TUE: USS Ranger - Enter The Maelstrom

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Bry_Sinclair, Jun 9, 2020.

  1. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Shetland
    Freighter Daragah
    Approaching the Maelstrom, Outland Expanse

    Stardate: 2411.2 (May 31, 2325)



    Looking out the forward viewport, Jaffol Mharras swallowed hard. The swirling mass of dust and clouds in hues of yellow, orange and gold were breath-taking to look at, whilst the occasional bolt of static discharge illuminated the vast nebula in an elaborate light show. But the inherent beauty of the phenomena belied its dangers, as a cursory sensor scan showed the intense levels of ionizing delta, theta and omicron radiation—any of which could kill after only a brief exposure. There was a reason it was called the Maelstrom.

    Every spacer in the Outland Expanse knew to avoid the deadly nebula, of the handful of ships every foolhardy enough to enter it barely a quarter of them made it to the other side and those that did typically lost crew to radiation poisoning. Anyone with common sense accepted the four light-year detour around the Maelstrom. Unfortunately, Jaffol didn’t have that luxury.

    A series of delays had put them well behind schedule, with a hold full of Tammeron grain that would spoil if they didn’t reach their destination on time and the Daragah struggling to find work and barely covering its operating costs, he couldn’t afford to lose this contract. They’re only chance to make up the contract was to take the point-seven-five light-year shortcut through the Maelstrom and hope that they were one of the lucky few.

    He cast a glance to his right where his brother, Loron, sat making final adjustments. He swallowed hard again. “All set?”

    “You bet.”

    He gave his younger sibling what he’d hoped was an encouraging smile, though knew it fell flat, before tapping the intercom. “Sahja, you ready back there?”

    “I still say this is fraking crazy, but I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”

    “I know, but if you have any better ideas now is definitely the time to make them.”

    “I’m just glad mother isn’t around anymore to see what we’re about to do to her ship.”

    If mother was still with us we wouldn’t be this hard up and desperate for money, he berated himself once again. He shook his head, making his tulga (the trunk-like appendage at the back of his skull that gave him, and every other Chandir, the universal moniker of “tailhead”) wobble. This wasn’t the time for his usual blend of self-doubt and criticism.

    “Shut down all non-essentials and shunt power to warp drive and shields.”

    There was a pause before his sister and engineer replied, “Done.”

    He looked at Loron again. “Lock in our course and keep a close eye on sensors.”

    “You got it, Jaff.”

    He took a deep breath to try and steady his nerves as his trembling fingers reached for the warp activation control. It was now or never.

    Tapping the stud, the old freighter, the only home he and his siblings had ever known, leapt to warp and plunged into the Maelstrom.

    * * * * *
     
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  2. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Shetland
    U.S.S. Ranger NCC-2254
    On patrol route, Outland Expanse



    It had been eight days since an awkward blast from the past had walked into the wardroom, but in that time Xanthe Palmer’s interaction with Lieutenant Jyr Kalon had been limited. After the initial shock, she’d managed to keep it together well enough to be in the same room as him for staff meetings or when taking over the watch on the bridge. He hadn’t made mention of the night they’d spent together, which she was grateful for, but the charm that she’d fallen for that night on Starbase Earhart was always present—he didn’t seem capable of switching it off—so he had quickly amassed a number of admirers.

    The turbolift came to a stop and she took a breath before the doors opened. Stepping onto the bridge, she quickly noticed the command chair was vacant, though it took her only a second to locate the new second officer, thanks to the sideward glances of Petty Officers Aila and zh’Theriel at the twin flight control station. Palmer looked across at tactical, where Kalon had his taut buttocks perched on the edge of the console, engaged in animated conversation with Lieutenant (j.g.) Bouwman, who was laughing at the tale being told.

    Kalon spotted her before any of the other bridge crew and flashed her an easy smile, which she found herself returning with a goofy grin but quickly composed her face once more. I never stood a chance back in the bar, she realised, suspecting (correctly) that there were few that wouldn’t have been seduced by the handsome Orion.

    “Good morning, Captain,” he greeted her.

    The others on the bridge glanced at her, before quickly focusing back at their stations the sense of joviality that had filled the room only a moment before suddenly shifted. Do I really have that effect on the crew? she wondered, disheartened. She’d known that, as a Fleeter, taking command of a Border Service crew was going to hard for some of those onboard but she’d never have suspected she’d become some sort of spectre of gloom—though how much of that was because of where she’d come from or simply being the Captain was hard to quantify.

    “Morning Lieutenant,” she replied. “Anything to report?”

    “All quiet, sir. Everything is shipshape aboard, no unusual activity on sensors, no calls for assistance, no sign of Tzenkethi incursion, so the duty log will be dry reading I’m afraid.”

    “No news is good news, so they say, Lieutenant.”

    “I’d love to meet these ‘they’ and give them a piece of my mind someday, just so they know what things are like in the real world.”

    Palmer snickered as she stepped down to her chair. “I’m sure they’d appreciate that.”

    Kelon chuckled, as he pushed off the tactical console and grabbed his tablet, before coming around the railing and joining her in the centre of the bridge. He handed the device to her on which would be all the department updates for the shift, sensor analyses of the space they’d travelled, communications logs, and every other piece of minutia that needed to be recorded and reported, that she could peruse at her leisure.

    “Captain, I was wondering if we could have a word, in private.”

    Crap, was her initial response. Externally, she smiled politely and said, “Of course. Mr Bouwman, you have the con.”

    “Aye sir.”

    She led the way back to the turbolift, her carefully composed mood quickly shifting as her mind raced about what he could want to see her about. The ride down to deck two was short, giving them no time to say anything. Crossing the corridor, the stepped into her ready room and she opted to sit behind the desk, gesturing to the seat opposite.

    “Now, Lieutenant, what can I do for you?” she asked, hands clasped on the tabletop, looking him square in the eyes.

    “Permission to speak freely?”

    Crap. Crap. Crap. “By all means.”

    “I thought it might be beneficial to actually speak to one another, given our…’shared history’, don’t you think?”

    Palmer took a deep breath, inhaling the Orions heady natural scent, and let it out slowly. “You’re right. This must’ve been as big a shock for you as it was for me.”

    “You could say that. It’s not often I meet people I’ve previously encountered when on assignment. Had I known I might’ve turned down the offer.”

    “I hope not, Lieutenant,” she admitted. “You’ve only been onboard a week and already integrated well with the crew. Gamma shift is a happier place and that’s thanks to you.”

    “It’s a good crew, I’m learning a lot from them.”

    “I’m glad to hear it.”

    “Though I would like to do this more often, have a little more one-on-one time with yourself, so that I can get feedback on how I’m doing and what more I can do to help out around here for however long I’m onboard.”

    Slowly, she nodded. “You’re right, of course, I should be doing that and not just lumping it all on my XO. What if we schedule a weekly meeting to discuss matters?”

    “That sounds good to me, Captain.”

    “Splendid. Shall we start proper from tomorrow, at oh-nine-thirty?”

    He flashed her his winning smile again. “I look forward to it.”

    “Good. Well you’ve only got fifteen minutes until your shift ends, I’m happy for you to finish up early, if you like.”

    “I never finish early, sir, I’m not about to start now.”

    She could feel the blood rush to her cheeks. “Very well, Lieutenant, take your station. I’ll be up in a few minutes.”

    With that, he rose and left her alone to blush. I’ve been hanging around Oka too long, she’s corrupted my mind, she decided. She hoped that someday she’d be able to look at him and not be immediately reminded of their one-night stand, though something told her that would be difficult, very difficult.

    * * * * *
     
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  3. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    Methinks the crew of the Daragah have bitten off more than they can chew by trying to navigate through the Maelstrom. And who will have to pull their bacon out of the fire? Most likely the Border Dogs on the Ranger.
    Speaking of which, I think Kalon adds an interesting 'dynamic' to the crew. I know he's supposed to be a temp, but maybe he could stay on . . . ? There's definitely chemistry between he and the Captain. :whistle:
     
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  4. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2009
    Location:
    Shetland
    Cian O’Shaughnessy winced every time he put his weight on his right ankle, though he managed to keep the tirade of colourful language that came with it to a barely audible mutter through clenched teeth. Part of him wished he’d taken Crewman Nowak’s offer of assistance, but he’d brushed the younger man off and said he’d manage to get to sickbay just fine.

    You’d think in this day and age a wounded body would mean more than wounded pride, he thought to himself, trying not to focus on his sprained ankle.

    Reaching the entrance, the doors parted with a whisper and he hobbled inside. He paused and braced himself against one of the work surfaces and closed his eyes, taking a moment to breath and let the pain ease.

    “Petty Officer?”

    He opened his and looked up to see Corpsman Kenara Vaal enter the exam room, a slight scowl on the vulcanoids face.

    He flashed the medic a pained smile. “Morning Doc. Had a little mishap in the gym.”

    “I sort of gathered that,” her replied, looking at the body-hugging leotard and stirrup trousers the helmsman wore.

    Vaal stepped over to him and wrapped a strong arm around him. This time O’Shaughnessy didn’t refuse the help, putting his arm around his shoulder and allowing him to take his weight. Hopping to the examination table in the middle of the room, he got himself up onto the bed as Vaal collected a tricorder and wheeled over a small stool.

    The Rigellian-Tomal set himself down and started scanning. “So, what sort of ‘mishap’ did you have?” he asked, looking up with a mixture of amusement and sympathy on his kind face.

    “I finally got my chance to get on the parallel bars, my first opportunity since we get them last week—who knew there were so many other gymnasts onboard—and I’ll admit I always get a rush when I’m back on them and can really get into it, you know. I had just completed a flawless transition from a diamidov into a morisue and planned to dismount with a bit of a flourish…when I failed the landing. What should’ve been graceful and elegant saw me go over on my ankle and end up sprawled on the mat.”

    The scanner beeped and Vaal looked at the screen then back at him. “It’s definitely sprained I’m afraid, though maybe it’ll teach you not to show off,” he added with a grin.

    “I never show off, Doc, I was just getting a good workout in. There was a time I thought about going pro—ow!” he yelped as Vaal gently rolled up the hem of his athletic trousers.

    The ship’s corpsman had a closer look at his ankle, which was already swelling and turning deep shades of blue and purple. He gritted his teeth, but Vaal’s fingers barely brushed the hairs on his leg as he examined the injury.

    “Why didn’t you?”

    “When I was fifteen, my Aunt Aoife took me on a joyride to Titan. It was my first time off of Earth and I was blown away by it, from that moment I was hooked—I knew I wanted to be in space the rest of my days.”

    “And the rest was history.”

    He chuckled, remembering all the times he pestered his space-faring relatives with questions about what it was like and pleading for stories on what they’d seen and done. “Aye it was.”

    “Well the last thing you’ll need is for a sprained ankle to hold you back from your swashbuckling,” the corpsman quipped, rising and heading to one of the equipment lockers.

    “I do swash a good buckle,” he replied with a toothy grin.

    Vaal looked over his shoulder and shook his head as he assembled the devices he’d need. He returned to the exam table and set the tray beside O’Shaughnessy and sat back down. The Rigellian moved in close once more and studied his throbbing ankle. He watched in silence, so he was prepared when Vaal gently pressed into the bruised flesh, teeth gritted and trying to take deep breathes.

    “Sorry, as good as a tricorder may be sometimes you have to get an actual feel for an injury to see how to treat it.”

    “That’s okay, Doc, I’m a big boy I can take it.”

    Vaal picked up a device and applied it to where he was touching. Almost immediately the pain began to ease, causing him to let out a faint relieved sigh.

    “That’s hit the spot.”

    “You’ve got a couple of damaged ligaments, I can repair the damage, relieve the pain, bring down the swelling, and speed up the healing process, but you’ll still need to rest it as much as possible for the next week—even in this day and age sprains are often harder to deal with than breaks.”

    “I’ll remember that for next time.”

    “If you could, that’d be appreciated.”

    O’Shaughnessy laughed. Petty Officer First Class Vaal wasn’t someone he’d spent much time with since arriving on the Ranger, though he quickly came to the decision to correct that.

    It took only fifteen minutes for the corpsman to locate the damaged ligaments and apply the wonderous device that brought such relief, before running another over his ankle that began to reduce to bruising and swelling. Only after that did Vaal administer a couple of hyposprays, one which eliminated all the pain and another he said would help his body to heal itself. When he was done he sat back, almost to admire his handy work, as O’Shaughnessy gingerly flexed and rotated his foot.

    “Good as new, Doc.”

    “Don’t go showing off for the next week, or you’ll end up right back in here.”

    He smiled as he tapped his chest with two fingers. “As the Great Bird of the Galaxy in my witness, I promise you I won’t be doing that now.”

    “I can give you a support bandage if you’d like.”

    “I’ll be fine, thank you.”

    Bracing his hands on the edge of the bed, he slowly lowered his feet back down to the deck. Vaal rose and stood beside him; hands out, ready to steady him should he fall. He set his feet down and gently put his weight down on them. There was a twinge in his right ankle, a subtle reminder for him to take it easy, but it held firm.

    Vaal, satisfied his patient wouldn’t collapse, took a step back. “Any issues or pain, let me know.”

    “Much obliged.”

    Not wanting to take chances, he kept most of his weight on the other side as he swaggered out of sickbay, flashing the vulcanoid medic one last appreciative grin before heading for his quarters to heed the advice he’d been given.

    * * * * *

    Chief Petty Officer Noah Lien straightened his jumpsuit as the turbolift came to a stop. The panels opened and he stepped onto the bridge, where the alpha shift crew were all going about their duties with practiced ease. He paused for a moment and watched them. Nothing seemed out of place, everyone was behaving as they should, most worked quietly though Lieutenant Aal was having an in-depth conversation with Petty Officer Lezkha.

    His eyes finally came to settle on Lieutenant Commander Palmer. He was still trying to get a read on the Fleeter. So far she had shown herself to be meticulous and well-organised, she clearly aimed to run a tight ship, yet wasn’t clamping down on some of the more relaxed ways of operating the Service had. Of course, they’d yet to face any serious incidents or emergencies to see how she’d react, but that would come soon enough.

    Squaring his shoulders, he left the turbolift alcove and came around the railing to approach the command chair. Palmer looked up from the tablet she was reading and gave him a polite smile.

    “Morning Chief.”

    “Captain.”

    “What can I do for you?”

    He handed her the PADD he’d walked in with, which she took and glanced at. “I’d like to request permission to utilise the auxiliary control room for crew training purposes.”

    She looked up at him. “Like the bridge simulator back at the Academy?”

    “Along the same lines, though without the pyrotechnics. We’ve got five crewmen fresh from basic, as well as a few others serving on their first ship, I’d like to get them up to speed on bridge operations ASAP.”

    The Captain looked back at the datapad again, quickly reading over his proposal. “Were you just planning on putting the rookies through this training?”

    “I thought it best to start with them, though I’d also get all non-bridge personnel rotated through various scenarios.”

    The Ranger was his second posting as Chief of the Boat. When he’d first been appointed on the Zephyr he had made sure that every non-com under him would be able to handle themselves on the bridge. His own experiences as a raw crewman had taught him the need for that.

    He shook his head and focused on Palmer as she set the PADD on her lap.

    “Chief, if you’d be willing to accept the junior officers for some training sessions then you’ve got yourself a deal.”

    Lien smiled to himself. Though he may not have known her all that well, he suspected that she’d see the wisdom of his request and make full use of it. “If you look at appendix one, you’ll see the training schedule for the officers I worked up with Lieutenant Taras.”

    Palmer cocked an eyebrow and quickly brought up the section on the PADD. “So, you’re just needing this rubber stamped.”

    “If you’re amenable, of course, Captain.”

    She chuckled as she applied her thumb to the biometric scanner. “Auxiliary control is all yours, Chief.”

    “Thank—”

    An urgent chirp from ops silenced him. He knew exactly what it meant even as he looked at the young Tellarite at the controls. After only a few seconds, Aal confirmed it.

    “We’re receiving a distress call, Captain. Audio only.”

    “On speakers.”

    “This is the merchant vessel Daragah at co-ordinates fourteen-by-eighty-seven-by-forty-two,” hearing the location of the civilian vessel, Lien felt an icy fist clench his stomach. He stepped down to Chiang at navigation as the frightened voice continued. ”We are in need of urgent assistance. Our engines have failed, shields nearing collapse, and radiation levels are rising. Please, if anyone can hear this message, we need help.”

    As the message had played, he’d brought up the star chart and located the ship in distress. His instinct was right. Chiang stared at the display; her eyes wide in barely contained fear. He rested a supportive hand on her shoulder and looked back at Palmer, who’d been watching him since he’d left her side.

    “Chief?”

    “Those co-ordinates are inside the Maelstrom, sir,” he announced solemnly, silencing all other noise on the bridge.

    She frowned. “What’s the Maelstrom?”

    “It’s the nebula we’re skirting around. The star charts have it labelled as G-seven-four-seven, but everyone in the Expanse calls it the Maelstrom.”

    For a fleeting moment, she looked as stunned as the navigator, but she quickly composed herself. “Who would enter an G-Class nebula?”

    “Either someone very desperate or very stupid,” he began, making sure his eyes were locked with hers, “or a cutter going in to save them.”

    To her credit, Palmer didn’t balk. She held his look, her face carefully composed, but he could see the trepidation and fear in her eyes. He had wanted to see how she would react to a truly dire call out, but the last thing he would wish on anyone would be having to enter the Maelstrom—four of the last cutters to carry out a rescue hadn’t returned. Letting out a steadying breath, she gave him a nod.

    “Semper Paratus, Chief,” she stated. “Chiang, plot an intercept course. Jolex, prepare to take us to maximum warp. Lieutenant Aal, signal the Daragah and tell them we’re on our way.”

    “Course laid in.”

    “Helm ready.”

    “Engage.”

    * * * * *
     
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  5. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    I guess even Border Dogs don't get a day off. LOL!
     
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  6. TheLoneRedshirt

    TheLoneRedshirt Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Here and now.
    I hope the insurance premiums on that cutter are paid up . . . and the crew of the Daragah have up-to-date last will and testaments. The odds are against both ships.
     
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  7. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    I really like how the crew is coming together. You have quite the cast of interesting characters, and you are doing all of them good service. I appreciated Palmer's ever-so-brief hesitation at discovering where the distress call originated from, but she sticks to her guns and gets the job done.
     
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