t be running them.”

    Kimula suddenly realized she was bringing the mood down. She managed a grin, “Sure is.”

    Maril saved them, “How about a nice trip to Risa?”

    The others didn’t have any objections.

    Within minutes, the group found themselves on a beautiful white sand beach. In some ways the simulation was better than the real thing. One would be hard pressed to find a desolate Risan beach front.

    They had all replicated and adorned appropriate attire before entering the holosuite. Everyone wore swimwear and loose fitting tops. Despite the suns being artificial and comely free of UV light, Reg wore a straw hat.

    As they walked along the shore, Kimula took a deep breath. This double date was mediocre so far. It was about time to pick up the pace and she got the impression no one else would take the risk. If tonight was going to be fun, it would be up to her to make it so. Without warning, she took off her wrap and ran toward the water. “Computer,” she ordered as she neared the shore, “create a sailboard in front of me and give me a strong wind to shove me off.”

    The sailboard materialized just as she got on it and it immediately set off.

    After a moments hesitation, Chris ordered the same to be generated. He almost caught up with Kimula before losing his balance and splashing into the faux ocean.

    Maril knew from past experience that getting Reg to try something new was like pulling teeth. None the less, she tugged at his arm, “Come on.”

    He resisted, “Oh, I don’t know…I’ve never, never done…that.”

    “Neither has Chris.”

    “I can tell.”

    She sighed, “The point is, he tried it and he’s having some fun doing it.”

    They were moving closer to the water. “How about we just wade,” he offered.

    Maril knew him well enough to counter, “Come on, no one here cares if you mess up.”

    He stopped in his tracks, “What…what is that supposed to mean?”

    He’d done it again, she thought, he over analysis everything. “It means…, she started. She just didn’t feel like going into it again, not right now. “It means, just come on and let’s get in the water.”

    “You expect me to mess up?”

    She knew where this was going. Her shoulders slumped as she desperately tried to salvage the moment. “Reg, I didn’t…”

    He choked up, “I’m a…I’m not feeling well. Maybe, maybe I’ll just go, um, lie down in a hammock, ok.”

    “Reggie,” she started.

    He injected, “It’s ok…I’m just dizzy. You go. I’ll be fine.”

    She was tempted to play nursemaid as she as done before when he’d done this, but she just didn’t feel like playing this game tonight. “Well, ok. I hope you’ll join us when you’re feeling better.” She moved off to join the others.
     
  5. Dnoth

    Dnoth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Location:
    In the illusion, but not of it.
    CHAPTER 6


    Stardate: 54344.7 (17 Sep 2377)
    SS Boundless, Dining Area
    En Route to League of Sovereign Colonies Space

    The dining room on the civilian transport was clean and spacious, but utilitarian. It was surrounded by shops and eateries of various tastes. Sintina was sitting alone for a table designed to sit at least four. She didn’t feel too bad about it. The room was sparsely populated at the moment. The Latina looked up from her Haliian pasta. A man sitting a few tables away caught her eye. It was the American Indian man from the shooting range…Epps.

    As far as she could tell he hadn’t noticed her. She looked back down at her pasta and took another bite. Her gaze turned to Epps again, then the pasta. She sighed and took a drink.

    When she looked up again, Epps was standing next to her table with his tray in his hands and a wide grin on his face. “May I join you?”

    She bit her lip slightly, but then decided to be sociable, “Sure.” She gestured to an open seat.

    As he sat, he asked, “So are you getting off at Starbase 375?”

    Aurelia sat back bemused, “What makes you think I’m with Starfleet?”

    His grin grew wider, “I didn’t. Starbases are hubs of civilian traffic as well.” He added, “But I think you’re a ‘fleeter now.”

    She smirked and played with her pasta. “Nope, not at 375.”

    “So where are you getting off?” he ventured.

    “Why do you want to know so badly?” she retorted with just a hint of playfulness.

    “Genuine concern for a fellow traveler,” he said, “I just hope you’re not getting off at Farius Prime. That place has Orion Syndicate thugs all over the place.”

    Sintina decided to turn the tables, “And where are you going?”

    “The last stop before Deep Space Nine,” he said after a sip of his drink, “all the way to Juhraya IV.”

    She seemed surprised, “Juhraya?”

    “Yeah, it’s the provisional capitol of the League of Sovereign Colonies.”

    “You’re an official?” Sintina almost blurted.

    He nodded reluctantly, “That’s right, the Sub-Executor of Foreign Affiars. What that really means is I run around all over the place trying to make sure everybody will either help us or leave us alone.”

    “I’m sure that’s a full time job.” She cocked her head slightly, “There are more than a few people that aren’t too happy the Maquis got their own state.”

    He had to concede, “No doubt to that.” He added, “The League stretches almost 30 light-years right between Cardassian and Federation space. Several smaller, independent races boarder us as well.”

    She took a drink, “I don’t envy you. I’m sure it’s a lot to juggle.”

    He huffed, “The Chanok and Tzenkethi have begun raids. The Nausicans and Talarians are testing us as well. Not to mention, some of our own are not…transitioning very well from freedom fighter to politician.”

    Sintina admitted, “I guess I should keep up on geo-politics a bit better.”

    Epps shook his head, “There are all kinds of problems. According to the Treaty of the Badlands, Starbase 371 and some Boarder Service starstations are now technically in our boarders. Obviously, there are people upset at that. Elements of the Neo-Maquis are still taking up arms and giving the rest of us a bad name. There have even been some reports of Starfleet and Border Service vessels harassing our ships.”

    Aurelia suddenly became indignant. Surely, Federation ships wouldn’t be harassing the League vessels. She reminded herself she was hearing one side of the story… But then again, her faith in Starfleet had dwindled steadily over the last few years. She couldn’t quite bring herself to vocally defend her comrades.

    Luckily, Epps didn’t seem to notice. Now he was more venting than having a conversation. He continued with a sigh, “It’s not all bad news. We’re opening trade routes again. And Prophet’s Landing is close to joining the League.”

    “Prophet’s Landing?” she asked.

    “Sorry, it’s a Bajoran colony.” He leaned in and lowered his voice, “There is even talk on Bajor of shifting away from the Federation and joining us as well.”

    She was truly surprised, “You’re kidding?”

    He shook his head and leaned back, “It is just talk at the moment.” Epps visibly relaxed a bit, “Twenty member worlds and counting. Not bad for four months of existence.”

    It took a few seconds for Sintina to ask the only question that had been on her mind since he said he was going to Juhraya. “Do you happen to know Ro Laren? According to Int…” she caught herself. “I heard she was on Juhraya IV.”

    Epps’ demeanor changed. “Ro Laren,” he repeated. He seemed to be calculating his response, “No, no I’m afraid I don’t know any Ro Laren.”

    “Oh,” she nodded, “Ok, just thought I’d ask.” She was sure he was lying.
     
  6. Dnoth

    Dnoth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Location:
    In the illusion, but not of it.
    CHAPTER 7


    Stardate: Unknown
    Location: Unknown


    Karim’s captors lowered the temperature in his – he would call it ‘cell’, but the word seemed too generous; his…box – to force him to use the plain white clothing provided to him after his brief sonic shower.


    It was still cold. He held his knees close and rocked in an effort to maintain his body heat. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he could see his breath.


    In a few seconds, he felt the temperature dramatically change. It was becoming warmer. The Persian stood and paced while he rubbed the chill out of his arms.


    The door, which had not budged for who knows how many days or weeks since he’d been here, whisked open. It shocked him. The scene beyond the door confounded him even more.


    The room beyond looked like a well adorned office. It was large and rectangular. He was looking at a conference table and on the opposite side of that, was a polished, wooden desk. The walls were mostly windows, with a space-scape outside.


    A man stood up behind the desk. It was Zack Collins. The Section 31 agent that had nearly killed him the first time they met and had captained the 31 stealth ship that had battled the Independence during the Vuke mission.


    Karim became primal and sprinted toward the man at the end of the room. He leaped up on the long conference table and barreled ahead.


    Collins was unfazed.


    Like a crack of lighting, a phaser beam connected with Karim in mid-stride. It hit with such force to make him topple off the table and founder ungracefully on the deck. It wasn’t a normal phaser beam. It didn’t knock him out. His body spasmed with pain, but he was still conscious.


    He saw Collins approach him. The spasms began to fade.


    The agent looked down with a feral grin, “Karim bin Nadal, you still have more strength than you let on. Good.” He walked away and sat down again.


    Slowly, Kairm was able to work himself up to his feet; though favoring the back of a chair. He voice was labored, “Why? What do you want with me?”


    Collins looked up from a padd. The Caucasian had short, black hair, and dark – almost shark-like eyes. A scar ran down his left cheek. “Do you even remember what happened after you beamed over to our craft?”


    His head throbbed and the room was still spinning, but he replied, “Lore palm-struck me in the face right after I materialized.”


    Zack chuckled, “You fell like a slab of beef. Lore nearly killed you.” He got up, “He would have killed you.”


    Karim puffed, “I’m not going to thank you for stopping him.”


    Despite his cold, murderous nature, Collins was incredibly intelligent and he seemed to enjoy his work. He smiled, “I wouldn’t expect you to.” He placed the padd on the desk, “It was just so goddamn audacious! Did you really think you’d be able to get the jump on me and the android?”


    The commander’s gaze shifted down, “That was the plan.”


    “I still can’t decide if that was incredibly stupid or amazingly courageous.” The smile was still there, “You could’ve let us go. Your shuttle was already falling apart. But no, you had to try.”


    Karim asked after a few seconds of silence, “What did you to with Easton?”


    “Easton?” he repeated. “Oh right Clayton Easton. Forgive me, it’s been awhile.”


    Clayton Easton was a low-level 31 operative that defected. He had sought refuge on Independence. Collins was ordered to procure him and stop the Independence crew from discovering a way to circumvent the phasing cloak. In order to do that, he ordered Lore to imitate his android brother, Data, and sabotage the Starfleet ship. In hopes it would provoke the Vuke to attack. The plan had worked quite well, minus his ship being destroyed.


    The agent continued, “Mr. Easton has had a change of heart. We’re actually about ready to release him.”


    “You brain-washed him,” countered bin Nadal.


    Collins seemed miffed, “You know, you really have the wrong idea about us. We don’t go around brain-washing people. We just talked to him and convinced him to reconsider his position.”


    “Oh bullshit, Collins!”


    He mocked offense, “That language isn’t befitting of a Starfleet commander.”


    “Don’t you dare talk about Starfleet ethics. You hid behind a captain’s uniform while you slaughtered innocent people!”


    Zack’s eyes narrowed. They suddenly had a predator’s glare in them. He walked closer and his tone lowered, “I rose through the ranks just like you. Starfleet made me the man I am today.”


    Karim silently shuddered at the thought that some that earned the rank of captain could turn out like him.


    Collins suddenly went from dark killer to genial host again, “Luckily, Captain Collins is officially dead. I like my current job much better than working for Starfleet.”


    The advantage of being held in isolation for so long is that you sometimes wish for death. That lack of fear probably prompted Karim to say, “Is it your job to be a psychopath?”


    He grinned, “Oh look at you trying to prompt a reaction from me. Very nice.”


    The former captain returned to his desk, “Tell you what. As a show of my good faith, how about I arrange for Clayton to come down and you can have a chat with him?”


    Karim was silent.
     
  7. BrotherBenny

    BrotherBenny Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Location:
    BrotherBenny
    I wish he would swallow a primed hand grenade, although I think that would be too kind. He really is the scum of the earth.
     
  8. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    ^ Agreed, Collins is a sociopath given free reign by Section 31. Unfortunately for everyone, he's also very good at what he does.

    Great installment! From the awkward double-date to Sintina's freighter ride, to Karim's ongoing incarceration, you're drawing some very fascinating story arcs into this tale. :)
     
  9. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    I too really enjoy the very different paths the former Independence officers are following here. I'm hoping to see them all reunited in the not so distant future but for now I like that they are all involved in their own thing, even if for some (Nadal) that's more painful than for others.

    Oh yeah, add me to the category of people wishing for Nadal to snap Collins' neck before all this is over.
     
  10. mirandafave

    mirandafave Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2008
    Lots of interesting things happening with Sintina and Epps. I feel there's more going on with Epps and certainly it makes for an unusual sight to hear about a Maquis diplomat of sorts. These really are strange and changed times for the UT characters. One wonders what the future holds as a sovereignty for the Maquis doesn't sound like it is going to be a rosy ending to the sorry tale of those regions.

    Then we have Nadal coming face to face at last with his captor. None other than Clayton. Bad apples just keep turning up. Time they got stewed and dumped.
     
  11. Dnoth

    Dnoth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Location:
    In the illusion, but not of it.
    First off - and as always - thanks to my readers and to those who comment.

    Second, sorry for the delay. I won't bore you with details, but between shooty internet and a new job, I've been distracted.

    Third, I messed up some details in the last installment.

    It was the Treaty of Gibraltar, not the Badlands that established the LSC.

    As others have pointed out, chances are there are no starbases or starstations in the Demilitarized Zone - which was ceded to the League. :rolleyes:

    So the paragraph where Epps was talking about such things should read:

    Epps shook his head, “There are all kinds of problems. According to the Treaty of Gibraltar, all Federation space that was part of the old Demilitarized Zone is now part of the League. Obviously, there are people upset at that. Elements of the Neo-Maquis are still taking up arms and giving the rest of us a bad name. There have even been some reports of Starfleet and Border Service vessels harassing our ships.”


    I'll be working on the next installment tonight, so hopefully it'll be up in the next few days.


    Thanks again!
     
  12. Dnoth

    Dnoth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Location:
    In the illusion, but not of it.
    Here's the next installment. Thanks for your continued support!

    *****

    CHAPTER 8

    Stardate: 54703.3 (14 Sep 2377)
    USS Kitzingen, Bridge
    Arbazan System

    “Captain,” said the mask-clad Ishok from the starboard tactical station, “I just want to voice my concerns again.”

    Musgrave swiveled in his seat and patiently listened, even though, he knew what was going to be said.

    “I will be beaming this probe in completely blind. We have no idea what damage it could do if it materializes in a vital location.”

    Commander Ewn seemed ready to remind him the debate was over, but Issac gently waved her off.

    “The class 12 probe is what? A few centimeters in diameter,” queried the captain.

    Tang spoke up from the science station, which was aft of tactical, “2.5 centimeters.” Immediately, he felt like the comment was perceived as kiss up. He hushed himself.

    Musgrave continued to explain his decision to his subordinate. It wasn’t something he had to do, but he was a firm believer in keeping his juniors in the loop as much as possible. “We need information, Lieutenant. We need to know what that – Pearl Ship’s – intentions are. So far, they’re not talking and they’re orbiting a Federation world. Since our scans can’t penetrate it and our hails are going unanswered. Beaming over a small, tactical probe seems to be a manageable risk.”

    Ishok wasn’t in the habit of questioning orders. In fact, he had a good rapport with the captain, which is one reason why he felt comfortable voicing his concerns on the bridge. He nodded in concession, “Aye sir.”

    Issac turned forward, “So pick some coordinates and energize, but don’t pick the wrong set of coordinates or I’ll bust you down to crewman.” He looked over his shoulder slightly and produced the smallest of grins.

    The meaning was received. The Coridan tactical chief sent the commands to transport the probe. A moment later he reported, “Telemetry is coming in. Transport successful.”

    “Then report,” prompted Ewn.

    Ishok seemed flustered for some reason.

    Tang accessed the datastream to back him up from his station. The junior lieutenant said, “The probe is being covered by some gold laced, bio-electric…microbes.”

    “Are you getting any other readings?” asked Ewn as she stood from her seat.

    “The probe is defiantly in some type of fluid, but the microbe-things are reflecting our scans,” came from the Asian officer as he manipulated his console.

    Operations officer Okoro offered, “It’s being cocooned.”

    “I’d say that’s about right, Captain,” granted Tang. “The microbes – well, they’re much larger than microbes – they’re covering the probe’s entire surface. They even seem to…”

    “We’ve lost the signal,” injected Ishok.

    “…be creating a damping field,” finished Zian.

    Musgrave stood and put his hands on his hips and sighed. “All right. Go over what telemetry we did get, Mr. Tang.”

    “Aye.”

    The captain leveled his gaze at Ishok, “Any hints from that ship that we ticked them off?”

    The Coridan examined his panel and shook his head, “No sir. No change at all.”

    Issac then turned to the view screen. The glistening ship hovered above the oceans of Arbazan Prime. It seemed to stare back at him, expressionless. “You’re move,” he said at if it would provoke a response. It didn’t.

    Stardate: Unknown
    Location: Unknown

    Karim sat at one of the chairs surrounding the large conference table in the room. He rapped his fingers as he stared at Zack Collins.

    Collins was the picture of nonchalance; his feet up on the desk and munching on a replicated apple. He had offered bin Nadal one, but it was refused.

    Now both waited for Clayton Easton to appear.

    “Is this a holodeck?” ventured the Persian.

    The Section 31 agent shot back with, “According to some metaphysical theories, reality is a type of holodeck. You really should read up on them. They’re fascinating.”

    Karim wasn’t amused.

    A shimmering cylinder appeared indicating a beam in. Clayton Easton formed. Clayton was an unremarkable looking man, a human of Eurasian decent. He acknowledged the former Independence officer. “Commander bin Nadal! I had no idea you were here. They just told me that someone requested my presence before I go.” He looked over to Collins, “I’m afraid I don’t know you.”

    He smiled sociably, “Just another cog in the directorate’s machine.”

    Clayton nodded and addressed Karim, “These 31 types never give you names and if they do, it’s ‘Smith,’ or ‘Black,’ or something like that.”

    “Have you been mistreated?” asked Karim.

    The question seemed to make the man uneasy. He looked to Collins, who said, “It’s alright. You can be truthful here.”

    Easton cocked his head, “Well, I don’t know if I’d call what I’ve been through ‘torture,’ but…it hasn’t always been pleasant.”

    “Did they give you drugs or do any medical procedures?” pressed bin Nadal.

    Clayton timidly sat down, “Only a routine physical. Oh,” he supplemented, “they did implant a tracking chip in my arm, but that’s only for my…probation.”

    “Probation?”

    “Yes,” he explained, “as long as I stay out of trouble, they’ll remove it after five years.”

    Karim huffed, “By ‘staying out of trouble,’ you mean no contact with any anti-31 factions. And what if you do?”

    Clayton seemed taken back, “Why would I want to? Those groups don’t know what they’re doing.”

    The Commander leaned in, fully aware that Collins was listening. “No, they told you that. People like him have manipulated you in to believing that.”

    “They talked to me about, yes,” he admitted. “But you haven’t heard the whole story, either. Those groups are opposed to Section 31 on a philosophical level. But what the directorate does isn’t theory. They’ve done more to ensure the survival of the Federation than Starfleet ever has. They preserve our way of life, don’t you understand that?”

    Karim leaned back. He wasn’t sure if Clayton really meant what he said or not. Even if he did, he was probably tricked into it. The Clayton Easton who desperately sought Captain Aurelia’s help was gone. Despair seemed to engulf him. Finally, he decided, “If this…,” he gestured to his surroundings – his de facto prison, “is our way of life, then maybe it’s not worth preserving.”

    Clayton grimaced, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

    Zack spoke up, “Alright Mr. Easton, I’ll beam you back now. I’d hate for you to miss your transport.”

    He nodded and stood. As he prepared himself for transport, he offered to Karim, “Remember, you can always make the right choice.”

    Bin Nadal’s despair broke for just an instant as he retorted, “I already did.”

    Easton frowned as he dematerialized.
     
  13. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    I'm wondering if the micro-probe beamed over to the alien ship wasn't set upon by macro-antibodies? That almost seemed like a biological defense response.

    As for Karim, he's either going to have to make himself comfortable with the idea of a lengthy incarceration, or bluff people as malevolant as S31 that he's come around to their way of thinking. That's not easily or safely done. :(
     
  14. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    I've just started this, so I'll have better feedback later.
    But I really like what I've read so far.

    Kitzingen's crew has already grown on me. Great character interplay and an interesting plot!
     
  15. BrotherBenny

    BrotherBenny Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Location:
    BrotherBenny
    I still want to toss Collins out of an airlock, preferably into a black hole.

    I like the way the Kitzingen is handling the situation so far. It will be interesting to see where this goes.
     
  16. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Yeah, I'm not buying what Collins is selling and I'm not even fully trusting Clayton. Who knows what they've done to him. Maybe he's even a hologram.

    Also continuing to enjoy the Kitizingen developments. Interesting mystery they've got on their hands here.
     
  17. Dnoth

    Dnoth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Location:
    In the illusion, but not of it.
    Ok, I'm starting to settle into a routine with my new job. Hopefully, I'll be more consistent in posting. ...Hopefully. :rolleyes:

    CHAPTER 9

    Stardate: 54707.8 (16 Sep 2377)
    Starfleet Communications Research Center, Pathfinder Project
    San Francisco, Earth

    Kimula’s antennae drooped slightly as she caught sight of Lieutenant Barclay. The previous night’s double date hadn’t been a complete failure, but it proved to be awkward and any fun that she had, she produced herself.

    She didn’t have to be a therapist to know Reg’s girlfriend, Maril, was getting wary of the relationship, despite her attempts at reaching out to him.

    For a moment, Kimula considered not bringing the matter up and letting – what she saw as the inevitable – happen. Unfortunately, her profession and personality wouldn’t allow her to stand idle.

    As always, Barclay was hunched over a console. He had such tunnel-vision, he didn’t notice her approach. “Hey there,” she said.

    He was jolted from his work. “Oh hey, Kimula. Sorry, I ah was ah just gathering reports for the next data stream next week. Come, come look at this.” He gestured to the screen. Among the documents being amassed was the standard fleet deployment reports. The most current one was displayed. “See, see that. What is going on I wonder.”

    She looked over his shoulder, but didn’t see the significance. “I just see a bunch of redeployment orders, patrol routes…pretty standard stuff.”

    “No um, look what’s not on it.”

    Her antennae curved with her brow, “I don’t follow.”

    “Don’t you see? The USS Galaxy, the Gallant, the Majestic, the Eagle, over a dozen other ships…they’re not even shown… or … or even mentioned in the report.”

    She tried not to sound too dismissive, “So?”

    He had a look of disbelief, “So! So, some of the most important ships in the fleet aren’t mentioned in the fleet report!”

    The Andorian struggled to come up with a logical explanation, “Well, Starfleet is never too specific in these reports for security reasons.”

    Reg shook his head, “No, no… I’ve been looking at these reports for months. A few omissions, sure… but not, not this many. Not during peace time.”

    Kimula was at a loss, but she wasn’t overly concerned, either.

    “Maybe, maybe,” Barclay began, “They went through the Bajoran Wormhole to…to spy on the Dominion.”

    She couldn’t help but shoot that down, “A whole fleet to spy? Not very subtle.”

    “Well…maybe, the Alshian or, or the Talarians are starting trouble again. Or it could be a fleet to intimidate the Breen.”

    “Reg,” she finally said matter of factly, “Please stop. You don’t know what’s going on, if anything. Speculating about it isn’t constructive. Just accept that Starfleet has its reasons for what it may or may not be doing.”

    It seemed as though, Barclay didn’t know how to process that last comment. “But…something is happening!” he insisted as he pointed to the screen. His outburst caught the attention of some coworkers, but they quickly dismissed it.

    She couldn’t help but wonder at that moment if Admiral Paris recruited her with Barclay in mind. Kimula became qualified as a communications specialist thanks to field training, but graduated the Academy as a counselor. She now suspected the admiral had ulterior motives.

    The Andorian sat down next to him, “And what if there is? What if something is going on?”

    After a moment of confusion, the question defused him slightly. “Then…then…I don’t know.”

    “So,” she prompted, “is it possible, that even if you knew what was going on, you couldn’t do anything about it?”

    He grudgingly conceded, “I um, I suppose so.”

    “So why worry about something that’s completely beyond your control?”

    Reg frowned and shrugged.

    She leaned in, “Do you trust Starfleet to deal with whatever is going on?”

    He half-jibed, “Good question.”

    Stardate: 54708.2 (16 Sep 2377)
    USS Kitzingen, Conference Room
    Arbazan System

    The staff meeting was opened by Captain Musgrave, “Ok it’s been two days since the Pearl Ship entered orbit. The people of Arbazan Prime are getting nervous, even panicked. The ship is in a decaying orbit. We don’t know if this is deliberate or not. It’s time we deal with this ship.”

    The dark-skinned helm officer, Sabra Okoro added, “I strongly suspect it’s a controlled decent. I don’t think there is any danger of the ship crashing.”

    Commander Ewn jumped in, “Which makes it even more important to address this issue soon.”

    The masked Coridan offered, “They don’t seem to be in any rush. It almost seems like they are – inching – their way down; trying to gauge our reaction.”

    Musgrave turned to Tang, “What did we get from the probe before it got cocooned?”

    Tang Zian leaned in, “The fluid inside the vessel is a highly-oxygenated water with electrolytes, proteins, lipids, and several other minerals. It’s a perfluorochemical substance.” The blank stares around the table prompted him to elaborate, “A breathable liquid, like amniotic fluid.”

    Cadet Bolar said, “So if we beamed someone over, they could breathe in it?”

    “Not all of us,” explained the Trill doctor. “It would support only human physiology and only for a short time. There is so much oxygen in the fluid that it could cause hyperoxia in a matter of minutes.”

    The science officer seemed reluctant to add, “Dr. Zwen and I have come up with a possibility.”

    The Trill interrupted, “It’s too dangerous.”

    Musgrave gently put a hand up to hush her.

    Tang continued, “I could beam over in an environmental suit. Once there, I could hide my presence.”

    “Why not just use an isolation suit and be invisible?” asked Ewm.

    “I’m less worried about being seen and more worried about being felt,” he explained. “To beam in, we’d first need to use the annular confinement beam to create a pocket for me to beam into. That will cause a displacement wave in the fluid. They’ll know something happened, but I can mask my biosignature and my wake using a subspace isolation field.”

    “Will that prevent those – macrobodies from detecting you?” asked Ishok from underneath his faceplate.

    The Asian science officer said with more confidence than he had, “I think so.”

    Zwen tried to defuse Tang’s hazardous idea with, “Can’t we just send a probe in with a subspace isolation field?”

    Zerone, the Binar pair in charge of engineering, defended Tang’s proposal, “Adjustments and operation of the subspace field…” The other took over, “can not be achieved remotely.”

    The Ariolo executive officer brought up the point, “If we can’t scan passed the contact’s hull, how will we be able to beam you back?”

    The petite Trill hesitantly offered, “I could inject Zia…Lieutenant Tang with tritonium isotopes.”

    Musgrave looked to his tactical officer.

    Ishok confirmed, “Our scanners can pick up tritonium isotopes through the mass of a planet. It should work.”

    The Evora female asked, “Won’t that let – whoever is over there – detect him too?”

    Tang shook his head, “Tritonium isotopes have to be isolated in a very specific way. They won’t pick them up unless they are actively looking for them.”

    Musgrave got up from his chair and casually moved to the forward looking viewport. It was mostly filled with the green oceans of Arbazan Prime. Hovering over the planet was the shimmering alien ship. He stood there for several seconds. He didn’t mind contemplating like this in front of this crew.

    He turned suddenly. His mind made up, “All right. We’ll try Dr. Zwen’s and Tang’s plan. Take whatever resources you need to make it happen, Lieutenants.”

    Zian nodded, “Aye sir.”

    Ashana was less enthusiastic.
     
  18. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Kimula really has her work cut out for her with Barclay. He's a handful, alright. And there might be something to her suspicions that she's part of the project simply because of his neurotic episodes.

    And the Pearl Ship mystery continues. I don't think I'm crazy about this plan of sending Zian into the thing. But I'm curious to see if it works and what he may find.

    Lokding forward to more.
     
  19. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    A risky plan, but if it works, the payoff could be considerable.

    Reg’s sixth-sense for detecting patterns most others would be oblivious to nearly gets him into trouble again, if not for Kimula’s intervention. I’m beginning to agree with her assessment of why Admiral Paris brought her into the project.
     
  20. Dnoth

    Dnoth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2006
    Location:
    In the illusion, but not of it.
    Thanks everyone.

    Yeah, I thought Barclay's paranoid nature would react to the hints at Operation Vanguard.

    ...and the story chugs along...


    CHAPTER 10

    Stardate: Unknown
    Location: Unknown

    Zack Collins rhythmically tapped a stylus on the desk. Karim sat nearby at the end of a conference table. The two sat in silence for several minutes. It was like the wait between chess moves.

    “Don’t judge Section 31 based on your experience with me,” finally said Collins.

    Karim didn’t think he had the strength the laugh out loud, but he did. “I suppose you’re the black sheep in the family and everyone else are saints.”

    Zack smirked, “I’ve been studying up on the history of Section 31 since they recruited me. Care to hear some of it?”

    The Persian chuckled humorously and shrugged, “I appear to captivated.”

    The agent leaned and ignored the sarcasm. “Do you know why the Federation was founded?”

    He played along. The conversation was a distraction, but it might yield some insights. “Sure, it was basically a response to the Earth-Romulan War. Earth, Vulcan, Tellar, and Andoria allied themselves to fight off the Romulan invasion. After the war, it was decided to expand the alliance and form a federation.”

    “You’re half-right, but you don’t have the full story. No one has the full story, but Section 31.”

    Karim showed his skepticism, “Do tell.”

    Collins grinned and got up. He paced as he talked. “The framework for Section 31 existed even before the Federation existed. That precursor to the directorate discovered the existence of the Borg in 2153.”

    “Oh come on,” resisted bin Nadal.

    The agent put his hands up, “No, it’s true. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was at that point we began pushing for a federation of planets. We knew our individual races wouldn’t stand a change against them. So, we set events in motion. Events that we made sure would lead to the founding of the Federation.”

    “Oh, I see,” he mocked, “so, the Romulans just happen decide to help you in your plot?”

    “No,” Zack granted, “It wasn’t that straight forward.” He paused, “But someone once said, ‘Never waste a good crisis.’”

    The Starfleet officer shook his head, “Self-aggrandizing propaganda, nothing more.”

    With a shrug of his shoulders, Collins rejoined, “I’m afraid I don’t have any source documents to show you to prove it.” He added with intent, “Archer understood the need.”

    Karim couldn’t help himself, “You’re so full of shit.”


    “Really?” he shot. “You’re not even prepared to consider that Section 31 has done more good than harm over the years.”

    After a moment, bin Nadal responded, “Good for who?”

    “Good for us all!” He answered. “Good for the Federation. How many times have you put your life on the line for the good of the Federation, Karim? We are on the same side, for God’s sake. When will you get that through your skull?”

    The Persian licked his dry lips. After a long moment, he asked, “Why do you care what I think? What do you want for me? Anything? Or is this some twisted game you play with captives because you can?”

    He made a feral grin. “As much as I’m enjoying our…debate, there is a higher purpose behind our talk.”

    “And that is?”

    Zack sat down again, “In due time, Commander.”

    Stardate: 54708.4 (16 Sep 2377)
    Arbazan Prime, FirstCity
    Arbazan System

    The capital city was exceedingly clean and extremely old. Most of the buildings were made of large, white stones. Dominating the skyline was the Ashen-Latinum Tower, the religious and political center of the society.

    Captain Issac Musgrave walked abreast to Prime Minister Ujani in the cavernous halls of the tower.

    He continued his report, which she insisted he deliver personally, “My crew are still making preparations, but we should be ready to beam him over in a few hours.”

    “This vessel is the only thing on the lips of my people,” she said. “An increasing number of ministers are advocating we target the ship with our missiles.”

    Musgrave shook his head, “I would advise against that, Prime Minister. First off, the ship doesn’t appear to be an immediate threat. Second, if it comes to that, the Kitzingen should be that one to attack it. I don’t want them to retaliate against the planet.”

    She faced him and took his hand, “I’m so glad you’re here, Issac.”

    He examined his hand in hers and contemplated pulling away. He didn’t, “Ujani, it’s not safe for you to do that in public. Arbazan society doesn’t tolerate adultery. If anyone should find out, you’d lose your position and would be an outcast.”

    “I know,” she admitted coyly, “I know, it’s just, I’ve never forgot that night.”

    After a brief surge of ego, he rejoined, “It was over a decade ago, Ujani.” He added, “And things have changed.” He finally pulled his hand away, “You see, I’m married now as well.”

    She withdrew, “Oh…do you love her?”

    “Yes.”

    Ujani nodded blankly, “How fortunate for you.” She looked up, “Does she know about us?”

    He sighed deeply, “No, but it’s about time that she does.” Musgrave looked at her. He knew she was in a loveless marriage. He felt pity for her. She wished to know love so desperately. “Good day, Prime Minister,” he concluded.