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



  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 2,180 Arc User
    So Nung's the new Comm Officer of Kongo? Seems like Kanril is a belt-and-suspenders type too. I'm betting Nung isn't going to be happy about this! The Vulcan is a shrink, isn't he? He seems to be in need of therapy himself.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Marsilla McKnight..

    Watching the girl speaking with Chief Stoval, is revealing. When we visited Denali, Commodore Anh Cu’ong had been more reticent to speak about what happened to their world, and the records had been dry, sterile reading.

    Amanda Nung is casual, even professional about her duties, and casual about what had to be a horrific emotional trauma… well, being fair, a whole pile of emotional traumas.

    Some of those experiences were resonating with the Vulcan Chief, it was visible, almost a tactile thing.

    So ‘an Ia Drang shower’ is a euphemism for suicide in a latrine. Wahlberger’s statement to Kanril in the meeting, now had more context. Suicide is a problem. no, mental illness caused by severe emotional trauma is a problem.

    A few of the Vulcans on the crew had shown… aberrant behaviours. Especially after the destruction of their homeworld and being stranded an uncountable distance from the survivors. She had one left, from her time, Chief Stoval who was working with the girl. Lieutenant T’lara… stepped out of an airlock on a passenger shuttle on leave, and Commander Ston is in deep therapy on Betazed, and probably would spend the rest of his life there. Stoval however had been Starfleet since Admiral Archer’s day it seemed. He really didn’t have anything else, and it kept him going. Technically he could have retired before their last five year mission, but he remembered me from our time on the Bainbridge during border skirmishes with the Klingons back in the 2250s and signed on yet again.

    I shouldn’t have been so short with the girl. Or the admiral either—but even now I’m still smarting from the betrayal by Admiral Marcus. I was one of his proteges. He pushed my ‘hunter instinct’ as he called it. Then he betrayed his oath trying to start a war, and killing half of high command in the process when his puppet Khan got away from him. The fallout from that nearly sunk my career, if not for Jim and Admiral Pike standing for me.

    That was probably my issue with Kanril. I looked at her… and I saw a reflection. They're not the same—she lived the war he only feared—but similar. I have to find a way out of it. Not only for my own soul—but for the Admiral’s.

    Peregrine Wahlberger, MCDS Saskatoon Hills.

    Null-gee is fun. Well, i think it is. I love doing EVA, and like flying, I don’t get enough chances to do either one over the course of normal duty cycles.

    It is, among other things, a decent replacement for getting laid, in my opinion. Being the senior officer means nobody’s really a good option for bedwarmer. Hell, not even the other captains are available: it’s legal but I don't do girls and the only men in this group are spoken for.

    Plus, we’re having a little fun with the deck crews. Replication of the right pigments wasn’t hard, and technically ‘tasteful nose-art’ is permitted under the uniform Regulation, even for ships in the Destroyer classification-after all, in space, your hull color doesn’t really matter at rational weapons ranges except under some pretty exotic conditions.

    And as CO, I get to define 'tasteful’.

    Ours is only a couple meters high, and from most aspects, would be almost invisible, I held a contest among the crewmen, then let a ship-wide vote handle the judging of the finalists.

    The winner was a Corpsman third-class.

    Looks good.” Iris’s voice on my helmet interrupts my little mini vacation watching the bosuns put the final touches.

    “Hey Iris, didn’t see you sneak up.”

    I’m watching through telescopic, from my bridge, Peri. ‘Sassy Lady?’ really?

    “It’s a pun.” I remind her, “Besides, we’re allowed tasteful nose-art, and it’s a classical concept.”

    Oh no, I’m not critiquing anything but how shabby it’s going to look when my guys finish ours,” Iris teases me.

    “Keeping up that inter-service rivalry?”

    You betcha.

    “Seems to me, you’ll need to find an artist, and someone with a sense of humour in among your sour homeland defense mobs,” I tell her. “Could be a while. Everyone knows we have the artists and the practical jokers.”

    Bite your tongue. Scuttlebutt is, you’ve got mission orders incoming.

    No doubt, a blinking amber in the lower left of my vision field is telling me there’s a priority message from the Taskforce Commander.

    “Wrap it up guys, we’ll have to let it cure in-flight.” I say over our internal general channel, before heading for the personnel airlock on the port side of the flight deck.
    * * *

    The guys have really grabbed onto this hard. Every fighter and shuttle in my bay has something. I might have to choke down on it, but for right now, they’re sticking to the format-fighters and shuttlecraft don’t get more than a one by two meter patch on the hull for ‘personalization’ by the crew.

    In other words, about the size of a replaceable sheet of hull plate, and they’re using decals instead of burn coat, so it can be scrubbed if we need it.

    “You know, Dinh, I might have to rename your squadron ‘the flying circus’ if this gets too far.” I joke as I step through the inner door.

    My CAG shrugs, “you were right about it being good for morale.” he tells me.

    “I studied history…on my way to the CIC, you coming?”

    My CIC is roughly one deck down from the Bridge, and it’s something we added specifically to our version of the Qin light carrier model. Our primary weapons aren’t, after all, the weapons arrays, they’re our smallcraft: the fighter wing and assault shuttles, which requires more coordination than a starship bridge has room for.

    So we walk into my CIC and the duty officer’s waiting with an offprint. “We’ve got mission orders, Mum.”

    I take it, look it over. “Dinh, recall the CAP, Kol, Arlen, get our people up from running surface relief ops, I need this ship ready for movement in the next four hours.”

    “Aye Mum!”

    Okay, so Wolfgirl’s got flag for this mission… I’m not sure I like the implications-McKnight’s got a record that’s more redactions than text, and some funny notion that we’re all a bunch of shoot-first space cowboys. This is going to be more difficult than Berun’s World was. “Radioman Li, contact the USS Kongo and request our itinerary.”

    “Aye mum.”
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited November 2018
    USS Kongo, Captain Marsilla McKnight…

    The ready status display is something new, “what’s this do again?” I ask Nung.

    “It shows readiness condition for the rest of the ships in the network, translates an updated vector and position from their nav systems, it’s a derivative of Starfleet’s ‘tacnet’ system dumbed down to run on Quantum Tanglenet technology.” she explains, “We’ve used it for years with Bird of Prey wolfpacks on antipiracy patrol. As Flag, you really need proper CIC facility, but the computers they gave you at Utopia Planitia can almost do the job of a good CIC crew.”

    “That sounds rehearsed.” I tell her.

    “It is.” she tells me, “It was part of the gear I was sent to update, I just activated latent functionality the signals are, as far as we know, untraceable and immune to listening, but we still use petabloc encryption…you know, just in case.”

    She glances uneasily at our viewscreen.

    “Now what?”

    “Your yard cut a hole in your structural integrity, and installed a window right on top of your key command system.”

    “No, that’s from the initial design. All ships have backups. Electronic systems fail. Hence mechanical overrides and so forth.”

    “It’s an airlock door.” she emphasizes, “right on top of your command deck, I mean, we do it with BoPs, but they’re too small to house a proper installation…”

    “Airlock doors can be opened. That can’t. They could in theory make the entire ship out of that material, and it would be both stronger and lighter. And take about two hundred years to make enough of it.”

    Nung snorts, shrugs, “I’m still keeping my hat nearby.” she states, patting her helmet.

    “If we’re at red alert, you damn well better.” At the surprised look, I have to chuckle “Just because we look ‘old fashioned’ compared to you, doesn’t mean we haven’t learned. Even if that window failed right now-” she tapped the belt around the lower torso of her tunic-and was surrounded in a soft yellow glow.

    “A…force field.’ Nung shakes her head, “battery life is what, sixteen hours?”

    “Emergency only. Usually armor covers it-if we know we’re going into combat. But it is better than holding your breath.

    “Oh yes.” Nung nods, “Still,we run combat operations depressurized, suit battery life’s measured in weeks.”

    “We didn’t-until the Yorktown incident. We do change the mix to something to TRIBBLE fires-the SIF needs the internal pressure.”

    “And here, Starfleeters always called our old BoPs ‘death traps’.” Nung grins. Then she turns serious, “I can give you a basic rundown of how the Mitchellville and Saskatoon Hills run their deck operations, so you won’t be…surprised?” she shrugs.

    “I’ve seen your folks in action before, at Qo’nos.” damnit. I’m not supposed to mention that. Something about this kid is easy to talk to though. Though it was more the additional visitors that weren't supposed to be mentioned…from the USS Moriarty.

    “That’d be Mixton’s guys, the 11th wing?” she asks innocently, “Four Norgh-class with a flag on a D-7E export cruiser?”

    “That’s them. They got in system the same time we did-they took down two of the big Iconian ships while we got a third.” And a renegade future Starfleet ship, but that’s something else I’m not going to mention.

    “Then you saw some of the best. Jeannie Mixton was pilot on one of our ships during Son Tay.” She looks at me “ya know, there ain’t a lot of details about just why the Klingons were caught with their proverbial pants down.”

    because some TRIBBLE from a future Starfleet who thought there was one true timeline tried to ensure that the Iconians won, I thought, keeping my face neutral as possible. “I know-they classified a lot of it. Possibly out of embarrassment-but it cemented the Alliance with everyone showing up to save their bacon.” I had to laugh “something that I thought I’d never see to be honest. Glad I did though.”

    “Okay, Captain, we’re green across the board with the status on the Tsushima.” Nung tells me, gesturing at the panel, “So you’ve had me talk to a shrink, and that’s great, but I was just sent to install the comm…and train one of your guys in how to use the features…who’s my trainee?”

    “I’m borrowing you. You can train the ops people on the way.” I tell her, and flourish Admiral Kanril’s signature on the TDY form. “She doesn’t trust Odo, and does trust you to look at whatever he’s taking us to find.”

    “Ah.” Nung looks thoughtful. “She send any of my gear over?”

    “As a matter of fact, yes…I was going to ask, what’s in the crate that can’t be shipped by transporter?”

    “My rebuilt armor.” she tells me, “the suit I had a couple armorers from the Sassy repair on the way out, because going ashore without protection is only slightly less risky than picking up anonymous men at a dive bar.”

    “Good. Because if you didn’t have some, I’d wait until we fitted you with some. Not quite as heavy duty-but we’re on an intel mission. Hopefully we can find out something useful, and not get in any major fights.”

    “Your word to the Prophet’s ears, mum.” She tells me.
    * * *

    On my way to the bridge, Lieutenant Oodmer from our sciences department corners me in the Turbolift.

    “Captain, I heard teh most disturbing thing.” Oodmer isn’t exactly averse to being upset by things He hears, but there’s something like genuine upset here.

    “What did you hear?” I ask, placating the excitable being for the time it takes us to get to the bridge.

    “I’m given to understand that the little savage is going to be on staff! It’s bad enough that we’ve got a man playing viking in charge of security-”

    Ah. “And you have objections?”

    “Captain, we’re not military. bringing in soldiers? what’s next. Are we going to be saddled with a platoon of those Marines as well??”

    And there it is. Not everyone is as fundamentally adaptable, or tolerant, as we like to pretend. Oodmer’s homeworld suffered under a brutal military dictatorship until shortly before they overthrew it and joined the Federation-back home.

    “Yes….and yes.” I tell him. “Yes, she’s been temporarily assigned, and yes, we’re taking on a platoon from Company C -along with supplemental MACO personnel.” I meet his eyes, “temporary assignment. Charlie third is joining us for the duration of this particular operation.”

    “Yes, welll….but having one of them on staff?”

    “Miss Nung isn’t formally part of the bridge staff, Mister Oodmer.” I explain, “Her assignment is also temporary.”

    The lift pauses and Stoval joins us.

    Oodmer is almost having a paroxism. “This isn’t a military vessel! Starfleet isn’t a Military!! Our mission is exploration, not...not massed killing!”

    Stoval manages to look somewhat calm, while peering at the astronomer, "Sir, we are an organization that is empowered by our government to use deadly force to defend its citizens and national interests from aggressors. It is logical to consider ourselves a military organization, but I do not see how accepting that reality delegitimizes the scientific and diplomatic components of our mission, which carry as much or more importance on most days."

    “But they’re quartering troops on our decks, and putting a minder on us! Don’t you see? She’s reporting on everything to the admiral.”

    “Then Admiral Kanril will have to read the same reports twice. Unbunch your undergarments, Oodmer, we have nothing to hide from Admiral Kanril, or Starfleet.” I scold him, finally having had enough. “We’re explorers, yes, and we’re also tasked with serving as the Federation’s defense, we use a military hierarchy, but as Mister Stoval points out, that secondary mission is secondary. We’re in a war zone out here, and the Admiral has good cause to suspect our ‘allies’ of having interests other than ours at heart-so yes, we’re taking on troops, and yes, they really are military, and I expect you to treat them with dignity, common courtesy, and decency as fellow beings.

    “Yes ma’am.” Oodmer mutters, and the door opens again, freeing me from this conversation.

    “I have work to do-and so do you.” I snap over my shoulder.

    Bajor, Hathon Province Spaceport...

    Debra MacAulliffe, First Minister of the Moab Confederacy and Governor of Cold Butte, was a small woman with the lines of a working mother on her face and a few graying streaks to her hair. Somehow, this made her look a bit like a working-class housewife in person, an impression barely held in check by her obvious discomfort in Hathon’s much warmer climate.

    She had come to visit the Wounded troops from the MCDS Severed Angel, a process that had been delayed for weeks by opposition on the floor of the Chamber of Ministers and the quiet pressure applied by the Federation Council to continue treating the Confederacy as a bit of an international pariah in the wake of that smaller state’s three-year civil war. The Compromise government established by the Base Alpha accords barely managed a veneer of legitimacy internationally, and most of the cabinet was far better disposed to a visit by MacAulliffe’s counterpart, Governor Donald Odelaw, but here she was instead.

    Kalin Tala, of course, did not share that reluctance, and it had taken a direct intervention by Kai Opaka to sway the vote and thus, the government’s position.

    First Minister Kalin took the opportunity to meet, in person for the first time, the woman she’d once sent a congratulations to after winning a hotly contested (in more than one sense-a rogue Starfleet Intelligence operation had nearly accomplished the woman’s assassination and the violent overthrow of Cold Butte’s elected government) election.

    “Should I call you ‘Governor’ or First Minister? It could be quite confusing with the press.” Kalin Tala said as Debra stepped into the air-conditioned concourse.

    “Call me Debra, First Minister.” MacAulliffe said, “The seat’s temporary an’ soon I’ll be back to being a civilian.” she smiled, “And I won’t make a secret that sticking someone else with this job will please me to no end.”

    Her silent daughter, now slightly taller than Debra herself, smiled shyly, as a sign-language translator handled greetings.

    Kalin noted the attention of many of the local media were focusing more on the quiet girl, whose escorts included a pair of freshly-plucked Letheans in snappy dress blue uniforms. “Only if you call me ‘Tala’.” the Bajoran First Minister said easily, “How was your trip?”

    “Klingon ships are less crowded than ours.” Debra noted, “and I didn’t have to wear a pressure suit once, so...pretty well, though my Marine Commandant was practically crawling walls with so little to do and so much room not to do it in.”

    “And your daughter?” Kalin asked.

    Debra turned and signed to her teenage daughter, who smiled and signed back with a thumbs-up.

    “She enjoyed it.” Debra translated.

    “So the artificial hearing aid?” Kalin asked.

    “Didn’t take.” Debra acknowledged.

    “Well, I hope she enjoys her visit. You’ve looked at my proposal?” Kalin asked as the entourage walked down the concourse.

    “I have. I’ve got some questions, but the deal looks pretty solid from our end...why source from us though? Corridan’s closer and has richer deposits of dilithium that your own processors can handle well enough.”

    Kalin chuckled, “Stability, good relations...maybe an independent voice in international affairs without causing too much fuss in Paris.”

    Debra nodded, a sadness passed over her face, “Yes...Paris...I think we can do business, but won’t sourcing with TDS be a problem given your Federation entanglements?” they reached an official ground car, and first Juliet and then the two First Ministers climbed in.

    “Starfleet is intent on waiting for Nokia’s promises, we need that equipment now. You’ve heard about the crises with the Tzenkethi and the Hur’q?”

    “I know I signed an order loaning a third of my operational fleet to chasing the Hur’q through the Temple of your Prophets into the Gamma Quadrant, and that I’ve got close to three thousand of my people waiting on rides home here on Bajor-you’re concerned about your colonial holdings on the far side?”

    “Yes. Subspace has to wait for the Temple to open, your Quantum Tech reaches that far in an instant, even when the Prophets have the door closed.”

    “I think you’ll be pleased with the equipment.” Debra sighed, “but there may be political fallout if you go with our systems instead of Nokia’s, Starfleet may be used to retaliate in some minor way…” it was a small reminder that SOME in Starfleet had tried to interfere in MAJOR ways, including the assassination of Teller Datasystems’ founder and an attempted violent coup on Cold Butte.

    “We’re rebuilding our fleet.” Kalin Tala told her, “Bajor may be a member of the Federation, but that doesn’t mean we’re ruled by the Earthers.”

    “You’ll have to tread careful then, I know we’ve made more than a few mistakes you’ll be wise to avoid.” Debra said sadly, “but it’s good to be ready to handle your own business.”

    Kalin left it unsaid, but the trade negotiation would, she was sure, eventually do what brute force could not-eventually with enough trade and enough ties, the rest of the Moab Confederacy would be, if she managed this right, not only members of the Federation again, but a voting bloc on the Federation Council aligned to Bajor’s interests.

    Post edited by starswordc on
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    [Out of Story]

    Excerpt from "a Visit to the Infogrill; an Oral history of the Moab Confederacy" by Salus t'Vallek

    "So why bullets? well, part of it is cost, part of it is for around forty years, effective energy weapons larger than a stunner were forbidden in the Colonies by the Maquis Act's granting quite a lot of power to the Colonial Development office-we got good at finding work-arounds, see, the ColDev cops had Starfleet backing them so large shipments of phasers, or disruptors either couldn't be obtained, or were caught pretty quick."

    My host this evening is Lim Nga Vinh, one of the returned survivors from the Battle of Goralis, and now a qualified mechanical engineer working as a civilian contractor for the MCDF's ordnance branch.

    "You use a lot of high-energy equipment now, though."

    Vinh shrugs, "Yeah, we do. Disruptors on vehicle mounts or ships or shuttles, Photon torpedoes, antimatter explosives...but we still use bullets."

    "so cost isn't the only factor?"

    "No." he nods to Char, the owner of the place, as she lays two plates of 'barbecue'-Brisket of a domesticated animal, actual meat, one for me, one for Vinh. "Cost isn't the only factor, fact is, it would be LESS expensive at this point to go to full standardization on the Disruptor weapons across the board-but we'd lose key functionalities."

    "Such as?"

    "Shielding penetration. When Fek-Day happened, we had disruptors, guns, and a few Phasers. The Fekkies shrugged off a lot of hits by Phaser and Disruptor weapons, even at high settings...but bullets? bullets actually hurt them. see, part of Fek'Ihri conversion alters the piezoelectric balances and adds substructures to their dermal layers and organs. You have to pump the disruptor fire into one for quite a few seconds before it actually starts doing lethal damage, and the TRIBBLE shrug off most mil-spec Phaser weapons set below 'disintegrate'-their bodies absorb and channel the nadion particles, you follow?"

    "I'm beginning to, yes..."

    "Right, so it takes a sustained bombardment to drop one, because they 'spread the damage' so it's never doing more than a tiny bit at a time...kind of like how you can measure the output of a solar flare, and come up with megatonnage yeilds, but the magnetic field deflects and more importantly, disperses it. tracking with me so far?"

    "I think so...so you're saying that the trade off is a slower-moving, more massive, even lower-energy source can get through what a phase-rifle can't?"

    "It can get 'through', but it's weakened a LOT. Bullets don't...do that. The dispersal distance is a lot shorter. Like smacking a moon with a small asteroid, rather than just shining a bright light on it. Effective ranges aren't great-I think our best models can hit a target at around two hundred meters with enough force to kill a Ravager, for example, and you have to be within fifty to get penetration on the Chieftain subtypes...but it's hitting 'now', and hitting hard enough to cripple or kill it now as opposed to, say...Moriarty's tests showed a Mark Six Disruptor takes about forty seconds if you can hold the pulse beam on them for that long. You've got a much bigger 'target box'-if you can sustain it, you can kill one by shooting his toes with a phaser, and he'll be cooked, but that would require being able to hold the stream on him that long. an Eleven Milimeter Tungsten/Bismuth/cesium penetration round can hole his skull in under a second, and he'll be falldown, dead, just about as fast as you can blink. Downside is, you have a collection of much smaller hitboxes-places with vital organs, central nervous hits, joints, support bones, that kind of thing, because you can, in fact, end up just wounding it or pissing it off."

    He gestures with his fork, "now, see, our guys over in the Gamma mission found out pretty quick, the Hur'q have an even stronger subdermal layer, plus metallic armoring, which grounds some of the power from a Phaser's nadion stream and a LOT of thermal effects from Plasma or Disruptor weapons, especially the big ones do-we worked out a special penetrator round to break that chitin out to five hundred meters-it's non-ferrous alloy, dense and hard as hell, uses a Depleted Uranium core for the pyrophoric side-effects which help in getting through the plating-it's expensive energy-wise to replicate and expensive to ship if you use a smelter and a foundry, but it's more reliably lethal on them than Phasers, Disruptors,or even Polaron weapons-so our guys, they have fewer shots, makes accurate shooting more important, but more than that, it gives them a stronger fighting chance against the bugs and other critters that are probably out there and too tough to reliably take with a hand-Phaser or disruptor....and we still issue Disruptors. They're great backup weapons and unlike bullets, you can set a Disruptor or phaser to stun, use it as a cutting torch, welding tool, and so on."

  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,622 Arc User
    edited November 2018
    Bajorans being one of my favorite Star Trek races, I've developed quite a bit of worldbuilding of my own on how their government works. Some of this is going to be in a side story I'm working on that deals with Kalin Tala's rise to power.

    The Third Republic of Bajor is fundamentally a democratic presidential republic, though it has significant theocratic tendencies and trends center-right by Federation standards. At the top, of course, you have the First Minister as chief executive. They're elected by direct popular vote, highest total wins, and may run for a maximum of three five-year terms. Bajorans also vote for the Council of Ministers (or "Chamber of Ministers", translations vary), the government ministry heads who act as the First Minister's Cabinet. Below them are the "governing ministers" (usually shortened to "governors" in Federation media) of the various provinces, who are likewise elected by popular vote and double as state legislators, ratifying basic laws proposed by the First Minister or Council of Ministers; the relevant ministries then handle their implementation. Constitutional amendments have to be ratified by a supermajority of governors and then get a majority in a referendum.

    The First Minister is allowed to use the Bajoran Militia, or the Republic Militia, defensively and domestically without much restriction (they're Bajor's police force in addition to its military), but must seek a vote of approval from the governors for use on foreign soil. This includes declarations of war. The First Minister also appoints supreme court judges, though lower court judgeships are civil service positions.

    The Kai of Bajor occupies a unique place in Bajor's political system. Approximately 90% of the Bajoran population are members of the Temple of the Prophets, and the clergy exercise outsize influence. Bajor's constitution has little to no provision for separation of church and state and the First Minister is sworn into office by the Kai rather than a judge (a holdover from ancient times when they had a monarch backed by the church, before the revolution against the tyrant King Terva the Last and the founding of the First Republic). In order to join the Federation, though, Bajor did have to ratify the Articles of the Federation, which meant passing laws to protect minority religions (some of Bajor's more remote tribal regions still follow old "pagan"--read as pre-Bajora church--practices), atheists, and even the hated Cult of the Pah-Wraiths. Of course, legislating morality doesn't tend to work very well, at least at first, and there's still quite a bit of religious discrimination.

    The Bajoran written language, of course, is canonically ideographic, which can make communication interesting at times: most Bajorans can speak Federation Standard English with some degree of fluency but only the major cities tend to have English signage. To compound this, some areas actually adopted the Cardassian alphabet during the Occupation, and there's also movement to either invent a Bajoran alphabet or adopt a version of the Federation alphabet.

    And I admit of course to riffing on American gun culture somewhat: the aftereffects of the Occupation mean that the individual right to bear arms is considered close to sacred, and protected in the Bajoran constitution (it isn't explicitly protected in the Federation's Article I). Breaking recruits of tendencies towards gun worship is one of the bigger jobs of Bajoran Militia drill instructors, though (they want recruits to treat their weapons responsibly, as very dangerous tools, not toys or "symbols of freedom"), and the right isn't unrestricted: training and safe storage are required, energy and slug weapons have to be registered with the Ministry of Justice and can't be sold to minors or violent felons, and most municipalities don't allow open carry within city limits. (You can register a weapon in your own name and allow a minor in your household to use it--Sheri's uncle did that for her back in Create Your Own Fate--but if they use it in a crime you can be charged as an accessory.)

    On a lighter note, in addition to indigenous sports like springball, thanks to Ben Sisko the Bajorans also took a liking to baseball and maintain their own leagues and world series, and the Northern and Southern Leagues' top teams often play exhibition matches with offworld teams as well. Deep Space 9 also kept the Niners around as a semipro team.
    "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"
    (Vaporware thanks to Foundry shutdown. Thanks a frakking bunch, Cryptic.)
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Amanda Nung, Armory, USS Kongo

    “…it’s code locked—what’s in it?” the Tellarite officer and official armorer of the USS Kongo demands.

    “It’s mine, but it goes in here until it’s needed,” I tell him. “I’ve got the claim chit, and you’ll want a look…”

    I sweep it with the code-chit. Inside, is my Bajoran Militia issued Silverback Mark VI, with some upgrades.

    “Nah, why did they need to ship that by shuttle?” he asks.

    “Because it’s modified,” I answer. “We couldn’t squeeze the inertial dampener in, but it’s got extended life powercells for the shielding, about three times the computer power, and a QT linked status monitor in addition to a few upgrades for load bearing and physical armor protection, not as good as Mark One, or Mark Three, but I can use a normal transporter with it, and the Admiral’s kinda skeeved about what happened to Shelby’s squad and Perfidy down on Karemma, I had to be super-duper-extra-nice to get permission to install the links and the processor upgrades.”

    “That could have been sent by transporter—”

    “Yeah, but not this.” I lift the carbine out of its recess. “Eleven-point-two-five millimeter bore, tungsten/uranium dart penetrators. The biofilter on a transporter would make ‘em inert on beaming aboard, but beaming out isn’t a problem, and I’m carrying better than a thousand rounds in the case here, even though the suit only carries about six hundred, in thirty round magazines. We’re experimentally terming it the ‘bugspray’ round, because unlike Disruptors and Phasers, this stuff penetrates Hur’q chitin on the first hit. If we get boarded, I want an advantage.”

    I hand it to him, and he examines it with a little bit of admiration. “It’s based on twentieth century tech?”

    I nod. “The basic design is roller-delay blowback submachine guns, mine fires from an open bolt on full auto, or closed bolt on single-fire. A minor update and upgrade from the original concept, and it kicks like a TRIBBLE Vieloh without the armor’s enhancements, but it’s effective to less than one minute of angle out to one fifty meters with the suppressor assembly installed, or three hundred without.”

    “I’m surprised you didn’t develop a railgun…” he suggests.

    “We didn’t develop a railgun, because railguns require external power source AND ammunition, twice the TRIBBLE to keep track of. This one, she’ll kick your brains out but she’ll do it reliably as long as there is ammo.” I keep emphasizing the recoil, which is really very mild, because I really don’t want someone playing with it. A little white-lie that the weapon kicks like a mule and can hole the ship means I don’t have to explain holes in the ship.

    I hope.

    I put it back in its recess. “But… no stun setting, and it’s not something I can practice with on the Holodeck range without putting holes in things we don’t want holes in… so it goes in the ship’s armory unless or until needed.”

    “Your guys on the Mitchellville had similar.”

    “Yeah. So did the crew of the Phan Minh. Difference being, I don’t expect to need it., but it’s better having, and not needing, than needing and not having.”

    I do grab the pistol though. “This, i’m keeping with me. It’s my pillow friend. The rest get locked up tight.”

    He stares at it like I’m brandishing a fursnake. “Relax, dood, I actually have non-lethals for this one, but if we run into the kind of trouble… it helps me sleep, okay?”

    He ain’t impressed, and the Captain has to get involved, along with the ship’s Master of Arms.

    Marsilla McKnight, 20 minutes later…

    “I’ve handled collectible antiques, Captain,” the Armorer is explaining. “Those are .44 Magnum rounds-what she claimed set off all sorts of red flags. I know the design they must’ve used to base it, and the extended receiver group tells me it’s fitted with a continuous recoil system. It’s probably about as ‘kicky’ as a phaser in terms of felt recoil.”

    “So why’d she lie about it?” I ask.

    He purses his lips. “If I had to guess? If the rumour gets out that it’s brutally unpleasant to use, she might think it will dissuade enlisted from ‘experimenting’ on the range.”

    “Does any of it pose a danger to the ship?”

    He shrugs. “I’ve analyzed a round. The charge is stout, and there are trace radioactives in the core like you find in old battlesites in Europe or Asia on our world, leftover depleted uranium, that kind of thing. It can’t hole the hull, but it could compromise the interior bulkheads.”

    “Both of them?”

    “No, the pistol’s a bone-stock Automag, looks like a copy of the 21st Century Hafdasa-Keller. Short-cased, slow bullets with a big blunt nose. It’s dangerous to flesh, fragile objects, but not much danger of even breaching the door of her quarters.”

    “Bring her in.”

    Nung comes in with the two security men brought by my sec chief.

    “Warrant Officer Nung, you can keep the handgun… with one caveat. Magazines, please.” I hold out my hand.

    She’s reluctant, but she clears the weapon and hands over the magazine.

    A thought occurs to me. “Spare, too.”

    She sighs and pulls a spare mag from one of her side pockets. The Master at Arms looks satisfied and I tell him I’ll handle things. He nods and leaves, as soon as the door closes I slide the mags back across the table.

    “Next time let me know first,” I say reasonably. “When you tried to sneak them in they tripped the alarm.”

    “I uh, didn’t think they would be that sensitive.”

    I just sigh. “Do you really think Admiral La Roca would have let us get out of drydock without modern systems?”

    “Probably not, ma’am.”

    I watch as she reloads the weapon then stows it out of sight. I’ll let Lieutenant Commander Thorson know she’s got it—but then he’s got that big freaking axe half the time. I don’t know where Rhonda Evans dug him up. “Does having that really help you sleep?”

    “After everything these last few years? Yes, ma’am. I know it’s just psychological—”

    “I’m not accusing you of anything.” I don’t smile—too many sharp teeth. However, wagging the tail gets the same idea across. “Admiral Kanril wouldn’t have trusted you if your PTSD was an issue. God knows I’ve got my own demons at night myself… We all make do the best we can.”

    “I understand. Though you’re the captain, why didn’t you tell the chief it was all right?”

    I rolled my eyes theatrically. “Have you ever had to tell a cranky Tellarite noncom that they didn’t have to worry about something?”

    “Point taken, ma’am.”
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Tesjha Phohl, USS Tsushima.

    I’m watching the men from the MACO-Gamma contingent drilling with the 2nd Platoon from Company B.

    B’s Marines are mostly ‘natural born’ personnel, not the half-engineered products of Project: Siegfried, but there are a few exceptions, and it really shows in the practice drills we’re running just what a difference they’re really packing under those ordinary-looking skins.

    I can see why some officers in Starfleet have a hard time managing them. Starfleet crewmen aren’t usually… well… they’re not like the holonovels or the recruiting stereotypes, but these Marines take everything just one step past good taste.

    I’m saying that, while sipping on a sample of probably the best slash I’ve ever come across, courtesy of, or so I’m led to believe, Corpsman Nancy Crow. Corpsman Crow’s studying to be what the Moabites call a “Kashrut Chef”—it’s something like a cross between a frontier biochemist and a cook, with training focused on finding ways to make the literally inedible life of their planet safe and healthy for consumption. In this case, a distilled drink made from two aggressively toxic materials that tastes a little bit like gatha berries bathed in whiskey and aged past ‘expensive’ to the point of ‘extortion’.

    I still made her take her brewing and distillery off-line in the converted cargo pod the Marines are using for a barracks.

    They’re almost finished. Lieutenant Zaarev’s MACO team…and there’s the last one.

    “How’s the collective training going, sir?” Leftenant Mai Jeong looks a little too chipper today, seeing as she’s just spent the last nine hours updating records and inspecting the Marine armory for discrepancies.

    “Your people are pretty good.” I nod, “even without their armors.”

    “We do maintain shirtsleeve training protocols, sir. The enemy isn’t always going to give you half an hour to don the armor and gear up.”

    “Lance Corporal Shua needs to hold back though—Petty Officer Balien’s been injured. This is supposed to be a friendly scrimmage, not a brawl.”

    “Shua’s got her own issues, sir, but I’ll give her some additional training in non lethal takedowns. How did the boys do otherwise?”

    “Four hours, two flags captured out of three.” I turn the screen dark as the holodeck resets. “What are Shua’s issues?”

    “Temper, mostly,” she tells me evasively.

    “You’re whitewashing, Leftenant. What issues?

    “She’s on supervision.” Jeong doesn’t crack, so much as looking embarrassed. “She’s been skipping her counseling appointments with the shrinks, and her roommate found some contraband.”

    “What kind of contraband?”

    “The kind that gets you tossed into a detox program in Starfleet. I’ve got her under supervision until I can find out who her dealer is.”

    “Hence you skipping on a Trainex to conduct inspections. You were going to tell me this when, exactly?”

    “Right after I dug up how deep the rot’s getting… Either they’re getting better at hiding it from an ex-junkie like myself, or—”

    “Or someone on my ship, in my crew is dealing… what?”

    “Sezzanine.” She looks deeply abashed at the admission. “I felt pretty good until half a minute ago, because I didn’t find evidence in any of our gear or spaces, and no evidence anyone else in my platoon is using.”

    “Medical scans should show if anyone else is using.”

    “Yeah, but there are ways to cover it. Her rig’s dirty, traces are 99% medical grade, small doses, meaning…”

    “… meaning that she knows how good it is, and it had to come from Medical stocks.”


    “Which also means now I have to order an investigation into my medical staff, because we’d be running the testing.”


    This p*sses me off. “Well, at least you didn’t wait for me to find out on my own.” I kind of want to grab the Leftenant by the neck, and shake her, “how long?” meaning ‘how long have you known without telling me’?

    “Two days.” She gets my meaning instantly. “I wanted to present a solution before the problem… but…”

    “Anything else you know that I ought to?”

    “Corpsman Crow’s been making the beast with two backs with Chief Hentley over in Astrometrics, her gear scanned clean and so did her quarters. Lance Corporal Bianh Leng has been trading… personal favours for ‘favors’ from several of your junior officers, Private First Class Vickson is being enrolled involuntarily to treatment for ethanol addiction, Sergeant Black’s been running a number of dice and card scams, Corporal Benetti’s romantic conquests now include at least three of your Security people, including Ensigns Warner, Hanssen, and T’levwe. This wouldn’t be a problem, except he’s enlisted, they’re all officers, and he’s somehow managed to keep them from meeting… and there’s the kickboxing matches last night.”

    I carefully suppress a smile: I’m actually quite proud of how my crew performed there. “And you?”

    “As an officer in a command position, I can’t have that kind of fun, mum,” she tells me, “not that I would even consider it during a deployment… but I wouldn’t claim that I wasn’t spending some time with that big hunk of Cardassian over in Deflector control… but we haven’t gone anywhere with it besides some long talks and book reading… I would, but…” She shrugs. “In his case, rank isn’t the problem, it’s being married—I don’t poach and he doesn’t, apparently, stray. His wife probably has zero idea how lucky she is.”

    She pauses long enough for me to stop laughing. “Seriously, we need action soon, or I’m going to need to reserve brig cells for my troops. They’re showing signs of ‘The Bug’, and the only cure, is a rifle and somewhere to use it.”
    * * *

    Sezzanine. On my ship. Someone in my command, is supplying a gray-market medication that these days has only one use, and only remains legal because outlawing it would create a large and dangerous black market. Users take it to feel… better. In large doses, or applied the wrong way, it’s a lethal neurotoxin.

    After the Leftenant leaves, I call up Lieutenant Commander Ni-Halapha, my CMO. “I want a shipwide medical update, scans for traces of this compound.” I show the Efrosian the molecule for Sezzanine. “Starting with your staff, and you’ll give me a very plausible-sounding excuse for why we’re conducting those scans, without ever mentioning it… or you can tell me who’s giving ‘happiness in a hypospray’ to the Marines without a formal prescription.”

    One Starfleet Security contraband sweep and mandatory medical screening later, and I’ve got a stack of files. The medical screening in particular shows up a lot of problems that Jeong either glossed over in her report, or wasn’t aware of. Three pregnancies, eleven cases of treatable, but still concerning, VD, one of them previously only recorded in Sulamids…

    And Radioman 3rd Class Barncourt, James Lu.

    “What’s the penalty for dealing in the MCDF, Leftenant?” I ask.

    “It’s under a couple of umbrella regs, did any of your people get any on them?” she asks, referring to what, I’m not sure… I’ll take a stab.

    “No signs of abuse in the Starfleet personnel so far,” I tell her.

    “Well, that makes it at least internal,” she says, “but you’re the boss of the boat. We could NJP, or we can court-martial him.”

    “What’s the difference?” I ask.

    “It’s the difference between having him as an asset, and having to arrange transport to the terraforming crew working that planet Base Alpha’s orbiting for the next five years, after which he would be discharged dishonorably.”

    Is he an asset?”

    “He TRIBBLE your replicators and medical files to produce the stuff without prior education in biochemistry.” She shrugs. “I can send a request for replacement. If he’d hooked one of yours, then I could hand him off to Starfleet justice, since it’s internal…”

    “What would you do?”

    “Make sure he takes twice as many stripes as I do,” she tells me, “give him a step down in rank, and assign Sifowicz and Mau to keep him under control in garrison.”

    “Stripes… you’re referring to flogging.”

    “Yessir, I am. I’m not 100% convinced it will work in his case, but I’ve got limited tools available.”

    “What, in your view, would work?”

    “Toss him out an airlock and get someone else.” She’s dead serious. “Some criminal offenses are undertaken to blow off steam, and some can’t be forgiven. Hooking another Marine on something like Sezzanine? Or enabling an addict to continue, when the drug’s proven to cause brain damage? That’s a significant betrayal. the sort of person who goes out of their way to do it..?” She sighs. “I’ve been an addict, Captain. Dealers don’t reform, they just find subtler ways to go about it and their victims are the last thing they consider. Further, ordinary punishments are something guys like him consider to be ‘punished for being caught’.”

    She’s vehement—also, her ‘solution’… “I see you’re focused on this. Why?”

    “I was a sezz junkie,” she replies. “Coffee, gambling, alcohol, sex? Normal soldier’s vices, but drugs make users into slaves. The things I was willing to do when I was a junkie? For another hit? Sezzanine turns you into a dog, and then it kills you. There are only two reasons he’s alive. Reason one, is that this is a Starfleet ship, and reason two, is because in spite of how bad this is, regulations don’t allow me to kill the son of a b*tch.”

    “I’m taking over this matter, Leftenant, you can’t be objective.”

    “Thank you, sir,” she says. “Now, penalties for my failure as a leader?”

    “You’re losing holodeck and bar privileges for a week.”

    “Pardon me, sir?”

    I stare levelly at the taller woman. “I think the guilt you’re feeling now for failing in your duty to your soldiers should be more than enough of a motivation to improve.”

    “Yes sir. Sorry, sir.”

    “I’m not the one you need to apologize to. Dismissed.” I reach for the intercom on my desk. “Chief of security, please report to the ready room. Repeat, Lieutenant Harris to the ready room.”
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited November 2018
    When there walks no tiger to feel reverence for
    When there is no reason to dive into the ocean
    When there is no forest where you can feel one with the nature
    When humankind has won it's war and killed all the living on this planet
    We will end up with the last thing we can do
    To kill our hope
    To kill our future
    To burn the horizon

    Go push the pedal
    Move on fast
    I don’t want to be there
    Oh no, I can’t watch this die
    Am I the only seer?
    Man, we ran far over the edge
    What else will you take
    There is nothing left
    Man, you had way enough
    What is the price
    What makes you stop

    Each time we
    get what we wanted
    We realize that we want more
    And won’t stop ‘til we will burn the horizon down

    ‘Til hades greets
    Burn the horizon down
    ‘Til it’s over for you
    ‘Til it’s over for me
    Burn the horizon down
    Burn, burn, burn, burn it to the ground
    Burn the horizon down
    ‘Til it’s over for you
    ‘Til it’s over for me

    Man our earth has enough
    For everyone’s need
    But our world ain’t enough
    For everyone's geek
    Like a gun we just shoot around
    We act like gods, but look like clowns
    Kind of fun, how we dig our graves
    We never give, just learned to take

    Each time we
    get what we wanted
    We realize that we want more
    And won’t stop ‘til we will burn the horizon down

    ‘Til Hades greets
    Burn the horizon down
    ‘Til it’s over for you
    ‘Til it’s over for me
    Burn the horizon down
    Burn, burn, burn, burn it to the ground
    Burn the horizon down
    ‘Til it’s over for you
    ‘Til it’s over for me
    ‘Til it’s over for you
    ‘Til it’s over for me

    ‘Til Hades greets
    Burn the horizon down
    ‘Til it's over for you
    ‘Til it’s over for me
    Burn the horizon down
    Burn, burn, burn, burn it to the ground
    Burn the horizon down
    ‘Til it’s over for you
    ‘Til it’s over for me
    ‘Til it’s over for you
    ‘Til it’s over for me

    The Hellfreaks, “Burn the Horizon”

    Jena, MCDS Mitchellville. 20 June 2415, three days’ travel ahead of the main body…

    Well, this is interesting. “I thought Odo said they needed our help.” On the sensors, we’ve counted a large Dominion battlegroup.

    “Reserves maybe?”

    “Those are newer ships, heavies,” I note. “Dominion design, but not in the standard warbook for Dominion ships.”

    And they’re sitting on our target.

    “Forward observations to the group flag vessel over QT comms, keep us running low-power silent, maintain overwatch, and cc it to the Tsushima and USS Bajor.”

    “Aye mum.”

    “Helm, maintain a random walk. During the war, the Dominion was really good at penetrating Klingon and Romulan cloaks, I doubt they’ve slacked on that. Let’s not test my hypothesis today.”

    This is the acid-test. While everyone else boarding Iconian wreckage after the battle of Qo’noS was going for weapons or powerplant tech, our guys were looting their sensors and computers.

    Now, we see if what KDF planners and Starfleet believed is, in fact true: that their sensor arrays were that much better in passive mode, the claim by Kagran was that he couldn’t risk using cloak, because he believed the Iconians were seeing them.

    Mixton had a different take on that, his squadron disabled their subspace transponders, and surprise! The Icos didn’t see them any better than anyone else.

    But…we’re gonna see.

    The Dominion ships are holding position, there’s audible traffic moving between them.

    Char’s sister tilts her head like a dog. We kept her presence here a secret even from the Taskforce. One of the levers the Confederacy still has, after all, is a collective of some of the most infamous dataslicers in the quadrant, and Skynet sits right below ATTICUS-Prime in terms of official ‘threat level’.

    “What is it, Skye?”

    “Female changeling’s giving them orders… they’re to refuse access to anyone, including other Changelings…and there are multiple Weyouns on the channel, Weyoun Ten… Eleven… and Twelve.”

    She highlights the ships containing the supposedly-impossible additional Weyouns. “Didn’t think they could activate multiple clones at the same time,” I remark.

    “She’s taking Ten with her.” Skye tells me.

    “Keep at it, our guys need to know everything about the Dominion ships in the area, where they are, and where they intend to be.

    “Pie after?” she asks.

    “Yes, pie after.” I didn’t want to bring her along, but she insisted. We’re keeping her a secret because she’s wanted in the Federation for her activities as “Skynet”, and her identity is known to Starfleet intelligence.

    Or at least, we think it is. Skye thinks it is—and if she could’ve blanked that, she would’ve.

    I think.

    Post edited by starswordc on
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited November 2018
    Marsilla McKnight, USS Kongo, 3 Hours out from the objective…

    “Well, it looks like Mister Odo wasn’t wrong. What do we do?” Peregrine Wahlberger’s on my ship, having flown over from hers, “you saw the forward from Mitchellville?”

    “We’re not abandoning the mission if that’s what you’re going to ask.” I tell her.

    “I’m not suggesting we do, ma’am,” she tells me, “But we need a strategic plan to remove the Jem’Hadar units at the base, and we need to talk ground force for taking it with whatever data’s on it, and doing so without destroying that data.”

    “I’m more concerned with what we do once we get inside,” I confess, “if they’re any good, they have it encrypted with sabotage code.”

    “Let’s see, Captain, your assets for this operation include two infamous slicers—well, one infamous slicer and one who would be if she wasn’t sanctioned. Nung’s talented.”

    “Who’s the other?” I ask.

    “My handle before I had to emigrate from the Fed was Dahak, I penetrated Federation government nets by the age of thirteen, and broke Majestic-Epsilon level security by fifteen, and that was being sloppy because it got me so emotional that I failed to cover my tracks, it still took them more than seventy two hours to backtrace my data trail… but Nung’s got expertise on Dominion tech, and she’s probably as good as I am now, and only getting better at it. Our major problem is going to be getting her into the facility to show how good she is.”

    I nod, and look at the plot. Three hours out. Just out of Dominion sensor range according to Lieutenant Der Tryhs. “Any sign of Odo’s ship?” I ask the young Tellarite.

    Rena bends, looking at the sensors. “Nothing ye—Wait. Possible contact, I’m picking up definite Dominion ships, one of the big carriers and about a dozen smaller ships.”

    “Confirmed, it’s the Kira, Ma’am.”

    “That’s good,” I say, nodding to Wahlberger, “since we are technically supposed to be here on his invite. What’s his ETA?”

    “About five minutes behind us, coming in from a different vector.”

    “Well, I guess we’ll find out who wears the pants in the Dominion in about three hours.”

    Der Tryhs looks confused. “But they’re shapeshifters, they don’t need to wear pants.”

    “Neither do I; it’s an expression, Lieutenant. Come to think of it, I don’t know what pants have to do with it either.”

    Jena, MCDS Mitchellville

    “They see us.” Skye announces. “We have been detected, and they’re narrowing in on our frequency.”

    I knew it was coming when Kongo requested more information. Operational security protocols for MCDF were what we arranged with McKnight-the enemy might detect us, might even board us, but they won’t get anything useful, we don’t know when our backup’s coming,or from what direction, specifically because that information could be captured.

    “Now hear this, set condition one throughout the ship.”

    “We’re being hailed on subspace.”

    “Decloak. We’re supposed to be being friendly, and send off a hail in response, with the handshake protocols Odo provided us.” I feel a little vomit from giving the order. I also don’t like being the one to talk to them. Technically, it’s McKnight’s job. But she had heard about the freakshow on DS9, and under the circumstances thought that me speaking for the group might be an advantage. Slim one, but I had to agree with her. Nothing said I had to like it.

    But they had us the second we popped an active ping with the scanners.

    No helping it.

    “Shields to maximum.” Our shield arrays followed the original contractor's’ ideas—lots of small arrays working together, instead of large arrays, to give a resilient shielding layout, the down side being, it’s not as powerful or long ranged.

    I close my helmet as the vents clear the decks, and go to suit air.

    “Hello…. Which Weyoun are you?” I ask.

    “Why are you hiding your face?” he demands.

    “Because there’s no air in here.” Might as well, they’ll notice if they hit us hard enough, and nobody around here fights this way.

    F*ck, I need a cigarette.

    “This is not a repair station, and you’re not supposed to be here!”

    “I’m here on orders of a Founder, Vorta.” I decide to play his game, “Stand down.”

    Queen Bitchface (the female changeling. Come on, who in their right mind chooses resting-b*tch-face for their face when they have a choice?) cuts into his signal, making this a three way conversation.

    “Odo sent you? Go back, he has no business here!”

    “Not my call lady. He asked, my superiors answered, I was sent. marines follow orders. He’s coming, we’re supposed to scout the way for hur’q, imagine my surprise when the fleet that ran at Karemma is sitting here. Given the proximity of enemy forces in this sector, I’d have thought by now you’d be on your way to the homeworld of the Founders, wherever the TRIBBLE that is.”

    Okay, so maybe Klingon diplomacy isn’t the smart move. Maybe if I’d been raised as a nice Jewish or Christian girl, I would’ve been nicer. Then again, knowing how my home folks react, I’d have been sharper with my rude.

    Or wittier, or something.

    “Odo? Is coming here??” she demands.

    “Yeah. he’s coming here, maybe you Founder-types can discuss it when he arrives, but in the meantime, I’ve got a job to do.” I tell her, “Secure the floating trashcan there, assure hostiles aren’t in the area, you know, good advance party stuff when a VIP is visiting a remote installation.”

    “You dare speak such to a founder!” the Weyoun on the channel is aghast

    “Weyoun, they’re not my gods. We killed ours off in pre-history, for being Troublesome.”

    “Klingon, you dare!” he spits.

    “Not a Klingon, and I guess that means I need to amend my statement. My people never had gods.” I relax myself, and the pressure suit stretches. I wish I could wear armor… before depolarizing the faceplate.

    “I’m a Chameloid. You have intelligence files on my kind, I know it, and no, no relation to your ‘gods’ thankyouveryfuckingmuch. Odo’s investigation, I’m just here to make sure it’s clear so he doesn’t have distractions.”

    “You were warned, I’ll be pleased to punish your insolence!” Weyoun-whatever spits. Bitchface seriously doesn’t want Odo looking at whatever’s in the can.

    “They’re moving to an attack formation, Mum.”

    “Steady, prep maneuver Crazy Ivan on my mark, stonk torps in fore and aft tubeways, and…”

    I can see how it’s going to play out, if we don’t have help soon. “Helm, I have the ball.” I suddenly announce, using the commander’s override, hammering the engines to full and inverting us to their plane of the ecliptic, I line up my deflectors…careful…carefully… Hit them with an active analysis, and then, as their weapons open fire, I send a stream of subnucleonic particles in a narrow focused beam on the enemy’s flag ship.

    “Mud in your eye. Brace.”

    Their torpedoes are a spread, and would be fantastic for penetrating a normal warship shield array, since most warships rely on a ‘covariant crust’ defense. We lose emitters, but our shields, for the most part, hold.

    “Weapons, return fire on the flagship.”

    Over the general channel, a voice announces, “Dominion Vessel, this is the Cardassian Warship Tain!!!”[/i]

    Saved by the Cardies. “Check fire, check fire.”

    “They’re not in the task group.”

    “Yeah? So?” More friendlies? I can live with more friendlies. I’m great with living with more friendlies.

    The rest of the task force, USS Kongo, Defiant, MCDS Saskatoon Hills, arrive right behind the Cardassian mini-fleet. We now have a numerical advantage, and that torpedo salvo would’ve put most cruisers out of action. The enemy’s flagship is dealing with chained malfunctions thanks to my using a subnuke, and Skye dropping a virus on them.

    Second time in a month, the Dominion dready carrying Miz Founder banks port and positive zee-axis, the others closing ranks as she leaves at warp, probably still fighting the virus Skye dropped on them.

    Or not. I don’t know if The Founders would really find “Yakety Sax” and flying toasters amusing...

    “You know, discretion… really is the better part of some people’s valor.”

    I turn to my Chief Engineer. “Just fix my ship.”

    Amanda Nung, USS Kongo

    The Armorer doesn’t give me sh*t when I come down to grab my stuff. Starfleet’s silverback design isn’t really bad, okay? The systems are more compact, but augmentation’s weaker, the battery life is longer but it has fewer powercells, it doesn’t have the inertial dampener or the electronic warfare suites that Mark One or Mark three armors have, but it also doesn’t cost as much as a new shuttle or a used runabout

    I had to add ammo pouches for the carbine and a holster for the pistol, though, because the stowage spaces are tiny, meant for really small, light stuff that is flexible, not gear. Thus, the pack frame for my gear.

    The MACO guys don’t seem impressed, and a few of them make ‘Rambo’ comments about me carrying an MCDF utility fighting knife slung hilt-down on my web gear. F*ck them, a good knife is a useful thing to have.

    I do notice they shut up when the ships security chief walks in with a phekking sword on one hip, a round shield strapped to his back and an Axe in his hand that would look perfect on a heavy metal album cover. Obviously one does not mess with Ivar Thorson.

    The Marine platoon’s using a stripped-down ‘Son Tay’ kit fabbed from old design files and updated to use the current coordination software. They’ve been doing holodeck practice with MACOs on both the Kongo and the Tsushima on the way out.

    Captain McKnight’s the last man to the pads, she’s got a backpack with powercells like saddlebags, and what looks like a shuttle-mounted phaser emitter with a handle hanging on a scabbard.

    “Mum, someone mentioned ‘not storming the beaches’ in a meeting recently. All due respect, we expecting to face mechanized armor down there?”

    She gives me a puzzled expression—at least, I think it’s puzzled.

    “The anti-bunker weapon.” I gesture. “Good for making holes in things, things like walls, bunkers and pressure bulkheads. The kind you can’t fix with a slap-patch and some hot glue.”

    “I seem to recall you’re the one going on about having and not needing versus needing and not having.” she retorts. “Besides, this is a several-thousand-year-old station. No guarantee we won’t have to make our own doors.”

    I give a laugh, and hope it doesn’t sound strained. “Aye mum, I stand corrected.”
    * * *

    Captain Kira and Odo meet us on the station, with another half-company of Jem’Hadar. They didn’t leave a light on for us. Not even an emergency light, so we’re using flashies and suit NVG systems.

    Odo states the obvious; we need to turn the damn power back on. “Okay, someone show me the fusebox, or breakers or whatever,” I say. “I’m tech support on this, might as well earn my pay.”

    “Where’s Major Jena, I assumed she would be here…” Captain Kira asks.

    “She doesn’t like the Dominion.” I say it as if it explains everything. “She’s staying on the boat. Something about your boyfriend there making weird claims that her species and the Founders are somehow related, it skeeves her out, you know?” It’s not like it’s news. Jena’s a great bartender, but under the right circumstances, she can be gotten drunk, and bored soldiers like to gossip, double so for ship crews and marines. I figure half the quadrant knows about that by now.

    “He’s not my boyfriend,” Kira mutters.

    McKnight is irritated—not that Odo can probably tell. She’s hiding it well, but I’ve gotten used to that poof of her tail when she’s annoyed. “Well it’s your people’s station,” she tells the changeling, “where do you suggest we start?” She’s being diplomatic, probably why she’s a Starfleet Captain. They’re good at that.

    Odo brings a First over, and they whisper a conversation. Meanwhile, I’m looking at the walls.

    “This way,” I say. Dominion Tech follows some basic patterns. I’m just guessing but it gets people moving.

    Right or wrong, act. We come to a catwalk with terminals, near a weird kind of mining-chute rig. “There,” Odo says, pointing.

    And I get to work. Twenty-five kilos of tools on my pack, and I find the right ones for undoing the weird triple-claw fasteners the Domis like to use instead of twist or lock screws.

    At my school on Bajor, the ROTC cadets get trips to the Starfleet Academy extension campus. Being as I’m Militia reserve and enrolled, I get to go with them. They keep a couple of Jem’Hadar ships there for ‘technical training’, ships that were captured or crashed during the war and brought back.

    This is older than that stuff, but it follows the same patterns of design. It takes me about forty minutes to get the main power core restarted by bypassing the main control feeds and hotwiring it to the panel up here.

    Lance Corporal Andersmith from Charlie third looks up. “Yep, it’s a station.”

    “Kinda weird it’s laid out for bipeds,” Lance Choi notes. “I mean, isn’t it? You’d think a station made for fluid-like shapeshifters wouldn’t need stairs.

    “Maybe it’s from before they were shapeshifters, or for the Vorta,” Ensign Mbakop, one of the blueshirts from the Kongo, suggests.

    I shrug. Everyone’s marveling at the condition of the place, but to me, it looks like a wreck. There’s corrosion on the alloys, and it’s not a coating. I take a scrape of the corrosion. It’s titanium-aluminide base, not even duranium.

    You see it in cheap knock-off belt home kits from the pre-contact days in the Moab belt, stuff that was done because they could achieve it with what… Well, they’re not really my ancestors, except culturally. The original colonists had to build from wreckage and determination, and regressed a little before advancing again.

    “Twenty-first, early twenty-second century tech would kick this stuff’s *ss… and it’s old.” I comment. “So either this place is really old,or it’s real cheap.”

    The pressure door to the next section is newer. The lock is an ‘easy’ on the bypass.

    Right into a clean, modern corridor.

    “Welcome to the real station.” I mutter.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User

    Captain McKnight…

    “She’s like a walking lockpick,” my security chief observes admiringly.

    “It’s intrusion training.” Sargeant Grint, one of the Marines from our loaned in platoon, apparently heard. “Nung’s a Radioman… was a Radioman. There’s not really a Starfleet equivalent—code-breaking, dataslicing, encrypt, depcrypt, re-crypt… the MOS school’s one of the tougher ones, real high failout rate.”

    “Does that include languages?” I ask him semi-sweetly.

    “Yeah. My RTO speaks… four? Five?” He shrugs. “Why?”

    “Because it sounds a lot like a communications officer.”

    “Yeah, but see, she’s better, because she has to do it all as an enlisted.” He must be grinning behind that faceless helmet. “No extra education to prop her up.”

    I could debate that, but then, I’m reminded of what the briefings on the Goralis forces said—and that Nung was with that force. The top minds of a generation thrown into the furnace and burned like so much ammunition. Marq Sanders’ statement was a vehement indictment of her home country—sending what works out to fifteen thousand near-genius intellects to be infantry in a meatgrinder.

    They lost nearly a third of them.

    “Did they change the enlistment requirements?” I ask the Sargeant. “After Goralis?”

    “Not really. They got sticky about birth certificates and documentation, school requirements for enlistment, that sort of thing. But they kept the physical and mental testing.”

    That’s kind of a slap right there—the same testing for intelligence, adaptability, aggression factors and mental capacity. I saw the standards in the Sander report—it’s the same battery Starfleet MACO uses, modified only slightly.

    The young man from a scratch colony force, would have entered Starfleet Academy on an accelerated programme in my day…and he’s being infantry.

    A backstop for hostile fire, a role that is reserved for the bottom of Starfleet recruits unless they can test into MACO training.

    As Nung would say, ‘a f*cking tragedy’.

    “What do you think of the Jem’hadar?” I ask him.

    He props his carbine casually, and surveys our allies.

    “They’re alright,” he allows. “Not the brightest, but that’s not what they’re bred for.”

    “Assess?” I urge him quietly.

    “They’re bred for loyalty to their regime, physical size, and strength.” He shrugs. “But that’s the thing—they’re not very smart because that’s not what they’re made for… They’re kind of like these Yan-Isleh guys we did joint exercises with out on the Borg front. They have good gear, but they’re really a regime protection force, not real soldiers. On Fek-Day they’d be meat.”

    “How do you know?”

    “Uncreative, no sense of humour,” he notes. “Even a Vulcan has a sense of humour, and it’s a sharp and snappy one. Those guys?” He shakes his head. “They’re not good at thinking and they’re not good at recognizing uncomfortable truths. Makes them less adaptable, less able to cope when sh*t goes sideways.”

    “What will they do?”

    “You heard about the Klingon general, Kagran, the guy Starfleet loves and everyone who served under him despises?” He snorts behind the mask. “He’d make a good Jem’Hadar, he makes a sh*t officer. Nerves of steel plus brain of porridge—brave is overcoming fear, not being unable to recognize when you’re f*cking up. Kagran got better than eighty percent of the Klingon fleet killed trying to force a frontal charge on a fortified position in the open. Starfleet losses were only like forty percent, but that’s because they were coming in behind and some of Starfleet’s officers had the brains to back off.”

    “And how would you have done it?” I’m almost accusing.

    “First, not going in exposed,” he says. “Kagran ran the fleet uncloaked at the front door of the sphere…like a f*cking moron. One Genesis bomb delivered by a single bird-of-prey could’ve aced the entire enemy operation—and both nations have it, and Klingon cloaks worked against Iconians, hell, our second-hand cloaks worked against them at Qo’noS, and we’re building last-gen export copies, but Kagran chose the ‘glorious frontal assault’… like a moron, because he is a moron.”

    I shake my head. I know reports that extolled his virtue… “I think you’re being unfair… how could you possibly know he’s… not smart?”

    “Because if he had any of the honor or morality he claims? The ‘honor’ that compelled him to send hundreds of crewmen to their deaths on a patently stupid frontal assault that could not have forced any sort of strategic advantage? He’d have gone into a latrine, with a sidearm, and taken an Ia Drang Shower.” The young man’s voice drips venom. “Instead, he accepted medals for wasting lives and men on a futile attack that anyone with half a f*cking brain could have identified as futile.”

    “You’re comparing that to the Jem’Hadar, our allies,” I point out.

    “They’re just grunts, the heavy lifting intellectually is being done by their Vorta handlers,” he counters. “The Romulans say we’re just weapons behind closed doors… but they really are. If sh*t happens? Get behind them and let them buy time, give them covering fire, but don’t expect them to live through it—they’re too goddam dumb to retreat and regroup once the shooting starts. Stick with us, we’ll keep you alive, mum. Only live people can counterattack, or negotiate.”

    “And how many lives for that?” I ask him.

    “As many as it takes, unless we don’t have enough. But we try not to forget to duck,” he quickly adds, “and we’re like, four and one for winning—the ratfuck on Panjun was because of politics.”

    Nung’s got the first set of consoles active, and she’s swearing.

    Amanda Nung…

    A delete worm. They f*cking boobytrapped the data. I’m swearing in a steady stream and rush-writing a counter-worm. It’s a race, the other guy’s got prep, language, and time on his side, I’ve got…

    I’m stubborn.

    I get a feeling like vertigo going against whoever programmed this. It’s like I can see where it’s going… in training, they call it ‘no place’. Going into ‘no place’…

    I’m in noplace, notime. My body is distant, a signal among dozens…

    Marsilla McKnight

    She’s swearing over and over again. Just a stream of syllables, monotone, her fingers moving like a blur, but it almost looks like a seizure.

    One of the MACOs reaches over toward her, and one of the Marines stops his hand. “No, doing that could f*ck her up.”

    “What is it?”

    The NCO shrugs. “Alpha state trance, probably. It’s a training technique they taught us at Devil’s Canyon back when it was a going thing. It’s a deep-state focus. Right now I guess the best way to describe it, is being in ‘no place’, you dig?”

    “Can—Have you done it?” I ask.

    “Yeah, during a bomb disposal,” he says. “It’s…different. You stop really perceiving your body like a person, you still react, but it’s…different. Corporal Sands can do it when she’s sharp-shooting, a few guys can get it doing other jobs, or dealing with…situations. For me, it was suddenly having all the time in the world to disarm a bomb that had less than five seconds left before detonation, and I…understood it, like the way you understand how to walk.”

    “Like a mental overdrive.”

    “Yes’m,” he says, “but trying to interrupt it? Real bad. I’ve seen a nineteen-year-old Corpsman have a f*cking heart attack because someone broke his focus when he was reassembling a casualty.”

    It’s brainwashing. There are officially discredited theories about inducing a state like that…

    The screens clear, and a voice-the female changeling’s voice, begins reciting, and I feel that sick, sick feeling that…

    They lied. It does work. But everything I know about medicine, which to be honest isn’t that much, even simple logic, says that’s not the answer. It can’t be the answer.

    Here’s someone now who’s got the muscle
    His steady hand could move a mountain
    Expert in bed, but come on now
    There must be something missing
    That golden one leads a double life
    You’ll find out

    Tell me, I don't know where you go
    Do you climb into space
    To the world where you live
    The world where you live, oh-hoo

    So here we lie against each other
    And these four walls can never hold us
    We’re looking for wide open spaces
    High above the kitchen
    And we’re strangers here
    On our way to some other place

    But I don’t know where you go
    Do you climb into space
    To the world where you live
    The world where you live, oh-ho
    To the world where you live

    Friends come ‘round
    You might remember and be sad
    Behind their eyes is unfamiliar

    Do you climb into space
    To the world where you live
    The world where you live, oh-oh
    To the world where you live, yeah, yeah
    To the world where you live, hey, hey
    To the world where you live
    To the world where you live
    To the world where you live

    Crowded House, “World Where You Live”
    Songwriter, Neil Finn
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited November 2018
    USS Bajor…Kanril Eleya

    The Rec-deck is traditionally titled ‘Ten Forward’ on a Galaxy-class. This is without said Galaxy having been converted first to a troopship, and then to the anchor of control for a fleet-sized task force.

    The O-Club is a result of that conversion, but Sheri’s not up here tonight. She’s down three decks in “Marine Country”, with people roughly in her age bracket, celebrating her birthday.
    “Should we look in on them?” Gaarra asks me half-jokingly as the holo-steward pours ‘synthahol wine’.

    “Mmmh..yeah, I could just see that-the fleet commander and her flag captain walking in on a bunch of low-ranking infantry and other enlisted, just after they’ve gotten brave enough to bring out the slash they’ve been mixing.” I shake my head, “you know that’s trouble. We know they’re doing it, but we’re not supposed to know…officially.”

    He brushes my hand with his fingertips, “but you want to.” he says.

    “It’s got to be better than this stuff.” I nod at the glass, “And the music is probably better as well.”

    “Crash the party?” He’s got an impish look in his eye. “You know what Cartwright would say…”

    “I know that Alcott made a habit of it,” I retort, standing. “Might as well carry on the grand tradition.”
    * * *

    The troop decks received a retrofit before we deployed, giving equal spacing for the MACO troops and the Marines as a result of some clever planner expecting to have contingents from different environments. We did further refitting when we got a few fighters from the Frasier Bay, since they came with flight deck crewmen. Some of the MACOs complained a little about losing single-occupancy bunking, until the Marines dismantled partition walls for common bunking separated only by equipment lockers, with only senior NCO ranks having double-occupancy bunks, leaving a wide ‘common’ between the zones for gatherings, meetings, and musters.

    It shut Lieutenant Commander Weingarten up immediately—if there’s one thing that shuts up a MACO officer when he’s complaining about billeting, it’s being ‘out-spartaned’ by a ‘bunch of crazy colonists’.

    We step out of the turbolift, right into an ongoing scene of chaos. Different music playing from every direction, the smell of alcohol, and other substances almost hiding the cloying smell of Nepata leaf.

    The music stops.


    “As you were, we’re not here on business,” I announce. “Now, who’s got some slash to share?”

    Somebody cheers, low-quality replicated plastic cups appear, and a familiar, tart/sweet/spicy smell wafts my nose. Gaarra eyes his dubiously, but takes an experimental sip.

    “Tastes like spring wine… but spicy,” he says. “I can’t taste the alcohol.”

    “Fruity drinks!” Sheri’s laughing, surrounded by a crowd. There’s a frantic edge to the party that wasn’t there on Bajor, the pulse of music, now just one sort, is echoing in the common.

    “Dance with me,” I tell Gaarra.

    He takes my right hand and plants his left at my waist. “Don’t mind if I do.”

    It’s like I’m back at K-7, when things were still uncertain and Alcott had just starting improving things. I was at home, among warriors. I’m not sure where the idea comes to me, where it comes from.

    I see someone pass a mic to a girl who could be Nung’s older sister.

    I need a gun to keep myself from harm
    The poor people are burning in the sun
    But they ain’t got a chance
    They ain’t got a chance
    I need a gun
    ‘Cause all I do is dance
    ‘Cause all I do is dance!!

    It’s not my favoured style for music, too much like festival ballads. I remember Lisa Makbar performed this at the wake. A boy steps up and takes the mic from her on the second chorus,

    In my battlesuit
    I got my act right
    In case you act quite difficult
    And yo is so weakin’
    With anger and discontent
    Some are seeking and searching like me, oi!

    The girl takes it back, it’s almost catching my attention too much.

    I need a gun to keep myself from harm
    The poor people are burning in the sun
    But they ain’t got a chance
    They ain’t got a chance
    I need a gun
    ‘Cause all I do is dance
    ‘Cause all I do is dance!!

    The young man takes it back, and delivers his next lines, I’d missed some of it the first time…

    I’m a peace-loving decoy
    Ready for retaliation
    I change the whole occasion to a pine box six-under
    Impulsive don't ask wild wonder
    Orders given to me is
    Strike and I’m thunder with lightning fast reflexes
    On constant alert from the constant hurt
    That seems limitless with no dropping pressure
    Seems like everybody’s out to test ya
    ‘Til they see you break
    They can’t conceal the hate that consumes you
    I’m the reason why you flipped your soosa!”

    And the rest of the room repeats the chorus, I notice a few MACOs and junior ensigns joining in, drunken voices lifted glasses, some with more gusto than others.

    In the corner of my vision, Sheri’s found someone. He’s tall, with skin like stained hardwood, his head shaved, almost a head taller than her and even tall compared to me, and what Father would call technician’s hands—long slim fingers.

    “Who’s he?” Gaarra asks, nodding at the tall human who’s got my aide’s eyes locked on his own.

    “Warrant Officer Lincoln Abaddon, he supervises technical services for Alpha Company.” I know the man by sight. “I’m surprised you wouldn’t know the man on sight, since he assembled most of my war-room and had to get authorizations…”

    “Fifteen hundred crew, over a hundred forty-four Marines,” Gaarra reminds me. “I don’t catch everyone’s name the first time.”

    “Hey! Let’s make the Admiral sing the next one!” somebody yells.

    I turn around in Gaarra’s embrace. “Ohhh, no you don’t.”

    “Whatcha ‘fraid of, Mum?” the clearly inebriated Marine challenges me. He’s young, just like the rest of them. When the phekk was I that young? I almost can’t remember it anymore.

    “C’mon, El,” Gaarra says into my ear, tickling me under my ribcage. “I’ve heard you sing at the Peldor Festival, you’re not bad.”

    ‘Not bad’? Damn him, he’s going for my pride… “Ohh, all right. I’m not doing it for you, though, Marine, I’m doing it for the birthday girl.”

    “Whatever, Mum!” One of the female Marines smacks him on the head.

    I chuckle at that as I disengage from Gaarra and make my way to the microphone. “All right, folks, some of you Starfleeters should know this one, I learned it at the Academy. Computer, play ‘No Hopers, Jokers & Rogues’!”

    Dominion Station, Marsilla McKnight…

    Nung comes out of it. “Worm defeated,” she announces, and she sounds like she could sleep for a year.

    Then she leans back in the chair. “Radioman Jao, mind spelling me here?”

    One of the Marines looks to their officer, who nods, before stepping up to the console.

    “I inserted a translation protocol and annotated it,” she tells him. “F*cking b*tch wrote some sloppy *ss code, but I need rest.

    “Brain hurts?” he asks before taking his helmet off.

    “Yeah. I’ll be on the floor… over there.” she tells him, and drags herself out of the seat. She’s pale, and her skin reflects the light, sweaty.

    “Stimmy?” he asks.

    “I better not,” she demurs, “need to save it for a crisis.”


    She looks at me. “With your permission, mum, I need a little laydown, twenty minutes tops.”

    I don’t care what they didn’t find. That’s evidence right there of pushing past limits that aren’t supposed to be pushed. My Chief Medical Officer’s going to be giving a lot of physicals… soon. But I give her permission… for now.

    Radioman Jao starts working on the rest of the decryption algorithm, and Nung puts her pack on the deck, pulls the hard armor off, and lays down, curled up around her personal weapon.

    “Leftenant, assign a squad to secure this room,” I tell the Marine commander.

    “Aye mum.”

    I look to Odo. “While the kids are working on the data, let’s see what this place is really about.”

    It’s seconds and she’s snoring softly.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited November 2018
    Sheri Walford, Deck 8 Officers’ Quarters, USS Bajor

    Without Nung, it’s hard to remember to focus on being Starfleet now. I’m not sure if the Admiral means for this to be happening.

    I open my eyes in the darkness of my quarters, and instead of activating the lights, I crawl out of the bed.

    I don’t even know who he is. Not really. Some guy from Sciences I was drinking slash with in the Barracks deck last night, I think.

    The chime goes off again, and I find my combadge on the floor, tangled in clothing.

    “Walford here.”

    Get cleaned up and get to CIC. I’ll give you ten minutes.” Admiral Kanril’s voice is tight with tension. “And bring Warrant Abaddon with you, if he hasn’t already gone back to Marine Country.

    She closes the link.


    Okay, not a blueshirt, a Marine. Sometimes I wonder if the Admiral is psychic or something. He’s at least handsome enough in the light, sober and hung over. I briefly envy his almost-ebony dark brown skin, it hides the flush and illness of hangover. “Come on, Lincoln, get up…” I shove him a little to wake him, He mumbles and manages to roll face-up.

    “Whua… Oh sh*t, I thought that was a dream…” he mutters.

    “No dream. Get up handsome, we need showers and up on the command deck in five. I guess my birthday party’s officially over.”

    He paws the air and I catch his arm, dragging him half-unwilling to a sitting position on the bed.

    He pulls me down and kisses me—and the taste almost gags me, but then, I guess my breath probably smells as bad, since the inside of my mouth tastes like a toxic waste dump mixed with a sewer.

    Still, nice… “Come on, work to be done…”

    We manage to make the showers quick enough, thank the Prophets for small favours. As much as I wanted it, I manage to keep us both from being too terribly late.

    It kind of reminds me of seeing Min and Judah sneaking out of the torpedo mags, march of shame, maybe? My hair doesn’t dry before we’re dressed, clean uniforms and a Melorazine each to clear up the last of whatever panther-p*ss Vicky-34 cooked up last night.

    The happy buzz goes poof when the Admiral shows me. On the perimeter of the detection grid, picked up by sensors dropped by the Frasier Bay’s fighters along the flank of our course, a cluster of military-grade warp signatures are highlighted in red. “That,” she tells me.

    “Fek’Ihri.” I breathe it, and a surge of sickened rage boils my blood.

    She nods. “Kar’fi carrier group, destroyer and frigate escorts. They’re heading away from a known Dominion world the Jems claim has gone silent.”

    “They’re here.” Lincoln manages to sound as horrified as I feel.

    “They’re heading for the Kongo’s group,” she tells me, “maybe two days behind them at this rate.”

    “Fekkies run in bigger groups when they hunt,” Lincoln says. “Either they’re going to a base, or there’s more on the way.”

    “We have to kill them,” I whisper.

    Captain Gaarra looks at me strangely, and so does the Admiral.


    “You don’t understand,they’re a plague,” I hiss. “They destroy everything where they go. Consume it, devour it… a virus, a disaster in the making, and they don’t stop until you stop them.”

    I don’t think he can understand the horror. I was there, on the ground… “Captain, you can’t imagine the horror. Really, honest, you heard what the Elachi are like? These things, they’re worse. The poor people of that world…”

    Amanda Nung, Dominion Base. 21 June 2415.

    Seven hours. They let me sleep for seven hours.

    “Their encryption is pretty good, it’s the condition of the data stacks that is shoddy.” Jao tells me.

    “Sure...got into the rest of the databases yet?”

    “Yeah, but the decryption’s taking a while, especially on the text documents-they really didn’t want anyone reading whatever it is they were writing down, but we’ve got most of the vid and audio logs cracked and queued for playback.”

    “Here, let me take a look…”
    Research Date:7021.27

    More data has arrived on Cadre species 484, Designate: Burrowers. Their world’s unusual orbital path has taken it out of the habitable zone, and the burrowers have entered dormancy…

    Jao’s a good guy. He kind of should be—he’s one of us, but he doesn’t know it yet. Not everyone digs into their gene profiles, and not everyone wants to know whether they are, or they aren’t.

    “Can you do an upload?”

    “It’s a simple twodee vid record, we could post it on Fleetbook from here.” Jao says it with a grin.

    “Let’s save that for something cool,” I tell him. “This stuff is pretty much dry astrobiological stuff, with some weird totalitarian undertones but just bio department TRIBBLE. Save the file and forward a copy to cloud storage.”

    “Maybe shoulda left you sleeping,” he cracks. I give him ‘the look’. He raises his hands defensively. “Hey, don’t be mad, you’re just…”

    “I’m cranky,” I tell him. “Yeah, something ain’t right here.”

    I reach into my rucksack for an energy bar, and glance over and see Captain McKnight—or Commodore McKnight, since she’s lead on the squadron—talking to Leftenant Arnow. Then she stiffens suddenly and puts a hand to her helmet, tipping her head and holding up a hand to the L-T, like she’s telling him “hold that thought”.

    And then she beams out.

    “What the hell was that about?” Jao wonders aloud.

    “Comm call about something, they must’ve needed her back on the ship.”

    MCDS Mitchellville, Major Jena…

    “I confirm, Commodore, there are a hell of a lot of Hur’q inbound to your location, I estimate no more than three hours left for the surface expedition.”

    I’m looking at them on sensors, because we’re running cloaked and checking the perimeter.

    Projected on a two-dee image, Commodore McKnight isn’t quite as imposing, but she’s still kitted for surface ops.

    Three hours?” she presses me.

    “Three hours at their current course and speed—and it is a linear course. On other news, we picked up a Dominion distress call. One of their ships bumped into this mob. The call’s a ‘ghost’ near as I can tell—they were boarded. Propagation rate and distortion on the transmission puts it at twenty minute delay, and we got to hear their death throes—the bugs got the location for that base and they’re making a beeline. It’s either a casual beeline, or it’s as fast as their ships go. I’m betting it’s casual advance, they don’t think they’re gonna face serious opposition.”

    Kanril Eleya, CIC, USS Bajor.

    Sheri looks like… like she’s reliving a confrontation with Pah-Wraiths.

    I knew she’d react like this, but she needed to know. “They’re headed for our people, Sheri,” I remind her. It’s not really necessary, but I still remind her. “Put together a briefing, Cadet. Abaddon, you help her, not for the Marines, but for everyone else in the fleet. We’re going to intercept them, and the crews of our fleet need to know what they’re going to be facing.”

    “Aye mum.”

    “Comms, get me Commodore McKnight. And get me a QT channel to Starfleet Command.”

    “What about Admiral ch’Harrel?” Gaarra suggests.

    “Thraz is six hundred light-years away, no way in hell he can get here in time.” Ch’Harrel’s staging a rapid-response force at New Bajor, in case the bugs hit one of our Gamma colonies coreward of there. Bajoran worlds are well-armed, but not everyone in the Federation shares our philosophy.

    Just to reassure myself I look at the plot and check the math again. Then I spy something on the map and zoom in.

    A gravimetric anomaly, of the most extreme kind: a rogue black hole. And a big one at that, 106 solar masses, event horizon the size of a small moon.

    And a plan starts to take shape in my mind. “Formation, go to Condition Two. Interception in five hours, twenty minutes.”
    Post edited by patrickngo on
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,622 Arc User
    patrickngo wrote: »
    “Hey! Let’s make the Admiral sing the next one!” somebody yells.

    I turn around in Gaarra’s embrace. “Ohhh, no you don’t.”

    “Whatcha ‘fraid of, Mum?” the clearly inebriated Marine challenges me. He’s young, just like the rest of them. When the phekk was I that young? I almost can’t remember it anymore.

    “C’mon, El,” Gaarra says into my ear, tickling me under my ribcage. “I’ve heard you sing at the Peldor Festival, you’re not bad.”

    ‘Not bad’? Damn him, he’s going for my pride… “Ohh, all right. I’m not doing it for you, though, Marine, I’m doing it for the birthday girl.”

    “Whatever, Mum!” One of the female Marines smacks him on the head.

    I chuckle at that as I disengage from Gaarra and make my way to the microphone. “All right, folks, some of you Starfleeters should know this one, I learned it at the Academy. Computer, play ‘No Hopers, Jokers & Rogues’!”

    I kind of envision Eleya's singing voice sounding kind of like Anette Olzon. Examples: "When Dreams Fall Apart" by Alyson Avenue, "Ever Dream" by Nightwish (audition tape), "Storytime" by Nightwish, "Shine" (Anette's solo album), and the Dark Element song at the close of chapter two. So less classical/operatic than a lot of the female-fronted songs: Eleya was maybe a choir singer as a kid but never had any formal training.
    "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"
    (Vaporware thanks to Foundry shutdown. Thanks a frakking bunch, Cryptic.)
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited November 2018
    Amanda Nung, Dominion Base.

    While we wait for McKnight to get back, I start looking into the data on the computer system.

    And based on what I’ve found, it’s brown-trousers time.

    Jao squeaks, “Here? No, nononono no…”

    “We need to get out of here NOW!” I bellow at the others. “We need to get out, and we need to vape this station with every weapon, leave no trace and we need to do it now.

    “What is it?” Third Kumat’aklan asks.

    “They’ve got a stockpile of warseeds and according to this, over a hundred thousand dormant-state Fek’Ihri … on a timer, the b*tch set them to wake up.

    His eyes go wide. “Can you stop it? How long do we have?”

    A wail echoes from an open door.

    “We don’t. It finished twenty minutes ago.” I finish pulling my armor on, check my weapon. “Captain Kira, Odo, and their team are down on the storage level, Commodore McKnight is back on the Kongo for whatever reasons she’s got, I’m using my nonexistent authority to break subspace radio silence. Their team must be warned.

    I slap my combadge on the general channel that includes our protocols for Dominion commo.

    “Captain Kira, you and the Founder Odo need to get out of there! Those Fek are awake, this is a Case White scenario! I repeat, Case White. Evacuate immediately!!”

    We’ll get out and nuke the site from orbit. Or so I thought, as the Founder replies, “Negative. We are not done here. The Fek will be dealt with, there is still more information we need.

    “Are you insane?

    One of the Jem’hadar glowers. “The Founder has made his decision. We will leave when he decides.[/i]”

    There is a shimmer, one of the weird transporters the Kongo uses. McKnight is back. I turn to her and beg, “Captain, we gotta get out of here, there—”

    “Is a horde coming. Yeah, ETA five hours. That gives us four hours to finish up here.”

    “Nonono—the ones on the station! Wait… what’s in five hours?”

    “Inbound Hur’q fleet, along with something called Kar’fi-class ships. We don’t think they’re working together, they don’t seem to be noticing each other.” She seems not calm, but focused. “And I know about the ones on the station. Odo told me half an hour ago when his group found the stasis pods. A few opened, but they handled it.”

    And we’re still here?! Ma’am?”

    “You heard Odo. He’s not done yet. So keep digging.” I notice the new saddlebags she’s wearing,, as well as the two red-shirted engineers that beamed down with her. They get to work with several crates of stuff that was beamed down as well, wiring them into the power systems of the station.

    “Ma’am, you don’t understand. You haven't fought these before, they’re—”

    “An unending swarm of death and destruction. Yes, I know. I also know… that this is the only corridor that isn’t collapsed, or won’t be before long.”

    As I’m sputtering for words I realize just what the engineers are setting up. “Is… Is that a phaser bank?”

    “Pulled it out of spares. This room is defensible, you can access the network from here, we can beam out of here—and if Odo and the Jem’Hadar herd them right…”

    “Or perhaps we can get them to take each other out,” one of the Jemmy Seconds suggests.

    McKnight nods. “Nice thought—but the enemy of my enemy is my enemy’s enemy. Nothing more. The Kongo is prepping party favors for the incoming ships.” She grins. “Fortunately this base is in an rather crowded debris field in this system.

    Maybe she’s not insane. Maybe. I hope.

    Or on second thought, maybe she is insane, the way the Admiral is.

    “Lock and load, they’re coming. Jao, a hand?”

    “What are we doing?”

    “Buying time for Odo and the Captain,” I tell him. “The station’s got internal monitoring, and if the Founders are as paranoid as I think…”

    “The Founders are not paranoid!” Second says.

    “Sure, whatever. ‘Security-conscious’.” I start poking through the systems. “Start on the downside directories here and here, Jao, we might as well bring it all up bro.”

    The security monitors around the room go active.

    It doesn’t look good.

    “Commodore, all due respect?”


    “We’re going to have to do more than wait patiently… Fekkies are resistant to energy weapons, which isn’t a problem from this position, but guess what Ambassador Odo, Captain Kira, and the Jem’Hadar that went down there with them are equipped with?”

    “What’s your answer?” McKnight asks. “Go after them?”

    I nod. “Yes mum. If Odo dies or we lose the former Kai, this whole operation goes in the sh*tbox and we might as well take an Ia Drang shower, because alternative number two, is trying to work with Queen b*tchface, the same changeling that set this in motion. Now we can’t clear every level but we can secure an extraction route.”

    Marsilla McKnight…

    More surprises. Nung’s got her plan forming on the screen behind her while she’s talking, showing the extraction route.

    “What do you need?” I ask her.

    Her expression’s turned almost emotionless. “One squad, Marines in light gear, carbines, shotguns, and pistols, we don’t have room for CAM launchers but photon grenades work okay at close quarters. Jao can run the board here, and you’ll need to bring down a transporter enhancer, because we’re going to bypass a whole level of enemy to reach them.”

    “Kongo, beam down a transporter enhancer relay, don’t bother to uncrate, but lock the preset signal to it.”

    On the way, Captain.

    I look at her. “No unnecessary heroics, understand? In fact, I’m coming with to make—”

    “Then who’s in charge, Ma’am?” Nung snaps, “you need to run the show and be ready to back us up. You’re mission commander, your job is here, or—” She points at the ceiling. “—up there. Mission comes first, Honor is secondary.”

    The way she says it—she’s had this argument before, and the phrasing… Klingons. They’ve worked for the Klingons in the past…

    We’re not Klingons though. “Commander Sytav has things well in hand. We’re Starfleet. We’re not about honor, we’re about getting everyone out, Jem’hadar, Founder, even Weyoun—while doing the maximum damage to the enemy.”

    “That’s good, that’s real good…how are you about heights and long falls?” Nung asks me, “because for this to work, we’ve got to knock the turbolift system out so it doesn’t stop at Fekkie Central on the way down, or out.”

    I just grin. “You just watch.”
    Post edited by starswordc on
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited November 2018
    Sanjit Kaur, SDF Kukri, approaching DS9.

    Of course it can’t be simple. I couldn’t just drop them off on the Singh and get back to the fleet. The general is awake enough that she wants to see my five passengers—and to be honest enough, she’s on the short list of people who could help them. So it’s back through the wormhole. Fortunately the Prophets don’t want to talk to me this time. I think I annoyed them.

    The Marines’ suits have been cleaned, they’re empty now. And still talking. Dr. Rockstone has been working with them, stabilising the processors and expanding the memory, as well as insuring their weapons are safe and the power is dialled down to closer to human norm strength. Only the fact that the Moabite leaders were as horrified as everyone else prevented this from being a political firestorm. ‘Unforeseen consequences’ is how Thag explained it.

    The station looked a bit better but not much. The Vancouver was gone: a tug had hauled the battlecruiser off to the 40 Eridani A yards. There were more Starfleet ships, as well as KDF ships from K’Ragh’s backup force. It was not possible to beam the Marines to the station, and Admiral Kurland wasn’t really thrilled with the idea of bringing them onto DS9. Not that there was much alternative.

    Medics were waiting, Choblik cyber docs from the SDF field hospital, and general Cherenkov in a hover chair. The leader of the squad saluted as she reported.

    I watched as the general talked to them, along with the medics. A few of them wanted us to pull the plug, but Thag and his cat persuaded them to wait until their their options were presented to them. It was all techno-babble over my head.

    General K’Ragh was standing nearby and nodded at me. I walked over to him, the general seemed pensive. “how long do you think this has been going on Colonel?”

    I shrugged “no way to tell. Possibly since they upgraded everything to have quantum com systems, but no way to be sure.

    “I used to think the worst fate one could have was to be assimilated by the Borg. This however…”

    “Eh if you get right down to it—it’s not much different metaphysically from transporters. Technically when you dematerialise and are put back together, it’s a quantum copy of you.”

    He shrugged. “That is a question for philosophers, not warriors.”

    Heiki Geargrinder.

    Bored. Bored bored bored. While the action was going on across the wormhole, we ferried back the mecha-forsaken for the eggheads to poke at and the priests and prophets to argue about what to do. They’re lookin at it wrong, they got a second chance. Heck, I’d want to get the same backup capability for myself, assuming they’d sell it to me. Maybe I can acquire some.. Not that I’ve needed it so far.

    The colonel is talking with the general. Thag has been busy keeping their suits going, pretty much not my area of expertise. I know we’ll be here for a few days, so I wander down to the promenade. I’ve been here before, Quark’s got some decent booze. Thag and I ran a job for him once or twice, he actually waves at me when I walked in the door.

    “Evenin’, short stuff. Your usual?”

    I nodded and plopped into one of the stools as he pulls out a bottle of ‘old froth and slosh’ and pours me a mug. I know it’s a good vintage as the foam settles to the bottom.

    “So how goes the grand campaign? Other than finding out the Mobies’ suits turn them into zombies when they die.”

    “Eh, that’s not as bad as it seems. Better than being dead.” I down the mug.

    “Hm, maybe. My idiot brother is gathering ships to join you if necessary. Listen… are you available for a job?”

    I put down the empty mug and grin. “I’m always available, never free.”

    Quark grins back at me. I like the guy, like his latinum even more. We understood each other. “The Klingons,” he says, leaning close.

    “What about them?”

    “We need them. I have a lead on how to bring them into this. Going to be risky though.”

    “I know you, Quark. If it’s risky, it’s also profitable.”

    “Potentially,” he said nonchalantly, though, I could see the gleam in his eyes.

    I grinned up at him. “Well then, let’s make sweet sweet profit together.”

    Blood for freedom

    You’re pushing me to the corner
    Don’t fight with me, don’t fight with me, don’t fight with me
    I’m crowning forever this armor or rhapsody
    For what I see and what I feel

    Wake up
    I’m defying you, see away through you
    Once I believed in you
    Wake up
    Feel what’s coming deep within with your love
    Blood for freedom

    To raise your banner, fight your war
    Break the silence, no remorse
    Won’t die within
    Raise your banner, won't you come
    Fight the venom, the good die young
    Won’t die within

    I feel it as the fallen, they’re watching me
    They make me see, they make me see
    I feel the pain and you break them and make them bleed
    You make them bleed, you make them bleed

    Wake up
    I’m defying you, see away through you
    Once I believed in you
    Wake up
    Feel what’s coming deep within with your love
    The way that you don’t make me
    The way that you challenge me
    The way that you make me bleed
    Blood for freedom

    To raise your banner, fight your war
    Break the silence, no remorse
    Won’t die within
    Raise your banner, won’t you come
    Fight the venom, the good die young
    Won’t die within

    To raise your banner, fight your war
    Break the silence, no remorse
    Won’t die within
    Raise your banner, won't you come
    Fight the venom, the good die young
    Won’t die within

    We come for free
    They and the rain
    We are honoured
    My tears keep falling
    These are the fair to the flame
    Blood for freedom

    Within Temptation feat. Anders Fridén, “Raise Your Banner”
    Songwriters, Daniel Gibson, Mathijs Tieken, Sharon den Adel, and Robert Westerholt
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Sheri Walford, Admiral Kanril’s Day Quarters, USS Bajor. D-2 hours.

    “Well, ma’am, hatches are all battened down, and I think we’re as ready as we’re ever going to be. We’ve got Bravo Company spread in squads throughout the ship to repel boarders, too. Fek like that.”

    She nods to me. “That’s good.” Then she looks back to whatever she’s reading.

    “Ma’am, I…” I take a breath as she looks up. “I… I don’t understand how—We’re up against… f*cking Fek and you don’t even look worried.”

    She gives a bit of a chuckle. “You remember meeting Overgeneral Elwar back at DS9?”

    “What about her?”

    “Well, one of her nephews was one of my DIs at Camp Li. One time when we were on a hike, Gunny Elwar told us something.” She starts mimicking an accent that sounds like Ranjen Lam at the temple back home. “‘Soldier goes into combat and he ain’t scared, he’s either dead, or stupid.’”


    “So if I didn’t have stuff to do I’d be quaking in my boots,” she jokes. “Look, Sheri, I’ve been in the military almost as long as you’ve been alive. You learn after you’ve been in command for a while not to let the folks under you see that you’re scared. It helped my first ops officer was a Vulcan, though—T’Var gave me a little bit of advice on that.”

    “O… okay.”

    “So, how about you and Warrant Officer Abaddon?”

    I feel my cheeks burning, caught off-guard by the sudden segue. “Uh, respectfully… You’re changing the subject, ma’am.”

    “Yes, I am. Is it serious?”

    “Uh, no, I don’t think so. I mean, he’s nice, but…”

    “Good. Don’t let it get serious.”

    I give her a surprised look. “Huh?”

    She pauses for a second, then gets up and walks around her desk. “Granted, I’m probably the last person who should be lecturing you on fraternization, but don’t forget, these—” She taps the third-year pins on my collar. “—mean you aren’t an enlisted woman anymore, you’re an officer.”

    “… Oh. Oh, sh*t.”

    She nods. “And given MCDF regs, he’s likely to get in a lot worse trouble than you are.”

    “Yes, ma’am.”

    She nods, then gives me an impish grin. “Was it good, at least?”

    “Uh, I don’t really remember, I was pretty drunk. I mean, I’m, you know, a little sore, but…”

    She chuckles. “That’s usually a good sign in my experience.”

    “I, uh, wouldn’t know.”

    Now she cackles a little, while I go red as a jero fruit. “Well, could be worse. Least you got to do it in a bed; my first time was garbage.”

    “Why? What happened?”

    “You mean besides the fact we were seventeen and clueless? Ammo storage kept digging into my back.”

    “The… ammo storage.” There’s gotta be a good story there…

    “Well, I was mad as hell at my ex-boyfriend, and there was this cutie from Hathon Province in my training squad, and did you know that the passenger compartment on a D-27 locks from the inside?”

    “A D-27 is—”

    “An infantry fighting vehicle.” I give her a quizzical look, but that quickly turns into a nasty bout of the giggles. She joins in pretty quickly. “Oh! I almost forgot.” She goes back to her desk and retrieves a small package in red wrapping paper. “A day late, but happy birthday, Sheri.”

    I give it a quick test bend and shake. It’s stiff and doesn’t sound like anything. “I don’t… What is this?”

    “Open it and find out.”

    So I do. Under the wrapping is a hardcover book, real paper. “Heir to the Empire?”

    She nods. “Look under the cover.”

    There’s a scribbled name on the title page in pen. “Is this a… a signed first edition, ma’am?”

    She shakes her head. “I’m not that talented of a scrounger. It’s a replica of a signed first edition, but it’s a damn good book nonetheless.”

    “Thank you, ma’am.”

    “Oh, Sheri…” She grabs me up in a hug suddenly. “Past three years… You’ve been like the daughter I’ve never had time to have.”

  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    [out of story] A note on the Fek'Ihri.

    in this 'verse, the Fek'Ihri were altered from STO canon by several factors, notably their initial introduction happened prior to Legacy of Romulus and the Elachi, and well before the Iconian War arcs. the writers (Myself and, at the time, Sander_223[may he rest in peace]) sat down and said, "what would actually frighten Klingons based on what was then known of their culture and style?" Working from the rapid onset of the Fek'Ihri in the KDF missions, and their apparent ability to know exactly where, when, and how to attack the Empire, we did some working up. The Fek have two lifecycles-the first, is on introduction via a device termed a "veS puq" or "Warseed", this version is a prionic nanolifeform that infects and converts hosts (if it doesn't outright kill them), since entropy is still a thing, and the conversion is fast, much of the host's initial mass is burned off in the process, resulting in the "Hordeling", which retains a significant portion of the host's knowledge and skills, but with a decidedly altered series of priorities.

    Those priorities are to eat-preferably prey that screams. they need the calories to proceed to their next stage, going from the Neuter Hordeling, to the female, or "Ravager". This transformation is accompanied by a significant increase in intelligence, physical strength, and durability. Ravagers in the Masterverse are able to control groups of hordelings up to ten per individual directly, using them as forward eyes and ears, additional hands, and as guards for their nesting sites. In the absence of other food, a Ravager will also use them as food. Being Female, Ravagers are capable of reproduction, establishing a nesting area, and implanting fertilized eggs in live prey, these eggs hatch 'grubs' and grubs are the 'second lifecycle' of a Fek'Ihri infestation.

    Ravager bites contain a paralytic poison that immobilized the target while preserving higher mental function and basic biofunctions such as heartbeat, digestion, and respiration.

    When a Ravager has consumed enough calories, or if she is the strongest within a group of similar ones, she will undergo the transformation to a male form, or 'Slavemaster', with duties including the fertilizing of females for reproduction of phase two offspring. The most dominant male becomes a 'Chieftain', and manifests a number of additional biological weapons as well as the ability to control large numbers of lower-stage Fek'Ihri.

    Second phase infestation:

    Second phase infestation occurs fairly rapidly, and represents the 'natural' reproductive cycle of the Fek'Ihri. It requires the presence of other, non-Fek'Ihri sentient Klingonoids or humanoids of a roughly carbon/oxygen biochemistry. These humanoids are nesting and feeding material for Fek'Ihri grubs, and generally are kept in a biostasis to insure they are alive while being consumed.

    MCDF terms Fek'Ihri nesting points "Meatlockers" due to the species preference for easily fortified nesting spaces, such as disaster shelters, bunkers, walk-in commercial refrigeration units, basements, and similar areas.

    All Fek'Ihri blood and body fluids are highly corrosive except for Ravager venom.

    specific traits:

    Fek'Ihri are highly resistant to radiation, and show a strong resistance to energy-based weaponry including Disruptors and phaser weaponry. They recover from most injuries very quickly (due to rapid calcium transfer and highly accelerated metabolic rates), and are universally very aggressive with the exception of Chieftains or nesting Ravagers, whom are instead violently territorial and otherwise passive (The nesting ravagers relying on their 'children' to bring them additional victims, the Chieftains being simply more careful and thoughtful about taking action and relying on lower-tier Fek'Ihri to establish control over their chosen territories.)

    Notably, Fek transfer skills and some memories between generations, as well as absorbing skills and memories from their victims, enabling them to easily defeat many 'common sense' methods such as the locking mechanisms of disaster bunkers, as well as enabling them to FIND such sources of food quickly upon infecting an area.

    after a period of time, Fek'Ihri infestations begin converting local resources, either to build, or to alter for use, industrial equipment, weapons and systems. Thus, they are able to build ships, usually within a projected period of 10 years after subduing a non-industrial world, or 5 years of subduing an industrial planet. This is necessary, in part because they have a strong drive to reproduce, and within 5-10 years of infecting an inhabited world, the odds are that they will run out of 'nesting material' (other, non-Fek sentients).

    This has placed the presence and activation of a warseed as a "Case White" scenario using the 'color case' system agreed to in the first Khitomer agreement as revised in 2291. Case White is the Klingon equivalent of "General order 24" and is the only treaty-agreed upon situation in which the KDF can order the destruction of an inhabited world, or genocide, without facing diplomatic or treaty sanction.

    MCDF has adopted the "Color case" arrangement first as part of their agreements with the KDF, and later as part of the Galactic Alliance. to date, Case White has only been called in the case of the New Saigon infestation. Under Case White terms, the employment of the "Genesis Device" is authorized by any and all signatory powers that have the ability to construct one. At present, the UFP and Klingon Empire do not have stockpiles of 'Genesis bombs' and have a long standing agreement NOT to construct them, or enable or allow the construction of Genesis bombs.

    Colonel Ngoc Trung's use of a modified Genesis bomb in sealing the Goralis Rift was technically and subsequently legally ruled a Case White scenario however sources of protomatter for construction of the device, and sources of other non-replicatable materials have been clamped down, with diplomatic pressure being exerted to assure that the Moab Confederacy's program to develop Marcus Effect Devices (genesis bombs) remains frozen at the level of Theory. Applications to obtain a Marcus Effect device to cleanse New Saigon have been stalled in committee both with the UFP, and the KDF. MCDF and Homeland Security maintains overwatch on the surface of New Saigon, with periodic orbital strikes to prevent the Fek'Ihri infestation on that world from constructing ships to spread, but quarantine overwatch is viewed by the MacAulliffe Administration as a temporary measure at best, and long-term unsustainable.

  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    [out of story *(continued)]

    The Genesis Bomb problem

    Contact with the Lukari, and the use by the Tzenkethi of protomatter devices, would seem to show that the 'genesis genie' (as termed by Admiral Kirk during the post Khitomer reception back in the 23rd century) may be escaping treaty containment. Diplomatic efforts to bring the Lukari into the non-proliferation agreement, however, proved trivially easy to achieve, their use of Protomatter based technologies notwithstanding, the obvious dangers of the material are well understood by both Lukari and Kentari governments, as well as the demonstrated dangers shown by Tzenkethi use of a 'lower order' Marcus Effect type protomatter device type prior to the current eruption of the Hur'q. (The Tzenkethi, for their part, refuse to share what they consider to be a strategic deterrent technology.)

    The Genesis bomb, or "Markus Effect" device, was initially conceptualized as a means to rapidly terraform lifeless, but otherwise suitable planetary bodies for colonization. Recognized by Klingon authorities as the ultimate in terror weapons, this technology was restricted by treaty in the 2280's, with the final protocols adopted between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon empire immediately after the Praxis event and the First Khitomer conference. Under the protocols of that treaty, research into, development of, and deployment of Genesis technology is tightly controlled, and both powers are required to share any and all development, information, and technical resources immediately and without preconditions.

    This protocol was seen as so important, that the Klingon empire and the United Federation of Planets both upheld it in the middle of a war with one another.

    (Classified note: two of the Iconians' prime targets during the invasions of Qo'noS and Earth were facilities opened specifically to condense protomatter and begin assembly of Genesis devices. Ty'Gokor Research Lab 13, and the Europa Polar site were both targeted specifically by Iconian forces during the recent war with the Iconian survivors.-Drake)

    This mutual, strict, adherence to protocols has not been completely successful, particularly in regards to minor powers and separatist substates like the Moab Confederacy. (See: Dr. Ngoc Trung, Dr. Michelle Schrodinger) A modified Genesis bomb was used during the extradimensional incident in the Goralis system, costing the life of the designer and closing one of the largest interdimensional rips ever recorded. Starfleet and Federation intelligence has confirmed that Colonel Trung's work was not an extension of a functional project in the Moab Confederacy (See report 2411/10/19, "WMD inspection team 16, Moab III"), however, inquiries by persons from the Moab/New Saigon region have indicated a concentrated interest in Marcus Device development. (See Starfleet Academy Memo item D, dated 2413/06/19, "Surveillance of Cadet Judah Lees")

    Sources inside Klingon Intelligence and Temporal Enforcement confirmed that a pilot programme focused on theoretical research has been funded by the government of Debra MacAulliffe, however, sources inside the project have confirmed that progress has been adequately blocked without requiring more than token covert action. (See S.31 doc 29, "Termination order; Janice Qua", S. 31 doc. 7 dated 2411/18 "Termination order Robert Teller", Starfleet Classified item D-2287471r//T "Report to the Intelligence Committee" dated 2414/01/18.)

    at present, the joint government of the Moab Confederacy has filed proper application permits with both the United Federation of Planets and Klingon Empire to acquire one such device for use on the former colony world of New Saigon, citing the "color case" protocols and alleging that New Saigon remains a 'Case White' situation. Ambassador Sugihara's organization has successfully thus far prevented a floor vote in the Federation council, citing the claim that the Fek'Ihri colonization of that world has yet to pose significant threat to the security of either the United Federation of Planets, or the Klingon Empire. Since the Empire never developed Genesis devices (it is believed that their one attempt may have resulted in the praxis detonation), and the Federation has not constructed new devices since the mid-2280s testing, and subsequent failure of the Genesis planet, it is unlikely at this time that, even with approval, a Genesis device would be deployed on New Saigon.

    -Report to the Oversight Committee for Intelligence and Covert operations
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Dominion Base, Amanda Nung…

    Two Lance Corporals take the crate, and Sgt. Pau sets the rigging. “Path to the underworld guys, just like Devil’s Canyon, eyes open.”

    I’m not sure why they call it ‘Australian rappelling’, it’s just running down a hill while holding a rope. There’s probably a whole military history profile on it, but it’s like a controlled fall.

    We’re ‘controlled falling’ 200 meters vertical, but I’m reminded of the elevator shaft in Canh Tho we used to enter level nineteen.

    Lance Corporal Wei pulls a Phaser and welds the door to the next level down shut as she crosses, and we’re rewarded with a solid ‘thump’ above us as the team drops down the shaft.

    Good girl, Wei, always thinking. I sure as f*ck didn’t think of that.

    We land on the roof of the turbolift car, and have to break in.

    “Cut a hole first, Wei. we need eyes in there."

    “Aye.” she takes that bootleg phaser and cuts a hand-size hole, disintegrating instead of burning through.

    I look in. “Grenade.” I sign it instead of saying it, a photon grenade is handed to me, I short-fuse it, and drop it down the hole on the seething mob of spawnlings.

    “They even alive?”

    “Last I checked, they’re in a chamber this mob bypassed.” I say, “If we had proper gear we’d know…”

    The car ‘whumps’ under my feet, and a jet of hot gas shoots up the shaft, dissipating before it can do more than warm the air by about twenty degrees.

    I decide which panel’s going to be our hatch. It’s got to be big enough for the Commodore and her backpack of fiery doom, and Corporal Mi’en lays a rope of blastex for a shaped charge.

    We hug the walls, and it sizzles, the panel falls into the broken lift.

    We drop into the cab.

    “Set up the enhancers here, we’ll clear and secure the corridor by the numbers, spacing no more than five meters, interleaved file and cover movement, sweep corridor rooms if they open but otherwise keep moving, routes on your HUD, and suppressor your Delisles and your pistols guys.”

    The door opens and the whole squad executes-in this case, executing a small mob of Fekkies that were coming up the corridor. Single shots, center forehead.

    “Try not to step in the blood, ma’am, it’s corrosive.”

    USS Bajor, Deck 34 Compartment D-5. Twenty minutes to interception.

    The ship had just gone to Condition One, battle stations. The suit troopers were locking and loading, the snipes were running about checking systems, the corpsmen and Starfleet blueshirts were handing out extra doses of trauma drugs.

    And PFC Chan Dung Hoang was about to sh*t himself.

    He could already hear the howls of the Fek as they fed.

    “This is nuts, man,” Lieutenant Jessica Nguyen, one of the suits, muttered as she checked connections before mounting up. “Admiral must be… ôi, dì ngoan ngoãn của tôi… Dieter, is she nuts?”

    “We do wonder that sometimes,” the Starfleet man, Lieutenant Fuchs, answered, chuckling. “Trust me, though, Admiral Kanril’s pulled off some crazy stuff—I was there for some of it. I’d bet a case of Sherman’s Planet’s best, if anyone in the galaxy can deliberately attack a Fek’Ihri fleet that size and win, it’s her.”

    “We’re all gonna die,” Chan whimpered.

    mọi người đều chết,” Lance Cindre Anathema grunted, “but not today. When this is over, we’re going to Risa. Hey Po’fo! Gimme a Stimmie?”

    “You don’t need stimmies, Cindre, you need Blues, chill you the frak out later,” Petty Officer sh’Tholor from Security cracked. “Keep you outta my brig.”

    You know what’ll keep me outta your brig, I hear your kind gots ridges…” she said salaciously.

    “We’re all gonna die, they’re gonna board, and they’re gonna tear us all apart and feed us to their—”

    Then the Starfleet lieutenant was in his face, pulling him to his feet. “Get ahold of yourself, man. Remember, you’re a Marine, and I’m a MACO. We do the impossible so other people don’t have to, and there isn’t one g*ddamned thing that bunch of psychotic pissants can do to stop it. Now you check your weapon.”

    “Yessir.” Almost on a reflex he racked the action, checked the breech, clicked the safety off and on.

    “Now check your boots.”

    He looked down. The laces were tight. One thing you learned well growing up in Xiao Loc was how to tie good knots.

    Fuchs clapped him on the shoulder. “You got it made, Marine.”

    Marsilla McKnight, Dominion Base.

    Nung didn’t do training on the holodeck with them, but they integrate way too smoothly, reacting to each other’s cues more like a single organism.

    A single organism, in this case with perfect coordination, like a flock of birds with very sharp teeth.

    Birds don’t usually have teeth, but you know what I mean.

    Their weapons aren’t entirely silent-the tick-tick of actions and the clinking of empty cartridge cases is pretty close to silent, though.

    What’s more disturbing are the wounds they leave behind. Even difficult shots seem almost mathematically perfect—like a distributed sensor array is…

    That’s what they’re doing. It falls into place in the back of my mind down in that deep corridor. The implants link them on a quantum level. Even without those hyper-expensive armors sitting in storage on the Kongo, they spent several hours on the way here fitting replicated copies of an older, transporter-friendly design used, so I was told, at Son Tay.

    Klikkity-kilk! Tink-tink-tink!

    “You okay back there Mum?”

    “Fine…” I am fine… I’m also sick at what these kids have become—but there’s no time for that now. we’ve reached a bulkhead door.

    “Better spin up that crew-served, Ma’am, we’re about to open the door.”

    They’ve rearranged their formation to take use of the limited cover the door-sill offers, creating an interlocking field of fire in which the troopers on the right, are covering the troopers on the left and positioned to ‘service’ targets ahead along that angle.

    The door hisses open. And as Jim would have described it, it’s a target-rich environment.

  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited November 2018
    Amanda Nung.

    Red outlines snap into focus in my vision and it’s all in the reflexes, snapping shots with the pistol. A Hordeling, a Ravager, a red shadow around the corner, size suggests maybe Chieftain or Slavemaster.

    The green outlines mark non-target entities. It’s not as good as using a full squad of actual suits, but the modded Silverbacks our guys drew for this work ‘well enough’ for this job…or at least, better than fatigues, soft plate and helmet cams that we had during the ground war against the Fek.

    I know who’s got which target in sight, who’s reloading, who’s moving.

    Weird enough, we catch the remaining Jem’Hadar troops by surprise-”get Odo to the turbolift.” is the first thing I say out loud since we breached the hatch, punctuating it with a two-shot double-tap that drops a wall-crawling Hordeling.

    I’d love to say we’re that badass, but honestly, the trophy goes to the shape shifter-he’s pounding them in groups of three or four at a time.

    Mag change, rack the bolt, keep firing.

    Red-turns-black, we’re holding an avalanche with a firehose, and somehow, Odo’s ‘first’ gets his attention, while two others grab Captain Kira and drag her through our firing line.

    Two mags left, then it’s pistol time.

    “Everybody who wants to live, we’re leaving!!!

    Captain McKnight’s got that crazy, crew-served heavy weapon. She opens up as a pair of Chieftains come bounding from an upper loft in the chamber.

    “Count OFF!!”

    “Captain Kira’s accounted! Founder Odo’s accounted! Four Jem’Hadar accounted!”

    “What about Weyoun?” the Commodore demands.

    “F*ck him, he didn’t listen, they’ll make another one, we’re down to bingo ammo and sidearms.” I can’t afford ‘polite’. “Wei, timer charge, fall back by the numbers to the extraction, I want it chaining by the time we’re beaming out!! HVP’s and the Commodore go first through the extract, followed by wounded!”

    “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” McKnight demands.

    “This is my specialty, ma’am, I’m breaking protocols, fine, you can court-martial me if we live!!”

    A group of bugs (Hur’q, servitor and attacker) come around the far corner, with Weyoun running his *ss off just ahead of them.

    Red outlines snap, round counts don’t look good…

    Big wave of shuttle-grade energy weapon, and the count of red outlines drops to something manageable.

    “Okay, you can stay…” I mutter, then, “Move your purple-skinned *ss Weyoun!!” I swear to the Prophets the guy must have a death-wish—eleven, maybe twelve replacements and no sense of self preservation?

    “Charges set!!” Wei announced.

    “Run, run run!! If the Demo guy’s running it’s a good idea to sprint!” We go back through a slightly altered route, passing through a room full of empty cannisters, to the corridor.

    McKnight doesn’t have linked targeting, but she’s apparently got training, nobody got crispied hammering a knot of bugs tangling with Fekkies.


    Pips drop as first the VIP’s, then the wounded, then the team back into the turbolift shaft and are beamed out.

    Leaves just me, and the Commodore.

    “Officers first, mum!” I shove her—she’s like a brick wall, but I’ve got adrenaline.

    Hordies come swarming on the walls, the floor and the ceiling, and I lift a detonator.

    “See you, suckers.” And step backward.

    I still got to see the start of the silvery flash washing up the P-way, but the transporter room of USS Kongo appears before it reaches me.

    “Everyone from base-side accounted for, Mum?” I ask the Captain.

    “Yeah, what was that?”

    “CAM dust. About two kilos of fullerene antihydrogen, when it’s out of the grenade we call it ‘fuller’s soap’, just the thing to scrub an infestation.” I take a breath. “Wei was distributing it on the way in, left the main cans open with a small guncotton charge to distribute it like a fuel-air device.”

    “You… use antihydrogen fullerene as grenade filler?”

    “Only very small amounts.” I hold my fingers in an expression of ‘tiny’. “Mostly for bunker busting or vac work, since the gamma pulse is…significant. But a two-kilo charge is usually torpedo filler.” I grin, “It’s cheaper and more stable than Trilithium Resin.”

    “Also more likely to go boom if someone tags your equipment.” She shakes her head.

    “It’s not enough though—there’s still tens of thousands down there—”

    She’s grinning. Her engineers are grinning also. As is, no, can’t be. One of the Jem’ hadar. Must have been a twitch, they don’t grin. “Not for much longer. Chief, what’s the ETA on our guests? And are the party favors ready?”

    The Tellarite with a beard that would make a hover biker proud just nods his head. “Another eleven minutes. We’re set. The other ships had some issues with the orders at first, but they’re standing by.”

    Ten thousand against one...

    Misty fields before me
    Forces assembled here still wander in their dreams
    Bloodshed forthcoming with the dawn
    A burning horizon beyond

    I have arrived, time for war
    Gather your shields and your swords
    Try as you might to defeat me
    I come as the wind, laying to waste all who dare stand in my way
    Why risk your lives when there's only one I need

    He’s using you so he can live
    Where is the honour in this?
    It’s needless to die, I won’t stop until I win
    End all the cowardice now
    Boy, I know you’re there, you hide behind a wall of men
    Your army, it cannot defend if you won’t lead them

    Ten thousand against one
    They will rise, ten thousand against one
    I’ll stand my ground, ten thousand against one

    See the spirits lifting, drifting upon the wind
    Their bodies left behind
    Echoing screams still remain heavy on the breeze
    And whisper through the trees

    Silence, follows me
    A thousand voices calling
    My name, Immortal
    You can't run from your fate

    Ten thousand against one
    They will rise, ten thousand against one
    I’ll stand my ground, ten thousand against one

    Unleash the Archers, “Ten Thousand Against One”
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited November 2018
    Kanril Eleya, USS Bajor.

    “Time to contact?” Gaarra asks.

    “Ten minutes,” Chief Daahjam reports. “Hang on, aspect change in target—looks like half the Fek fleet is turning to meet us. Time to target now… seven minutes.”

    That is a lot of ships. But we’ll thin them somewhat.

    Admiral, I was just thinking…

    “Spit it out, M’Karret.”

    I was thinking that this is quite possibly your stupidest idea yet, ma’am.

    I have to laugh at that. “I think you may be right about that.”

    “If I had a better one I’d tell you,” Gaarra puts in. “But you know, if it’s stupid and it works…”

    I smile, then move forward and kiss him. “I love you, Reshek Gaarra,” I tell him in Bajor’la.

    “I love you, Kanril Eleya.”

    Reluctantly I break away and run back two compartments to CIC, grabbing my headset off my chair. “Flag to all all units, weapons free. Drop warp, give ‘em a concentrated dose of the Hell they came from, get ‘em chasing us and run.”


    “May the Prophets walk with us all.”

    Iris Michaels, MHSS Sierdegardt

    I should be going home… who am I kidding? I’d probably be sitting at Base Alpha, or doing customs patrol, envying them. I’m doing the job I trained for, the job I sacrificed to get, commanding a starship.

    In the Gamma Quadrant, so how cool is that?

    “Four minutes to intercept, Captain.”

    “Bring us to Red Alert, all hands to stations.”

    “Yes ma’am.”

    “Enzo, Major Phan is acting CAG—she’s fought Fek’Ihri before, our pilots haven’t, she speaks with my voice, understand?”

    My own shuttle boss, Enzo Piele, glares. “Yes ma’am.”

    I turn to Major Phan. “Launch fighters, Major. You’ve got yours, and you’ve got mine. Don’t waste lives.”

    “I’ll do my best, mum,” she agrees, and heads down to the shuttle bay.

    All the preparation. I saw what the Fek did to the USS Tiburon, I saw the after action reports on Fek-Day, saw the holos of the ground warzone hell, visited the ruins, I’ve read the words on the memorials…

    But I wasn’t there, and some of those pilots were.

    One of the physical modifications Starfleet did to the Dakotas they gave Moab, was an expanded flight deck—because the MCDF uses a lot of fighters and light ships. The modification was significant enough that we’re carrying a wing of Starfleet’s own Peregrine-class ‘shuttle’ fighters. Over the last month, I’ve had tinbenders and engineers working on modifying them to at least match performance with our sister-service’s Mark Fourteen version of the To’duj. Unofficially, the mods have been approved under the moniker ‘Hellcat’, to match the Cold Butte designation for theirs as “Phantom III”.

    The ‘Phantoms’ will be the attack ships. Ours are supposed to cover their backs while they haul in heavy antishipping loads on those underwing hardpoints.

    Now we see if all that work resulted in something.

    “All batteries prep for engagement, attack pattern Delta, Mister Qabbas, you may fire at will. Conn, crash-translate on Flag’s signal!”

    You can mount a stern chase at warp speed, but if you try to close head-on you’ll be in and out of range faster than the best targeting computer known to man can possibly engage. We know it, and the Fek seem to know it, too. Ahead of us, the USS Snohomish, the Bajor, and the Nighthawk are wedge-formation, hammering with their own phasers, the bright pinpricks of fighter squadrons from the Nighthawk and the Bajor herding and fighting the enemy’s suicidal smallships. The Marine ships are in full evasion mode, delivering pinpoint cannon and torpedo volleys and jinking away from the enemy’s deadly caresses.

    It would be beautiful, if it was a natural phenomena, if the gas clouds were nebular.

    But this isn’t beautiful. This is carnage.

    “This is not war. This is pest control.” I say it, because I need to believe it, to believe we’ve got the advantage, and that Admiral Kanril knows what she’s doing.

    Kanril Eleya, USS Bajor

    The fighter screen is doing their job. Between the modified Peregrines from the Sierdegardt, the temporarily separated VF-22 from the Frazier Bay’s original complement, our own combat-model runabouts, and the Romulans, they’re keeping the ‘suicide fighters’ from the Fek carrier off and inflicting mission kills on Fek Frigates as opportunity arises.

    I watch as our combined fire from the force finishes the Fek’Ihri’s lighter ships. The Fek’Ihri are one of those ‘special cases’ recently adopted in the warbook: like the Borg, their particular and peculiar biology makes them the mortal enemy of every other sentient lifeform by necessity.

    There can’t be negotiation with a species that needs to consume sentient life to reproduce, even if they’d ever evinced any willingness.

    Gaarra and M’Karret concentrate fire into a trio of Fek cruisers, lance after golden-red lance of nadions pounding their shields.

    The nearest cruiser’s shields collapse. M’Karret sees it before I can call it out and finishes it off with a volley of quantums. The other two seem to shy away.

    “Keep moving! Keep moving!”

    We’re in range of the carrier! Opening fire!

    Part of my mind is struck by the familiarity. The Dominion fights like Starfleet. Granted, more aggressively, considering they’re all clones and therefore expendable—I hate that word—but there’s clear division between heavy ships that barrage in formation and skirmishers that attack in a swarm, and they protect their flag vessels. These Fek’Ihri fight like Klingons: no ‘wall of battle’, they fight as individuals and small flights.

    So do I. Admiral Alcott may have trained me in space tactics, but static formations don’t suit me: we never had enough ships for that in the Militia—I may have just been a junior NCO but I paid attention—and our ground instructors taught us to fight in fast-moving squads without any guarantee of artillery or air support. It’s nice to have, but if worst comes to worst it’s the infantry and light vehicles that can get away in a hurry and hide. And Rule #1 of the Bajoran way of war, is never be where the enemy expects you to be, particularly where you last fired from. Always be somewhere else. In space, that means jink frequently and at random. Thruster fuel is cheap, even to maneuver a battleship. Lives aren’t.

    I’ve also always been more hands-on than Alcott. I direct our ships with careful flicks of my gloved hands, concentrating two, then three, then four ships on the carrier. Orange, green, and blue bolts and beams course in; red and yellow strike back.

    We hurt it bad, batter down a shield facing and blow out a hangar deck, but it’s still shooting at us, and I can see the damage reports coming in. Bajor is down to 60% shields on that flank and the neutronium-infused hull armor is heating up.

    The view out the camera starts to shift. Gaarra is rolling ship.

    Admiral, more enemy ships are coming in! One big one, vector zero-nine-zero by two-one-six!

    Yep, time to go. “Phase two, variant Juliet! Disengage as you can and recall fighters by flight!”

    The wounded carrier is turning as Lieutenant th’Rashin at conn guns it. They’re concentrating fire. “Reinforce port shields!” Gaarra orders.

    Then, a flurry of small objects launch from the undamaged side of the carrier. The computer helpfully flags them as priority targets, not that I needed the advice. Figures, now they launch those… “Captain, recommend switch a couple arrays to point defense fire, now!

    Do it! Do it now, Tramailan! Do it right the phekk now!

    They’re small targets, but they’re surprisingly tough, and a Galaxy-class starship has most of the arrays on the dorsal surface. They know it—those boarding pods are coming from underneath the carrier, and they aren’t just carrying troops.

    Two go down, then three, but they’re below the firing arc of the dorsal arrays and the other cruisers can’t get a clear shot. The ship starts to bank to port as the warp drive charges, trying to get more guns in line. The Frazier Bay swoops past trying to play catcher with the Fek shuttles.

    One still gets through. And by some technological witchcraft, a gift of the Pah-wraiths, or sheer dumb luck, it’s got our shield frequency. It punches through unhindered and hits the ship in the neck, smashing its way through armor and pressure hull at Decks 19 and 21, coming to rest somewhere above the forward torpedo tube.

    Captain Reshek Gaarra, Bridge.

    “Damage control team’s not responding—” Then there’s screams over the intercom, and a howl that sends Sheri’s eyes wide. She’s slamming her helmet closed as we finally go to warp.

    “Sound intruder alert! All hands, prepare to repel boarders! Lung!! Get a fireteam up to Deck 20 Forward right now, we’re breached!!” Maintain control. “Sheri, you’re not going down there. Procedure Six One Nine, like we drilled.”

    “Yes sir,” she nods. I turn to the engineer station. “Isolation procedure, depressurize the adjoining sections, if the crew’s paid attention to their training they’re already in their suits.”

    I saw the after-actions on Goralis, and what happened to ships that the Fek boarded who didn’t follow those procedures. Eleya didn’t notice, I guess, that I spent a lot of time working to integrate the Marines, and part of that was learning what they went through. But she knows I paid attention to the briefings after the battle of Goralis, and now that we’re seeing them, here… I know what to do.

    “Bring up the gun-cam from VFA-11/B1,” I order. The fighter was pushing her engines behind us, the pilots had been forced to delay a little trying to shake Fek fighters before going for the barn, and they weren’t in a position to beam out. Somehow she’s still with us, got just close enough chasing that last bird to land inside our warp field.

    Fate—it protects fools, small children, ships named Enterprise, and apparently it also has a soft spot for lunatics from Moab III.

    “Analysis, Walford. What am I looking at?”

    The image enhances.

    “Fek shuttle, one of their warseed carriers.” She says it dully, like she’s trying to turn her feelings off. “Figure a warseed that’s active and probably two ravager-stages, ten hordies. Everyone in that area’s infected at stage one if they aren’t already dead. The updated biofilters in the service ducts should be able to scrub the spores, but there’s going to be primary infection.”

    “How many people in that section?” Eleya asks me. I didn’t hear her come forward from CIC.

    “A little under two hundred, ma’am.”

    “That’s two hundred potential enemy combatants, who know your codes, the ship’s layout, everything that the people in that area knew, and they’re going to be hungry,” Sheri states. “Immunity rates were really random, but real low. The Fek got into the disaster shelters in Canh Tho by knowing the overrides. Canh Tho Arcology was like a ground-bound starship, the spread was fast. The city fell in minutes, twelve newts out of a little under five hundred thousand residents.” Sheri begins fidgeting with her hands. “Spread is geometric once isolation’s breached—they spread or they eat. It slows down once the phase one spores are used up, and goes to stage two—which basically devolves to an eat/breed cycle.”

    Her tone is hollowed out horror. Even Eleya looks nervous. “Is there a treatment?”

    Sheri’s eyes are haunted. “We never found one. That’s part of why a warseed on an inhabited world is a Case White situation in the Klingon Empire. Lees has some theories but he’s on Earth…”

    “What theories?” Eleya demands.

    “Flood the area with protomatter. Nuke from orbit, it’s the only safe way—a G-bomb is the only real guarantee of getting them all. Wouldn’t help here, we need to burn it out… warp plasma might work, or thalaron pulses, they’re still organic…”

    She’s reciting some pretty awful options, and she looks like she’s being sickened by it.


    Leftenant Lung’s buttoned up. “The senior cadet’s ideas track with what we know,” she reports. “There was a penetration of two Federation vessels at Goralis—one was lost, the other lost most of their crew but survived by flooding the infected areas with high-energy plasma, then venting the whole mess into space. And she’s right about timing—we talk too long and your options are blow up the ship, become Fek-chow… or become Fek’Ihri.”

    “I’m not losing my ship. Best scenario for saving the most people?” I demand. I know what the answer is, but I want… I want someone to offer some other way, to be honest.

    “Can they survive hard vacuum?” Eleya asks.

    “Fekkies aren’t immune to vacuum, but spores are. Vent warp or EPS plasma on the affected decks, flood ‘em, then vent to space, send in suited forces to root out anything that was smart enough to seal itself in. We don’t have a Thalaron gennie and the Confederacy signed the same accords, so a plasma-flush followed by hunt-and-kill on anything still alive after,” Lung states.

    I can’t ask my security people to do that…

    “We’ll do it,” Lung says. “Just prep the site first, and when it’s over, your hands are clean, sir. It’s what we’re for. I’ll take the other Siegfrieds in the HHC company for the sweep-and-kill, and when it’s over, you can trial us if you need to to protect your own, you can blame us for the deaths, and for anyone who might have been immune dying.”

    “That’s not my way, Leftenant,” I tell her, reaching for the intercom to page Main Engineering. “Get moving. Tell anyone who had their suit sealed already to get out now. Commander t’Mahhlie, redirect plasma and EPS to flood forward compartments on Deck 20, sustain to saturation, then vent to space on my mark.”

    I have to protect my ship and crew first. Sometimes being Captain means you’ve got blood on your hands.

    She’s going to break up with me, I know it… And then, Eleya grabs my arm. Not to stop me, but in support.

    “Do it, Captain,” she orders.


    I’ll never sleep well again. Prophets forgive me.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited November 2018
    Sheri Walford

    I expected someone would object—and I wasn’t wrong. One of the senior bridge officers lost it when the Captain ordered half of Deck 20 flushed with plasma from the warp core.

    The problem with a sleeper-hold, is that if you hold it too long, you can cause brain damage or death. The idea is to interrupt the flow of life-giving oxygen to the brain by blocking not the airway, but the major artery, just long enough to put someone down.

    They don’t teach Marines not to kill—my training is more ‘kill/hurt/maim’ than ‘stop without long term injury’, but I’ve had supplementary training since.

    It’s different from using the lethal force moves, and I’d rather have a security guy doing it, than trying to hold back and do it myself, but you do what you have to when someone turns violent—just not more than you have to.

    Overkill is not okay just because someone’s grief-stricken and upset.

    “He’s out.” I let him drop to the deck, and one of the Security guys picks up Lieutenant M’Rraala’s phaser from behind the console where I kicked it.

    The Admiral’s proud of me—three years ago and this guy would need serious medical treatment.

    As it is, the security men still used physical restraints and a medic did a bioscan before taking this guy to the sick bay on his way to the brig.

    “Operation complete,” the Romulan at the ops console says. Then she mumbles, “U’arhem thei’ishae h’rau Ariennyeh’ri.

    “Lung,” Captain Gaarra starts, his voice cracking, then he gulps slightly and clears his throat. “Get your Marines in there to clear it.”

    “Aye Sirrah.” Lung’s tone is cold-zoned.

    I know where she's going and I'm seriously glad I don't have to go down there again. one lifetime of nightmares is quite enough for Sheri Walford, thank you very much...but at least it's not Canh-Tho arcology down there.

    Scary's on the wall
    Scary's on his way
    Watch where you spit (I'd advise you wait until it's over)
    Then you got hit
    And you shoulda known better
    And we die young
    Faster we run Down,
    down, down you're rollin'
    Watch the blood float in the muddy sewer
    Take another hit
    And bury your brother
    And we die young
    Faster we run
    Scary's on the wall
    Scary's on his way
    Another alley trip Bullet seek the place to bend you over
    Then you got hit
    And you should of known better
    Faster we run
    And we die young!

    Alice in Chains, "We Die Young"
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited November 2018
    Sheri Walford, age 16, Several Years ago, Fek-Day plus 7 weeks, Moab III...
    Come to Canh-Tho! The Federation's latest and greatest civilian housing experience! We have it all, safety, security, comfort and beautiful views in the exciting border sectors!

    "how many people live here again?" Lt. B'rok, our KDF advisor and acting company commander asked.

    "Half a million residents, The feds brought them in from the arcologies in Jerusalem and Mecca about twenty two years ago, part of some kind of 'diversity initiative' to mix in arabics and muslims to 'even out' our so-called imbalance." Cafferty's alright for a Dinh Diep fisherman, but he's got some nasty prejudices that they didn't manage to beat out of him at Devil's Canyon.

    "Hey, this Pete's hometown, Caffy." Lees snaps, "Put a sock in it-at least in front of us Gentiles okay?"

    "I don't mind." Pete Charon (not his real name) is smaller than most of the guys, but even Caffy leaves him alone.

    "Set." I back off the breaching charge, "they got signals from what level again?"

    "Level eighteen, survival shelter on eighteen west reports they're secure and airtight." the Klingon EllTee states, "women and children mostly. hero's work."

    the charges go off, and we drop down the turbolift shaft. Canh Tho was built at Utopia Planitia by Yoyodyne and shipped here, whole, with a one-use warp drive and seated down on the opposite bank of the Little Mekong, across the bay from Xiao Loc. They brought the settlers afterward, and they stayed indoors and for the most part, we didn't bother them. Half a million Earthers crammed into a three kilometer box sitting on bedrock. They claimed it was 'experts at desert cultivation' but aside from the greenhouses and the shopping mall on the ground level, they might as well have been from another planet-mostly.

    a few Muzzies like Pete do move out. usually going to New Saigon, but sometimes moving out into the back country areas, wanting to be outside no-matter-what. we even have a few in the movement-wait, the Corps now.

    but most stay in the Arcology.

    Stayed. stayed in the arcology.

    there's blood all over the walls down here. rags. I stopped looking too close at the rags in Xiao Loc. I know what they are.

    I can already see where the emergency shelter is...and something ain't right.

    no claw marks on the hatch.

    Phoebe sees it too, and she raises a clenched fist. we spread out and hug the walls. B'Rok signs me forward to check the door.

    the seal's indicator shows unbroken, but something ain't right.

    I punch in the seven digit code, and the door hisses open.

    first thing you notice in Fek Meatlocker, is the smell. Human waste, blood, rotten meat. The Ravager damn near drops on top of me and Lees dusts her with the shotgun. any hope of a stealthy rescue? out the window. The Fekkies must've owned the site from day one... "Fall back!"

    I can see past fang-momma.

    Women and kids. strung up, stuck to the walls with this mucous webbing, grubs burrowing into their living bodies.

    so many...

    Lt. B'Rok might be tough as a Klingon, a big tough warrior of House Duras, so he said, but he freaks.

    Thankfully, Lees is here. "Grab the EllTEE, DUST OFF!! Walford, two thermobarics and close that god damn door!"

    I pop two thermobaric grenades into the locker, and hit the emergency close as the other Fekkies who were...doing whatever they're doing when they're not eating folks, start coming out of the side areas of the chamber.

    "Let's go, everything on the next two levels knows we're in here now!" Lees gets us out of there, Lisa Q's got our KDF Ell-Tee doped to his ridges on something but he's like catatonic. I guess they don't teach these scenarios at Klingon Academy.

    "What's he saying?" Pete asks me, when we reach the balcony and the Klingon built 'baby shuttle' we came in on.

    "you don't wanna know, Pete." Lees says.

    "He's saying he's failed." I tell her.

    we get out of there before the fekkies come swarming along the face of the structure...

    Sheri Walford, aboard USS Bajor, Gamma Quadrant, 2415 current era...

    I snap back into 'now'. I really want to ask permission to throw up, but there's work to be done. "Miss Walford, take the Lieutenant's station." Captain Reshek tells me. He's still holding it together, I can't embarrass him or Kanril.

    "Aye sir."

    "Miss Walford...you zoned out for a moment."

    "I remembered...something." I tell him, "sir."

    in the three weeks we tried to get survivors out of Canh Tho, we found twelve. Twelve people out of half a million that we could save.

    The Captain doesn't need to know that, and I don't need to have this crawling fear in my gut that what he did? might not have been enough.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    [out of story]

    From: "Information for shore leaves on Confederacy worlds; Moab III"

    What: Canh-Tho Arcology, Moab III
    When: 2361 to 2410
    Prime Contractor: Yoyodyne Systems, Mars
    Initial construction: Utopia Planitia shipyard

    What is it?

    An Arcology is colloquially defined as "A city in a building". As mankind first expanded into the solar system, and then to the Stars, the concept was revisited several times as a more efficient way to handle large population concentrations and make best use of limited resources, especially in hostile environments. The Colony on Turkana IV was an earlier version of this type.
    The United Federation of Planets Colonial Development bureau revisited the concept of pre-constructed Arcology systems for colonies established in less than ideal conditions. During the 2381 "Diversity made Manifest" program, Colonial Development assigned Arcology 221 to be delivered to an established colonial site for stress testing. The world chosen was the marginal world of Moab III, and the site chosen, was a coastal region laced with extremely dense bedrock, on the delta of a major river. It was sited directly across this river from the established city of Xiao Loc, and the intention was to present the restive local population with "A demonstration of the benefits of the Federation."

    Canh Tho was built with all the little luxuries available at the time to life in a major urban center, from up-to-date replicator technologies and bioneural gel-pack management systems, to complete radiation shielding, theaters, holodecks, social areas and cultural centers. In some respects, the designers worked to make it more comfortable than standards in many of Earth's largest cities.

    The Arcology was built with a capacity of nearly one million citizens, but only half a million volunteers were found willing to move into the site, due to how far from the center of Federation culture it was, and when opened to Moab III's populace, few natives were willing to move in.

    In 2369, Canh Tho was officially registered by the advisory council (the locals elected to advise Colonial Development's governor, whom was appointed from Paris on Earth) as a separate city, rather than as the replacement for the city the original colonists established.

    Shortly after, representatives from the new colonists were elected to join the Advisory Board, obtaining two seats on the fifty member group. Canh Tho's role in Moab's internal politics was defined for the following decades as being relatively minor, the groups that ColDev had recruited came mostly from Indonesian and various Arabic and islamic enclaves on Earth. This was actually thought to be a good idea by Colonial Development's heads, as one abrahamic religious minority really doesn't look all that different from another in the halls of Paris.

    A handful of Historians specializing in pre-Federation Earth history warned that this might not, in fact be the smartest move-planting what amounts to an Islamic Castle sponsored by a Socialist state, in the middle of a bunch of anticommunists and variant jews who left earth specifically over conflicts believed long over.

    Unlike the feared outbreak of violence, (which certainly led to the smaller-than-expected new colonist group), relations were peaceful, if 'separate'. integration and trade were slow to take form, and the new colonists slowly, reluctantly, integrated into a role in Moabite society, trading contract expertise on an individual level for various goods and services, but remaining apart.

    Canh Tho's population by 2406, felt somewhat betrayed and abandoned by the Federation, and the stripping of industries on Moab as part of the early policy of "Demilitarization" hit them particularly hard. While this resulted in a fairly respectable turnout for protests, and an election turnout that saw the Arcology joining the rest of Moab III in seeking independence, the social barriers, barriers of language, customs, and religion remained. Few 'fighters' joined the Independence Movement, and few volunteers stepped forward to join the newly formed Moab Confederacy Defense Force. Those that did, were often fleeing some situation in the arcology, whether family arguments, debts, or simply as adventurers.

    In 2410, this came to a head. Canh Tho fell on Fek-day and efforts to rescue the half million residents only managed to net twelve survivors.

    everyone else, had been converted or consumed.

    Amir Alim, (Social Welfare Party), the spokesman for the dozen or so residents that MCDF search teams were able to extract, is now the elected representative from the East District of Xiao Loc, across the river from the Arcology's former site...

    "...they didn't try very hard. when you compare the fighting to clear Grantsville, or Xiao Loc, the hundreds of refugees from New Saigon? we were almost an afterthought..."

    This view is countered by Governor Donald Odelaw, (Reconciliation Party):

    "MCDF personnel lost trying to clear Canh Tho and recover civilians exceeds the number of survivors by a significant proportion. 2,750 KDF and MCDF personnel died trying to retake the Arcology and save its residents."

    all that remains of Canh Tho Arcology is a half-kilometer tall, three kilometer wide by three kilometer long square of superheated alloy slag, surrounded by scorched soil. Below ground, the bedrock bears crystalline testimony to the shattering power of the orbital bombardment that was the final, only answer to prevent the Fek'Ihri infesting the site from using the resources left there to spread again.

    at the foot of it, where the Monotrains used to bring shoppers to the ground-level Bazaar, is a white, stone mosque. it is the only islamic house of worship on Moab III, a world with many churches and synagogues, but it is also treated as inviolate by the non-believers of that world. The Mosque is attended by a small staff, mostly offworlders.

    inscribed on the ruin, are the names of the residents who died there, much like other monuments on Moab III, where the names of the lost could be found.

    When visiting:

    1. You are advised to review files on proper conduct at religious shrines.
    2. sunblock. Moab III is a binary system, and their urban areas don't have supplementary radiation shields.
    3. Review your innoculations when visiting this world-Moab III has a number of dangerous parasites and microbe forms. also be cautious as several venomous lifeforms live there.
    4. Hydration; Moab III is warmer than Earth normal due to the higher radiation. Dehydration is a frequent problem for first time visitors.
    5. update your universal translator with dialect spoken here. The majority language is a pastiche of Viet, H'mong, Hebrew, 21st century American, and th'lingan-Hol (due to a large minority of Ethnic Klingons). Federation Standard English works fine in the Canh Tho area, and neighbouring cities, but the further you get out from the site, the more you'll need to use your translator.
    6. Review Starfleet Pamphlet 8510/b, offending the local religious views is Dangerous, even if the Muslim clerics and visitors may be tolerant, a local Jew or Christian may choose to elect to take offense on their behalf. in short, show respect, Starfleet can't intervene if you find yourself imperiled due to being insufficiently respectful at the Canh Tho site (or any of the 'war graves' sites on Moab III.)
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    [further out of story]

    alright, so what was the point of this? When Sander_223 and I first created the setting, a whole lot of what wound up happening in those stories went into the aether as being 'too much', or 'not to theme'. Some of the best scenes I came up with, and some of the best ones he came up with, wound up getting cut, or compressed, and sometimes 'rule of natural consequences' had to give way to 'rule of cool'.

    For instance, when we posted Liz Tran's death scene, the original (now lost forever) was pretty damn graphic, practically to the point of being disgusting. Sander talked me down, though he didn't initially want me to have her die-especially that way. I wound up sticking with Stephen King's advice on 'don't show everythign, but imply it' and it worked great.

    except that when it came to the wider setting, I didn't do such a good job. A lot of people (rightly) criticised what I was doing as fanwanking a political viewpoint and playing up a stereotype of the 'plucky libertarian heroes' vs. the bumbling bureaucratic not-heroes.

    I say rightly because I'd failed in the earlier stories, failed in telling the story, failed the audience. Sheri Walford first appears in our biggest epic, "Long road to ruin". One of the main things I kind of failed to get across, with her, and Phoebe, and Lees and the rest, was that most of the ground war against the Fek was a string of utter defeats. They won it, sure, but their biggest actions, the fights that defined characters like Sheri Walford, Lisa Quhon (later Lisa Makbar), Petra "Pete" Cheron, Judah Lees, and Phoebe Kian-the 'younger generation" of Moabites, (along with Peregrine Wahlberger) were fights they lost, missions they failed. For every remarkable tale like the Son Tay POW rescue, or Kanril Eleya's first forays into the setting, there were a string of bad experiences. (you don't give up and call down orbital bombardment if you're kicking TRIBBLE.)

    the ground war scarred a generation, and left scars that will last for generations. In a way, it showed everything that was wrong with the government Liz and her collaborators had come up with, the months of sustained horror, the constant grinding of failure after failure, desperation moves and frantic escalations, their society was essentially torn apart, no matter how much any one of them would insist it wasn't.

    IF their elections had not been interfered with, the result would probably have been the same. a handful of years of independence, and then the sledgehammer loss of 120 or so million people and a nine month war on the ground? One of the main motivators of the Discharge Act was basically public shock-a public desire to back away from what they'd accepted as necessity, to feel 'safe' and try to force their universe to make sense.

    Societies in shock rarely treat their veterans well in the aftermath of a horrific war, especially one where the society in question, the civilians, see those veterans as 'The guys who lost'.

    Nung and Sheri? both went through this, so did Peregrine, and so did thousands of their fellows. while Starfleet and KDF officers cite Son Tay and Goralis, and those were proud moments, a lot of the public on Moab, especially coming to the 2412 elections, blame them for the loss of New Saigon, for the effective genocide-by-failure of Canh Tho, for the the empty places in their lives and empty holes in their hearts from losses during the Fek'Ihri invasion, and that's mainly because the public can't reach into the afterlife to punish the leaders that they, the public, followed into naive independence and aggressive actions-some of the public blame the soldiers for the war.

    it's incredibly unfair, but there you have it. a lot of Americans, after Vietnam, left and didn't come home because of it, some left in a bottle, or on a plane, or on foot out into the bushes, some went back to asia, and some sat down in a quiet place with a loaded magazine, and left this world for good.

    This also happened to Germans after both the first world war, and the second-soldiers, mind you, not paramilitaries like the SS, but just soldiers. for all the claims of "Support the troops" there are always a vocal group that overtly or otherwise, blames the troops for the war, for the loss, for their loss.

    Sheri and Nung and the survivors of the MCDS Yoann Teena were incredibly fortunate to wind up on Bajor and to have someone like Kanril Eleya, and the Alenis and Fana families to take them in. Because for a lot of the ones you don't see 'on screen', there wasn't, because people are people, both good, and bad.

  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited November 2018
    [out of story]enough fevered, sleep deprived and infected-sinus woolgathering. Back to our story![/i]

    Marsilla McKnight, USS Kongo.

    The problem, with being an elite force—and being told by your leaders all your short lives that you are, and pulling off impossible feats through bravado and a large helping of luck—is they tend to not view others as being up to their standards. I saw it with Nung. she’s an eighteen-year-old noncom who felt the need to push others aside when there was a new threat.

    Albeit, she’s a damn good combat leader. How much of that is her and how much is the Frankenstein modifications they did to her is a different, more troubling question.

    I heard from Sytav that the MCDF ships with us weren’t happy about their instructions either. Their instincts, their training, was to close with the enemy and kill or be killed. That wasn’t how Starfleet worked, mine or the modern one. I walked over and tabbed the com on the transporter. “Ambassador Odo. how much longer do your people say we need to burn on the base?”

    On the screen Odo was consulting with one of his Firsts. Weyoun looked extremely upset, almost bleeding from the mouth from biting his tongue trying not to speak against a Founder. “Fifteen minutes at current power, six if you ramp them to full.

    “Perfect timing. Alright, i’m heading to the bridge. (name), stand by to warp out of system as soon as the hostiles arrive in weapons range.”

    “Wait,” Nung interrupts, “we’re running?

    “Not exactly,” I answer as I enter the lift. Both she and several of the Marines look furious. That’s ok. We step onto the bridge, with her still complaining.

    “Ma’am, you don’t understand. We have to stop them. Have to. They’ll wipe out everything they touch!”

    “I’m aware of that,” I say, as Sytav nods to me from the command chair. “Status, XO?”

    “Party favors are in place, the asteroid base won’t be in an optimal positioning when they arrive-but It will be close enough.”

    “Contact. Long range Sensors.” Lieutenant Der Tryhs says from the science station. I catch a bit of fear smell from her-her mother died to these things. I give her a reassuring nods. It was her plan after all. And a good one.

    “How many we looking at?”

    “Well over a hundred vessels.”

    “Captain!” Nung almost pleads.

    “Think, Warrant Officer. There are weapons, and then there are weapons. I catch her glancing at the sensor plot—as well as the energy readings from the station we just left.

    “Looks like there may have been some ships in storage there.” Sytav mutters

    “Probably. Oh well. So we’ll get a few leakers. Ramp up the power on the phaser emitters to full power. Shields to maximum, standby to warp for five seconds.” I grinned. Part of my thinking in this was, “What would Jim Kirk do?” Probably everything I did, including this. I tap a control on the console; classical music begins playing over the hailing frequencies. I watch the countdown, timed it just right. The piano chords are echoing across the bridge as things begin to happen, and Elton John just makes it perfect.

    Ever since I was a young boy
    I’ve played the silver ball
    From Soho down to Brighton
    I must have played them all

    It’s almost pretty. The ships coming out of warp, sparkling like fireflies in the darkness. The ships coming from the bays on the asteroid, And the light beginning to grow from the asteroid—as the phaser emitters we set up inside the base finally burn through into the power core.

    But I ain’t seen nothing like him
    In any amusement hall
    That deaf dumb and blind kid
    Sure plays a mean pinball!

    Yep. Jim would definitely do this. “Now! All ships engage warp!”

    There is a streak, lasting as long as a blink as the ships, Odo’s as well jump to warp for only a few seconds. The aft sensors show the results of our handiwork—the expanding cloud from the tons of antimatter powering the base, interacting with the trilithium mines that were places on some of the larger pieces of wreckage in the debris field. Even from here the secondary explosions could be seen, both the shockwave from the bases power core, the exploding mines and asteroids that were luckily riddled with metreon gas deposits, and pieces of Fek’ihri capital ships careen into each other.

    She must have gotten it as Nung started laughing, as the debris ring from the main base could be seen on the screen expanding through the incoming ships. The screen dimmed as the automatic filters kicked in-we were only about sixty light seconds out.

    “Now, Mister Der Tryhs. How many ships are we looking at?”

    The young Lieutenant grinned ferally. “Thirteen, sir, and assorted small craft. All damaged, the tail end of their formation.”

    I contact the Founder. Odo looks pleased, the Jem’hadar as well. Weyoun is sobbing in the corner. “I think we thinned them out a bit for you. Do you want any of them intact?”

    I see no reason for it, they can’t be negotiated with.

    “I agree. All ships, watch out for debris, move in and finish clean up.”

    On the screen I see the rest of the task force begin to move forward. “Why did you ask Odo if he wanted them alive?” Nung asks.

    “It’s Dominion territory. We’re here as guests, so technically it’s his call. As was blowing the base.” I look at her. “You did get the computer core emptied before it went right?”

    “Ma’am, please,” Nung replies, mock-insulted. I laugh, then turn towards the screen as the nearest wounded Kar’fi begins to try to launch fighters. “Arm all phasers and photon torpedoes. Fire.”

    Peregrine Wahlberger, MCDS Saskatoon Hills

    “Stand by.” I emphasize. My CAG, Dinh, is time chomping at the bit to get his pilots out there.

    But Kongo, the DV Kira and the Cardassians are mopping the floors—metaphorically—with the remains of the Fek force.

    We’ve got another problem coming. The sensor platforms my pilots have been laying for the last ten hours have picked up the incoming swarm, they’re still several minutes out, which is why everyone’s in standby instead of out paying the Fekkies back for New Saigon.

    Then again, I guess paying the Dominion back would be in order—thank God I’m not a Klingon. “Maintain standby readiness. If they need an assist we can provide it, but there’s a more pressing problem, one that I’d love to see arrive after we’ve gone.”

    Odo’s still playing for time, what the hell is his problem? The source is vapour, the Dominion ships should be getting ready to make way out…


    “I said, stand by.”

    On my plot, the Hur’q are getting closer. Fifteen minutes before they’re close enough to pick up the residue frequency scatter from the fighting, if their sensors are even half as good as they seem.

    “Dinh, *sses in seats, inform the squadron it’s time.” We’re out of rope.

    My crew know what’s coming, and they’re already sealing up before I give the order to depressurize the decks.

    Positioning data appears right in front of my eyes. I know the status of the ship, the fighter wing, each squadron, all of it.

    And the enemy.

    Fighters clash immediately. Hur’q use lots of small singleships off of cruiser-level carriers, they overwhelm Jem’hadar units as a matter of course, with heavier firepower and better maneuvering.

    Part of that, is that Jemmie dreadies tend to be pretty passive when acting as carriers—like Starfleet, the Jem’Hadar like to fight in wall-of-battle formation, and wall-of-battle is settled more often by which side can batter the others down in a standing fight.

    MCDF and the more successful Klingon units are skirmish fighters. We have to be, we’re always outnumbered and often outgunned. My point?

    The Hur’q carrier’s destroyers are out of position, and her swarm units are already committed when we round the asteroid and come out of cloak… and my fighters are in position to jump his remaining escorting forces—while his shields are reinforced in the direction of CUV Tain’s battlegroup.

    “Surprise, motherf*cker.” They’re not expecting what’s coming, this shows in how slow the two destroyer-size vessels are to react as we pump a full spread of Morath’s fist torpedoes.
    We keep our ship-guns focused on the enemy carrier, relying on Dinh’s flyin’ circus to keep the enemy’s swarmers busy.

    Dimly, I sense Mitchellville decloaking for a strafing pass on one of the destroyers. My focus is on the target, which erupts in an antimatter fireball as one of our salvoed torpedoes burrows in before detonation.

    A victory roll leading straight into an Immelmann turn for us, another enemy ship explodes.

    The second needle-like enemy destroyer starts hitting her reverse thrusters as she’s suddenly not in a stern chase.

    They didn’t expect us to do this, and truth be told, you can’t do it in a stock QIn—the inertial dampeners won’t take flying backward and sideways in a tractor beam bubble.

    His hull didn’t like eating a brace of disruptor cannons firing at closing range, and really didn’t like the spread of photon torpedoes following those disruptors.

    Point defense systems along our dorsal and ventral hull cleared the incoming probes and swarmers. I almost wish I could see this with my eyes, but visual spectrum’s limited.

    I switch targets but the next cruiser has seen us coming; those tough shields of theirs are already reoriented. Then Tess Phohl’s battlecruiser arrows past, rolling like a bullet. She suddenly cuts thrust, snaps her bow up and lays a withering barrage of phaser and torpedo fire into its wide open underside and far flank.

    “Sassy, Sue,” Tess’s musical voice comes into my headset as the battlecruiser reengages thrust and rights her course. “They’re flanking Kongo."

    “I see it, Sue; we’re not letting them. VF-11, Mitchellville, Forward, clear the way!”

    We’re not retreating, the group is advancing in retrograde formation, and I’m damned if I’m letting anyone else die this time.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Marsilla McKnight, USS Kongo

    The phaser arrays are being taxed with the press. This isn’t a small Hur’q task force, by comparison this is a Hur’q fleet.

    The swarmers punch into our shields with the same punch a proper starship can lay down, the medium sized vessels are proportionally powerful, and damage monitors show our allies are taking a beating while the swarm moves to block every escape route.

    There’s a concussive flash, and for a moment, a wind.

    My life support belt heats against me, as the bridge loses pressurization.

    Some of my bridge crew aren’t so fortunate, Jorunis tumbles out the opened roof stretching from the base of the viewscreen across the ceiling. And I can see our phasers firing in the darkness up close and personal.

    Nung’s got her helmet on, and she’s walking across the deck, shifting the headless corpse from a station by cutting the seatbelt. She plugs directly into the console, and the structural integrity field snaps into place.

    Thank god for this time’s more advanced technologies!

    “What are you doing?”

    “Getting shields back up,” she tells me, “coordinating DC with the marine complement by helmet link, and calculating an escape trajectory based on TACNet feeds from the Mitchellville, Sassy, and Tsushima, Ma’am.” Her voice is completely emotionless, “best evacuate the bridge deck and take your flag to aux command, ma’am, that SI field’s on battery power and the necessary EPS lines are shredded, concussion damage and fires are preventing repair, but turbolift one should be intact, it reads intact and functional. I can stay here and keep sh*t running while you’re doing it, and walk down the external once you’ve got Auxiliary Command up and ready to fight the ship.”

    “Where are the rest?” I ask.

    “First squad’s fighting fires on deck six, second squad’s handling DC in the Deflector area, Third’s EVA hull-walking to restore portside ventral phaser arrays two, four, and six. Soon as we get the fires on deck six under control. Engineering teams two and three are busy keeping the impulse engines going and team one’s out.”


    “Out the side of the hull, mum. I’ve sent to Sassy to request attempted SAR, but it doesn’t look good—they don’t have a Kivra available, and Tsushima’s shuttles are flying with the Circus trying to keep this from happening again.”

    “‘The Circus’?”

    “VF-11’s picked up an official nickname; ‘The Flyin’ Circus’,” she explains. “Dinh’s on channel and his pilots are looking for your guys, but don’t expect much. Five minutes power on the bridge SI gennies.”

    “What hit us?” I ask as my bridge crew evacuate wounded.

    “Not sure, but it was dead clever, mum. These bugs ain’t stupid, just crazy. If you want me to keep you updated, set your comm to channel sixteen.”

    I set it, and take the turbolift down to our auxiliary control room in the lower hull.

    “What’s the condition of our task force?” I ask.

    Light damage so far, nothing crippling. Tsushima took a few hits to her impulse drives but they weren’t major, Mitchellville[/i] will have to have most of their aft pressure decks re-sealed, and three Marines fell off, [/i]Saskatoon Hills has lost most of the exterior hull along the port flank, but no fatalities yet, and the bugs have splashed three of our fighters, no survivors.

    “So we took the hardest hit?”

    Technically no. Damage to Kongo is mostly cosmetic, losing some sheets of hull and a pressure in three decks is pretty light for a fight like this. Casualties are within the three percent range of official acceptable losses per Starfleet battle doctrine, and we’ve kept most of our systems up, except for the ventral shields, which the Service and Support Squad and Damage control team four are working on, should have that emitter back in ninety seconds according to your engineering chief.

    Acceptable… losses. Acceptable losses aren’t acceptable, dammit.

    First Squad’s lost three more, direct hit to the section they’re working. Signal’s gone on two, third is showing flatline, Corporal Bright’s aware of his condition, he requests permission to continue working while he’s got suit power, Captain. The embedded suit sensors in the torso and limbs he claims makes up for the loss of eyes. What should I tell him?

    The hatch to Auxiliary control opens and I step in. “Tell him to… keep working while he can.”

    I want to vomit, but the ship’s in danger.

    The hull vibrates. “Nung, what’s your condition?”

    I’m fine, no injuries to report mum.

    I’m past angry at this time. Ideally, we would have left them, but they can track us—and are faster than us. Well, faster than the Mitchellville. So we’ve got to stay here being chewed on until we get a better option. “Sciences, tell me something!”

    They stayed on the bridge. Of course those two would, Commander Zelah tends to lose herself in a problem, and Lieutenant Der Tryhs has the famous Tellarite stubborness to a fault. Fortunately they were protected, but forcefield belts aren’t designed for shrapnel-which if they don’t find an answer, they may find some.

    We’ve got it, working on the programming now—

    “How long?”

    Almost… there! Probe is loaded, Ma’am.”

    “Fire it!” On the aux control screen I see it arc away from the saucer section. Now for the tricky part. “All fighters, combat landing, repeat. Combat landings, prepare for warp on my command, course 173 mark six!” There’s a protostar with a good-sized debris field there, only eleven light-years away. We get in there, they can’t track us. Problem is getting to there.

    I see MCDF fighters, Jem’hadar snub ships and everything else that can’t warp past eight on it’s on scrambling for the nearest open deck, the Kongo’s hangar deck included. We can sort it out later who goes where. The transporter SAR crews are working as fast as the units can cycle, as we drop the shields. Hopefully the hull polarization will hold long enough.

    “All fighters recovered!” Thorson yells from tactical.

    So, this is it. “All ships, commence warp!”

    The Mitchellville is the first away, followed by the Tsushima and Defiant. Odo’s group is next, then the Tain, then finally us. The stars streak towards us—more important, though, is what’s behind us.

    “Did it work?” I ask

    Stand by Ma’am…yes. They’ve lost their formation, the jamming is working, they can’t track us.”

    I relax for the first time in what seems like hours. “Full speed to the debris field, we’ll regroup there. I need damage and casualty reports.”
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Eye on the TV
    ‘Cause tragedy thrills me.
    Whatever flavour
    It happens to be like:
    “Killed by the husband”,
    “Drowned by the ocean”,
    “Shot by his own son”,
    “She used a poison in his tea”,
    “And kissed him goodbye”.
    That’s my kind of story.
    It’s no fun ‘til someone dies.

    Don't look at me like
    I am a monster.
    Frown out your one face
    But with the other.
    Stare like a junkie
    Into the TV.
    Stare like a zombie
    While the mother
    Holds her child,
    Watches him die
    Hands to the sky,
    Crying, “Why, oh, why?”

    ‘Cause I need to watch things die from a distance.
    Vicariously I live while the whole world dies.

    You all need it too.
    Don't lie.

    Why can’t we just admit it?
    Why can’t we just admit it?

    We won’t give pause until the blood is flowing.
    Neither the brave nor bold
    Will write us the story, so,
    We won’t give pause until the blood is flowing.

    I need to watch things die from a good safe distance.
    Vicariously I live while the whole world dies.

    You all feel the same.
    So, why can’t we just admit it?

    Blood like rain come down.
    Drum on grave and ground.

    Part vampire, part warrior.
    Carnivore and voyeur.
    Stare at the transmittal.
    Sing to the death rattle.

    La, la, la, la, la, la, la-lie.
    La, la, la, la, la, la, la-lie.
    La, la, la, la, la, la, la-lie.
    La, la, la, la, la, la, la-lie.

    Credulous at best, your desire to believe in angels in the hearts of men.
    Pull your head on out your hippie haze and give a listen.
    Shouldn't have to say it all again.

    The universe is hostile, so impersonal.
    Devour to survive.
    So it is. So it’s always been.

    We all feed on tragedy.
    It's like blood to a vampire.

    Vicariously I live while the whole world dies.
    Much better you than I

    Tool, “Vicarious”
    Songwriters, Danny Carey, Justin Chancellor, Adam Jones, and Maynard James Keenan

    Kanril Eleya, Compartment 20-Port-C, USS Bajor.

    Nothing I can really do while we’re at warp, so I’m surveying the damage in a borrowed powersuit, with a full squad of equally equipped and very jumpy Marines watching my back, just in case anything survived.

    We know who was down here when the plasma wave came through. There’s no sign of any survivors, not that I expected to find any—the fire burned so hot we had to cut one of the pressure doors free and the walls are half-melted in places.

    The fused remains of the Fek boarding craft are two compartments forward of where we’re standing, in what had been a secondary supply office. I knew the petty officer who worked here. He knew about my sweet tooth, used to ‘find’ me chocolates and jumja sticks back when she was my ship.

    Through the deck I feel the ship rumble a bit. Fek potshot, lower-port-aft. Given the need, we could lose the Fek easy, but I need them chasing us for this to work, and that means Gaarra and the guy at Conn have to keep them interested.

    The poor b*stard. He’s good at compartmentalizing but I can tell he’s hurting. I think I’m saying a prayer for him every two minutes—obviously he passed the Bridge Officer Test to get where he is, but sending a subordinate to his death on the holodeck and doing it for real aren’t the same thing.

    He’s not the only one hurting. This was my ship for two years, and by the end of it I knew her every nook and cranny, from the little alcove in Deck 4 aft couples liked to hide in for quickies to the spot between the inner and middle pressure hulls aft of the stardrive-ventral phaser where Senior Chief Jayek thought he’d hidden the still. Some spacers insist a ship has a pagh. I don’t know if I’m superstitious enough to believe it—and Bajor’s AU isn’t personalized, so that’s out—but I fell in love with this ship long before she was ever mine, and you never forget the ones you love.

    I sniff, and hand-signal my guards to move up, trying not to look at the faint black outline of a humanoid on one wall.

    The warseed, or what’s left of it, is fetched up against the wall on the ground floor of the neck section’s main cargo bay.

    There’s what’s left of an armor suit half-melted to the deck nearby.

    One of the Marines moves up, and checks it. There’s a single gunshot after.

    “Who was it?”

    “The thing that used to be Warrant Officer Abbadon. Spores must’ve got inside his suit before he buttoned up.”

    Oh, poor Sheri.

    Funny thing about pain, though. Everyone reacts to it differently. Some people shut down. Some people try to keep going and not think about it. Some of us, though, it focuses us. What doesn’t kill you may not make you stronger, but it sure as hell makes me angrier. It’s that old frenemy of mine, that righteous fury, that thirst for bloody payback.

    Even with that fury I have to be careful. We’ve only got one shot at this and it won’t work unless we do it exactly right…
    * * *

    This is a universe full of damn weird stuff, but I’ve always thought black holes are the damndest and weirdest. It’s literally a sphere of spinning nothing, and yet it has gravity. It’s mass with no actual material.

    They’re spooky. You look at it, your brain tells you it’s a thing that cannot possibly exist.

    “You’ve got the calculations?” Gaarra asks Commander Sajoran.

    “Done ‘em twice,” the Bolian lady assures him. I’m still not sure about his science officer, although maybe I just miss having Biri Riyannis at that console. But she’s got a three-month-old to worry about now and begged off coming out from San Fran.

    Gaarra grits his teeth. “Comms, confirm the other ships have received the calculations.”

    The ship shakes again as one of the Fek get close enough to tag us. “All ships report ready.”

    And I still think this is your stupidest idea yet, El,” M’Karret chimes in.

    I shake my head. “Then let’s get stupid.”

    And we dive, line-ahead. The smaller Moab and Romulan BCs take the lead; we in the big cruisers follow close behind.

    This object is a rogue black hole, meaning it’s been floating through deep space for long enough it’s eaten its accretion disc and it’s invisible to the naked eye. But the sensors can pick up the Hawking radiation released by its slow decay, the gravity it gives off.

    The conn officer releases control to the AU-25 intelligence in the computer. If anything goes wrong now, it’ll happen far too fast for any organic to react.

    Some of the Fek break off. Some of them follow. And they’re still spread out.

    Big mistake. As we head deeper into the gravity well, some go too far below our trajectory, and then just keep going until the far deadlier monster at the bottom rips them apart.

    The computer feathers the thrusters, adjusting our course as we pull up against our momentum.

    Sno, Flag, reading a problem with your SIF.”

    Pete Wilson’s ahead of us in line, deeper in the well. His response is delayed and redshifted to a deeper pitch by gravity. “Already kicked in the auxiliary. Gel pack in the primary overheated; we’re replacing it.

    “Keep it steady.”

    “HAH! Got one!” the tactical officer crows. I check the rear sensors: there’s a small heat bloom falling toward the event horizon. I gesture for the Tiburonian to explain. “Fek battleship, black hole frelled his shields and I beamed a torpedo into him.”

    Gaarra nods. “Good shot, Commander.”

    Our course is a tight parabola across the event horizon, and we’re past our nadir approach… now. And now the gravity of a hundred suns is pulling against us as we climb away.

    Sensors still pick up a lot of Fek in the area. “What the hell was the point of—” somebody starts to say.

    “Hang on.” The sensor officer leans forward. “Ma’am, starboard bow! Warp signatures incoming at high speed!”

    I smile. “Here come the winged hussars,” I remark as forty Starfleet capital ships and their escorts erupt in a headlong rush across our course. I reach for the comms. “USS Surak, this is Myrmidon Flag. Boy, am I glad to see you, Thraz.”

    Admiral ch’Harrel appears in an inset window, the CIC deck of an Odyssey-class dreadnought behind him. “Good to see you in one piece, Kanril. I hear you’ve got some demons need slaying?

    “Ain’t that the truth,” I agree as we brake and turn to take up formation with him. Part of the fleet peels off, spreading to envelop the remaining Fek ships as the main wall-of-battle with ch’Harrel’s flagship reforms to wall abreast and advances.

    “I don’t get it, ma’am,” Lung says to me. “You said there was no way Admiral ch’Harrel could be here in time to reinforce us. What the hell happened?”

    I smile and look at Sheri. “You want to explain it to her or should I?”

    “It was your genius idea, ma’am.”

    I chuckle at that. “Funny thing about time, Leftenant, it’s a dimension of space like any other. And what happens to space when it’s next to a strong gravity field?”

    “… It stretches?” Then I see the light go on in her head. “You… you used the time dilation to—”

    “Yep. By the way,” I add as that Fek dreadnought takes phaser lance hits from a pair of Galaxy Xs and pops like an overripe moba fruit, “check with your unit purser, but technically since you reported for duty this morning, you’ve been on duty for fifty-five hours, so I think you get overtime pay at this point.”

    On the screen, ch’Harrel shakes his head and groans. “You know, Kanril, there’s this saying back on the homeworld. ‘If it’s stupid but it works, it’s still stupid and you were lucky.’

    Sheri scoffs. “Can’t be stupid, the math worked.”
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,622 Arc User
    edited November 2018
    My own views on war as a concept (with, of course, the caveat that I was unable to serve and have learned all of this secondhand) are... complicated, and Eleya reflects some of that. I think war can be justifiable under a very limited set of circumstances and we should be prepared for it, but it's never fun, nor should it be. The camaraderie between soldiers, the pride in the army, that can be fun (a common thread in war stories I've heard from veterans, including family members, is the hijinks that off-duty sailors and Marines get up to off-duty). The actual fighting never is.* With this version of Eleya, I decided to take that mindset of a soldier who was once trapped in a meandering, misbegotten, mismanaged war (the Masterverse version of the Klingon War, or in real life, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan), and turn her into somebody who decided to do something about it. Frustrating her only makes her fight harder and usually from an unexpected angle, so somewhere along the line MV!Eleya decided to become a reformer of the way the Federation approaches warfare.

    On the flipside, I wanted to include the sequence with the Fek warseed hitting USS Bajor because I worry a lot about making my heroes too effective. Eleya is a flawed character by design: she's very good at her job but she makes mistakes, whether that's interpersonal or, in this case, tactical, by misjudging positions and firing angles in the heat of battle. That warseed should not have reached its target, and the people under her paid for it, her greatest fear.

    * Of course, I'm writing mostly naval combat. It can be easier to have it seem fun if you can't actually see the enemy and comrades' deaths are generally instantaneous. So that's another writing trap I worry about.
    "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"
    (Vaporware thanks to Foundry shutdown. Thanks a frakking bunch, Cryptic.)
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Marsilla McKnight, sickbay, USS Kongo. 23 June 2415.

    “…mostly a level of exhaustion, Captain. There are neurological consequences, the human brain isn’t supposed to absorb that much raw input, even an augmented human brain.”
    Amanda Nung passed out almost as soon as we cleared the fighting and the ship was relatively safe. Now she’s in a coma, and I’m going to have to explain this to the Admiral...


    My CMO brings up her scans, and on a side screen, her genetic profile-something starfleet medical was using for diagnostic work even before I joined a hundred years ago objective time.

    “She’s a Siegfried.” I’d suspected but there wasn’t anything in her official records.

    “Yes, Captain. In our time, a victim of illegal genetic manipulation…”

    “They added a property mark...alright we can address this later, how long is she going to be incapacitated?”

    “Like I told you, Captain, it’s severe exhaustion and there are signs of some damage to the brain. It’s minor, no worse than you would see with a mild concussion, but the areas are where it’s interesting.”

    “What am I looking at?”

    “Autonomic functions, heartbeat, breathing, The damage can be easily repaired by my colleagues on the Tsushima, the Bajor or almost any other properly equipped starship, and even ours can do it with a few modifications, but she’s going to be on life support until we can actually perform the procedures.”

    “What caused it?”

    “The only thing I can think that might have caused it was her direct linking to our computers through this implant here. It doesn’t help that she’s abused the rest of her body beyond its tolerances on multiple occasions.”

    ‘Also, she’s not eighteen,” the doctor said.


    “She’s not eighteen.” A string of data flows on the screen, “There are several known ways to accelerate the development of humans, and Miss Nung was subjected to most of them.”

    “So how old is she?”

    “Resetting the projections and removing the accelerating factors, between eight and ten. Miss Nung is physically and mentally eighteen, but chronologically, she’s definitely between eight and ten years old. I would suggest there may be some psychological elements there as well…”

    It did make sense. Imprinted personality elements and a very limited ‘real life’ to temper what had to be biased programming.

    At least the Denali in my time let me grow up, even if I’m gene-engineered too. If the people behind this weren’t dead, I’d want to kill them myself.

    “The Federation may have accepted responsibility for the black project that Moab continued,” Dr. Turo mutters, “but that’s not enough. I’ve seen their casualty reports—and compared their augmentations to files in our records. The only difference between them and Khan’s troops in my opinion is these kids are tweaked for aggression and loyalty, and get an almost sexual thrill from danger.” She had a disgusted look on her face. “At least the Denali have the excuse that it was survival for them, and the only change to behaviour they made was to enhance empathy.”

    “On a world like Denali, empathy is a survival trait for the whole colony.”

    I’m reminded of what the Reman said about them…

    ”…human troops from moab? May look like people, even seem like people, but don’t mistake it, they’re nothing but weapons. Mass-produced weapons for a war that ended decades ago… they are not safe, they may seem friendly but they are dangerous in ways their designers never took a moment to consider…” At the time, I’d thought it was a bit racist.

    I look over the display at Nung’s unconscious body. The scar lines marking her skin from grafts, surgeries, and injuries.

    Too many for such a short life, even for the age she appeared to be.

    “Do what you can for her for now. Is any of it reversible?”

    “We can fix the damage easily enough, but I’d like to keep her unconscious and let her heal.” Dr. Turo tells me.


    We have time. I decide to consult an expert.

    Peregrine Wahlberger, MCDS Saskatoon Hills, unnamed system.

    When we came out here, we had six months’ stores crammed into the cargo bays, plus several decks sacrificed washrooms, assembly areas, virtually every square centimeter to spare parts.

    We don’t have to rotate showers and hot-bunking is much less of a lifestyle situation now.
    Bonus prize? It’s not because we took heavy casualties. McKnight was as good as Starfleet’s brass thought—she kept control in a crisis situation and her instincts were on the money.

    If I was like Iris, I’d wanna kiss her. As it is, I’m just glad Kanril’s gut proved out when she put McKnight in charge of the mission.

    Downside? We can afford visitors-or at least, we will be able to, as soon as we’ve finished the external repairs, re-pressurized sections, and finished bringing the hull up to ‘field standards’.

    Colonel, we’re getting pinged by the formation flag, Commodore McKnight’s wanting to talk.

    “I’ll take it here.” I’m standing on the Dorsal hull, anchored by mag-boots, watching the repairs and also, getting in some of the amazing scenery. Nebulas are fantastic visions, and there’s a protostar eating a gas giant less than 2 AU away. F*cking breathtaking view. Really…really breathtaking.

    Her image pops up in my faceplate’s HUD, framed, I can see she’s in her Aux control center still.

    “Hi, Commodore. Wonderful spot you picked for the pit-stop.” I greet her with a grin she can’t see. Right now, she’s getting a really good look at my eyeballs and eyebrows courtesy of the suit’s internal comm relay.

    What are you doing?

    “Engineering… alright, sightseeing, okay? Suit walk on the hull with my DC and repair teams, and a little bit of science. I got the bug for it when I was working for Janey Qua. We’re relatively safe here, no traffic except us for about fifteen Light years in any direction, you picked a great rendezvous point for a p*ssbreak and some hull patching.” I’m in a great mood—most of my crew is alive, we succeeded in the mission, Admiral Kanril’s force survived their brush with the Fekkies, and our Allies are happy. It’s not quite beer-thirty, but it’s not bad.

    The only thing that would make it better, is if our repair tender wasn’t tied up fixing battle damage on the main force.

    “Speaking of beer-thirty, when’s our repair tender gonna reach us?” I ask her.

    Four hours. You’ve got your crew busy with repairs?

    “Lots can happen in four hours, I’ve got my pilots and wizzos on two hour patrol sorties and my tin-benders and knuckedraggers working on the fighters with damage, the ones that aren’t, are out here with me, patching holes in the hull to repressurize decks or doing systems repair. Most of my Grunts are rotating helping-hands duty, when it’s done, some get beer-thirty and some get to finish their regular duty shift before beer-thirty, and when everyone has had beer-thirty, I intend to have vodka-o’clock, because we’ll have a full officer’s mess instead of an auxiliary storage room… and we’ll have three working showers!!” I enthuse. “With hot water, even, and more than one toilet per deck!!”

    Okay, so it’s the little things that make life better—like clearing enough of your ‘in case of emergency’ gear to actually use all the johns on the ship, or having an exercise room again.

    Or, not having to hot-bunk with the XO, Marine Complement commander, and the navigation officer-they get to have their own quarters and I get to sleep in a bed of my own. Naked if I want, instead of wearing the sealed long underwear for days at a time.

    I’m sure she understands why I’m in a good mood.

    Well, I’m interrupting your sightseeing expedition. I need you on the Kongo, immediately—are you wearing one of those suits that doesn’t play well with transporters?

    “Yeah, I’ll take a shuttle over, gimme fifteen minutes.”

    I’ll meet you on the shuttle deck here.

    Marsilla McKnight, Hangar, USS Kongo

    Wahlberger lands one of the Mark XIV’s like an expert. There’s patched battle damage and a piece of lurid nose-art just under the canopy: someone painted an old-fashioned pirate girl riding a photon torpedo like a surfboard, waving a curved sword in one hand and a Disruptor in the other, under the name “Pirate B*tch”. The words “Sassy Six” in cursive font are marked underneath.

    It’s got kill marks along the canopy’s lower seal, and a checkerboard pattern along the trailing edge of the wings.

    “You needed to see me, Commodore?” she asks. Her ‘aide of the day’ is the same skinny kid she brought with her to the DV Kira, only he’s got a single bar with a pip in center, warrant officer one, on his epaulette.

    “Toby, make sure they gas us up, and get the report from Phan on the condition of her squadrons while we’re here.” she tells him.

    “Follow me.” I lead her through the ship to the sickbay. “You took a lot of damage,” I comment.

    “Kind of came from the situation, ma’am,” she tells me. “They had a trio of heavies with escort moving to ambush your flank, we had to ambush them to buy time—it’s in my report.”

    “You couldn’t have done it another way?”

    “With better assets, sure. A proper carrier would have wings for proper carrier-borne frigates. If we’d had more stockpiles of minefield equipment we could’ve set a proper kill-box, if I hadn’t needed to use the auxiliary fuel to field fighters we could’ve been able to break off faster…”

    She lists at least ten other possible criticisms of her performance, it’s a litany of what could-have-been or should-have-beens, mostly focused on her own mistakes as being her mistakes.

    Notably, she never once puts any fault on her crew, or the Mitchellville, not even when it’s obvious that she could.

    She almost sounds like a proper Starfleet officer.

    We reach the sickbay, and I have Dr. Turo show her the scans.

    Wahlberger isn’t surprised. “Huh…”

    “Explain it.” I ask.

    Peregrine Wahlberger isn’t fazed. “She’s an AA. That means artificial upbringing and augmented. I’m an AB, means they cooked up my zygotes and suckered a civilian family into raising me the ‘normal way’. If you’re wondering why I know, It’s the main reason I ran away from home—I broke into the file system and cracked the ultra-classified, top-secret databases when I was fifteen. Staying at home with my… ‘parents’ would have exposed them to significant legal censure for me being augmented, number one, and two, possible violations of Federation Security since I did crack a classified database. I’ve known what I am for a long time, it’s why I didn’t go back when they were offering amnesties to Federation citizens who emigrated to Moab III.”

    She turns an eye to me. “I hope this doesn’t reflect poorly on our working relationship, Commodore. More than a third of my crew are AAs. Some acknowledge it, some pretend the fictions they were fed are real to try and stay sane. AAs and some ABs who were dumped out into the civilian world without proper prep turned up some truly horrifying suicide rates.”

    Doctor Turo interrupts. “What constitutes ‘proper preparation?” he demands.

    She shrugs. “I don’t know yet. People are people, you can take identical twins, give them the same information and access and they’ll do things utterly differently. Happens with clones too—I’m a line-for-line copy of Janice Qua, but I didn’t turn out to be like her anywhere but looks. If there were an easy answer, we’d have found it. Trust me, nobody wants to be the product of a paranoid megalomaniac and his pet mad scientists.”

    Her expression softens. “How is she doing, Doc?”

    “She’s suffered neural damage and exhaustion.”

    “You know lots of details?”

    “I copied the project files before I ran away. I’ve got it all—at least, most of it. I know who set it up, who approved it, who the scientists involved were, where they got their initial stock, and the details on their intended long-term planning. I suspect Nola Evans has the rest of it, since it was her and her man Jake that shut down Devil’s Canyon for good. The slicer collective’s been working on finding an answer to transition… ‘my people’? Into normal society again. We’re not having much luck with approaches, except in individual cases. From this data here— ” She points at the DNA watermark. “—I can tell you Nung’s from the fourth series, meaning her conditioning did not include any ‘loyalty directives’ that could be used to suborn her behaviour, that she’s from a series line that was heavily focused on producing scouts, pilots, and engineers, she’s an officer phenotype meaning enhanced neural connectivity intended to give her quicker analytical capability and a stronger decision-drive, with a slight enhancement to aggression factors, but not as heavy as a ‘soldier’ type would have, and a higher index on both empathic reaction and dominance than the average. Leyton wanted to make sure the ‘officer’ types could fit into Starfleet alongside ‘natural-borns’, and he was very worried about potential Khans.”

    Dr. Turo’s grim expression darkened. “You almost sound like you’re defending—

    Peregrine shrugs his tone off even as she interrupts, “I told you, nobody wants to be the product of a paranoid megalomaniac—but that’s a mushroom cloud already out of the steel casing. The time to stop it from happening was almost forty years ago. It happened, we’re here. Unless you’re going to shove nearly fifty thousand genetically augmented, combat-conditioned, trained, veteran personnel into a custom gulag right when… we’re needed, it’s too late, Doctor. Amanda Nung’s one of us, she was almost normal until the Hur’q attack on Bajor, I like to think she can be normal when we’re done out here, for the ones who can’t be.” There’s a vehemence there.

    “Which doesn’t include you?” Turo didn’t catch the cues, somehow.

    “No. It doesn’t include me, because I know too much about what they did making us.” Wahlberger’s almost hissing. “My parents, the people who raised me, the mother that brought me to term? They’re literally incapable of understanding my decisions—mom’s a pacifist professor, dad’s a career bureaucrat and professor of ‘progressive economic theory’. I know the dichotomy of nature versus nurture, but there’s also the power of free will. You’re showing that chronologically, she’s between eight and twelve years old, and I’m saying it doesn’t matter anymore. Unless her lifespan is threatened, she’s functionally the young adult she appears to be, and yes, she’s the victim of a crime, but there are over a hundred thousand of us, not including the innocent people that were duped by the project into raising us as their own. Whatever you’re contemplating, ask yourself if it will be justice to the families you’ll be shaking to the core, because that’s what the Federation Council is struggling with.”

    “You know of more? Outside of Moab?”

    “I know more. The only reason I haven’t turned over that information, Commodore, is the very real potential of midnight knocks on innocent people’s doors and their family members being spirited away to a holding facility without formal charges.” She crosses her arms. “Section 31 is real. They really exist, they really function as a secret police. I won’t expose innocent people who are living normal lives to this kind of scrutiny unless or until there are protections for their rights in place, that won’t be subverted by bureaucrats in Paris or San Francisco.”

    “But you’ll share it with me?

    “You’re Denali.” She shrugs. “I have to hope some of that filtered into your consciousness.”

    Technically true. Just not from this Denali. But Dr. Kaur did tell me that one of the few behavior traits that she detected in my very modified and uplifted DNA was empathy as well. Probably why i agreed to this in the first place. “When this is done, would you be willing to visit Earth about this?”

    She looked confused as I continued. “I have another mission, other than helping Kanril stop the Hur’q. The other reason, that Admirals La Roca and Cartwright assigned me to her was also that I and my crew have had no experience working with, or preconceived notions about your people as well. They wanted a fresh outlook, untainted. And my recommendation to them is that the Federation owes you, Nung, and the others for what Leyton and the others did in the Federation’s name.”

    “Commodore,” Wahlberger looks weary. “I won’t promise anything, or agree to anything right now. Ask me again later…”

    “Fair enough. Hell, I can’t remember when I had a full six hours sleep myself. Get some rest.”

    There is a definite difference in character between AB and AA personnel, it’s observable fact. I’m not just saying that as an AB. AB and BA subjects (aka subjects with the enhanced imprint training and regular genetic background, alongside personnel with the advanced genetics and a normal upbringing at normal speed) are both able to integrate more easily into regular society, while retaining some aspects of their augmentation or conditioning-but not in truly destructive ways.

    AA’s don’t just seem to have a harder time integrating, they flat out do. As much as Leyton’s team and Mulvaney’s follow on tried to construct complete individual background, the gaps are visible if you know what to look for. As mature as an Amanda Nung or David Hoan might seem, their accelerated growth has left their brains in ‘catch up’ mode, resulting in some dangerous habits and tendencies, and an overall psychological fragility that manifests in some odd ways.

    Aw hell, who am I kidding? We’re all broken, the experiment is a failure, and we’re all collateral damage. If we’re fortunate, nobody will try again… I’m considering McKnight’s offer, not for some bizarre recompense, but because inevitably, someone will try again. A warning now could slow it down at least, or give them tips to avoid creating a generation of damaged people. In the meantime, we’ve rejoined the main force, and we’re warping to Naval Station New Bajor. That’s not the official name, of course, but the facility is there because we’re here, kudos to Starfleet’s engineering guys for putting up a fleet base in record time. It’s not so much a ‘stand down’ as simply enough damage was done we need the R&R.

    Maybe I’ll meet a nice man who doesn’t wear a uniform, and scratch the spinster’s itch. God knows I need to get laid…

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