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Fanfic , "Myrmidons" by Patrickngo, Starswordc, and Knightraider6.

patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
edited September 2018 in Ten Forward
This story is part of The War of the Masters and is aimed at adults and older teens. Content warnings: violence, language, sexual and drug references.
Myrmidons

By Patrickngo, StarSword-C, and Knightraider6

Myr·mi·don
ˈmərməˌdän,-mədən/
noun
noun: Myrmidon; plural noun: Myrmidons
  1. a member of a warlike Thessalian people led by Achilles at the siege of Troy.
  2. a hired ruffian or unscrupulous subordinate.
noun: myrmidon; plural noun: myrmidons
“he and his myrmidons were ensconced in a bunker”


Prologue: Ashalla Temple College, Ashalla, Bajor. September, 2413.

“…she’s disciplined. It’s actually a little disturbing how disciplined.”

“How so?”

“For a Bajoran, she would make a good Vulcan,” the prylar says as we step out into the parade ground. Sheri Walford’s standing at attention in the middle of the quad.

She’s been there for days. Not because someone told her, but because she’s persistent.

“WALFORD!” I use the tone I’ve used before to get her attention. “What are you doing?”

“Waiting, ma’am.” She straightens to attention. There’s a lot of exhaustion in her eyes, and I can smell that she’s been sweating in that exact spot long enough to accumulate some truly epic body odor.

“Waiting… for what, exactly?” I know what she’s waiting for. Starfleet’s Training and Doctrine Command sent me the paperwork. I got it just a few hours before the request from the Temple to step in on the matter was passed to me by Kurland.

“Waiver processing, Ma’am,” she answers. “I passed my General Ed, and regulation stipulates my prior service time is good for Academy Credit.” The look in her eyes makes my back hurt.

She’s a year young according to Starfleet regs but an adult according to Bajoran law, and Starfleet has the programs, and I gave her the phekk'ta literature.

“At ease, Marine.” I tell her. “Rest. Prophets, you… you need to get your head around the idea that you don’t have to do these theatrics!”

“I submitted six months ago, ma’am,” she tells me, still rigid, but at least her feet are shoulder-width apart. “No answer, when I came to check up on it, they said it was still in processing…”

“And you decided to wait in the quad.”

“Public property, ma’am. They can’t evict me for vagrancy if I’m not sleeping here, I know the ordinances.” She grimaces. “I’m not cut for civilian life, ma’am,” she tells me. “Lisa’s got her music, Nung’s got her thing, the boys have theirs. I need something, and while I love having family, bàn chân của tôi ngứa cho một boong, ma’am.”

My feet itch for a deck, I mentally supply from my rudimentary Viet. Silently, I wish every last bloody b*stard in Tran’s and Mulvaney’s governments a nice long stay in whatever Hell they believe in. Moab turned a generation of children into soldiers and spacers, then dumped them off on the rest of us for political reasons, no safety net, no de-transitioning. Their training methods must be some kind of violation of sapient rights, because not a single one of them, not one of the Discharge Kids, as they term themselves, has so far been able to say they’ve made a smooth transition to civilian life—their suicide rates are truly epic.

The Pah-wraiths care more for those that serve them.

“Your application for an enlisted position is denied,” I tell her, handing her a PADD and stylus. “Sign here.”

“Ma’am?”

“Sign the damn acceptance form. You’re to begin summer term as a cadet in the Reserve Officer Training Program, which counts toward Academy credits and officer training,” I explain. “Which means you need to get cleaned up and grab sleep before reporting to your Cadet Training Officer for intake.”

Her control slips for just a moment. “You mean I—Aye Mum!” She quickly scribbles her name on the screen.

Her Uncle finally gets her off the parade field.

“A cadet slot?” the Prylar asks me in Bajor’la.

“Determination, intelligence,” I tell him. “And I read her senior paper. She would be great in the Militia, but she’ll be better fit to Starfleet, and she can do more.”

Since I’m here, I might as well…

Along the way I find myself to be confined within me
No place for any others mind to interfere
To grasp the meaning of it all, to overcome my limits
And dance away from any void and empty tones

Just tell me why
Just tell me how I can survive this time

Believe yourselves and look away from all that's right within you
Leave all your worries at the door and drift away
I’ve tried to peer into the core but could not storm the sorrow
My hollow heart has bled me dry, left me to stray

Another time
Without a trace
Condemn me now
Send me to hell for I’m already failing

Intertwine the lines that swim beneath the dark
Realize the pain we live in
Demonize the need we reel in
No, in my memories I’ll dig deep enough to know
Centuries of dreams unending
Another me that yielded tears when someone had betrayed

No time should ever go to waste, it’s not that complicated
You’re free to live your life at ease, no more restraints
No heed for shadows on your way that try to steal your laughter
Your light will drive them all away, be confident

Will I refrain?
Can I repent?
Will you be there?
Erase the page for I’m alone and ailing

Intertwine the lines that swim beneath the dark
Realize the pain we live in
Demonize the need we reel in
No, in my memories I’ll dig deep enough to know
Centuries of dreams unending
Another me that yielded tears when someone had betrayed

So - this is my life
And it can’t break me down
Go - I will decide
Who can come in
And heal my disease
Burn it - in flames
Kill it - and maim
Why can't you see that you need to be freed

Intertwine the lines beneath the dark
Every bit of pain we're feeling
Every other solemn life
No, in the memories you will find somehow
There used to be a dream unending
No more need to be alone

Intertwine the lines that swim beneath the dark
Realize the pain we live in
Demonize the need we reel in
No, in my memories I'll dig deep enough to know
Centuries of dreams unending
Another me that yielded tears when someone had betrayed


Epica, “Storm the Sorrow”
Music by Coen Janssen and Simone Simons
Lyrics by Mark Jansen

Fana Residence, Valan Township, Seles Province…

Nung’s different. Younger, human, same phekk'ta brainwashing, only smart enough to understand it is brainwashing. Of the kids, she’s had a weirder time adapting—her foster parents write glowing reports, her teachers as well. It’s a nice day when I visit her at the fosterage, not too hot out, and she makes us lunch. Pho’gah, a Moabite version of Vietnamese noodle soup.

“You let Walford make a fool of herself for three days,” I note, then take a whiff of the soup. “Mmm, damn I wish I could cook like this.”

Nung looks up. “She’s a free sentient, Mum, her choice. She’s not property of anyone, not even on the genetic level.”

I blink. “What?”

“I sliced into the hospital database,” Nung tells me. “Following up on a rumour, and what that Vulcan of yours said at the hearing. My f*cking genes are stamped Federation property with a national stock number. You didn’t tell me about it, but I know you saw.”

“First, what were you doing in the database?” I shouldn’t be surprised at this point, but the amnesty deal only covers them up to 2412. I’d rather her foster parents not have to pick her up from provincial court.

She shrugs at me. “I was bored,” she tells me. “Idle hands, training, keep it sharp… so I wanted to see what was there. It was educational.” She leans on her elbows. “My childhood, before I enlisted, was any of it real?”

“I don’t know,” I tell her honestly. “I don’t know much at all about it, it was a black project from a decade before I was born. I’m pretty sure Moab III was the test site—several of your founders or their relatives were involved. And before you ask why I didn’t tell you, I didn’t know how. I’m sorry.”

She shrugs it off. “Well, now the fursnake’s out of the cupboards on in the kitchens. There’s a rumour on Fleetbook that a bunch of us were lab-grown. I wanted to disprove it, found out I can’t, because I’m one.”

“Have you told anyone else?”

She shakes her head in denial. “No. You, I can tell. Not sure how Mr. and Mrs. Fana would take it… but I think I get why Khan went off the rails.” She stirs her lunch on the stove. “He knew from birthing onward, what he was, and they told him he was special, which is like, the worst thing you can make a kid think, especially if he’s got objective proof of it. Hella way to feed megalomania, dig?”

“Are you worried about that?”

She nods. “Yeah.” Her expression is serious. “Bad enough when I was arrogant because I thought I was lucky, or skilled. Last thing you want, if you’re scr*wing around with eugenics, is to let your subjects start thinking they’re objectively better than other people, and I was already fighting that urge, because I’m faster than other kids around here, and quicker mentally, better grades, easier studying, and I haven’t gotten sick like… ever. So I’m already wrestling with my own arrogance, and come to find out I was some Starfleet doctor’s pet experiment gone rogue?” She shakes her head. “Now I’m fighting off a different kinda mental illness.”

“Because it says ‘property’.” Here, this I understand.

“Yeah, ‘disposable’, so there’s a little depression there, and a real, valid concern that I’m gonna go all ‘augment supremacist’ or some crazy-*ss sh*t, or someone else will—someone else finds out what me and the others are, gets freaked, or worse, lets themselves get all megalomaniac about it.”

“What do you think?” I ask her. She turns the burner off, and fills two bowls, one for me, and one for herself.

“Never let me get a position of authority,” she tells me. “That’s Humanity’s answer, anyway. I can see why—the Eugenics Wars were some epic bad sh*t. Problem is, I looked at those numbers, and did some math. Some of us already guessed it, or saw something, or whatever. I was looking after a lead someone else dropped in Fleetbook, which means there’s lots of us, and my med-scans show my eggs are viable. My ovaries work… and if my ovaries work, then some Siegfried boy’s sperm probably works… and on the missions, people got horny, they didn’t stop when they were kicked. Long term, it’s going into the general gene-pool, so maybe Humanity’s answer isn’t the right answer.”

“But you don’t have an answer,” I point out.

“Correct, Ma’am,” she says, blowing on her noodles. “I haven’t worked it out. I don’t know enough to figure it out… but I’m inside the problem, and the ‘humanity’ answer sucks *ss. I don’t want to be in quarantine for the rest of my life, but if one of us goes off the rez, that’s what’s gonna happen—because the people who aren’t stamped as property? They’re free, and they’re actually right from a certain point of view—we’re dangerous.

“I don’t believe that,” I tell her.

“Marissa Chung,” she tells me, “one of the grunts on Son Tay, one of the Goralis kids too—she got home, and nutted out, so they took her to a mental institution on Betazed. She killed three people and harmed dozens before they contained her, she’s in a coma right now. Soldier phenotype, like Jose, but girly. Rumour has it she was exposed to some heavy duty propaganda, and it cracked her brain like an egg. Made her Điên, nuts, dangerous and delusional-they f*cked up the formula, I think, or maybe her batch of it, got something wrong either in the genetics or in the in-vitro phase, it’s hard to find info on that stuff.”

I get it now, she’s scared. “You’re afraid it’s going to happen to you.”

“Marissa turned eighteen and went off the rails,” she asserts. “Suicides were mostly in the seventeen-and-a-half to nineteen range… What if I’ve got a time bomb in my brain, Captain? What if I get to eighteen, and my mind comes apart?” she gestures out the window at her foster-brothers playing outside, “Who protects them from me, if I start seeing the enemy everywhere? If I lose the ability to hold back?”

“Show me what you’re basing that on,” I tell her.

She slides a student terminal across the table. Most of the bookmarked information is ‘public education’ on Earth history certified by the Federation’s Department of Education. Extensive studies of the main players in the Eugenics Wars, the public data on Khan’s return, and FNN profiles of the Sons of Khan, an extremist group.

Later parts include the public speeches of Johnson Cave, the former Foreign Minister, and then, there’s the Denali incident from a few years ago… from the perspective of United Earth’s government.

It’s not hard to parse what’s going on in her head—Nung’s still a kid, extremely bright or not. It’s like looking at a primer on how to make someone like her hate and distrust themselves. Sometimes, just sometimes, human culture is so wrong.

“You need to meet someone,” I tell her.

“Who?”

“Doctor Julian Bashir. Class of ‘64, CMO under the Emissary, or I guess Captain Sisko to you, during the Dominion War. Look him up.” I slide the tablet back across the table. “You’re not ‘fated’ to go insane, I cannot believe that, and even if you are, it can be fixed.” I gulp down another mouthful of pho and lean forward on my hands. “You know what I like to do, Amanda?”

“What?”

“Something I discovered in the war, something I don’t tell very many people. I’m sure you’ve felt it—you go into combat, you’ve got the enemy in your gunsight. And then you pull the trigger, and you know it—whether you’re the type that has to train and practice to take a life, the kind that has to pretend they're shooting a target instead of a person… or the kind that doesn’t.”

“And you’re…”

I spread my hands, shrugging. “The latter. It’s easy for me to kill people, and I like it. I love flying and I like the challenge of pitting myself against another commander, but I get a real kick out of personally putting a phaser bolt or a bayonet into whatever poor sod happens to be in my way. It’s addictive, it’s like a phekk’ta drug to me.”

She just stares at me. “And you’re still in Starfleet? I mean, how do you deal with that?”

I take a pull on my mug of kava juice. “It took a little therapy, I won’t lie. I decided even though I didn’t like me very much afterwards when I got like that, I still loved being in space and having a job that meant something. I doubled down on trying to be the best damn captain I possibly can and trying to find ways to help people, be something I could be besides a natural killer. I don’t have to feed the beast, I just have to keep in mind the beast is there.”

“So you’re thinking—”

“Yeah. Nature versus nurture and so forth. You should look at some of the alternate theories on Khan and the rest of them, like out of Tau Ceti. Khan didn’t come out of nowhere—I fought with a few Taus during the war, and a bunch of the people who settled that system say it was Hindu ultranationalists made him as a weapon. And don’t a lot of natural humans have something called an ‘MAOA-L variant’, correlates to aggression?”

“True,” she allows.

“I know for a fact I caught the equivalent on my dad’s side. But all I gotta do is decide, no, I don’t have any reason to kill this person and I got a lot of good reasons not to.”

She starts to nod. “I think I understand, ma’am.”

“So do me a favor, all right? Don’t sweat this cr*p, worry about what you can actually change. Keep up your appointments with your therapist. You got lucky you landed on Bajor—one bright spot of our history, we’ve got more experience dealing with PTSD symptoms than a lot of planets. And, next time you want to go on a slicing spree, Nung?” She looks up at me, a little red-faced. “There’s a form you fill out on the Ministry of Justice extranet site to get a license as a security tester.”

“I—Huh. I didn’t even think of that.”

I grin at her. “You play it right, you could even get college credit for it, if you want to go that way. And I think I’m gonna have seconds,” I add, reaching for the noodle spoon in the pot.

end prologue part one
Post edited by patrickngo on
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  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited October 2018
    Myrmidons
    By Patrickngo, StarSword-C, and Knightraider6

    Chapter 1: Reunions


    Field Hospital, Hathon, Bajor, 29 May 2415…

    Militia Warrant Amanda Nung saluted him from the biobed. “Sir, my sector’s clear, sir.” they arranged the sheets to cover it, but he could see where her legs just ended above the knee. Nothing could quite conceal the array of bruises, or the fact she was saluting with one arm, and the other, proper one, was immobilized and bound in a presersleeve with intravenous tubing, to allow the machinery to rebuild the crushed bones.

    Captain Reshek Gaarra returned the salute. “I hear the Militia’s got another forgot-to-duck medal for you, Warrant Officer. You know for a smart person, you do some damn stupid things.”

    She shrugged. “Found it though, sir—the Lure, where your guys thought it would be.” She flinched a little. “Still hurts.”

    The air raid siren went off again, and again the anti-orbital guns fired, the thunderclaps echoing across the city. “How many more swarmers are there in this system?” somebody complained from the next bed.

    Nung’s legs ended at the knee again. “As many as they think it’ll take, Kren,” she spoke up. “Be nice to know how many they was gonna use to kick our *sses, but…” A nurse stepped over and upped her dose of painkillers.

    “It’s just stragglers at this point, Nung,” Gaarra assured her. “They’ve mined the Celestial Temple again, too; there won’t be any more surprises from that direction.”

    “I wonder how p*ssed that’s gonna make the Prophets. We keep putting bombs on their doorstep,” Nung commented. “Seems like eventually they'd get annoyed about that.”

    “That’s one for a priest, Warrant Officer. My dad wanted me to go to seminary but it wasn’t my thing.”

    “Any word from Walford?” Nung asked.

    “She’s reported to Admiral Kanril, they’re on the way back from Tau Dewa.”

    Nung squinted up at the big man. “‘Admiral Kanril’?” she repeated. “You two have been together how long?”

    “When I’m on duty, she’s still my superior officer,” he reminded her. “We’ve been talking about it a little though.” He grimaced and admitted, “I’m trying to work up the courage to ask her to marry me.”

    Nung shrugged. “I’ve never had that problem—not yet anyway. Yed was kinda cute before that bug cut him in half, but you should ask her before something happens.”

    He sighed. “Yeah, I know. But between the Iconians and now this mess, we’ve only even been in the same sector one month out of three the past two years since she made admiral.”

    Nung peered out of her bandaged face. “So next time, even if you gotta write it on your forehead you ask her.” She sighs. “But wait until you’re not all… like… wavy and shiiii…” and she was out.

    The nurse flushed. “Apologies sir, it was supposed to kick in sooner…”

    “Don’t worry about it, Lieutenant. If you’re running out of room here, we’ve cleared most of the walking wounded out of my sickbay—I can take a few on Bajor. And I can get the cybernetics lab on replacing her legs.”

    “Doctor’s over there,” she said in a grateful tone, pointing across the rows of beds.


    USS Wolf 359, 8 hours out from the Bajoran system…

    “Casualty reports from the action on Bajor, ma’am.” Walford hands me a listing. “You’ll be pleased to know, Captain Reshek Gaarra made it.”

    “You read them first?” I ask her.

    “Aye, ma’am. Jose didn’t make it, and Nung’s in critical care.” Her tone’s a little dulled, but her expression’s clear. She’s been through this before, but she’s still so young and sometimes I forget.

    “What about your family?”

    She shrugs. “Got lucky. The main fighting was closer to the capital, and some in Hathon and Perikian provinces. The Alenises made it through another invasion without a scratch, ma’am.” She smiles and it doesn’t reach her eyes. “The cousins are going to have stories for me, I think, and I’ll probably be buying drinks for their cadet class.”

    We’re eight hours out from Bajor by the battlecruiser’s best speed. My world, my home, was attacked, and not a by-blow from some other battle this time.

    But so far, they’ve made it.

    “What do they know about who attacked?” I ask.

    Walford doesn’t blink. “Insectoid, germanium-based, about three meters tall, carnivores with energy weapons and swarms of small ships supporting a few larger vessels. Nothing in Federation records.”

    The emphasis on ‘Federation’ records makes me look up. “But someone has records?”

    She shrugs. “Profile fits with two knowns in Klingon records, at least one Cardassian myth, and rumours from the Gamma, ma’am. Best match is the Hur’q—the methodology and quantities fit.”

    Sh*t, she’s been reading someone’s classified info again. “How do you know?”

    “Commander Mesi Achebe’s put it on the broadwave, ma’am,” Sheri explains, “and the Dominion said they were Hur'q. Page two of the after-action report in your hand.”

    “You could’ve led off with that,” I lightly chide her.

    “I had to verify, ma’am,” Walford tells me. “As your aide, I have to assure that reports passed to you are as accurate and verified as possible, to facilitate your ability to make good decisions as you make plans. Obtaining supplemental and supporting information helps keep the data stream clear.”

    That’s reassuring. She’s taking the training seriously, not digging into classified info this time. I page through the doc. “Yep, matches what I saw on the Qo’noS bortaS.”

    “Pardon, ma’am?”

    “Computer, clear Cadet Walford for code word COLT ALBATROSS SWEETGUM, authorization Kanril-Theta-24515.”

    Despite the seriousness, she can’t help but snicker a bit at her first encounter with Starfleet code words. “COLT—seriously?

    I shrug. “I’m pretty sure they program the RNG to be as innocuously absurd as Bajoranly possible. This happened about five years ago; you can review the mission report when you have a moment. Short version, I went out chasing General K’Ragh shortly after the Risa Armistice, and we ended up finding this derelict Klingon ship that had been drifting toward Andoria or thereabouts. There were still some live Hur’q aboard. Which reminds me—Computer, compose a memo to Starfleet Command for my signature, c.c. Klingon High Command. ‘I recommend immediate declassification and dissemination to interested parties of all materials relating to COLT ALBATROSS SWEETGUM.’”

    “Something like that was classified?” she repeats. “Why?”

    I lean back in my chair. “Klingon politics, mostly. See, the records and evidence we found on that boat contradicted quite a bit of official Klingon history. There’s a lot of reputations, quv, tied up in that. So several Houses fought its release, and as for us, well… Parts of the Federation government are just a little too eager to make nice with the Klingons sometimes, which, of course, you kinda know that already.”

    “Yeah, okay, that makes sense, ma’am.” She purses her lips for a moment. “Pardon me if I’m speaking out of turn but… You still don’t think the peace with the Klingons is gonna last, do you, ma’am?”

    I take a deep breath and let it out. “Off the record? I think it’ll last as long as the Klingons are having more fun shooting at Kinshaya, Heralds, or, well, Hur’q, than at us. I told K’Ragh back then, one of these days there won’t be another common enemy.”

    “And what do you think will happen then?”

    “Well…” I smile evilly. “That’ll be an interesting day.” She chuckles, perhaps a bit nervously, and I shrug. “Then again, I could just be a natural cynic.”

    “Yeah, uh… No offense, I'd rather it's that.”

    I snort. “Yeah, me too. Anyway, so they stopped Ty’Gokor’s publisher from using the manuscript, which of course p*ssed off K’Ragh to no end, let me tell you—I would’ve bet money he was gonna duel someone over it. A year or so back, he settled for telling the Council where they could stick it and self-published volume one, it’s called Foolish Notions. I reckon after this mess he might be able to get the pros interested.”

    Walford inclines her head. “Reading list, maybe?” I nod my agreement. “So that’s how the two of you got to be friends, huh? Exploring an old Klingon cruiser?”

    “Mmm-hm. And playing exterminator for a few hours, and by ‘old’?” I smile at her. “They had vacuum tubes in the computers.”

    “Vacuum tubes? What’s a vacuum tube?”


    “A switch, more or less. Technological predecessor of the transistor, what preceded the laser-diode switches in modern ODN circuitry, except analog and a hell of a lot bigger.” I chuckle. “That ship was like a museum, it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.”

    Walford contemplates for a moment. “That’s… How primitive is it?”

    “The computers barely managed eight bits, and used magnetic tape for memory. I didn’t even think it was possible to run a warp drive off something like that. And the whole center section of the ship had to spin for gravity.” I smile at the memory. “He said it was over a thousand years old. The ‘forward’ end was heavily armored because the thing didn’t even have a rudimentary deflector, and it had to warp blind.”

    She gapes. “Were they nuts???

    “Everything we’ve found says they were under threat of extinction. Their war with the Hur’q is part of the reason so much of Qo’noS is borderline uninhabitable, and it’s a good part of why the Klingons seem to view everything as a possible threat. They fought them off with nuclear weapons.”

    “Nukes? Hydrogen or—”

    “U-235 and Pu-239 fission bombs, mostly. Early ones, they seem to have been mid-Nuclear Age when the bugs landed.”

    “Wow…”

    “About a century later, three-quarters of the population was dead, but they’d cracked warp 4 drives and directed energy weapons and turned the tables. And that’s why you never underestimate a Klingon.”

    “That means they had warp drive before they had…” I can see her thinking it through. “… before they had integrated circuits.”

    I nod. “Keep at it. Think about what Klingon tech is like now, in general.”

    “Lots of manual controls and overrides,” she says. “Kind of a weird thing, going to Starfleet after MCDF. We thought it was dumbed-down models, except I saw their bridges often enough. Lots of manual calculations and tables I had to memorize. And rugged as all hell, redundancies out the wazoo.”

    I nod. “Yep. They’ve always been a couple decades or more behind the bleeding edge, but they’re fine with brute-forcing a solution and their stuff works, and it lasts. You can leave a Klingon disruptor underwater in a swamp for a month and it’ll still fire. I try that with my MACO battle rifle… Well, I could probably save time if I threw it straight in the trash.”

    She nods agreement. “That’s kinda why the MC picked up a lot of Klingon tech, and why pilot crew got so much extra training… not to mention DC training for everyone on the crew.”

    “Yeah, that’s something I’m going to be rolling out to the task force when I take command. Along with a few other things.”

    “Speaking of, I’ve got your squadron list, ma’am.” She flips to a new screen on her PADD. “I’ve been following up, but…”

    She hands me the list. “I think someone thought they were saving you time. I was trying to verify…”
    Joint Task Force Myrmidon, Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Kanril Eleya commanding

    USS Bajor (NCC-97238) - Galaxy-class battleship (Block 23) - Capt. Reshek Gaarra
    USS Tsushima (NCC-97512) - Avenger-class battlecruiser (Block 2) - Capt. Tesjha Phohl
    USS Wolf 359 (NCC-97508) - Avenger-class battlecruiser (Block 2) - Capt. Timih Ra-Gruvloveii
    USS Snohomish (NCC-90229) - Reliant-class light cruiser (Block 1)
    USS Kongo (NCC-1710-B) - unique prototype heavy cruiser - Capt. Marsilla McKnight
    USS Nighthawk (NCC-74981) - Sovereign-class missile cruiser (Block 1*(6)) - Capt. M'Karrett


    3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, Moab Confederacy

    MCDS Saskatoon Hills (DV-15) - QIn-class raptor, light carrier conversion (VF-11 tactical fighter wing) - LtCol. Peregrine Wahlberger
    MCDS Frasier Bay (DV-16) - QIn-class raptor, light carrier conversion (VF-22 Tactical fighter wing)
    MCDS Phan Minh (FFG-22) - Hegh’ta-class heavy bird-of-prey (retrofit) - Maj. Theed Danjha
    MCDS Mitchellville (DGS-4) - K’Vort-class retrofit heavy destroyer - Maj. Jena

    Battalion 1, 9th Marines (#3MEF)
    Coy A
    Coy B
    CoyC
    SSR Coy

    Other Allied Units:

    SDF Kukri - Somraw-class raptor, (retrofit, export) - Maj. Sanjit Kaur
    RRW Shavokh (ch’M’R 667) - Aelahl-class light battlecruiser - Cdr. Dhiemn tr’Mrian

    “Well, I guess we are keeping the Wolf 359 after all,” is my first thought. “Still gonna move my flag. Interesting they pulled Tess away from chasing Tholians. Be good to see her again.”

    “It’s multinational,” Sheri notes, “and about half of it is from the MC.”

    “I thought Odie was trying to get the Confederacy out of fighting wars halfway across the galaxy.”

    “‘Odie’?” she repeats softly, covering her mouth to hide a smile. “You mean Odelaw… most of those ships are from the Cold Butte squadrons—Debbie Mac’s people.”

    “Okay, yeah, that makes more sense. K’Ragh must’ve given them to her from somewhere in his back cupboard. In fact—Yeah, I thought I recognized that name.” I tab over to the Frasier Bay. “Yeah, that one used to be the nu’paH out of Woldan’s House fleet; I actually shot at her once. K’Ragh must’ve talked his father into giving it to Debbie Mac as a wedding present or something.”

    “You’re gonna want to distribute those Marines,” Walford suggests. “I’ve seen a QIn retrofit, putting a company of infantry with suits on it makes sh*t super crowded, and you’ve got four companies of them.”

    “Well, there’ll be plenty of room on Bajor. They never did get around to switching her back from a troop carrier configuration after Berun’s World.”

    Walford nods. “It’s gonna need the room. They gave it a full SSR company, which means heavy construction gear and double strength.”

    “Be good to mix and match the crews, too. I don’t think the Hothies and Denalis will have any trouble getting along, but…”

    “But, the CO of the Mitchellville is Moabite and an ethnic Chameloid, and a bunch of these rosters came off the Goralis taskforce lists,” Walford tells me. “Most haven’t got more than a few months out of Cardassian custody.”

    “I’m honestly more worried about our people working with them, Cadet. November 2406 wasn’t that long ago.”

    Sheri looks a little abashed. “Yeah, I kinda forget about that, ma’am.”

    “I want to make sure there’s at least one Moab Marine unit posted to each Starfleet ship. A couple platoons at least. Start them drilling with the redshirts and mingling. And I need to figure out who on each ship I can rely on to put a smackdown on any discipline problems, you follow me? I trust M’Karrett—” Gaarra and Tess go without saying. “—but I’ve never met Captains McKnight or Williams.”

    Sheri tabs through her PADD. “Not a lot here. Lieutenant Commander Williams is 28, so he graduated during the war, but late. And there’s neither jack nor sh*t about McKnight except she’s about as non-human as you can physically get.”

    “She’s Denali according to this.”

    “Yeah, Denali phenotype, but the Earth-human portions of her genome are completely wrong.” Sheri notes, “and her service record is one big wall of ‘classified’.”

    Her eyes light up. “Grab 3rd platoon from Alpha for us, ma’am,” she says. “Meggie Chi’en’s good, and I went through Suit training with An Kat Lung—she shipped to Ty’Gokor about the same time we shipped for Goralis.”

    “I’ll think about it. In the meantime, get me profiles on the officers and crew of the non-Starfleet units, with your best pull at recommendations.” I tell her. It’s the scutwork staff officers have to learn, and I’m not letting her off easy for a number of reasons. “I'm going to finish this paperwork and get some rack time before I have to change clothes. Uniform of the day will be full dress black, by the way.”

    “Aw, maaan…

    Post edited by starswordc on
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Something wrong, something right
    Something missing
    Something black, something light
    Something different
    Don’t you ever feel you need to speak to me that way
    Something black, something light
    Something different
    Something wrong, something right
    Something missing
    Don’t you ever feel you need to speak to me that way

    All this noise in my head
    Ringing through and echoing
    Simple things just take too long, long, long
    It’s not like I’m not listening
    But you just keep on flipping it
    And maybe one day I’ll be gone, gone, gone

    Something wrong, something right
    Something missing
    Something black, something light
    Something different
    Don’t you ever feel you need to speak to me that way
    Something black, something light
    Something different
    Something wrong, something right
    Something missing
    Don’t you ever feel you need to speak to me that way
    To me that way

    Try to leave the past behind me
    But you just keep reminding me
    And throw it in my face so wrong, wrong, wrong
    I try to see things your way
    But something changes everyday
    And every question way too long, long, long

    Something wrong, something right
    Something missing
    Something black, something light
    Something different
    Don’t you ever feel you need to speak to me that way
    Something black, something light
    Something different
    Something wrong, something right
    Something missing
    Don’t you ever feel you need to speak to me that way
    To me that way, to me that way

    Ooh, ooh, I’ve been missing yesterday
    Ooh, ooh, taking me so far away from where I belong, yeah
    Making me someone I've never known

    Something wrong, something right
    Something missing
    Something black, something light
    Something different
    Don’t you ever feel you need to speak to me that way
    Something black, something light
    Something different
    Something wrong, something right
    Something missing
    Don’t you ever feel you need to speak to me that way
    To me that way, to me that way


    Godsmack, “Something Different”
    Songwriters, Sully Erna, Shannon Larkin, Robbie Merrill, and Tony Rombola

    “When Rakantha Province Governing Minister Kalin Tala successfully parlayed the Bureau of Colonial Development resettlement scandal into a come-from-behind victory in the Bajoran state election of 2406, few could have predicted what happened next. The Bajoran Nationalist Party had long been known for its secessionist stance, costing it much of its power for the preceding two decades, but newly elected First Minister Kalin was shortly to defy expectations, as well as many luminaries of her own party, by allying herself firmly with Starfleet Admiral Stephen Alcott and ramming through a declaration of war against the Klingon Empire. Within two weeks, a regiment of Bajoran Militia artillerymen played a critical role in Alcott’s entrapment of a Klingon invasion fleet at the Battle of Baraka, and Bajoran ground forces continued to be an integral part of Alcott’s fleet until the end of the war.

    “Such defiance of expectations proved a hallmark of Kalin’s tumultuous three terms in office. In retrospect her policy goals were clear: she accepted her people’s strong desire to remain in the Federation and strengthen their ties with its other worlds, but if such was their wish, then by gosh it would happen on
    Bajoran terms. By the time she stepped down in 2421, the BNP had been transformed and many of its former leaders ousted or forced into retirement, and Bajor had allied itself firmly with many of the worlds on the fringes of Federation space. This culminated in the founding of the Rim Sovereignty Caucus in the Federation Council in 2411. Initially comprising twelve homeworlds and thirty-seven first-wave colonies with Bajor as its de facto head, the passage of the Colonial Authority Restoration Act authored by Bajor, Trill, and Bolias, and a subsequent surge of colonies acceding to full membership, nearly tripled its voting power. Bajor’s vigorous defense of cultural freedoms and the rights of colonies and member planets gained them many friends both within the Federation and without, which was to prove critical in the calamity of May and June 2415.”
    Alpha, Beta, Gamma: A Political Analysis of the Dominion-Hur’q Conflict by Dr. Allanna zh’Thulin and Professor Rozalija Grgić, New Aberdeen City University, Aldebaran III, 2425
    “...after the conclusion of the so-called ‘Election Wars’, the MCDF was a house divided-on one side, the forces loyal to Reconciliationist First Minister Donald Odelaw’s coalition, which were briefly supported by the United Federation of Planets and whose whole platform was a return to Federation control, and on the other, the various nationalist and independence parties represented by First Minister Debra MacAulliffe, whose secessionist capital on Cold Butte represented a minority of the nation’s population, but a majority of it’s worlds and holdings. The solution was a ‘two militaries’ division, creating the Moab Homeland Security Service mostly from Rec Loyalist veterans and those personnel willing to intermix, and the MCDF ‘proper’-which would become colloquially termed “The Marine Corps”. The MHSS, having been largely formed, equipped, and trained by Starfleet, remained primarily armed, equipped, and trained by Federation Starfleet forces. The MCDF would remain largely dependent on licensed-production and surplused Klingon equipment, along with domestically developed systems, including their use of quantum implant technologies, augmented battle armor, and klingon derived field doctrines…in order to prevent new outbreaks of internecine political violence, and to establish a working relationship, while tasks would be divided between the services, personnel were also divided up, intermixing between veterans in each group was voluntary, and paid somewhat better than remaining on one side or the other.
    In spite of this, many veterans on both sides refused to accept transfer between services, and each service as a result would diverge in terms of internal culture and traditions.

    The attack on Bajor in 2415 saw units deployed by both agencies, with little coordination initially, to relieve a world both sides saw as a natural ally on the Galactic Stage...”

    On approach to Federation Starbase Deep Space 9…

    From the outside, the station is a mess. There are lots of ships evident too: the IKS bortaSqu’—which means Chancellor J’mpok, and that realization makes me grit my teeth—the USS Enterprise, even a few Tzenkethi.

    But my eye is instantly on who else is here. “I didn’t think they were deployable.”

    Captain Ra-Gruvloveii looks up. “Ma’am?”

    “That’s the MCDS Severed Angel.” I point to a pip on the plot. “An older vo’quv-class carrier, last operational at Goralis. Her CO was in sort of a legal limbo, and the ship itself was supposedly non-mission capable for years.”

    A few to’Duj fighters sweep by on patrol patterns—or possibly just play-fighting with the Militia Longbows also evident—as Walford studies the plots. “IKS Pragmatic Action’s here too, but I don’t see General Ssharki’s boat… and… hm. IKS veq’Duj. And I’ve got transponder from MCDS Lillian Barnes and MCDS Elizabeth Tran out there—those’re from—”

    “—from the Arluna squadron, and the Base Alpha units,” I finish for her. “Debbie Mac must’ve emptied the cupboards as soon as the first distress signals went out.”

    “Yes’m… Also MHSS Sierdegardt and Goldberg.”

    The ships from the two Moabite factions aren’t mixing: they hold station with a goodly number of Romulan, Starfleet, and Klingon vessels between them. Of course, it takes a pretty good eye to tell the differences—the Sierdegardt’s an old Dakota-class cruiser, not the refit, but the original model, and the Goldberg is in pretty rough shape, even for a first-production Defiant-class.

    I notice some familiar shaped wreckage in the distance. The color not so. Starfleet generally didn’t paint their ships the blue of glacier ice, but I know who did. One quick check of the report confirms it. “The Denali showed up too, they have the only blue Avenger-class.”

    “Confirmed, Admiral. SDF Vancouver. Or it was… survivors are being treated on Bajor.”

    “And over there, RSC Calvin Hudson, or what’s left of her.” The Q-ship, a refitted Cardassian-built freighter, has had half her crew section opened to space and four of her six disruptor arrays have been burned off.

    “‘RSC’?” somebody repeats.

    “‘Rim Security Coalition’, Petty Officer,” Walford explains. “Basically privateers, a bunch of the ex-Maquis worlds around here put it together after CARA passed.” She whistles lightly. “Bajor called…” She almost breaths it.

    “And they came,” I finish.

    “What’s the deal with the carrier, though? I saw the damage report on her, that thing was supposedly on the way to the breakers for salvage.”

    “I guess we can ask when we get docked. Whoever did the repairs, didn’t bother changing the transponder codes.”

    Walford studied the sensor readings. “They didn’t do a lot to fix it, either,” she notes. “Half the onboard fuel tankage is still ruptured, the port side flight decks are still open to space, shield coverage is around twenty percent, and her deflector’s still a mess… but she’s operating her full carrier wing in conjunction with… Looks like Bajoran patrol boats, but newer.”

    “Yep, that’s them. I don’t know how much you’ve been paying attention to state politics, Cadet, but the Chamber of Ministers reactivated Space Arm during the Iconian War. This system has been hit out of nowhere five times in the last decade, and this is the second time they've made it to orbit—not counting that stray Fek ship three years ago. I hear First Minister Kalin is even looking into buying and refitting some heavy cruisers from Starfleet mothball, what didn't get used up against the Heralds.”

    “Didn't you serve on a ship when you were in, ma'am?”

    “Yeah. Old ex-Breen frigate, the Kira Nerys.”

    A Cardassian vessel looms above what used to be the biggest ship in the Moabite navy. It looms, because it has the carrier under tow.

    “That’s not a Keldon-class,” the weapons officer observes.

    “No,” I correct him. “That’s a Keldon, but she’s been refitted. We knew they’d want to activate more of their fleet after the Goralis fighting.”

    “True Way stole a lot of their ships though… and that’s a Keldon alright, I’ve been on that ship.” Walford agrees with me.

    “Must be like old home week for you, Cadet,” the science officer notes, looking at Walford. “You deployed with that ship, didn’t you?”

    “No, sir, I was on the Nha Tranh,” she corrects him, “advance party. The Severed Angel was in the main body of our task force. She had five thousand of our guys aboard; most of them actually made it to be interned when the civil war broke out.”

    I feel a lead weight. “They run combat ops in vac-suits on that ship?” I ask.

    “Yeah. Standard practice.”

    “That’s why they didn’t bother to repressurize the flight decks—that’s a Marine crew, isn’t it?”

    She shrugs. “Fits. Someone must’ve talked fast to get the Cardassians to waste the tonnage towing it to the fight, but according to the last census, we still had seven thousand of ours attending ‘school’ in the Union. Underage for repatriation, so…”

    “But didn’t they amend the Discharge Act?”

    Walford shrugs, and checks her Fleetbook. “Yeah. both the Odelaw and MacAulliffe factions wrote in amendments to try and get the Cardassians to send ‘em back. ‘Both lifted the penalties imposed,’” she reads from some encyclopedia, “‘but the two versions were ruled to be mutually exclusive under Cardassian legal theory, and without a stable government, no negotiations for reciprocity or repatriation could be conducted until the two versions were regularized under international standards.’”

    I give her the eye. “Run and find out. Now, if you please.”

    Walford dashes out to make a call from my day quarters, using her own gear.

    “Deep Space 9 Control, this USS Wolf 359 requesting docking instructions.”

    “Wolf 359, this is Deep Space 9 Control. You’re clear to make dock at Pylon Two Lower. Sorry we can’t wipe the screen and polish the crystals for you, but we’re kind of damaged, Over.

    “Understood, Deep Space 9 Control. See you on the ground.”

    The conn officer looks nervous. “I’m not getting a tractor beacon, ma’am.”

    “Deep Space 9’s got perfectly adequate manual docking, Brennan,” I tell him.

    “Yes Ma’am… but it’s a small target…”

    “So fly carefully, and not a scratch on my paint if you please, Lieutenant,” Ra-Gruvloveii
    tells him.

    “Aye sir.” He looks like he’s trying to hatch an egg.

    “Lieutenant, can you make a manual dock? Sometime before I’m a grandmother?”

    He bites his lip.

    Sheri comes back out of my office. “Starfleet negotiated it,” she announces. “Admiral LaRoca got the two acting first ministers to agree to a compromise and ram it through their assemblies about a week before the attack on Bajor, and the votes cleared thirty minutes in—that was enough for the Cardies to turn loose the ships they were… ‘holding until the crisis is resolved’, as well as releasing Internees who were being detained pending charges.”

    “Which means in English?”

    “Colonel Eialu used to command that ship.” Walford says, “Not sure if she’s been released, but it doesn’t seem likely they would, not with what she did.”

    Captain Ra-Gruvloveii frowns. “What did she do?”

    “One hundred twenty thousand charges of Capital Murder under the Seldonis IV Convention,” I tell the Efrosian flatly. “Orbital bombardment of a race riot in the city of An Loc on Moab III.”

    “Potentially she saved millions,” Walford adds. “I mean, it’s ugly as hell, but the Cult was trying to stage an empire-wide coup complete with re-enactments of Kristallnacht.”

    He just gapes at us.

    “The Empire rules by fear,” I tell him. Then I pause and amend that. “No, that’s wrong… They maintain order with ruthlessness. It’s part of their basic psychology—I don’t know how much is genetic and how much is cultural, but Klingons tend to respond best to three things: courage, anger, and threat of force, and a threat’s only any good if you’re willing to carry it out. Sometimes that’s purely terror tactics, sometimes it isn’t… but don’t mistake them, if the Klingons think that you’re a threat to the stability of the Empire, there’s not a lot they won’t do, or sanction.”

    I glance at my aide. “And Sheri can attest, there are a lot of non-Klingons who do the same thing.”

    “Hey, I never crucified anyone,” Walford says, looking a little ashamed. “Just clean headshots. Even slavers don’t deserve that… but I know guys who did. They got trống mắt, and all they wanted was Trả thù for families killed or maimed by Orion slaving raids.”

    He stares at her like she’s suddenly grown three eyes and burst into flames. “You know people who’ve done that?”

    “Served with them, sir,” she corrects him, “in my old life. Before I was sixteen. It’s the border as it was.”

    “My father killed his first Cardassian when he was thirteen, Captain. With a bow and arrow. Used that man’s own disruptor to kill the next one. Then he remote-detonated a car bomb in downtown Kendra City when he was sixteen. ‘It’s easy to be a saint in Paradise’,” I quote sourly from the Book of the Emissary after a moment.

    The conn officer hisses in frustration. “I can’t do it, Ma’am.”

    Do you have any idea how long it’s taken me to get these officers to actually admit when they can’t do something? “Sheri… you’ve qualled on this helm, haven’t you?”

    “I’m qualified to coxs’n a smaller ship, ma’am,” she corrects me. “I have never helmed a cruiser-size vessel. I am not qualified.”

    This kind of makes me happy.

    “Step aside, Lieutenant. If I ding the ship, it’s on me.” I take the main helm position. “Get over here, take the secondary board. Time you learned something.”

    “Aye Mum.”

    I was a gunnery officer when I started out—which seems like eons ago, though incredibly it’s only been twelve years—but I had to cross-qualify on conn to serve bridge duty. Haven’t done it in forever, but the Avenger-class doesn’t handle much different than the Hammond did, at least at low speeds. “You had us mostly lined up, Lieutenant; you should trust yourself. Feather the aft jets a little more to starboard… and…”

    The docking clamps engage.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Sheri Walford, Starbase Deep Space 9…

    We step into the lift going to the wardoom, and I’ve got a briefcase full of PADDs for the Admiral, a pressed dress uniform, and she made me wear the damn medals. All of them. including the ones from when I was an MCDF enlisted...

    I must weigh twice what I weigh… or maybe that’s just the feeling of the stares.

    “Chin up, Cadet,” Admiral Kanril tells me, as the lift clears the entry for the main corridor in Crew Country.

    I have never in my life been in the presence of so much polished brass. “Ma’am, I think I’m lowest rank here,” I mutter.

    “Technically, you outrank the petty officers,” Admiral Kanril reminds me with a smile. “Stick close. Walk like you belong, you’ll be fine.”

    Truth is, I wanna pee my dress pants, I’m so nervous. At least the uniform of the day is dress black

    Legends. Captain Shon from the Enterprise is discussing something with Kai Kira, the bleeping Chancellor of the Klingon Empire is standing aloof, but General Martok himself is standing next to him, looking grim, and across the room, Fleet Admiral Cartwright, Quinn’s replacement, and a legend all on his own in Starfleet, is talking with Elwar Murin, the Overgeneral of the Bajoran Militia.

    “Admiral Kanril!” Va’Kel Shon greets my boss like an old friend; they shake hands.

    “Good to see you again, Captain. How’s life been treating you?”

    “Not bad. I ran into your former first officer downstairs, too; she’s looking well.”

    “Hope I can catch her later. Give my regards to Commander Kav.” Another name I have to look up later…

    Cartwright separates from the General in time to walk over, and extend a warm handshake to her as well.

    “I didn’t know you had a daughter, Admiral,” Cartwright says to her.

    Now I want to crawl into my boots and vanish.

    “She’s not my daughter, she’s my flag lieutenant, sir,” she answers in a tone that mostly manages not to sound nonplussed. “This is Cadet Third Class Sheri Walford, formerly Moab Confederacy Defense Forces, currently a junior in rotcee.”

    My face is flushed with a mix of embarrassment for her, and a deep desire not to be noticed. “Sir.” I salute him.

    He salutes me back, eying the fruit-salad and shiny bits on my tunic. “What branch are you going for?” he asks.

    “E-engineering, sir!”

    He nods. “I suppose that’s fine, but if you’re anything like your sponsor here—” He nods to Kanril. “—you’ll be in a command track programme before you realize it. Admiral, can you let your aide go for a few hours? We’re still waiting for the rest of the senior personnel to arrive, and junior officers, or officer candidates, really won’t learn much just waiting around.”

    It’s a hint she needs to dismiss me because whatever they’re going to be discussing isn’t for un-cleared ears.

    “Sheri, I’ve got this. Keep your combadge live and have a look around,” my admiral tells me. “Run and find things out.”

    “Aye Mum.” I hand her the case, and hurry to the turbolift.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Kanril Eleya, “Admiral’s Country”-Wardroom 1, Deep Space 9

    I feel like a proud parent as I watch Sheri disappear down the turbolift shaft. After that, it’s all business.

    Major Cu’oc Thim Truk is one of those stereotypical wiry little guys. The stains of burst blood vessels around his eyes and nose indicate he’s survived at least one violent decompression during his career, and the pilot’s wings on his overcoat say his ‘native branch’ was a fighter pilot.

    “How’d you end up commanding a full carrier?” I ask him. “I mean, you’re not even a silver-leaf.”

    “Colonel Eialu turned herself over for trial, I was the ranking man left.” He shrugs. “I’ve only been captain for like… what, thirty-five days now? We picked up Bajor’s distress signal on the way home and diverted. The Fourth Order hooked up with us about two hours into the fight. There were a lot of enemy ships out here.”

    “They took a lot of damage,” Commander Achebe adds.

    “Yeah, we’re going to end up being here for a while. I’m kind of hoping someone can unf*ck the payroll enough to cover our expenses until there’s yard space. I’ve got near enough thirty five hundred idled personnel and fifteen hundred wounded who are all kinda pissed because we were supposed to be going home.

    General Elwar pipes up, “We appreciate your situation, Major. We’re glad you came, but we appreciate what your people have gone through getting here, instead of making for your homeworlds.”

    “Hey, it’s not a big thing, Bajor stood for us when we went for independence, and you’ve treated ours incredibly well, just like your neighbours have, and ramming through CARA is a big deal to a lot of my guys and gals. About half of us voted Rec in the last election, it’s just too bad the votes got all screwed up.”

    “How did your people deal with the… the civil war?” I ask.

    “We were out of it, spent the whole thing interned. There were a few incidents, but the Cardassian cops handled most of the investigations and charges for us, and the Colonel kept a lid on any calls for reprisals until she turned herself in.” He sighs. “She did that for religious reasons.”

    “Religious reasons?”

    He shrugs. “One of the Chaplains got under her skin years ago, ever seen an Orion Christian? Once it was clear we could go home again, she submitted her resignation and turned herself over to the nearest Seldonis IV signatory authority, made everyone watch her do it so nobody could say she was coerced.”

    “If she’d waited forty-five days, we could have used her,” General K’Ragh notes, getting a harsh look from both Martok and J’mpok. “What? She’s a good carrier commander. Not to downgrade the Major’s performance, but Colonel Eialu is one of the better carrier bosses I’ve seen or served with.”

    “She chose an honorable path,” Martok says. “Not disagreeing that it may not have been the wisest path, but submitting to justice is honorable, if for no other reason than to clear the air…” the older man said carefully. “So… when will these rebels return to the Federation?”

    “That’s more complicated, sir,” K’Ragh states. “You weren’t there when they defected, you don’t know the particulars…”

    “I know that colonists don’t voluntarily secede,” Martok retorts. “Their defection was a dangerous political stunt. Humans should be content to live under Human law—and Human law means the Federation.” He crosses his arms as I gape. “Even Worf understood that his place is in the Empire with his people, and he was raised with humans.”

    I struggle to marshal a response to that—admiral means I have to be the adult in the room, but how in the Prophets’ unknowable names are you supposed to even begin to explain the last ten years to somebody who’s been out of circulation this long?—but Major Cu’oc beats me to it. “Excuse me, Sir. You’re a hero of mine, General Martok, sir, and a lot of my boys and girls look up to you as well. Your actions during the Dominion War and your strategies are things we emulate in training, there’s a street in Nha Tranh named “Martok Street’, it’s in one of the good parts of the city. I’m gonna suggest you are speaking from a position of unintended ignorance. Or we can take it planetside with your choice of weapons and settle that hash there… Sir.”

    Now it’s Martok’s turn to gape. “Hold it, Major!” Politics aside, now I speak up because there’s no time for this shiel’va verdanis. “Cu’oc, how did you vote in the election?”

    “Absentee, ma’am… but I supported the Social Democrats, why?”

    “So, you voted for Reconciliation’s moderate branch.”


    “Yes ma’am.”

    “So why are you making a deal out of this?” I ask. “Your vote—it was for basically what General Martok was advocating.”

    “Yeah, but a lot of my people don’t agree with it, and that includes people I have served with since before we hit Son Tay, Admiral, Ma’am… and besides, my executive officer is ethnic Klingon back three generations, and he wouldn’t be so polite about his rebuttal—he supported batlh qorDu’ je in his locals and Mặt trận Quốc gia for the governorship.”

    “A Kahlessian fundamentalist… and I don’t know the other.”


    “Means ‘Nationalist Front’,” I fill in for the confused Klingons. “Both of those parties supported the MacAulliffe faction during their civil war, and both are on the harder edge of opposing return to the Federation.”

    “A lot of my better people hold similar views, and we’ve been together longer than some,” the Major fills in. “We all tried to stay neutral in the outcome of the elections and in the conflict, because it’s our duty to stand aside where internal politics are concerned—something a lot of Marines failed to remember on both sides. The election was contested because someone really did try to cheat it, but that is zero excuse for the bombings, bloodshed and violence that resulted.”

    Martok looks thoughtful. “My… apologies.” he says.

    “Forgiven, sir. You didn’t know.” The major sighs. “I have five thousand some-odd troops that need to get home and help rebuild, and our ride’s busted. I can’t make payroll and they deserve to be paid.”

    “That will be taken care of,” J’mpok says evenly, looking at the Bajoran general, who nods assent.

    An aide comes up with a report for the Chancellor and I step back a bit, glancing about the room. People are still mingling before the official brief begins—Wait.

    Over by a red cowl and robes, standing next to Kai Kira in her red robes and peaked cap. For a moment, I think I’m seeing a ghost. Missy Travis is gone, killed when David Huntington publicly showed his treason. It can’t be…

    Stepping closer, not a ghost. Shorter, but Denali, her hair may be worn the same as Melissa did, but it’s more auburn instead of what she called ‘mousy-brown.’ The KDF honor sash tells me who I’m looking at as I step closer.

    The Kai catches me looking and nods. I bow respectfully as I approach. “Your Eminence.”

    “Admiral Kanril, thank you for coming.”

    “If I hadn’t been ordered here I would’ve gone AWOL; this is my home, Eminence.” I turn to the Denali, trying to remember what the three-lions-over-a maple-leaf rank means. “You must be Major Kaur. I should thank you for coming as well—Bajor is rather far from your homeworld.”

    “Sanjit Kaur, sir, or ma’am, whichever you prefer,” she replied tiredly. “And how could we not?” She gave a glance at J’mpok who was still conferring with the aide. “When we were forced to go independent, we reorganized our Homeguard into the Space Defense Force. There is more worth defending than just one world.”

    Evidently the rumors about J’mpok not being thrilled with the idea of helping against the Hur’q are true: he glowers a bit and walks further away. Martok, however, laughs openly. Despite the gravity of the entire situation I do have to grin. “Ma’am is fine, and indeed, Major, I agree. I just wish we had gotten here before the first attack like you did.”

    Her fox-like ears droop a bit at that, just like Missy’s used to. “I wish we did too. The Vancouver is faster than we are, and there was no indication of a threat—it was just a port call and some of our ministers meeting with your ministers to talk trade and such. I wanted to run some tests on some new gear, so the General said we could detour through the Briar Patch. By the time we got here, the Vancouver was on fire.”

    “So were six of the eight dreadnaught-size ships that attacked,” the Kai remarks, reminding me that she hasn’t always been in the priesthood. “Your battlecruiser held the big ships’ attention while the picket ships did what they could, and they held on until reinforcements started to arrive. It was as bad a fight in sight of Bajor since the Dominion War.”

    “How badly is she damaged?” I ask.

    Kaur shrugs. “Not sure yet, they’re still putting the list of what needs repair together, other like the obvious like new nacelles. Figure, four, six months in a yard. Of course it might take that long to tow her to one that is equipped for that class.”

    That fit what my engineer thought when he saw the damage. Less if they remove the other nacelle and replace them both as a pair, but either way they’re out for the foreseeable future. “And your ship?”

    “We were barely scorched, ma’am. Once we got into the system, General Chernkov had us concentrate on making sure the civil ships and freighters got clear of the fighting and were able to warp out.”

    “I see… and how many civilian ships were lost?”

    Her ears perk up a bit straighter. “None, Ma’am.”

    I nod approvingly as she continues. “I have some news from home that I was going to tell Kai Kira. They’re sending the SDF Singh from Cold Butte, ETA 24 to 36 hours with slipstream. There’s two heavy engineering brigades aboard, a full field hospital as well as the beds on the Singh.”

    “That is good news,” the Kai said “while I know how important it is to bring firepower, the support units will really help with the militia’s rescue and recovery efforts.”

    Knowing human history, I’m sure the name of that ship probably doesn’t make some humans happy. Also knowing Denali history, I really don’t think they care. “I’m not familiar with that ship, what class is it?”

    “Technically, Galaxy-X, ma’am. It’s the former ISS Stadi. We converted it from a planetary bombardment platform to a hospital/support ship.” She grins. “I’m sure the Terran Empire would have a conniption if they knew.”

    Another officer joins us, a slightly fleshy brunette in a Moab-style uniform, but navy blue with Starfleet-style arrowheads on her epaulettes instead of buttons. “Admiral Kanril.”

    I squint a bit, then I remember her name—I didn’t recognize her because she had red hair last time. “Commander—Captain van der Horst, excuse me,” I correct myself, noting the four rings on her cuffs and epaulettes and the perched eagle pins on her collar. “Congratulations on your promotion.”

    Iris van der Horst holds up a hand; there's a band of gold on one long, dusky finger. “It's Captain Michaels now, but thank you, ma'am.”

    “Well, congratulations on that, too.”

    I can feel Major Cu'oc tensing up beside me. I shoot him a look but he doesn’t seem to notice. “You’ve got a lot of balls showing your face around here, Captain.”

    “Oh, not this again.” Captain Michaels rolls her eyes. “Major Cu’oc, no disrespect, but you were stuck at Goralis when that went down, and there’s quite a few differences between what Evans’s paid trolls on RTN and Fleetbook said and what actually happened. That was a fair fight.”

    “‘A fair fight’? You blew up a dilithium refinery!”

    “As a trap for an Arluna wolfpack that ambushed me and knocked out my warp drive, after making sure everyone was off.”

    “Excuse me,” I interrupt. “Something I should be concerned about?”

    “It was during the civil war, ma’am. I thought it was water under the bridge by now.” She groans. “I seriously just came over to say ‘hi’ to you before I left.”

    “Not staying?”

    “Admiral Krzyzewski ordered me back as soon as we’re warp-worthy. And I have a five-year-old back at the capital who needs his other mom.”

    You have a five-year-old?” Kaur repeats.

    “Adopted, a few months after Berun's World. The Fek'Ihri got his birth parents.” She uses the full word, not just ‘Fek’, I notice. She’s only half-Moab: her father’s from Earth and she was raised on Cestus III if I remember correctly.

    “Not to pry, Captain, but what happened to the Earth guy you said you were seeing?”

    She looks askance at me. “I’m surprised you actually remember that.”

    “Trick memory.”

    She shrugs. “Not much to tell. He didn’t want to follow me to Moab—I don’t blame him, no offense, Major—”

    “None taken, sir.” He says it in a voice that sounds suspiciously like he’s just being polite.

    “No, I meant because of the war,” she adds placatingly. “Anyway, we couldn’t make the long-distance thing work. I met Sarah a couple years later.”

    “Where?”

    “In my brig, if you can believe it.” Off our incredulous looks, she explains, “She’s a Marine, naval surgeon. Ship she was assigned to surrendered to me a month or so before the armistice. In between patients, we got to talking, got to be friends, kept in touch after peace broke out…”

    “One thing led to another?” I fill in; she nods.

    “Homelander and a Marine, that must make for interesting dinner table conversation,” Major Kaur remarks.

    Iris laughs. “Tell me about it, I'm convinced sometimes she picks fights just so we can, you know, make up.”

    “AHEM!” Admiral Cartwright clears his throat loudly. “The Dominion delegation has just arrived on station. Please take your seats—Founder Odo has asked to begin promptly.”
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Sheri Walford on The Promenade.

    Admiral Kanril’s gone up to meet with the senior officers in ‘Admiral’s country’, and she cut me loose to look around for a few hours.

    Well, that’s the official, documented story. Her exact words were to ‘Run and find things out’ regarding what didn’t make it into the official summaries.

    “Can you tell me where I can find the barracks for the MCDF Marines?” is probably not the way to ask a Starfleet security officer, but I’m not asking a Starfleet officer, I’m asking a Bajoran Prylar assigned to the local temple.

    “Which ones?”

    “Off the Severed Angel.”

    “Cargo two, you’ll need to route to the far side of the ring before going down there.”

    “Thanks.”

    A few KDF Klingons are lingering in the hall, and a bunch of Jem’Hadar. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen one in person. Unconsciously, I remember the identified weak points in their physiology, where to strike to disable, injure, or kill. I haven’t really had that disconnected feeling in years.

    Not since we were fighting True Way Cardies on Goralis 11, really.

    “Pardon me…” I pass them without touching them—a difficult thing in the crowded corridors.

    The elevator to cargo two is guarded. It’s a little different from SOP, both Marines are in armor.

    “Is your boss in, Marine?” I ask.

    The lance actually opens his faceplate. “Which boss?” he asks.

    “You guys came in on the Angel, right?” I ask, “So I’m wondering if Colonel Eialu’s in.”

    “Ma’am, Major Cu’oc’s acting CO for the Angel now. If you’re lookin’ for the Colonel, she’s being held at a classified location until her hearing per the Accords,” he tells me.

    “No sh*t?”

    “No sh*t. She turned herself in to the Cardassian authorities with a big *ss speech about taking responsibility about six weeks ago. The Klingons, Romulans, and Federation are putting together a panel to hold the tribunal, and it’s getting axle-wrapped because she pled guilty to what she did at An Loc, but nobody’s cool with having her brains cut out except for some non-governmental types among the Orions… but it got the Cardies to turn the Angel over to us.”

    “How many of our people on the ship then?” I ask

    “Full crew. We had her up to sixty percent operational for the trip home, but then Bajor sent a distress.”

    “Where’s the CO then?”

    “Ops,” he tells me. “It’s a shame, we could’ve used the Colonel here.”

    “How bad?”

    “Not too bad. Lost some of the older fighters, and the ship took a beating, but it bought the Bajorans time to get other allied units into the system and get their little speedboats off the ground.”

    “And wounded?”

    “Mostly ours are being cared for on the surface of Bajor,” he tells me. “Half the remaining Suit Battalion and some able shippers mostly, around fifteen hundred total.”

    “Huh.” I don’t have a good follow-up, Admiral Kanril’s going to be disappointed in me.

    “Hey, Walford?” the Lance says, using my name for the first time.

    “Yeah?”

    “Lisa Makbar’s over in Medical if you want to say hi,” he tells me. “She looks funny in that Cardie uniform, but she’ll probably wanna see you since you weren’t home when she tried calling your folks,” he tells me.

    “You know this because… Fleetbook posts?”

    “She sent out a bolo for you,” he tells me.

    “And word on where to from here?” I ask.

    “A couple Starfleet and KDF recruiters have already been through. Everyone who didn’t sign up with one of them is planning on goin’ home with the boat, once we get engines and life support back.”

    “Thanks.”

    I pull out my PADD, and tab over to the Fleetbook function, run a search, and ping Lisa’s.
    Me: Heya sl*t, aren’t you supposed to be on Cardassia Prime, getting your doctorate?
    LisaQM: B*tch!!! Where you at?
    Me: On the station, just arrived with USS Wolf 359. You didn’t answer my question.
    LisaQM: Quark’s in 20 Minutes, my shift’s almost over, and we’ve got to catch up-and I’m still earning credit. Also, just because I enjoy sex doesn’t make me a sl*t.
    Me: it’s more about who, and how often… unless you’re still with the same guy.
    LisaQM: We’re getting married when he finishes his tour, and I’m not a corps wh*re, okay?
    Me: I would never accuse you of that. But seriously, same guy now?
    LisaQM: He’s a great guy, you’ll like him… but he’s mine.
    Me: No worries, the kind of guys you like don’t usually appeal to me. Got your coins?
    LisaQM: Yeah, you got yours?
    Me: (rummage my pockets) yeah. Son Tay coin.
    LisaQM: then you’re buying drinks after the first one, I’ve got my Betazed and Goralis 11 coins too. Besides, you owe me for the attempted sl*t-shaming when you don’t have anyone of your own.
    Me: HOw the f*ck would you know?
    LisaQM: I know you, miss ‘falls in love or it isn’t happening’. Your standards are still too weird and too high, unless you somehow got yourself de-virginized since Cardassia Prime?
    Me: you win! I haven’t met the right person yet.
    LisaQM: yeah, sure… have you considered you might be asexual? It’s a real orientation, you know, Aromantic Asexual is nothing to be ashamed of.
    Me. Sl*t.
    LisaQM: B*tch. Bring your credit stick, I missed you.

    I grin, and close the chat.

    If there’s a hub of gossip that can be checked, it’s places where the booze flows and military mix with civilians.

    Just hope I can keep up with Lisa’s iron liver—the leave on Risa, after we delivered the Son Tay rescuees, she held my hair out of my face while I was puking way too often.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Kanril Eleya, Deep Space Nine Wardroom.

    The Dominion delegation includes Odo, and a couple of Vorta, and Odo has just made a pitch requesting allied help against the Hur’q.

    “Sir, no disrespect, but you don’t pay me to talk pretty. You pay me because I win.”

    “And you’re modest, too.”

    “Well, I’m trying to remember the wording of my Oath of Enlistment but I’m pretty sure ‘modest’ wasn’t in there.”

    Cartwright shakes his head. “Look, Kanril, if you aren’t committed to this mission—”

    “Sir, I’m committed to my responsibility to the personnel under my command, but you know damn well who we’re getting into bed with. Odo notwithstanding, this is still the Dominion.”

    “I’m aware. And the President wasn’t born yesterday, either.” He waves his detail a few steps away and gestures for me to follow him into an empty office. “This is the part I couldn’t say in there. Your objective is to end the Hur’q threat to the Federation and our long-term allies by any means necessary. The stability of the Dominion is a distant second at best.”

    I purse my lips, carefully choosing my next words. “Sir, are you suggesting I explore the possibility of regime change?”

    Cartwright looks aghast and I let out a relieved breath. “No! I… God, no! Why would you even suggest that?!”

    “Just covering the bases, sir; believe me, I'm relieved to hear that from you.”

    “Right. So, we're not actively trying to topple the Founders, devil we know and all that. But, in your sole estimation, should it come down to us or the Dominion…” He lets that hang.

    I slowly nod. “I want that in writing so there’s no misunderstandings.”

    “It’ll be in your ‘top secret’ pouch before your flagship detaches,” he agrees. “And should you have an opportunity to flip a planet or two, you’re authorized to try.” I nod, and he scratches the back of his head for a moment. “You’re, ah, flying flag on Bajor?” he finally asks.

    “Captain Reshek has skills I need for this mission, and I trust him.”

    He shakes his head. “Kanril, half of Starfleet—hell, half the damn galaxy knows you two are a couple.”

    “Should I have said ‘I love him’? Because that’s true, too, sir. I’m not going to apologize for it.”

    “I’m not asking you to. I’m asking you to think real hard about your objectivity towards him.”

    “Well, sir, Tess Phohl and M’Karret are my friends; I’m not exactly objective about them, either.” I shrug. “Look at it this way, sir: if he’s my flag captain, that means I’m at about as much risk at any given moment as he is.”

    “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” He offers his hand and I shake it. “Good luck out there, Admiral Kanril.”

    “Walk with the Prophets, Admiral Cartwright.”

    He snorts a bit. “You know I’m an atheist, right?”

    “Of course, sir.”

    Now he chuckles as he walks away. I distinctly hear him mutter, “Bajorans,” under his breath.

    “I heard that, sir!” I toss after him, not unkindly.

    Well, I’m definitely not getting a long leave. The rest of my task force is set to arrive in a few days. “Computer, where is Cadet Sheri Walford?” I ask.

    “Sheri Walford is on the main level of Quark’s.”

    I grin at that. There isn’t a hub of rumour that is as good as Quark’s, I just hope she’s stayed somewhat sober…

    I take the turbolift to the main level, and find Quark’s is packed, and Sheri’s standing on a table with a Cardassian girl, singing with a glass of kanar in her hand.

    We are here,
    To drink your beer,
    And steal your rum at the point of a gun!!
    Your alco-hol, to us will fall!
    For we are here to drink your beer!!
    Drink!
    Drink!
    Drink!!


    “Well, that’s a new one,” I mutter. Sheri’s never cut loose like that since I’ve known her. She actually seems like she’s having a good time.

    I’ll just make her work twice as hard tomorrow—possibly with a hangover. Ah, the privileges of rank…

    A hand on my shoulder surprises me, and I’m almost twisting Gaarra’s hand off before I recognize him.

    “OUCH!!”

    I turn the joint-lock into an embrace with a twist of my hips, and the kiss. “Prophets, it’s good to see you!” I tell him, pressing myself against his chest.

    “Maybe somewhere quieter?” he suggests into my hair.

    The habitat ring is full to overflowing, but lucky for us, Gaarra has a ship. Somehow we manage to make it to the door of his quarters—my old room—before we start tearing each other’s clothes off.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited October 2018
    Transporter Station 4, off the Promenade.

    The transporter operator was tired—but then, everyone was. Still he carried out his duties—it wasn’t like brain surgery. One slight miscalculation with the settings and instead of a person, you’d get a pile of goo. If you were lucky.

    Fortunately most of the transport was inbound, where he just had to monitor. Two more coming in, with the red glow of Klingon-made pattern emitters. He adjusted the pads for the right frequency. There, perfect.

    The figures materialized. The Bajoran tech didn’t recognize the uniforms at first. Olive, but not like the Moabites. Brighter, especially with the orange and yellow trim. The shorter one was wearing a klingon like sash as well. As the glow faded, he blinked as the shorter one saluted. She was only about 1.54 meters, though those large fox like ears stood higher than the auburn ponytail she wore.

    “Permission to come aboard?” Major Sanjit Kaur of the Denali SDF asked formally. She didn’t have to—she’d been on board earlier for the briefing, but this was a different tech. Politeness never hurt anything.

    The tech, a former Militiaman, stood a bit straighter despite his exhaustion, and returned the salute. “Permission granted. You don’t have to do that everytime you know.” he said with a tired grin. “You two aren’t from the ship that got torn up over Jeraddo, are you?”

    “No,” the other one said stepping down. Human, not with the modifications that the Denali did to be able to survive on their world, in a similar uniform, his dark hair pulled back, a neatly trimmed beard framing his face. “We’re from the Kukri. We were tied up with the Enterprise and Nighthawk closer to the wormhole trying to stop them as they were coming through.”

    “Ah.” The Bajoran nodded “I only ask… because your other ship… Well, it stopped a barrage that was headed towards where my family lives. I just wanted to thank them.”

    “I’ll pass that on to General Chernkov,” Sanjit said kindly. “They got her out of the wreckage of the bridge, and she’s in surgery on Bajor.”

    “I will say a prayer for her at the temple, and the others.”

    “Thank you,” Sanjit replied, as she and her companion left.

    “I still wish we could have been there flying cover for her,” Aaron Taylor grumped as they headed down the promenade.

    “She told us to stick with the Nighthawk, and let’s be honest. We were better used covering them and the Enterprise as they dropped the minefield during the second attack on the station. If that didn’t go up, all of this would be moot.”

    “I know, I know luv,” he replied. “Doesn’t mean I have to like it, of the fact we lost so many.”

    “They died saving innocents. Not a bad way. Not that there’s a good one.” She sighed, and leaned against him. “I wanna sleep for hours, but I need to check in with the KDF liaison here and see about getting rearmed. We went winchester on torps and the stuff the station has won’t fit.”

    “Well there’s enough KDF ships here that shouldn't be an issue. Hell the Chancellor's barge has two torpedo fabricators alone.”

    “Save me a table at Quark’s, I need to drink to a few folks before we crash for the night.”

    “Just remember, we’re tasked to Admiral Kanril. She’ll probably want to see us early tomorrow.”

    Sanjit smiled. “Which is why I want you to go now and save us a table. Most of our off shift crew is probably there already.”

    Aaron just nodded with a smile. “As you wish.” He watched her as she walked towards the docking area, then turned. Now where the bloody hell was this Quark place? Fortunately it wasn’t too hard to find, and from the singing inside, some were already celebrating both a battle survived, and toasting those who had not.

    Stepping through the door it took a moment for his eyes to adjust. The room was filled with Starfleet, Klingon, Bajoran and Moab uniforms. A few he recognized from his own ship-while technically Denali, it was also KDF affiliated, and had some KDF crew. One of them in particular concerned him. He stopped by the end of the bar, near where several teenage girls were showing off coins. Sitting past a Lurian nursing a drink, a slim Orion male sat staring at an empty glass.

    Stepping up next to him quietly, Aaron gently tapped the green man on the shoulder. “Thaniz? You okay there, mate?”

    He looked up at the human, his green eyes slightly orange. “I double-checked sir. He hasn’t shown up on any survivors list.”

    “Sh*te.” Aaron looked down at the engineer. “I’m sorry,” he said, not that there was much else to say.

    “He was monitoring the feed for the port nacelle—the one that isn’t there on the Vancouver any more.” Looking down at the empty glass, the Orion pondered refilling it. “I was terrified when I was set free. He showed me that I didn’t need to be owned to feel love… and now he’s gone.”

    “He knew how you felt.”

    “I know he did, sir. I took the Captain’s advice. Tell someone you love them every day.” He chuckled a bit ruefully. “Even if the com charges did mount up a bit.” He pushed back the glass. “Don’t worry sir. It’s synthehol. I’ll be ready for duty tomorrow.”

    “I know you will, Bekk Thaniz. You need anything, you let us know.”

    “Thank you sir.” The Orion stood and headed out of the bar, the now-empty seat quickly taken by yet another young Marine who was in her cups. He was about to see about a table when the Marine girl turned to him.

    “Ey you! Tall, cute, and bearded!”

    “Eh?”

    She grinned up at him. “You gotta buy me a drink if you can’t match this,” she said, slapping a coin down on the bar.

    “So that’s the game eh?” he replied, reaching into his pocket. Glancing down at her challenge he said mildly, “Impressive. I hope you find mine suitable.” He laid it on the counter next to hers.

    “Thash a Goralis one too… uh…” She peered blearily at it. “Holy f*ck…” She peered closer at it… then at the amused man in the strange uniform. Fortunately, the SDF had nametapes as part of their kit. “Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh… you win.”

    “He wins what?” one of her friends asked.

    The drunken girl crawled up on top of the bar, and banged a knife against her glass and bellowed, “ATTENTION!!!!”

    “What the f*ck, Insha??”

    “We are…” She wavered, almost toppling. “GRACED!! Here in this bar, today… One of the big damn heroes from Goralis, the GROUND fight!!” She points down at him. “AARON…… TAYLOR!!! He’s RIGHT HERE!!” Her arms pinwheeled, and she did a header to the floor, only to be caught by a Nausicaan and two Marines.

    Buy him a drink!!

    This was getting out of hand. The last time he’d used that coin, it pretty much had the opposite effect—the braggarts slunk back to their barstools. But then, that was when visiting K-7, and not with a bar full of very inebriated Moab Marines.

    Two of them, a statuesque blonde lance corporal and a raven-haired corpsman, grabbed at his arms. “We got a holosuite, you should come up and party with us!”

    He’d seen the legions of Fek advancing towards their meager defenses. He’d battled the Voth in the Dyson Sphere, slavers along the edge of the Empire, even told off his father the former Admiral Herbert Taylor-Smythe. But nothing filled him with as much terror as the bar full of drunken females at that moment.

    There was a metallic tinkling sound, as something else hit the bar next to where he had set his challenge coin down. There was sudden silence as one of the other six existing Goralis tower battle coins laid on the bar.

    “Sorry ladies,” Sanjit said as she stepped forward. “Yeah he’s a badass. But he’s my badass. Savvy?”

    It was like the Red Sea parting as people suddenly found interest in their drinks—at least the ones who were attempting to drag Aaron off. He smiled gratefully at his wife then turned to the barkeep. “Table for two, somewhere quiet?”

    The barman, Hadron, just grinned. “Second level, and your drinks are on the house.” The noise had been making his lobes hurt… probably why Quark was up in his soundproofed office. He quickly fetched their drinks, whiskey on the rocks for Aaron, and oddly, chocolate milk for his wife.

    The Denali officer raised her glass as the room got quieter. “For everyone who didn’t get to join us tonight.”

    Almost as one, the entire bar raised their glasses high.

    Victory
    We fought hard and prevailed
    Brutally
    We were fighting

    Stormy seas
    Rolling thunder, piercing hail
    Battlefield
    Lit by lightning

    Eagerly
    We filled the waves with enemies
    Hungrily
    Ravens cawing

    Home shore calls
    We return on bloody seas
    Twilight falls
    Darkness crawling

    So pour the beer for thirsty men
    A drink that they have earned
    And pour a beer for those who fell
    For those who did not return

    Raise your horns!
    Raise them up to the sky!
    We will drink to glory tonight
    Raise your horns for brave fallen friends
    We will meet where the beer never ends

    No regrets
    We went out to war and strife
    To protect
    King and country

    Victory
    Honor those who gave their life
    Willingly
    We will not grieve

    So pour the beer for thirsty men
    A drink that they have earned
    And pour a beer for those who fell
    For those who did not return

    Raise your horns!
    Raise them up to the sky!
    We will drink to glory tonight!
    Raise your horns!
    Raise them up to the sky!
    We will drink tonight!

    Raise your horns!
    Raise them up to the sky!
    We will drink to glory tonight
    Raise your horns
    For brave fallen friends
    We will meet in Valhalla again


    Amon Amarth, “Raise Your Horns”


    Captain’s Quarters, USS Bajor, parking orbit of Bajor. 31 May 2415.

    Gaarra seems to have kept my settings for the “window” in the stateroom: the screen is aglow with simulated sunrise. I think he adjusted the bed, though.

    He’s still snoozing when I push the covers and his arm off me and pad to the shower, grabbing my discarded underwear, my special, decidedly non-regulation burgundy lace instead of my usual sport bra. I put them and my trousers and undershirt in the mini-washer and step into the stall.

    I’m getting out when he comes in, and we don’t get much more washing done for several minutes.

    “Happy birthday, El,” he murmurs into my hair after. “I missed you.”

    “Well, I’m making you my flag captain this time. I think we’ll be together for a while.”

    I break away from him to get dressed, carefully fitting my ribbon rack together. Service dress this time, we did all the ceremonial cr*p yesterday.

    “I’ve got to check on the repairs, then a briefing with Admiral ch’Harrel at 0900,” he tells me, “but I’ll be free for a couple hours after that.”

    “Right, and I’ve got to get my gear moved off the Wolf 359, and I gotta track down Sheri, make sure she didn’t get into too much trouble last night.”

    “Don’t worry, I’m sure they would’ve called you if she’d ended up in the brig.”

    “If she ended up in the brig, I’m leaving her there,” I quip, stretching my arms over my head. Gaarra comes up behind me and hugs me around the midsection, kissing my neck below my earring. I try to ignore the frisson that goes down my spine and gently push his hands away so I can finish zipping up my uniform jacket. He smells so damn good… “Ahem, I’m gonna meet K’Ragh for lunch at the Klingon restaurant around 1100, you interested?”

    “I’ll be there.” He lets me go and heads back into the bathroom to get the rest of his clothes.

    One thing I spot that he’s added to the room, besides the pictures of his father and sister, and us on a date on Benthos, is a dressing mirror. I stop to take a look, eye my reflection intently. I’m not a young bachelorette officer anymore, and I’ve picked up a lot of laugh lines and crow’s feet in the last few years, just enough to look distinguished, I think. But those gray hairs have got to go.

    “Gaarra, tell me honestly.”

    He sticks his head back out of the bathroom. “Hm?”

    “Do I look old enough to have a teenage daughter?”
    Post edited by starswordc on
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    [Out of story]
    Yeah, this is the Masterverse version of "Victory is Life". We won't be directly covering all of the missions, in this 'verse, things are sometimes happening simultaneously, and sometimes take longer than a TRIBBLE-break between gunfights.

    not everyone who's coming is here at this point, and some who've been seen, won't be coming. It is what it is.

    Comments are welcomed.[/out of story]
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited October 2018
    Deep Space 9, Medical, 0700 hours, …

    Warrant Officer 2nd Class Amanda Nung of the Bajoran Militia waited patiently as the doctor finished checking the reflexes on her new legs.

    “Very… nice. Yes, how does that feel?” Her doctor had an Earthie accent, British or something, and he was tall, dark, and dignified-looking, with piercing, keen eyes over a hawk nose.

    “Feels like you’re sticking my foot with a needle, sir,” she answered him.

    “Good. The nerves are knitting nicely. You should be able to stand unassisted by the end of the week. Light duty for at least two, though.”

    Amanda nodded. “Doctor Bashir… can I ask you something? Something personal?”


    “I’m already married, if that’s—”

    “Not looking for a date, I mean… Seriously, I’m eighteen… No, I’m wondering how hard it was to get a waiver, and how much sh*t did they give you when you were outed?”

    He straightened. “That is very personal. Why are you asking?”

    “You seen my gene-record?” she asks him. “I’m kinda like you—but mass-produced. How f*cked would I be in Federation jurisdiction?”

    “You’re augmented?” he asks. “Your parents would be in a great deal of trouble—”

    “I don’t have parents, Doctor, except for a gene-sequencer,” she told him. “I mean, I suppose you could count the bureaucrats in Starfleet that ran the program, left a DNA watermark on me, but I don’t have proper biological parents. There’s a few thousand of us cooked up and deployed with fake memories, fake histories, fake identities. How hard is it going to get if Moab goes back to the Fed for us… and could you give me a screening for any congenital mental illnesses?”

    Bashir was surprised, but he was shocked when he did a gene scan and confirmed her statement. “How long have you known?”

    Amanda shrugged. “Couple years now. I know the Devil’s Canyon facility was blown up, so there’s no records, but I know a lot of us nutted out, killed themselves or other people. I want to make sure I don’t have a time-bomb in my head—I have people here, you know, that I care about.”

    “You’ll be in recovery for a few more weeks, Miss Nung; I’ll be happy to run the tests. As for the rest, it’s always somewhat individual. Are you seeing a counselor or therapist?”

    “Once every two weeks, Doctor.”

    “Then you’re doing everything I’d recommend absent more information. In answer to your question…” He let out a breath. “There was a war on, so Captain Sisko was able to lean on JAG. My father took a plea, two years in a white-collar penal colony in exchange for my waiver. So I’m afraid I can’t help you there. But I can contact a few friends and see what they can figure out.” He glanced down at his PADD. “On an entirely different personal note, I noticed your contraceptive implant is due for replacement. If you wish…” He passed her the PADD, now with a consent form on the screen, which she signed and handed back. “Doctor Kina?” he said to a dark-skinned woman in a blue-on-brown Militia medic’s uniform. “Please see to it.”

    Nung rolled out of the infirmary in a wheelchair a few minutes later, and almost bumped into a rather hung-over Sheri Walford, who was coming in for a melorazine shot.

    “Hey Sheri,” Amanda greeted her. “Lisa’s inside.”

    “Mmmph. How the f*ck did I drink so damn much? Prophets, ‘Manda, you—”


    “I look like hell, yeah. You coming to Jose’s funeral?”

    “Yeah… I think, Admiral Kanril’s probably gonna let me have the time off, we’re waiting for the rest of the group to arrive,” Sheri huffed. “You heard from Pammy yet?”

    “Yeah, her and the kids made it through the attack alright. She’s with Jose’s fosters and his girl, doing the grief counseling thing.”

    “How did he go?” Lisa asked.

    “Saving a freighter that wandered into the fighting by mistake. The Space Arm’s gonna put the medals on his grave marker, and it’s an empty casket because there wasn’t anything left to retrieve.”

    “Hope he doesn’t mind me going easy at the wake… F*ck my head hurts.”


    Amanda Nung, on Deep Space Nine…

    I watched Sheri go in and rolled down the promenade. Wheelchair accessible, well, Cardassians didn’t see much need for it when it was a work-camp and Starfleet also has great medical, so not a lot of us cripples to need it, but Terok Nor was a mining station, and they kept most of the old industrial lifts, which makes the station slightly better than some of the non-industrial buildings on Bajor when you’re confined to a chair-with-wheels.

    You get used to inconvenience when you’re crippled, and I’ve been crippled for a good chunk of my life thanks to various things-I spent almost a year wheelchair bound after the Goralis Rift, and that wasn’t too long ago. “Beep Beep!!” I yell, and miss my lift anyway.

    I need an air-horn or something to chase people out of the way...ah well, they’ll have to wait for my check-in an extra five minutes. Not a big deal.

    Gives me an excuse to call the Fanas.

    The Fana family took me in as a Foster, and I like them quite a lot. I wound up being fostered to them because they lost their oldest daughter in an accident-we were about the same age, at least, if you go by official birth records.

    Fana Lyret was even about my size-I know this, because her stuff that was in storage fit me until I got my last growth spurt.

    Hell, it still fits, who the f*ck am I kidding? My ‘growth spurt’ barely got me into a b-cup, and even with my legs intact I’m still a petite.

    I make up for it by being bombastic, if you can’t tell, and a tomboy-but that’s being substitution-big-sister for a couple of young Bajoran boys.

    It’s not like raising boots, and I understand that. But kids have their own world, and while I was in theirs, I made sure they understood it; you don't’ pick fights but you also don’t lose them if they pick you.

    That goes for families too. You don’t lose them if they pick you, no matter how annoying you think they are.

    My boys are in high school now, and nobody messes with them.

    Mrs. Fana answers after the first tone.

    She’s got this tell, when she’s worried. She’s got it now.

    You were called up for extended duty, Amanda! What’s wrong??

    “How is everyone?” I deflect, because I know I can get her to relax her anxiety if she’s trying to reassure somebody else.

    ”we’re fine, Amanda, but I’m worried about you, I was messaged by doctor Karel, you’ve been missing appointments.”

    Sh*t.

    “If I give him the contacts for my current command’s counselor?”

    She relaxes a little, “that should be fine.

    “How are the boys?” I ask her.

    your foster-brothers are well, Tyrien made the junior varsity baseball team, Kyn’s science teacher says he’s passed his level elevens.

    I grin. We go on to talk about TRIBBLE that doesn’t matter, except it matters to them, so it matters to me.

    When the connection closes, the line at the turbolift’s shorter, so I go ahead and roll my *ss on to the rest of my day.
    Post edited by starswordc on
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,622 Arc User
    The bit about the pro/con of regime change of the Dominion, I threw in a few days ago following a brainstorm at my day job. It's logical that the practical politics of aiding the freaking Dominion would come up, even if they have been relatively more helpful than antagonistic lately. And given all Eleya's been through in the last ten years, including witnessing a proven attempt at regime change against the Confederacy (which set off their recently concluded civil war), it's natural that she'd consider that possibility, and just as likely given her background that she'd be totally against it even if it wasn't a blatant violation of the Prime Directive.
    "Two ways to view the world, so similar at times / Two ways to rule the world, to justify their crimes / By Kings and Queens young men are sent to die in war / Their propaganda speaks those words been heard before"
    — Sabaton, "A Lifetime of War"
    9MUythl.png
    (Vaporware thanks to Foundry shutdown. Thanks a frakking bunch, Cryptic.)
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited October 2018
    Kanril Eleya, qagha potlhmeyDaq tlhIngan Qe’, Promenade, Deep Space 9, 1100 hours…

    K’Ragh’s got his red hair bound up in a braid down his back, and his beard’s been trimmed into something more or less symmetrical. He looks more relaxed than he did yesterday. He’s wearing MCDF khakis with a KDF flag officer’s sash, and he manages to make it look ‘not stupid’, a feat some of his officers still haven’t mastered, even with the olive drab tie. I clasp arms with him. “It’s good to see you again, my friend.”

    “Indeed, it’s been far too long.”

    I sit down across from him at the table, and Gaarra joins us. “No leathers?” I ask.

    K’Ragh shrugs. “Holding dual commissions has its advantages. For example, I can decide the uniform of the day for the Border Fleet, and the Chancellor’s not opposed, though Martok found my decision to be… unusual.” He glances at Gaarra, it’s an appraising look. “Hm.”

    “Ah, this is Captain Reshek Gaarra, my flag captain.”

    “Hah! And quite a bit more than that, I suspect,” he says, offering his arm. “How long have you two been seeing each other?”

    Gaarra glances at me—which clearly amuses K’Ragh—and answers him, “Going on three years now, sir.”

    He laughs. “You’re taking too long then… and so am I.” He reaches into his jacket, and hands across an envelope. “If you can make it, at least I know you have your plus one.”

    Kaga, the big lug who runs this place, comes over to us and greets my friend. “q’ragh Sa’, jIH quv ’e’ naDev.

    K’Ragh crosses his arms in salute. “malja’ Daq quv,” he replies. It’s odd hearing him answer with a working-class Klingon accent matching Kaga’s own lower Qo’noS dialect. It’s a display of courtesy nobody who hasn’t studied Klingon cultures would understand.

    “Hullo, Kaga,” I tell the chef with a grin. “I’ll have the heart of targ, and a warnog.”

    “Gladst and a targ-burger for me,” Gaarra chimes in. “And a warnog, too.”

    “Your first drinks are on the house,” he answers with a big smile, and heads back to the kitchen.

    “So you’ve set a date?” K’Ragh turns to me.

    “Weren’t you going to order?” Gaarra asks.

    “Kaga already knows,” he says with a twinkle in his eye, “the man is almost supernatural in his prescience, where my eating preference is concerned. You didn’t answer my question.”

    I sigh. “No, we haven’t. I mean, we’ve talked about it, but our folks are being… Well, Mother wants proper rites and ceremonies and—”

    “—and those take about four months and we’ve barely seen each other in two years.”

    K’Ragh raises an eyebrow. “Next year, will it still take four months?” he asks, “but you will be yet another year older, yes?”

    And there it is, the verdanis in the room. “I don’t know. It’s… It’s the way things have been done here since… I don’t even think anybody knows when. I mean, even during the Occupation—hell, especially during the Occupation… my grandmother always told me keeping the traditions alive kept them alive, kept hope alive.”

    “Our business, Eleya, is not a safe one,” K’Ragh says seriously. “SoHvaD jaj jonlu’chugh. Or as my future stepdaughter might write, ‘seize the moment’. But don’t take my word on it, I’ve had four failed marriages,” he adds with an impish grin.

    “Speaking of,” Gaarra breaks in, eager to turn the tables, “you and Debra MacAulliffe, sir? How in the world did that happen?”

    “I still don’t rightly know,” K’Ragh tells him. “It is simply what is, at least until she grows weary of me.” His eyes glitter with amusement. “My father is quite scandalized, my mother refuses to attend, and Koldor has promised quite the selection of pranks at the reception.”

    I chuckle and nudge Gaarra with my elbow. “You ever seen a Klingon wedding?”

    He chuckles, too. “Yeah, one time—there was a guy from Ajilon Prime in Engineering when I was on the Spruance. Ch’Gath, son of… I forget. Anyway, he and this cutie from Exobio got me and a bunch of other guys to attack them with sticks as they were walking down the aisle. I may have gone a little overboard.”

    “What happened?”

    “Well, she divorced him two months later—”

    I elbow him again as K’Ragh guffaws. “No, I mean how’d you ‘go overboard’?”

    “Oh, that. Well, apparently a broken clavicle is only good luck if it happens after the ceremony.”

    I snort and cover my mouth to keep from giggling. K’ragh manages to contain his howls of laughter after a moment. “Well, it is not going to be a ‘traditional Klingon’ ceremony—ha! Hm, excuse me—so you won’t have to fast for four days in the presence of a feast… but I do suggest perhaps not eating for a day before the reception. Debra’s Catholic.”

    “And thus, why your mother is refusing to attend.” a voice from nearby states. “General, Admiral, Captain, may I join you?”

    “Absolutely, M’Karret,” I answer him, getting up to steal him a chair from another table. “Uh, Captain M’Karret, General K’Ragh.”

    “We’ve met,” M’Karret assures me, the twitching of his tail tip showing he’s glad to see them. “I was surprised you were in the guard force with the Chancellor. I heard J’mpok doesn’t like you much.”

    “He doesn’t, but he appreciates my ability,” K’Ragh answers with an amused look. “Also, we were close already. When Bajor was attacked.”

    “We weren’t far ourselves, had just finished getting the damage to the ‘hawk patched up from my last visit to Qo’noS late last year when the Iconians showed up,” M’karret says with a grin. “Then it’s my first time to DS9, and the Hur’q make a second appearance. Maybe I should stay home. Maybe the galaxy would be safer now that I’ve picked up the ‘weirdness magnet’ thing from my wife.”

    K’Ragh’s amused look falters, and M’Karrett catches it. “What?”

    “Not the second time,” I tell him.

    “Indeed… You have no idea how much I want to take my fleet through the wormhole to fight them…” K’Ragh trails off.

    I narrow my eyes. “You’re not coming?”

    “If I had my Father’s backing and could draw on House resources, I could, but… instead, I am subject to the Chancellor and the High Command, and their orders are keeping me to this side of the wormhole for the time being.”

    “Wait a minute,” Gaarra says, “this is the ancient enemy we’re talking about, are you seriously saying the Empire is trying to avoid—”

    His eyes flash with anger. “I know. I’ve considered joining Martok’s volunteers, but that means handing the Hromi command to someone else… and the chancellor has made it clear that if I do, he will take pains to put someone… traditional in the position, possibly that idiot Kagran.”

    “I knew I should’ve shot him,” I grumble. I can see exactly how that would play out—Starfleet would love Kagran in that position, and the Moabites, Hothies, Bismarckers, all the border planets on both sides would hate it, and with good reason.

    “If only I could have,” K’Ragh agrees. “However, I was tied down playing referee in a civil war.”

    M’karret frowns. “And K’Tirr is too new to the council-not to mention his holdings took a beating during the Iconian attack. Otherwise he’d be here as well. You could practically see through the Herdthinner when the smoke cleared.” His claws extend for a moment. “It was still enough to keep that Iconian b*tch from killing Rhonda.”

    K’Ragh smiles at the memory of seeing the Iconian vaporized by the Herdthinner’s disruptor cannons. “Indeed he did, and it is a good thing—your children, especially your daughter, need their parents,” he says cryptically. “However, that doesn’t stop me from being here to backstop your operation. I managed to get enough… permission… to be ready to respond if you need us.”

    So, he’s stuck riding the pine. Dammit.

    “I talked Cu’ong into sending you some good people though,” he adds. “You’ve been apprised?” It’s a clumsy redirect to a working lunch, just as our food arrives.

    "I saw the list, that's a lot of their best equipment..."
    Post edited by starswordc on
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited October 2018
    MCDS Saskatoon Hills on approach to Deep Space 9…

    “Tell Wilson he can kiss my *ss,” Peregrine snapped. “If his little light cruiser can’t keep up, well, he can buy the f*cking beer.”

    Kol, son of B’Sanos, laughed at the comment. “You should be kinder with your colleagues in Starfleet, it’s not really their fault.”

    “Hey, he’s the one who wanted to race from Base Alpha here. It’s not my fault if we’ve got better engines, but it is his, if he can’t flog a mill four times our size.” She turned. “Ops, have we got a dock signal yet?”

    Lieutenant Abernathy was Starfleet, technically the ‘science’ officer, and holding down Ops like a champ, especially given that Peri Wahlberger probably had more time and experience at the job than the man assigned as her on-board Starfleet oversight officer.

    MCDS Saskatoon Hills, this is Deep Space 9 Control, please hold along orbital three five niner, we’ve got wounded birds in dock and damage to the docking ring, Over.”

    She glanced at Abernathy. “I win the bet.” Abernathy chuckled and handed her the mic. “Understood, Deep Space 9 Control. This is Saskatoon Hills Actual, do you have a shuttle bay, Over?”

    They could hear muttering in the background, “Saskatoon Hills, we’re not interdicted for transporter operations—

    “Do you have a shuttle bay, yes or no?” she asked again. “My transporters are being repaired, can you accommodate shuttle borne operations? If you can’t, I’m perfectly fine spacewalking to a maintenance access airlock, Over.”

    The background conversations intensified momentarily, and then. “We’ve found a docking port, lower ring six, just dock there.

    “Thank you, Control,” she said mock sweetly. “Out.”

    “How did you know they were holding out?”

    “I can count,” she said. “We’re MCDF and that’s a Starfleet base, and right about now, I suspect someone is getting their *ss chewed up one side and down the other, since we’re expected here.”

    “Why didn’t you just use the transporters?” Abernathy asked.

    “Standing, Mister Abernathy. You beam over to Deep Space 9 if they think you need to be disarmed. We’re here on official business, at the invitation of the Allied powers, under Allied jurisdiction, they can god-dammit treat us like professionals. Isn’t that right, Lieutenant Kendra?”

    The Bajoran at the gunnery console nodded. “Yes, Colonel, I suppose that’s right.”

    “Helm, you heard the instruct, dock us.”

    The Confederacy light carrier rolled to an inverted posture, and settled against the docking ring in a swift, smooth motion; the clamps locked immediately.

    “XO, crew rotations, I want no more than twenty percent of all shipboard personnel ashore at a time, not including myself. Set duty roster to ‘ready’ and have the Infantry complement report to the airlock—I’m sure Admiral Kanril will have assignments for Alpha Company as soon as they report. We’re debarking passengers as soon as I can arrange it, so make sure the grunts have their gear boxed and ready for transfer or transport.”

    “Aye mum.”

    She pulled on her ‘walking dress’ overcoat, and tucked the collar of her skinsuit under the khaki blouse of her dress uniform shirt, grabbed the white and black cap, and picked up the swagger stick, “I have to go report in at Ops. Kol, you have the ship until I return.”


    Operations, Deep Space 9, 1215 hours local time…

    The last time I saw her, Lieutenant Colonel Peregrine Wahlberger had been a Major. The silver oak-leaves on her collar announce she’s gained some rank, but not as fast as she would have in Starfleet. She’s traded the coveralls for a long overcoat, and her hair is braided-and-tucked in an old-fashioned style under a white bell-cap with a black brim, branch insignia prominently displayed as a cap-badge, and she has a damn swagger-stick.

    “Ma’am.” She gives me a hand-salute.

    “Good to see you again, Colonel, what have you brought me?” I ask, returning her salute.

    “A half of a battalion of Armored marines, a light carrier and a wing of Mod Fourteen to’Duj fighters… and a lot more questions than I like, Admiral. My orders came from the Corps Commandant herself, countersigned by the First Minister. We really gonna do this thing? Going to the Gamma?”

    “It was supposed to be a full battalion,” I note.

    “The other half are embarked on the Frasier Bay, they’re about four hours behind us,” she explains. “I’ve got HHC and Company A. Bravo and Charlie are the units on their way, and I hope you’ve got space, because we had to cram their gear on my flight deck and I can’t run squadron ops until that deck’s cleared.”

    “It’s a QIn retrofit, surely—” Sarish Minna scoffs.

    “It’s an MCDF bird, Captain Sarish,” I interrupt. I look at Peregrine, “Unless I miss my guess, you’ve got spares and stores crammed into every spare corner?”

    “Aye mum,” she says. “Long-range operations require full unit self-sufficiency, so we’re carrying significant levels of onboard stores for spare parts, food, fresh water…”

    They have replicators of course, not as good as ours but good enough, but I know their doctrine—MCDF ships carry spares for things you can’t or really don’t want to risk the use of a replicator to fabricate.

    “Yes, we’re going into the Gamma Quadrant… and yes, I’ve got a plan to embark your Marines,” I assure her. “You were at Base Alpha recently, what’s your take on Commander Pete Wilson?”

    “So shiny he squeaks. So green he should’ve been an Orion, nice guy, cute butt, but he challenged me to a race here, and he’s three hours behind me from a standing start at Base Alpha, with twice my engine, hauling half my load.”

    “What did you do?” I ask her, half dreading and half relishing what she would come up with for a reply. She didn’t disappoint.

    “Well, we don’t have those eight cans of DeeTee strapped to the engine pod anymore—I burned them on the way in, and I know we shortened the D-check interval on the plasma feeds by at least six months.” She says it with a twinkle in her eye. “You’d be surprised what those old former Yan-Isleh mod twelve engines can do when you really pour the coals to them with the safeties off.”

    “What can you tell me about the Phan Minh’s CO?” I ask her. A brag session is fun, but getting down to business again is more useful.

    “Danjha’s a rockjack and she did some smuggling before we… recruited her. The Phan Minh’s an ex-Torg bird and they just finished retrofitting it at the yard on Base Alpha. She’s got a man over in MHS and they’re getting serious, or were. She voted Rec, but fought on our side during the civil war. Unless she f*cked up somewhere along the route, she’s probably lurking the edge of the system.”

    That catches me. “Why lurking?”

    “Special sensor gear. It’s not even out of testing yet, we need to make sure it works.” She says it mildly.

    “Tell her to reel it in,” I order.

    “Aye mum.” Peregrine pulls out a reinforced PADD, and taps a sentence into it. “Pull it in, Theed, the Admiral wants a look at you before she goes to lunch.”

    “Already been.” I check the plot on the center console. The sensor systems on the ops board light up as a ship decloaks less than 200 meters from the station. “It’s a good thing they were expecting that,” I remark to nobody in particular. “Captain, do you have any room left on the docking ring for a bird-of-prey, or—”

    “Tell her to get in line, Colonel,” Sarish interrupts a touch gruffly without looking up from her console. “Phekk’sha tal bat ran ma’tu hee…” she starts muttering in a Rakanthan accent you could cut with a knife.

    “Well, she’s in a particularly fine mood,” Peri comments sotto voce. “PMS much?”

    “No, I think she just didn’t get much sleep last night,” I explain. “In Minna’s defense, she’s been arguing with the yardbirds non-stop since the battle, not to mention things got busier than I thought on the Promenade last night.”

    Peregrine nods, then, “I was gonna have Danjha umbilical to my starboard cargo lock.”

    “Sir,” one of the petty officers speaks up, “if she doesn’t mind landing in atmo, there’s several open berths at the Kendra City spaceport—”

    Then a tone sounds on the monitor as the Celestial Temple flares on the sensors. “Red alert! All hands to battle stations!” Sarish barks.

    Peri’s got her sidearm out and she’s about to order them to dump the deck pallets and get her fighters out.

    “Hang on,” the comms officer says, holding up a hand. “Sir, we’re receiving a message from Gamma Station 5. It’s a transport, Karemma make, and they’re overloaded on biosigns and headed into the wormhole just shy of unsafe speed. They warned them it’s mined but they’re not slowing down.”

    “Belay that order, Kol, clear the docking ring, get our guys one or the other side of the airlock, incoming refugees,” Peregrine orders, then stops and looks at me. “That is what you were about to order, Mum?”

    “More or less.” I quickly do the math. I’m here, K’Ragh, Cartwright, and General t’Kaveth left already, ch’Harrel is two sectors coreward and Kurland is with a task group in the Gamma Quadrant, so that means… “Captain Sarish, I’m assuming command of forces in-system. Contact Ashalla and—”


    “State of emergency, way ahead of you, ma’am.”

    I head for the center console and tap my combadge against it to override the login, opening a comm channel and bringing up a map. We’re over five AUs from the Celestial Temple at this point in Bajor’s orbit, it’s almost on the other side of the sun. Ships in position… “Bajor, Wolf 359, Nighthawk, Enterprise, this is Admiral Kanril. Civilian ship transiting the wormhole. Escort them in and watch for nasties following.” I turn to Captain Sarish as the four cruisers start to turn and blink away into warp. “Captain, I’m going to need you to safe the minefield, and quickly.”

    “Awaiting your order, ma’am.”

    “Ooh, this is exciting,” Peregrine notes sourly. “Phan Minh, if you don’t get in escort position with the cruisers, I’m making you buy the beer tonight. Clear the ‘fugees’ six of any and all pursuit if possible.”

    Affirmative, coming about. I’ll pop through the wormhole and see if I can figure out what the hell they’re running from.

    “Just snoop-and-p**p unless you honestly can take ‘em, Danjha,” she adds crossly. “The Admiral still wants you to bore her with an explanation of the new intel gear, and you can’t do that if you’re sunk.”

    “Is it going to work once they get through the Celestial Temple?” I ask.

    Peregrine shrugs. “No telling, nobody’s taken a QT transceiver through, but we get signal from the PMCs in the Delta.”

    DS9, this is Bajor. We’ve reached the wormhole.

    “All right, stand by, you may have company coming. Captain, do it now.”

    Peregrine’s studying the display on her PADD like she’s expecting it to manifest some kind of trick. “Brief interruption. Signal’s back, I’ve got telemetry.”

    Interesting, the QT doesn’t work in there. “Hey, save me a copy of your system logs, I got a friend who’ll love to see that.”

    “Sure.” Peregrine’s totally engrossed. “Want a visual?” she asks me without looking up.

    Got it, solid ID on the warp drive,” GS5 sends. “Definitely a Karemma 1106-model bulk freighter. Reading over 5700 humanoid life forms aboard. I'm hailing them again.

    Peregrine’s muttering under her breath, “The gear’s in vac proof containers. Dump the pallets with a transponder, and get my birds in the air, CAG.

    “Visual, Colonel?”

    “Oh, right… incoming. Now would be a superb time to scramble every fighter in the system. Our fleeing refugees have pursuers,” she tells me. “Also, someone’s going to have to pick up the baggage, because I just told my CAG to dump it and get fighters in the air.”

    The display she’s plugged into shows incoming specks, a flurry of them in two-dee.

    Deep Space 9, this is MCDS Frasier Bay. We’re fifteen minutes out, is there an alert on?

    “Thought you said three hours,” I quip.

    “I was wrong…” She doesn’t tab, but the display changes to status monitoring for three ships. “Is Snohomish with you, Tim?”

    Roger that, we’re in formation with them.

    “Well, the Admiral’s here, she’s in charge, and she’s on the channel, but clear your fighter decks for action if possible, we have incoming less than 30 mikes out, massed small craft pursuing a bulk freighter. Get ready to daisychain the offloads.”

    Understood.

    DS9, GS5, we’ve made contact with the skipper. He’s got damage, his engines are in danger of overload, and he’s got Hur’q on his *ss and more of them fifteen minutes behind him.

    “Looks like we’re finally going to get to see what those mines are capable of. Wolf 359, escort our guests home. The rest of you, get ready to paste anything that gets through.”

    Understood. Shon and I are beaming our spatial mines into position to bulk it up. Nighthawk’s batteries are ready for any leakers.

    sử dụng sửa đổi tốc độ!” Peregrine’s muttering. “không phải một mái tóc trên đầu họ… hoặc bất cứ điều gì nó là họ có cho tóc.” Information scrolls, and I glance at her face. Wahlberger’s concentrating hard, and even sweating a little.

    “Captain, GS5 is evacuating. Definite Hur’q warp signatures, a lot of them, and they can’t get to the wormhole in time. They’re gonna go to ground on Idran VI and hope they aren’t spotted.”

    Anh nghe thấy gì không? Tốt. Hãy chắc chắn rằng họ đang được bảo hiểm.” She’s muttering in Moab-Viet pidgin again. Orders to the Phan Minh. “Gonna be a few days before you can look at the new installs, Admiral,” she adds offhand in English. “Danjha’s gonna try and cover the crew's exhaust trails before the incoming hits.”


    “Tell her thanks from me.” We can afford to replace that station, it’s mostly just a customs and observation post. Idran VI though, it’s barely habitable. We keep a small shelter there just for this, but it’s not defensible. Can’t worry about that now.

    Wait, wait, wait… “Now! Arm the mines!”

    Enterprise has visual contact on the refugee ship!”

    “Put it on screen.”

    The fleeing freighter is being stabbed at by energy beams as it emerges from the glow of the Celestial Temple, popping back with a frankly pathetic turret, and there are uncounted microflashes as mines detonate in the backdrop. “I reprogrammed them to seek on germanium,” the station’s tactical officer, a Bolian, helpfully says.

    I nod to Captain Sarish, impressed, and add a note to give him a medal.

    The three big cruisers close and start salvoing torpedoes on proximity fuses as the smaller battlecruiser and raptor move in and tractor the freighter. The swarmers break off from the Karemma ship to deal with their three much bigger problems.

    Tiêm kích cánh đang di chuyển để tham gia,” Peregrine mutters, and then, “My fighter wing is moving to escort and interception position.”

    In the wash of silent fires, sparks flash and dance.

    Lives snuff in darkness and silence.
    Post edited by starswordc on
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited October 2018
    Kanril Eleya. Ops, Deep Space Nine, 2200 Hours.


    The rescue has turned into another full-blown battle, and Wahlberger managed to get two platoons of Marine infantry and a quarter of her crew stranded with her on the station when she sent her XO to help cover the incoming refugees.

    I’ve seen her in a fight, I know how she operates. Monitoring the battle and giving instructions by remote isn’t how she likes to do things. Me neither, if I'm honest.

    She’s got her people assisting Station Security and Medical in processing the Karemmans. It’s another job she’s visibly itching to put her hands on personally… but it’s Captain Sarish’s station, and right now, I’m using her to run part of the space battle.

    Well, that’s not really right. I’m using her ‘suit intelligence’: she’s just the interface between Ops and the networked units fighting alongside ours.

    The Dagger, a Hathos-class warbird, gets mobbed by fifty-some-odd swarmers and crumples as its drive singularity breaks containment. The entire furball vanishes to nothing then explodes in a huge burst of Hawking radiation a fraction of a second later.

    The minefields are depleted, and the enemy’s still pouring through. It’s like trying to stop a volcano with fire-hoses. Small blessings, the wormhole chokes the flow; otherwise we'd probably already have been overrun.

    On the screen, the Wolf 359's dorsal shield fails explosively, then she’s struck by three energy lances and breaks in half amidships. A few escape pods blast off, then the saucer separates and guns it out of the battle space while the snipes blow the core as cover.

    “VF-13 and VF-15 are winchester ammo,” she tells me. The two squadrons from the Severed Angel’s remaining fighter complement were escorting IKS bortaSqu’ and one of our frigate wings, running interference and hitting the occasional larger Hur’q ships. Her own squadrons are likewise filling coverage gaps between Starfleet and allied ships.

    Casualties have, thank the Prophets, stayed relatively light.

    “Shift VF-13 to RTB for a rearm,” I order. “Fill the gaps with Militia fighters for now.” F6-F Longbows aren't as fast as the Klingon birds, but they’re tougher. “Shon, shift your formation point-two light-second sunward, vector one-niner-two by two-two-four. Hive ship is marked, go for tricos. Prag Action and escorts, suppression fire.”

    I practically have to use Peri for a relay—the QT commo systems the MCDF uses have a tiny, narrow data pipe, and even Klingon subspace networks can handle basic three-dimensional real-time rendering. These guys use two-dimensional rendering, and fill in the blanks with initiative.

    Still, there’s an advantage I can see on the screens she’s borrowing. The icon-pips are simplified and the data is clear text. It strips the emotional component, makes it easier to make decisions and calls.

    Wahlberger’s noting losses separately, and that’s also a little disturbing to see, because all her feelings seem muted.

    It’s bad, and I know it’s bad, she’s stopped swearing.

    IKS Pragmatic Action’s pip fades on her display a few seconds before the flash of the venerable battlecruiser helmed by Ssharki’s pet psychopath lights the Starfleet battle monitors across the room.

    Eventually, the flood of invaders stops.

    I glance at the clock. 22:23. We’ve been at this for ten hours straight.

    I look at the plot, and my heart skips a beat when I don’t see the carat for Bajor immediately. But they’re all right—the signal was behind RRW Shavokh for a moment.

    Phekk me. “All right, bring it home, people, shake out the SAR units. Lifeboats, this is Admiral Kanril. Coast is clear. nargh’Dujmey, mIchHom QaD. Hierar keshall’elhir, ahr’rhaarh naetrh.

    “You speak Romulan?” Peri asks in some disbelief as the plot starts to light up with emergency beacons.

    “Minored in it at the Academy,” I huff, trying to get my heartrate down. “And I’ve always had a bit of an ear for languages.”

    “Do you want a list of our breakage now, or should I wait until morning?” Peregrine asks, “I’ve kept a running tally, but by morning we should know which beacons are linked to living people and which are bound for a grave.” Her voice still has that dullness from during the fighting, almost like a Borg.

    “I’ll have the computer tally the ships; the butcher’s bill can wait ‘til morning. The skipper of that freighter still in with the intelligence officer, or did they finish up?”

    “She’s still with Commander Carniss, mum, at least, according to Sergeant Moore.” Peregrine’s response is half a second ahead of Captain Sarish.

    Sarish stares at her for a moment. “How do you know that without—”

    “Implanted commo, right?” I say, preventing another spat. “Disconnect, Colonel, you’re not in a fight right now.” I add another thing to my ‘to do’ list—get the Moab ships onto the task force’s regular tacnet, at least when we’re in range.

    She closes her eyes, and shudders for a second, before opening them. “F*ck, that was intense. Next time, I won’t do that without a suit.”

    “Yeah, I’ll say, you were standing there for ten hours. You want an upper or a downer after that? Or just dinner?”

    She breathes a bit, and her eyes go almost comically wide. “BATHROOM!!”

    Sarish points her to the head, and Peregrine almost runs.

    “Did you know they could do that?” the base commander asks in Bajor’la after a moment.

    “Yes,” I confirm after getting over a serious bout of giggles. “Didn’t think they could do it without the suits, but I saw it in action on Berun’s World.”

    She frowns. “That’s a lot of coordination. They shouldn’t have the kind of casualties they take with that much.”

    “They have bad habits all their own, Captain, and they don’t have the manpower or gear that we do. Hell, right before the civil war, Don Odelaw partly campaigned on bringing the troops home.”

    She frowns. “I can see that… they’re over-deployed, aren’t they?”

    “Chronically.”

    “And so young. Colonel Wahlberger couldn’t be more than thirty.”

    I chuckle at that. “Try twenty-seven. Don’t knock it, though, I fell into my first command at twenty-six.”

    “Ma’am, you got your first command because of combat,” she points out.

    “They didn’t have to let me keep it. Still, I see your point.”

    “My point? I have ensigns that are older than she is. And Berun’s World was a few years ago… and unless I miss my observation here, she’s not just bossing a single ship, she’s acting as command for multiple ships.”

    I nod. “Like I said: manpower problems. Most of the officers they had at independence were either Starfleet defectors or KDF ‘advisors’, and most of those were killed during Fek-Day. And just like us, all their officers have to have degrees, so they run shy. And what officers they have tend to lead from the front more than ours do—well, yours truly notwithstanding,” I admit.

    “Bajor doesn’t send soldiers into every pit-fight in range though,” one of the Militia NCOs mentions. “Pardon me, Kanril’shadil, Sarish’rakil, but the Angel brought five thousand combat vets younger than my daughter—and that’s after they spent two years as guests of the Cardassians.”

    I put out a hand in his direction, palms-up. “Give Master Guns a hasperat. Actually, give me a hasperat, too—I just realized I’m starving.” Sarish chuckles and heads for the replicator.

    Peregrine gets back in time to smell food. She looks starved, and the base commander hands her one, which she wolfs down without a word. “How we doing on SAR?”

    “Well, looks like about eighty percent of the people who ejected made it, so far,” Sarish reads off.

    “Got any ijero in the files on that thing? And can I dial up the spicing? This almost tastes like Earther food.”

    “That’d be my fault, Colonel, I didn’t know your tastes so I cut back.”

    I manage not to laugh into my food. “Captain, Moabite ‘cuisine’ is something like a dare for most non-Bajorans. Right up there with Romulan ale.”

    “Duly noted, ma’am.”

    A petty officer quickly whips up a bottle of Perikian-style hot sauce, the stuff that’s been known to kill small mammals that lick drips. We pass it around, and Peri slathers a good finger’s width from the bottle into her second hasperat roll. “Oh yeah, that’s a lot better,” she says after a couple bites. “Little mild still, but… Pretty good for replicated.”

    “Captain?” I say after finishing mine. “As soon as you can get this station out of orbit safely, we need it back over the Celestial Temple.”

    “Obviously,” she agrees. “What else?”

    “Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m gonna do what I came here to do. I’m gonna break out the bugspray and take the fight to them. Balus kren.

    Balus kren,” the other Bajorans chorus.

    At that, Peri gives me a confused look. “It means ‘Never Again’, Colonel.”

    Follow the dead
    In the dark of damnation
    Pious in head
    And a demon at heart
    Sword to the night
    An evangelist nation
    Born
    Under the sign of the dark

    Gather the wild
    Form the horde of the brave men
    Brothers allied
    Fight the storm of this curse
    Banners up high
    As we rise like a legion sworn
    All for the light
    We inverse

    Combat ahead
    And the night calls for heroes
    Ready for fire command
    Revel in red
    Come and wake up to bring no remorse
    Stand up as force

    Rise over the dead
    Bring us ahead
    Incense & Iron
    Fight all of the night
    Banners up high to the top of the land

    Right into the red
    All you can get
    Incense & Iron
    Stand
    Follow the fight
    Doing the right as we come to defend

    Hollow the damned
    In the art of salvation
    Fallen and banned
    And the angels die first
    Servant in life
    And elated in eden
    Cursed
    Slaves in the light from beyond

    Bury the night in imperial hunger
    Do or die
    In this fortress of fear
    Cannot deny
    All the wonders are sacred
    Burst
    Under the weight of this world

    Remedy sent
    And the sky falls in treason
    Torn by the liar’s intent
    Devil in head
    Come and break out
    And raise up the sword
    Stand up as horde

    Rise over the dead
    Bring us ahead
    Incense & Iron
    Fight all of the night
    Banners up high to the top of the land

    Right into the red
    All you can get
    Incense & Iron
    Stand
    Follow the fight
    Doing the right as we come to defend

    When we all stand together

    Rise over the dead
    Bring us ahead
    Incense & Iron
    Fight all of the night
    Banners up high to the top of the land

    Right into the red
    All you can get
    Incense & Iron
    Stand
    Follow the fight
    Doing the right as we come to defend

    When we will last forever


    Powerwolf, “Incense & Iron”
    Post edited by starswordc on
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited October 2018


    Alenis Residence, Ashalla Province, Bajor. 1 June 2415.

    The search-and-rescue and refugee intake continues through the night, but there’s nothing more I can do. There’s no room on the station so Peri, Sheri, and I beam down to the planet and spend the night with her aunt and uncle.

    Morning comes too quickly, and dawns hot: the air conditioner is already running when my alarm goes off.

    Peri’s sitting at the table, which has been laid out with a combination of traditional Bajoran, and what was probably Moabite, cuisine. She’s still got that grave look she had before we arrived.

    “What’s wrong?” I ask.

    “Got the breakage report on the Frasier Bay. They’re mission-non-capable, it’s a six-month job to get them up to operational spec.”

    It’s a surprise, it is almost as bad as the Vancouver’s repair estimate. “When?”

    “Old parts,” she tells me. “Major structures in the port hull and nacelle, frames 233 to 1451, microfractures have extended beyond the sell-by-date. Some of it is old damage from phaser fire that was indifferently repaired at the time and thus, got worse.” She pours a glass of deep orange-red ijero juice. “That many frames means the hull’s compromise makes going to warp a lesson in bad gambling. Our people missed it because most of the ex-Woldan hulls we got were in fantastic shape structurally, and the politics of Alliance membership meant the Confederacy has obligations—which she would’ve met if the structure was sturdy… but it ain’t. I’m trying to figure out how to fit their fighter group into what we’ve got left. I don’t suppose you’ve got a ship that can handle a squadron or two up your sleeve? Otherwise we’ll have to ship their fighters home on the Angel…and First Minister McAuliffe will have to find a replacement we might not get in time.”

    “We could split the wing between the Bajor and the ’hawk—I mean, we generally keep a few berths free anyway. Or I could try to shanghai an escort carrier from ch’Harrel or the Trill sector fleet.” Something tingles and I get a brief feeling of deja-vu. “Your backup’s broken down… what’s the exact terms again?”

    She slides the PADD across. “This is the agreement, the Confederacy will supply five ships to Starfleet for operation as part of the 221st. We’re down one capital right off the bat, the Severed Angel’s the only unassigned MCDF vessel in range and they’re also non-mission capable and under orders to report to Base Alpha command to repatriate our Goralis troops.”

    “You don’t drag a freedom bird in,” I acknowledge her unspoken critique of that plan.

    “Right.” She sighs. “F*ck, what I did was stupid…”

    “Still hungover from being a human commset?” She nods and sips her ijero as I look over the agreement she’s under. “It says Confederacy military ship, not your specific branch.”

    Peregrine tilts her head. “MHSF doesn’t have a presence near Bajor currently… and I’m not sure—”

    “Can you work with them?”

    “I’ve been doing that for a year at Alpha, so… yeah… but that’s still a week at best speed unless they come through the gate at Cold Butte, relay at Denali, and back to the Cardassia Prime end of the slipstream net…”

    “I know a shorter route. Which requires clearances… clearances that I happen to have.” I tap my left rank pin. “Sometimes, it is good to be an admiral.”

    Sheri Walford comes down from her room, looking refreshed and more relaxed, even if she is back in her cadet uniform.

    “Sheri, my briefcase?” I tell her.

    She runs back upstairs and comes down with the briefcase her friends gave me three years ago.

    There’s a contact code on the QT network that I know, because of my position, because Cartwright gave it to me, and because Jesu LaRoca knows me from the war.

    Admiral… Kanril, right?” He gives me a bleary look, and I think he’s slept in his uniform.

    “Yeah, sorry I woke you, sir, I forgot the time difference there.”

    Never mind, what do you need?

    “I need to leverage an MHSF ship currently on their way back to the Hromi Cluster for a mission of uncertain duration,” I tell him. “They should be about a day out from Bajoran space, I need permission to turn them around and reassignment orders as a replacement for a Marine light carrier that is non-mission-capable.”

    Which one—nevermind, I know which one… Qué mierda de vida… I’ll cut the orders, but I want a good story out of this,” he tells me. “Give me your requirements over subspace by noon standard. I’ll have the Sierdegardt turned around and on their way back, but you’re going to have to break the news about why to Michaels.

    “Thank you, sir. I’ll have the orders along shortly.”

    I do have some good news for you. The USS Kongo should be at DS9 in about six hours.

    That reminds me. “Sir, while I’ve got you, the file on Captain McKnight and her ship is rather, um…”

    Blank?” My expression must have showed as he chuckles. “That’s because they’re not from this timeline or any that we know of. You can ask M’Karret about her, he’s worked with her. I trust her.

    Which is good for me. Trust hasn’t been something Jesu LaRoca gave easily these past few years. “I look forward to meeting her, sir.”

    Two other things. The Denali have agreed to send the SDF Singh through the wormhole, to do forward repair and medical support. I also asked a favour for you. Ssharki was able to kick loose a Gorn Varanus-class support ship. They should be able to support the MCDF ships in your group, but they won’t catch up with you for a while.”

    There is an old saying, ‘amateurs study tactics, professionals study logistics.’ Which is why the rumour mill has him replacing Cartwright when he finally retires. “Thank you, sir. I’ll, uh, let you get back to sleep.”

    I look over at Peregrine after closing the channel. “As you know, Moab Homeland Security Forces are, under the treaty, considered Starfleet auxiliary units, just like MCDF units are still technically KDF reserves. I just saved them a week-long round trip.” I look to Sheri. “Draft the orders, Cadet, I’ll sign them.”

    “Aye, ma’am… So, working breakfast?”

    “I get the feeling Odelaw’s gonna scream like a rutting Faubster,” Peregrine notes around a mouthful of katterpod cake. “Having one of their big’uns dragged back to the front under his treaty with the Feds isn’t going to make him points with the electorate.”

    I lean on my elbows. “Well, I won't deny getting some perverse pleasure out of making his life difficult. How about MacAulliffe?”

    She shakes her head. “Debbie’s been pushing in the joint Assembly to have Expeditionary Force duty isolated to MCDF units, like the old American army/airforce division, or the post-World War III division between the North American Army, and the North American Marines. Marines go on deployment, Army drills at home for defense. It’ll corncob her in the polls and probably lose a bunch of moderates from her coalition.”

    “And your feeling?”

    “Iris van der Horst is good people.”

    “‘Iris Michaels’, now,” I correct her.

    She shrugs. “And having a little more hefty firepower is never a bad idea, plus, it gives Tim a chance to stick with his boat until Frasier Bay is reassembled and operational, since the manpower requirements will be filled… but I can’t say how good they’re going to be—she almost lost her *ss at that dilithium refinery, and not having those extra fighters is going to hurt us on an operational level. We may end up being damn glad a Dakota-class is tough.” And she smiles. “Besides, she’s an O-6 and I’m just a lowly O-5, meaning she gets stuck solving our deployment space and logistics problem.”

    I chuckle. “Unless she pawns it off on you.”

    Peri grimaces. “She might…” She looks down at her PADD. “Also have an incoming message, General Chernkov from the Vancouver is awake and is asking to speak to you at your convenience.”

    “What hospital is she in?”

    “Ashalla General North.”

    “There’s a couple people there I need to check on anyway, can hit it before we go back to the station.”

    *(edited to pacify the edit monster)
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited October 2018
    Ashalla General Hospital North Campus, 1100 AM local time, Bajor, Amanda Nung

    Bajor’s better at some things than Moab, but they’re kind of too used to having great healthcare—or maybe not having cripples on the street. What’s that mean? ‘Wheelchair accessible’, b*tches. “Keya, a hand?” My co-conspirator for the morning is Keya Lis. He’s still a high school senior, but we’ve been off-and-on f*cking since he was a sophomore and I was a senior. Not really a ‘boyfriend’ as much as a buddy who I can scratch the itch with.

    Could scratch it with. He’s got a monogamous relationship now, so I don’t have him available for that anymore.

    Hell, I introduced him to his current girlfriend, it was a dare, really, I could see those two together even though she claimed to be a dedicated l*sbian. You know how you can tell she wasn’t serious? She’s lousy in bed, not really into chicks. Getting those two together was an act of mercy, and it’s worked—which means Amanda’s kind of stuck with the battery-operated-boyfriend again.

    Which reminds me that I need to buy some better power-cells.

    But my friends are happy together, and I still have access to Lis for jobs like getting my wheelchair over the curb.

    Hi, I’m Amanda Nung, I’m a factory-made girl and yes, I’m a sl*t. F*ck you if you have a problem with that, because I won’t.

    If you won’t f*ck, you can’t fight. Well, except if you’re Sheri Walford. Sheri can fight you right into the dirt, but she’s so pent up when she cuts loose it’s probably gonna leave bodies.

    I’m here, because it’s where I’m supposed to be. Physical Therapy—again. You know, I get my arms and legs back, and not five years later I’m three feet tall again, this time courtesy of big, insectile aliens who made the mistake of attacking Bajor.

    The bugf*cks are called Hur’q and the ones that met me aren’t gonna make that mistake again.

    Am I bragging? Yes. I’m also arrogant and overconfident.

    Deal with it.

    Doc Bashir, not to mention the Captain—or the Admiral now—suggested I’m not genetically inclined to lose my marbles, and that puts my number one fear aside. If I lose my brains, it’s because I let them go.

    In the meantime, I’m on ‘light duty’ and stuck in a wheelchair until my regen treatments are finished. They were gonna try cybernetics, but there are full-blown active duty people who needed those first. I’m just a reservist in the Bajoran Militia, and a student when I’m not in uniform, which means a job I can do riding in a chair, so my lower half’s wrapped in presersleeves while nannie-meds and supplement bags work to rebuild what that bugs blew off.

    So it’s not like I can go sl*tting around for a while, much to the delight of my parish prylar, foster parents, and the dismay of the boys (and a few girls) in my neighbourhood. I mean, technically the Bajoran religion doesn’t have any prohibitions on sex between adults, they just don’t like you being too obvious about it.

    What? Jose had his groupie-girls with his baseball career, others do cooking, or athletics, I have my hobbies. Hey, at least I’m not doing Sezz or something, and it’s not like I’m making anyone pay me, or paying anyone. I just enjoy having lots of sex, and I don’t put too much investment into it—relationships and love aren’t confined to your gonads.

    Or at least, not mine. It’s just a substitute for what I’d rather be doing—which requires having an enemy and a mission, and the intimacy of a combat squad. The Klingons get it, and some of my pals in the Militia get it a little bit. Some people are born to be artists, or thinkers, and I’m alright on thinking, but some of us, we’re born to shed blood.

    Hell, I can point at my damn genome and prove that one. I was made with a f*cking property mark on my DNA. One of those abandoned military programs that the Fed still refuses to acknowledge they tried out. Being benched sucks *ss, but I can deal.

    “How’re you and Elys doing, Lis?” I ask him.

    “We’re doing alright, I’m taking her to the autumn rite festival.”

    “Righteous.” See? I’m alright playing yenta, those two make an amazing couple. The doors hiss open and I get a face full of air-conditioning that makes my eyes water from the temperature change. It must be ten to twenty degrees C cooler in the hospital. “She’s not jealous or anything? I mean, we used to f—”

    “She wanted to come, but her Mom’s got her looking after the kids,” Lis assures me. “Besides, you used to phekk her too. Maybe I’m the one who should be jealous.”

    “She has more fun with you,” I reassure him. “And I know you’re having more fun with her—you’re both naturally monogamous.” And so f*cking cute together it should make me nauseous, if it weren’t so sincerely adorable. I won’t tell him that though.

    Admiral Kanril’s across the admittance hall, and I see her first, but only after Sheri spots me.

    “Now is probably not the time, ‘manda,” she tells me, which makes me go ‘huh?’

    “Not the time for what?”

    “For your bullsh*t—we’re on the clock.” It takes me a second to get it. I’m officially off-duty and out of uniform, and the teeshirt says something that could be considered offensive in Bajoran—that is, ‘could’ be offensive, if you aren’t a fan of popular music locally.

    And even then, a lot of older folks would find it in remarkably poor taste.

    “I’m just here for my therapy appointment, Sheri, I didn’t even know you guys would be here,” I reassure her. She isn’t buying it, of course. Even with me switching teams to Bajor and all that, she knows damn well I flirted with Haganah before I got out of high school.

    Nobody trusts a spy, and more to it, nobody trusts an ex-spy, even one whose only ‘spy’ credential was a few briefings related to work as a Radioman First Class.

    And hey, I wouldn’t neither. If a defector’s info is too good, after all, they’re a plant going for mole.

    I can’t even claim the ‘I’m too dumb to be a spy’ card—Sheri knows, hell, Gaarra knows I was feeding info to Haganah. It might have been domestic sh*t, and sure as hell I get to attend briefings and debriefings with Bajoran Intelligence… but that just means she’s right to be suspicious.

    Still… “Okay, fine. You win. I can get it rescheduled.”

    “That, won’t be necessary,” Herself the Admiral says over Sheri’s shoulder. “Nung, you’re in civvies?”

    “Light duty, Ma’am,” I tell her. “I got some office work to be doing soon…”

    “You can do it in eyesight then. Mister Keya, you’ve got other things you can be up to, no doubt?”

    “Yes Ma’am!” Lis ditches me like the smart boy he is. When the Admiral (or Captain Gaarra, or the colonel, or the senior officer) suggests you’ve got other things to be doing, you get your *ss moving before they, or a senior NCO, find other things for you to be doing.

    I wheel over to join them at the lift.

    “Captain Reshek didn’t tell me exactly how you got chewed up, Amanda,” she says, “but it’s interesting that you’re still in the wheelchair, and that you’re reporting to Militia Intelligence Headquarters instead of your regional. Spill.”

    “Detached duty, ma’am. We… kind of got a tip-off that turned up something important, and my squad retrieved it.”

    “Which was?”

    “Not my secret to spill, ma’am. All due respect.” She nods understandingly. “But it was something the bugs really wanted t’ put their claws on… a lot.”

    Sheri stops waving the scanner wand. “Lift’s not bugged,” she says. “No listening devices.”

    “It’s a lure,” I tell her, “Qeta Band transmissions on subspace. Same as their commo signals, I’m supposed to be working with a Cardie scientist this afternoon dissecting the thing to figure out how it works and who might’ve made it…” And I look up at her. “And you didn’t hear it from me, savvy ma’am? I’m not supposed to discuss this sh*t with my therapist. I don’t think they told Captain Reshek what my team was after down there, so maybe shouldn’t noise it with him nearby either.”

    She gives me that cocky grin of hers. “Already forgotten, I won’t even be listening to the rest of this conversation. Why the secrecy?”

    “We don’t know who put it there, or why, or from where. Hell, we didn’t know much of anything until a certain brilliant Radioman fooling with the comm system picked it up.”

    “Not you?”

    “Not me. I wish I could claim credit, turning the f*cking thing off might be what stopped the initial rush… but detectin’ it in the first place was someone else.”

    “How did you inactivate it?” Sheri asks. The lift is stopped between floors.

    “I shoved it in a shielded box. I don’t know how to disarm the f*cker, that’s one reason we’re gonna tear it down—figure out where the ‘on’ and ‘off’ switches are. There’s gonna be shielding on the lab to keep the signal contained.”

    “And why you?” the Admiral demands.

    “Have you seen my EOD training scores, ma’am?” I ask rhetorically. “I’ve got steady hands and they’re smaller than most of the other bomb-techs, I’m familiar with multiple transmitter formats and general electronics, EPS systems, transmitters, receivers, and broadcast devices, and my eyes are good… and I don’t have spouse or kids of my own… and I’m legally of age to volunteer for the duty.”

    “Who’s your suspect?” she asks. “You’re too intelligent not to have one.”

    “Tech looks Dominion to me,” I say casually. “I’ll know more when I’ve got the casing open, which means we play it even closer to the vest, right? Seeing as they’re asking for help against these bugs?”

    She seems satisfied by my answers, and the lift starts moving again. “I want you up on your feet as soon as possible, Nung.”

    “Me too,” I say with a sh*t-eating grin.

    “Not my meaning. I want you ready to report for duty, aboard USS Bajor, by the end of this week. Means you’re going to have to submit to grafts instead of months of leisurely regen and physical therapy.”

    “Um, I’ve got school?”

    “You can take your correspondence tests on the Bajor,” she reminds me.

    I surrender. “Aye, mum.” It’s like Christmas and birthdays, but undignified to say so out loud, or let anybody know.

    And, no more of those shirts, not on the ship, anyway. You and I might think they’re funny…”

    Aiee. Who knew?

    The lift door opened and someone shorter than me-on-my-feet gets on. Takes a second to identify the uniform—the KDF sash helps identify the person rather quickly. Not every day when a phekking legend among the discharge kids steps into a lift with you.

    Sanjit Kaur has a wide grin on her face, as she nods to the Admiral. “Good morning, ma’am.”

    “Good morning. You’re in a good mood, Major.”

    “Just got to watch one of my engineering Bekks find out his fiancé didn’t die on the Vancouver after all. He managed to get to a pod with two others when the port nacelle went, the beacon was damaged but found in the SAR last night.”

    That’s good news—the Admiral even smiled at that. “How many were in the pod total?”

    “Fourteen, a few major injuries but nothing that can’t be fixed.” Sanjit looked at the indicator on the lift for the next floor it was stopping on. “The General called you too?”

    “She did, I hope you don’t mind if I intrude on your meeting. I’ve seen the casualty reports as well, even if she’s conscious, keeping her up for too long probably isn’t a good idea.”

    “I agree, ma’am, though that’s really the General’s call. But being we were supposed to be tasked to your command…” Sanjit shrugs. “I really don’t think that there’s anything sensitive she’d have for me.”

    The Admiral nods. “You’re pretty much the ranking Denali officer in system at the moment.”

    “We’ve got more ships…they’re just too far away. We were coming here anyway before the first attack. Routine port visit, bring in some of our Diplomats to talk to Bajor’s diplomats, that sorta thing.

    The lift dings, and everyone gets out at the ICU floor. “Looks like it’s only two visitors at a time anyway. Sher, you help Nung get her stuff together, check with the docs to see if they can move things up, I need you walking by the end of the week.”

    I remember something I heard, one of the few advantages to being a patient. “That might be a problem Admiral, the medical system here is running at capacity with all the injured civics, not to mention the injured troops.”

    “Actually…” Major Kaur pauses. “I think some of that load will be taken up quick. One of the things that I was going to bring up is I heard from Colonel Munrau about ten minutes ago. The SDF Singh is six hours out, and it is a fully kitted hospital ship.”

    “How fast can they give me new legs?”

    “I dunno, lemme ask.” The Major pulls out a padd and types, one of the QT ones I note. Newer model than mine too. “They say it depends.”

    “On what?”

    “If you want bio replacements, or cybernetics. The artificial ones about eight hours, bio averages 72 hours.”

    I had heard the Denali had some of the best medical tech in the galaxy. “That fast? Can I wait for the real ones, Admiral?”

    I guess my eagerness shows—the Admiral’s laughing. “72 whole hours? I guess we can wait that long. Get your stuff packed and get to the Singh as soon as they’re here. Major, I know they’re going to be busy, could you ask if they can make her a priority?”

    Major Kaur starts typing again, quieter than voice com. “No, problem, as long as the bugs don’t come back and they start getting trauma cases.”

    That works. I get real legs, and I get some real action. “Come on, Sheri,” I say, stage whispering just as the lift doors close just loud enough that the admiral may overhear. “Maybe I’ll get a cute Denali doctor…”
    Post edited by starswordc on
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    General Miska Chernkov, Ashalla General Hospital ICU.

    Failure. Is not a word that I am accustomed to. At least not surviving afterwards. Before, when one failed as badly as I have, I would find myself arrested, perhaps by the политический руководитель, or by my own officers if one of them perhaps was also on the payroll of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs.

    I know it must be the drugs. I know better than this, and I can hear the reassuring voices of my ‘sisters’. Still is hard to overwrite decades of paranoia. I see them outside the room talking with my nurses. I know I am in bad shape. One unfortunate side effect of the Квантовый компьютер Incident that for a time joined versions of myself through hundreds of thousands of realities, is the near perfect memory at times. I can still see the explosion when the shields failed, overwhelmed by the thousands of swarmers, the white hot metal cutting through the head of my first officer, another piece pinning me to the deck like a pin through a butterfly.

    Kaur enters first. She is so small—yet deadly. The anger at least has faded, hatreds in her heart have died in the fires of Goralis. Looking at her one would not think she is old enough to command a rowboat, much less a combat ship. Yet she is nearing thirty. Makes me feel old.

    The one behind her, a tall Bajoran with deep green eyes and red hair and a scar under her left eye, I know by reputation only. I was looking forward to working with her, to be honest, even if that meant working under her. I am not so full of pride that it would bother me—I know that the way I was trained in, is not how Starfleet and the Bajorans wish to proceed. I would rise when she entered the room, but for that one needs legs, hips and other meaty bits that will have to be fixed.

    “General,” Kaur says with a respectful nod. “How are you feeling?”

    “Like a class of cadets at Kuznetsov in august… small bits of me keep passing out.”

    Despite herself the Admiral nearly laughs. Good, a sense of humor is good in a commander. Still, business first. “Admiral Kanril, I apologize for the failure of myself and my ship during the engagement.”

    The Admiral blinks, confused. “Failure? What are you talking about?”

    “My ship is not combat-effective. I have not seen the damage estimates, but I know how long it takes to replace the bits that were shot off by the invaders. We should have done better—”

    She cuts me off. “No, you did not phekk'ta fail. I’ve seen the logs, I know you got here hours before the attack, most of your off-shift crew was on shore leave on Bajor. You went into combat outnumbered, short handed… and still survived until reinforcements arrived. And took down three of the attacking dreadnaughts.”

    “If there’s failure here, it’s mine,” Kaur agrees. “I shouldn't have detoured through the Badlands just to play with the new systems—”

    Now it was my turn to cut someone’s words. “Nyet. you needed to make sure things worked, you ship is slower, and I authorized it.”

    “But Avengers without support don’t last long against multiple small ships—”

    “This is true,” I said, managing a nod. “Had you been here though, you would have met the same fate as the two Militia frigates that supported us.”

    “I’m with the General on this one,” the Admiral agrees. “Against that many… single ships get ripped apart.”

    “Yes, Ma’am.” I could see Kaur’s conscience was bothering her. So much like her mentor… wants to save everyone, and sees any loss as a personal failure. I have to chuckle, covering it as a cough. I wondered who she may have learned that from.

    “If I may make a few suggestions?” I ask, seeing the nurse look in worriedly.

    “Of course,” Admiral Kanril replies.

    “The wormhole should be permanently sealed. It would take a device similar but not as strong as the Trung/Schrodinger device that sealed the Goralis rift.” And saved the Undine from extinction—but I’m not sure if she knows that.

    Even Sanjit seems shocked at that. The Admiral even more so—but then, she is Bajoran, and to them it is a holy site.

    “I, don’t think that is going to be an option,” she finally replies stiffly, her eyes betraying her anger at the suggestion. “Strategically, yes I can see it… but it is something that I could never do. Or allow.”

    I suspected as much. Still, one has to find what someone would not do so one can discover what can be done. Not that I am in much shape for it: I can feel the pain begin to rise again. “Then, Comrade Colonel, you had best do everything you can to prevent such a thing from ever being necessary.” I manage to pass over a PADD. True, I didn’t do the calculations, Lady R’oirr-Schrodinger did and transmitted them. “These may help with both your mines and torpedoes in dealing with the H’urq.”

    It takes her a second—but then I did just hit them with a lot. “Thank you, General. Wait… Colonel?” Kaur repeats questioningly.

    Da. It would be nekulturny for you to represent our nation as a mere Major,” I say, intending to laugh but starting to cough again. Truth be told, I had planned to do this before, and had gotten confirmation from home before the bottom fell through. “I don’t have any to pin on you, but Colonel Munrau will undoubtedly have a set you can borrow.”

    The nurse comes in and mutters something in Bajoran. I never had the chance to learn the language. Bajor was deemed counter-revolutionary, the the world was cleansed and repurposed as an agrarian collective in my history. Still the intent is clear. “I think he is chasing you out.”

    “I think you’re right,” the Admiral agrees. “Take care, General, and I hope to meet you again when this is over.”

    Kaur is still processing her promotion. “Thank you for the vote of confidence, Ma’am. I’ll make Denali proud.”

    I can feel the sleep coming on again. “You already do that, child…” I managed before dropping out.


    USS Kongo, NCC-1017. Arrival, Deep Space 9. Captain Marsilla McKnight

    Personal log, supplemental. Nothing like being late for a fight for a kick in the teeth of my morale. Not that being late was our fault: there’s several thousand Pakled that aren’t breathing vacuum due to us. Not that we would have made it in time for the fight anyway, even with slipstream. Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards isn’t exactly close to Bajor.

    Not even with the new upgrades. The slipstream drive… Jim Kirk would have given his left arm to have something this fast. The shield upgrades as well, as the other systems. It had been almost 18 months of work from our arrival here in this alternate future, where still Vulcan existed and Khan was killed by Kirk with something called Genesis. Ever since I got back from my visit to Denali after my arrival, where I found out the truth of my origins, I’ve been too busy to really stop and think about all the implications.

    We’re never going home. LaRoca knows it, I do, and the crew does, finally. Oh, I know Roirr-Schrodinger said she was working on figuring out the exact timeline we came from and try to get us back to there/then. The sheer number though… every decision one makes, there’s somewhen where you did the opposite. She’s still annoyingly optimistic that she’ll find it, and we can go back to our old lives in 2262.

    But not with this. 18 months of upgrades, holodecks, updating transporter safety protocols meant new transporters requiring new computers requiring more new systems, on and on and on. The Temporal Prime Directive technically does not apply to alternate timelines. Doesn’t mean taking all this back would be a good idea.

    Then there’s the crew. I had 390 when we crossed over. Several dozen were at the end of their contracts, and opted not to reup, diving into this future. Others… didn’t adapt so well. There were a few suicides, especially as we passed the year mark of being here, and Roirr-Schrodinger informed us of the number of universes she’d managed to check, and the number left. Six, to the sixth power to the sixth power she described it, being time was multidimensional as well as space. It was somewhere in the trillions, that’s all i know.

    It was then that we started losing people. Those who had families who they felt they would never see again, those like Lt T’lara, who not only lost her husband and children when Vulcan was destroyed, lost even the tenuous link from this universe’s version of her children-lost during the conflict with the Iconians.

    It was after our first mission post refit-responding to an Iconian attack on Qo’nos under Admiral La Roca when T’lara’s fire went out. That made number 30 of shipmates we’ve had to bury since we arrived.

    Despite that, the crew’s morale is high as can be expected. We’re explorers, and true, this has been an area explored by the Federation almost a century back. But it’s new to us. Well most of us. La Roca had sent over some folks to bring us back up to strength, good people who fit in well like that Tellarite Lieutenant, Der Tryhs in sciences. All in all we’ve got about sixty or so ‘new Starfleet’ people. They’ve fit in mostly well, there was some griping about the uniform policy. The female crew from my time did not want to be forced into wearing pants, and the current timers didn’t want miniskirts. I reassured them that both are valid options. I can’t wear pants, no one should be forced into them if they don’t want them.

    The com dings with an incoming message. “Bridge to McKnight

    I tap the button on my desk. “McKnight here.”

    Sir, we’re ten minutes out from Deep Space 9, you wanted to be informed.”

    Damn. Thought I had more time. Oh well. “Understood, I’ll be on the bridge shortly.”

    Would have been nice to get a shower before meeting the admiral. Not that I’m dirty, bathed this morning, I just tend to have a bit of a scent I’ve been told. No matter. Years of practice means it only takes a few seconds to get my tail straight enough, the trick is half an hour a day before bed.

    It is a short walk from my cabin to the bridge. Sitting in the center seat is my new tactical officer. Human, though with an accent I don’t recognize. M’karret’s wife gave him a good recommendation, and he knew his job well. Just strange he usually had a sword on him. “Status, Mister Thorson?”

    “We’ve just reached visual range of DS9, they look pretty busy so we’ll probably have to beam over,” Lieutenant Commander Ivar Thorson replies.

    “Excellent. Have we hailed them?”

    “Aye sir, they said to stand by for Admiral Kanril,” Lieutenant Stein replies from communications. The formerly bald human now has a thick head of hair that would probably violate regulations—if they existed in this time period. I don’t mind though: one, it’s not like I fit most grooming standards, and two, the poor guy started going bald when he was eleven.

    The lift doors open. I didn’t even have to look to see who it was “Wonder if we’ll get a chance to look around,” my Andorian XO muttered, coming up from engineering. Once a snipe always a snipe, Commander Sytav trusted the chief eng-only because he trained him.

    “I doubt it, from all the torn up ships out there this definitely isn’t a sightseeing trip.” Which was a pity. Exploring strange new worlds was one of the reasons most of us signed up, including myself.

    “Any word from the Admiral?” Sytav asked.

    “You have good timing, she’s hailing now.” Lt Stein replies.

    “On Screen.” as Ivar gets up from the center seat it configures to something better suited for my body type. Convenient, another upgrade that I’d really like to keep. “This is Captain McKnight.”

    I’m Rear Admiral Kanril Eleya. Welcome to Deep Space 9.” She’s young for an admiral: where—when I’m from, it was rare for anyone to make admiral before age 50. But then, with the constant war this universe has had the last few decades, I suppose it’s not a big surprise; half her fruit salad has combat ‘V’s and I don’t even recognize some of her tourist medals. “Normally I’d have you report in, but the Kongo is one of the few ships we have that isn’t damaged. Under the circumstances, I’d like you to take up a position near the Celestial Temple with the Nighthawk and Tsushima.

    Celestial Temple? Oh, the wormhole. That’s right, she’s from the planet that believes it holy. “Aye, Ma’am,” I reply. She looks pleased I didn’t call her ‘sir’. Doing one’s research helps. “What’s our ROE?”

    If it comes through the wormhole and it’s Hur’q, kill it. We’re bringing in more ships to relieve you—TacRon 39 9th Fleet and 17th Heavy Wing RRF will be here in fifteen hours. I’ll have a more in-depth brief for you at 0930 tomorrow with all the others on the station.

    “Aye Ma’am. Sorry we couldn’t get here sooner.”

    She waves my apology off. “I’m just glad you're here—and you made darn good time coming all the way from Mars. I’ll see you at the briefing, Kanril out.”[/i]
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    The Promenade, Deep Space 9. 1530 hours.

    I’m told that when the ships started to return, the station crew and residents were cheering each one. But by now it’s been going on long enough to be almost routine.

    USS Bajor is next in the queue. They’re carrying a lot of dead and wounded, and Sheri and I watch from the upper level as the blueshirts push a train of gurneys and wheelchairs through, followed by the walking wounded, all heading for transporter arrays to get them to the planet below. Then the intercom pipes “The Last Post”, and we come to attention for a Starfleet honor guard in full dress and seventy-something torpedo casings on a-grav floaters. Most are draped in the Federation flag, but some have Klingon House banners, or the Raptor of the Romulan Republic, or Moab’s red-and-gold field with blue six-pointed star, or the Militia’s orb on a blue field, a couple with the stylized wolf’s head of Denali and even one Ferengi banner. Seems one of the merchies didn’t follow the 20th Rule of Acquisition.

    Then I see him. I force my way through the crowd to the spiral staircase and slide down the railings on my hands, and push past an irritated Sulamid—I hope I didn’t step on a tentacle—and claim his lips in a breathless kiss as we embrace.

    Somebody starts cheering at that, but he leans away from me to holler, “Shush up! I got something to say!”

    Then Gaarra holds me at arms length and says in Bajor’la, “Kanril Eleya, will you marry me?”

    My knees go weak and he has to catch me. I grab him around the neck and kiss him again. “Yes! Yes, I’ll marry you! Prophets, I love you so much!”

    This time I know for sure it’s Sheri cheering from the upper level, and the crowd starts applauding as he hoists me into his arms.

    Sweet little words made for silence
    Not talk
    Young heart for love
    Not heartache
    Dark hair for catching the wind
    Not to veil the sight of a cold world

    Kiss while your lips are still red
    While he’s still silent
    Rest while bosom is still untouched, unveiled
    Hold another hand while the hand’s still without a tool
    Drown into eyes while they’re still blind
    Love while the night still hides the withering dawn

    First day of love never comes back
    A passionate hour’s never a wasted one
    The violin, the poet’s hand,
    Every thawing heart plays your theme with care

    Kiss while your lips are still red
    While he’s still silent
    Rest while bosom is still untouched, unveiled
    Hold another hand while the hand’s still without a tool
    Drown into eyes while they’re still blind
    Love while the night still hides the withering dawn

    Kiss while your lips are still red
    While he’s still silent
    Rest while bosom is still untouched, unveiled
    Hold another hand while the hand’s still without a tool
    Drown into eyes while they’re still blind
    Love while the night still hides the withering dawn


    Nightwish, “While Your Lips Are Still Red” (official video)
    Music by Tuomas Holopainen
    Lyrics by Tuomas Holopainen and Marco Hietala


    Sheri Walford, Upper level, Deep Space 9…

    “YUSS!!” I want to pump my fist, about time!! What do you think I did, I cheered, this is life-affirming sh*t.

    “I’m confused,” somebody in Starfleet uniform next to me asks, “what just happened?”

    “He asked her to marry him, you dolt,” the Bajoran behind him says, whacking him on the back of the head between claps.

    It’s going to make life interesting, but Kanril deserves this, she looks so happy. Too bad Judah and Petra ain’t here, but hey, they only know her from my letters anyway.

    Still, I’m sure this is going to get short-term complicated. Her family were pushing for a traditional Bajoran ceremony—and those take forever, and we don’t have forever. I foresee fielding a great many ‘urgent messages’ in a short amount of time.

    Wait a minute. Maybe the Kai is still on the station…

    “Excusemegottago!!!” I know where to find Kai Kira, if she’s available to be found.
    If she’ll see me,
    If she doesn’t take offense.
    Lots of ifs.

    Four meters to the deck and it’s clear from this rail…

    F*ck, I can make it, and it’s shorter than trying to run a packed staircase or wait for a lift.

    I vault over the rail, which sets off a couple security guys. (You’re not supposed to do that. Safety regs!)
    And manage to not hit the big dude with the scales who stepped into my way. “Pardon me! Urgent business!!” I duck under his arm and take off running for the Temple annex.

    “Hey!”

    “Watch it!!”

    “Sorry, pardon… excuse me!” Step on the vendor stall and vault over a Gorn, “Pleaseexcuseme!”

    Combat-roll when my foot slips on the deck and up—

    “Oof!!” Red wall, not a wall. I’m stammering apologies as fast as I can get my breath.

    Oh, it’s the vedek for the system’s stations and moon colonies. “Uh, sir, is the Kai still here?”

    “Um, yes, she’s in the shrine. Do you have—”

    “Okaythanksbye!”

    His fingers brush my arm and I’m past him, through the portal…

    And nearly bowl her right over. “F*ck! I am so sorry,” I stammer, helping her back up.

    She straightens her cap and chuckles. “Well, obviously you’re in an awful hurry, Cadet, what’s going on?”

    “Your Eminence!” It’s the vedek. I bite my lip on the curse.

    “It’s all right, Vedek Kalli, I’ll take care of this.”

    “As you wish, Eminence.”

    She reaches up and I hiss as she pinches my left ear between her thumb and forefinger, hard. “Well, you’re certainly something,” she remarks as I start to reach up to stop her. “What’s your name, Cadet?”

    “Sheri,” I pant. “Sheri Walford. Or Alenis Sheri, sometimes.”

    “Ah, Admiral Kanril’s protege.”


    “You know about that?”

    “She’s well-known around here, and the wayward and adopted children of Bajor are an interest of mine, especially when they tangle with the Circle.” I grimace, remembering the incident with the terrorists and the Undine three years ago.

    She puts an arm around my shoulders. “Come into the back room with me, we’ll have some deka tea and talk about what you need so urgently.”
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,622 Arc User
    edited October 2018
    D'aaaawww... :blush:
    "Two ways to view the world, so similar at times / Two ways to rule the world, to justify their crimes / By Kings and Queens young men are sent to die in war / Their propaganda speaks those words been heard before"
    — Sabaton, "A Lifetime of War"
    9MUythl.png
    (Vaporware thanks to Foundry shutdown. Thanks a frakking bunch, Cryptic.)
  • jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 8,211 Arc User
    About freakin' time, you two. Especially with a war on and all.
    "Science teaches us to expect -- demand -- more than just eerie mysteries. What use is a puzzle that can't be solved? Patience is fine, but I'm not going to stop asking the universe to make sense!"

    - David Brin, "Those Eyes"
    Get the Forums Enhancement Extension!
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    MCDS Mitchellville, approaching Deep Space 9.

    “That’s a lot of busted ships,” the sensor officer remarked. “That last fight must’ve been bloody.”

    “We’re in hailing range of Deep Space 9, ma’am.”

    Major Jena nodded. “Are we being hailed yet?”

    “Incoming now.”

    Federation Starbase Deep Space 9 to MCDS Mitchellville. You’re just in time, but we’re handling wounded transport, so if you could assume stable orbit three-five-niner…”

    “Understood, Deep Space 9, is a transporter pad clear? I’ve got to report to Admiral Kanril ASAP.”

    We can bring you in through the Ops deck.

    “Understood Deep Space 9, I’ll be over in five minutes,” she replies. “Mitchellville out.”

    “Mum—”

    “No buts. They’re up to their earlobes in wounded and wounded ships. Keep her steady, Leftenant B’lenn, I expect my ship in one piece when you do dock.”

    “Mum, I was going to say we need to gas up,” she pointed out. “I was counting on DS9. Do I have permission to look for other options?”

    “Only if they’re a) legal, and b) don’t crush the budget.” Jena told her. “Maybe see if they’ve got grounding space at one of the surface ports on Bajor or their moons. We’re not gonna be here long.”

    “Aye mum… What about grounding leave?”

    “I’ll discuss it with the Admiral. If you find us a parking spot, call the local Starfleet liaison office and arrange it in shifts, starting with the deck crews, and see if you can’t wrangle some fresh fruit.”

    She heads for the transporter room, only pausing once to straighten her P-coat and hat.

    “They’ll neutralize your weapons, ma’am.”

    “So they neutralize the weapons, I’m not storming the place, just reporting in.” she smiles. “Besides, it’s not like I need a gun.”

    “Aye mum.”

    “Energize.”


    Kanril Eleya. Deep Space 9 Operations.

    My brains are still feeling a little scrambled, so I guess I’m lucky Captain Sarish doesn’t seem to mind me necking with my boyfriend—make that my fiancé—in an out-of-the-way chair by one of the walls.

    “Transporter locked, bringing them in.” I disengage from Gaarra and we get up and head over there as the red glow of a Klingon-made transporter takes on a humanoid shape.

    Major Jena of the Moab Confederacy Defense Force, looks like her file holo. Aside from the red-yellow eyes, she could look human, she’s about average height, about average build… and all of that, is completely wrong. She’s a Chameloid—she could look (for the most part) like any one of a hundred billion people. The ‘native shapeshifters’ of the Klingon Empire, and rare enough to be termed an ‘endangered species’ by most reckonings.

    “I’m looking for Admiral Kanril Eleya?” are the first words out of her mouth, words spoken with the lilting sibilance of Moabite accents. The uniform she’s wearing is one used exclusively by MCDF’s bird-of-prey personnel—it’s in part, supposedly, inspired by the outfits worn by submarine crews on Earth in the mid 20th century, right down to the twin leviathans on the cap badge.

    “You’re looking at her, Major,” I tell her, hoping I don’t still have that idiot grin on my face.

    She salutes me. “Reporting as directed, Mum,” she says. The term’s common with the Moabites, Cold Butte, and Arluna personnel I’ve dealt with now for several years, so I don’t feel an urge to correct her. It beats ‘sirring’ me, anyway—I hate that. “We’re bingo on fuel and the crew needs their surface hours, mum, is there going to be time?”

    “I’m sure you saw the damage. We were already supposed to ship out a week from yesterday. It’s looking more like two weeks now. Uh, my flag captain, Captain Reshek Gaarra.”

    “Pleasure to meet you, Major.”

    “Sirah,” she nods to him in a fairly stiff military ceremonial used by the Klingons. “I’ll let my XO know she can let the lads out of the can then, and find a fueler for the ship.”

    I nod. “Try the Kendra City Spaceport. They can take birds up to 300 meters and they’re less busy than Ashalla or Hathon.”

    She grins, showing too-sharp teeth. “Aye mum.”

    There’s a little commotion at the door, and a Vorta enters with Odo. Jena mutters something under her breath, “và nay là lễ hội vô lý…”

    And I catch it. and now the freakshow.

    “You’re a Chameloid?” the vorta begins.

    “Ma’am, I need to get back to my ship—” Jena’s clearly uncomfortable.

    I turn and fix the Vorta with a baleful glare. “If she is, what’s that got to do with anything?”

    “I’ve never seen one in real life before.” Odo speaks up, “even during my time in the Alpha quadrant…”

    “We’re not like you, Founder.” Jena says, “Mass limited, volume limited, and no inorganic forms.”

    “You’re still a more naturally talented shifter than myself. My name is Odo.”

    “You did see one, sir, one of us. My mother was a dabo girl here on Deep Space 9 during the war,” Jena tells him. “I was conceived, so she said, right after the war ended. During the celebration.”

    “Wouldn’t that be two?” Sarish asks.

    “Eh, we breed true with most klingonoids,” Jena says, “Klingon, Orion, Human, Bajoran, even Cardassian. We’re all female, have to look outside the species for the other half of the chromosome pairing, and it’s a dominant pairing—no male Chameloid is even possible. Sons are whatever their father was, and unlike Founders we don’t have a homeworld or our own history. No data exists on where we came from, how we evolved, or why, not even among ourselves… and with the show over, I have work to do. May I attend to my duties, Ma’am?”

    K’Ragh has a theory about Chameloids. I knew the part about their reproduction, it’s in Klingon lore, buried deep, stuff he’s dug up over the years. His theory is that they were a project from pre-contact, when Qo’noS was split between two great empires. His ideas have a lot of holes you could fly the Enterprise through, granted, but it’s as good as anything Starfleet’s historical division could come up with.

    “Just… please,” Odo asks, and somehow his eyes seem to soften her anxieties—or amp them up.

    She shifts her face, assuming an almost canine visage, with a long snout and slavering teeth, like a Jackal-Mastiff, then to a Caitian, then Ferasan, and then Gorn before resuming the human-looking face. “Am I dismissed?”

    “Are you ashamed of what you are?” Odo challenges her, and damn if I can really afford to intervene.

    “Ashamed? Mister Odo, I am a small business owner, with a valued role in my community. I have earned and hold a reserve commission in my nation’s armed forces. I’ve been a taxpayer since the age of fourteen, I have been before that, a prostitute, a saleswoman, a sewage technician and a construction worker—all honorable work. I am a citizen with voting rights. I fought in our war of independence against the Orions and I fought in our civil war. My side won and I was present when peace was negotiated. I have the friendship of my nation’s leaders, both of them, and the trust of my National Assembly. I have nothing to be ashamed of, for I have done nothing wrong. ‘Từ của tôi là tốt’, My word is good. Can you say the same?”

    There’s a collective gasp, and the Vorta starts forward—but Odo holds his hand up and the servant halted.

    “My apologies, Major, I seem to have overstepped. Will you forgive me my… poorly considered question?”

    She shrugs. “Sure. I was simply clarifying that no, I am not ashamed of who I am, and how can anyone be ashamed of what they have no control over? We are what we are, the only thing that matters, in the end, is who we are… and I apologize if, as your servant the Vorta here indicated, what I asked in response gave offense.”

    “No offense taken. I suppose I should go.”

    I take her aside, after the Dominion delegation’s left the deck.

    “Which side?” I ask carefully. I’m worried there’s going to be friction in the group, although given I’m adding an MHSF ship to the mix, that ship has probably sailed.

    “The side that wanted to end the fighting,” she tells me. “It took long enough, but the people who wanted to end the conflict won… sort of. If you can call several million innocent deaths on both sides ‘winning’,” she adds with distaste. “In the end, we were just fighting to end the fighting, like f*cking in the name of virginity, I guess.”

    “I know the feeling. Get your crew rested and your ship fueled up. We’re going to be busy.”

    She nods. “Aye Mum.”
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    [out of story]

    a note on Chameloids vis'a'vis the Masterverse:

    Jena's little tirade at Odo, and her visible discomfort at even being in the presence of a changeling, has a lot to do with events during the aftermath of the Dominion war. Chameloids have a long, long history of alternating between being the 'loyal servants' of the nobility, and being, well...Persecuted brutally by the same society. In the Empire proper, they're what amounts to a caste of 'unclean', as a result, they really have no 'community' of their own, as those places were often the target of their neighbours in brutal pogroms. At the same time, they're also not a 'good fit' for the Federation's morality, because of their shape-shifting ability causes a sort of 'instant suspicion' in security personnel-even when the chameloid in question IS a security person.

    since the Dominion war, many of them drifted to 'border colonies' on both sides of the Klingon border, first to hide among the unregistered masses, and then, to become 'absorbed' into local colour. Jena's one of the few who live as what she is openly, and this has much to do with where she grew up-among a people who don't really 'fit' anywhere else.

    as a teen, she worked as a "pay girl" in a peep show, 'giving the marks what they want to see'. That's where she met Char, her business partner. after those two got out of there, she did indeed work as a sewage tech, and then as a construction worker, along with a host of other trades and jobs, before she was able to help her best friend buy the Infogrill in Nha Tranh, where she 'took off the disguise' and lived openly as what she is.

    Her relationship with her stepfather has had ups and downs, but it's a solid family relationship, even after meeting her biological father at the outbreak of the civil war.

    this is NOT typical. Her Mother was a fairly expensive courier and assassin before retiring, and left her with her step-family for 'reasons' as a young child, only visiting rarely before disappearing during the same timeframe as the raid on the Cursa POW facility by Starfleet.

    To be clear, most Chameloids meet another only very, very, rarely (if at all) after reaching the age at which they've mastered their abilities sufficiently to hold on to the same face, and they're a sort of 'galactic permanent underclass', with a reputation in the Empire as theives, fraudsters, killers, and darker things.

    what they don't have, is a cultural history of their own, beyond 'baby stories' of the exploits of those few who gained an actual reputation large enough to be known to others of their kind.

    Chameloids reach reproductive maturity late-in their early to mid twenties, and live roughly 180 years. in each mating cycle, the chance for the gene package (a sex-linked trait) to be active (aka a female birth) is roughly 2/5 of all births, with the remainder being a male of the host species. (aka breeding with a Klingon will produce either a Chameloid daughter, or a Klingon son. ditto for humans and most other compatible races.)

    it is unknown how many still exist, however the Dominion Riots of the 2370's killed an estimated six thousand in First City alone, with more killed (both documented and confirmed, and undocumented or suspected) throughout the Empire.

    Best estimates place the existing population of them at somewhere in the low 20,000's galaxy-wide.

    The EARLIEST confirmed story of one, dates back to the reign of Molor, and one of his wives known as "The Unseen Death Without Honor"-she was famously slain by Kahless while imperfectly impersonating his par'mach in an attempt to kill him.

    The noted Gadfly K'Ragh, son of D'ward, has privately suggested that the Chameloid race may be artificial, created by Klingon scientists during the period of "The Two Empires" pre-Hur'q.

    since this era is characterized mostly for being denied hotly by the bulk of Klingon histories, it is considered a dubious origin at best.

  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,622 Arc User
    edited October 2018
    jonsills wrote: »
    About freakin' time, you two. Especially with a war on and all.

    Well, they're already married in the prime 'verse: the story where that happens is stuck in development hell (along with half my projects). Eleya and Gaarra got Admiral Tuvok to marry them, because it was the night before the Allies counterattacked and blew up the Herald Sphere and neither of them really expected to survive the mission (joke was on them). The Iconian War went closer to canon in the Masterverse, so they didn't have Operation Certain Death hanging over their heads to push them to blow off tradition. So they've had a much longer courtship here in the Masterverse.

    All the yammering about the old ways and traditions is important in a few ways. I admit to injecting a bit of myself in there: while I identify IRL as a Methodist, there's a few places I disagree with Methodist doctrine, and I've never really felt that I need to regularly attend church or have a whole lot of ritualism to be a Christian (attending an Episcopal service with my grandparents just confused me). And then we get people like my uncle and his partner: they're handfasted but not legally married because they don't believe their personal relationship should be the government's business. Eleya's like that: she and Gaarra are a committed couple, but her family's pretty conservative and wants a traditional ceremony, which as noted is impractical for an active-duty military couple because of the length of the rites and rituals, so they've been putting it off since they don't see it as necessary to their relationship.

    But, I'm a sucker for a wedding scene.
    "Two ways to view the world, so similar at times / Two ways to rule the world, to justify their crimes / By Kings and Queens young men are sent to die in war / Their propaganda speaks those words been heard before"
    — Sabaton, "A Lifetime of War"
    9MUythl.png
    (Vaporware thanks to Foundry shutdown. Thanks a frakking bunch, Cryptic.)
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited October 2018
    Kanril Eleya, Meeting room 2, Deep Space 9, 0900 Hours,June 7, 2415

    Captain Iris Michaels is p*ssed, no surprise. “Admiral Kanril, no disrespect, but you’d better have a damn good explanation I can give my wife and son for why you turned me around.”

    “‘Subject to the requirements of the service’,” I quote. “That’s what your commission says. You’re needed… besides, didn’t you tell me once you joined Starfleet to be an explorer?”

    One of the things Alcott taught me, was to know the priorities of the people around you—and how to use them.

    Too bad it doesn’t really apply here. “I fail to see the connection, Admiral.” She glares.

    “The Moab Confederacy committed to deploying a force, and you’re the closest replacement with the skills and equipment to carry out the mission,” I tell her. “You’re here, because your government has obligations and you’ve sworn to fulfill them.”

    There’s a chime at the door that interrupts her. She looks at me, and it sounds again.

    “Enter.”

    Peri comes in carrying a stack of PADDs. “Cool, she’s here.”

    You!” Iris points at her. “This is your fault isn’t it?”

    “Hey, don’t blame me, calling you in was not my call,” Peri tells her. “The Frazier Bay’s got severe structural damage and we needed a ship to fill the roster. You were closest and most qualified.” She lays the briefing PADDs on the table, leans on it, and adds, “Besides, you’ve got Academy time, you know Starfleet protocols, and really, what’s a fifth or sixth birthday in the general scheme of things? We’re military and if you’d been allowed to stay in Starfleet, you’d be gone for five year chunks instead of a few months.”

    “Long range explorers get to bring their families with them,” Iris retorts, scowling.

    “Not where we’re going they don’t,” I put in. “We’re going into the Gamma Quadrant.”

    “See? You wouldn’t wanna put your kid in that anyway. How’s your wife?” Peri asks solicitously.

    “She’s fine, and she misses me,” Iris growls, then her expression changes. “You’re being nice. Why are you being nice?”

    “Because as of 0830, when you reported to Admiral Kanril, I work for you—you’re the senior Moab officer in the task force, and per the peace agreement, that rank difference means I’m your senior subordinate commander, Captain. I was the senior subordinate commander to the Admiral, but with you on the roster, you’re senior in the chain now. I’ve got a full inventory and personnel stack for you to look over, Ma’am. Including redistributing the Marine Air Wing from the Frazier Bay and the infantry battalion.”

    I have to resist the urge to laugh at the expression on Iris’s face. “I—Motherf*cker,” she curses, then turns to me. “Ma’am, she’s not in my chain of command—”

    “Not back home, she isn’t, no,” I agree.

    “Section Twenty-eight, Base Alpha Agreement of 2414, subsection A, paragraph nineteen. ‘In the event of Joint Operations outside of Moab Confederacy Territory involving the Federation Starfleet, the Klingon Defense Force, or the Alpha Quadrant Alliance, the senior officer, regardless of service, is in command unless otherwise specified by allied powers, this section can be appealed in the event of operational necessity,’” Peri recites. “I read up on it when I found out. You don’t have disqualifying factors, ergo, as an O-6 to my O-5, you’re in command… unless you want to claim mental incapacity or death, neither of which is evident in your case, ma’am.”

    She swears again and sighs. “Fine. Where’s the rest of the command?”

    “They should be along shortly. I gave you and Colonel Wahlberger a fifteen-minute head start so I could break you in. Romulan ale?” I offer, getting the bottle from where I stashed it in my briefcase under the table.

    “I’ll take some of that action,” Peri says.

    “Ditto.”

    “Cheer up, I expect Debbie Mac had a conniption when the Admiral called you in, seeing as she’s been pushing to restrict you Homelanders to our territory and keep the expeditionary stuff for the Marine Corps.”

    I raise my glass, laughing. “To giving politicians headaches.”

    “Hear hear,” Iris agrees.
    * * *

    Ten minutes later, I have eleven officers seated around the table: five Starfleet, three MCDF, one MHSF, one SDF, and a Romulan. It’s a big enough table for twice this number, which is good for Captain McKnight-her hexaped form takes up space for two seats, a third if she didn’t curl her tail around her lower body. There’s an empty chair draped in a flag where Timih Ra-Gruvloveii ought to be: he died on the table and Starfleet wouldn’t let me replace his battlecruiser.

    “All right, I’ll make this simple. Most of you have met me already but I’ll introduce myself again. I’m Admiral Kanril Eleya. I wanted to call this Operation Flyswatter but I was shouted down at Starfleet Command—” I smile so they know I’m joking. “—so it’s Operation Straight Silver instead.”

    “We’re already breaking a lot of rules, chief among them putting a Homelander in charge of Marines. I don’t have a problem with that: when you’re on this task force you are my people first and foremost, is that clear?”

    “Aye Mum,” Peregrine says and shoots Major Jena an evil eye before she nods. Reluctantly, the other MCDF officers acknowledge with a nod, or a reluctant ‘aye’.

    Except for Theed Danjha. Being a ‘rockjack’, she’s basically a ‘colonist belter’, similar to the Belters here. She’s as tall as I am, but a lot thinner. Well, maybe a little taller, really. Born in microgravity with medical adaptations. Moab’s ‘Belters’ spent longer without benefit of the advanced tech from Earth, and Theed wears a ‘support exo’ in normal gravity. She mutters something under her breath; I just catch it. I spot Peregrine making a fist and locking eyes with the ex-Rockjack spacer. “I didn’t hear that, Major,” she hisses it out loud, in hearing of everyone. “The admiral has given an instruction, and invited a response.”

    Every service has its habits, and culture. Danjha blinks first. “Aye mum.”

    Peregrine turns to Iris. “We’re with you, Captain, Ma’am.” Dominance established, and command chain established.

    “That having been said,” I continue, “I expect Colonel Wahlberger will be de facto in charge of the Marine forces most of the time, unless Commander tr’Mrian wants that job. That’s because your primary assignment is going to be force recon, because you have cloaks and the Sierdegardt doesn’t. We have good charts of the Gamma Quadrant’s stars but we know next to nothing about the deeper reaches of the Dominion beyond the light barrier, and the Vorta have been remarkably closed-mouthed about the political situation. But we’ve learned from the refugees we’ve taken in and rumors carried by traders to New Bajor and elsewhere that there’s some kind of upheaval going on.”

    I bring up a file on the main screen. “Four years ago, about the time of Fek Day, the Federation sent a diplomatic mission to Yarmta, the Teplan homeworld. It’s a Dominion subject world in the Kendari sector. They tangled with a small Dominion force two days in, but no shots were fired.”

    “What?” M’karret says.”that definitely doesn’t sound like the Dominion I know and Loathe.”

    I nod in agreement. “The Vorta in charge, Kilana, reached an agreement with Captain Tyria Sark that secured the Teplans’ independence from the Dominion, and a Federation protectorship, in exchange for military export restrictions and some concessions on cross-wormhole trade.”

    “Which of course raises the question of why the Dominion would take a soft touch,” tr’Mrian puts in. “Didn’t they use biological weapons on the Teplans the last time they tried for independence?”

    I gesture at him with my remote, smiling. “Bingo. Starfleet Intelligence has always had difficulty penetrating Dominion home space, but the squints all agreed there was some kind of internal problem going on and they couldn’t afford the distraction. Ergo, I need you guys to be spread out and finding out not just where to point the bugspray, but what the flying phekk is going on with the Dominion government.”

    “Sounds like a diplomatic and civil affairs mission,” Jena comments.

    “Odo seemed really interested in you, Jena,” Peri notes.

    “Yeah, see the freak interested,” Jena cracks back with a clearly fake smile. “Not like I haven’t dealt with that before, you want me on civil affairs, ma’am?”

    Peri gestures to Iris. “Not my call. I’d recommend it though—you’ve got time in doing business and negotiation most of us don’t have, and the Dominion is interested in you.

    “You’ll have backup,” Iris says.

    “All right, that’s settled. Maybe you can talk Odo and the Kai into a double-date or something.” It’s well-known they’re an item, or at least used to be.

    “Is that an order, ma’am?”


    “No, that was me being snide. You do what you feel you have to do; as long as it’s not too illegal, I’ll sign off on it.”

    “You got it.”

    “All right, back to doctrine. I’m not going to try to make you fight in a wall the way we do in Starfleet: your ships aren’t designed for it. If we engage the enemy, we’re the anvil, you cloakers are the hammer. You stay mobile and try to drive them into our cruisers. And if at all possible, we’re going to avoid engaging the Hur’q: I’ve got no appetite for another Son Tay.”

    That gets the expected reaction: all the Moabites except Iris are initially shocked, then start yelling. This is what I do—I tip over sacred cows to see what’s underneath.

    “HEY!!!” Peregrine is on her feet. “You need to shut the f*ck up Danjha, you weren’t there.”

    “So? She’s Starfleet, how could she—”

    “I said you need to shut the f*ck up, Theed, she was at the gateway when we went through. She was there and you weren’t.”

    “Would you believe I actually proposed a mission very much like Son Tay to Starfleet right around the time it went down? I got nothing against veterans of that mission, it was a brilliant move… strategically. But I’ve been working with some of the survivors for three years, and I know how many of you didn’t make it even that far. I don’t want to come home with that kind of casualty list—this war has enough dead heroes already. So let’s fight smart. The enemy has numbers, but they’re disorganized and they’re attracted to shiny objects; I’ll let you know more about that when I do. Point is, let the phekk’ta Jem’Hadar take the suicide missions, we’re going to get to the bottom of this just as fast as we can.” I point to Gaarra. “I got a personal stake in this. My fiancé’s family is in the line of fire: his father’s the Militia garrison commander on New Bajor, and a swarm like the one we saw yesterday could kill everything on the planet inside of an hour.”

    I turn back to the board and bring up another slide. “My job as your commander is to help you kill the enemy and minimize friendly casualties. I want as many of you kids coming home as I can manage, so let’s value our lives, people. We’re going to be upgrading your sensor arrays to Starfleet spec or as near as we can manage. You'll be able to tell individual species apart at a light-second by the time we’re done.”

    I pause to let that sink in. Major Theed is the first to make the connection, or at least to say she did. “My… God, if we’d had that during the Fek-Day War—”

    “—we wouldn’t have lost so many Marines chasing wild geese,” Sheri finishes.

    “Quatloo for the smart lady,” I agree. “Peri knows my style for combined ops, too: space superiority comes first, and if ground troops are needed, no messing around—it's a storm landing with orbital and shuttle support. If in doubt, don't get cute; you say the word and I'll turn it to glass.

    “Organization. We’re going to mix up the crews a little. Each Moab or SDF ship gets a science team from one of the Starfleet ships to help with integration of the new gear, and a minimum of a platoon of Marines goes on every non-Moab ship. I’m already planning to barrack a company each on the Bajor and the Nighthawk.”

    McKnight speaks up. “I’ve got room for about 75 on the Kongo as well.”

    Iris relaxes a little. “That makes my job easier…or more complicated, depending?”

    “I’ve got recommendations on frame sixteen, Ma’am,” Peregrine says, “you’ll want to review and make adjustments before submitting to the Admiral.”

    Iris frowns again. “Admiral, we need to establish unit roles and staff positions. I recognize that the Mitchellville, Saskatoon Hills, Phan Minh will be conducting forward recon operations—”

    “And Shavokh and Kukri.”

    “—but we still need to establish the roles of flank security and supply. And unless I’m wrong here, you’re putting the CO of the Mitchellville on additional diplomatic duty for the Taskforce, and Wahlberger’s handled a lot of our S-1 jobs here, but we probably need someone covering S-2, S-3, and S-4 positions.”

    “G levels, not S,” Pete Wilson finally speaks up. As per Wahlberger’s description, he’s young looking, conventionally handsome, and almost reeks of inexperience. His last assignment was as XO on a patrol cruiser running follow-up along the coreward exploration zone. “Hey, I count eleven ships here, which makes this ‘task force’ a fleet. Staff levels would be G-titled, since I don’t think anyone here is operating without staff officers on their ships. It’s a general staff situation.”

    Danjha Theed looks like she’s going to say something, then around at the others. “What? I’ve got a crew of like fifty people, not including Marines…”

    “And people wonder why we require college educations.” Jena cracks, then turns serious, “We’re gonna be hurting if we have to scavenge parts or supplies without an established supply chain—I know I’ve got six months of stores aboard, everything but fuel, but we do need to have an established supply chain at minimum, with a specific point of contact, and someone to act as a store and distribution for intel and information. When we took out that Orion slaving force, Moskowitz had a full staff, and that was without a functional naval force bigger than shuttles.”

    “Yeah, we’ve got three tech bases, not including the Dominion tech base we’ll be dealing with,” Wilson adds. “We might miss out on fighting, but the singularity core on that Aelahl is completely different from matter-antimatter systems, and while some plasma feeds are compatible, disruptor emitters generally don’t fit on phaser systems or vice-versa, so we need someone who’s a good scrounger to cover the G-4 job.”

    “General Ssharki has managed to get a Gorn repair ship for us, won’t be here for a week but will follow through the Wormhole. Also the SDF Singh will be assisting with repairs and medical. We still will need someone for G-4 to find them stuff to repair with.”

    “I can handle that,” Tess says. “There’s a petty officer on my ship I busted once for ‘scrounging’ a kteth vlasa plant for the still.”

    “A kteth what-now?” Peri asks.

    “It’s an herb from the Sulamid homeworld with mildly psychoactive properties to some humanoids,” Wilson explains, before his brain catches up and he looks askance at Tess. “Wait a minute, sir, he was trying to use that in moonshine?”

    “Not him, one of the science pukes.”

    “I think that’s a story for another time, Captain Phohl,” I suggest as the others start chuckling. “What do you think of him otherwise?”

    “Well, just finding the stuff offworld was a stroke of genius, ma’am, and my CHENG says when he’s on duty he’s a hard worker. Ferengi, from one of their border colonies near us and the Breen.”

    “I’ll look into it,” Sheri agrees. I make a mental note to prep a warrant for him.

    “I’m gonna nominate Wahlberger to handle the G-1 post,” Iris states.

    “What?”

    “You’ve already done a lot of it for me, you’ve worked with the Romulans before, and because I can,” Iris says impishly. “Personnel’s actually one of the things I observed you had a good handle on during the Berun’s World operation.”

    “Did I kick your dog or something?”

    “It’s the reward for doing good work—more good work to do.” Iris says it with a grin. “You didn’t think I’d take on all that admin on my own, did you?”

    Peregrine thinks. “I have someone… Sergeant Major Cohen’s been kind of my private screener since she got back from Goralis. I’ll cut her warrant orders if the Admiral doesn’t mind getting an ace personnel screener.”

    “Heh, ‘mind’?” I look at my notes. “That just leaves G-3, Operations. Any volunteers?”

    “I’ll take on the job,” Gaarra assures me.

    After that it’s mostly just laying out mission plans. “The Karemma are a major weapons supplier to the Dominion and they’re not far from the Celestial Temple. According to the refugees we took in, the system’s under attack, so I’m going to take most of our force there to see what’s going on. McKnight, you and Jena are going to the Ennis system. There’s a small population on a former prison moon that Kai Kira and the local government have requested we evacuate. They’re not a Dominion member so don’t worry about stepping on any Vorta toes.” They nod their agreement. “I think that covers everything. We ship out at 0300 on the Fifth. Dismissed.”

    Then I pause. “Major Danjha, would you stay behind please?” The others file out, including Sheri, and I wait for the door to fully close before I get in her face. “If you ever speak to me that way again, Major, I’ll have you on the next shuttle back to Cold Butte,” I tell her in an even tone. “Are we clear?”

    “Crystal, ma’am. I apologize.”

    I nod curtly. “Dismissed.”

    (Added missing text. -- StarSword-C)
    Post edited by starswordc on
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Kanril Eleya, 1300 Hours, Temple of the Prophets, Deep Space 9.

    They’re holding memorial services for the dead. So many crews and people died, that they’re combining them into a series of services. This is one I can’t miss, or skip: the USS George Hammond was lost with almost all hands. My old command, and I recommended her captain for the position. She took a blast meant for the Enterprise, covering her on a run against a hive ship.

    I’m not alone. Starfleet, Militia, and a scattering of Moabite uniforms are crammed into the hall of the temple, along with hovering holocams to document it.


    It’s all very dignified for the media, with the traditional addresses by the First Minister of Bajor, the Klingon attache’, and other high ranking civilians, reassuring the public that everything is under control.

    Entertainers aren’t in short supply, but I get a surprise when Admiral Kurland nods to the wings, after another speech by another federal official.

    The girl who steps up, is Cardassian...well, at least half. There are hints of Bajoran nasal ridges, and her ears are ever-so-slightly too large for her face, at least, for a Cardassian. She’s in uniform, Cardassian Medical corps, a reserve position.

    She draws a breath, and begins singing an aria-which becomes a Bajoran song, a dirge for the dead, one normally accompanied by at least four instruments, but she sings it a-capella, or ‘without accompaniment’, as the caskets, some of them empty, traverse past the windows on their way to the sun.
    Lisa Makbar can sing. I’m not talking ‘carry a tune’ I’m saying she can flood the song with a kind of emotion. What she’s doing being a doctor with a talent like that? Well, Dad would probably have something to say, moreso as the names scroll up the screen behind her.

    The names of the fallen.

    The images and the names are mere flashes, the death count is in the thousands.

    But she carries through for nearly an hour without stopping.

    When she finally finishes, I feel a little bit..drained.

    This one was not for the reporters, or the public, or the civilian officials. Nobody but military would have the patience for an hour long song filled with heart-wrenching grief.

    “Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I have work to do now, so that more names are not added to that list.”

    She turns, and salutes the Admiral before returning to duty.

    This is the Starfleet ceremonial. It ends early enough that I can still make it to the one that isn’t starfleet, and after that emotional roller-coaster, I need a drink...
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited October 2018
    Kanril Eleya, 1700 Hours local time, 11 KM outside Hathon, Bajor, southwest of the spaceport…

    The MCDF is holding a wake for their dead. I had to sign the leasing slips for the property, and Sheri turned up the right permits. There’s a pit dug in the ground, and practically an entire animal carcass is over it, on a spit—looks like a verdanis. There’s so much booze the air is flammable and some of the discharge kids are playing music. I’ve seen them hold a wake before, but this one is big, loud, and open to the public. Starfleet, and pretty much anyone brave or curious enough to show up are welcome. Over at the entrance, there’s a board, and it’s covered in holos, messages, letters…and a second and third beside it are filling up fast by the time I arrive.

    I’ve visited Moab and Cold Butte, and I can tell you, any excuse for a relief from the grinding hell of those two worlds? People are going to crave it. Cold Butte’s half frozen right in the ‘miserable’ side of winter for most of its surface, with the equatorial region being miserable, muddy, and chilly.. Moab’s hot, inhospitable, dusty and outright poisonous to a large extent. Both are places where the environment makes Qo’noS look… pleasant and welcoming. So a garden world like Bajor? Must be like Risa to them.

    A few tents and a ‘sober garden’ were set up by troops from the Severed Angel, and Militia Security’s got an ‘amnesty box’ and emergency vehicles set up in case somebody gets sick or hurt. And it’s a real possibility—I’m not joking about ‘sober gardens’. The alcohol and other semi-legal substances are flowing freely. Mix that with kickboxing demonstrations and ‘wall on wall’ group boxing… which is where up to ten contestants form two lines and beat the cr*p out of each other for the delight of the audience, all at once. It’s like a ‘rules controlled’ riot in a fenced circle. The probability that someone is going to need an ambulance is pretty close to certainty.

    But it’s like a festival.

    An ungodly wailing pierces the air, originating from the stage, where a girl is playing bagpipes over bass guitars and drums.

    Yes, we did make sure it was outside city limits.

    I find my way to one of the ‘non-drunk’ gardens, where Peregrine and Iris are sitting with a group of officers, including Major Cu’oc and a couple of O-3 “Leftenants”, a pitcher of some brown, frothy stuff that is the colour of coffee and the consistency of degreasing fluid, and a tankard of Bloodwine.

    “…handled her first drop like a champ, she didn’t even puke—and here she is. Join us, Admiral!” Peri’s flushed face beams up at me. “I was telling them about the Drop on the 461st!”

    “Coin check,” Cu’oc says, and slaps one down on the table.

    “I'll match that.” I reach into my pocket.

    “I didn't think Starfleet did challenge coins.”

    “This was a gift.” I lay it gently on the table. Cu’oc gapes, and Peri starts laughing.

    “… f*cking Son Tay?!” he’s astonished.

    “I was at the Battle of the Conduit,” I explain, “helped Kicur organize the defense. Baby K got partial credit for mission-kills on two Starfleet ships and half a dozen Undine. This… was given to me by a survivor I helped bury earlier this year.”

    Cu’oc pours some of that evil-looking brown for me, and Iris moves her tote off the chair.

    “I see you’re drinking with Cu’oc,” I note conversationally.

    “Neutral ground—and Peregrine will kick both our asses in the ring if we don’t suspend old business here.”

    “Simultaneously,” Cu’oc adds. “With her right arm tied behind her back, hopping on one foot.” the three burst into giggles.

    “Ngoc Trung,” Peregrine announces suddenly, “turned me down the night before we deployed to Son Tay, because I was too drunk to know what I was doing. He was a good friend.” She holds her cup up. “That psychopath Uminoe Kicur, who backed us up over Betazed. Janey Qua, who pushed me to pass the Officer Candidate Exams and hounded me until I passed the Bachelor’s degree programme. Yoann Teena, who came to Moab to talk peace, and got eaten by the Fek, The Governor Liz Tran, who stood up to ColDev when nobody else could, and kept us from being consumed by the Klingon Empire, Mara Dukes, who carried me through the last mile of the Long March in training with a busted leg, Dinh Coates, who covered me when we were slicing the datasystem on Starbase 24, Liam Nga, who ate an antishipping torpedo at Objective K, used to tell me I was pretty when I didn’t think I was…” She glances to Iris.

    “Al Fresdon, who the Orions killed at Starbase 132. Jeanne Lurry, who used part of her pay for real charity. Sennak, who used to tell the dirtiest stories I ever heard. Cadet Instan, who used to blush when he did.” She turns to look at Cu’oc.

    “Warrant Tami Chien, Infantry Captain Oskar Tellen, Sergeants Bri Huyan, Tom Culber, and Corpsman Vessa, who didn’t make it out of the planetkiller, Chief Thulmat, Marissa Chung, whose body is still alive, but her soul was destroyed.”

    “Captain Sandra Pickens, dead at the Gate at objective K,” Peregrine says, looking at me.

    “Admiral Stephen Alcott, my mentor, the man who turned everything around for us,” I say, and Iris nods. “Melissa Travis, my friend through that shitfucking war and everything after.” Peregrine smiles. I swallow, a certain electronic spiel suddenly echoing in my head as I raise my glass. “Captain Alfred Ferdinand Gerhard Detweiler, Commander Mow’tal, son of Garlek, and the rest of them who died on the Kagoshima at Vega IX.”

    “Vivian, Lorus, Gorton Kingsley the Third!!” Cu’oc announces. “Stood up and took it for his people!”

    “Absent companions, friends, and honored enemies. Whether Sto’vo’kor, Valhalla, Heaven, or Paradise.” Peri finishes the invocation. “Here’s to not joining them too soon!”

    We drink…well, they drink, I pretend to at first. The brew’s got a muddy, almost-slash taste. “Prophets, where’d you find this, a hara cat burrow?”

    Peregrine laughs. “It’s an import, some kind of ‘craft brew’ from New London. Honest, I’ve bought from those guys before, and those times it was good.”

    “What’s this about Starbase 24?” I ask her. It was one of Stephen’s suspicions—and mine—that the Moabites were the ones who hit Starbase 24 during K’Hugh’s attack in ‘07, but I never thought I’d get confirmation.

    “Okay, this is a long one… well, maybe not so long. Annie Cu’ong and I were just doing radio duty on the first batch of Norghs we got from the Klingons, I think you were playing hide-and-pounce with them elsewhere in the cluster, but Janey Qua hadn’t been brought over yet, she was in custody on Starbase 24 on suspicion of treason.”

    “Yeah, I’ve seen the video,” I growl into my ‘beer’. Talk about spanners in the works—if there hadn't been an Undine taking advantage of Internal Affairs’ witch hunt, if Admiral Alcott hadn't been distracted by the offensive against B'Sanos…

    “Right, so the Klink Third Fleet pulls some strings, tryn’a embarrass General B’Sanos…” she hoists it alone, and drinks. “… and they strong-arm the Governor into using us as part of their attack on Starbase 24. Only the Governor, she and the General, they agree on a different strategy, right? Disable the base just enough that if K’Hugh was actually any good, he could take it, intact, but that was the cover. We were there to get Janey out of custody and free… so imagine this, we’ve got five birds we just finished fixing, a collection of first- and second-run basic trainees, a bunch of ex-Spec Ops types, and a starbase we have to infiltrate, to extract someone nobody was really sure wanted to be rescued… We had to ‘fail’ just enough, that B’Sanos could say ‘they’re not ready’ while succeeding just enough to look like we didn’t bunk the ball on purpose. That meant me and Annie writing a virus, set up to eat itself after a given amount of time—not so bad that it would truly leave Starfleet defenseless, but enough that K’Hugh would think they were defenseless. Subtle work, real ‘grace’ coding, and it needed to be elegant to get past the AU-22 system the Starbase had…”

    “Oh, I’ve never heard this one…” Cu’oc says.

    “Yeah…it’s …well, it was classified, but we’re all friends here and you know about spacer stories, right?” she says blearily. “So listen up, it’s all bullsh*t… Well, we get there, an’ the f*ck’n yardies that did the intel for K’Hugh left out sh*t from th’ security updates twenty years ago-like they were trying to get us caught. Mouse…” She takes another drink. “… he’s got more current sh*t from Haganah, stuff smugglers already know… so we do a quiet, soft dock, Trung was driving ours… Fourteen. An’ we set up transporter amplifiers in the ventral bay, with an umbilical over one of th’ maintenance hatches. Hardly needed the slicer rigs we set up for it, because someone didn’t bother updating the entry codes after the station went live—Yoyodyne factory settings.”

    I peer at her over the rim of my glass. “Really?

    “Mm-hm.” She leans on her elbows. “So we use the transporter amps and narrow beams to clown-car a company of infantry into the station—which, if we’d been there to take it, would’ve done the job. Moved right through their security like it wasn’t there, because some jack*ss lobotomized the central computer core before we got there, and damn thing couldn’t take initiative even in a penetration situation, because we froze the security feeds first. After that, we shut down their internal sensors, and then gave them a five minute blind spot externally. It was pure grace coding too—I made sure the orbital systems kept their inbuilt autonomous, but the station wasn’t able to control ‘em for a few minutes. If K’Hugh were competent enough he could have had that base cold…but he’s traditional Klingon Noble, no finesse, like that Kagran guy.”

    She smiles. “After that, it was in, find the brig she was in, kill the Undine that was there to replace her, and get her out. My part was covering the extraction team and leaving just enough clues that the station’s crew could bring systems back up fast, and if they weren’t any good, the systems would come back up about five mikes after we ran the extraction. Either way, there wasn't any way we were gonna let that f*cktard K’Hugh take that base, his House havin’ more influence? Beaucoup not good for us. We pulled our runner out of there right before some lunatic in a Galaxy-class jumped into the middle of Kuey’s formation phasers blazing and bought time for the techies on the station to get their sh*t back operational.”

    She leans back. “We accomplished primary and secondary mission objectives—primary being getting Janey Qua back, secondary being kill an Undine and leave the body for Starfleet to find. General K’Hugh’s mission to take the system wasn’t even on the priority list at all, so no bad feelings about making sure he failed. Only down side? For the folks on Livingstone colony, was the f*cker survived for another couple of months, and there wasn’t a sanction to sanction the son of a b*tch, for political reasons we all had to wait until the weight of his failures made the Klingon Nobles in their High Council so disgusted they found a competent replacement.”

    She pours another cup. “But that’s all a big *ss sea-story, so you know it’s bullsh*t, right?”

    Pieces come together. “Hypothetically, if what you just told me had happened… That was the dress-rehearsal for Son Tay, wasn’t it?”

    Peregrine shrugs. “We used what we learned,” she says. “Omega rounds, we tested the first ones there, Elint and datawarfare support, coordination techniques, and it was the acid test for the generation one QT transceivers, slipped right past a Starfleet picket with ‘em, it’s how we knew the theories worked. The originals were about the size of good suitcase.” She drains her glass and sighs. Then she jerks upright. “Geez, girls, I almost forgot! The Admiral's getting married!”

    “Congratulations!” Cu’oc blurts, seeming not to notice the ‘girls’ part.

    Iris echoes the sentiment, peering at me over the rim of her glass. “No ring?” she queries.

    “No, we don’t do that, we…” I put down my tankard and push my hair back over my right ear. “The earring, you see the chain? It represents our links to our families. So when we get married, we take a cast of one of the links, exchange them when we say our vows, and it gets put into our spouse’s earring.”

    “Oh. Wow,” Cu’oc stammers.

    “That’s… I think that’s more romantic than what us humans do,” Peri says; Iris nods.

    “What happens if you divorce?”

    Major!” Iris snaps as I try not to laugh.

    “No, that’s all right, I don’t believe in most of those superstitions. We don’t, not usually, is the answer, Major. One of the reasons our traditional marriage rituals take months is to give the couple time to get over their second thoughts, or not, as the case may be. After the ceremony, well… You can get a secular divorce, as far as the Federation is concerned I mean, but the Temple won’t recognize it unless your vedek—equivalent of an archbishop, I think?—unless your vedek approves an annulment.”

    “Can we, you know, not talk about this, ma’am?” Iris insists.

    “Sorry, Captain. I know you’re worried about—”

    “No, Sarah’s fine, I just don’t want to think about it. Pour me another, Colonel.”

    Peri assents. “So where’s that big blond hunk of yours, anyway, Admiral?”
    Post edited by starswordc on
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited October 2018
    M’Karrett, at the Wake.

    Bloodwine wasn’t his favorite drink. To be honest, for both his kind and his Ferasan cousins it could be problematic, a felinoid getting drunk off of that half the time ended up in a claws out brawl, and the other half mewling like a lost kitten. So most smart Ferasans, and Caitaians tended to have one at occasions like this-and either nurse it all evening, or switch to something else. M’Karret had made sure he had a full dinner before coming down. While he did not personally know some of the Ferasans in the KDF ships that were destroyed-they were his kin, and one of them was related to General K’Tirr. Thus it was family-no matter how hard idiots on both sides tended to view things.

    Fortunately there were others there who were glad of his company. K’ragh hasn’t insisted on his coming-but he respected the general too much not to attend. Not to mention it was worth it alone for the look on some of the hide-bound Ferasans to have the roar for the dead sung by a Caitian.

    The older ones. The younger, the Bekks, the young officers fresh out of the academy, with no names to be sung of them yet, viewed him with a mix of wonder and awe. A ‘softskin’, named as kin by one of the Empire’s greatest heroes-who not only stood against the empire, earning their grudging respect in battle, but then, nearly died defending Qo’nos iself from Iconians. Plus if rumors were to be believed, even his mate and kits fought, though truth be told, there were some very wild rumors..

    Which is why his being here with the General was a good thing. Rank did tend to keep the lower officers at bay when there was serious drinking to fallen comrades to be done. The Klingon was not drunk, though it was not like the ships were unmanned, but someone had to be sober if the Hur’q decided to crash the party. Though from what he was proposing, maybe he was drunk M’karret thought.

    “Let me get this straight, you want me to teach inter alliance tactics at Ty’gokor?”

    “I’d like you to. But I know you are not ready to step down from command yet. I’ve discussed the idea with La Roca last year, after the Iconians were driven from Qo’nos.”

    “And he’s okay with this? Wait of course he is, he’s more Klingon than some Klingons I know.”

    K’ragh laughed. “Exactly! Martok had it wrong..but then he has been out of circulation for a while” he said with a grin “just in the last decade, we have faced dire threat after dire threat.” He started counting them off on his fingers “ qa’meh’quv influencing the Gorn,qa’meh’quv in the federation, Borg, Fek’ihri, undine again, the Orion cultist’s ‘Good Masters’, The Voth, the Elachi, Vaadwaur, Tzenkethi…” he looked down at his hands. “I’m close to running out of fingers, and that is just the last few years.”

    “We have been busy. My wife remarked that when she was in Starfleet some days she felt like a one legged man in an *ss kicking contest.”

    “HA! The undine had a saying. “The weak will perish.” They were right.”

    At M’Karret’s surprised expression he chuckled. “The Federation is weak. The Romulans are split, their new republic is weak. The Ferengi… definition of weak. Moab, weak in their overconfidence. Denali, too far away to matter. And the Empire… We are weak with our hubris, weak with our pride, and weak with our egos.”

    “But… together. Weaknesses cancel out. Strengths build upon strengths. The Federation could not have beaten any of those foes alone. Nor could we have. And J’mpok, while not a fool, has to serve domestic politics that is littered with fools.”

    “Which is why he’s not sending ships.”

    “And why he did not blink when Martok stepped in, at least publicly.” he sipped his drink “the Hurq will not be the last threat the alliance has to face, I believe now. The Empire would not be here today without the Alliance, as you know. Both the Chancellor and Martok believe this Alliance, has to last.”

    “Which is why he pushed for K’tirr on the High Council.”

    “Exactly. To be Klingon, is not a matter of your blood. Imperial politics is full of craven fools who crumble faster than the stereotypical Ferengi. Yet there were Ferengi who stood between civilians and the Hur’q this last week. They are more Klingon than the petaQs who scurry about for crumbs from the Council to expand their puny fiefdoms.”

    “So who’s the next for the Council?” M’karret asked curiously.

    “If he agrees, Ssharki.”


    Elsewhere…Amanda Nung and Walford…

    “…didn’t know Lisa was getting into experimental music.” Walford comments.

    “Yeah, well, you’ve been kinda busy with the whole ‘joining Starfleet’ thing.” I remind her. Lisa’s up on stage doing some kind of 21st century style spoken word dance music-with a Starfleeter she met on Deep Space Nine.

    Generally I don’t dig rap, and the piece they’re doing? I don’t like it.

    “Whoa, he’s like, hawt,” Sheri says it, and I admit, he is-except I kind of don’t dig the shaved-head and piercings look.

    The tribals are kinda cool though. “It’s not experimental, either, it’s a cover of a song from the early 21st Century.” I tell her. Music’s been kind of important for us all-all the MCDF and Vets, you build up certain tastes, and learn to tolerate other people’s when you’re crammed into a thirty meter hull under cloak with six months worth of supplies and one bathroom for months at a time.

    “You’re turning your nose up?” she rounds on me, “Music snobbery from miss ‘hayseed opera’?”

    “I don’t dig spoken words, the beat’s alright if a bit basic, and Lisa’s guitar work’s always been excellent…” I shrug, “BUT, it’s a little too close to sh*t you hear in therapy.”

    The wheelchair’s a new model, and the wraps the Denali put around my new legs keep them immobilized are actually kinda comfortable. “Besides, I can’t grab a nice bedwarmer for a couple more days, doctor’s orders, no strenuous exercise..”

    “No boozing either,” Sheri reminds me.

    “F*ck you, I can have two drinks.” I tell her.

    “Hah! That’s ‘drinks’, not ‘buckets’,” she scolds me, and snags my not-so-well-hidden extra.

    “Sheri, don’t look now, but dude is eyeing you. and you’ve got a duty.”

    “A duty?” she scoffs.

    I’m loose enough to feel good picking on her a little, “Yeah, we’re surrounded by in-shape, educated men and women, and I can’t partake, you have to do it for me, and now, I know it’s going to be a rough duty, getting laid while I’m gonna have to go back to recovery… but I’m counting on you to do at least three things you’ll be ashamed of later, particularly things I would do without a scrap of guilt…” It’s worth a shot, in my humble opinion, my Bajoran sister of a different mother is wrapped way too tight.

    She shoves me. “No.”

    I roll my eyes, “okay, okay…”

    Lisa Makbar comes striding off the stage, and joins us at the picnic table. “You know, Nung, you should really be resting.”

    “Yes, doc… Sheri’s got your beer. Who’s the bohunk doing ‘Clint Eastwood/Dirty Harry’ in English?”

    She takes her cup from Sheri, “Tannu Kereg, off the USS Bajor, Engineering ensign, he’s from New Zealand…not the rehab colony portion.” which, if I remember my mandatory classes, means he’s from the Auckland Consolidated Urban zone-four arcologies full of Earth’s teeming masses.

    “Huh…so what’s with the tats?” I ask.

    “His story, not mine. I know he graduated the Academy less than a year ago, and he knows Phoebe.”

    Knows her, or just social?” I ask, interested again.

    “Just social.”

    What is it with my friends, am I the only one left who’s both still single, and has a healthy set of appetites?

    “You’ll never guess who they’ve got cooking.” Lisa says, “You remember the infogrill in Nha Tranh?”
    Post edited by starswordc on
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User

    20:00, Kanril Eleya…

    Peregrine stumbled off after a while, leaving me with Iris and Major Cu’oc. That lasted until those two started trading ‘spouse and kids’ stories, reminding me that I’m waiting for Gaarra. I smile at the two of them as I make my departure.

    I drift through the crowd. Most of the locals have left. It’s not that we Bajorans don’t like parties, but it’s the middle of the week, and this party’s practically the definition of ‘not safe to bring your children to’, and it’s just not as enticing as it would have been, back in my twenties.

    Somehow, my feet find their way to one of the bars. In this case, almost the literal definition-two sawhorses and some cargo pallets topped with a slab of synthetic wood.

    “Looking grim, Admiral.” the bartender says.

    Her voice is familiar but it takes me a second to process. “Jena. Volunteer duty?”

    “Some experience running an establishment.” She smiles, revealing even, humanoid teeth instead of the fangs she’d flashed at Odo and his Vorta. “You look like a woman who’s not quite comfortable, Ma’am,” she says. “Here, try this.”

    “Oh no, I’ve probably had too much already…”

    “It’s not booze, it’s not even like booze,” she reassures me, sliding the glass across unbidden. It’s got a froth on top of it, and a narrow spoon with a straw.

    Take the best aspects of a Raktajino, mix it with the best aspects of… I can’t describe it, except it’s cold, and sweet, with a back-bite and feels refreshing.

    “Prophets! That’s good… What is it?”

    “Iced Ca’phe with a green tea kicker,” she tells me. “A Char Special—my business partner’s gotten in with the Elldee-ess church of late, no alcohol, no drugs of any kind, but they make allowances for caffeine and sugar, as long as the vitamin content’s higher than the caffeine, so I applied some of Meyer’s equations to come up with a low-caf energy drink people will actually want to order. How is it?”

    “It’s good, you designed it?”

    “On Moab, cooking isn’t just an artform, it’s a survival skill—literally, so much of the biosphere is outright toxic, and the trace minerals and compounds for humanoid life are bound up with things that would be outright deadly if they’re not neutralized,” she reminds me. “Char and I are ‘okay’ at it—good enough at making it edible that people pay for the privilege of eating at our place. Yeah, I ‘designed’ it, and I designed it to be kosher for eighteen different species. The only ones who might get a buzz off it, are Denali—and that’s the pseudocacau root in the secondary brewing stage.”

    It is fantastic though. “You mentioned you’re a small business owner, and a list of other trades. How old are you?”

    “Older than my teeth and slightly younger than my tongue, but I wasn’t kidding about being conceived in this system. I was born on Moab two years later.”

    “So… how would you know?”

    “Chameloid biology. That, and mom didn’t lie about who the Father was.” She sprays solvent on a glass and starts cleaning it. “We can choose to, as they say, ‘make a baby’—it’s biologically wired in by whoever, or whatever, made us. Mom chose to conceive with the guy, chose to make me, but didn’t stick around so I could know him as I grew up.”

    “Why?”

    “Imagine how a… a Bajoran father would react to a baby that doesn’t have control over her shape?” she suggests, “claws popping out, fur sometimes, but not always. It took until I was almost five before my ‘shape’ settled on a humanoid form.”

    “Wow. I… I honestly have no idea what to say to that.”

    She shrugs. “I grew up with a Klingon stepdad who wound up adopting me when raising the kid was too much for mom, but by then, I looked like… well, like I do right now.”

    “Your stepfather was Klingon, and he knew?”

    She nods. “Yep. two ‘older brothers’ knew too. I learned to fight pretty young, but I also learned to negotiate young, vav tIqwIj was exiled by Gowron, and for reasons even Martok would not take him back—it’s tough being a political dissident in the Empire, especially when your dissidence makes you a rampant free-market radical and a natural opponent of the whole system of the Great Houses.”

    “Huh.” I sip the drink again. Damn it’s good, and I can almost feel my head clearing. “A free market radical?”

    “Extinct political movement, yapbe’mo’ tlhab, kind of lines up with prewarp Earther notions of ‘libertarian’ ideology, mixed with a heavy emphasis on batlh and individualism. They actually executed most of the organizers. Dad got away before the Empire could arrest him, and Gowron himself signed the order barring him from returning.”

    “So you grew up in a household of tax protesters,” I summarize, grinning.

    She smiled demurely and nods. “Yeah, easy fit for the Independence movement, too. Dad’s politics stabilized a few years before we actually broke away, and he’s a supporter of the Honor and Family bunch—but he’s way liberal for that crowd. I’m more or less a moderate by comparison, but he did help me and Char with getting into business when her mom finally died.”

    “What’s your dad do?” I ask.

    “Dad’s a weapons customizer and craftsman,” she tells me, “a ‘gunsmith’ and armorer. He specifically refused to work for government contracts. His shop in Little Qo’noS on Moab is like a monument to stubbornness—but he gets clients from the Empire still, because his work is that good.”

    “But you went into cooking.”

    She shrugs. “I like to cook. I can fix equipment, but it’s preparing food that makes me happy, and Dad always pushed us kids to do the work that satisfies us, instead of letting expectations drag us down.” she leans over and refills a Tellarite Lieutenant’s Skagaran Whiskey sour, doing a few bottle tricks for the crowd while she talks. “I like it hella better than wearing a uniform, no offense.”

    “None taken. My father’s like yours—well, kinda, he’s an EPS maintenance guy for the town gov, down in Priyat where I’m from.”

    “How far is that from here?”

    “Kendra Province, so other side of the planet. Literally—southern hemisphere, even. Mother didn’t like it when I enlisted, and Gramma Saria—hah, she wanted me to be a lawyer.” We share a laugh at that. “So why are you?” I ask. “Wearing a uniform, I mean.”

    “Because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t have to like it, I prefer running my bar, cooking, feeding people, making up fun and exotic recipes, but even so, never shy away when work must be done. Half my crew were on the other side during the civil war, some of the crew haven’t really adjusted to the idea that we’re one people again—but they all respect me, so I’m kind of stuck, at least until my active duty period’s completed and I can return to my business.”

    She passes a second glass to me. “Your man’s over talking to General K’Ragh, by the second firepit,” she adds, “he looks like he can also use a strong glass of Sobriety.”

    Gaarra’s a little unsteady on his feet, which manage to carry him over to me.

    “Make sure he drinks up, he’s been in the wine, and you’ll be happier if he does,” Jena urges me, then turns and starts handling other customers, leaving me, two glasses of ‘sobriety’ and my half-sloshed fiancé.

    “I beat him,” he says, grinning.

    “Beat him at what?” I hold him at arms’ length for a moment. I never thought about it before, but how is it this man weighs two of me, and yet I’m still sober?

    “He, uh…” He blinks and squints at me for a minute.

    “Here, drink this.” I hand him the other glass of ca’phe.

    “Mmm, wow.” I lean into him and let him put my arms around me. “Oh yeah, I bet K’Ragh I’d be his tawI’yan if he beat me at b’aHD Qul.”

    “How’d you do?”

    “Four out of five.”

    I kiss him and nuzzle his nose. “That sounds like my man.”

    “So he agreed to be my best man.”

    ***End Chapter One, to be continued***
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    [Intermission]

    okay, that's chapter one, mostly done. Chapter two has a brief jump in time. I didn't see any reason to go through the raft of orders, logistics, shipfitting, etcetera before they head through the Wormhole.

    This is the last time we'll see Lisa Quhon in this story. She's not going to the Gamma Quadrant, she's going home to Cardassia. I'm kinda curious to see what you guys think of Amanda Nung's changes, Sheri's career decision to join Starfleet directly, and a whole pile of other things, but most of this has been Kanril Eleya's story, and as such, I do need to thank Starswordc for letting me play with his characters. I hope I've done a passable job.

    It'll be a few (or more than a few) days before chapter 2 is anything resembling ready to post.
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,622 Arc User
    Postscript to chapter one:
    We came to battle baby
    We came to win the war
    We won’t surrender till we
    Get what we're lookin’ for
    We’re blowing out our speakers
    There goes the neighbourhood
    A little scissor happy
    A little misunderstood

    We can turn you on
    Or we will turn on you

    Daughters of darkness
    Sisters insane
    A little evil
    Goes a long, long way
    We stand together
    No, we’re not afraid
    We’ll live forever
    Daughters of darkness
    Daughters of darkness

    Daughters of darkness

    We’re all survivors, somehow
    We just broke out the pack
    And I don’t need no dogtag
    My name is on my back

    We can turn you on
    Or we can turn on you

    Daughters of darkness
    Sisters insane
    A little evil
    Goes a long, long way
    We stand together
    No we’re not afraid
    We’ll live forever
    Daughters of darkness
    Daughters of darkness

    Daughters of darkness

    Never down
    Never out
    Playing hard
    Living loud
    Keeping up
    With the boys
    Making out
    Making noise

    And you better get me home
    Before the sun comes up

    Daughters of darkness
    Sisters insane
    A little evil goes
    A long, long way
    We stand together
    No we’re not afraid
    We’ll live forever
    Daughters of darkness
    Daughters of darkness

    Daughters of darkness
    We’re the daughters of darkness
    Daughters of darkness


    Halestorm, “Daughters of Darkness”
    Songwriters, Blair Daly and Lzzy Hale

    “Prophets guard me, for I am a Bajoran Militiaman.
    I am a citizen soldier of the Republic and a member of a team.
    Though I carry knife and rifle, my true weapons are hand and mind.
    Let not fear, nor love, nor plague, nor time, nor Wraith, nor death dissuade me from my first, last, and sole duty: by the eternal Will of the Prophets, Bajor shall never again fall.”

    — “The Militiaman’s Creed”, written by General Lenaris Holem (Overgeneral of the Bajoran Militia 2381-2389). Translated from Bajor'ara, 2405, by Captain James Kurland, CO, Deep Space 9 (2404-2412).
    "Two ways to view the world, so similar at times / Two ways to rule the world, to justify their crimes / By Kings and Queens young men are sent to die in war / Their propaganda speaks those words been heard before"
    — Sabaton, "A Lifetime of War"
    9MUythl.png
    (Vaporware thanks to Foundry shutdown. Thanks a frakking bunch, Cryptic.)
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Chapter 2: Operation “Straight Silver”

    “ … Some parts of military command are teachable. For instance, there’s the old aphorism that amateurs study tactics, but professionals study logistics. You can train nearly any sufficiently analytical mind to understand how to get supplies and manpower where they need to be, or understand when it can’t be done.

    “However, to really excel at this job, I believe there are some things you have to be born with—Hey, sit your *ss down! It may not be something you like to hear, Cadet, but it’s accurate. … I’m
    saying, you can have the best logistics in the world, but if you can’t use those troops and materiel well, you’ll still lose.

    “One of the more important things you can’t really teach, I believe, is something I’ve heard people call 'killer instinct’. It’s not as simple as mere aggression, or bravery. Any idiot can be aggressive—I’ve seen masses of people
    aggressively attack machine gun nests head-on, and, well, let’s just say there’s a reason they say there’s nothing stupider than a large group of people. You could fly a planet through the gap between blind aggression, and the instinctive feel for reading a battlespace: knowing when and where to go for the throat and making sure the other side knows you will, and probably more importantly, when not to. Case in point, General Ffairrl tr’Jeiai’s little fiasco with the 32nd Heavy Wing at Klach D’kel Brakt …”
    — Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Kanril Eleya, addressing her HIS 313 Command in Military History class, Starfleet Academy, San Francisco, USNA, Earth, 2417

    Peregrine Wahlberger, the Gamma Quadrant, mission clock Day 1. 10 June 2415.

    “Alright ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got our marching orders. This is a big sector, we’re doing things a little differently than you might remember from prior operations. Your fighters have been fitted with drop tanks for extended range, and the cloak systems have gotten the latest updates, your missions are in your briefing materials, but I’m gonna reiterate; do not engage. We’re pulling recon for the task force. The torp hardpoints have been outfitted to deploy QT enabled spysats, like the ones we had deployed during the Pentaxian conflict, but the stealth coatings are updated, and let me underline, one more time, just in case any of you are confused: do not engage. Mission is forward reconnaissance only.

    “How many squadrons are involved, Mum?”

    “The only fighter-scale ships not involved are the Feddie fighters,” I explain. “A.K.A. all of ours will be operating as a wide-area sweep, we can still miss the enemy, but we’re more or less trying to secure the corridor for the larger vessels in the task force. There are three primary objectives in this wave: objective one, is to establish an early warning and com net between New Bajor and the wormhole, objective Two, is to establish an early warning net ahead of the portion of the task force headed for Karemma. Objective three is to do the same covering the possible retreat route from Yamta.”

    There’s another reason for the probes—they’re tuned to Dominion civil band traffic, relaying transcripts to for analysis. Civil traffic moving faster than it can on subspace radio means information on the civil condition of the Dominion. I don’t bother to consider how we got permission to do it, that’s the Admiral’s bag. My bag, is getting a broader view in a hurry.

    “Wing and Squadron leaders have individual assignments, we’ve got limited hours here, dismissed.”

    I watch them launch from the deck. I have to stay on the ship, and watch my pilots head out.
    Tinbenders and deck crew spread out and get to work.

    We managed to snag a few more pilots, so the deck crews are breaking into the stores, prepping the next shift’s fuel and mission packages.

    I check my time, in six hours I’ll be giving the B shift the same mission brief, and the pilots who are out now, will be hitting the head and the one working shower, their birds will get refueled and re-armed and the next shift’s pilots will be sitting in seats already warmed by the previous shift’s aviators, to do it again…
    And I will be here, again. Because as much as I want to go, I need to be here.

    I pop a stimmie, and head down to the CIC.

    I don’t have to look far.

    On the threat board, there are hundreds of colored pips-detected beacons, distress calls. I’ve seen the board lit like that before… during the war, when we began the anitpiracy campaign, ships and worlds were vulnerable to opportunists-pirate attacks, slaving raiders. The Hromi cluster was awash in it while the Empire and the Federation focused on fighting each other, neutrals and civilians often fell to the side.

    I have my mission.

    “Filter results, I want separation of enemy action from normal distress signals.” I order, “we’re not a large enough force to respond to every pirate raid now, and it’s the Dominion’s duty to defend their people from regular problems.”

    “Aye mum but what do we do with the non-enemy related stuff?”

    I sigh, “compile and forward it...and pray for their souls.”

    We can’t get into every worthwhile fight that we see-not and still win this thing.


    Iris Michaels, MHS Sierdegardt, 71 minutes out of the Wormhole…

    “Captain, the advance team’s picking up a lot of distress signals and civilian calls.” RFC Lowry looks over his shoulder to read my expression.

    And now for the part of the job I hate. “I know.” I know what it means too. The Dominion’s coming apart at the seams, the usual Jem’hadar patrols aren’t patrolling, the usual services aren’t being done, the carrion-eaters are circling, with the lesser predators now free to run riot.

    And we still have a job to do.

    Radioman First Class Lowry is proof we’re supposed to serve the same government. His section are the only Marines we have embarked from Base Alpha as permanent party-a situation caused because the agreement didn’t include training MHSS personnel in Quantum Comm tech, so they were assigned under the same act that converted us from a “Constabulary Force” with a poor reputation for partisan political assignment, into the full sister service of the Marines.

    This, in turn makes my ‘Starfleet communications officer’ a mid-grade NCO, since the official officer in charge isn’t cleared for the training to keep the Teller Datasys Model 18 server-our ‘hub’ in the QT network, operating.

    “Ma’am?” he asks. “Do I record and file for transfer to allied comms, or just archive it?”

    “Record and transfer. Keep you ears on for comms from the rest of the fleet.” I order.

    “Aye aye Ma’am.”

    The young man’s shipboard uniform hasn’t got the decorations his dress uniform has, but I’ve read his file shortly after he was sent over. He’d be graduating Starfleet Academy next year, if he’d applied when he was eligible, and probably with higher marks than I did. Instead, the kid’s been bounced from one combat command to another, going in turn from Infantry to Station staff to Birds of Prey, and his decorations defending Base Alpha aren’t ‘show horse’ material-he’s fought some of the same people serving on this very ship in some downright nasty combat.

    “Lowry, where did you get the bruises?” isn’t a question I really want answered, but we’ve got nothing immediate coming.

    “CPO Ennets, Ma’am.” he says stiffly, “It’s not a discipline issue, Ma’am. We were...ah...boxing?”

    “Boxing.” I don’t believe it.

    “She’s got a good right hook.” he elaborates. I glance at my Helm officer, who’s trying to stifle a giggle.


    “A good right hook?”

    “Aye Ma’am….nothing going on, ma’am. No breaches and no rot, honest.” he insists.

    “She use protection?”

    My helm officer loses it, howling with Bolian laughter, and Lowry blushes deep, deep red.

    “Yes ‘m. “ he manages to keep a straight face. “Very protected, Ma’am.”

    “You need a better cover story than that, Lowry.” I tell him. It’s not my business unless they’re fighting for real, or if there’s bullying going on. Then again, Ennets (Chief Petty Officer, science division) is half his size and about two thirds his mass. She’s half Klingon but still…”when you come off duty, report to medical for a checkup, I can see your bandages.”

    “Aye ma’am.”

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