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Literary Challenge #69 - Winter Wonderland Celebrations - Entries Thread

pwecaptainsmirkpwecaptainsmirk Member Posts: 1,167 Arc User
edited January 2015 in Ten Forward
Welcome to a Special Edition of the New Month Long Writer's Challenge!

Today we start the one month run of the sixty-ninth Literary Challenge: Winter Wonderland Celebrations.

We will be running this event from the 12/01 to the 12/31.

You may enter 1 story for this topic over the course of the net month.

This month, our topic will be a single storyline...

Winter Wonderland Celebrations
The ancient tradition of Terran Winter Celebrations is such a festive and playful time in STO! Q is back and he brings us more Winter fun this year, with new snowmen, new weapons, new ships and more. This month's challenge is to write your own crews story centered around the event and festivities of the Terran winter season. But don't stop at Earth! You can tell us stories about any cultural celebrations from across the Star Trek universe. Perhaps the Andorians have tales of mysterious Vulcans who sneak into their homes at night and replace their toys with logic puzzles. Perhaps the Bajorans have a winter tradition that they hold dear involving incense and an Orb of Jolly. Maybe the Borg Queen is all alone on New Years and just longs for the day some dashing Android will meet her under the mistletoe and help her kill all humans. Or maybe your crew discovers a planet of elves who are ruled by a fanatical toy maker with a thirst for egg nog. Let your imaginations fly this month, and add your own twists of Trek Holiday Lore to the universe!

This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.

The Discussion Thread for all three topics can be found HERE.

We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.

The Basic Rules:
  • Each Challenge will run for 4 weeks. You may enter at any time during this open period.
  • There are no right or wrong entries.
  • Please keep discussion about the entries in the appropriate Discussion Thread.

A few other important reminders:
  • Please obey the TOS rules and policies of our Forum with each entry.
    • Anything overtly sexual or "adult" will be deleted. You have been warned. This is not a slash forum.
  • Each poster can have one entry per topic. Feel free to edit your post to fix typos or add/ remove content as you see fit during the next month.
  • After four weeks time, the thread will be locked and unstickied, as we move on to the next challenge.
  • We'll have two threads: One to post the entries in and one to discuss the entries. **Cross-linking between these two threads is acceptable for these challenges ONLY!!**

Have fun Captains!

~CaptainSmirk
Post edited by Unknown User on

Comments

  • worffan101worffan101 Member Posts: 9,518 Arc User
    edited December 2014
    Fluffy humorous fun. Not really serious. Set after my ULC 2 and LC 58 entries but before the big story that I will publish whenever my regular computer gets fixed.

    Cast:
    Lieutenant Rachel Connor: Demi Moore (as she appeared in GI Jane)
    Private Oran Talur: Ben Mansfield.
    Lieutenant Rachel Connor was starting to get tired of the mistletoe.

    Ta'kat was supremely disgusted by it; something about creepy roleplaying that Rachel didn't understand but attributed to Ha'ni culture--the result was the little lizard loudly declaiming the old Human tradition (very similar to an Andorian tradition involving icicles and lichen) to anyone who would listen. Trenek endured the sprigs on every corner with the supreme stoicism of a Vulcan, even when Fel planted a big one on him as he walked into a staff meeting. K'tar and Luiz were having a good time; the Patgonia had a few Klingons on the crew, especially in the MACO complement, and Luiz's girlfriend found an incredible number of excuses to be near him and mistletoe at the same time. Talur had perfected a strategy of calmly letting down people who came up to them; the tall Bolian was rather committed to his marriage. Lamont had a route mapped out to avoid the main danger zones. Mori Halan spent most of her time on the Bridge anyway and found increasingly creative excuses to transport straight to her quarters. Evek literally slept in Engineering most nights, and Lekal and Gray were taking their copious rejections in stride.

    But Rachel's position as security chief, MACO, and illegal, involuntary augment left her in a tight spot. She had to patrol the ship at least once a day, Trenek called her for more briefings and meetings than anyone else, and Fel had to check her once a week just in case her biology started to malfunction for whatever reason. It hadn't yet, but no reason to not be wary.

    This, unfortunately, left her passing through the heaviest mistletoe zones at the most dangerous times.

    At present, the former Human was finishing her food in the mess hall, which was decorated with the winter-festival decorations of a good dozen cultures and species. Christmas tree, Festivus pole, something for Kwanzaa, a Hanukkah candle thing, a Muslim decoration for mawlidu n-nabiyyi (apparently a holiday celebrating the birth of the Muslim Prophet), an ice-bat'leth for a holiday celebrated by an obscure sect of mountain-dwelling Klingons that K'tar's best friend/ex-girlfriend belonged to, a snow Dalek for the Orthodox Church of Tennant, a snow Cyberman for the Reformed Church of Tennant (on the opposite side from the Orthodox Dalek, since Ward and Shepard had gotten into a giant and overly theatrical fight when they had been put side by side), a bizarre arrangement of icicles for an Andorian holiday that Rachel couldn't pronounce, a miniature ski slope for a Ktarian holiday of questionable relevance, seven-foot statue of a humanoid man in a black cape and wearing a strange sort of helmet that made stentorian breathing noises occasionally for the Sith, small green humanoid that uttered oddly-worded proverbs when its motion sensor detected people nearby for the Jedi, Sacred Meatball for the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, lectern for a Tellarite celebration of a legendary debater, a sculpture of bipedal lizards in some black metal for a Ha'ni celebration whose name hurt Rachel's vocal cords, and a very quiet corner set aside for Vulcans.

    Captain Trenek liked to promote intercultural understanding.

    Rachel was currently sitting by the carefully-maintained snow Dalek and the lizard sculpture, eating what was supposed to be plomeek soup but instead tasted like pure peppermint cut with spearmint. Nevertheless, she chewed it resolutely. It was better than another bland nutrient pouch.

    It wasn't that she didn't like to be kissed, oh no. She was rather desperate, to be honest, having had not so much as a date in over four years (if you counted the time when she was a bolthead). But she still had her standards; being bi didn't mean being into EVERYONE like the psycho b*tch, and she'd always hated the stupid old tradition anyway.

    It had taken throwing Private Kortar through a bulkhead to make everyone but the Klingons stop. The Klingons took it as an invitation. Damn Klingons.

    "Afternoon, Sir," said Private Oran Talur, sitting opposite the once-woman. Rachel grunted in response, chewing her minty gelatin.

    "Have another one?"

    "This morning. On my way to the Bridge. ch'Shanar kissed me without realizing who I am. I almost punched him on the spot, which would've sucked."

    "Probably would've been fatal for him," observed Talur. "Given your limits, L-T."

    "True. Let's talk about something that won't remind me of the psycho b*tch, hey? Get anything good for your Christmas-equivalent?"

    "Yeah, my wife got me a necklace. Locket sort of thing, with a picture of her and the baby."

    "Nice. Hey, thanks for that Sig Sauer nine-millimeter. Where'd you get the replicator plans?"

    "American Museum of Pre-Warp History. Their hypernet website contains schematics for licensed users, and MACO guys qualify."

    "That's neat, I never actually noticed that."

    "GRA lobbied pretty hard for it, and to be honest they're really collector's items, probably why the government didn't throw a fit."

    "True, a TR-116 has three times the firepower and ten times the range, easily. Still, the Sig's going to be a hell of a lot of fun on the range."

    "You going to share?"

    "Of course. That reminds me, K'tar and I are teaching introductory hand-to-hand combat for the science teams today, want to come help out?"

    "Sure; I may not know mok'bara or any of the more minor Klingon martial arts, but I know tae kwon do and ulun--that's a Bolian thing, involves using the enemy's momentum against them."

    "That sounds perfect, show up at 1500 in holodeck 2. God, I just hope I can get there without getting kissed again."

    "You really can't stand it, can't you, sir?"

    Rachel grimaced. "It just seems...sort of forced. Dubious consent, sort of thing. I know that K'tar uses it as an excuse to get his ribs broken, and Luiz's girl keeps pulling him under the stuff, but I can't stand it."

    "Use site-to-site transports like Mori?"

    "Can't justify it, she only needs 2 a day, I'd need 17-plus."

    "Get a date, then--if you're in a relationship, it's easier. Or just a sort of mutual defense pact--I know that Ta'kat hates it for some reason, if you two pretended to be in a relationship, I'm sure that that would be enough to last out the week."

    "Maybe. But three more days of this stuff, Private! And the stuff'll probably be up at least until the next cycle!"

    "There is that. On the plus side, that's only three weeks, tops."

    "True. You've got an idea there, though..." The once-Human woman trailed off, lost in thought. Talur sipped what was supposed to be tea but tasted like eggnog.

    "Alright," said Rachel finally. "I'm going to go get Ta'kat and figure out a fake relationship. See you on the Holodeck."

    "Yes, sir," said Talur with a ghost of a grin. Kara would laugh so hard at this when he called her next.

    Fake relationships. Whatever next, wearing helmets all the time? Human traditions were so strange sometimes.
    Founder and Grand Vizier of the Glorious Regime of Sovereign Ba'al. Hail Ba'al!
    Baal%20prop%20pic%208_zpsqaptvpnu.png
  • catriecatrie Member Posts: 0 Media Corps
    edited December 2014
    Journal,

    It’s been a while since we last spoke. It’s that time of year again. That season the Earthlings call Christmas. This was a very strange concept for me, and still is, if I’m truthful. I don’t quite understand the entire reason for the holiday, but I enjoy it nonetheless.

    I had a wonderful older Earthling “master” who had a child-like delight for this time of year. This was certainly foreign to me. I mean, really? An old man, dressed in red and white, sneaks into your rooms and gives you presents? And that’s a good thing? That just sounds way to creepy for me. Anyway, I came to enjoy this season, Journal. It’s rather nice to see a sliver of good, that this season brings.

    He took me to Andoria, once. He wanted me to experience a true winter, much like he’d known when he was a child. I have to say that I quite enjoyed it. We had snowball fights, what he called ice skating, on a frozen pond, and hot chocolate to warm us up. It was rather delightful.

    Since my time with him, I’ve continued to decorate my rooms, wherever I may be. So, Journal, I’m decorating my state room on the Kirtang Pirate starbase. I happen to like the little twinkling lights. I may keep those up. They add a bit of romance and whimsy to the room. Something most people don’t expect of me.

    Then, there is the wrapping and exchanging of gifts. As on Orion, it’s always nice to get gifts that don’t come with strings attached. I like finding just the right present for just the right person. I think it’s a bit of the thrill of the hunt for me. What item fits which person best? It’s satisfying finding the right one.

    For my crew, I’m sending them to Risa for a week. They’ve worked hard this year and deserve the time off. I’ve made some arrangements, so they will be well taken care of. For special friends, I have a special dust and applicator that I’ve been working on perfecting. I think they’ll enjoy being my test victims.

    Well, Journal. I have but one more present to wrap. This one was the most difficult to procure. It will also be the most difficult to give. Orions aren’t known for our generosity or treating male children well. So, this gifting will be the most nerve-racking. We’re Orion pirates. Nothing is given without strings attached. Nothing is given without something required in return. He’s a bit suspicious about such offerings, and rightfully so. As this is a totally foreign concept, it may take a bit of persuasion. Though, that happens to be my specialty. I’m sure he’ll eventually see it my way.

    Oh NO!!! He’s early!! He’s docking now!! Gotta go!!!

    Toodles,
    Riv’na
  • grylakgrylak Member Posts: 1,572 Arc User
    edited December 2014
    Captains Log. The Viper is approaching the star system Trarsk believes will be able to help us get out of this galaxy and return to our own. And not a moment too soon. The crew has performed well beyond what they should have to tolerate. And this ship... Defiant class vessels were not meant to operate continuously for so long without putting into a drydock. Hopefully our salvation will be just ahead of us. Given the date in the human calander, Ensign Jones has decided it would be good for morale to celebrate a human tradition called 'Christmas'. She says tomorrow is the big day, but I've authorised a small celebration in the Mess Hall today since we will hopefully be too busy establishing a way home tomorrow. Everyone has agreed to donate some of their replicator rations to making the event a festive one. Personally, I don't understand the appeal of having some fat man enter your house every year. If he tried that on Andoria, he'd probably end up with a broken arm or two. Still, the humans seem to be enjoying it.



    Jenna stood in the Mess Hall with a cup of eggnog. Ttorkkinn and Trarsk were with her, and nearly all forty surviving members of the crew were also present. The room was crammed with joyous cheer and traditional music. The Saurian was trying to explain the story behind Christmas to Trarsk who seemed genuinely interested in the religious holiday. Though Ttorkkinn was getting most of it wrong. Jenna couldn't supress a smile as she interrupted. "I'm sorry Sir, but Santa Claus wasn't born under a tree, and three stars certainly didn't land in a field and turn some sheep into lumps of coal. You're actually confusing.... quite a bit." She went on to explain about the origin of it with Jesus, leading to the growth of the holiday via St Nick and onto Father Christmas. While Trarsk stared eye wide at the story, hanging on every word, Ttorkkinn took a sip of brandy and cast a glance around the room. He didn't particularly care about some ancient human festivity, but it did seem to be lifting the crew's spirits. Captain Kazzur, Xui Li, T'Fon, Dotson (obviously), Kaplin and Brotha were not here, the first two manning the Bridge, the last two in Engineering and T'Fon was still coming to terms with his truth. He spotted Karry and Grimworm dancing close to each other. Those two had been getting close over the past few months. He'd noticed they had a close friendship dating back to the days on the Sentinel, but this forced closeness seemed to be pushing them together. As long as they didn't let it interfere with their duties, he had no problem. And he was confident they wouldn't. After all, he had personally trained them. They knew the score. He took another sip, letting the rough warmth flow down his throat. Someone dangled some mistletoe over the two and they very quickly embraced. He didn't say a word as he watched them quickly slip out of the room. It was at this point he zoned back into what Jenna and Trarsk was saying.

    "So this Jesus was the son of God?"
    "Yep. That's what they believed. Although the holiday later became more about being with family and friends at the end of the year." Ttorkkinn then spoke up. "I know I'm no expert, but wasn't there a large number of religions on Earth?"
    "Yes Sir. But Christmas seemed to be the one that spread out and was the mostly celebrated."
    "So why don't we celebrate one of the others?" Jenna shurgged. "I guess because this one is more about being together with family and friends, more people were willing to celebrate it. I mean, it's not like there's any actual religious symbolism in it any more."

    Before anyone could respond, Kazzur came over the comm. "Bridge Officers to their stations." Ttorkkinn gave his brandy to Borielus, the Trill member of his TRT. As she simply shrugged and moved into the crowd, Ttorkkinn patted Jenna on the shoulder as he guided her and Trarsk towards the exit. "Well at any rate, well done Ensign. This seems to be just what the crew needed."



    Talaina sat at the helm. Viper had approached the system and dropped from warp. With the ship at Impulse, Talaina looked at the piece of tinsel Jenna had previously lined along the edge of the console. As Ttorkinn, Jenna and Trarsk entered the Bridge, Talaina moved to her Captain's chair. Ttorkkinn and Trarsk flanked her, watching the viewscreen. "So Trarsk, tell me more about this species." He looked at her, his eye going wide in amazement. "Oh you'll like them. They are called the Prentary. One of the most advanced species in this whole galaxy. They build towers that reach up to the clouds and syphon the water vapour to provide a perpetual energy source. Each building powers itself. Highly evolved. They don't believe in war, but the betterment of their minds. And that message they teach to everyone else who will listen. They've developed some kind of interstellar drive that moves you through, well, something, that moves really fast. And they like to sing. Oh you must listen to the Glass Mountains singing their morning choir. Not a more wonderous sound will you hear in-"

    He suddenly dropped to the ground, screaming and clutching his head. Talaina and Ttorkkinn leapt to his side. "What's wrong with him?" the Andorian asked. Ttorkkin shook his head as he tried to restrain the alien. "I don't know. He's just gone crazy!" Talaina slapped her commbadge. "Bridge to Sickbay. Medical emergency!"





    Talaina stood in the Sickbay, watching Trarsk. He was on a biobed, mubling incoherantly. Bob Juffra closed his tricorder and walked over to his Captain. "He suffered a massive neural trauma. Something to do with his biology. I can't help him, but he seems to be physically ok. Mentally...." Bob shrugged. "I'd send him to a pshychiatrist if we had one."
    "What's he mumbling?"
    "Death. Millions dead, snuffed out in an instant. He hears them screaming."
    "I see. Do what you can for him Doctor." At that moment, the comm went off. Xui Li reporting from the Bridge. "Captain. We are, ah, approaching the planet. You should get, ah, up here."
    "There's always something. I'm on my way."




    Entering the Bridge, Talaina stood behind her chair. "Report."
    "Sensors are, ah, picking up no planet. Just a large debris field. There is alot of, ah, antiprotons in the system that are interfereing with, ah, our sensors."
    "Can you compensate?"
    "Not at this time."
    Talaina frowned and walked to Jenna at the helm, resting a hand on the back of her chair. "Take us close to the debris field. It's not like Trarsk to decieve us."

    The Viper edged cautiously through the debris field. Xui Li worked her console the entire time, finally coming to a conclusion. "Captain. The amount of, ah, debris here is sufficient to be, ah, a planet." Talaina turned to her Operations officer. "Something destroyed an entire planet? It clearly wasn't a supernova. Full sensor scan. We need to know what it was."
    "Sensors are picking up a, ah, Neutronium signature. It is difficult to, ah, locate, but it does appear to be, ah, a large mass in the debris."
    "Identify?"
    "No."

    A sudden burst of expletives from the other side of the Bridge brought everyone's attention to Ttorkkinn who jumped out of his chair. "Shut down everything! Quick! Go dark!" Talaina ordered for it to happen. As the few lights still operating on the Bridge shut down, Talaina looked to her Saurian first officer. "Why did we just do that?"
    "I recognise this from historical tactical reports. Antiprotons and neutronium signature are the hallmarks of a Doomsday Device."

    Xui Li didn't recognise it. "Doomsday Device?"
    "Yes. Or a Planet Killer. One was encountered by Kirk's Enterprise. If memory serves, it took the sacrifice of a Constitution class ship to destroy it."
    "What exactly, ah, was it?"
    "It looked like a large blue horn. Kirk theorised it was built by some ancient civilisation as a last deterrant in some ancient war. They never found where it came from, but they theorised it was beyond our galaxy."
    "From this, ah, galaxy?"
    "Or the one between ours and this one."

    All this talk was jogging Talaina's memory. "Didn't the Constellation self destruct inside it?"
    "Yes. The only way they could destroy it."
    "Well that leaves us with a dilemma." Ttorkkinn frowned at his Captain. "And what dilemma is that?"
    "We can't just sit here and let that thing destroy more populated worlds. We have to stop it."
    "And how.... Captain, may I speak to you in private?"


    Talaina ordered the ship to remain in station keeping, then left the Bridge. She turned in the corridor and waited for Ttorkkinn. "Captain, I realise we should do what we can, but this ship is in no condition to fight something like that. Even if we were at full strength."
    "I know."
    "And before you sacrifice the ship, what about the crew? Are you seriously just going to leave everyone stranded here?"
    "Ttorkkinn, we've been stranded in this galaxy for a year. We're out of supplies. We have an Undine infiltrator with a split personality for a science officer. We've got a chief engineer locked in her quarters for murder. We've got crazed warmongers after us for the cloaking tech. We've lost nearly a fifth of the crew. This ship can't take much more. If the crew evacuates, you can lead them to a habitable world. Set up a new life for them."

    Ttorkkinn was silent, hearing the unsaid implication. "It doesn't need to come to that."
    "Yes it does."
    Ttorkkinn placed a gloved hand either side of Talaina's head, staring intently into her grey eyes. "You are not Commodore Decker. You don't have to kill yourself with your ship."
    "I appreciate the concern. But that thing out there has already destroyed what was to be our best chance at getting back. If we don't do something, who's to say it won't take away our next shot? And our next?"
    "Voyager got home. We can to."
    "They didn't start their journey in the middle of a war. They didn't start with a crew of fifty spread across five decks. Voyager was still in the same galaxy and actually had the chance to make it home in their lifetimes. Ttorkkinn. My responsibility is to this crew. We've been to the edge of the Galactic Disc. There's no way any of us will make it back to Federation space. The best option is to start our own colony. But it won't be safe until that thing is destroyed. And that won't happen without someone making a sacrifice."


    The Saurian dropped his hands and thought long and hard. He'd served with Talaina for a number of years now. She'd do anything to save her crew. And although lately the stress had clearly been getting to her, it had been getting to all of them. "We could just leave the system. Claim the Prime Directive is in play for this galaxy and be on our way."
    "We could. But could you live with yourself?"
    "Perhaps."
    "Really? Knowing entire species will be wiped out, when you had the chance to save them?" Ttorkkinn sighed. "No. No I couldn't. But why must you pilot the ship? Go on autopilot."
    "If there's damage, there'll be no one to correct it." Ttorkkinn narrowed his eyes. "There's more to this than you're telling. This isn't some redemption scheme because of what you forced Juffra to do with T'Fon?"
    "Partly. I still have my honour. And how can we save others when we lose ourselves?"

    Ttorkkinn never got chance to answer as the entire ship violently flipped, knocking them both out.



    Ttorkkinn gradually came to, his armour having protected him from most of the injuries. The ship was in complete darkness, so he triggered his armour's torch. "Captain!" Talaina was picking herself up from the floor, her white hair stained blue from a head wound.
    "I'm ok. Just a little dizzy. Come on, we need to see what happened." She got to her feet and moved to the door. When it didn't open, she figured power was out across the ship. Good thing gravity generators always had their own backup power supply. She cast a glance down the corridor. The hallway was almost unrecognisable from damage. Power systems had ruptured, blowing out most of the bulkheads. Holes in the floor leaked gas and many components from the ceiling now hung below head height. She dared not think what the rest of the ship was like. Grabbing the handle, she manually pulled open the door and staggered onto the Bridge. It was in just as bad a shape as the corridor. "Report!"


    Xui Li was sat on the floor, her right arm in a sling made from the tinsel. Jenna was at the sensor console. "We got hit by a powerful beam. I think it came from that Planet Killer."
    "Were our shields raised?"
    "No Sir. We were completely powered down so it wouldn't detect us."
    "Ship status!"
    "I don't know. Everything's offline. I can't raise anyone on the comm."
    At that moment, Karry and Grimworm entered the Bridge. Ttorkkinn checked over his team members and asked where the others were. Karry shook her head. "It's bad. Deck Three downwards is gone. And the Mess Hall took a direct hit. I'm... I'm sorry Sir, but the crew is dead." As Jenna gasped in shock, Talaina narrowed her eyes, antennae curling in anger. "What? Everyone?" Karry nodded. "Yes Sir. We went by the Mess Hall. Emergency Forcefields stopped us before we could even enter. It's just open space. All decks below it are missing and we could see exposed warp coils in the nacelles. There was the remains of a ship very close to us, but it's completely destroyed. I'm sorry Sir, but this ship is finished."

    "Then prepare to evacuate. We'll fly the Viper into that thing. It may be enough to stop it." When no one moved, Talaina barked. "MOVE!"

    As Jenna and Karry helped Xui Li off the Bridge, Talaina tapped at the helm console, trying to get engines online. Ttorkkinn paused in the door. "Captain! I'm not going to leave you."
    "Go Commander. That's an order. Get what's left of this crew to a safe place." Ttorkkinn nodded. "It's been an honour Sir." And he was gone.


    Talaina tapped the helm controls. Nothing. Engines showed there was power operating, the warp core was online, but the ship wasn't moving. Engine damage was too great. Talaina sighed and looked at the viewscreen. She knew that monster was out there somewhere, but where? The screen wasn't working, and short of putting a hole in the hull, she wouldn't be able to see. Her crew was gone. Her ship was dead. And she was powerless to avenge them. Was this what the crew felt like after the Gorn ambush wrecked the Sentinel? Talaina had been almost dead at that point and missed the entire thing. She understood now why Emony had taken an extended leave following it. She sighed, resigning herself to the knowledge she would simply have to leave. As she turned, she saw Ttorkkinn and the other survivors entering the Bridge, including Juffra, Trarsk who seemed very dazed, Dotson and T'Fon. "Commander. I told you to get off the ship."

    "We tried, but the remaining escape pods are damaged. None of them will launch."
    "That's it then. As soon as that thing comes around again, we're dead."


    Jenna broke down in tears. Karry placed a comforting arm around her and hugged her. Talaina noticed the edge of her vision was starting to pickle different colours. Obviously a result of the head wound. She reflected she seemed to get alot of head wounds and she must have a very thick skull. Talaina looked at each of the crew before her. "I want you all to know it's been a true honour serving with you. We've had our problems. We've had our differences, but each and every one of you never lost hope. Never lost faith. I'm just sorry I was not able to live up to it."


    Dotson pushed past the crowd and towards the Engineering station. "TRIBBLE this. If I'm going to die, I'm looking Death square in the face." She bypassed controls and burnt out circuits, making patch after patch until the viewscreen came to life. It showed the Planet Killer engaged with seven ships of unknown type. Burning hulks littered the area, suggesting quite a battle was taking place. "Huh. That explains why it hasn't finished us off." Talaina moved to Dotson's side. "Any way we can help them out?"
    "No. While I was patching the viewscreen, I saw the core was building to an overload, so I've shut it down. We literally have no power except emergency batteries. It's enough to maintain atmosphere and forcefields for about an hour."
    "Damn." Talaina rested a hand on Dotson's shoulder. "Whatever you may have done in the past, you've always been one of the best Engineers. I don't condone what you did, but I hope you understand-"
    "I understand Captain. That's why I didn't protest. I want you to know I don't hold a grudge." Dotson looked at Talaina and grimly smiled. "I explained why I killed Mirat and the others. I do not regret my actions, and I do not hate you for yours." Talaina smiled grimly back and gave Dotson's shoulder a quick squeeze.


    Trarsk moved closer to the viewscreen. "The Prentary." He whispered in awe. The Planet Killer fired it's energy beam, catching six of the ships and vapourising them. Talaina realised with all that power, it must have been a glancing blow that struck them, or there would be nothing left of the Viper. The final Prentary ship, the biggest of the group, came about, trailing burning Plasma from it's engines. It fired blue pulses into the maw of the beast, flying in towards it. Explosions started ripping along it's hull as the ship started to come apart, but it held together long enough to enter the jaws of hell. A bright light erupted from the cone, the Prentary ship finally giving up. When her vision cleared, she saw the device was now a lifeless grey husk, as dead as everything else in this system. Trarsk collapsed to the floor, weeping. "They must have come looking for their planet. They knew something happened to their homeworld, so they came to defend it. But they were too late."


    Talaina knew time was critical now. Dotson had given them a ticking clock, but with the Planet Killer destroyed, there was hope. "They were too late to save their homeworld, but they were able to avenge it. And by doing so, gave us a fighting chance. We need to see what we can salvage from those ships. We have less than an hour before we lose life support. Everyone, get EV suits, break into teams and board those ships. Transporters are offline and we lost our shuttles, so be extremely careful with your suit thrusters. I don't want to lose any more of you. And Dotson, consider your confinement lifted. Jenna, you stay here with Trarsk. Try to keep the ship together."


    As everyone moved, Talaina felt a heavy burden in her chest. She had lost almost the entire crew. Such a loss weighed on her, but her military upbringing allowed her to compartmentalise. She would grieve for them later, after she had secured the survivors.



    Jenna collapsed into a seat as she watched everyone else leave. She had hoped it would be different this year. Every time she had tried to celebrate Christmas since her parents had died, it had been a disaster. Which was why she hadn't tried since she was ten. The first time she tried in years, and the entire crew died. Jenna crossed her arms on the console and lay her head down, tears gently falling across her face as she quietly whispered. "Merry Christmas everyone."
    *******************************************

    A Romulan Strike Team, Missing Farmers and an ancient base on a Klingon Border world. But what connects them? Find out in my First Foundary mission: 'The Jeroan Farmer Escapade'
  • ambassadormolariambassadormolari Member Posts: 709 Arc User
    edited December 2014
    Captain's Log,

    It was Stardate 92535.32, and all across the ship,
    Not a sentient was stirring, except those on night shift
    The deflectors were running isometric sweeps with care
    In hopes that interesting data soon would appear
    Adim was in Engineering, analyzing the latest console mod
    While Neiazri was in the holodeck, doing things rather odd
    Doctor Choll had gone to bed, and Brax was in Ten Forward,
    Hosting a game of Dabo on a rigged Quark-made board
    And K'Nera, with Farim, had command of the bridge, taking charge
    And keeping an eye out for potential hostiles at large
    I myself was in my quarters, battling sleep deprivation
    And losing, and instead turned to reading Starfleet's information
    We were soon to be sent to the Delta Quadrant, by Admiral Quinn's choice
    To retread Janeway's footsteps and be the Federation's friendly voice
    I was excited, exilarated, and imagined all the things that might be seen--
    New and old civilizations, anomalies, and Talaxian cuisine!

    But before we could be sent on this wonderful endeavour,
    We had to first finish our mission, which had been going on forever--
    To conduct reports, negotiations and patrol routes in sector space,
    A whole host of assigments never-ending and bereft of any pace
    In the face of this aggravation, I had been spending the last week
    Trying to finish these duties, to the point of missing sleep
    My crew, I had taxed just as hard, and only today reserved
    A day of rest and relaxation (which they all richly deserved)
    Ordering a fresh pot of lukewarm cocoa from the replicator,
    I sat down and decided that my troubles couldn't wait till later

    When from the corner of my eye I saw a flicker of light
    Coming from the depths of space, that cold endless night
    Away to the viewing port I flew like a flash,
    Deactivated the sunguard and threw aside the sash
    When, what to my wondering eyes should arrive,
    but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny quadruped, with ridged horns above their eyes
    Flying out in space, bereft of atmosphere,
    With no sign of locomotion, environmental control or gear
    I blinked several times, thinking it a hallucination
    Proof that I was overworked, and needed a vacation
    But the sleigh was still there, and rapidly altered course
    Towards the Archimedes, towards me, with unrelenting force
    In the sleigh itself was a humanoid, rotund and clad in red
    A with a great sack slung out on the back of that sled
    More rapid than a torpedo, at full impulse they came
    And somehow, through the hull, I could hear the driver call out some names:

    "Now Dasher! Now Dancer!
    Now, Prancer and Vixen!
    On, Comet! On, Cupid!
    On, Donner and Blitzen!
    To the top of the saucer!
    To the top of the wall!
    Now dash away! Dash away!
    Dash away all!"

    They flew overhead, but soon I heard from outside,
    the prancing and pawing hooves on my ship's metal hide
    It was an impossibility, sound does not travel in space!
    I told myself, as my heart began to race
    As I stumbled backwards and was turning around,
    Through a Jeffries tube an intruder came crashing in a bound
    He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
    and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
    A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
    and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
    His eyes--how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
    His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
    His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
    and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
    The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
    and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
    He had a broad face and a little round belly,
    that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

    I do confess, despite this wonder, he gave me quite a scare
    "HO HO HO," the newcomer announced, "Merry Christmas Captain Nair!"
    "Who are you," I demanded, "and what do you want from me?"
    "Why isn't it obvious?" he replied, "I'm Santa Claus, can't you see?
    It is Christmas Eve, and you have been a good chap this year,
    So I have brought you a present, along with good will and cheer!"
    I stared for a few seconds, my power of speech briefly broke
    Before finally I said "Very funny, Adim, but this is a pretty awful joke."
    The newcomer looked hurt. "But Captain Nair, I am serious!
    Why would you doubt me, on this of all days, on Christmas?
    I have brought you gifts, for you and all under your command!
    For 'tis the season of giving, sharing, and laughing hand in hand!
    Look with your own eyes, Captain Nair, and you'll know what I say is true!"
    I stared long and hard at the intruder, before asking "Q, is that you?"

    The newcomer looked flustered. "Q? I, um, I have never heard of--"
    But before he could finish, I reached over and plucked the imposter's beard off!
    "A-HA! I figured it had to be you!" I cried,
    Flinging the fake (and cheaply-produced) long white beard aside.
    "Oh, bravo, mon capitaine," Q said with, a slow, sarcastic clap,
    "You have figured me out, good for you, have a medal." And with a snap
    Of his fingers, Q conjured on my breast,
    A medal saying "Arkos Nair, Captain Obvious."
    "What do you want, Q?" I demanded. "Have you come here to jest?"
    "How rude, Archie Boy, is this how you treat all your guests?
    I was in the neighbourhood, and decided to pay you a visit in the form
    Of Jolly St. Nick, whom all the Humans adore."
    "Well, I'm not Human, remember?" I replied. "And I don't need your gifts
    Any more than I need optional rectal surgery or sudden temporal rifts."
    "You don't seem to like gifts in general," Q said, snatching my cocoa and taking a sip,
    "Tell me, why have you banned the celebration of Christmas on your ship?"

    "That's not true," I protested, "all of my officers are free
    To celebrate on their own, provided they use a replicated tree."
    "But that's not the same," Q said, "as a ship-wide celebration."
    "Of course not!" I said. "Because Starfleet regulations
    Strictly prohibit ship-wide celebration of a religious holiday.
    This is a secular environment, and I intend to keep it that way."
    Q pouted, and conjured a warm fireplace. "Oh, don't be so serious.
    Take it from me, a divine being, Christmas isn't all that religious!
    True, it revolves around some Human martyr who got himself nailed to some wood,
    But there are things about Christmas that are universal and, by your standards, good!
    Things like giving to one another, and being chums and good friends!
    The things that your Federation espouses (or so it pretends)."

    I thought long and hard, before admitting "You might have a point there,
    But why would you tell me this, Q? Why do you care?"
    "Because it's always amusing," Q said, "when you admit that I am right,
    But also because your ship is full of troubles tonight.
    You have all been so stressed, you've been pushing your crew to complete
    Impossible tasks that Starfleet is pressuring you to meet.
    You're no fun when you're stressed, you need one good day of recreation.
    Plus, I'll be honest, Christmas was always my favourite mortal creation.
    Something about all the pageantry, snow and giftwrapped presents,
    Makes me feel warm and giddy inside, and an iota more benevolent."

    "I'll consider what you said, Q," I said, "maybe you're right.
    Maybe a day of celebration on my ship is needed tomorrow night.
    My crew is overworked, and they deserve a day of holidays and rest.
    I need to show them that I care, and that I think they're the best."
    "Glad you agree with me, Archie," said Q, "and now to take my leave.
    (Incidentally, dear reader, envision me as dear old de Lancie.)
    I have places to visit, and people to go pester,
    And omnipotence to wield and abuse at my leisure."
    And with that, for reasons I'm certain nobody knows,
    He put a finger on the side of his nose.
    And with his usual, brilliant flash of light
    He disappeared, vanishing from my sight.

    In retrospect, I realize that this whole time,
    I have been recording this log while speaking in rhyme.
    This, I am sure, is more of Q being a pain in the [REDACTED]
    And most other days I would be more annoyed at my speech being impacted.
    But today I'm in a good mood, and will let it slip
    For I have arranged a Christmas Eve holiday tomorrow on my ship.
    Yes, the dates are wrong, and yes, its against regs,
    But a day of gift-giving among my crew will make them feel less like dregs.
    So to any who is listening to this log (yes even you Drake, that's right)
    Merry Christmas to all, and all a good evening! Wait, evening? That doesn't rhyme with...hey, I can speak normally again!"
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,643 Arc User
    edited December 2014
    Solaere ssiun Hnaifv’daenn
    “And tell my servants that they should speak in a most kindly manner [unto those who do not share their beliefs]. Verily, Satan is always ready to stir up discord between men; for verily; Satan is man’s foe. Hence, We have not sent you [unto men O Prophet] with power to determine their Faith.”
    — The Qur’an, Al-Isra 53-54

    Deep in the emptiness of space, a pocket of nothing moved in utter silence, bound for parts unknown at hundreds of times the speed of light. Inside that pocket floated a great beaked prow, a pair of broad wings, painted in emerald green, a configuration used by only one species in the known galaxy. On the side of the great beak towered High Rihan letters the size of buildings that spelled out two words: ch’M’R Aen’rhien.

    In a room atop the warbird’s bow, the observation lounge nearest the bridge, an olive-skinned human woman knelt under the streaming stars on an ornate woven mat in Starfleet service blacks, head slightly bowed, eyes closed, facing eight degrees starboard of the stern, roughly the direction the ship’s computer had given her for her homeworld, Earth. An upturned chair was in front of her. “Astaghfirullaaha rabbee wa atoobu ilayh,” Jaleh Khoroushi recited in Arabic. She was almost done with her third salat of the day, the Afternoon Prayer.

    She bent at the waist and touched her forehead and nose to the prayer mat. “Subhaana rabbiy al-a`laa wa bihamdih,” she intoned, then, sitting up and placing her hands on her thighs, “Allāhu akbar.”

    The door of the lounge slid open and she caught a whiff of pan-fried hlai-hwy. Her empty stomach grumbled but she ignored it. “Ash hadu al laa ilaaha illallaahu wahdahu laa shareeka lah, wa ash hadu anna Muhammadan `abduhu wa rasuluh. Allaahumma salli `alaa Muhammadin wa Aali Muhammad.”

    She paused for a moment, then turned her head slowly toward the right and completed her prayers. “Assalaamu `alayka ayyuhan nabiyyu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. Assalamu `alaynaa wa `alaa `ibaadillaahis saaliheen. Assalamu `alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. Allāhu akbar. Allāhu akbar. Allāhu akbar.”

    She opened her eyes to see a tall, heavily tattooed Rihan man leaning against the wall holding a hlai drumstick in one hand and a featureless box in the other, looking at her with an odd expression on his face. “Uh, don’t mind me. Go ahead and do … whatever that was.”

    “It’s called ‘praying’, Tovan, and I just finished, actually.” She put the chair back where she got it and started rolling up the mat.

    Tovan tr’Khev stood there for a moment, then suddenly remembered. “Oh, I brought you some lunch, Jaleh.”

    She glanced up, pushing her shoulder-length black hair out of her face. “Can I take a rain-check?”

    The Aen’rhien’s security chief raised an eyebrow. “Come on, you haven’t eaten anything all day that I’m aware of.”

    She raised an eyebrow at him. “You keeping tabs on me?”

    “I’m chief of security on this warbird, and I’m your friend. I get worried when my friends don’t eat.”

    “Well, don’t be. I’m fasting. It’s Ramadan.”

    “What is?”

    “It’s a holy month in my faith.”

    “That anything like this ‘Christmas’ I heard about on our last rotation home?”

    She laughed as she slid the rolled-up prayer mat back into its storage case. “No, that’s something else entirely. Christian holiday that got bastardized by big business centuries ago. We’ve managed to avoid that.” She tucked the prayer mat into one of the cabinets and straightened her uniform jacket. “How much longer to Glintara?”

    “I think we passed the heliopause a few minutes ago. Call it two, three hours. Hey, you’re not going to believe what came through on the last squirt from Raenasa. The Eireth nnea Ortaimai just issued an arrest warrant for Enriov t’Venas.”

    “What on Earth for?”

    “Piracy and war crimes in the Delta Quadrant, apparently. Ship gets disabled, Hazari pick up the distress signal, crazy faelirh ih’wort nnea mogain steals their ship instead.”

    Jaleh scoffed in disbelief. “Who on Earth made her an admiral?”
    * * *

    The helmsman announced, “Coming out of warp in five, four, three, two, one, now.” The streaming stars on the viewscreen silently slowed and became stationary and a patchy brownish-green orb transfixed with patches of blue-green ocean inflated into view. Four large continents, ice caps at either pole, no real distinguishing features from any other Class M rock in the Milky Way.

    Jaleh hit her communicator. “Khre’Riov t’Thavrau to the bridge,” she requested in Rihan.

    “Sensors detecting one Lloannen’galae vessel, Olympic-class,” the antecenturion at sensors noted calmly. “No other vessels in the vicinity.”

    “That’ll be the MoserRiov tr’Sauringar acknowledged. “Drop cloak and hail them.” The viewscreen shifted to a view of the bridge, with a buxom blonde Bajoran lounging in the captain’s chair. “USS Moser,” he said in Federation Standard, “this is Commander Sarsachen tr’Sauringar, executive officer of Republic Warbird Bloodwing

    “Shaoi kon, Riov,” the blonde replied.

    “Dochai-difv Rihan hwi?” tr’Sauringar asked in surprise.

    The Bajoran shook her head. “No, ‘hello’ is about the full extent of my Romulan, sorry. I’m Commander Dumeete Chulin, Captain Gaahril glasch Proll’s first officer. You gave us a bit of a scare.”

    “Sorry about that, standard procedure is to come in cloaked.”

    “Meh, rules are rules. I see from our scans you’ve got the cargo.”

    “Forty kilotons of bloodfire vaccine and antivirals,” tr’Sauringar confirmed, referring to the crates suspended in the void between the warbird’s twin hulls. He turned his head to the right. “Enarrain Khoroushi?”

    Jaleh stood and stepped into the frame, eliciting a confused look from the Bajoran. “Sir, I’m Lieutenant Commander Jaleh Khoroushi, ops officer and Starfleet liaison to the Bloodwing. I’ll be handling logistics on this end.”

    The turbolift on the port wall hummed and slid open and a slim, weathered-looking Rihanha with long black hair stepped out. Jaleh snapped to attention and barked, “Sir! Leih on the bridge!”

    “As you were,” t’Thavrau said. “Commander Dumeete, I believe?”

    “Pleasure to meet you, Subadmiral.”

    “Where is Captain Proll?”

    “Dirtside, helping in a treatment center and generally making a nuisance of himself to the local politicos.” Off t’Thavrau’s disapproving look, “He’s a Tellarite, sir. I don’t think the Romulan style is exactly a match.”

    “Ah. I suppose things must be chaotic, what with Glintara having just broken away from the Shiar ih’Saeihr Rihan

    “Yes, sir. Setting up a new government after a revolution tends to do that to you. I oughta know—I was born just before the Occupation ended. Place was a mess when I was growing up.”

    “Ch’Mol’Rihan was much the same early on, Commander. And that was without a bloodfire outbreak. We can begin beaming the supplies down as soon as you give us coordinates.”
    * * *

    Replicators were an incredibly useful technology but they had their limitations, chief among them that they couldn’t create living matter. That was as much a problem with certain Klingon foodstuffs as in medicine, as by far the most effective vaccine for bloodfire was an attenuated live-virus type, and Glintara didn’t have the facilities to make it on-site.

    Which meant it fell to hand-delivering the vaccine. And because of the precarious political situation of Glintara, having declared independence from the Romulan Star Empire after the Hobus revelation but not a member of the Republic nor the Federation, and with sightings of Havran and Nausicaan pirates in the area, it had to be done by a warship to ensure the supplies actually arrived.

    Jaleh dispatched the latest set of coordinates to the transporter officer. It had to be done carefully and in many trips because the vaccines had to be transported at life-form resolution or risk ruining a batch. They were also delivering stasis crates by runabout and shuttle to more remote locations on the far side of the planet, out of reach of a transporter beam. Easily a seven-hour operation or more, all told.

    A smaller Rihanha put her hand on Jaleh’s console and she looked up. White coat, heart-shaped face, ebony hair in a bob-cut. It was Emira t’Vraehn, the warbird’s CMO. “Time for you to get innocked, rekkhai,” she said, holding a pill bottle. “Bloodfire’s already jumped species once. Can’t have it getting a taste for Terrhasu.”

    “Do you have an injectable form?”

    The doctor raised an eyebrow. “I can get one. Why do you—”

    “Religious rules. I’m not allowed to put anything into a body cavity during the day this month.” Her stomach grumbled again.

    T’Vraehn stared at her, then made a derisive noise. “That’s absurd.”

    “We’re supposed to focus more on the teachings, cleanse the soul.”

    “What the Areinnye kind of good does starving yourself and maybe dying of bloodfire do for your soul? Take the pill.”

    “Put it in a hypospray. Please.”

    The doctor reached into her bag, grumbling something that sounded like “ridiculous Terrhasu” and jammed the hypospray into Jaleh’s jugular a little harder than strictly necessary. Jaleh winced at the pinch. “It’ll take a few hours to be effective. You’re not to go dirtside until then.”

    “Shouldn’t be necessary; I can do almost everything from right here.”

    As t’Vraehn left, still grumbling, the Havranha at sensors called to her from his station, “Enarrain Khoroushi, we might have a problem. I’m picking up a large number of people moving towards the treatment center. Uh-oh.”

    “What ‘uh-oh’?” She came over to look over the pale, wrinkle-faced antecenturion’s shoulder. “Oh.” She slapped her combadge. “Khoroushi to tr’Khev, if you’ve been innocked, get a security team together in riot gear and get to the transporter room. Possible civil disturbance breaking out in Ra’tarah.” Then the sensor console chimed. “Oh, what now?”

    The Havranha tapped along the touchscreen and it switched to a system plot. “Warp signatures, entering the system. Multiple ships, several high-mass signatures. Not close enough to identify but they’re defo not Rihannsu or Lloannen’galae

    Jaleh straightened and hit her badge again. “All hands, all hands. Sound yellow alert. Possible incoming hostiles.” She pointed to the comms officer as a two tones hummed through the intercom and the bridge lighting flicked from white to yellow. “Get the Moser’s sensor officer online, see if they can get a better reading.” Even with all the tech exchanges between the Republic and the Federation, Starfleet gear still had a measurable edge in quality.

    “Daie, rekkhai. Getting a response. Rekkhai, they’re not friendlies. Nasikannsu.”

    Nausicaans. Great. And they couldn’t leave orbit, not while they were still offloading the supplies. “Keep monitoring. If they come closer than thirty light-minutes sound battle stations. And send a message to Raenasa requesting reinforcements.”
    * * *

    Tovan ir’Hfihar tr’Khev and a security team materialized at the Ra’tarah Central Hospital with battle rifles in hand and immediately flagged down one of the local ladyyhti’theirrir guarding the place. “Tovan tr’Khev, security chief, ch’M’R Aen’rhien,” he half-yelled to make himself heard over the noise of the crowd outside.

    “Firh tr’Radaik, police chief. That mob outside is getting nasty.”

    “What’s the problem?”

    “Somebody posted a video on the local net showing your ship firing on a refugee convoy. They think you’re Tal’Shiar, here to spirit away their loved ones! It’s ridiculous! Obvious fake!”

    Tovan swore under his breath. “It’s real.”

    “What?”

    “Footage is real, the Aen’rhien used to be a Tal’Shiar ship, but that all happened over two years ago, before the Kreh’dhhokh Mol’Rihan got the ship when the next leih defected.”

    “Elements. Fine, damage control.”

    “Yeah. I’ll try to reason with them, but if that doesn’t work the Moser has the area marked for a stun-level blast from their ventral phasers.” Tovan checked the safety and settings on his rifle—a borrowed Lloann’mhrahel phaser, he didn’t want to hurt anyone he didn’t have to—and pushed out the front door to face the crowd yelling insults and profanity. Tovan and his team followed.

    The chief hit his loudspeaker as a rock hit the wall over his head and ordered, “This is the dyyhti’theirr. You are ordered to disperse and return to your homes immediately.”

    “Imirrhlhhsen mogai!” somebody up front bellowed back. “They’re Tal’Shiar! They’re going to take us away and feed us to the Elachissu!”

    A bottle whizzed past Tovan’s helmet and shattered against the hospital wall. He ignored it and retorted, “We are not Tal’Shiar! We’re Kreh’dhhokh Mol’Rihan! Elements, Starfleet was first on the scene here—you really think the Lloannen’galae would work with the Tal’Shiar? This is a mission of mercy, you idiots! Now everybody calm down, we’ll get you all checked out and vaccinated—”

    “Why don’t you come down here and try this hlai dung?!” somebody else, a huge man built like a smashball linebacker, shouted. “You’re only brave ‘cause you got a gun! All we got’s … what we got,” he finished, hefting an empty ale bottle.

    Tr’Radaik sent to Tovan on a private channel, “That’s Rabak tr’Venku. Local troublemaker and conspiracy theorist, but he’s been mostly harmless ‘til now. Where are you going?” he asked as Tovan started down the staircase.

    Tovan ignored the chief, walked right up to tr’Venku, and shoved the phaser rifle in his face; the other man instinctively grabbed it. Then Tovan took the bottle and stepped back, glaring at him. “Now you’ve got the gun. All I got is … what I got. Go ahead. Use it.”

    Now tr’Venku looked nervous, and the people around him started backing away. “No way. I drop you, your boys blow my head off.”

    “Maybe, maybe not. Areinnye, I go down, instant promotion for my second. That’d flatter her mnhei’sahe, wouldn’t it? Her getting a new job ‘cause her boss was an idiot?”

    He held the other man’s gaze for a long moment, and finally tr’Venku said, “Look, uh, I was just talking. I didn’t mean nothing.”

    “Good. Now give me the gun back and beat it.” He turned his loudspeaker back on. “As for the rest of you, form an orderly line and we’ll start the vaccinations in about five minutes.” He walked back up the stairs and back inside.

    His second, Enarrain Ael t’Lhoell, stood in the lobby staring at him with her mouth open. “Rekkhai, I don’t know if that was ballsy or stupid. What if he’d gone for it? What if—what’s that in your hand?”

    Tovan tossed a heavy square of plastic to her. “Power cell. Palmed it when I gave him the gun.”

    She stared at him. “I—er—” Then she made a disgusted noise. “Rekkhai, are you trying to give me a heart attack? ‘Cause one of these days you’ll succeed.”
    * * *

    “Status on those Nasikannsu?” Morgan requested from the sensor officer.

    “Still coming, three minutes out.”

    “Khoroushi, how much have we offloaded?”

    “Enough to last a few hours, but we’re still going to have trouble maneuvering.”

    “Reinforcements?”

    “Enterprise and Normandy are eight minutes out, Flaihhsam s’ch’Rihan, Eyiv s’Rea, and and Shavokh will be here in seventeen.”

    “The Enterprise? Riov Shon is coming?”

    “Quantum slipstream, rekkhai. They were free and in range.”

    “Ah. T’Khnialmnae, sync TacNet with the Moser, raise shields, and put us on an intercept course.”

    “Cloak?”

    “Leave it off for now, but charge it up.”

    A thrum through the floor and the planet swiveled out of view on the screen as the D’deridex-class warbird accelerated and began to break orbit.

    “TacNet synced. Moser is on our wing.”

    “Good. Open a hailing channel.” The comms officer waved her on and she switched to Federation Standard. “Nausicaan vessels, this is Subadmiral Morgaiah t’Thavrau of the Republic Warbird Bloodwing. Break off. Repeat, break off immediately or we will consider you hostile and act accordingly.”

    A green-skinned Nasikanha appeared on the screen. This one was even uglier than usual, greasy black hair and a nasty mass of scar tissue across the left side of his face, up to and including a hole right through his cheek. “Facial rec,” she ordered the comms officer.

    “You’re in no position to make demands, Romulan jil’kresh. Maybe you didn’t notice but there’s eight of us and two of you.”

    “So why don’t you get some more friends and make it an even fight,” Sarsachen retorted derisively.

    The Nasikanha waggled his middle finger—the index finger appeared to be missing—and responded, “Just for that, I’m gonna have some fun with you and then kill you myself.”

    “Khre’Riov,” the comms officer said, “I got him. Vaklarash, chieftain of the Asgarev clan. They’re not contracted with the Klling’hannsu, and he’s got a rap sheet as long as my leg. Piracy, extortion, racketeering, murder, the works. Even the other Nasikannsu don’t like him. Ooh, nice bounty, dead or alive even.”

    “Captain Vaklarash,” Morgan said, “there is nothing here worth your time. This planet is in the grip of a bloodfire epidemic and we have no cargo of value but drugs for that plague.”

    “They’re slowing, rekkhai! Coming out of warp now! Weapons hot!”

    “Fire, forward battery.”

    T’Khnialmnae hammered a key and triple streams of plasma blasted from the bow of the Aen’rhien, hammering into the front of the Guramba-class leading the disorganized mob of ships. Return fire hissed into the shields as the warbird yawed to port. The Moser popped up over the top of the warbird and added its phaser fire.

    The bridge lights dimmed as two Syphon-class frigates broke to port and starboard, dropping drones as they passed. “Losing power to weapons!” Khoroushi yelled. “Working on it, trying to compensate!” A spread of torpedoes crashed into the shields from a pair of destroyer escorts and the bridge shook. “Slight damage, armor plate!”

    “All arrays to rapid fire! Get those drones out of my sky!” The warbird hummed as the secondary batteries fired.

    “Moser, commencing attack pattern delta,” a gravelly voice came through the radio. Probably that Telharha leih, Proll. “Recommend a decap shot. Take out Vaklarash’s Guramba-class, we might be able to rout them. Dumeete! Tyken’s rift on that escort, now!”

    “There, got it!” Khoroushi crowed. An explosion rumbled through the deck and a siren wailed. “Hull breach, compartments 84 through 92, deck 29!”

    “T’Khnialmnae, get us out of here,” Morgan ordered. “Attack pattern D’Trel Five! Singularity jump in three, two, one, mark!” A momentary wormhole tore through reality ahead of the Aen’rhien, enveloping the ship, and suddenly they were on the far side of the fleet. “Fire!”

    An enormous salvo of emerald-green fireballs belched from the aft plasma torpedo launcher as the cloaking device thrummed. The lights dimmed and the Aen’rhien vanished. “Divert shield power to engines! Hard about!”

    Inside its pocket of nothing, the enormous warbird wheeled hard to starboard, the SIF struggling to maintain the ship’s hull integrity in the turn, tighter than the D’deridex superstructure had ever been meant to turn. “Now! Decloak, engine power to weapons, and target that Guramba!” The cloak fell away and plasma lanced into the stern of the Nasikan destroyer, ensnared in the collapsing gravity well left behind by the jump. The shields glittered, buckled, and failed.

    Just as five plasma torpedoes smashed into its stern. A searing, actinic flash of light momentarily washed out the viewscreen.

    “Rekkhai,” the sensor officer announced, “Reading two Lloannen’galae vessels coming out of warp in sector six! One Odyssey-class dreadnought, one Avenger-class battlecruiser!”

    “Picking up a broadcast in the clear,” the comms officer added.

    “This is Captain Va’kel Shon of the Federation Starship Enterprise. Nausicaan vessels, surrender immediately or I’ll send you all straight to the cold place.” No response came, but they weren’t firing anymore either.

    Then the comms officer started laughing. “Rekkhai, I’ve intercepted some of their transmissions and they’ve all started arguing about who’s in charge.”
    * * *

    Kneeling on the prayer mat, Jaleh turned her head slowly to the right. “Assalaamu `alayka ayyuhan nabiyyu wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. Assalamu `alaynaa wa `alaa `ibaadillaahis saaliheen. Assalamu `alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh. Allāhu akbar. Allāhu akbar. Allāhu akbar.”

    She opened her eyes to see Tovan leaning against the viewport. “Hey.”

    “Hey, yourself. That your evening prayer?”

    “Mm-hm.”

    “You hungry?”

    “Famished,” she answered, smiling. “That offer of hlai-hwy still open?”

    “Yup. Your quarters or mine?”

    “You’ve got the table, Tovan. But can we stop by a food replicator first?”

    They went down three decks to the officers’ quarters and Tovan palmed the access on his door. “What’s in the box?” he asked her as they sat down and he got the hlai-hwy out of the stasis unit.

    “Dates.”

    “That what this is? A date?”

    She laughed. “Very funny. It’s a kind of fruit. Traditional food for breaking one’s fast with. I downloaded a replicator pattern from the extranet.”

    Tovan dug a bottle out of the stasis unit. “Ale?”

    “Please.” He poured her a glass and she opened the box of dates and passed him a handful.

    “These are pretty good.”

    She nodded and popped one in her mouth, enjoying the flavor. Not the same kind they usually had back at the family home in Shahediyeh, but still tasty.

    “Sorry I missed the fight. How bad were our casualties?”

    “Eleven dead, twenty-five wounded. T’Vraehn’s still got four of the criticals in surgery, last I heard.”

    Tovan’s mouth tightened. “We had problems with Nasikannsu when I was working on Hfihar, but never this bad. Do we know what they were after?”

    “Captain Shon’s still grilling the acting clan leader. Simplest explanation? They just thought the planet would be easy pickings without the Grand Fleet picket and didn’t check the extranet alerts before launching.”

    Tovan got up and opened the oven to retrieve the hlai-hwy, pulling a drumstick out of the box and holding it out to Jaleh. “What are we doing?”

    “Doing? We’re eating.”

    “No, I mean us

    “As far as I know, we’re just two friends having dinner. But I’m open to suggestions,” she added with a grin.

    “Picked up a new holodrama from a Feh’rengi trader. Could do that.”

    “Now that, that would be a date.”
    * * *

    Author’s Notes: I had some trouble getting past the first scene (I had an idea to have Tovan walk in on Jaleh praying but had no clue what to do after that), but grylak’s comments about “not everybody in the world has a good Christmas” gave me some inspiration. I got to thinking about a story I heard on NPR about how Sir Bob Geldof recently rewrote the lyrics of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” to refer to the current West African Ebola epidemic, et voila.

    The USS Moser was named after two of the three winners of the 2014 Nobel Prize for Medicine, May-Britt and Edvard Moser. I based its skillset on this drain build. Also found a great use for the empty void between a double-D’s hulls: cargo transport. I envision that for other missions the area might be filled with such things as additional quartering modules and materiel storage for surface invasions.

    A major part of the challenge with writing Jaleh Khoroushi is getting the religious aspects right. Unlike with Eleya where I can mostly make it up as I go along, she’s an adherent of a major real-world religion that I really only know the basics of (I’m a secular non-denominational Protestant by upbringing, Methodist by inclination). But I still want as accurate a portrayal as possible of a secular Twelver Shiite (the most common denomination in Iran, where Jaleh is from), so that means lots of research. Among other things, via Google I was able to find a Shi’a-specific step-by-step handbook for the salat, the five daily prayers. The upturned chair was a field-expedient sutrah.

    It’s interesting the practical changes that have to be made to get a practicing Muslim in Starfleet. Muslims have to pray facing in the direction of Mecca, which I solved by having her pray towards the Sol system. As for the times of day, I initially thought about calculating it based on Meccan time, but then I decided to go with ship-time. I can also imagine that, replicators being a relatively recent invention (TOS had industrial replicators but not food replicators; they were new in the 24th century), there might still be some debate over whether replicator food is halal (particularly where meat is concerned, since it was never an animal to begin with). Jaleh solves it by simply ignoring the dietary laws while on deployment (the Ramadan fast excepted), which has the added benefit of letting her drink Romulan ale socially in her capacity as a liaison officer.

    Something else occurred to me regarding the epigraph I chose. While the Qur’an does exhort good Muslims to convert unbelievers, it repeats multiple times that you are only to wage war in self-defense. From 2:190, “Fight in God’s cause against those who fight against you, but do not commit aggression.” Chapter two in particular makes absolutely clear that you must not fire the first shot and that conversion by threat or force is verboten. Yes, you are supposed to convert the infidel, but you’re supposed to do it with kindness. Just like the Federation.

    So, peace be with you, no matter if you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Mawlid an-Nabī, Kwanzaa, the solstice, or some other winter holiday I’ve never heard of. From the Gospel of Luke, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
    "Two ways to view the world, so similar at times / Two ways to rule the world, to justify their crimes / By Kings and Queens young men are sent to die in war / Their propaganda speaks those words been heard before"
    — Sabaton, "A Lifetime of War"
    9MUythl.png
    (Vaporware thanks to Foundry shutdown. Thanks a frakking bunch, Cryptic.)
  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,121 Arc User
    edited December 2014
    Captain Aeris entered Sickbay aboard the Sovereign-class starship U.S.S. Zephyra. On the biobeds lied two groggy, grey-skinned males, Seifer and Menchez, just barely recovering from the undead-like infection of late-type events.

    "Ugggh. My head feels like ten Vaadwaur ambushes---" the nearly unrecognizable Seifer groaned. "So, a normal day."

    Menchez tried sitting up but failed in his attempts. "My mighty Klingon ridges-- feel like Ferengi ear cartilage, jammed together to form some kind of money hungry forehead."

    "Nice one," Seifer remarked as he and Menchez attempted to high-five, only to be defeated by the pain in their arms-- "Ugh!"

    Aeris looked at them. "So, you're alive, huh? Damn that Captain's prerogative which makes us all immune to death, supposedly."

    "Not--- for long," Seifer ached in his continued speech. "I have to-- reverse the 'reset' through calculations of time warp!"

    Menchez shook his head, subtly. "And I must--- purchase some--- life insurance."

    "Well, you can forget all those things, because you're both going to be stuck in bed for months thanks to your foolish handling of ex-Commander Avery, and the complete mess of carnage aboard both your ships," Aeris re-assured, disappointedly.

    Seifer gasped in shock, "Oh no! That means we're going to miss Q's Winter Wonderland??"

    "He's like the Kes of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants--- sending us 9.5 thousand light years closer to happiness," Menchez stated.

    Seifer nodded in understanding, and then stopped in realization. "Too bad she's dead now?"

    "--Au contraire, mon Cap-i-tans!" Suddenly, Qu appeared, perched like a bird over an unconscious Ensign Dan on a surgical bed near them.

    Menchez's eyes widened, "That's what Q's say??"

    "No, it's Qu. I'm a different guy. Also, it sounds the same, but it's spelled differently."

    Menchez turned to Seifer, "Qu had a go at serving me a dose of hard-reality not too long ago--- As it turns out, we're all constantly re-spawning in our battles in both space and ground-- thanks to a cosmic string which is also responsible for wiping our memories of it."

    "Wait, Qu, are you saying that that specific Ocampan is still alive--?" Seifer asked, instinctively dismissing the other thing.

    Qu looked at him confused, "What? Oh, no; she's a goner, for sure; died of constantly merging her life energies with things. --No, 'au contraire', is just a Q way of saying hello. We inherently contradict all creatures, and prefer to warn everyone through our greetings. The real reason I am here is because I've decided I'd like to send you all into a winter wonderland of forced joy and delight!"

    To that, he snapped his fingers and all three of them flashed away.

    ---

    They all re-appeared in a snow-filled paradise of questionable elation. Aeris suddenly noticed that both Seifer and Menchez were now standing, their pigments returned, and they both appeared to be in full health.

    "Uh, Qu, why the hell did you do that before we could react? We need to react to things, you know," Seifer insisted.

    Qu furrowed his divine brow. "You mortals take too long for things!"

    "By the curly hair of Admiral Kirk! You're not bed-strapped or Takaran-looking anymore??" Aeris' mouth was already dropped at the sight of the two other Captains.

    Qu continued. "Indeed. It was my judgment that you would all need to be capable for winter forced-liveliness. Here's the catch. All three of you Captains, or 'mains', if you will, desire something specific." He then turned to each of them, sequentially. "Seifer, you want to murder the rest of your crew in the noble cause of rejecting something you call 'resets'. Menchez, you desire reassurance of life and to install cushions in all the duranium beds on your ship. And, Aeris, as the new one, you just want these two Captains back aboard their similarly T5U, or T6-wannabe, vessels."

    "It's really more about the stench," Aeris confirmed. "Also, the skin debris coming off you guys. You're both worse than flaking-Odo as a Vidiian."

    Qu opened his arms. "In the spirit of the season, who so-ever wins these winter games will get what they want! More proof of my greatness; the action of such which also serves to confirm said claim."

    "Except why is some of this snow melting? And why is that gingerbread man attacking and eating that other gingerbread man?" Seifer asked, pointing.

    They all looked over to see a blue gingerbread man eating the remains of his most recent conquest. "Hahaha!! Let's see you try council-membering me now!" his amazingly perfect high-pitched voice exclaimed in victory before he started running off to his next victim.

    "Never mind that. --Begin, like the grindfest rodents you are!" Qu snapped and disappeared.

    ---

    Walking along the now seemingly half-efforted Winter Wonderland, the three Captain's came upon an ice shelved section with a gate attached to its edge. They approached a Breen who was more than impartial to address them.

    "The race happens 15 minutes after the hour, then again 22 minutes after the hour, and at 45 and 52 minutes after the hour," he instructed.

    Seifer tapped his foot. "Uh, it's 45 after; so, what's the hold up?"

    "I think I read somewhere that the 45 minute mark is hit and miss," Menchez offered. "Perhaps a reminder we should all get out and find girlfriends."

    Suddenly, the Breen started talking again: "Make sure you're standing on the starting platform - the wooden area - while the countdown to the race happens."

    "Well, aren't you Mr. Sunshine?" Aeris commented as the three of them moved to get into position. "He's actually not that bad; I just wanted to sound witty."

    Menchez gazed at the platform, "Ice. Pure ice. Anyway, as great as it is that we have this opportunity to take part in Winter Wonderland, I intend on wiping the makeshift raceways with your sorry Federation uniforms. Seriously, who designed your Odyssey type? It's just a 2373 rehash."

    Suddenly, an ominous countdown beeped and the gate dropped. Seifer, Menchez and Aeris leapt onto the icey track and ran for it, each determined to win favor with the standing record for each of their own personal reasons.

    "Auuuggh!" During the run, Menchez and Seifer suddenly found themselves sliding into an inhibiting patch of spikey ice. Aeris fell into a snow bank.

    Seifer tried, unsuccessfully, pushing the Klingon away from him. "I'm not letting you win, Menchez! You told me about reset, and now I'm addicted to it! This is just like the ketrecel white fixation I had last month."

    "So, you intend on killing your crew?" Menchez asked rhetorically. "Give it up, Captain! Doing things just leads to other things! And things are the worst!"

    As Aeris got up and carefully re-stepped back into the race, she suddenly found her foot breaking through the ice. In half a minute, the entire track cracked apart, revealing the unfrozen, unkempt river beneath. The three Captains found their legs immersed in shallow, streaming, and chopped-ice water.

    "You know, the Phoenix-X has this exact same problem on Deck 8," Seifer admitted. "I suspect it's one of my Xindi-Aquatic duty officers."

    The three made their way out onto destitute snow-land, disqualifying from the boundary, and confused by the end-result. "Where do we file bug reports and whiny protests? Is there a General Discussion forum somewhere?" Aeris asked.

    ---

    Next, the mini-group came upon the icey shelter where Ferengi vendors and Epohh ladies lived.

    "Qu is a genius!" the Ferengi said as they strolled by, "And so handsome."

    Seifer eyed him, confusingly. "Why is he just offering personal information out like that? Doesn't he want to keep that to himself?"

    "Don't you want an Epohh friend?" the Epohh lady asked, loudly, as they walked passed her next. "Qu loves all the little creatures; even you!"

    Menchez nodded, taking that last comment in, somewhat overwhelmingly. "It is a good feeling being loved. As a Klingon, I will freely admit that."

    "It's the Pie Contest Breen," Aeris observed as they approached a seemingly over-weight, cold, suited man.

    The Breen spoke at their arrival, "Look at all this bounty Qu has provided. Eat the pies for his amusement! The more pies you finish, the better the rewards!"

    "The reward being an early death?" Seifer asked.

    As the three approached the table of pies, the countdown timer rang off, prompting them all to begin eating as many as possible. Menchez and Seifer dove in and began stuffing their faces, but Aeris hesitated. "The Humanoid stomach can only fill about 2 to 4 liters of food, and you have a Trill Symbiont."

    "Yeah, but his stomach can hold up to 6 or 7," Seifer explained with a mouth-full, knowingly breaking canon and the laws of alien biology all at once. Suddenly a gag reflex caused him to involuntarily spit out his pie. "Ugghh! These are really badly made! Are these...... Are these all leola root pies??"

    Aeris pointed to a nearby table. "Well, there's your answer-- a Talaxian."

    "Happy Non-Denominational Holidays! Qu has charged me to discover new foods and combine bizarre spices in strange, new ways," Neelix greeted from afar.

    Menchez continued eating, forcing it down. "You fools! Leola root is nothing to a Klingon! I don't care what that half-asleep engineer always said!"

    "Captain, no! Many of Voyager's crew was found dead from leola root poisoning! They secretly cloned new personnel, as replacements, every season--- That's why there were more background faces than what the actual crew complement was supposed to be!"

    Menchez involuntarily spat out a mouth-full, compelling him to stop in pure emotion-- "I have to win this! Don't you see? If we can't have death, as I have previously tried to force it, then we must have life-- We can't end up the way Sisko fake-died??"

    "Yeah, that was weird. Then I had a dream about Kirk trying to interview him while he absent-mindedly played piano? Anyway, Captain, what I mean to say is: you're the fool. Your obsessions are turning you weak and barely even Klingon anymore!" Aeris charged.

    Menchez wiped a tear from his eye, and sniffled. "That was a mean thing to say, you big meanies. I can't believe how mean you both are being. Captains are supposed to have a non-mean code."

    "Uggh!" Seifer and Aeris threw up their arms in frustration before a bunch of live leola root worms started wiggling out of the pies, destroying their perfect holiday crusts.

    It was all Aeris could do to keep herself from hurling-- "Oh, dude, hell no---" She pushed Seifer aside and ran out into the open snow, preparing for the worst in regurgitation.

    ---

    Seifer and Menchez ran over, to catch up, when all three suddenly stopped their concerns, noticing a gingerbread veteran, nearby, eating into the blue, high-pitched gingerbread man from earlier.

    "A gingerbread council member is being eatennnn!" it cried out before perishing.

    The gingerbread veteran, with a nasally, stuffed-up voice emerged from his hunger-triumph and took notice of the three Captains. "Help protect us from an invasion of snowmen!"

    "You just performed horrible, yet deliciously-looking cannibalism, and now you want us to take you seriously?" Seifer critiqued.

    The gingerbread veteran continued his nasally panic without waiver: "Strange snowmen are trying to break into our winter wonderland and ruin everything!" He then turned to find Menchez breaking off his left arm and eating it.

    "Whu't?" Menchez said with a mouth-full of gingerbread. "I nee'ded to w'ash th'e Nee'lix dow'n."

    Suddenly, a group of stick-bat'leth-wielding snowmen approached from the distance, intent on overtaking the intrepid Captains of yonder time. Aeris pointed to just the left of them. "Here! A pile of conveniently formed snowballs! Put the extras in your pockets!"

    All three Captains began picking up snowballs and throwing them at incoming snowmen.

    Suddenly, a giant Borg sphere passed overhead, in the sky, stopping to a hover beyond the hill in the distance where the snowmen were approaching from. Moments later, the onslaught of snow enemies trickled into an onslaught of assimilated snow enemies. Their drone voices broadcasted all around, naturally: "We are the Borg. In an effort to penetrate new realms, as we do, we have entered this one. We call it, the 'jolly realm'. We were already aware it was labeled Qu's Winter Wonderland. Freezistance is futile."

    "I love that the Borg are way more talkative now. Remember when they attacked the NX-01 Enterprise in the mid-22nd century and they didn't even say they were Borg, despite them being from the future where they did say that?" Seifer commented by way of run-on-ask.

    Menchez looked at him while continuing his non-tiring snow-throws. "And how exactly would any of us remember events we weren't there for?"

    Then, a more giant amalgamation of assimilated snow mush, called a Bursting Snow Monstrosity, approached. "We only wish to lower temperature for all species."

    While frosty assimilated enemies were being taken out by highly trained Starfleet officers and a hardened Klingon warrior, the gingerbread veteran snorted: "In order to help you out, I've dug three several-kilometer-long grooves into the snow to help align the snowmen's approach!"

    "That wasn't necessary," Seifer explained. "The only reason I can think you would do such a thing is because you wanted to name each of the groov---"

    But the veteran just interrupted him at the then incoming approach of several Guardian Snow Monstrosities: "Snowmen are coming down Black Diamond, Crimson Cube and Blue Lozenge lanes!"

    "Yeah; that."

    Just then, the Borg Snow Queen, the tallest snow mash-up of them all, emerged in the distance and threw a giant snow ball at the group. Seifer and Menchez dodged it as it hit Aeris and took her down. "Ugh! This is pointless!" the Human Captain gritted in snow-plastered frustration. "Of course you two are able to ease into reminiscings of any kind, while I have to deal with being the new one with no memorable adventure-like experiences to back me up!-- Entries, if you will. It's almost as if we only get one per month now??"

    Seifer looked at her, confused.

    "Oh, please; like you've never been jealous of a non-tangible thing."

    The Trill Starfleet officer tapped his chin. "Well, there is that whole Vulcan katra mumbo-jumbo, which is way more mystical than our zhian'tara woozle-wozzle. Both, of course, I assume are ghost-based."

    The two then glanced over to see Menchez handing over several items to a Ferengi Holiday Item Vendor: Targ ear muffs, Bolian candles, Andorian sleigh bells and much, much more. He was rewarded with a Freezing Mist ground-based weapon-- to which he immediately used to blast the Borg Snow Queen to pieces.

    "Definitely feeling aggressive tendencies, sirs!"

    Aeris got up with Seifer's help. "Thanks for telling us?"

    "--Ahh! What are you mortal meat-bags doing??" Qu suddenly flashed in with arms pre-open. "If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times: Don't provoke the Borg!"

    Seifer crossed his arms, "You never told us that. In fact, we asked you specifically if there was a group we shouldn't provoke and you replied with 'Don't bother me now; I'm picking out my Q hat'."

    "Yes, that's right! Big surprise, the Q likes head-wear! I made this Winter 'Wonderland' because I thought it could lead me to be worthy of even more Q top-warmers."

    Aeris looked at him, with judgmental glee. "It's clear you just copied Q's Winter Wonderland from previous years. Melting race tracks? Leola worm pies? Gingerbread cannibals?"

    "Let's not forget the epohh breeding baskets. People are literally just putting epohhs in baskets and placing bets," Seifer reported.

    Qu put the oddly-formed epohh he was petting down. "Uggh. They're just serving as a reminder of the Borg epidemic now. All I was doing was trying to follow the gold example?? Old-faced Q thinks he's so perfect."

    "---I'm Q-Junior, the less copyrighted Q!" Q-Junior said as he flashed in. "I'm the one who's been running the Winter Wonderlands; not my father."

    Qu looked at him in momentary shock, "Oh! I guess I forgot to check. Plus your look, behavior and dialogue are similar? Well, anyway, it's not like people really need to know the truth. I suppose I don't feel as bad now."

    "Wait! Who won out of the three of us?" Menchez reached out. "The Klingon, right? It's usually the Klingon."

    Qu shook his head, "I don't have time for games!? My wonderland is destabilizing thanks to this Delta incursion! Do the players love it? Do they really??"

    "Well, pick one of us. We went through hell and back for this holiday season; just... horrible, utter hell," Aeris stated.

    Qu glanced over. "Huh? Oh. You..... since you're the one closest to me right now-- Your wish of everyone back on their ships, in some measure of health, is granted. But, you should know, Captain, even the action of being sent is itself memorable." Before snapping, he paused-- "Please note, every Q transport erases two weeks of childhood memory." At that, Seifer, Menchez and Aeris all disappeared in a flurry flash.

    "I like what you've involuntarily endured with the Borg snowmen," Q-Junior said, walking over. "I think I'll add it to my Wonderland; the lanes as well." He glanced at the gingerbread veteran. "You're coming with me, too. The catch being you thinking this was all my idea."

    Qu tilted his head, "But your Wonderland has been going on since the beginning of the month? You're adding this in so late in the game?"

    "I'll go into the past and add it, you nit-wit! Ugh. You are literally the worst Q that ever existed," he said before preparing to leave. "Now, if you'll excuse me, but I have to sit in a chair on Earth Spacedock, Qo'noS and New Romulus all at once. They make me shift my consciousness between each body and it's quite dizzying."

    After he and the gingerbread veteran flashed away, Qu took one last holiday prideful look at his melting ice shelter moments before half of it collapsed in on its sad, tired and depressed vendors. Luckily, despite being copies, they were all granted immortality, so they were probably fine. Happy Holidays!
    rrw_tetreya2.jpg
  • atif05atif05 Member Posts: 1 Arc User
    edited January 2015
    Backgrounds for NPC contact windows in Delta Quadrant content now show the correct image.
    Vaadwaur Tanks have brand new death animation.
    Commander Hugor no longer spawns in random groups of Klingon NPCs.
    Episodes which no longer exist will now automatically be dropped from the player’s In Progress list.
    Turned the rotating events back on for New Romulus.
    These were accidently shut off.
    Hirogen lips now move when speaking in cutscenes.
    Resolved an issue that was causing level 60 players to not be able to access PvP Warzone Sector doors in the Qo’Nos and Donatu Sectors.
    Added music to the Devore Sector.
    Resolved an issue causing the nebula to flicker in the Klingon space tutorial map.





    _________________________
    http://www.tesking.biz
  • jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 8,307 Arc User
    edited January 2015
    ((AUTHOR'S NOTE: The story refused to gel as anything except the worst kind of cliched tripe. I quite liked the opening, and it's the only part that kept to the theme anyway, so I present that vignette here, in the hopes that actually publishing something might open the floodgates, either with this challenge or the next.))

    Ship's log, USS Adamant, NCC-93424
    Capt. Vazlav recording.

    On routine patrol of Iota Pavonis region. Nothing worth noting going on currently. As I frequently remind the crew, this isn't one of those
    Galaxy-class luxury liners; we have to make our own entertainment. With that in mind, Cmdr. Rodriguez has informed me that by the Terran calendar, today is the holiday of Christmas, celebrating the supposed birth of some religio-historical figure or other. I've advised everyone of this fact, and invited them to learn about the religious and cultural traditions appropriate to the day. My personal favorite is called "Christmas dinner"; while we obviously don't have roast goose aboard, we are going to have a feast in the mess hall. Each crewmember is encouraged to bring a dish appropriate to their culture, provided only that anything toxic to most Federation members be labeled (I still remember the debacle when Ensign Chertwil tried to share his own favorite dish at a banquet last year - Bolian cooking is best appreciated by Bolians).

    Vazlav twitched an ear as he approached the door to the bridge. He could hear voices on the other side, not itself remarkable; the Human sounded agitated, however.

    As the Tellarite entered the bridge, his Vulcan science officer, T'Lot, was saying to TacOps chief Maria Rodriguez, "I did not say the tradition was 'stupid'. That would be an unjustified value judgement on my part. I merely note the illogic of the symbology."

    "Whaddaya mean, 'illogic'?" Rodriguez replied hotly.

    "Mistletoe is a parasitic plant," T'Lot explained, "which survives by draining the life of its host plant, often oak. Death of the host is not uncommon. The Human act of 'kissing', however, is typically a sign of affection, is it not? Conflating 'love' and parasitism seems illogical."

    "You never met my ex," Muggil remarked from his position at the helm. The Saurian flicked his tongue in his race's equivalent of a smile, as Stayshir, the Rigellian comms officer, chuckled.

    Rodriguez sighed. "Fine, I won't put up any mistletoe on the bridge then."

    "Thank the Argumentor," Vazlav said, walking to the center seat. "If I understand the tradition correctly, that would have obligated you to kiss me as I came through the door. And I'm not sure either of us would have enjoyed that."

    "Why, Captain," Rodriguez said in mock offense, "is there something wrong with how I look?"

    Vazlav looked at her appraisingly. "Not enough wrinkles. Too tall and skinny. And you Humans are almost hairless. I suppose another Human would find you pleasing enough, but by Tellarite standards..."
    "Science teaches us to expect -- demand -- more than just eerie mysteries. What use is a puzzle that can't be solved? Patience is fine, but I'm not going to stop asking the universe to make sense!"

    - David Brin, "Those Eyes"
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  • zidanetribalzidanetribal Member Posts: 218 Arc User
    edited March 2016
    Literary Challenge #69: Winter Wonderland Celebrations

    LC69: A Kot'baval Carol
    Mindfang Combat Log: The 80th day in the year of Kahless 1040. It is time for the Kot'baval Festival so cherished by the Klingons in my crew. So many of them have left the ship to join the festivities that running the Mindfang is impossible. If I am to break even this fiscal quarter, I must coerce the rest of the ship to work harder during the festival, since we cannot leave Qo'noS until the festival runs its course.

    ===

    Once upon a time- of all the good periods in the year, during the Kot'baval Festival- Lieutenant General Vriska Serket sat busy in the ready room of IKS Mindfang. Her ledgers continued to trouble her, since in waging her private war against Melani D'ian and the Orion Syndicate, she had expended another two-hundred twenty million darseks since the start of Kahless 1040.

    Tap, tap, tap.

    If she desired to attack Melani D'ian some more, she would have to raise that much before the next quarter started in ten days. However, the Klingon members of her crew have taken this crucial time to shirk their duties and celebrate Kot'baval, leaving her unable to embark on any fund-raising raids or smuggling operations.

    Tap, tap, tap.

    Kot'baval is a Klingon tradition, Vriska thought to herself, non-Klingons don't need to celebrate Kot'baval. Her plan was to wheedle the other members of Mindfang's crew to engage in the type of covert money-making schemes that can only occur on the Klingon homeworld. As long as those non-Klingons didn't get into the Kot'baval spirit, she may yet be able to close the money gap and rearm the ship before Melani D'ian's treasure fleet returned to Klingon space.

    Tap, tap, tap.

    Fed up with the tapping, Vriska leaped out of her seat and delivered a flying kick out her ready room door. Joel Chandler Harris, her chief of security and the incessant knocker, was laid out flat on his back. Vriska kneeled on his chest with a small but fiery degree of malice.

    "What do you need from me, my Chief of Security?" she asked icily.

    Harris began to catch his breath, having predicted such a response from his temperamental captain and worn a polyalloy weave armor under his clothing.

    "M-m-maitresse," he stammered, "since you have released the Klingon crew from their duties for K-K-Kot'baval, some of the other crewmembers w-w-would like to take this time for p-p-personal errands."

    Vriska's countenance darkened. This was the last thing she wanted to hear.

    "We are already short-staffed as it is. Who is it that would pursue their own agendas at the expense of the ship and its crew?" she asked. She hoped that she could punish this upstart crewmember and so discourage anyone else from leaving.

    Harris stood up now that Vriska was off his chest.

    "Chief Engineer Shova is requesting a leave of absence to settle things on his homeworld," he said with a cough.

    Vriska's spirits plunged even further. She knew full well that the Acamarian chief engineer was both loyal and brilliant, and to deny him leave would only cause dissension within the rest of the ship. She could only lamely accede to Shova's request.

    "Very well, Commander Shova will have his leave. Let it be known that I am a fair and flexible captain with a mind to care for my crew, even if they will abandon their duties to partake in frivolities."

    Harris pulled out a tricorder from a vest pocket.

    "In that case, can I and some of the other crewmembers visit Ri- ungaaahhhh!"

    Harris dropped his tricorder as Vriska prodded his hand with a painstik.

    "Are you volunteering to cover the shift of each shirker by yourself, Chief of Security?"

    Harris gingerly put his tricorder back in his pocket and fled the room.

    ---

    Vriska took her customary pensive dinner in her customary pensive dining room. Having watched the Klingon news networks and checked her bank history, she returned to the bridge and sat in the captain's chair. The bridge was empty, as the support staff was either celebrating the Kot'baval Festival or maintaining the ship in the absence of everyone else. Only the flashing lights of bridge consoles kept her company; their hypnotic effect, coupled with the meal she had eaten, began lulling Vriska into drowsiness despite her better judgment.

    "baQa', Hu'tegh," she groused in her half-asleep state.

    In the gloom of the bridge, Vriska looked at the debris of Praxis from the viewscreen. She began to see familiar shapes in the tumbling rocks: a targ, an Orion tiara, Captain Jurlek whom she slew so long ago to take command of his ship...

    "I don't believe it!" Vriska suddenly shouted. The ghostly figure of Captain Jurlek stepped out of the viewscreen and stood on her bridge, in an advanced state of decay and carrying various scraps of metal around his body.

    "What manner of hologram or trickery are you?" Vriska shouted at the ghostly Jurlek. "Security teams to the bridge!"
    "Ensign Serket! I have come to warn you from Gre'thor!" the spectre shouted. "Turn away from your impious ways and embrace the Klingon culture ere it is too late!"

    More spirits began appearing with Jurlek; Vriska recognized them as several people who she had killed over her career, including S'gen, son of Torg, the Nausicaan smuggler Majorog, and Tarsen the Romulan assassin. She drew her dual disruptor pistols.

    "This is ludicrous!" she shouted as she pointed her weapons at them. "This must be a trick of some sort!"
    "For the great Orion general who killed Fek'lhr, you are very stubborn in your disbelief of the supernatural," the decayed form of Guard Rodek proclaimed accusingly.
    "Captain Jurlek has fought his way from Gre'thor to warn you of the perils of neglecting Klingon culture," Tarsen exclaimed. "By turning you from your impiety, we all hope to earn some respite from our torments through your valor."
    Vriska was about to inquire further, but Jurlek raised a palm to Vriska to order her to stop.

    "Lieutenant General, Spider Marquess, three spectres will visit you to show you the benefits of Klingon culture. Without their help, you will suffer a fate worse than going to Gre'thor!"

    With that, the spirits faded and the bridge returned to normal.

    ---

    The next day was uneventful enough. Without enough crewmembers to police the entirety of the ship and maintain the Mindfang's operations, Vriska was forced to seal herself inside her ready room while having her Chief Science officer scan for anomalous behaviors. However, it was to no avail, for later that night, as Vriska made herself ready for bed, a spectre appeared in her quarters. Vriska recognized the Spectre of Cowardice from her sojourn into the bowels of Boreth.

    "Did Jurlek send you? I defeated you once before and I can do it again even undressed!" she proclaimed, drawing a thin Orion dagger from her garter.
    "Stay your hand, Lieutenant General, for I come as a guide rather than a foe," Cowardice replied. "I have come to show you the cowardice that marked your life before your ascension into Klingon culture, when you were still an Orion slave wench!"

    Saying so, he slugged Vriska with his right fist; when the stars faded from her vision, Vriska saw that she was in Melani D'ian's palace on Ter'jas Mor.

    "Why?" she groused. "Of all the places to bring me, why have you brought me into the heart of darkness?"
    "Watch, Lieutenant General," Cowardice replied. "This is when your career path started, when you left your comrades to die in order to advance your own agenda. Does your weakness shame you?"

    As Cowardice pointed, a younger Vriska in vixen garments burst into the room with disruptor blasts hitting around her. Oblivious to the spectre and older Vriska, she fiddled around with her wrist communicator, which broadcasted the cries of other Orion slaves.

    "Boss!" the voice on the communicator cried. "Melani D'ian's enforcers are about to storm the seraglio! We're going to get massacred if you don't get us out of here!"
    "Keep your clothes on!" the younger Vriska replied. "If you hold out just a little more, I will be able to play my trump card and Melani D'ian will be defeated! Vriska out!"

    So saying, she discarded her wrist communicator on the floor. Searching in a neglected corner of the room, she pulled out a subspace transponder and activated it. She spoke into a microphone at the base of the transponder.

    "Commander Korak, one to beam up."

    The younger Vriska beamed out of the compound as burly Orion enforcers threw photon grenades into the room. The cries on her discarded communicator continued to resonate until its destruction. Cowardice chided the older Vriska.

    "You left your followers to die while you escaped in disgrace. Each of them had hoped to their very last that you would save them from the firing squad. That was callous even by Orion standards."

    Vriska griped back at Cowardice.

    "What was I to do? Stay and let Melani D'ian kill me or sell me off while she sits pretty?"

    She turned to Cowardice, only to find that the spectre was gone. In its place was a new spectre.

    "Aren't you the Spectre of Treachery?" she asked.

    ---

    The Spectre of Cowardice had left Vriska in Melani D'ian's compound and in the hand of the Spectre of Treachery. Vriska drew her dagger again, though half-heartedly, as her lack of clothing made her more susceptible to chills.

    "What are you doing here?" she asked Treachery.
    "You are a treacherous person, Lieutenant General, even among your fellow Orions," Treachery responded. "Although you are a subject of the Klingon Empire, your only loyalty is to yourself."
    "You presume too much," Vriska sneered. "I and my ship have rendered many important services to the Empire without expectation of remuneration."
    "Therein lies the heart of the problem," the spectre replied. "You have ensured that all the glory of your deeds goes to you, and that your subordinates are sacrificed to build your own reputation. Come, hold my baldric so I can conduct you to your next destination."

    Vriska grabbed onto Treachery's baldric and, in an instant, the pair found themselves in a modestly decorated hall. Vriska took the time to steal a tapestry in order to wrap around her body. Just then, two children entered the hall. They pointed down the hall and shouted "Green auntie! Green auntie!"

    Vriska darted behind a pillar in shock. She tied the tapestry closer to her body.

    "Do they see me? Spectre, this is treachery on your own part!" she chided the spectre.
    "Hold your tongue, Lieutenant General, and watch!" Treachery replied.

    As Vriska watched, the two children ran into the arms of another Orion female. Vriska recognized her immediately as Aranea Serket, the Mirror Universe counterpart that she had abandoned to the Federation. Treachery gestured towards Aranea.

    "You remember Aranea, do you not?" the spectre noted. "She came to you in suppliance along with your security chief, but you involved her in a plot against a Federation admiral and then left her behind to make your escape!"

    Aranea and the two children went into the next room. Treachery bade Vriska to follow them, and she entered the room to see a large gathering of Acamarians and Orions. To the side of the elder sitting at the seat was her Chief Engineer, Shova. Aranea walked up to Shova and whispered into his ear.

    "Is this okay, Commander Shova?" she asked him. "I don't think I can pull off an impersonation of Vriska."
    "Please bear with me, Commander Aranea," he replied. "I wanted to show my clan how well I've done for myself under the lieutenant general, but I didn't want to expose them to her acerbic personality. You know how she is."
    "I can gather," Aranea responded. "I remember when she abandoned me, but I hold no ill will. Besides, things have turned out well enough, hasn't it? Admiral Lee sends me on missions like this one to foster goodwill, and it feels good to be surrounded by happy people and festivity."

    The rest of the night passed in merriment. The Acamarians showed themselves to be gracious hosts to the Orions of the Lord English, although they mistook them to be of Vriska's coterie. Halfway through the party, the Acamarian elder stood up and shouted.

    "My son Shova has brought his commanding officer, a leading figure of the Klingon Empire to which we owe them the chance to continue our Gatherer ways. Now that we got that out of the way- Lieutenant General Vriska!"

    The elder pointed at Aranea.

    "My son often tells me that you're working him days on end and then making excuses not to give him his fair share of the loot. You're also throwing him into dangerous situations without his knowledge and penalizing him if he doesn't come back with treasure."

    The elder continued to roast Vriska for another fifteen minutes before another of Shova's clansmen took over the jibes. Aranea was gracious in absorbing the invectives that were being directed at her, laughing and smiling all the way. Vriska, however, became incensed at the slights being issued by the Acamarians at her expense.

    "Spectre, I have no more desire to be ridiculed by these bumpkins," she groused. "Take me out of here!"

    She turned to face Treachery, but the spectre was gone. In its place was an entirely different spectre who viciously slapped Vriska with the back of its hand...

    ---

    When Vriska recovered, she found herself next to an abandoned Kivra shuttlepod in the middle of the desolate wastes of Ketha Province. vriska looked around to see who hit her and recognized the Spectre of Dishonor. Fuming, Vriska turned to the Spectre.

    "That hurt a lot!" she shouted. "Where have you taken me now?

    Dishonor put a finger to his lips to silence Vriska, then pointed at the shuttlepod. As Vriska strode to where Dishonor pointed, she could hear an old Human and a young Bolian working next to the shuttlepod and talking to each other.

    "Admiral," the young Bolian asked. "why have the Klingons decided to destroy the shuttlepod after all these years, and why did you volunteer to destroy the shuttlepod for them?"
    "Ensign," the old Human replied. "When it comes to Klingons, one never questions their customs, especially when it comes to the dishonored. As for me, I figured since she'd been pestering me on and off for so many years, it'd seem fitting that I'd conduct her to her final rest."

    The two Federation officers continued to fiddle around with several boxes of equipment. The young Bolian continued to strike up conversation with the old Human.

    "So what did she do to make the Klingons damn her memory?" the Bolian asked. "I thought she was once a hero of the Klingon Empire."
    "While the Klingon Empire was a separate entity, she was one of the best raiders to serve in the Defense Force," the Human responded. "but after the Iconian crises were resolved and both the Klingons and the Orions joined the Federation, she became more trouble than she was worth. Eventually her actions became more and more intolerable and alienated more and more people that the High Council discommended her and exiled her to this wasteland to live out her days in disgrace."

    The Human connected some more wires from the shuttle to an ominously dull box.

    "By the end of her life, even her loyal crew began deserting her as she engaged in so many schemes which only served to make enemies of the very people she needed to remain in good standing with the Klingons. The general who had planned to defeat the Orion Syndicate and seize control of a vast criminal empire ended up with only a small shuttlepod, and in thirty seconds, that will be gone too."

    The Human finished connecting the wires and putting ominous boxes next to the shuttlepod. He and the Bolian moved some distance away from the craft.

    "I think the saddest part about the whole thing was just how one-dimensional she was. At the base of it she was just a con artist with delusions of grandeur and an inability to see beyond her own goals. Well, such is the end of the Spider Marquess. Lord English, two to beam up."

    Realization dawned on Vriska as the two Starfleet officers beamed away. Rushing over to the shuttlepod, she wiped the dust off the cockpit with a tapestry edge. In the pilot's seat was the withered skeleton of an Orion female in a flight suit. The colors and design of the suit matched the one that she normally wore on raids; Vriska knew immediately that this was the corpse of her future self.

    "Could it really be true?" she asked aloud. "Am I fated to die in disgrace without even an achievement to my name? Oh, Spectre of Dishonor, I have seen the errors of my ways. Please give me the chance to rewrite my history and become a better person."

    In response, Dishonor pushed Vriska onto the front of the shuttlepod. At the same time, the boxes arranged around the shuttlepod exploded violently. Soon, the shuttlepod was vaporized; the last thing Vriska saw was Dishonor fading away before the blast of the shuttlepod blinded her vision with bright light.

    ---

    Lieutenant General Vriska Serket startled herself out of slumber. She had remembered every detail of her visions from start to finish. Getting out of bed, she quickly dressed herself.

    "Computer, what day is it?" she asked.
    "It is the 81st day in the year of Kahless 1040," the computer replied. "Today is the Kot'baval festival's final day."
    "Then I still have time," Vriska exclaimed. "Computer, locate the largest targ among the butcher's shops on Qo'noS."

    As the computer went about searching the databases, Vriska left her quarters and went to find her Chief Security Officer, Commander Joel Chandler Harris. Having spent the night in Engineering maintaining the engines, Harris was surprised to see his captain smiling at him.

    "Merry Kot'baval, Commander!" Vriska said to Harris. The shock of the greeting had him falling out of his chair.
    "I-I-is something the matter, maitresse?" he asked.
    "I have decided that the happiness of my crew is more important than my personal agenda," she stated. "Commander Harris, please tell everyone they have the rest of the quarter off!"

    In saying so, she skipped off. Harris was perplexed, but glad that his normally vindictive captain had turned a new leaf.

    "It's a Kot'baval miracle!" he shouted with glee.

    ---
    Mindfang Combat Log: supplemental. The visit by Captain Jurlek and the three Spectres has shown me the errors of my ways. I will now strive to become a fairer captain and live according to the Klingon creeds. I must reward Commander Harris for bringing me to my sen-

    ---

    As Commander Harris began writing the final paragraph of his story, he could distinctly feel the accusing eyes of Lieutenant General Serket on his skin. Timidly, he popped his head out of the maintenance tube where he had hidden himself to write his story. His gaze met Vriska's gaze of smoldering anger.

    "Maitresse, I didn't expect you to come down to Engineering," he said in a placating manner.
    "I found I needed to take the trip when I checked with the computer over our engine maintenance," she replied icily. "Apparently, there hasn't been any progress for over three hours in the improvement of engine efficiency. Perhaps this has something to do with my Chief of Security hiding in a maintenance tube?"

    Harris knew the jig was up. He crawled out of the tube and showed Vriska the PADD he was writing on.

    "Maitresse, please forgive me, I was attempting to raise funds by writing a short story to sell on the Exchange."

    Vriska gave Harris' story a look. After she finished, she pulled Harris closer to her.

    "My dear Security Chief, although you have shown your talents as a writer, you must remember that your job is to make my ship ready to go. We can't attack the Orion Treasure fleet with words, can we?"

    Harris' face blanched as Vriska's sharp nails dragged across his face. It was a sign that a worse punishment was yet to come.

    ===
    Mindfang Combat Log: supplemental. Kot'baval continues to draw my crew away from my ship, but I have been able to make up for my lack of manpower by forcing the rest of the crew to work triple shifts. Commander Harris has been highly essential in this endeavor, as I have used him to deflect the ire of the crew by having him take the blame for the triple shifts. As for his manuscript- after extensive editing, I have sold it to a Ferengi trader for 155 darseks. It has not reached the best-sellers lists of any planet, but the datalogger I have embedded in the code should allow me to take the biometric data of anyone curious enough to read it.
    Post edited by zidanetribal on
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