Star Trek: Intrepid - The Double Edge

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Galen4, Feb 17, 2010.

  1. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Forward from the author:
    Well, I've finally gotten around to running my Trek series here, as promised. If you'd like a quick snapshot of what this is about, you can read my Ad Astra update thread here:

    http://forums.adastrafanfic.com/index.php?topic=445.0

    The bottom line is that I'm now migrating my Trek series to both Trek BBS and Ad Astra.

    The Ad Astra format is here, if you prefer:

    http://www.adastrafanfic.com/viewstory.php?sid=754

    This will be the first appearance of my series at either site outside of my cross over with Gibraltar ("Treacherous Waters")

    We begin with "The Double Edge". DE is one my oldest stories, so I've given it a make over. Much of the dialogue and details have been rewritten. It now sports a prologue as well.

    If you've read this story before, be aware that I've made no major changes to the plot or characterizations. What I've changed is solely to facilitate a smoother flow.

    Chapter 1 will follow in a few days.

    Excluding the prologue, this adventure takes place in 2374, a little over two years before "Treacherous Waters."
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2010
  2. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Prologue ​


    600,000 years ago…


    The O’lanti Commonwealth of Planets, an interstellar empire of more than 200 star systems, was about to die. As if that fact were not bad enough by itself, the O’lanti people represented the last bastion of advanced civilization in their corner of the galaxy. When that light was extinguished, an unparalleled storehouse of knowledge and culture would die with them, bequeathing the quadrant to primitives.

    At nearly three and a half meters tall, the O’lanti dwarfed most bipeds. Their build was equally intimidating for they were every bit as brawny and stout as they were tall. Despite a fierce warrior past, the O’lanti of the present were considered the “gentle giants” of the cosmos. The Commonwealth was a respected and loved institution, whose scientific breakthroughs were renowned throughout the quadrant. The advanced race was often sought out for both their wisdom and their spiritual guidance.

    Emperor Tortusk, the latest ruler of O’lantia, paced the large control tower that overlooked Sega Military Base’s spaceport. He wished fervently that he could blame himself for what was now taking place. If only the present disaster was due to some grotesque mistake he had made-----a stupid miscalculation or lack of preparedness. Blunders could be compensated for on the battlefield. And if defeat came about because of such things, it could be reconciled under the fortunes of war.

    But how does one defeat what one cannot comprehend?

    General Drasik, his Chief Military Advisor, waved Tortusk over with frantic gestures. Despite his withered appearance the old Drasik cut a dashing figure in his burgundy dress uniform, complete with ceremonial scabbard. His gray shoulder-length dreadlocks capped off the statuary package.

    Like Drasik, the Emperor wore ceremonial uniform and sword. His own braids were a dark maroon, which was consummate with his younger age. Both of them had dressed up to preside over the military graduation at Sega Base, which had now become the de facto command center for the Commonwealth. The crisis had come upon them before the ceremony had even commenced.

    He crossed the room to where Drasik stood among communication and flight control operators who had been monitoring the battle through their sensor scopes. Their humble terminals were now interlinked with defense systems around the planet. Confused and contradicting data was rolling across all the displays as distant relay stations became overwhelmed with traffic. Every planet, ship and space station in the Commonwealth seemed to be screaming for help at once.

    The control tower operators, who had spent their military careers directing traffic, struggled desperately with the crushing weight of their new roles. They had instantly become command level personnel, answering directly to the Emperor and the Chief Military Advisor.

    “Where are our battleships?” Drasik snarled at the nearest operator. Drasik was old and withered, but could intimidate even the hardiest O’lanti soldier, never mind those of a much lower station. He grabbed the operator by the back of his uniform collar and nearly pressed the poor man’s face into the display screen. “Do you hear me? We have no communication from our vessels on the front line! Or anyone else who is in proximity to the enemy! By now you should have pulled backup power from our satellites!”

    “I have, General Drasik!’ The man gibbered. “But as each vessel reports engagement, a subspace blackout ensues! It is the same for colonies and star stations. There are only garbled reports describing contact with life forms of an undetermined nature, and then silence.” He looked beseeching at Drasik, hoping his next words wouldn’t culminate with his beheading. “We simply do not have enough power to overcome the interference.”

    Drasik released the operator and stiffened in front of the Emperor. For the first time in their decade long friendship, Tortusk heard a tremor in Drasik’s voice. “We are blind and deaf, My Lord.”

    “What of our outer colonies?”

    Drasik’s face twitched. “No contact.”

    “Our star stations and perimeter outposts?”

    “The same. Our fleet is engaging in the Lareepa Sector. But as you heard, we cannot gain information. A subspace distortion wave appears to precede the invaders, cutting off all contact.”

    Emperor Tortusk was aghast. “You said the Lareepa Sector? How did the invaders gain ground so quickly? Not an hour ago our front line was holding in the R’Gusta Cluster!”

    Drasik couldn’t help it. His gaze sank under the weight of failure. “I fear it has already been overrun.”

    Frustration boiled in Tortusk like a volcano. “No data! No updates! Not even a single picture of our attackers! Such a thing cannot be, Drasik! Such a thing is impossible!”

    There was no need for Drasik to underscore the obvious, which was that “impossible” occurrences had been playing out around them for at least 20 years. It began with reports of planetary alliances being annihilated by unknown attackers. The first of these events occurred in a distant sector and so had only elicited a passing curiosity.

    However, the events had inexorably spread in their direction. Over 15 races had been obliterated in the span of two decades. Although rumors had whirled about a monstrous super race called “the Inth”, all accounts of the aggressors were wildly dissimilar. Thus, even as one empire after another toppled, the O’lanti dismissed their downfalls as unrelated episodes, perhaps different powers staging separate attacks.

    Yet, in some cases, a civilization was felled by implausible accidents. Just five years ago, the Tkon Empire, a recent ally of the O’lanti was eradicated when their home star went nova. There had been no warning. And against all reason, the explosion had created a subspace blast that devastated life on every Tkon world throughout their territory.

    With the loss of the Tkon, the O’lanti were all that was left of spacefarers in their neighborhood of the galaxy.

    Could it all be the work of the same assailants? Drasik pondered. Assailants that only prey upon interstellar societies?

    The General shook the question from his mind, deciding it could be explored in the future, should a future still await his people.

    The Emperor’s words snapped him from his musings. “General Drasik. Notify all ships to fall back here to the O’lanti system and fortify our home world.”

    The various operators and military personnel turned from their duties and stared intensely at the Emperor, surprised into a show of disrespect.

    “My Lord,” Drasik choked on his response. He cursed his moment of distraction. Surely it caused him to misunderstand! “Our colonies and bases…we would be abandoning them-----“

    “If our world survives so will our civilization!” Tortusk exclaimed. “We are crumbling, don’t you see? We falter! With our forces gathered here, we can thicken our defenses. What is more, their proximity will allow us to communicate with the field. We can SEE what we face.”
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2010
  3. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    “My Lord…”

    “We can rise again.” Tortusk said, now using quite tones of defiance. “We WILL rise again, no matter what is decided today.”

    It was the heavy resolve in his Emperor’s voice, more than the inexplicable dilemma itself that made Drasik feel the enormity of the crisis for the first time. He turned to dispense the orders.

    ***​

    Within four hours, what remained of the O’lanti fleet had set up a perimeter around their home world. As they had withdrawn before the advancing marauders, more opportunities had arisen for reconnaissance. At last, images of the attackers became available.

    Emperor Tortusk was dumbfounded as he studied one the fuzzy pictures that had been transmitted to him. He had expected to gaze upon massive warships, bristling with cannons. Or perhaps the grainy silhouette of a barely glimpsed stealth ship.

    But certainly not a grouping of smudges-----certainly not a smear that looked like a swarm of insects. This was the unstoppable enemy that was bringing his empire to its knees?

    If the invaders continued without interruption the entire population of O’lantia would be in jeopardy. He had given evacuation orders, but too late. There was simply no way billions of people could find shelter in so short a time. He might have acted sooner, but the prospect of enemies cutting through the Commonwealth in a matter of hours was inconceivable. His mind boggled at the speed and power required for such a feat.

    “Where is the data stream?” He demanded of the operator whose scope he was now hovering over.

    “There was no accompanying data, My Lord,” The operator informed him timidly. “All ships and sensor buoys have scanned at full power. Computers can’t identify these life forms.”

    General Drasik, who also hovered nearby, snorted with assuredness. “Those things are not alive, they couldn’t be. No doubt they are some manner of attack drones that are designed to garble our sensors.”

    Tortusk moved his heavy brow in thought. “Before our outer colonies went dark they reported contact with ‘life forms of an undetermined nature’,” He looked again at the dark blur that hung in the foreground of the picture. He could see angular shapes protruding from either side. They looked like wings.

    But of course that was preposterous.

    ***​

    It took less than an hour for the siege to enter the system and tear into the O’lanti defense lines. Brilliant streaks of green fire cut into the invaders from mobile weapons platforms. Cloaked mines detonated within the swarm. The disruptor beams and transphasic explosions left holes within the midst of the attackers, but the gaps quickly sealed over as if the army could replicate at will.

    Next, a string of micro-singularities flashed to life, knotting space-time and pulling many of the creatures into subspace fissures. The strategy enjoyed limited success, but the singularities were small and couldn’t snuff out enough invaders to stem the tide.

    Still the wave boiled forward, meeting more resistance as the O’lanti fleet, which was positioned around the planet, hammered the invaders with enough raw energy to pulverize a large gas giant.

    Down in Sega Base’s flight control tower, Tortusk listened to his hardened battleship commanders’ shriek with terror as crackling images played on the screens before him, images of a gray mass that shook and snapped as though it were alive. Within minutes all communication was lost with his ships.


    High above him, he could almost sense the orbital disruptor batteries taking their turn, throwing their compliment at a real enemy instead of dummy targets for the first time in history.

    By now, Tortusk didn’t need a report to tell him that their last line of defense would prove ineffective. He ordered the control tower’s evacuation. The personnel surged into the single elevator in a panic, overcrowding it. Luckily the lift held their weight. All that remained was two operators, the Emperor and Drasik.

    General Drasik was still in touch with the ground artillery batteries and gave them standing orders to fire when the enemy was visible.

    “It is enough! You should have left with the rest!” The Emperor scolded Drasik. He grabbed the older man by the shoulders and nearly catapulted him towards the elevator doors. “GO! We can do nothing further.”

    “I have been at your side for over ten years, old friend!” Drasik returned haughtily. “ I have shunted both assassins and politicians from your path. And do you remember that I was shot twice for you? Yet you think I would precede you to safety?” He spat, clearly offended. “We will leave together or not at all! ”

    “BEHOLD!” A flight control officer was pointing towards the sky. The others quickly crowded around him, where he gazed out one of the large windows. They all craned their necks to look upward.

    Tortusk scanned the deceptively peaceful dome and puffy white clouds with acute intensity. It was a sky that so expertly belied the impending threat above it, he found himself longing for the comfort of denial.

    When at last he saw them, he thought of nothing more sinister than a flock of birds.

    It was a small cluster of black specks, so high and so difficult to see, he began to doubt the validity of his own senses. But soon the cluster of specks grew, magically populating the high altitude with each wink of the eye.

    A single creature, if that’s what it was, circled down and landed on a communication lattice, just 20 meters away from the window. All four men peered with revolted fascination at it. You couldn’t call it a bird, even though it mimicked the movements of one. It was a mottled gray and black lump with jagged, wing-like protrusions that jiggled rather than flapped. A fine tubular head coiled from the end of a serpent’s neck. Its jaws were sharp scissors that clicked open and shut continuously, advertising a beak full of needles. Tortusk estimated its size at no bigger than a man’s head.

    The eyes were most disturbing of all: three circles that flickered with blue fire.

    The repulsive organism cocked its head and stared at them, somehow managing to convey a feeling of pure malice despite the lack of conventional facial expressions.

    “Creator within us!” Drasik breathed.

    “Let us go,” Tortusk commanded. He began to push his men forward, herding them to the elevator.

    And then the rest came.

    The sun darkened as an untold number of monstrosities descended from above. They arrived with the speed and violence of an avalanche, falling upon the city and the outlying countryside, blanketing the area like a suffocating shroud.
     
  4. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    The windows crashed inward before the Emperor or his men could make it to the elevator. Alien bodies careened back and forth, smashing and ricocheting off the walls.

    Tortusk and Drasik had scarcely gathered their wits, before they were wracked with mortal wounds. The two operations men, who were unarmed, began to howl as they were torn and gutted where they lay, cowering on the floor.

    Tortusk and Drasik fought on, despite the deadly gashes that now covered their shredded and bleeding bodies. They had both realized the futility of using their side arms against multiple flying targets in close quarters. Instead, they had drawn their ceremonial swords and hacked at the invaders. A part of Tortusk noted ruefully that this was the only time the swords were being used as actual weapons.

    They brought a few of the attackers down. Chunks of the monsters fell to the floor, where they coiled like snakes.

    From beside him, he heard Drasik bellow the ancient battle cry. “We are fast against the storm!” He shrieked. “We are fast against the STORRMM-----“

    It took no military genius to know the battle was lost. Knocked off his feet, Tortusk lay on his back, swinging his sword repeatedly. He felt it connect with every sweep, but recognized that the damage he was inflicting was miniscule. He continued to hack nonetheless, until his sword arm was severed from his body. Then he beat at the things with his remaining fist, spitting at them and cursing their existence.

    He was a widower without children, so Tortusk’s last thoughts were of his people.

    He prayed that somehow, the O’lanti race would endure.

    The carnage was repeated across the planet. A sea of snapping creatures enveloped the entire surface of O’lantia. The writhing mass chewed through every structure and every barrier. Buildings toppled. Those who were on the streets were shredded apart so quickly, many never felt a thing. Vehicles were split open and the occupants devoured. Roofs were peeled from homes and children ripped from the arms of their parents. The cities’ drainage systems ran with blood, which spilled over like floodwater. Explosions reverberated across the landscape, as power installations detonated after their reactors were breached.

    Land-based disruptor cannons stabbed upward futilely, sweeping back and forth across the sky like green search lights as they resisted the plague.

    The atmosphere became a maelstrom of flashing creatures, hurtling rubble and torn flesh. The sound of collapsing structures and explosions became intermingled with the thunder of millions upon millions of beating wings.

    The murderous onslaught continued for eight days and eight nights. For the better part of a week, the ground itself shuddered under the bizarre cataclysm.

    Once the attackers had extinguished all life on the surface of O’lantia, they clawed and burrowed their way into the dirt, hunting for any who had sought escape in underground bunkers.

    Finally the seething invaders lifted away from O’lantia, leaving nothing but ground and rocks in their absence. Every piece of manufactured material; every bit of technology, and nearly all living matter larger than a microbe had been consumed. Even the stray radiation left from weapons fire and power plants was absorbed.

    It would seem to any observer that nothing could have lived in the aftermath of the holocaust, certainly nothing sentient. But life is a force to be reckoned with. It is a tenacious and adaptable thing, not easily removed once entrenched-----even in the face of unspeakable catastrophes. And so it was that pockets of survivors remained on O’lantia, hidden away in the deepest of subterranean shelters.

    The orphans of the calamity scavenged among the surface, hording the few animals they had for food. But in time, a terrible change took root among them. For reasons unknown, their great intelligence receded day by day, fading into the barbarism of prehistory. In the breadth of a single year, they could not fathom even the most rudimentary of tools.

    Even worse, they passed the curse of their diminutive intellects on to their children, who passed it on to theirs. The O’lanti, who had once mastered the equations of quantum gravity and transwarp speed, now wailed in fear at the sight of their own moon.

    ***​

    Ages passed. O’lantia would eventually be discovered by humans, who would rename it “Taurus II”. Their survey teams would note with trepidation that brutish anthropoids populated the planet.

    By then, new races had become warp capable. They ventured out into the great void-----hesitantly at first-----but in time growing more confident. They colonized empty worlds, building their homes upon the graves of once mighty civilizations, which had been erased by the Inth.

    Among those new societies was a fledgling community known as the United Federation of Planets. A newcomer to the galactic arena, the Federation reached out to befriend its neighbors, spreading the values of tolerance and cooperation to dozens of worlds. Federation citizens were an enlightened people who touted their courage in the face of new discoveries. They paid little heed to monster stories and tales of Boogiemen.

    With the Federation inspiring an ever-expanding network of trade and government relations throughout the Alpha Quadrant, interstellar communities blossomed and procreated. Space faring civilizations flourished to numbers that hadn’t been seen for millennia. A golden age was dawning for over one quarter of the populated galaxy-----with no limit in sight.

    And then…
     
  5. BrotherBenny

    BrotherBenny Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    More, more, more!
     
  6. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Jesus, yes! More! More!
     
  7. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

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    Well, thanks. Just another day or so for Chapter 1....
     
  8. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Star Trek: Intrepid - The Double Edge Chapter 1

    Chapter 1


    We have shared the incommunicable experience of war. We have felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top….In our youths, our hearts were touched with fire."
    -Oliver Wendell Holmes


    Uncommon valor was a common virtue.”
    -Admiral Chester Nimitz commenting on the character of the fighting men of World War II​



    The planet was a dark, dead thing. It hung in the outermost orbit of a red dwarf star that had burned away its best years long before life had evolved on Earth. The barren stone was one of five that wobbled around the fizzled out star in a lopsided orbit. Like its sisters, Kalandra Five had no useful minerals and no traces of gases or atmosphere.

    The dilapidated planets were worthless as anything other than a curiosity-----at least that was the assessment of the Betazoids, whose thriving civilization was only five light years distant. A peaceful and artistic race, even the Betazoids could find no beauty in the spent star with its ugly children.

    The Betazoids also had practical reasons for their dislike. Intense ionic storms pounded the sector regularly, making travel hazardous.

    Then there was The Kokala Nebula (named for the ill fated Betazoid who had first explored it), which only made things less inviting. Squatting at edge of the system, the cloud generated a localized subspace distortion zone that foiled communication in a radius of five hundred thousand kilometers.

    Hiding in the shadow of Kalandra Five were 24 Federation starships. The battered group was all that remained of Tango Fleet, a task force that had once numbered 40 strong…


    USS Nagasaki
    Main Conference Lounge
    Orbiting Kalandra Five


    Cowardly son of a bitch, thought Admiral Edward Jellico.

    He was staring down the conference table at Captain Donovan, forcing himself to listen to the blond little man’s second objection in the last ten minutes. Jellico was toughing out this imposition all to project a veneer of tolerance and balanced listening.

    After all, he was an admiral now.

    Instead of counting to ten, Jellico took solace in a daydream; he saw himself walking over and head bunting Donovan back into his chair. He wondered half seriously if any of the 24 starship commanders that were crowded within the room would object.

    Donovan was young and green. He had been USS Resolution’s XO until the commanding officer was killed in the last engagement. Jellico had put him in the center seat a few weeks ago because he had an aptitude for battle tactics. So Resolution still led Tango Fleet’s Miranda Wing.

    Given Donovan’s reluctance, Jellico wondered if he had made a mistake with the appointment----and he hated nothing more than second guessing his own judgment. It was the possibility that he might have erred, more than Donovan’s challenge that angered him.

    “Not only will we be outnumbered five to one, but the Dominion has the tactical advantage of controlling our sensor net.” Donovan was saying, elaborating on the obvious. “If we try to stop the attack on Betazed with brute force, we’ll become cannon fodder. Best case scenario, we’d slow them down by a few hours, hardly enough time to make a difference.”

    “We have few choices available to us,” Captain Zorek retorted, smoothly running interference for Jellico. The elderly Vulcan was the Sovereign class Nagasaki’s commanding officer. His century and a half of life had endowed him with an unflappable calm that went beyond mere poise. “And we have yet to hear a viable alternative.”

    The renowned Vulcan had just cast down a gauntlet, which Donovan picked up eagerly. “Well, obviously the alternative is to regain control over the sensor net.” He sniffed.

    Jellico ground his teeth.

    “Once we have the net working for us, we can get a warning to Betazed and the Tenth Fleet. With our numbers added to theirs, we-----“

    “Captain Donovan, as you are well aware, we have been endeavoring to do preciously that since our arrival here.” Zorek tapped into his seemingly endless reservoir of patience. “To date, our top specialists within Tango Fleet have been unable to dismantle the viral fire walls the Dominion is employing to control our net. And a breakthrough is unlikely to occur soon enough to meet our immediate needs.”

    The Kokala Nebula’s interference bubble was a subspace sinkhole to communications and sensors. With its close proximity to Betazed, it was also the most obvious staging area for an invasion. Because of the impracticality in guarding the zone with vessels, particularly because of the communication challenge, Starfleet had laid down a net of sensor drones. The net perforated the dead zone and fed constant telemetry to Betazed, the Tenth Fleet and Federation relay stations.

    That advanced network had now been compromised by the Dominion, effectively shutting down the warning system. Even worse, the sensors were now working on behalf of the enemy.

    Only dumb luck had tipped off Tango Fleet to the impending attack. Their arrival had coincided with a window in Kokala’s interference, allowing them to see the enemy fleet massing in the cloud’s dead zone.

    On some level, Jellico admired the boldness of it. The enemy was coiling on Betazed’s doorstep but had taken time out to build a rudimentary shipyard to fuel and repair their vessels. The Dominion’s plan was nearly breathtaking in its audaciousness.

    Captain Donovan was still holding court, recycling his previous argument, when Jellico shot to his feet.

    “That will do, Captain!” He barked. “I think you’ve made your…point very clear. Now, how ‘bout you take a seat?”

    With Donovan back in his chair, the Admiral took in the assembly before him. “I’ve indulged enough conversation on this matter. We’re not belaboring whether or not we should attack. That decision’s been made. I don’t want to debate it or talk about it. Let’s focus on getting the job done.”

    Jellico paused, and then turned back to his audience with an afterthought.

    “Oh, and if anyone else here has butterflies in their belly, feel free to relieve yourself of command. I need all of you,” He skewered Donovan with his eyes. “Particularly my squadron commanders, fully committed.”

    Having just been publicly accused of cowardice, Donovan’s face colored and he squirmed in his chair. He barely contained the urge to leap up shouting. The young captain glanced around the table to see if his colleagues would support his challenge. But if anyone was taken aback by Jellico’s acidic and demeaning oratory, they kept it to themselves.

    Donovan’s tactical instincts told him that he would lose if he battled Jellico here and now. He swallowed his pride but vowed that a reckoning would commence if both of them survived the next few hours.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2010
  9. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Star Trek: Intrepid - The Double Edge Chapter 1

    Jellico tapped on the tabletop and a holographic image glimmered into view, hanging over the conference room. It was a complex framework of cylinders and octagons. At its center, an extended triangle flickered. It showed no detail, but the shape was unmistakable. “In addition to Jem’Hadar fighters and Cardie ships we have another addition to the party.”

    “A Dominion battleship.” Zorek observed.

    “You bet. One of their biggest guns, according to the sensor profile.” Jellico confirmed. He circled the table with controlled steps, pointing up at the display as he spoke. “This latest Intel from our probes shows that antimatter pods and munitions are being loaded around the clock. We estimate they’ll have this beast fueled and rearmed by 0700 tomorrow.” He tapped off the display and the holo image vanished. “That gives us until 0300 to get our fleet underway for an intercept.”

    An attractive Asian woman in her mid 40’s held up a finger to gain the Admiral’s attention. “Sir, do we have any idea how the Dominion assembled such a large contingent so far outside their supply lines?”

    Jellico jerked his head in a barely discernable nod of approval. The woman was Captain Caroline Hiroko of the starship Legacy. Her galaxy class cruiser would be serving as the admiral’s command ship, and would be leading Tango Fleet’s Galaxy Wing. “Captain Zorek’s team has an idea about that.”

    Zorek offered no dramatic preamble. “As you are all aware, the Kalandra System is buffeted by frequent ion storms that sweep the region along predictable and reoccurring paths.” Stroking his gray beard reflectively, the elderly Vulcan went on. “It is our hypothesis that once stealth probes had compromised our sensor net, Dominion warships and supply vessels began to arrive by concealing themselves within these storm systems, riding them within close proximity to the Kokala Nebula.”

    Hiroko’s almond eyes grew large. “Using ion storms to extend their supply lines?” She shook her head in repudiation. “But I can’t believe their ships withstood the stress…we’re talking about Category 8 systems here. And jumping out of the storm at just the right point…”

    “Hiding within ion storms is problematic.” Zorek agreed. “No doubt their vessels have suffered damage that includes toxic irradiation, burned out deflector arrays, casualties and a host of other ills. Cardassian vessels would have faired even worse, unless outfitted with Dominion shields or armor.”

    “That’s why they put together that repair yard. That battlewagon probably took one hell of a pounding just getting here. They won’t go without it, so they’re burning the oil to fix her up.” Jellico’s voice warmed at the thought. “That may give us an edge when we hit them.”

    “We’ll need a double edge,” said a voice from the back of the room. Captain Jason Aubrey of the USS Intrepid straightened from where had been leaning against one of the far walls, which was crowded with standing command officers.

    Aubrey was a captain in his late thirties who had a pleasant, modulated voice that carried the subtle undertones of an English accent. Jellico noted again that his dark blond hair was a bit too full and a bit too long for the admiral’s approval. (He made another mental note to get that item corrected.)

    There was an air of irreverence about Aubrey that was often amplified by a boyish half smile. He was a wholly unremarkable looking officer that tended to blend into a crowd or walk into a room unnoticed. All told, he came off more like a ship’s counselor than a starship commander.

    But Jellico had learned long ago to look beyond appearances. Despite his reticent demeanor, Aubrey was one the best combat officers in Tango Fleet. So much so, that the admiral had very quickly made him a squadron commander in charge of the fleet’s Excelsior Wing. He commanded respect, boyish charm or no.

    And there was the rub.

    Because, unlike Captain Donovan’s blustering, Aubrey’s calculated judgment could heavily influence the other starship commanders in the room.

    “I presume you have an idea that will give us this ‘double edge’, Captain?” Zorek was still acting as Jellico’s unofficial spokesperson.

    “Yes,” Aubrey said pleasantly. “If it works, we might be able to destroy most of the Dominion Fleet even before we engage.”

    The admiral looked perturbed rather than intrigued. He wanted to be well into the battle plan by now, not entertaining flights of fancy. “Well, let’s have it Captain.”

    “I think it would be better if we discussed this in private, Admiral.”

    Jellico looked pained. “I don’t have time for a one on one chat. What do you have up your sleeve that requires secrecy?”

    “I should be candid with you sir, it’s risky and it’s unconventional, to say the least. And …even if it works, you’ll be jeopardizing your career.”

    Jellico tossed his PADD onto the table’s surface, where it clattered loudly. “Why the hell am I not surprised?”

    The Starfleet captain shook his head in sympathy. “With all respect sir, the true surprise is yet to come.”


    USS Intrepid
    Deck 7
    Sickbay – CMO’s Office


    The Bajoran doctor studied the casualty list before her, bemoaning the number of death certificates it would entail writing-----a chore she was desperately behind on. It was a long list, and seemed to double in length as her vision blurred from lack of sleep.

    Her brown face tightened in concentration while she struggled to comprehend a line of text she had already read twice.

    She wasn’t alone. Everyone aboard Intrepid had been pushing through triple shifts since the Archer IV battle, repairing damage, tending to the injured and getting the ship back into combat readiness.

    She looked awful. Her eyes were puffy and bloodshot and her face so drawn, it was easy to think she was shouldering an extra ten years. But she had the dubious luck of a ready-made excuse. After all, one could write off her appearance to exhaustion.

    The truth was, exhaustion had less to do with her haggard face then the fact that she had been weeping for the better part of an hour.

    They had lost twelve crewmembers this last time. Two of them were close friends that had worked with her at Starfleet Medical. At times like this, she balanced on the edge of hopelessness and despair. She wondered if her toils would prove futile in the end. The Dominion was gaining ground constantly. Every battle whittled the Alliance away with staggering losses, while the Jem’Hadar replicated soldiers and ships almost overnight. It felt as if the Federation were being exterminated a little bit at a time.

    Now Betazed was poised to fall. If that happened, Vulcan, Andoria and a suite of other critical real estate would surely follow. In that event, even the most optimistic projections ended with the Federation’s conquest.

    Because she was too tired to lie to herself, the doctor admitted the real reason she had left the death certificates undone: It was defiance. Defiance in the face of finality. By not officially acknowledging the recent losses, she felt that she was extending her crewmates’ lives. They continued on, if only to her, for just a bit longer.

    She rubbed her nose ridge, trying valiantly to cut off new tears that threatened to emerge.

    She was grateful when a soft knock distracted her.

    She looked up. Before her loomed a massive figure that was filling the entirety of her office doorway. It was an enormous man, at least a meter and a half tall, outfitted with a powerful build that seemed to be pushing out of his Starfleet uniform.

    The officer had olive green skin. Even his hair was green.

    She blinked, mildly surprised by the sight.

    “Doctor?” The giant inquired politely.

    Her overworked mind finally caught up. She hoped her fragile state hadn’t been obvious. Perhaps she could blame her befuddled appearance on eccentricity, like a physicist. Didn’t most scientists give the impression they were recovering from a phaser stun?

    “Yes, Lieutenant?” She grabbed the rank from his uniform collar in lieu of his name.

    “I’m Lieutenant Hodorn Perboda.” He seemed about to add something further, but instead pursed his lips.

    The name clicked immediately. Perboda. Of course. He was among the group of transfers from Legacy that were replenishing Intrepid’s lost compliment.

    "Our very first ship’s counselor.” Kella emerged from behind her desk and smoothed her uniform. “Nice to meet you. I’m Doctor Kella Lisern, Chief Medical officer.”

    He seemed to relax a bit at her introduction, and extended his hand. “How do you do?”

    “Well,” Kella said cordially, “How can I help you?”

    Perboda dropped a Starfleet issue duffle bag at his feet and rubbed his massive hands together. A small look of embarrassment crossed his emerald eyes. It was a vulnerable expression that made Kella want to offer him comfort.
     
  10. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Star Trek: Intrepid - The Double Edge Chapter 1

    Behave yourself, Doctor. You’re not a schoolgirl. Let’s try for a little professionalism here, shall we?

    “I suppose I could use some directions.”

    “Directions?”

    “To my quarters.” He chuckled. “I misplaced by PADD which had my room number on it. I don’t even know if I’m assigned to deck three or deck four.”

    “And yet…here you are on deck seven. I hope you’re not planning to man the helm anytime soon.”

    Perboda allowed his charming grin to spread. “Ahem…well, I thought this was the best place to find a good samaritan who wouldn’t mind talking to the computer for me.”

    Kella’s smile joined his own. As a wartime transfer, the Orion had yet to be given any kind of computer access. “Allow me.” She offered. With a touch of dramatic flair, she spoke out to the bulkheads. “Computer, what is the location of Lieutenant Perboda’s quarters?”

    “Lieutenant Perboda is assigned to deck four, room number 412, section 18 Baker.” The computer replied at once.

    “I’ve been rescued!” Perboda exclaimed and bent to scoop up his duffle bag. Kella couldn't keep from noticing that his arms weren’t just large, but muscular and powerful, as though they had been sculptured by an artisan trying to capture the look of a demigod.

    “Why don’t I escort you, so you don’t wander into engineering by mistake.” Her heartbeat was now increasing, much to her annoyance.

    He looked down at her, displaying comical surprise. “Do I get a free souvenir with this tour? ”

    ***​

    They walked together for a time in silence, trotting through the winding corridors of the aging starship while keeping each other within a respectable comfort zone. The initial lack of conversation was not awkward, though. Somehow, it felt as natural to both of them as it would to old acquaintances that were reuniting after a brief separation.

    Before long the silence became small talk, mostly about how much the crew was anticipating the presence of a counselor. Dr. Kella joked that so many people aboard had issues, he would have material for at least a dozen papers before his tour was up.

    During a conversational lull, the counselor breached a new topic. “So, I understand Captain Aubrey is quite a strategist. I’ve even heard the word ‘hero’ tossed around by some members of Tango Fleet.”

    Dr. Kella shook her head, clearly taken aback. “Just don’t repeat that within earshot of the captain, and the two of you will get along famously.” She inspected him from her peripheral vision before surrendering to her curiosity. “So was there anything in particular that set off this ‘hero’ talk?”

    He shrugged, looking a little too innocent. “It’s been said that Intrepid was with the Seventh Fleet at Tyra. The rumor mill credits your captain with saving the few ships that made it back.”

    Kella stopped in her tracks. She turned to face him. Despite her better judgment, she allowed a note of contrition to enter her tone. “Counselor, we were one of only fourteen starships that survived from a fleet of 112. I was there, and I can assure you that we were victims, not heroes-----a fact that was driven home for me while I was filling out casualty reports for a third of our crew.” She let that ferment while her jaw hardened. “Believe me when I say that the captain shares my sentiments.”

    Perboda studied her face, trying to gage just how hot the water was into which he was stepping. “Forgive me for reading between the lines, Doctor. It’s a habit with me. But I get the sense Captain Aubrey feels uncomfortable with the notoriety he’s gained since the war started. Is that a fair statement?”

    Before speaking again, Kella reminded herself that it was a psychologist with whom she was conversing. It would do well to show a little more discretion in what she decided to blurt out next.

    The trouble was, Aubrey was her Achilles’ heel. She was only fifteen years his senior, but because of her relation to his adopted family, she felt almost maternally protective of him.

    Great. That’s all she needed was to have the ship’s counselor find out that she had a “mother hen complex” towards the CO.

    “You’ll have plenty of opportunities to ask him that yourself.” She managed after a moment. She resumed a brisk gait that would have left Perboda behind, were it not for his large strides.

    The Orion didn’t need a tricorder to read the temperature dropping between them. “Sorry, Doctor. I guess I jumped the gun on the interview process.”

    Kella surprised herself by emitting a stress-reliving chortle. “I’m the one who should be apologizing, Counselor. I’m usually not this testy. I suppose it’s the lack of sleep talking.” That, and the friends I just lost. She added silently.

    “More than understandable. And by all the stars, please stop calling me ‘Counselor’. My friends address me as ‘Hod’.”

    “MY friends address me as ‘Doctor’.” She said mischievously.

    They stopped outside the entrance to a room.

    “Here we are.” Kella indicated the closed doors before her, feeling unexpected reluctance.

    Perboda stepped through the entrance but lingered just inside the threshold of the dark room.

    “Thanks.” he said simply. Their eyes embraced, then drifted in opposite directions.

    “You're welcome Lieutenant. Counselor. I mean Hod.” She flushed, thankful that her dark complexion was masking her reaction. At least she hoped it was.

    “Right on all three accounts.” He beamed. Still sounding cavalier he added, “I was hoping I might meet with the captain soon. Do you know where I might find him?”

    “He’s in a classified briefing with the fleet’s command staff. They generally don’t announce what ship the meetings are held on. Security measures.”

    Perboda tilted his head in mute acknowledgment.

    “I’m sure he’ll schedule something as soon as he’s free.” Kella suggested.

    “I’m sure. And the first officer, Commander Shantok?”

    “She’s also in a meeting.”

    Perboda put up his hands in mock defeat. “I have some settling in to do anyway. Maybe we’ll see each other again soon.”

    “Unless your sense of direction improves.”

    He winked playfully. “I certainly hope not. But it’s nice to have a tour guide available, just in case.”
     
  11. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Her face suggested he might be biting off more than he could chew, while at the same time making no promises about whether he would have the opportunity to find out. Then Kella turned on her heel and walked away.

    As she moved down the corridor, she leveled a new criticism at herself with each step she took. She was a seasoned officer, and she had just behaved like a giddy teenager.

    Euphoria was a good word for what she had experienced, but as she put distance between herself and Perboda, the sensation receded further from her mind, fading away until only its echo remained-----like the memory of a favorite song to which one has forgotten the melody.

    “So maybe the males give off strong pheromones, too.” She muttered to herself.

    But even if that were true, she knew that wasn’t the whole truth.

    I wish I believed in the Prophets. She mused. I could use some guidance right now.

    Then she made the mistake of thinking: I could always talk to the ship’s counselor.

    Queasy laughter trickled from her, causing nearby crewmembers to glance her way with curiosity.

    ***​

    Perboda stood quietly in the shadows of his cabin. Somewhere, deep in the labyrinth of his mind, a door swung shut, dividing his self-awareness into separate compartments. Part of him was completely oblivious to this and blissfully went about the routine of unpacking.

    But the other half of him stood by unobserved. It was a broken, detached aspect of him that had just recently been brought to life. And like any newborn life, it shambled about clumsily, knowing only that it had needs.

    Perboda paused while putting some figurines on a shelf and stifled a shiver. Just for a moment there, it had felt like someone was watching him.

    When the sensation passed, he went back to unpacking.

    He continued to think about Dr. Kella, for she was an alluring woman with a passion that was almost palatable.

    But in time, he also began to think about Captain Aubrey.

    His meeting with the CO would be a very important occasion.

    The ample Orion went about his chores with greater zeal. As he placed his mementos and other property around the room, he whistled a merry tune.
     
  12. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Always been a fan of Intrepid and I'm glad you decided to re-post your stories here.

    It's been a while that I've read this one and I certainly don't remember that prologue. That added a seriously dark and foreboding tone to this story. So dark in fact one might think its coming straight out of a Stephen King novel.

    A great introduction to Aubrey who is his own kind of starship captain and of course the mysterious Perboda who is sure to play a very important role in this series.

    So far it seems that the Dominion will have the upper hand but judging form the prologue, Jem'Hadar soldiers might not be the worst that Aubrey and crew will have to face.

    Terrific start.
     
  13. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Between the candle and the flame
    Interesting counselor you've got there. I like what I see(the image of an Orion counselor is priceless!) although the "shambling" part concerns me...
     
  14. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Wow, you’ve opened with a real attention-grabbing prologue, and your first chapter has introduced us to a host of fascinating and compelling characters. :techman: I’m enjoying the opportunity to re-visit the beginnings of Intrepid.

    Oh, and welcome again to the United Trek universe. :)
     
  15. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Thanks for the comments, everyone. It's true that the prologue is new. So is chapter 1 for the most part. I was never happy with the beginning of the original DE. I felt it was awkward and lacked a "hook".

    I also took this oppurtunity to rework some "strategic" details of the Dominion's attack on Betazed so that it now falls more or less in line with canon accounts.

    Gibraltar, thanks for piping me aboard! I'm happy to be in the group.
     
  16. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Great opening. That swarm was very alien, very terrifying. Also, I enjoyed your character work in Chapter 1. You've already set up an interesting mystery with the Orion (I too like the idea of an Orion counselor, seems they might be pretty well suited for that), a nascent romance, and a nice contrast for an unremarkable looking captain who I'm sure is anything but.
     
  17. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Thanks for the comments, DarKush.
     
  18. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Star Trek: Intrepid - The Double Edge Chapter 2

    Chapter 2


    USS Nagasaki
    Captain’s Ready Room
    Orbiting Kalandra Five


    “Let me say a few things up front, just so we understand one another, Captain.” Admiral Jellico beamed the full wattage of his gaze at Aubrey. “If I find that this conversation has been a waste of my time, or worse, if I find you’ve been withholding vital information so you can grandstand at the last minute…” He leaned over the desk. “Then when you report back to your ship you’ll be addressing your XO as ‘sir’. Are we clear?”

    “Crystal clear, sir.”

    Jellico held up his right hand and splayed his fingers. “You’ve got exactly five minutes. Use them wisely.”

    Aubrey settled within his chair comfortably, as if sharing a drink with an old Academy chum. “Before joining Tango Fleet, we answered a distress call from a Ferengi merchant ship that had been attacked by Tholian pirates near the Romulan Neutral Zone. We chased off the pirates and offered help to the Ferengi. But we became suspicious when they suddenly refused further aid from us.”

    “Because they were obviously carrying something illegal. I’m sure they weren't thrilled to see a Starfleet ship charging to their rescue.”

    “Yes sir. But they were forced to accept our help after looking at a core breach from the Tholian attack. I dispatched a repair team to assist and well.... it didn’t take long to detect the contraband. We were forced to confiscate it and place the Ferengi crew under arrest.”

    “Fascinating story, Captain. For your sake it had better get a lot more exciting over the next three minutes.”

    Aubrey continued, unperturbed. “The Ferengi’s goods looked unremarkable at first. Mostly unlicensed replicators, transporter coils and half empty canisters of warp coolant. It was all intermixed with enough small arms weapons to get them incarcerated. But nothing special enough to make them wander so far from the usual black market trade routes.”

    Jellico folded his hands in front of him, becoming the very picture of civility. It was a stealthy gesture, like the tranquil poise of a mantis just before it strikes. “Go on,” He prompted.

    “I had my people analyze the Ferengi's junk. Sure enough, I received an urgent text message from my ship while in the mission briefing just now.” Aubrey’s pleasant tone became sharp. “My science departments discovered containers full of protomatter, which had been disguised as warp coolant. The capsules had been sheathed in refractive materials designed to fool rudementary tricorder scans. Now we know the Ferengi’s more innocuous components can be combined for another purpose.”

    Aubrey ate up his last few minutes with the remainder of his explanation.

    When he had finished, the admiral forgot all about his time constraint. Understanding dawned across his face like a breaking sunrise. “Your people are sure about this?”

    The captain dipped his head in affirmation.

    Jellico fell back against his chair. “Where the hell did the Ferengi get their hands on Genesis material?”

    Aubrey shrugged apologetically. “I would have conducted a more severe interrogation had I known then what they were really up to. Even still, I got the distinct impression that they were more afraid of betraying their supplier than dealing with us.”

    Jellico directed his attention to a far corner of the room. “It wouldn’t be the first time that Genesis material has turned up on the black market over the last 89 years. Everyone knows how to build a device, but usually, the biogenic isotopes and protomatter cascaders are damn hard to come by.” He looked back to Aubrey. “Where are the Ferengi now?”

    “In custody at Starbase 39-Sierra. I had put them on a Starfleet border cutter for transport.” He paused to recall the name. “The…Athena. We kept the contraband because the Athena was short on cargo space.”

    The admiral considered that for a moment. “Who were they planning to sell to? The Romulans?”

    “It’s doubtful the Romulans would be interested in 89 year old Genesis technology. They accessed that knowledge long ago but had no interest in pursuing it.”

    Jellico rapped his knuckles gently on the desktop. “Of course. TheTholians.”

    “That was our guess as well, sir. It’s not likely Tholian pirates would be operating so far from their usual hunting grounds. It’s more likely the
    Ferengi were selling to a Tholian faction. For whatever reason, the deal went sour.”

    “We’ll need to interrogate them again.” Jellico said with disquiet.

    “There’s still time for that. With the arms trafficking charges I filed, they’ll stay locked up long enough for this to be pursued at a higher level.”

    The admiral gradually drew his eyebrows into a single line. “Are you telling me that your people can assemble the components into a functional device?”

    Aubrey thumbed a control on the PADD he was holding. “Yes. The Genesis mechanisms were taken apart to be concealed. But once reassembled, we would have two operational warheads.”

    “Two?” The older man bolted erect in his chair. “How long would that take?”

    “I’ll find out for you, sir.”

    Jellico was drumming his fingers on the desk, a sign that he was leaking excitement. “You’re thinking of launching them at the Kokala Nebula, hoping that when the cloud is consumed, it will decompile the enemy fleet without us having to fire a shot.”

    “It won’t be easy, but that is the general idea. Yes, sir.”

    Aubrey could see wheels spinning in Jellico’s head. “Getting them close enough to launch would be a problem. The Dominion can see anyone approaching the nebula while they’re controlling our damn sensor net...”

    “Respectfully, sir…we should all stop looking at that strictly as a disadvantage.”

    Jellico leered at him. “You find it advantageous that the enemy has control of the biggest sensor platform in the sector?”

    “I wouldn’t go that far, sir. But remember, it’s our technology they have. We know the vulnerabilities and limitations of our sensors better than they do. We can make that work for us.”

    The admiral conceded Aubrey’s point by switching topics. “The last time Genesis was used inside a nebula, it manifested an unstable planet.”

    “These imitations aren’t powerful enough to do that. And they lack the biogenic isotopes that are needed for creating an organic matrix. But they’re destructive power is the same in every other respect.”
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2010
  19. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Star Trek: Intrepid - The Double Edge Chapter 2

    Chapter 2 Continued​

    “I could align Tango Fleet between the enemy and Betazed, and then launch the weapons at them within stealth material.” Jellico countered, thinking aloud.

    Aubrey shook his head. “Even if that worked, these are poor copies. If they’re detonated in the vacuum of space, the Genesis wave won’t travel far. Also, the Dominion fleet would be spread too thin for significant damage to occur.”

    “You’re saying that we need the nebula for kindling wood, or we can’t start our forest fire.” The admiral summarized.

    “In so many words, sir.”

    Edward Jellico could stamp his name to many things, but indecisiveness wasn’t one of them. He had honed his assertiveness to the point that he could draw decisions with the speed of an old gunslinger. His tendency to act swiftly had landed him in trouble more than once in his younger days. Although now more seasoned, that aspect of him had changed little over the years.

    So it was a profound statement that he allowed silence to occupy the room while he chewed one of his thumbnails.

    “Any use of Genesis technology is still illegal.” He finally remarked.

    “There is one upside to this,” Aubrey put in.

    “How’s that?”

    “Well, since you’re the one that will authorize this mission, I can be absolved of all blame. I’m fortunate to have a flag officer to hide behind.”

    Jellico’s mouth hung open. The air almost seemed charged with a pending thunderstorm.

    Aubrey retained a deadpan expression, but amusement twinkled somewhere behind his eyes.

    Then, to the surprise of both men, the admiral threw his head back and laughed. The laughter was coarse and uneven, as though rusty from disuse.


    ***
    Six hour later…

    Lt. Commander Adol held his breath for the second time in 30 minutes, watching the passive sensor display with fierce scrutiny. Three Jem’Hadar fighters seemed to drift lazily at the extreme edge of sensor range-----but he knew they were really whipping by at one quarter the speed of light; a serious velocity by anyone’s reckoning.

    The Andorian speculated that if the enemy ships reduced speed, or made a sudden course change, he would know they had found him. If they maintained their current speed and scanning pattern, then he was probably still invisible.

    Unless that was their plan-----to lull him into a false sense of security.

    A minute dragged by. Then two.

    His hand hovered over the arming switch of the runabout’s weapon. He knew better than to engage it prematurely. The energy signature was powerful and distinct. It would be like sending up a flare. Besides, once you armed the thing, there was no going back.

    The fighters sped into the distance without slowing.

    Adol wiped his lower lip of perspiration and cycled down the arming prestart sequence for the Genesis weapon.

    “We’re clear,” He said to the man in the pilot’s seat. “Resume heading.”

    Intrepid’s Operations Officer, Lt. Douglas Pal brought the runabout’s impulse engine online and gradually pushed the Chin Ho forward again. Once the ship was at the correct speed, he shut down the impulse drive and put all systems back into low power mode. The runabout resumed its journey on inertia.

    Pal was a wiry man in his late twenties whose angular face was crowned by a head of auburn hair. A neatly trimmed goatee of the same color made a short comma off his chin.

    “Well, that was stimulating.” Adol commented.

    “Jesus Christ,” Pal exclaimed through a shaky exhalation. “I didn’t think we’d run into patrol ships this far from the nebula.” He scratched at his goatee nervously. “This isn’t looking good, Adol.”

    Intrepid’s Security Chief was busy running a diagnostic check on the arming protocols for Genesis. “You knew the odds when you volunteered. So did I. Let’s keep focused, Lieutenant.”

    Adol and Douglas Pal were friends who had been acquainted since Starfleet Academy. Ironically, they hadn’t been able to stand each other at first. As roommates, they were the unfunny version of the old “Odd Couple” play. Pal was messy and absent minded. Adol wanted their living space organized and regulated with the precision of a machine.

    On at least one memorable occasion, they had come to blows over who’s turn it was to have the room for female visitors. After the scuffle, demands had been made on both sides for the other party to vacate the premises, post haste.

    But both of them had been too young and defiant to concede defeat by moving.

    Over time, an uneasy alliance formed when, to their chagrin, they had gotten to know one another. They discovered a shared vein of ideas about everything from philosophy to politics and even the fairer sex. Their friendship had taken them both unawares. By the time they graduated four years later, they were as inseparable as blood brothers.

    That strong connection between them----forged from countless hours of studying, laughing and brawling----was still intact years later when they found themselves posted to the same ship.

    Pal had more uplifting commentary. “We might have underestimated the Dominion----again. If they’re patrolling this far from Kokala, they’ve probably already shot down the second runabout.”

    “Doubtful,” Adol said. He continued the diagnostic without breaking stride. “Those fighters would have been conducting a far more aggressive patrol if they knew about a Starfleet presence here. Our second runabout is safe, for the moment.”

    The runabout Montreal had departed first. If all went according to plan, they would get close enough to wipe out the Kokala Nebula.

    Adol and Pal were insurance, in case the first attempt failed. The Chin Ho was following an elliptical trajectory that would bring them to Kokala’s opposite side. Because their journey wasn’t direct, they could afford no delays. If the Dominion detected a presence, they would break formation and leave the nebula’s dead zone. Destroying the dust cloud at that point would be of small benefit.

    Even worse, Tango Fleet would lose the element of surprise.

    “Can’t believe the old man went for this.” Pal mumbled a few minutes later.

    If he were human, Adol would have rolled his eyes. He never understood why some people felt the need to blabber when they were nervous. Andorians used stressful waiting periods to focus their concentration, not ruin it.

    But Pal was his friend, so he paused long enough to indulge the man. “Why can’t you believe it?” He asked reluctantly.
     
  20. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    Star Trek: Intrepid - The Double Edge Chapter 2

    Chapter 2 continued​

    Pal grabbed enthusiastically at the opening. “A flag officer authorizing the use of illegal technology? C’mon, Adol…that’s mind boggling.”

    “Nothing that perplexing here…if this works, lives will be saved both on Betazed and among our own fleet.”

    Pal eyed him disapprovingly. “It’s not just that.”

    “What’s more important than that?”

    Pal began stroking his goatee, a sign that he was mulling something over, turning it one way in his mind, then another. “There’s a whole ying and yang balance here that we’re about to destroy.”

    The security chief shook his head. “Doug, in case you hadn’t noticed, we’re a little busy here. Just spit it out, as you humans say.”

    Pal pointed out the cockpit window, even though the nebula wasn’t visible. “Kokala has been around for millions of years. A Betazoid died while trying to chart its interior…it’s even named for him. The thing’s a scientific enigma.” He ticked off each point with a finger. “It has a subspace dead zone that no one can explain. It seems to attract ion storms that circle it continuously…”

    “I suppose that’s interesting.” Adol agreed blandly.

    “You ‘suppose’?” His friend was incredulous. He turned the cockpit chair around, admonishing the Andorian with his glare. “Do you know what else the Betazed Science Administration discovered?”

    “Your employment application?”

    Pal cocked an irritated smirk. “Funny. But did you know that these ion storms deposit quantities of matter into the nebula?” He became somber, almost remorseful as he continued the impromptu lecture. “That means the nebula could eventually grow big enough to give birth to planets and a star one day. Billions of years down the road, life could develop.”

    Adol held up his hand, as if warding off a physical attack. “I know where you’re going with this. But right now we can’t agonize over the distant future. Lives are hanging in the balance. That’s today. That’s what matters.”

    “Ying and yang,” Pal repeated. “The Kalandra system went dark and all life died there. Next door, we have a nebula that might give way to life.” His head dropped to indicate the Genesis arming panel. “Now, we’re about to destroy that possibility with a weapon that was originally developed to create life. How’s that for irony?”

    Adol’s tolerance gave up the floor to irritation and concern. “I’m not seeing your point, Doug. You did volunteer for this mission. I assumed it wasn’t just because you’re one the best pilots in the fleet.”

    Pal smiled ruefully. “Yeah, well. If Genesis does have to be used again, then I should be the one to use it.”

    “You’re logic is confounding me, as usual. How exactly is it better for you to use it then someone who has no reservations?”

    “Because someone should feel the guilt. It’s part of the penitence.”

    The chances are good that your penitence will be short lived, Adol thought.

    Pal and Adol might have had similarities in the past, but today their ideologies were distant cousins.

    The war was fueling Adol’s inherent cynicism and combative nature. He was becoming ever more hard and merciless, nearly reveling in the death of his irenic sensibilities. Sometimes his newfound blood lust troubled him, but not as much as it used to.

    Conversely, Pal was still a deeply consciences and spiritually minded man----a devoted person of the Christian faith who wore a crucifix beneath his collar. His morality had only deepened with time.

    Adol was bumping headfirst into their dissimilarities, a fact he wasn’t happy about. Especially when the stakes were so high.

    “Lieutenant, “ He growled, “I need to know if your strong feelings in this matter are going to be a problem. Specifically, I want your word that you won’t do anything to sabotage or hinder the progress of this mission.”

    Pal looked back at him with an expression of offense that was nearly comical. Adol’s official language and accusations were a slap in the face. “Sir, you should know that I never would have volunteered for this assignment otherwise!”

    Adol’s antennas arched downward as if to grab Pal by the throat. “That’s good. Because I intend to carry out our assignment no matter the cost-----and quite frankly I don’t care if we have to obliterate ten nebulas to do it.” His voice became steely and dangerous. “I won’t let anything get in the way. Not even our friendship.” He craned forward, nearly touching noses with his copilot. “Both of us are expendable. This mission is not. Do we understand one another, Lieutenant?”

    “Of course, sir.” Pal responded, white as a ghost.

    Adol turned away, uttering some choice expletives in his native language.


    USS Legacy
    Orbiting Kalandra Five


    Captain Caroline Hiroko watched Jellico stalk the bridge of her ship, looking more like a caged lion than a Starfleet admiral.

    By all rights, Jellico shouldn’t have been there. There was no regulation demanding it, but protocol suggested he choose the Nagasaki as his command vessel, not the Legacy. Nagasaki was state of the art and Captain Zorek one of the most seasoned captains.

    As much as she wanted to flatter herself, Hiroko was intuitive enough to gleam the real reason:

    The old man was obviously enamored with Galaxy class ships.

    On the other hand, he had chosen her vessel over the others in Tango Fleet, so she supposed that counted for something.

    “Ensign Reeve, how much time left?” He snapped at the junior Operations officer who was nervously standing watch on Delta Shift.

    Reeve was a short, stocky young man who was serving on his first deep space tour. He was perfectly bald, by choice. He diligently shaved his head and treated the follicles of his scalp to avoid growth. “Two hours, 14 minutes, sir. By that time, our first runabout will have obtained a firing solution on the Kokala Nebula.”

    Jellico paced by Hiroko’s command chair to sit rigidly in an adjoining seat. He swiveled the attached terminal and began jabbing at the interface with an index finger. “Situation report, Captain?” He demanded without looking up.

    Hiroko leaned in his direction, prepared for the request. “Miranda Wing on hot stand by for deployment along with our fighter contingent. Ambassador and Excelsior wings finalizing repairs to vessels. They’re estimating four hours to shore up the damage from our last battle. All other ships reporting combat readiness.”