TUE: "Some Maidens' Voyage"

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by David.Blue, Apr 4, 2020.

  1. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    (A story of The Untold Era i.e. between ST:VI and TNG)
    Captain's Log, Stardate 37255.1
    Captain Vor Arthoon
    Commanding Officer
    USS Hippogriff

    We have completed trials, the third of the new Nez Perce-class upgrades to have done so, and USS Hippogriff awaits her first assignment. Commodore Chun of Starbase 60 hosted a dinner for myself and my senior officers. Essentially this proved a relaxing and genial method of giving us our briefing. We will be headed for Starbase 25, there to make up a dispersed squadron of smaller and older ships--four in total--to deal with threats of piracy across five sectors. Our ship is frankly the fastest and most heavily armed, at least compared to the other destroyers assigned (a Pegasus with one Constellation). Easy enough to guess the centers of trouble. Kzinti space on one side, Romulans on the other, with a large Orion colony Brieno IV nearby. Seems a safe bet we'll be running into the Divine Claw sooner or later.

    Supplemental

    En route to Starbase 25 I'm taking the opportunity to get to know my officers better. I began with my Chief Medical Officer, the Vulcan healer Savek. I'm reminded of a Zakdorn who was my roommate at the Academy. He openly saw my decision to begin with him as well considered given, as he put it, our relative ages not only as individuals but as members of our respective cultures. Yet he saw the fact I chose to eat synthetic meat in his presence as proof I wish to establish dominance in the manner of a predator leading her pack.

    Wonder if he'll continue in this vein. And for how long?

    He did defer to my presumed greater skill at navigating the primitive emotions with which non-Vulcans must routinely "suffer" (his exact word). I admitted he had a point, and that therefore I would likely make better decisions than himself when it comes to the Kzinti. The pause that followed proved tiny but perceptible.

    I fear teasing him like this might prove a little too much fun.

    He could hardly deny my own command of Vulcan was fluent, although he did note my accent was "distinctly West in rhythm and pronunciation" as if that were a bad thing.

    Still he did mention one detail that flicked my tail. These Kzinti so-called rebels, while serving Patriarch, are also by opposing the Patriarch's public will, offer a challenge. The time must come when the Divine Claw will have to be seen to submit before the Patriarch, or become in fact what they pretend to be--rebels.

    Personal Log, Stardate 37259.9
    Lieutenant Commander Alexandra Styles,
    Tactical Officer/Executive Officer
    USS Hippogriff

    I find myself increasingly grateful for the meditation techniques taught by Lieutenant T'zekk on board USS Oceanus. My promotion, while welcome and not unexpected, brought with it a post that here--in my personal thoughts--I can dare admit to inspiring doubt. While I am not the youngest First Officer in Starfleet history, I am the youngest currently serving. That the youngest ever was my grandfather proves reassuring yet daunting at the same time. Would I could dispense with one yet keep the other close to my heart!

    Or simply acknowledge my unease openly. But that will not do. I must be ready to take command and so must not be seen as weak or unsure, not with a crew of strangers. How I wish T'zekk or O'Reilly could have come with me. Or any of the Five Musketeers! Fact is, I feel a twinge of guilt to be the first of us to become someone's exec. Personally I would have bet T'zekk being the first, especially when we both got our promotions the same time. Of course Vramasamada was first to reach Lieutenant Commander , but that is more than fair--he rose from the ranks which makes him by far the most experienced of us. He should be someone's first officer rather than myself. So the voice in my head keeps firmly whispering. A voice T'zekk taught me to answer rather than ignore.

    I miss her much more than I expected. Already. Even more than Zenjiro. Which is a matter for contemplation in and of itself.

    So instead of distracting myself away from doubts, am creating an answer to that voice, to repeat when that voice grows loud:

    "I learned to walk in the halls of Starfleet as did my father and my father's father. As I know Starfleet so Starfleet knows me--and has given me a task it judges me ready to learn. Much of what I need to know I already know. What I need to learn I stand ready and eager to do so. My ship is small but its duties important. My duties are important but not fundamental to civilizations nor the grand shape of history. I will make mistakes. My duty is to recognize them and learn, thus never repeat them. In this duty there is honor and joy and preparation for greater duties to come. Starfleet judges me ready. The Federation judges me ready. I believe in Starfleet and the Federation, and shall prove their judgement correct."

    This seems a good first draft. It strikes a good balance. That voice will not be banished of course, but will become just one of many. Yes, that is the plan.

    T'zekk I miss you so very much.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2020
  2. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    So far the command officers of Daniel T. Griffin strike me as an intelligent and introspective lot. They'll need both brains and brawn to challenge Kzinti rebels and raiders.

    A newly minted captain and executive officer is quite a combination, especially for a smaller ship with what is (or will be) a presumably tight-knit crew. I'll be interested to see what their interactions are like.

    I appreciate the crusty old Vulcan physician, one who appears an unabashed purist, even with Vulcan-fluent outworlders.

    A great start! :bolian:
     
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  3. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    Note: I have altered a few details. The ship is now USS Hippogriff, and her class is Nez Perce, a variation of the TOS Movie era Akula class.
     
  4. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    THE UNTOLD ERA "Maidens' Voyage"
    Chief of Engineering Log, Stardate 37261.4
    Lieutenant (SG) Fleur Jarabi

    Well, this must be the busiest three weeks in my life, ever. So far, anyway. Inspections and drills and redoubled maintenance as Hippogriff heads for her first assignment since refitting. Honestly I was a bit hesitant about taking this job, even if I do know this specific ship as well or better than anyone else. But the Captain made good her promise--my ensigns and NCOs are all deep space veterans, know how to do their jobs, and that makes slipping into this berth easier by levels and levels!

    Among other things, the trip to Starbase 25 allowed me to catch up on some aspects of the life support system I hadn't really gotten any hands' on work with yet. No more, happy to say.
    I explained as much to the Captain when she had me over to dinner last night. Gave her a full rundown. She laughed when I offered to list expiration dates on all fifty of the atmosphere gas modules. But that is my job.

    But--I guess it hadn't quite dawned on me I was second officer. I mean, she and Lt. Cmdr. Styles have that command presence down, which is awesome but I don't think I have it one little bit. According to her, if the ship ends up without her two senior command officers then odds are competence in repair will be a priority. More, and this was reassuring to hear, belief in that competence can make all the difference. Nice to hear. Hope is true. Hope more never ever to have that tested! At the same time she recommended my getting to know Dr. Savek, the CMO.
    Yes, that was an order, she said. The man really is an arrogant stick in the mud, no matter how good a doctor, but she insisted he is older than any other two people on board combined. Experience, she said, is a resource. I don't have to obey him, she also said, only listen to what he has to say.

    Okay. Sounds good.

    Meanwhile we also discussed a bit the upcoming mission, especially when it comes to Brieno IV. Combination tempting target for raiders while also an operating base for them. Yeah, lots of fun. Sounds honestly like a sad place. The refugees who made their home there were evidently hoping to simply live their lives in what is a challenging environment, until the Orions swept in. We both feel for them of course. Colonialism is a big thing in African history, and being a persecuted minority is not exactly just history for her people.

    It was a great conversation. Gave me a lot to think about. Some of it very unpleasant. Come to think of it, spending time with Savek might be the most comfortable thing to have to contemplate now. Great. Well, I am not even going to try and speak Vulcan with him. Learned not to do that with Vulcans the hard way!

    We dock at Starbase 25 tomorrow.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2020
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  5. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    A young, smart, and talented chief engineer. Your ship could do a lot worse! :techman: She's also socially/culturally conscious, which is a vital attribute in the ship's second officer.
     
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  6. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    First Officer's Log, Stardate 37263
    Lieutenant Commander Alexandra Styles

    Commodore Garrovik of Starbase 25 gave all of us senior officers a briefing about the basic situation in the surrounding sectors. Orions, Kzinti and Romulans oh my. Not much we didn't already know. The Sweet Taste of Blood has emboldened other pirates, and although the Kzinti deny it they are clearly using Mizar II as a base. Of course the Mizarians, as per usual, are doing all they can to aid their new masters, having surrendered instantly the moment it was demanded.

    One wonders if maybe the Federation should take advantage of this and simply take over the place at an opportune moment? Probably not. Feels like the epitome of what "slippery slope" means. Maybe persuade an ally to do the same? Ethically the same, but it feels different somehow so would that mitigate at all?

    The Commodore wanted a briefing on Hippogriff's new Corvus sensor suite. Naturally enough the Captain had me do the honors. He seemed pleased by what he saw, hoping it would help detect the Taste even through its antique cloaking device.

    Escorting him through the ship, I had a chance to share some feelings of challenge he understood. After all, one of the ships now leaving this sector was named after his father! He admitted a kind of rueful discomfort but also a sense of pride. Not quite the same feelings I experience but close enough.

    Found myself wanting to show up. Offered to have a tactical drill so he could get a sense of how Hippogriff is ready for combat. The Commodore declined. Truly, I was only slightly disappointed.

    The Captain wanted to discuss basic strategy with the Commodore and myself tomorrow. With so much space and only four ships to patrol them, and so few Federation outposts, we cannot fully coordinate. The most obvious pirate targets ships or outposts of Brieno IV, but the Orions do not want anything like a Starfleet presence in their system. Which is tricky.

    However, Captain Arthoon noted a large Gaabrox freighter has filed a flight plan through official channels, bringing (among other things) agricultural equipment for Brieno IV. Given their point of origin is within Federation space, this provides an excuse for Hippogriff to escort the ship. If anyone complains, the fact she herself is Gaabrox can be used as an excuse, not least because of her people having been the original colonists of that planet.

    All in all, a fairly canny plan. The Commodore agreed. He even joked they could claim her Gaabrox wiles persuaded him of the idea if need be.

    She laughed. I felt uncomfortable. While I see the tactical value of such a deception. and doubt many in Starfleet will fail to see right through it, encouraging this type of prejudicial stereotypes makes me feel uneasy.

    I have resolved to speak with Captain Arthoon on this subject.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2020
  7. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    Captain's Log, Stardate 37699
    Commander (brevet Captain) Vor Arthoon
    Commanding Officer
    U.S.S. Hippogriff

    We have made rendez-vous with the freighter Red Andorian, en route to Brieno IV. The Skipper, named Ovir Rodeen, seemed startled but pleased for the the escort, which makes sense. Just as it came as no surprise a fair number of other trading vessels invited themselves along. Captain Rodeen went through all the expected questions about why we were here, what do we expect of them, and so on. It did not seem completely sincere.

    After I said this, Lt. Commander Styles did a more thorough scan of the freighter and found something that did not make sense. Red Andorian's interior has a fairly sophisticated distortion field in its hold. She believes the field creates an echo of materials around it, thus hiding some cargo they don't want anyone to realize is there. She says we would not have been able to see it without the new CORVUS sensor suite.

    Probably smuggling. Which is not really within our purvue. But smuggling what? Again, not our responsibility, but this feels like some kind of bomb waiting to explode.

    We should arrive at Brieno IV within 72 standard hours.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2020
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  8. Cobalt Frost

    Cobalt Frost Captain Captain

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    If I may suggest, paragraph breaks (example below) will make for a better experience for your readers, and help differentiate various thoughts and actions. Enjoyable story so far!

     
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  9. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    Thank you.
     
  10. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Fascinating that they've detected the scattering field within the freighter but really don't care enough to investigate. :) Honestly, though, what freighter captain worth his/her salt wouldn't have a 'blind' set up to safeguard their valuables? Now, whether they're running Romulan Ale, Orion slaves, or some other high-value contraband, who's to say?
     
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  11. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    Well, it isn't the Federation's job to stop people smuggling things to an Orion planet. Starfleet is there to counter pirates and raiders. :angel:
     
  12. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    Chief of Engineering Log, Stardate 37709.4
    Lieutenant (SG) Fleur Jarabi


    Just had my first taste of real combat. Some older veterans hinted this wasn't so very much, all things considered. Going to have to keep that in mind!

    We were organized into a convoy, with all the freighters in easy sensor range of one another, and of course linked whenever possible to Hippogriff. Those who could not be were put in the center, the safest position. Our ship did a complex circling manuever around the convoy, since a Nez Perce class starship is faster and more agile. Captain Arthoon and Lieutenant Commander Styles explained to me some of the more subtle points of the plan. In fact the whole thing created what looked like a blind spot sometimes near the biggest of the freighters the Red Andorian. Actually, what with the CORVUS system it was no such thing.

    Here's how the Captain put it. Protecting civilian traffic ideally means no attacks by pirates anywhere. But that means absolutely anywhere. Our duty calls not just to protect this handful of sectors but as much space as possible. So, luring pirates into a trap and neutralizing them is part of the mission. “We want them to try and attack the convoy,” she said, “and to fail utterly, getting hurt in the process. Hurt very badly.”

    That is when a bit of tension popped up. We were in the Captain's office, which also serves as a briefing room. Captain Arthoon was there with her Number One and of course, me. But Styles at this point said it would be best to destroy the raiders, outright. Arthoon disagreed, not least because it would be unethical to kill without a clear and very present need. Better also, she went on, to let them lick their wounds, to make excuses to their fellows and (most importantly) their clients about how powerful and dangerous Starfleet was in action. That openly discourages piracy, by making the backers doubt it as a good method of making a profit.

    Styles didn't let it go. Went on about the realities of combat, that casualties happen and good tactics mean none of those will be ours. Arthoon agreed, but talked about a philosophy of combat, protocols to turn the use of force into something virtuous by definition. Styles didn't see any contradiction and said so. After awhile they were quoting Sun Tzu, The Song of Thenir, and even some of the scrolls attributed to Khaless the Unforgettable to each other. Fascinating. But a bit worrying. I mean, a good debate is a good debate and all, hammering out ideas, exploring options, exercising those brain cells. This felt a bit more than that.

    In the end the Captain pulled rank, calling the debate very fun but we all had work to do. Which was true enough.

    The actual battle wasn't all that long. We knew it was coming, as it turned out. A fairly big old freighter calling itself Parvik's Star approached, asking to join the convoy as far as Brieno IV. Even claiming to know one of the skippers of another ship, which they confirmed—one of the older freighters on the inside, the safe zone. Parvik's Star wanted to be close to them.

    Here is where the CORVUS system proved its worth frankly.

    That ship had a much better warp engine that it claimed. Okay, maybe that was to lull its competitors into a false sense of this ship's speed. Maybe. Just maybe. Makes more sense to advertise your freighter as the fastest possible, like the famous Owl Centurion that went around boasting it could reach warp seven (for all of about ten seconds at a time, but still). Still, people have different ideas of what makes for good business. What did not make sense was that secret hanger deck chock full of worker bees, almost two dozen, each with a much bigger power source than usual! Enough to power shields and some disrupters!

    The Captain gave them permission to join on convoy on the far side, in the so-called “blind spot” near the Red Andorian. Sure enough, less than ten hours later Parvik's Star showed its teeth. They powered up those work bees—fighters actually—and opened their hanger deck.

    Red Andorian's Captain had enough time to start yelling before we were on top of them. One strong phaser shot took out the shields Parvik's Star suddenly raised. Then we starting putting holes in their hull. The fighters turned around to defend their base ship. Not like they had much choice after all. Pretty strong and fast for their size with a real bite when facing civilian ships, still they lacked warp drive. Without their base every one of them was doomed. They knew that. And acted on the fact!

    Honestly, their tactics made sense. Try to swarm Hippogriff's defenses and hopefully get in a lucky shot or two with constant fire. Requires a little bit of luck, sure, but then don't most things in life?

    Still, they were coming in at almost point blank range, against military grade sensors, shields, and weapons. Crippling them one by one wasn't hard at all. Took less than five minutes. In the meantime their mothership went and deserted the lot! Zipped away at warp five, leaking plasma. We then dropped our shields to not only beam aboard all the survivors into holding cells, but at the same time our Exec personally led a security team to beam over to the freighter that had vouched for Parvik's Star.

    Yeah that was exciting. We took no damage, at all. None of the ships in the convoy even got shot at. The pirates fled in a severely damaged ship without their main weapons arm.

    Not bad at all!
     
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  13. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Ah, the Hippogriff is having fun with convoy escort duty! A clever ruse, well played to draw in the pirates and then decimate their numbers. I enjoyed getting the Chief Engineer (and 2nd Officer's) perspective of this mission.

    Nicely done!
     
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  14. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    First Officer's Log, Stardate 37399.2
    Lieutenant Commander Alexandra Styles
    U.S.S. Hippogriff


    We are now in orbit around Brieno IV. The local Orion government are vetting us for having protected the freighters bringing them all sorts of supplies, while at the same time tying us up with bureaucratic nonsense to keep Starfleet from setting foot on the planet or even communicating with anyone here.

    Which was to be expected, but a bit more frustrating to actually experience. At least I can savor their reactions every time one of these officials has to deal with the Captain. Which manages to be both worrying as well as amusing. Orions make up the degenerate remnants of a once-great civilization, and far too many in their ruling class seem to feel the need to act like some low-grade fiction of what their conquering ancestors might have been like. The fact they practice chattel slavery is the least of it, almost. I shudder to think what the local Gaabrox have to put up with ever since losing this borderline planet to them. We can do little about that directly, however. To simply force our will on others with superior firepower would be easy enough. Consequences, however, would escalate in chaotic and unpredictable ways. The Federation honestly could probably survive a war with Orions easily enough, and emerge victorious. But it would cost enough resources to endanger Starfleet's ability to keep up with current expansion. It would foster mistrust with our neighbors (not least the Klingons—an almost friendly relationship generations in the making and still far from stable) as well as give encouragement to our rivals.

    I feel as if I'm about to start giving lectures on Sun Tzu again. Well, habits can be hard to break. T'zekk even found that amusing in her dry-as-vacuum, barely perceptible way.

    Right now the fallout from saving the convoy continues. The Waterfly Captain, who vouched for what turned out to be a pirate ship, just left orbit after pretty much giving away all his wares at cost to the Office of the Governor. Bribery is a way of life here, as expected. Arthoon agreed, and said this made for poor tactics and strategy. The Hippogriff and the rest of the squadron's actions discourage raiders, while the Orion government openly encourages them, even when they themselves remain the prime targets. After all, it isn't as if the Governor or his staff are going to go hungry.



    The Captain has had to refuse to reply to any hails from local Gaabrox, who evidently learned from the freighter crews one of their own commanded a Federation starship in orbit. I can tell she disliked having to remain silent. But duty is duty.

    She has also checked with the other members of the squadron, asking if any have encountered the 'rogue' Kzinti vessel Sweet Taste of Blood. None have so far. She says this worries her. Easily the most powerful pirate ship for several sectors, what is the ship doing? The Kzin officially wouldn't allow the ship anywhere near Mizar II, since that would weaken their expansion into that system. So where is he? What is he doing?

    Yeah, I remembered Kzinti see starships as masculine. Good for me.

    I was going to go over all the forms and reports and testimonies and claims I've had to go through with the Orion local government, but really what is the point? All that is in the official record. Hardly the purpose behind a personal log. Instead I will take some time to write a letter to T'zekk on board U.S.S. Crozier, an old Georgiou class over a dozen sectors away. I'm sure she'll make Chief Engineer in no time. Am I premature in hoping I get to have her as my Chief Engineer and Exec in my very own Nez Perce class? All in all, yes it is. But I would also jump at the chance to be her first officer. But I have no crystal ball, and do not know what the future holds.

    Although I totally agree with Captain Arthoon we have not seen the last of the Waterfly, not unless her Captain is a lot smarter than they seem.
     
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  15. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Ah, yes, even rubbing one's proverbial elbows with the Orions can be a sullying experience. :crazy: For Starfleet personnel to have to be diplomatic to a species that spits in the eye of nearly everything the Federation holds sacrosanct will never be easy.

    It's unfortunate that Captain Arthoon has to remain closed off from her fellow Gaabrox. It can't be easy effectively turning your back on your countrymen whose diaspora has scattered them far and wide. Still, you can't be perceived as showing favoritism in as delicate a diplomatic environment as this.

    Another wonderful snippet! When will we see a full-fledged story involving this crew?
     
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  16. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    Thank you for the kind words. They mean a lot. These logs combined together make up this specific story, which I've re-named "Maiden Voyage" but cannot change the thread title. Oh well.

    This story has a lot of twists and turns yet to come, some of it involving Captain Arthoon's species. ;)