Star Trek: Steel-Edged Grace - 1: "Excalibur"

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by TheLoneRedshirt, Mar 18, 2009.

  1. Kyhrk

    Kyhrk Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I like this story just like the rest of LRS stuff. Especially like the Border Service stories, cant wait for more of them to come out.
     
  2. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

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    Chapter Six

    Stardate 4792.4 (1 February 2269)
    USS Excalibur
    Spacedock – Earth Orbit

    Captain’s Log, Stardate 4792.4, Grace D. McAfee recording. We are T-minus three days and counting until the launch of Excalibur. Commander Phillips and his engineering team are to be commended for having the Excalibur “buttoned-up and ready for trials” in record time. The ship is fully outfitted with supplies, furnishings, weapons and a crew of 435. One of the last billets filled was that of Chief Science Officer in the person of Lt. Commander Reshraan, a brilliant but stoic Andorian. He has shown me all due respect, but I sense he is struggling with the notion of serving under a female commanding officer. As long as he does his job and follows orders, I can live with that.

    Our family day for the crew is tomorrow – I’m anticipating a large number of spouses, children and parents on board for a tour of the ship and to say their farewells to loved ones. It will be crowded, but worth the slight inconvenience.

    We will conduct our shake-down as we transit to sector 9 and await our first assignment. From my last conversation with Admiral Komack, things are quiet in that sector, at least at present. We’ll have a large patrol area; the only other dedicated vessels in sector 9 are the Yorktown and two light cruisers – the Saratoga and the Reliant.

    I am pleased with how the senior officers are coming together as a team. Although they have disparate personalities and backgrounds, they have shown themselves to be highly professional and competent leaders. I’ve no doubt that cohesion will be put to the test at some point, sooner or later.

    McAfee closed her log entry and leaned back in her desk chair. It was good to be in her quarters on the ship, though she missed having a view-port. Unfortunately, the admiralty deemed it unwise to berth the C.O. on the outer edge of the hull which was more vulnerable to attack, thus, she was forced to settle for a room without a view, albeit a nice and spacious room.

    The enunciator to her cabin door buzzed and McAfee stood. “Come,” she called.

    Dr. Kim Moon Chang entered, a pale blue labcoat covering her darker blue mini-dress. Chang was an attractive, petite woman with long, flowing black hair and dark almond-shaped eyes. She looked a decade younger than her 38 years, but she was a skilled surgeon and one of McAfee’s closest friends. The two had served together when McAfee had been Captain of the Ranger.

    Dr. Chang stopped in the middle of the cabin, crossed her arms and shook her head.

    “What?” asked McAfee.

    “Grace, are you going to wear pants for the next five years?” Chang asked, referring to McAfee’s choice of uniforms.

    “I hardly think I should run around naked,” replied Grace with a smirk. “It would be bad for ship’s discipline.”

    Chang made herself at home on McAfee’s sofa and crossed her trim legs. “You know what I mean! As the first female C.O. of a Constitution-class starship, you’re setting an example for the other females on this ship – hell, for the whole fleet!”

    “Exactly!” countered McAfee. “That’s why I don’t want to dress up like a Rigellian Butterfly Dancer!”

    Chang shrugged off the dig. “That’s exactly what I’m talking about! You’re going to make the women that choose to wear the dress feel uncomfortable – like you don’t approve.”

    Grace rolled her eyes. “For God’s sake, Kim! We’re talking about Starfleet officers and crewpersons, not a bunch of Girl Scouts. And when did I become the admiral for Starfleet fashion, anyway? I see I haven’t kept you from wearing the cocktail dress.”

    “That wouldn’t have been true when I first came on board the Ranger. You intimidated the hell out of me back then.”

    McAfee stopped and stared at her friend. “You’re kidding.”

    Chang shook her head. “I was a very new and young CMO. You were a tough as nails ex fighter-jock who could stare down a pissed-off Horta. If you had worn feathers I probably would have too.”

    Grace sighed. “Look, Kim, I’ve already made it clear that the women on this ship have the option of the dress or the pants. Isn’t that enough?”

    “It would have been, but it’s pretty well-known your opinion about the uniforms – you made enough racket with the admiralty over it.”

    Which was true, of course. Grace had lobbied against the uniform changes to no avail.

    “Look,” continued Chang, “all I’m saying is that you should at least consider wearing the dress on occasion – maybe once or twice of month, that’s all.”

    Grace’s jaw tightened. “Doctor, as you said yourself, I’m the first female C.O. of a Connie. I have an Andorian male for a CSO who’s probably ready to pull off his antennae because of me. I have a first officer that looks like the lead actor in a romance-flick. I don’t have the luxury of looking ‘feminine,’ at least for now.”

    Chang shook her head. “So – you want to be one of the boys, is that it Grace? Well, gee, why didn’t you just say so? I can put you on a hormone replacement regimen and schedule you for surgery at your convenience. Do you want to go by Greg or George?”

    McAfee turned her head sharply and glowered menacingly at her friend and physician, before her face broke and she began to giggle. Kim followed suit, laughing loudly.

    Grace wiped tears of laughter from her eyes when she could speak again. “Did you come here just to harass me, or did you have something else on your agenda?”

    “Both, but I’m done with the harassment for now. Do you want to grab some lunch?”

    She glanced at the chronometer and nodded. “Sure, I’ve still got an hour before my meeting with Commander Espinoza.”

    A mischievous smile played on Chang’s face. “Must be painful, having to spend time with him,” she said innocently.

    “Commander Espinoza is an officer and a gentleman. You are a quack with a dirty mind. And I haven’t missed how you look at Lt. Commander Forester.”

    A rueful look formed on Chang’s face. “Mr. Forester seems to always have his shields up. I don’t think he’s over his wife’s death.” She stood and made her way to the door.

    McAfee accompanied Chang into the corridor. “As far as I know, there’s no statute of limitations on grief, Doctor.”

    * * *

    Stardate 4793.2 (2 February 2269)
    USS Excalibur
    Spacedock – Earth Orbit

    Captain McAfee and her father, Dr. Dennis McAfee, strolled through the corridors of Excalibur, occasionally stopping to greet a crewmember or a visiting family member. The ship was unusually crowded as families had one last opportunity to spend time together before the Excalibur departed.

    “This is very nice,” remarked Dr. McAfee, as two children, laughing and dodging, ran past them in the corridor.

    “Glad you like the ship, Dad,” replied Grace, smiling.

    “I was speaking of all the families on board. Pity that Starfleet doesn’t allow families to stay together when they send you off to God knows where.”

    “Families on a starship?” Grace chuckled and shook her head. “Don’t be ridiculous, Dad. There are too many hazards out there to have families on board – it would be a distraction. It’ll never happen.”

    She regretted her choice of words when she saw the sad look on her father’s face. “Come on Dad – you know what I mean. Now don’t start worrying about me – we’re going into a relatively quiet sector with a good crew and well-armed vessel. I’ll be fine.”

    Dennis McAfee smiled gamely. “That’s what I keep telling myself, Gracie.”

    “Well . . . good,” replied Grace, wishing their conversation had not taken a maudlin turn.

    “Did you ever hear from your mother?” asked the elder McAfee.

    Grace shook her head. “Not a word. I left a message with her current boyfriend.” She shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. She hasn’t been a part of my life for thirty years.”

    “It does matter!” Dr. McAfee said, stopping suddenly and facing his daughter. “She should be here for you – regardless of her feelings towards me!”

    Grace placed a hand on her father’s flushed cheek. “Dad, you’ve always been there for me – sitting through all of those swim meets, the ski trips, my graduations – even when I went through the inquest after losing the Ranger. I’m glad you’re here.”

    Dennis McAfee rubbed an eye. “Now you had to go and get mushy,” he groused, but he was grinning.

    “Come on – let me show you the geo-physics lab. I know you’re about to have kittens to see it.” Grace took her father’s arm, tucking her arm in his, and led him to the turbo-lift.

    * * *

    Fourteen year-old Kieran Forester took in the Excalibur’s bridge with open-mouthed wonder. Heath Forester watched his son with a mix of pride and amusement.

    “This is your station, right?” asked Kieran, standing by the helm.

    “That’s right. Have a seat.”

    The boy eased into the chair, taking in the control panel. He pointed out various switches.

    “That’s the impulse variator . . . those are the thruster controls . . . and this is for pitch, yaw and roll . . . right?” Kieran looked at his father expectantly.

    Lt. Commander Forester smiled and nodded. “Very good! Now take a look at this.” The Commander activated a control and the targeting scanner rose from its housing. Kieran grinned and peered into the hood.

    “This is new, isn’t it?”

    “That’s right. Enterprise and Lexington just had the newer targeting system added. We’re the third Connie to be retrofit. Kongo and Potempkin were the first ships built with the Tac-4 targeting system.”

    They were interrupted by the voice of Commander Espinoza over the ship’s intercom system. “All guests, our visiting period will conclude in thirty minutes. Please begin to make your way to your assigned transporter room or to the hangar deck if you arrived by transport. Alpha shift, stand by to assume your stations at 1400 hours. Repeat, our visiting period for family and friends will conclude in thirty minutes. Alpha shift, stand by to assume your stations at 1400 hours. That is all.”

    Heath Forester turned back to see a solemn expression on Kieran’s face. “I guess I need to get to the transporter room,” said Kieran, quietly.

    “We have thirty minutes yet. Let’s stop by my quarters on the way. There’s something I want to give you,” said Heath to his son. The two of them departed the bridge, Kieran casting a final wistful glance over his shoulder as he stepped onto the turbo-lift with his father.

    They made their way down to deck five and Heath Forester’s quarters. Kieran wasn’t particularly enamored with his father’s quarters, which weren’t nearly as interesting as the bridge.

    Commander Forester entered the code to his private safe and pulled out a small folding case. Intrigued, Kieran took it from his father. He opened it and his face broke into a wide grin.

    “Wow!” he exclaimed, as he pulled the antique time-piece from the case. “Is it some type of chronometer?” he asked.

    His father nodded. “That’s right. It’s called a ‘pocket watch.’ It’s been in the family for nearly 400 years. It belonged to one of your ancestors who worked for the Great Western Railway in England at the end of the nineteenth century. It’s been passed down from oldest son to oldest son all these years and still keeps excellent time - here, let me show you." The elder Forester wound the stem and the watch began to tick, the small second hand moving smoothly within its smaller dial. "I think it’s time I passed it on to you.”

    Kieran held the watch carefully for several moments, then replaced it in its velvet-lined case. His smile faded and the serious look returned to his face.

    “What?” asked his father.

    Kieran swallowed. “I . . . I’d rather not take it just now. Why don’t you give it to me in five years – when you get back.”

    Heath looked carefully at his son. “Are you sure?”

    The boy nodded. “If that’s okay with you . . . it will give me something else to look forward to.” His adolescent voice cracked, betraying him.

    Heath regarded his son with quiet affection. “If that’s what you want, son, alright – you can have it when I get back. Deal?”

    The smile returned to Kieran’s face. “Deal.” They shook hands.

    Commander Forester towseled his son’s thick blond hair. “I suppose we best head on to the transporter room.” He stood and the two exited his cabin. As they approached the transporter room, he gave his son a side-long glance.

    “Son, I do have an important task for you. I need you to take care of it today, understood?”

    “Yes sir. What is that?”

    “Get a haircut.”

    * * *

    Stardate 4793.8 (2 February 2269)
    Earth Colony Salem - Science Station
    Canaris IV, Sector 009

    “Hey Ibrahim, take a look at this.”

    Ibrahim Rustamzadeh sighed and looked up from the library computer terminal. “What is it now, Charlie?” He was weary of the interruptions from his star-gazing friend.

    “It’s a ship, at least I think it’s a ship – well, whatever it is it just entered orbit.”

    Rustamzadeh shook his head. “You are mistaken. The supply ship is not due for another week.”

    “I didn’t say it was the supply ship. But something is in geo-stationary orbit, right overhead. It’s big, too.”

    Ibrahim sighed again and stood. At this rate, he’d never finish his research project. “Alright, alright – show me.” He walked over to Charlie Fountain’s station on the opposite side of the research station, and pulled up another chair. Peering over Fountain’s shoulder, his brow furrowed in puzzlement.

    “By the Prophet,” he murmured, frowning, “what is that thing?”

    Charlie leaned back and crossed his arms. “Hell if I know. It’s all I can do to get any kind of lock on it, but . . . there it is.”

    On the screen was a blurry image of some sort of ship. It was oblong and tapered, but with no visible means of propulsion. It was dark, though being on the night-side of the planet may have explained that.

    Ibrahim looked at the readouts on the screen and frowned. “Your sensors need to be calibrated.”

    “They are. I checked.”

    “No, they can’t be. Look – according to this, that ship is over a kilometer long.”

    “Yes, I noticed that Ibrahim. The sensors are correct. Like I said, I checked.”

    Rustamzadeh ran a hand through his long beard. It was a gesture of self-comfort, something real and concrete and familiar – unlike the image that loomed on the screen before him.

    “I tried hailing them, if you’re wondering,” continued Charlie. “No response.”

    Ibrahim licked his lips which were suddenly very dry. “Bring satellite G-5 in closer and run an active scan.”

    Charlie raised an eyebrow and glanced back at his colleague. “Um, what if they think we’re being too nosy?”

    The bearded scientist snorted, partly in derision, partly due to nervousness. “Just do it, Charlie – you’ve learned all you can with passive scans.”

    Fountain shrugged. “You’re the boss,” he said as he signaled the satellite to adjust course and approach the dark and silent vessel.

    * * *
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2009
  3. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I very much liked family day aboard the Excalibur. It was a nice look into some of the family dynamics that produced Grace’s crew. Oh, and nice foreshadowing of a future Starfleet legend. :)

    As for whatever entered orbit over Canaris IV, yeah… that’d just can’t be good. :eek:
     
  4. TrekkieMonster

    TrekkieMonster Commodore Commodore

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    Finally catching up on this and, as usual, I'm loving the newest addition to your creative library. The first thing that came to mind when I saw this was, "Where does he get all those wonderful stories?" (paraphrasing) :p

    Seriously, you have a very fertile mind. As usual, I'm loving your character development, and the story you're weaving here. I really enjoyed the scene between Kirk and McAfee in her office at the Academy; I think you're doing a fantastic job developing the interpersonal connections between McAfee and her "old friends" and new. I have especially enjoyed all the little "tips o' the hat" you've included to the TOS (and later) Trekverse (too many to mention here, but they have definitely not gone unnoticed.) And, as was said above, I thought this last chapter was really wonderful. Helped bring the characters to life even more and in a very personal way.

    Can't wait to see where you take this (not to mention all the other wonderful tales that are bouncing around in that head of yours.) ;)
     
  5. mirandafave

    mirandafave Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Oh heepie geepies as to our mystery interloper!

    But heart warming stuff with the families onboard. The Forrester bit all sounds a bit ominious ... eek ... goes to show what a sacrifice these officers and enlisted have to make in order to go on these five year missions. Anyway tis great.
     
  6. Count Zero

    Count Zero No nation but procrastination Moderator

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    I haven't yet fully caught up with the tale but may I ask why you perceive Andorians to be chauvinists? There wasn't any hint of this in Trek canon, on the contrary, in ENT we saw various female officers, Talas said her mother was in command of an infantry unit and so on. I'm quite surprised by this.
    (Also, I don't agree with the condemnation of TOS as sexistic. Sure, there were more progressive shows like Doctor Who, but TOS showed competent, capable female officers and I wouldn't take Janice Lester's claim that there weren't any female Starfleet captains too seriously, since she was obviously deranged. Sometimes, sexism showed through in the writing, but those are marks of the time TOS was written in and I wouldn't make them part of the actual Trekiverse. But that's another story.)
     
  7. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

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    It's merely my interpretation of the TOS era. I do not attempt to follow canon faithfully in any of my series. You may, of course, disagree with how I portray Andorians or any canon race. As to the series, "Enterprise," there are numerous contradictions with the TOS era, which I can't even begin to address now (and I liked the series.) Also, my stories are part of the UT universe, not the "actual" Trekiverse (if there is such a thing.) By the way, if you read my "Retro Bluefin" story, you might find my explanation for the Klingon forehead ridges quite disconcerting.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2009
  8. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    "Families on starships? It will never happen!":lol:
     
  9. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

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    Great stuff. Family day on the starship was well done with a great cameo appearance of another UT hero. The watch segment made me laugh for all the wrong reasons. Let's just say for whatever reasons 'Pulp Fiction' came to mind. ... Sorry.

    Now, a one kilometer long starship in the TOS era is going to be more than enough for Grace's first challenge.

    Looking forward to it.
     
  10. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

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    Starring Christopher Walken as Heath Forester with a miserable piece of uncomfortable metal as the watch. :lol:

    Just kidding - I don't think I could handle Christopher Walken as one of my characters. He would likely say, "more cowbell," at awkward moments.:guffaw:
     
  11. Count Zero

    Count Zero No nation but procrastination Moderator

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    No, I liked that. But your Retro Bluefin story was clearly AU. I didn't know TU was, too. :cool:
     
  12. DavidFalkayn

    DavidFalkayn Commodore Premium Member

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    And it looks like Grace has her first mystery--well, that's why she got the center seat.

    Regarding sexism in TOS--to be honest, I think it's more of a challenge as a writer to take that it's there and work with it than to simply ignore it. Also, societies constantly evolve and change--there's no reason why the Federation couldn't have gone through a bit of a "sexist" phase during the 23rd century. Also, remember, Connies are the top of the line--anyone put in command of one of those ships has someone higher up the food chain pulling for them--the "old boys club" in other words. I can easily see Grace as the first female captain to break through while most other female captains are having to settle for frigates, destroyers, and the odd light cruiser.

    As for Talas's mother--who's to say she wasn't the exception that proved the rule.
     
  13. Count Zero

    Count Zero No nation but procrastination Moderator

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    Yes, that sounds plausible and would have sufficed as explanation in my opinion.

    Talas'smother is just one example. I can't think of anything in canon that suggests Andorians and Tellarites are sexist. That's why I was curious about how TLR came up with the idea.
     
  14. Dnoth

    Dnoth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I truely liked the idea of a "family day" and it makes total sense. It's yet another thing I never thought about until you put it in the story.
     
  15. Count Zero

    Count Zero No nation but procrastination Moderator

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    I hope I didn't kill the story with my remarks. I'd really like to know how it goes on.
     
  16. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm looking forward to more, too. To me, the fact that you acknowledge the sexism is one of the most compelling things about this version of the TOS universe.
     
  17. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

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    Not at all - you've a right to your opinion and to ask a question. I'm not that thin-skinned. :) I would simply point out that there is precious little canon info on Andorians and Telarites, so who is to say they aren't sexist? Like I said, it is only my interpretation. If you disagree, that's fine.

    The next chapter is nearly complete, just needs a bit of polishing before I post it.
     
  18. Mistral

    Mistral Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Polish! Polish! Please!
     
  19. HyperionReborn

    HyperionReborn Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Ditto that. :)
     
  20. BrotherBenny

    BrotherBenny Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    You better polish, or that sharp sword is gonna poke you :devil: