UT: Taskforce Vanguard-Dark Territory: Kilkenny Cats

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by DarKush, Jul 18, 2017.

  1. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Thanks CeJay,

    Originally this story was supposed to be shorter. It was intended to be a quick story to just get me back into writing. But as I was rushing through it, I felt I was shortchanging these characters and likely readers by not exploring them a bit more.

    With the good ensign I definitely was inspired by Jeri Ryan's Seven. And more so the idea I had thought about when the show was on that Seven should've looked more like a Borg for longer than she did on the show. By the end of the "Scorpion" two-parter she was in the catsuit and I thought they should've slow-walked that. I had thought up the idea before I read Ronald D. Moore's take on Seven that she should've have slowly been restored to humanity over time instead of removing most of her outer Borg implants, armor, etc.

    Granted, Jamie looks more like Riley Frazier from the VOY episode "Unity" in my mind and is not in full Borg regalia on the Califia but still I wanted her to look a bit more apart from her former fully human appearance.

    Author's Note: I'm still revising and I have renamed Ensign Saxton's last name to Lytton. Lyton was a member of Hugh's group of liberated Borg in the novel The Greater than the Sum. And that name was inspired by Lytton, a character from two Doctor Who serials, one including the Cybermen.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2017
  2. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
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    ****************************************************************

    USS Califia

    Deck Eight

    Krud, son of Krad, felt naked without his armor. The Klingon was still formidable in his sweat drenched Gi but he missed the weight and clanking of metal. He quickly remembered to growl greetings to the Starfleet members he passed, still pleased when some of them jumped, shrank from him, or gave him a wide berth.

    He had to remind himself that startling the Califia crew was not the best way to engender the trust and comfortability he needed to faithfully dispense his duties, but Krud couldn’t help himself.

    He had to have a little fun every now and then. Starfleet crews were far too straitlaced. Even their sports were unfortunately lacking in blood and gore.

    The latest mok’bara session had been satisfactory though. The Klingon martial art was catching on among the crew and the number of students was growing. Krud had been pleased to see Ensigns Ojim and Diggins in his latest class.

    So, the young Ojim had taken Lytton’s advice, which he had given the former Borg. The Klingon hadn’t suggested a mok’bara session for a date; at least not first date-humans weren’t as durable as Klingons and seemed to prefer sterile mating rituals like watching holos or drinking coffee as they worked up the courage to admit their attraction.

    Krud had been pleased that both Ojim and Diggins had been more game to a first date that raised the blood; it definitely would help with the seloh later.

    He chuckled at the thought. It had been too long since he had experienced any carnal delight. The women aboard Califia appeared too fragile. There was the occasional flirting and sometimes even leering he would catch some of the crew engaging in as he passed by them, but Krud hadn’t taken the bait.

    Sex was viewed differently by many species across the Federation compared to his people. Krud was not interested in messy entanglements and he was confident that was exactly what would happen. How could it not? Federation females were weak for Klingon men. Or so he had been told.

    Testing that theory would also make him less effective as the ship’s counselor. He needed to be a neutral, objective observer for the crew, with no emotional or physical attachments. The special holoprogram he had brought with him would have to suffice until he returned to the empire.

    The warrior was pulled out of his revelry when he saw a strapping Terellian standing at one of the computer accesses mounted on one of the corridor. The four-armed alien was using all of his limbs to scour the panel. The counselor immediately knew the man was from the Enzmann. The counselor had memorized all the Califia crew, and there was no Terellians currently serving board.

    “You there!” Krud stomped over to the man. “What are you doing?!”

    The Terellian turned slowly. His four arms crossed over his chest and midsection. He was at eye-level with Krud but still seemed to look down at the counselor. Krud’s blood began to boil, his gut sensing a challenge.

    “I asked you a question?” Krud barked.

    The other man’s eyes narrowed before he stifled a laugh. “It’s true…this ship actually has a Klingon counselor.”

    Krud hackles rose. This was a challenge! “Are you questioning my skills as a warrior?” Indignation battled with joy in his voice. He hadn’t pummeled anyone in far too long.

    “No sir,” the Terellian quickly said; his tone disbelieving. “Just astounded is all. I didn’t think it was possible.”

    “And what is that?”

    “Well, uh, if I might be honest,” the Terellian ventured.

    “You better be,” Krud warned.

    “I didn’t think that Klingons had the temperament to be…well, counselors.”

    Krud wanted to throttle the man but he couldn’t because he wondered the same thing. He had not wanted this assignment. When he had been summoned by Chancellor Martok after the war, Krud thought a great honor would be bestowed upon him and his family would be elevated to Great House status once more.

    Krud had thought his actions against the Dominion had finally wiped clean the stain caused by his great grandfather’s ignoble role in the disastrous Sulustis campaign during the Four Years War.

    Krud at first suspected that Martok’s ‘gift’ was another slap for his forebear’s folly. But he had come to view his assignment aboard Califia as a great opportunity to learn the psychologies and emotional vulnerabilities of various species and members of Starfleet crews. He knew this information about them would be invaluable if war ever broke out between the Empire and Federation again.

    Krud had once dreamed of sitting on the High Council as his great-great grandfather once had. Krud’s time aboard Califia, which he had once considered a detour at best and rank disrespect at worst, could be his opportunity to achieve that exalted station.

    “You would be wise to disabuse yourself of such mistaken assumptions in the future,” Krud said, getting in the man’s face, so close their noses almost touched. To his credit, the Terellian didn’t back away. Instead his eyes became slits. The four-armed man growled deep in his throat, a threatening sound to others, but it was music to Krud.

    He prayed that the Terellian would strike first. He didn’t think he could hold out much longer before he demolished the Enzmann noncom.

    “There you are Petty Officer,” a quick moving human female unfortunately intervened. She clapped the Terellian’s shoulder, and nodded apologetically to Krud. “My apologies Major Krud, but my friend Quattro here is still learning his way around this vessel.”

    Krud looked down at the admittedly winsome dark-hued woman like he was a glob fly. Despite her attractiveness, he had to keep up a surly appearance. The counselor saw the woman wore operations gold. “And you are?” Krud demanded.

    “I am Lieutenant Tshego, auxiliary…” the woman paused, her face pinching, “I am the acting security chief from the Enzmann.”

    Krud grunted. “You and your crew acquitted yourselves with honor in the battle against the Tzenkethi. I am certain that Captain Prabhakar will find the scurrying yoloks. For a Starfleet officer she is quite formidable.”

    The Terellian rose at that, and Krud smiled. He would’ve been disappointed if he had gotten nothing less. Tshego’s slender fingers tightened on the Terellian’s wide shoulder. “One can only hope Major,” the engineer replied. “Now, Quattro and I shall be off.” Krud was impressed at how ably the smaller woman steered the massive Terellian away.

    Krud stood his ground and watched them depart. This was his ship and they should leave first. He chuckled at the thought. When had he started thinking of the Califia as his ship?

    Still shaking his shaggy head at the revelation, Krud looked at the screen on the wall. The Terellian had been intent on ascertaining something from the ship’s computer. But now there was no trace of his search.

    Krud hadn’t even thought to ask the man. Quattro’s jibe had distracted him. His eyes narrowed. Had that challenge been on purpose? He considered going after them and demanding that Quattro tell him what he had been looking for.

    “No,” the Klingon muttered. He was being paranoid he reasoned. Why would the Enzmann crewman have ill intentions against the Califia? The ship and crew that just saved him. Wasn’t this all just one happy fleet after all?

    It was nothing like Klingon ships, were fighting and mutinies was a thrilling, always pregnant possibility. Things were more sedate, dreadfully so, on Starfleet vessels. Or were they?

    ********************************************************************
     
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  3. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    USS Califia

    Main Engineering

    The finger snapping brought Tyrell Diggins back to the present. He smiled sheepishly, storing away his memory of the mok’bara session with Azaba. It had been one of the most interesting dates he had ever been on, and he could honestly say he had never been taken off his feet so quickly or so literally before.

    The Dopterian huddled beside him didn’t return his smile. The spotted, beige-skinned man was somewhat dour, his darting eyes roving, his energy jittery. “You were saying about the bio-neural circuitry?”

    Diggins didn’t like the man’s insistent tone, but he kept it too himself. Roaf was a superior officer as well as the acting chief engineer for the Enzmann. Tyrell shook his head at the thought of that atomized vessel, with the loss of so many lives. So he could forgive the engineer for being moody.

    “Ensign,” Roaf said again. “You’re drifting again. Do you require rest?”

    “No, ah, of course not sir,” Diggins answered. He quickly turned back to the translucent sacs filled with neural fibers that resembled veins. Together, the bio-neural gel packs formed an organic computing system for the ship, resulting in the Califia being able to think almost like a sapient being.

    This was leagues’ above the old isolinear circuitry still on many starships. The organic neural systems didn’t calculate every possibility before executing like the old isolinear systems did; the bio-neural circuitry was capable of acting on less certain conclusions.

    As if reading his mind, Roaf muttered, “Impressive,” he said, running a finger along one of the packs. “If Enzmann had been outfitted with this technology instead of the isolinear circuitry, perhaps it would’ve made the difference. Perhaps I would be in my own engine room right now and not a ‘guest’ here.”

    Diggins didn’t know how to respond to that so he kept his eyes forward, looking at the row of gel packs. “The organic system also stores more information and operates faster than the old isolinears,” he finally thought to add.

    “I see,” Roaf tapped his hairless chin. “From my reading there are drawbacks to this technology. Has Califia experienced any of those?”

    “Thank goodness no,” Diggins chuckled nervously. “Chief Dexel is very adamant about preventing random contamination from viruses or bacteria. He’s instituted random scans and routine heating sweeps to eradicate any potential infections from occurring.”

    “Very prudent,” Roaf nodded and finally smiled. “If Enzmann had been outfitted with this technology I’m certain Chief Adak,” he paused, his smile fading. His face contorted as the man struggled to hold back his emotions. Embarrassed, Tyrell looked away, giving the man his space.

    “Thank you,” Roaf replied moments later, his voice less frosty. “It has been a…difficult time.”

    Diggins looked back at him. “I…understand sir.” The words came instinctively, but the younger man felt awful about their hollowness. He didn’t truly understand how the lieutenant felt. He couldn’t. This was his first starship assignment and he had never experienced the loss of colleagues or the destruction of a vessel. Before Califia, he had been cooling his thrusters at the Axanar Starbase Terminal when the opportunity to join Operation Vanguard had come up, and Tyrell had jumped at it.

    He had known that dangers existed in the Delta Quadrant but he hadn’t really considered that Califia would be seriously impacted by them. And now he was crouching beside a real-life example of how unpredictable and tragic exploration could be.

    “Anything I can do to help please let me know.” Diggins offered.

    “Thank you,” Roaf dipped his head respectfully. When he lifted it the smile was back.

    “I can’t speak for Chief Dexel, but I’m confident he shares my desire to help,” the ensign added.

    “You’re right on that account Mr. Diggins,” Roaf said. “I had spoken with Commander Dexel before he assigned you to this tour. He has graciously agreed with my suggestion to add the remaining Enzmann engineers to his staff. We need something to do, something to get our hands around. The busier we are, the less likely we are to dwell on our circumstances.”

    Diggins nodded. “I certainly agree with that sir.”

    “I don’t need a chrono to tell me we’re off duty,” Roaf said. “So, you can stow the ‘sir’, Mr. Diggins.” The man had lightened up considerably since the start of the tour of the ship’s organic neural network. “Since we are extended guests aboard Califia, I heard that your recreation facility, Terrific Street, is quite…intriguing.”

    Diggins chuckled. “That’s certainly one way to describe it.” In keeping with the Old Earth California theme of the ship’s namesake, Terrific Street was named for the famed entertainment district that introduced the first jazz clubs in Old San Francisco. The section had also been known for ragtime and blues music. In honoring that history, while tweaking it to reflect modern times, the lounge’s barkeep had the largest collection of blues and jazz music, from Earth and beyond Tyrell had ever seen. And as the son of musicians, specializing in Old Earth soul and Andorian blues, Diggins had seen some very impressive music collections during his travels, not to mention musical artists.

    “After work some of us do have some tense Terrace matches,” Diggins admitted.

    “I’m more into Stratagema myself,” Roaf confessed.

    Tyrell smiled. “I think I know just the person who would you should meet.”

    “As I’ve heard my human counterparts often say, it sounds like a plan,” the Dopterian nodded.

    Diggins brightened. He didn’t think the reserved Dopterian would ever open up, much less crack a smile, and so soon. On top of his very good first date with Azaba, Tyrell felt he was on a roll. Perhaps he should forgo Terrace tonight and just try his luck at the lounge’s Dabo wheel.

    ******************************************************************
     
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  4. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Just like that Terellian, I had to do a double take and re-read that bit. A Klingon counselor? I didn't believe it. That's an oxymoron if I ever heard one. Brilliant idea though, loving it. And something tells me that counseling sessions on this ship are quite the experience.

    As for Enzmannn's crew, they are behaving rather suspiciously, most of all Quattro (gotta be nickname, right?). They are up to something, I'm sure.
     
  5. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Thanks for appreciating Krud's inclusion. I created him on the spur of the moment and I thought he would be an interesting addition to the crew. Quattro is the Terellian's real name.

    I think you should be more sympathetic to the Enzmann crew. They just experienced a very tragic event and are trying to find their footing.
     
  6. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    ******************************************************************

    USS Califia

    Ready Room



    As soon as the door closed Gomes began speaking. “The Borg…Ensign Lytton found the protomatter residue,” he stated. It wasn’t a question. Somehow the man knew. The captain thought about inquiring how he had obtained that information but doubted she would get an honest answer.

    “Yes,” Prabhakar said, putting down the PADD with the evidence that Lytton had uncovered. “Care to explain what is really going on commander?”

    Gomes’s expression contorted, as if the man was having an internal struggle. Eventually he exhaled loudly and drooped his shoulders. “I am under orders.”

    “Whose orders?” Prabhakar asked sharply.

    “I-I can’t say,” Gomes replied.

    “That’s not good enough,” the captain said. She stood up and leaned over her desk, planting her knuckles into the polished jul-wood. The Betazed wooden desk had been a parting gift from Califia’s previous skipper.

    Her counterpart was not ruffled by the gesture. Instead he sighed before saying, “The protomatter residue…it came from my vessel.”

    The admissions almost made Prabhakar sit back down. “Excuse me?”

    “Your ship is equipped with a variety of Alpha Weapons,” Gomes added. “So was Enzmann, but beyond the standard, Starfleet Intelligence supplied us with experimental protomatter torpedoes. We used them as a last resort against the Tzenkethi,” the commander added, his expression darkening, “It didn’t work.”

    The Enzmann commander walked over to the port without asking. It forced Meera to turn to confront the man. Gomes looked out the window, at the streaking stars. “There was more to the Dominion’s presence on Tzenketh than I told you before.”

    “Oh really?”

    Gomes grunted at her sarcastic reply. “There was a special conference on New Kolma City during the war.”

    “The capital city of the Tzenkethi Coalition?” Prabhakar was incredulous.

    “I played chauffeur for one of the attendees,” Gomes explained.

    “And just how did you achieve that?” The captain still wasn’t ready to accept such an improbable occurrence.

    The man finally turned around. He smiled, but the gesture was as cold as the space beyond the window. “Let’s just say that the Ulirian scientist who was supposed to attend had a detour.” He shook his head, “Never thought I would get that fish smell out of my hair.”

    “You intercepted him and what…interrogated him?” Meera asked.

    “You got the interception part correct,” the commander nodded. “I assisted in the apprehension. Another agent, far smarter than me, impersonated the Ulirian,” Gomes explained. “The Adigeons are quite expert at not only genetic resequencing.”

    “What happened to the real scientist?” Meera asked.

    “Don’t worry, he’s safe and sound,” Gomes answered.

    “So if I checked the computer to ascertain his fate?” The captain challenged.

    “Well, he was safe and sound when I left him,” the commander said. “Unfortunately on the way back from Tzenketh his shuttle was lost in an ion storm,” Gomes pursed his lips. “Very tragic.”

    “Did you just confess to a murder?” The captain asked.

    “No,” the commander shrugged. “Just informing you of a tragedy,” he replied. “And I wouldn’t shed any tears for the good doctor. During the Bajoran Occupation, he had tested the effects of veteron radiation exposure on a steady supply of Bajorans given to him by the Cardassians…one nasty piece of work called Rejak.”

    “Is this Rejak person supposed to mean something to me?” Meera demanded. For a man who had kept things very close to his vest-too close until now-Gomes was suddenly more loquacious than a drunken Lurian. And that got raised her shields to maximum.

    “Be glad it doesn’t,” the commander said. “Believe me.”

    Prabhakar laughed harshly. “That’s quite a tall order right now.”

    “It’s an oversight I am correcting now,” Gomes promised.

    “What was this conference on Tzenketh about?” Meera asked.

    “The Dominion couldn’t retake the Bajoran wormhole so they were desperate to create an artificial pathway back to the Gamma Quadrant. If they could bring their forces over from the Dominion proper, the war would turn decisively in their favor.” The commander explained. “The Ulirian Prober Q-Viau was one of the foremost non-Federation minds on verteron particles. The Dominion had attempted to create use a verteron collider early in the war to bridge the quadrants, but that scheme had been foiled.

    As the war was drawing to a close and their prospects of victory dimmed, the Changeling attempted to forge ties with the Tzenkethi to provide an extra layer of protection while new rounds of experiments were conducted in the farthest corners of Tzenkethi space, the Rakshasa system. The Founder wisely predicted that the Allies would have qualms about invading the officially neutral Tzenkethi Coalition, widening the war in the process.”

    “And why did the Autarch agree to such a risk? Much less the Ulirians?” Prabhakar asked. Early on during the war, Starfleet Command had speculated that the Ulirians would join the Dominion or at best sign a nonaggression pact with them. However the Ulirians had stayed out of the war, yet still maintained close ties to the Cardassians.

    “Ah,” Gomes nodded. “Good questions. We’re not certain what the shapeshifter dangled before them, but it’s likely it offered technology or territory once the Dominion had won the war.”

    Meera shook her head in disbelief. “Granted the Ulirians and Cardassians were fast friends.”

    “True,” Gomes nodded. “But Q-Viau didn’t. The opportunity to test his theories proved too tempting.”

    “So, after Q-Viau was…replaced,” the captain said. “You attended the conference. What did you learn there?”

    “That the Dominion and Coalition were moving apace with the verteron collider, though it was months from completion. The war ended before then, and after that, we don’t know what happened to the collider.”

    Meera exhaled, recalling Brayan’s postwar mission to the M’Kemas system. She knew in some way it was related to what Gomes was telling her. The man was still talking. “So it’s very possible that the Tzenkethi have completed the verteron collider and have created a stable artificial wormhole to the Delta Quadrant, right under our noses.”

    “Is that what Enzmann was really investigating?” The captain asked. Gomes nodded in affirmation. “I’ll be damned,” Prabhakar replied. “And you were discovered.”

    “Yes,” the commander answered. “And my ship destroyed by mercenaries in the employ of the Tzenkethi.”

    “And yet you didn’t want us confirming if this wormhole existed by catching these bastards?” Meera was still suspicious about the man and his story.

    “I didn’t want your ship suffering the same fate as mine did,” Gomes’s smile was sad, but it softened his stony features. “I might have a hard façade, but the deaths of so many of my crew hurt me deeply and had me reeling. This was my first and likely last, starship command. I hadn’t thought I would be ready for it, and I guess I wasn’t, but all the same, I enjoyed the camaraderie.”

    “I see,” Meera nodded. She couldn’t fault the man for that. Interacting with her crew on a daily basis was one of the great thrills of her life. But she just couldn’t trust that his motivations were guided by altruism. Just minutes before he had recounted dispatching the Ulirian scientist as if he had swatted an insect.

    And maybe sapient life did mean that little to him, and that made him even more dangerous than Prabhakar had reasoned. “If the Tzenkethi now have the ability to create stable artificial wormholes this could upset the power balance in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants.”

    “More immediately, it gives them a beachhead into the Delta Quadrant,” Gomes added.

    “We need to contact Starfleet Command and inform them of what we’re facing.” The captain declared.

    “Who do you think ordered Enzmann on this mission?” Gomes rejoined. “Why do you think I was put in the command seat?”

    “I’ll still need confirmation,” Prabhakar said.

    “Fine,” the commander shrugged. “We’re weeks away from overtaking the mercenaries since you persist in this suicidal mission. That’s plenty of time for some vindication.”

    “You better hope it is,” Meera warned. She wasn’t a person who made threats lightly and she hoped that Gomes sensed that. The man’s grimacing smile and curt nod was a satisfying acknowledgement.

    ***********************************************************************
     
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  7. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    ***********************************************************************

    USS Califia

    Briefing Room



    Captain Prabhakar really wished it was Terrence, but her friend hadn’t contacted her since their holodeck conversation. The square-jawed, salt-and-pepper admiral peered at the assembled officers from across subspace. In addition to Meera, Gomes, Commander Jarratt, Lt. Brayan, and Ensign Lytton were in the room. “Commander Gomes’s recitation of his secret mission is correct,” the man paused and glowered at the Enzmann commander. “Obviously Mr. Gomes doesn’t understand the meaning of the word secret.”

    “My apologies Admiral Bullock,” Gomes said quickly, and smoothly. “I felt that I needed to be more forthcoming with Captain Prabhakar,” he implored. “To foster trust, and quite frankly sir, at the very least I owed the captain that for saving the lives of my crew.”

    Bullock was silent for a few moments, enough so that it made the captain a little nervous. She didn’t like being the subject of the intense man’s scrutiny. But yet she endured his probing gaze as he scowled at them all.

    Eventually the admiral said. “I am sending you information confirming Gomes’s mission.”

    “Thank you sir,” Meera nodded.

    “That’s not all,” Bullock held up a hand. He shifted in his chair and stared squarely at Gomes. “And I am authorizing Captain Prabhakar’s mission to pursue the mysterious attackers to ascertain their true identities and their motives.”

    “But sir,” Gomes balked.

    “Hopefully Califia will not encounter the same…obstacles…that befell the Enzmann,” the admiral paused, his expression turning regretful. “Poor choice of words,” he added.

    “Understood sir,” Gomes replied, his voice studiously neutral.

    “We need to understand what’s going on out there,” Bullock continued, “We need to know if the Tzenkethi have either built or found a stable wormhole into the Delta Quadrant and what their relationship to these reptilians are.”

    “Acknowledged,” Gomes said.

    “There’s a ‘but’ coming,” Bullock half-smiled.

    “Sir, this mission is too dangerous,” The Enzmann commander replied. “It was my arrogance that led to the loss of my ship. I don’t think we should continue pursuing these Delta Tzenkethi until the rest of the taskforce is assembled.”

    “Not going to happen,” the admiral shook his head. “There’s no time for that. We need to know what we’re dealing with now.”

    “I have serious concerns about this mission,” Gomes would not back down.

    “What about you Captain Prabhakar?” The admiral asked.

    “Sir, I am in agreement with you,” Meera said. She felt her counterpart’s hot gaze but she ignored it. “The threat posed by these marauders is too serious to not investigate and confront.”

    The admiral nodded. “Investigation is fine, but you are not to confront them.”

    “Excuse me sir?” Brayan spoke up, drawing a visual rebuke from Bullock.

    “Captain Prabhakar you are not to engage these attackers,” the admiral elaborated, ignoring the Farian junior officer.

    Meera replied. “Admiral, Mr. Brayan’s question is legitimate.”

    “Do you run your ship or does your security officer?” The admiral upbraided. “I’m ordering you not to confront these alleged Tzenkethi unless it is the last resort to protect your crew and ship. It’s not up for discussion or debate. You will ascertain who they are and what their goals are and then you will retreat to a safe location to report your findings. Is that clear?”

    “Acknowledged,” Prabhakar’s said tightly, working mightily to keep the frustration out of her tone.

    The admiral nodded with satisfaction. He looked over all of the officers again. “Good hunting. Bullock out.” After the admiral had cut the transmission the room didn’t empty. They all processed the import of Bullock’s orders.

    “I still have reservations about this,” Gomes eventually broke the silence. Meera merely nodded in understanding. Though the admiral had agreed with her, she wasn’t running any victory laps. It was simply that Califia now had official sanction to hunt down the destroyers of one starship. She would do all within her power to prevent them from claiming another.

    *********************************************************************
     
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  8. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    Tall orders from Bullock. I'm glad to see that Gomes finally told the truth.
     
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  9. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    I still can't get myself to trust Gomes fully. But then, I have been known to have trust issues.

    The backstory, as far as we have been told it so far, however, is really quite fascinating. It explains quite a bit. It certainly explains the Tzenkethi presence in the Delta Quadrant. I'm still left wondering about those so-called mercenaries and their supposed immunity to alpha weapons.

    I guess we won't have all the answers until Califia makes contact. That, I imagine, won't go without complications. Looking forward to it.
     
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  10. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Thanks Admiral and CeJay,
    I changed the conversation with Admiral Bullock. I was using Bullock from the VOY episode "In the Flesh." However I went back and rewrote that scene, replacing Bullock with Glover. I think it works better with Glover. I'm posting the rewritten scene.
     
  11. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Author's Note: I forgot to mention some references. The dastardly Gul Rejak is a creation of David Falkayn and was featured in his Star Trek: Sutherland series. CeJay created the aquatic Ulirians and established them as being allies of the Cardassians.

    The verteron collider and the mission Gomes mentioned to stop its construction is taken from the Star Trek: The Next Generation Dominion War novels. I always thought the idea of the Dominion seeking to build a wormhole was a really cool idea, and one I wish DS9 had done a story or two about.

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    USS Califia

    Briefing Room



    Captain Prabhakar was relieved to see Terrence on the other line. She would’ve been highly skeptical if it had been any other flag officer.

    Her old friend peered out at the assembled officers from across subspace. In addition to Meera, Gomes, Commander Jarratt, Lt. Brayan, and Ensign Lytton were in the room. There was no spark of recognition in Glover’s eyes, his familiar smirk was absent, and he seemed painfully robotic. Prabhakar’s heart went out for her friend. Even though he was looking right at her, it was like he was looking at a stranger.

    “Commander Gomes’s recitation of his secret mission is correct,” the man paused and glowered at the Enzmann commander. “Obviously Mr. Gomes doesn’t understand the meaning of the word secret.” The reproach pinched Meera’s heart. Would Terrence have not been transparent with her if Gomes hadn’t blabbed? It would be a very far cry from the man who shared the particulars of the Omega Directive with his senior staff.

    “My apologies Admiral Glover,” Gomes said quickly, and smoothly. “I felt that I needed to be more forthcoming with Captain Prabhakar,” he implored. “To foster trust, and quite frankly sir, at the very least I owed the captain that for saving the lives of my crew.”

    Glover was silent for a few moments, enough so that it made the captain a little nervous. She had never liked being the subject of the intense man’s scrutiny. But yet she endured his probing gaze as he scowled at them all.

    Eventually the admiral said. “I am sending you information confirming Gomes’s mission.”

    “Thank you… sir,” Meera nodded.

    “That’s not all,” Glover held up a hand. He shifted in his chair and stared squarely at Gomes. “I am also authorizing Captain Prabhakar’s mission to pursue the mysterious attackers to ascertain their true identities and their motives.” The captain buried her smile. She felt the old Terrence starting to break through.

    “But sir,” Gomes balked.

    “Hopefully Califia will not encounter the same…obstacles…that befell the Enzmann,” the admiral paused, his expression turning regretful. “Poor choice of words,” he added.

    “Understood sir,” Gomes replied, his voice studiously neutral.

    “We need to understand what’s going on out there,” Glover continued, “We need to know if the Tzenkethi have either built or found a stable wormhole into the Delta Quadrant and what their relationship to these reptilians are.”

    “Acknowledged,” Gomes said.

    “There’s a ‘but’ coming,” Glover half-smiled.

    “Sir, this mission is too dangerous,” The Enzmann commander replied. “It was my arrogance that led to the loss of my ship. I don’t think we should continue pursuing these Delta Tzenkethi until the rest of the taskforce is assembled.”

    “Not going to happen,” the admiral shook his head. “There’s no time for that. We need to know what we’re dealing with now.”

    “I have serious concerns about this mission,” Gomes would not back down.

    “What about you Captain Prabhakar?” The admiral asked.

    “Sir, I am in agreement with you,” Meera answered. She felt her counterpart’s hot gaze but she ignored it. “The threat posed by these marauders is too serious to not investigate and confront.”

    The admiral nodded. “Investigation is fine, but you are not to confront them.”

    “Excuse me sir?” Brayan spoke up, drawing a visual rebuke from Glover.

    “Captain Prabhakar you are not to engage these attackers,” the admiral elaborated, ignoring the Farian junior officer.

    Meera replied. “Admiral, Mr. Brayan’s question is legitimate.”

    “Do you run your ship or does your security officer?” The admiral upbraided. “I’m ordering you not to confront these alleged Tzenkethi mercenaries unless it is the last resort to protect your crew and ship. It’s not up for discussion or debate. You will ascertain who they are and what their goals are and then you will retreat to a safe location to report your findings. Is that clear?”

    “Acknowledged,” Prabhakar’s said tightly, working mightily to keep the frustration out of her tone.

    The admiral nodded with stern satisfaction. He looked over all of the officers again. “Good hunting…Meera. Glover out.” After the admiral had cut the transmission the room didn’t empty. They all processed the import of Glover’s orders.

    “I still have reservations about this,” Gomes eventually broke the silence. Meera merely nodded in understanding. Though the admiral had agreed with her, she wasn’t running any victory laps. It was simply that Califia now had official sanction to hunt down the destroyers of one starship. She would do all within her power to prevent them from claiming another.

    *********************************************************************

    USS Califia

    Terrific Street Lounge



    “Things are jumping tonight, as you hew-mons are wont to say,” the Ferengi barkeep deftly put down his drink. Jarratt slipped the woman two credits. Holding the tray filled with drinks with one hand, the woman expertly slid the credits into a pocket in her apron. Though the Federation was a moneyless economy, the Federation Council had authorized the use of special credits to facilitate commerce and trade in the Delta Quadrant.

    The woman growled low in her throat, “My excellent and prompt service didn’t warrant at least one slip of gold-pressed latinum?” She asked.

    Winsor grinned. “You can take the girl out of the Ferengi Alliance, but never the Ferengi Alliance out of the girl.” The woman smiled, showing rows of small, sharpened teeth. Winsor winced, recalling the one time he had spent with the woman after hours. She had peppered his body with bites.

    Sensing what he was thinking of, the woman’s grin widened. “Care for another…round?” She asked, quickly looking at the oblivious Brayan before shifting her gaze back to Jarratt. Her eyes were gleaming with lust.

    “I’m fine,” Jarratt suppressed a chuckle. Though he had mostly enjoyed his time with Rupiah, the Ferengi had insisted that there were no strings attached. Winsor hadn’t intended for there to be, and was fine that Rupiah was even more adamant about that than him.

    The woman frowned, “You’re loss, hew-mon,” the woman snorted before heading to the next table.

    “That Ferengi is always looking to score more money,” Brayan said. “She just brought us drinks and was trying to sell us more of them.”

    “Score is one way to put it buddy,” Winsor replied. He sipped his drink and savored the taste of the Starduster. His tryst with Rupiah had introduced Winsor to many things, including the pink Ferengi beverage that had become one of his favorites.

    The commander laughed at his own private joke. Brayan scowled, not understanding why the man was laughing. Jarratt also had to admit that it felt good that Brayan didn’t know something for once. The Farian seemed to know about all the happenings on the ship. How he did it was beyond Winsor’s comprehension. He just chalked it up to Brayan being very good at his job.

    “You know, Rupiah was right,” Winsor changed the subject; less Brayan started focusing on how familiar Jarratt and the barkeep had seemed with each other. “This place is pretty busy tonight.” Califia was nowhere near the bacchanalia of the Starship Sutherland, the recognized party ship in the Fleet, but Captain Prabhakar was the kind of commander who exhibited a live and let live attitude, one she had encouraged on her previous command and brought over to Califia.

    The captain’s style got no complaints from Jarratt. The crew knew when it was time for business and that’s all that concerned both the captain and him.

    “It’s our new guests,” Brayan pointed out. Jarratt nodded. The forty or so odd souls that had been rescued from Enzmann all seemed to be in the lounge, some mingling with the Califia crew.

    Seeing the commingled crews laughing and sharing drinks made Winsor shake his head. He couldn’t believe that he and Brayan, at the captain’s order, had drawn up plans to detain the Enzmann crew in case they proved disruptive. That order felt like a fevered dream now more than ever.

    The Califia’s department heads had certainly been grateful for the extra manpower the Enzmann crew provided, which gave more people time off, and ratcheted down the stress.

    Heading into whatever they were facing with these purported Tzenkethi, Winsor was glad that the crew would be loose and as stress free as possible. Even the commanding officers were in attendance. Just through the crowd that was surrounding them, Winsor spotted Meera and Commander Gomes engaged in a fierce air hockey battle.

    The old game had been Jarratt’s contribution to the lounge and he had been very pleased that the captain had taken to it so. Winsor picked up his drink. “Let’s go check out the captain,” he suggested.

    “Hold on,” Brayan said. “I think you’ve got admirers.” The Farian directed him to a table of three women, all looking at him and Brayan. Jarratt recognized one of the women. It was Lt. Tshego, from the Enzmann. The other women flanking her were also from that doomed vessel.

    Jarratt dipped his head in acknowledgement and held up a drink. The women did likewise. “The one on the left has to be Rutian,” Winsor said out of the corner of his mouth. Though the ginger-haired woman could easily pass for human, the distinctive dark streak in her hair was a giveaway to her true species. “Not placing the other.”

    “She’s Ayt,” Brayan said of the woman the leathery skinned woman with a feathered structure on her head.

    “Interesting,” Jarratt replied, instantly intrigued by the woman. He put on his best smile.

    “Incoming,” Brayan said a few moments later as the women got out of their seats and headed over to their table. Unfortunately Lt. Tshego broke off from the other women and headed toward the still ongoing air hockey match.

    Winsor was fine with the two women still approaching them. “And to think, I thought Lt. Tshego liked you,” Brayan muttered.

    “You can’t win them all Bray,” Jarratt smirked. “Let’s make space for your incoming guests,” he said as he smoothly got up from his chair and grabbed two idle chairs from a nearby table. He offered them to the women. Both thanked him.

    The Rutian sat beside the security officer and the Ayt near Winsor. He smiled at the woman, admiring the elaborate crest on her head and her neatly polished clawed hands.

    “Specialist Tash Lesco,” the Rutian said.

    “Transporter Technician Kanara,” the Ayt added. Both Winsor and Brayan introduced themselves.

    “Now that the titles are out of the way, let’s just keep it informal,” Jarratt’s smile widened after both women agreed. The quartet began talking, and even Brayan warmed up. The conversation was going well until he saw Lt. Triese walk past him.

    What had felt like a permanent smile plastered on Winsor’s face as he was conversing with Kanara, faltered when he saw that Vulcan-Orion science officer and a dark-hued Vulcan officer from the Enzmann.

    “Is something wrong Commander?” The perceptive Kanara asked.

    “Oh, no, and please, it’s Winsor,” Jarratt said, trying to keep his smile going but struggling.

    Even Lesco caught on. The Rutian noticed where he was looking. “You know Lt. Jorik?” The woman asked.

    “Hmmm, no,” Winsor said after a moment. He saw that the two Vulcans had secured at table. It was then he noticed Jorik had placed a case on the table and was pulling out small silver sticks.

    “A fan of kal-toh then?” Kanara asked. “Jorik was the champ at the game aboard Enzmann.”

    “Not really,” Jarratt said absently. His throat tightened and his cheeks grew hot as he watched the two Vulcans began the game, both looking gravely serious as they sought to out strategize the other.

    “What the commander means to say is that…uh…Lt. Triese is our best player of…that…uh game,” Brayan said. The man was a terrible liar. Winsor chuckled at the thought and his own pang of jealousy. It was a simple game, nothing more, and it’s not like he wasn’t sitting here, with an alluring companion.

    He turned back to her now. “Forgive me,” he began.

    The woman shook her head. “I know how the heart flutters, and when it flutters for me, and when it doesn’t,” she said. The woman gave him a strong once-over. “I think this Lt. Triese is a very fortunate being.”

    Kanara stood up. “Hey, wait,” Winsor stood up as well. “You don’t have to go.”

    “No, I don’t,” she said, “But it would be best. If I stayed much longer, it would not be a good situation, for either of us.”

    Lesco stood up as well. “I’m sorry Brayan, but I can’t let my friend leave without me.”

    “Understood,” the Farian said tightly, shooting a frown at Jarratt. The women left the table, joining Lt. Tshego among the crowd at the air hockey table. The trio of Enzmann crew chatted seconds before Tshego hit Winsor with a curious look. The man shrugged.

    “Thanks partner,” Brayan said. “Now if we go check out the match between the captain and Commander Gomes it’ll just be awkward.”

    Still standing, Jarratt grabbed his glass and downed the rest of his drink. Wincing slightly, he scoured the room. Triese and Jorik were locked in a fierce battle and he had never seen the woman having more unsmiling fun in her life. Winsor then looked for Rupiah and saw the woman engaged in heavy conversation with a Phalkerian crewman from the Enzmann.

    He knew what the Ferengi would be doing after hours-or rather whom. He shook his head and looked down at his glum friend. “Do you know how lower the temperature on a sonic shower? I’m going to need it Andorian cold tonight.”

    ********************************************************************
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2017
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  12. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    ***************************************************************************************

    USS Califia

    Main Engineering


    “Ensign Diggins I do not require assistance,” Ensign Lytton replied. “Chief Dexel has already supplied me with a team of engineers drawn from our own crew and that of the Enzmann.” The woman nodded at the diligent personnel buzzing about the room.

    Before continuing, Lytton paused, catching that her tone had elicited a stricken expression on the younger man’s face. “The captain authorized recreation time for much of the crew.”

    “I know,” the man said, “But I thought I could lend a hand to the modifications you’re making to the warp engines.”

    “This is about Ensign Ojim,” she cut right to the locus of the problem. The man’s shock quickly gave way to sheepishness. He shrugged.

    “Well, yes,” he admitted after a moment. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, I do want to see how you are going to replicate and install a transwarp coil.” The coil would allow Califia to generate temporary transwarp conduits that would facilitate the journey back to the Alpha Quadrant in weeks, not the months that it took to arrive in the Delta Quadrant by warp-sleds.

    The transwarp coil would be placed inside the ship’s experimental transwarp chamber. The ominous looking device was attached to the ship’s warp core like a tumorous growth, the green energies pulsing within it casting a sickly pallor over the once vibrant core.

    Lytton accessed the knowledge gained from being part of the Borg Collective to use the replicated transwarp chamber and coil to mimic the propulsion of Borg vessels. Califia’s propulsion system could maintain transwarp for only moments at a time, but it should be enough to reach the Alpha Quadrant. Prolonged use of the transwarp drive would short out the ship’s systems at best and cause total system failure and a warp core breach at worst.

    Lytton would insure that the worst would not occur. She checked her readings again. Looking past Diggins, the woman raised her voice just enough. “Lt. Roaf, what is our current teradyne input?”

    “We are at ten teradynes,” the Dopterian quickly replied.

    Lytton frowned. “A minimum of thirty teradynes of force from the ship’s systems are needed to generate a transwarp conduit. Our current status is not optimal.”

    “We’ll get there,” Chief Dexel promised, darting around from behind Ensign Diggins. The Hekaran had an annoying habit of entering into conversations without proper authorization. But since this was his department, Lytton held back a corrective suggestion. “I just hope this little addition you’ve made to my engine doesn’t destroy the vessel,” the chief engineer added, eyeing the transwarp chamber with suspicion.

    Lytton frowned at the Hekaran. “My modifications are exact. I have gone over them 15 times.”

    “Fifteen?” The ship’s chief engineer whistled. “Well, that’s pretty thorough.”

    “I am-I was-Borg,” Lytton replied.

    “Of course you were,” Dexel said, nudging Diggins slightly. “Since you’ve got things well in hand, I’m heading for a little R & R at Terrific Street.” He handed the PADD in his hand to Diggins. “Wait, Mr. Diggins, this isn’t your duty shift. What are you doing here?”

    “Oh, uh, well, sir…” the younger man stammered.

    “Ensign Diggins is here to inquire about his relationship status with Ensign Ojim,” Lytton said matter-of-factly.

    Diggins looked aghast. He shot her a nasty look, which Lytton found curious. Was the man wishing that she hadn’t been truthful with the chief engineer, a superior officer?

    “Oh, is that right?” Dexel nudged him again and chuckled. Diggins looked anxious. Lytton’s Borg implants detected an elevated heart rate and increased perspiration. “I didn’t know you and the good bridge officer were an item.”

    “Ensign Diggins and Ensign Ojim recently completed their first mating ritual, a mok’bara session lead by the ship’s counselor.” Now, the young engineer’s heart was thudding in his chest.

    “Is that so?” Dexel nodded appreciatively. “That’s a much more heart racing time than my first date sharing an Icoberry torte with my first future wife. I purchased it from a very nice Bandi couple.”

    “How is this germane to Ensign Diggins’s situation?” Lytton asked.

    “Who said it was?” Dexel shrugged. He looked at the anxious younger man. “Listen Mr. Diggins, whatever it is, as I’ve heard some humans say, don’t sweat it. Just be natural and let the relationship develop. Don’t force it,” the man said. “Force isn’t the only tool in the tool box,” he dipped his head in Lytton’s direction. “Something Ensign Lytton might not appreciate.”

    “Was that a reference to my history as Borg?” The operations officer asked.

    “Yeah,” the chief engineer shrugged. “You know more than anyone, probably, well, ever, but numbers and figures aren’t flesh and blood, passion, and heart.”

    “Within my cortical array resides tens of thousands of memories of mating rituals across hundreds of worlds,” the woman rejoined, her cheeks feeling uncharacteristically warm. The Hekaran made her blood quicken and she wasn’t sure why.

    She made a mental note to solve the conundrum after she had finished testing the transwarp drive and her other duties.

    “Chief, Ensign Lytton,” Diggins spread his hands. “I-I just came by to talk with Ensign Lytton because Azaba’s her roommate. I-uh-I just hadn’t heard from Azaba since our date and I didn’t know if anything was wrong. She hadn’t returned my calls.”

    “Ensign Ojim is very reticent,” Lytton said, “But that is not a sign of disinterest. She mentions you…ad infinitum.”

    The man brightened at that. “Really?”

    Lytton scowled. “Yes. Really.”

    The young engineer exhaled. “I didn’t know,” he said. “Wow. I’ve got to see her. Thanks Ensign Lytton.”

    “Put your gettle back in the stable mister,” Dexel admonished. “Take it slow.”

    “Says the man who has been married five times,” Lytton riposted. Dexel winced before smiling.

    “I understand engines better than women,” he admitted. “But Ensign Lytton brings up a valid point. I don’t know much about how to keep them, but I sure know how to lose them or turn them away. And with Ensign Ojim, I say take your time and let her have her space. When she’s ready, she’ll contact you.”

    “You really think so sir?” Diggins’s joy was battling with his doubt.

    “I do,” the chief engineer replied. “Too much pressure and you break the tool. As an engineer you know that.”

    “Well, yes sir,” Diggins nodded.

    “Then it’s settled,” Dexel smiled and clapped the man’s back. “How about you come with me to Terrific Street? I want to get on that tongo wheel before it gets packed.”

    It didn’t take the young man long to accede to the Hekaran’s request. The older man ushered Diggins out of the door before turning around. “And what about you Ensign Lytton?” Dexel asked. “Care to join us.”

    “I have completed my tests on the transwarp drive,” she answered quickly.

    “After then? You know Terrific Street never closes down,” Dexel offered.

    She rattled off several other priorities. “Oh, well,” the chief engineer shrugged. “Next time.”

    “Next time?” The woman asked, tilting her head to the side.

    “There will be a next time,” Dexel replied with confidence. Lytton opened her mouth, but she had no reply. Dexel grinned. “Something not computing I see.”

    The woman blinked, unable to form a stinging retort. And that’s how the man left her, on a ledge. She moved the Dexel puzzle up on her list before returning back to the transwarp drive.

    **********************************************************************
     
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  13. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    I've never seen a former drone left speechless before. Keep an eye on Dexel. He's one heck of an engineer and reminds me of a couple of others who are pretty amazing.