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



  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Kanril Eleya, New Bajor Joint Services Base. 27 June 2415.

    Less than two months. That’s all it took to assemble a repair yard out here, and it was assembled by the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, but not to the usual standards.

    There are probably eight times as many orbital scaffolds here, for one thing. Someone in ch’Harrell’s staff recognized we were going to have Moabite ships in the task force, or someone made correct assumptions about how much combat my little fleet was going to face.

    The MCDS Saskatoon Hills is wrapped in scaffolding right now, and the team that’s working on her is made of Reserve spacers from the Bajoran Militia, Starfleet engineering specialists, and a crew of contractors brought in by the MCDF from the Cardassian yards.

    Not that they’re the only ones. USS Kongo is getting a big piece of her dish-like dorsal hull replaced, and there’s the Bajor herself…

    It doesn’t look that bad. Not from the outside. A long scorch along the dorsal and portside neck where the plasma vented, a few broken hull plates, some minor battle-scars to her outer hull, but…

    For two hundred and five of her crew, it was a horrible ending. Infected with an alien prionic lifeform that was rewriting their genetic code, turning them into monsters, and then being burned alive.

    We had to start up the saucer reactors to maintain full life support, reactors we usually don’t use except for saucer separation, and travel between the engineering hull and the saucer had to be done in pressure suits until we got to the yard.

    I look over the morning report while I watch the yard people work on my ships.

    Ships, my ships.

    MCDS Mitchellville and the other light units that managed to avoid serious damage, or whose hulls and components could be field-repaired by the MCDS tender Stephanie are conducting further patrols and firming up the early warning networks.

    MCDS Frazier Bay’s repairs are being completed on this side of the Celestial Temple, while awaiting replacement fighters to refill their compliment, since VF-11’s become integrated into the rest of the Taskforce.

    A fighter with lurid nose-art passes the field of view. Peregrine’s here. I guess she struck out on her surface leave.

    The door to my ‘shore side’ office chimes.


    Wahlberger’s dressed down to ‘normal people’ uniform—pseudoleather flight jacket festooned with patches, a foldable hat over tucked hair. Barely a uniform, really, more like something out of a holodrama,

    “What problems have you brought me, Wahlberger?” I ask her half-ironically.

    “Whiskey,” she says, presenting a square glass bottle filled with dark amber fluid, “or near-enough to be almost indistinguishable. The Corpsman assigned to Tsushima came up with it, the stuff’s not bad.”

    I can almost smell it on her breath. “You didn’t fly and drink did you?”

    She shakes her head. “Gave Toby the stick. He’s getting the bird serviced two decks up.”

    “Okay…” I look at the endless chain of reports, the inbox and the outbox. “I’ve got work—”

    “You’ve got an aide for that,” she points out, “also a general staff. An executive officer—let them take some of that burden off or you’ll get hemorrhoids and turn into an ugly old lady like me.”

    “‘Ugly old lady’?” I laugh at that, leaning back. “Peri, I just turned thirty-five, I think I’m already further that way than you are. Struck out again, huh?”

    She shrugs, and plops into the chair across from me. “I need to find a nice, mature man who thinks the only thing he’s got to prove, is how long and hard he can—”

    I raise my hands. “Hold it…”

    “… but all the good ones are taken.” She managed not to get too detailed. “And as much fun as it used to be breaking in new meat, I think I’ve lost the taste. I’ve graduated, I guess, from sl*t to battleaxe.”

    She pours two cups, one for her, and one for me.

    “So… Gaarra?” she asks.

    “He’s managing,” I tell her.

    “Yeah, I heard. There’s no good way to face that decision, or live with it,” she tells me.

    “You have?”

    She nods. “Difference was I was… personal… with one of the people we had to burn out—it was during the ground war, when we did the attempted surface expedition on New Saigon. I was a fresh-minted Leftenant with a company of Marines, most of whom had to be erased with an Orbom, including my very-against-the-regulations sargeant boyfriend. I assume the hearing’s going to clear him?”

    “Ch’Harrel held a summary on his flagship after we pulled in,” I tell her. “Gaarra was in there just about long enough to give his report and be acquitted.”

    “Yeah, and being cleared doesn’t make you feel better,” she commiserates. “I have nightmares still about Brigham City on New Saigon, and having to make the call.” She knocks a finger’s worth back. “I almost resigned after. It was the reason I donated my ova.”

    “I didn’t know about that,” I tell her, and I didn’t.

    “Yeah, well, not exactly a glorious experience. I was so green I could’ve been earth-grass, and my unit wasn’t much better, comparatively. Running riot on Orions doesn’t teach you to handle sweeping urban areas after a Fek’Ihri warseed’s gone active, and even ground combat as enlisted doesn’t teach you to give those orders—living with having given those orders is the only real way to learn how to deal with it. I give your man better odds than most: he didn’t eat his sidearm yet, so fifty fifty.” She peers over the rim of her glass. “But, I’ll also give you better than sixty percent odds you’ll be getting flak—or he will, from clueless people who weren’t there and never had to make those decisions.

    “Was it like that for you?”

    She nods. “One of the reasons I took the Arluna position, kind of a fresh start, you know?” she taps her breastbone. “Damaged goods in some eyes, even with what nearly everyone went through. People being people, it’s inevitable you’re going to run into some armchair umpire who thinks your man should’ve tried traditional quarantine and treatment, even after seeing the files our people compiled and the Moriarty experiments. There might be a cure, or a treatment, but in the middle of a ship-to-ship fight?” She shakes her head. “Anyway, booze, go home, f*ck him until he’s too tired to wake up screaming. That’s my advice, maybe not worth what you paid for it.”

    “I need to. You know, Peri…”


    “If we ever get back to our border, I might introduce you to an old friend of mine. We served together in the war; he works in LaRoca’s planning section now.”

    “An old friend?”

    “Okay, we dated for a little bit, too,” I allow. “Jarkko Mäkinen is his name.”

    “Nice guy? Like, Gaarra ‘nice guy’?” I nod. “I don’t know if I’m ready for a nice guy.”

    “Well, you never know until you try.”

    Sheri Walford, Ten Forward, USS Bajor.

    “I heard,” Nung says to me, “Tough go.”

    “You’re drinking water?”

    “With electrolytes.” She raises the glass. “So you and Lincoln, huh? Lisa’s going to be right furious she can’t be here to give you sh*t about it.”

    “Lincoln died,” I tell her. “He was on the same level as the warseed.”

    Nung leans forward. “Then it’s good you didn’t fall in love or something,” she tells me.

    “What the f*ck is your problem!?” I demand.

    “Broken heart—in my case, literally,” she says. “Same reason no booze. I’m on the beach until medical clears me. How is your Admiral taking it?”

    “She’s buried herself in work,” Sheri tells me. “Even Gaarra’s worried.”

    “You need to go unf*ck her sh*t, before something she can’t get back is lost,” Nung tells me, and takes my synthale, “right now. They just had a major relationship shock, both are reeling from the worst decision any commander, anywhere, has to make—and it’s not gettin’ better if you let her turn workaholic and him drift in the wind.”

    “Why do you care?”

    “Because you care.” She stares me down. “Listen, you remember when I dropped out of the medsci program?”

    “Yeah… you told me you’d tell me why, and you never did.”

    “I found out something. You’ve got a real family. I’ve got fosters, but I never had a real family, that makes me twice as expendable as you… and Lincoln? Was like me. We were cooked up by some mad scientists trying to make a better soldier. You weren’t, Kanril wasn’t, Gaarra wasn’t. They’re real, they matter. She’s the closest thing you’ve got to a real mom now, even your aunt can’t claim that, can she?”

    “No…” I’d heard the rumours. Stuff on Fleetbook, names like ‘Admiral Leyton’ and ‘Project Siegfried’.

    It’s not hard to put it together.

    “Right, so you get off your *ss and walk out of this bar, and you see to your family. They’re hurting and they need you… and you need them. Drinking with your friends is fine, but not when the family is in crisis.”

    It’s not a subtle boot to my *ss she’s giving me. It’s too bad this isn’t a holodrama, written by a hack, who has all the right words to say and the right things to do.

    I guess that’s why Amanda gets up, and walks out before I do.

    Amanda Nung..

    I know she’s hurting. I know they’re hurting. I don’t have the right answers, but I’ve got some ideas, and maybe I can plant seeds.

    “Hey Nung, got a minute?” Ker Lamis is a guy, he was in some of my classes on Bajor. Nice guy, a real solid dude, and someone I ‘friendzoned’ last year, but that’s mostly because I, as a free, single fem of the human persuasion, didn’t feel like getting into anything lasting with him. He’ll make some lucky girl a great husband, and all I want for the moment is a temporary bedwarmer.

    Still, he’s here… He’s here.

    “Heard you had a rough time out there,” he tries again. “Everything alright?”

    He’s convenient. Prophets, what does that make me now? “I’m going to bed, Lamis,” I tell him, “I’m tired, and I’m broken again.” I won’t notice he’s gotten the rugged good looks. I will not notice, I will not notice…

    “Hey, I was just gonna say, we’re watching holos down in the enlisted lounge, someone dug up an original cut of that old Star Wars movie…”

    Dammit, he’s being so nice.

    Reshek Gaarra, Captain’s Ready Room.

    Two hundred and five letters to families. Messages, to try and fill two hundred and five holes in people’s lives.

    How do you tell some family member, “I’m sorry I had to kill your loved one”? A spouse who lost their partner? A child who lost their parent? A parent who lost their child?

    How can I even begin to do that?

    We’ve been in port for four days. It’s going to be another week before the ship is ready again… except for two hundred and five names.

    Intellectually, I know the enemy killed those people, not me. And ch’Harrel and Kurland agreed. Isn’t it strange how you can know intellectually that something is true, but not believe it in your heart, in your pagh?

    I gave the order. I did it to save the ship.

    Good people died, and it wasn’t their fault.

    There are eleven names I don’t have to carry, but I do anyway—eleven more, because we had to make sure it was really purged.

    And there’s one name, a name I have to deal with.

    “You’re not a killer.” It snaps me out of the stupor, and Eleya is standing there, in the doorway of my ready room. “We need to talk, because…”

    She doesn’t pull back when I reach for her.

    She holds me, and I let it out.

    “… because I love you.”

    Peregrine Wahlberger, Holosuite 3, Chan Cho Orbital.

    I drink alone.

    Yeah, with nobody else.

    I drink alone.

    The hologram’s the kind of guy I used to like, kind of scruffy-looking, and dressed up in workman-like clothes.

    Yeah, you know when I drink alone I prefer to be by myself.

    The holosuite’s managed by one of Quark’s subsidiaries, and I’ve rented it for the night. The tables and furniture’s like the singer-assembled from a computer program out of hard light and forcefields. The nuts and popcorn are replicated food, but the booze?

    I brought my own bottle.

    F… I’m not even buzzed and halfway through it. I think I might have a problem: someone’s watered the booze down.

    Oh right, that was me.

    Okay, maybe a little bit buzzed.

    We should be celebrating a successful operation, but instead, there’s a pall on the whole fleet. The funny thing is, our losses were miniscule, it was the most decisive victory, with the lowest percentile casualties, that anyone’s ever won against the Fek, and it seems to be hurting everyone harder than losing a whole ship.

    Behind me, the atmosphere shifts and changes, someone’s here.

    I look around, and shoot Tess Phohl a wave, “I’ve still got the suite for another hour.”

    She drops into the seat across from me, her back ramrod-straight. Andorians, gotta love ‘em—even wearing civvies she looks like she’s in a uniform.

    “How’re the repairs?” I ask. The Tsushima came out of it with minimal damage.

    “We’re done. I noticed you’ve got half your outer hull stripped,” she says, and motions a glass.

    I pour.

    “Feel it?” I ask her.

    “Feel what?” she kinda looks at me funny. I can’t read Andorian body-language real well when… well, when I’ve got half a bottle of something brown that can strip paint in me.

    “Magic’s gone. Crews are nervous, officers too,” I tell her. “We didn’t even take that bad a hit, but it’s like a shadow.”

    “The commander of a fleet sets the tone,” she points out.

    “Right.” I tip my glass back and more burn flows out. I set it down, while the holographic band segues into the hard barn blues. “It isn’t the size of the hit, it’s the sharpness. Gaarra had to burn two hundred of our own folks. Moab and Starfleet.”

    “It was necessary,” she says simply, and I nod.

    “Absolutely, but it doesn’t change the impact,” I tell her. “It’s… whatchacallit, a bad omen. Spacers are some of the most superstitious people in the galaxy.”

    “Trust me, I know that one.” I pour her another. She looks around. “Maggie’s place on Berun’s World?” she asks.

    “Near enough,” I tell her. “You talked to McKnight?”

    She nods. “They’re doing well enough. We’ve installed some upgrades to the Kongo’s defense grid, and the new hull armor’s fitting well… why are you here, getting drunk?”

    “Because I struck out when I went looking to get laid,” I answer. “She wants me to come with her, to Earth, to testify… and I can’t think of a single thing I can say, that will stop them from doing it all-over-again to someone else.” I pour two more fingers. “All it’s going to take, is someone with the next right combination of paranoia and secrecy—you saw the download from the Dominion base?”

    “I saw it.” She nods.

    “You see Odo’s reaction to it?” I ask. “He’s either a real good actor, or he didn’t know—and how could being immersed in a Link like that—how could he not know? If they can keep something like this a secret, what secrets are our governments unaware of, but keeping?”

    She tosses it back. “I’ve got an enlisted man, one of yours. He was dealing sezzanine.”

    “Shoot him,” I tell her. “It’s what I’d do—we can’t have that kind of rot in the regiment. Or hang him, we’re at a dry port, if your evidence is solid…”

    “Your regulations…”

    “Are a guideline to advise the Commander, they’re not laws,” I tell her. “They’re basically a ‘best practices’ guide with some hard limits. By dealing in sezz, he’s endangering his fellow troops and acting as an impediment to the mission, falls under ‘sabotage’ and possibly collaboration with the enemy, so shoot him, he’s a traitor.” god, my mood’s turned evil..

    She grabs my wrist and takes the glass. “You’ve had enough,” she says. “You’re drunk, Colonel.”

  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Sheri Walford, Astrometrics lab…

    “… so what’re you doing here?” Lieutenant Flowers was assigned to the Gamma Quadrant Command’s base staff as part of their science and analysis team, when he’s not guest-lecturing at the Ashalla SROTC campus. Last quarter I pulled low passing marks in his class.

    He doesn’t like me.

    “Homework,” I tell him. I have a strategy here, butter him up, get him off his guard. “You’re the smartest guy in the room, and I think we need a smart guy.”

    “Walford, you could have… you should have aced my class,” he tells me. “Now you see why you should’ve applied yourself?”

    “What can I say? I’m an engineering nerd, not an astrophysicist. But you are an astrophysicist, and the smartest guy in the room. I’ve got some astrophysics to work out.”

    “Oh? What kind?” Hell, he’s into puzzles…

    “This is data that McKnight’s team ripped from a Dominion science base. The info is out of date, but we think it’s got the location of the Hur’q homeworld. You interested?”

    “There’s a team already on that…”

    “And they didn’t invite you,” I say, putting a little challenge in my voice, “How embarrassed are they gonna be, if you find it first?”

    There it is, the prick’s pride, pricked.

    Mom used to say they had four ways they’d compromise Cardies during the resistance—money, ideology, conscience, and ego. Ask Lisa if you don’t think Cardassians have conscience, or check with the former Kai.

    Humans, so she told me, work kind of the same way. Ego.

    Flowers takes the data from my hand, and then, “Get on the secondary console over there, Cadet… If this works out, I may even adjust your grade.”

    What can I say? He outranks me.

    Kanril Eleya, Captain’s Quarters…

    “Is this what it was like?” Gaarra asks me after a while. “In the war? Your war?”

    I shake my head and snuggle against him under the covers. “No. It was worse. I mean, I never had to…” I trail off and he kisses the bridge of my nose. “But… You’ve got me, and Commander T’Ral, and Starfleet’s actually behind us, we’ve got hope.”


    “I don’t…” I freeze up.

    He kisses the corner of my mouth, gently. “And you wanted me to talk to you about this?” he murmurs. “You hardly ever talk about the war, not with me at least.”

    I gulp. “We had no hope,” I finally make myself tell him. “They were never behind us, not really, not even when Alcott took over and made them reinforce us. It was just aimless, pointless killing they wanted shoved way away where nobody could see it. And I… I did a lot of things I’m not proud of.”

    “Like what?”

    “B*tched out a rear admiral—” He laughs a bit. “—when he was writing a condolence letter to his ex-first officer’s widow.”


    I nod. “Raided civilian shipping and left ‘em dead in space hoping the Klinks would pick ‘em up. Built bombs, packed them with screws and scrap metal so the wounds’d be harder to heal. Dropped weapons to Gorn rebels. And…” I take in a shuddering breath. “Third Alhena. Abandoned my position to cut a hole for Alcott and Mwangi and I… It was a military target but…” I suck in a breath. “There were civilians aboard.”

    “I didn’t sign up for this,” he whispers.

    “Neither did I. But… signing up eventually brought us together, and…” I kiss the ridges on his nose, too. “And you hold the missing half of my pagh. You… and the kids, and Sheri and Peri, and K’Ragh, and this ship, you all keep me sane. That’s worth something. You’re worth something, you’re worth everything to me.”

    We hold each other, and cry together. “I’m so glad I found you, love,” he whispers finally, closing his eyes.

    I listen to him snore for a bit. For probably the first time in a week, he’s sleeping peacefully.

    I hate having to disturb that.

    But I’ve got a message…
    To: RALH. Kanril Eleya, Starfleet
    From: Bureau of Personnel, Denali Civil Service Bureau
    RE: Asset Reallocation (non military assets)

    Technical Assets:

    Dr. Rockstone, Thag, Coquitlam Technical Institute Engineering and Mathematics department

    Professor Geargrinder, Heiki, Coquitlam Technical Institute Applied Exotic Chemistry department

    Quantity one Artificial Sophont designate; Cheshire (a Free person under Denali law.)

    To be transferred to allocated space aboard USS Bajor under the Joint Aid and Assistance Programme from allocated spaces aboard SDF Kukri as exchange personnel in support of Task Force Myrmidon, per the request of Starfleet Command (ref. Attachments: Request for additional Scientific and analytical assets)

    Asset Reallocation (Military Assets)

    Staff assistants to Dr. Rockstone and Professor Heiki:
    • Subaltern Ipsando, Luna Deen
    • Master Corporal Deeki, Mindao
    • Lance Corporal Smythe, Harpeet
    • Private Deevers, Danni
    • Private Doe, Jenna
    • Private Atkins, Thomasina.

    [Presidential Order Dip2184766C//1]
    [Diplomatic Request 2415/08/11]
    [BUPERS Order of Provisional Promotion 2415.22357]

    Geargrinder. I’d heard the stories about the USS Dauntless.

    While Dr. Rockstone is an ECM/Slicing legend, and after seeing first hand what he helped M’Karret pull off back in the war having him on the flagship raises my confidence level, I wish he wasn’t coming with the little green maniac.

    What’s blast-proof? I guess I know what Gaarra can do with deck 20 now…

    And when did Denali start building Soong Androids?

    I open one of the attachments.
    On the authority of The Honorable Shad Ona, Secretary of Starfleet, and Aennik Okeg, President of the United Federation of Planets, to Rear Admiral, Lower Half Kanril Eleya.

    You are hereby granted acting promotion to the rank of Rear Admiral, Upper Half. You are authorized to grant acting promotions and commissions up to Rear Admiral, Lower Half, or equivalent rank in corresponding services participating in Joint Task Force Myrmidon, to officers under your command.

    Live long and prosper.

    Vice Admiral Stark
    Director, Starfleet Bureau of Personnel

    Well, now. This will be interesting. I send a low-priority note to Sheri to prep me for a battle with the bureaucrats, something that will probably be harder than ending this war. They’re frocking me up a grade, and if there’s one thing Alcott taught me, it’s that once you're given something, never let them take it back.

    I stare, at the girl in the mirror
    T-shirt, torn up jeans, no beauty queen
    But the way that you see me
    You get underneath me
    And all my defenses
    Just fall away, fall away

    I am beautiful with you
    Even in the darkest part of me
    I am beautiful with you
    You make it feel the way it’s supposed to be
    You’re here with me
    Just show me this and I believe
    I am beautiful with you

    I stand naked before you now
    No walls to hide behind, so here am I
    You see all of my scars
    Still here you are
    I bare my soul
    And I’m not afraid, not afraid

    I am beautiful with you
    Even in the darkest part of me
    I am beautiful with you
    You make it feel the way it’s supposed to be
    You're here with me
    You show me this and I believe
    I am beautiful with you

    I’ve been the strong one for so long
    But I was wrong
    Doesn’t make you weak if you’re needing someone
    I’m not holding back (yeah)
    I know what I want

    I am beautiful with you
    I am beautiful with you
    You want me for myself
    You get me like no one else
    I am beautiful with you

    I am beautiful with you
    Even in the darkest part of me
    I am beautiful with you
    You make it feel the way it's supposed to be
    You're here with me
    You show me this and I believe
    That I am beautiful with you

    Halestorm, “Beautiful with You”
    Songwriters, Lzzy Hale, Nina Ossoff, Dana Calitri, and Maria Sommer

    To Be continued.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    alright, we're at the end of Part 3, and it's intermission time because part 4 is nowhere near ready.

    Please, please comment! even if 'tis to tell me how much it sucks, or to gripe about the appendices (mostly done in hopes there are people who want answers and haven't read through all the backlog dating back to 2012).

    I would like to see what people think about which missions from the game were covered, versus which were skipped. (I skipped several for...reasons.)

    also how do you guys feel about the ways I changed it to this setting?

    Finally, I'm going to open up a 'casting call'-tell me who you'd pick to play the major parts in this-I know both Knightraider and Starswordc have their picks, but this is for 'new'; meaning I just want to see who you'd cast for the roles here.
  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 2,180 Arc User
    I don't know the background well enough to say what characters should do what, but the character that stands out most in my mind is Nung. I'd fast track her on the Command path, beginning with a leadership position in the computer sciences department, and using her to fill in for every step-up that gets his head knocked off until she has a ship of her own.

    She is fragile, and keeps getting broken, but soon there will be more glue than girl. She's tougher than her body, but her body will catch up.

    Anyway, that's my two cents, for what it's worth.

    I find myself haunting the forums waiting for the net update. It's a compelling story. And I personally love the out-of-story details that give windows into the universe. Please continue every time you introduce a new concept, or just whenever you feel like it.

    And keep up the good work!
  • jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 8,211 Arc User
    edited November 2018
    I keep wanting to tell characters like Nung that they're "real" too - just because their genetics were assembled deliberately rather than randomly and their childhoods were implanted, doesn't make them any less real than any natural-born. For all I can tell at this point, my childhood memories may as well have been artificial as well - it's not like I can reach into them, you know? But she's here, now, and everything she's done beyond a certain point is as real as anyone else she knows, AP or natural.

    And someone at some point really should point up Earther bigotry on the topic. Personality traits can be affected by genetics, but they don't determine anything alone; the problem with Khan Singh and his people wasn't that their genes were optimized, but that they were told their entire lives that they were special and deserved to be in positions of power over their "lessers". And one thing human history tells us is that you don't even need genetic manipulation - you can take the most baseborn people, tell them from childhood that they're better than the run of humanity, and you will raise monsters. (Historical parallels are left as an exercise for the alert student; gods know they're not hard to find.)

    So yeah, I'm really enjoying the story, because boring tales don't get dissected like this. :smile:
    "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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  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Part IV: Operation: Tenuous Torment

    Kanril Eleya, 0900 hours…

    I’ve gotten a revised TO&E and it’s disorganized.

    Joint Task Force Myrmidon, Rear Admiral (Upper Half, Acting) Kanril Eleya commanding

    Federation Starfleet Space Forces:
    USS Bajor (NCC-97238) Galaxy-class battleship (Block 23) - Capt. Reshek Gaarra
    USS Tsushima (NCC-97512) Avenger-class battlecruiser (Block 2) - Capt. Tesjha Phohl
    USS Snohomish (NCC-90229) Reliant-class light cruiser (Block 1)
    USS Kongo (NCC-1710-B) unique prototype heavy cruiser - Capt. Marsilla McKnight
    USS Nighthawk (NCC-74981) Sovereign-class missile cruiser (Block 1*(6)) - Capt. M'Karrett
    USS Chester Halsey (NCC-97539), Akira-class escort carrier (Block 7) - Capt. Fallon, Butch Derek (1 wing of Peregrine Interceptors)
    USS Minerva (NCC-97241) Jupiter-class fleet carrier (Block 1) - Capt. D’Gran, son of None, CAG Capt. P’malt, Ghora

    Republic of Bajor Militia Space Arm:
    RBS Hathon (CR-03) Province-class heavy cruiser (Cheyenne-class retrofit, construction Block 3*(6)) - Col. (Captain) Tarel Kren
    5th Strike Wing (light) 48 small craft - Col. Ordabi Adil

    Federation Starfleet Ground Forces:
    231st Company Military Assault Command Operations: LCDR. Elric Wittgenstein (144 effectives)
    8th Group, Starfleet Corps of Engineers (561 effectives)
    18th Starfleet Ground Forces Division: RADM. Nrek B’tar (12,000 effectives)
    USS Wallace (NCC-41581) Curry-class heavy transport - Capt. Simpson, Helen J.
    USS Nakamura (NCC-41595) Curry-class heavy transport - Capt. T’Chelt

    3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, Moab Confederacy

    MCDS Saskatoon Hills (DV-15) QIn-class raptor, light carrier conversion (VFA-11 tactical fighter wing) - Col. Peregrine Wahlberger
    MCDS Frasier Bay (DV-16) QIn-class raptor, light carrier conversion (VFA-31 Tactical fighter wing)
    MCDS Mitchellville (DGS-4) K’Vort-class retrofit heavy destroyer - Maj. Jena

    21st Reconnaissance/Strike Wing: Major Tillman, Bianh Truk

    MCDS Minh Tranh (FFG-21A) Norgh Retrofit Bird of Prey
    MCDS Paula Zeleskiy (FFG-22B) Norgh Retrofit Bird of Prey
    MCDS Pavel Ben Gurion (FFG-23D) Norgh Retrofit Bird of Prey
    MCDS Koord Westin (FFG-24) Norgh Retrofit Bird of Prey
    MCDS Kelli Whyte (FFG-25E) Norgh Retrofit Bird of Prey
    MCDS Gerri Kendrick (FFG-26) Norgh Retrofit Bird of Prey

    8th Service and Support Group
    MCDS Stephanie (TTF-14B) Draguas class Frigate Tender.
    MCDS Halaika (TTD-8) Varanus Class Destroyer Tender
    MCDS Madonna (TTD-9) Varanus Class Destroyer Tender (augmented)

    3rd Cruiser Squadron, Moab Homeland Security Force:
    MHS Sierdegardt (CVM-4) Dakota retrofit Flight Deck Cruiser (VFA-22 Fighter wing) - Capt. Michaels, Iris, CAG Major Phan
    MHS Canh Tho (CS-7) Intrepid Block 1 (retrofit) Medium-Range Science Vessel - Cdr. Kheang Noreaksey
    MHS Benjamin Walters (FFE-16) Defiant Block 2 Tactical Escort Vessel - Cdr. Pang, Ronald H.
    MHS Antonia Qiang (FFE-28) Defiant Block 1 Tactical Escort Vessel - Cdr. Haraldsen, Ivar R.
    MHS Kor (FFE-18) Defiant Block 1 Tactical Escort Vessel - LCDR. Nguyen, Wellington C.
    MHS Sungazer (SVF-2) Oberth Block 22 Science vessel - Commander Nikonov, Yvonne

    MHSF Service and Support:
    MHS(R) Good Tymer-UNREP modified Tuffli Block 30
    MHS(R) Starwhale UNREP Modified Tuffli Block 30

    MCDF 9th Marines (#3MEF) Infantry Brigade, Lt. Colonel Mieves, Do-Lak

    HHC 9th Marine BDE: Leftenant (Captain of Marines) Balor, Magritte
    Personnel department

    Battalion 1, 9th Marines (#3MEF)
    Coy A-Deployed to USS Bajor, Leftenant Lung, An Kat.
    Coy B- Deployed USS Tsushima Leftenant Leong, Namh Chin
    CoyC- Deployed USS Kongo (1st and 3rd Platoon) and USS Nighthawk (2nd and 4th Platoon) Lieutenant Carver, Daniel Cray, Lieutenant (JG) Nixon, Amelie Rei.
    SSR Coy Deployed USS Bajor (First Platoon), USS Snohomish{2nd Platoon), Fleet Base New Bajor (3rd and 4th Platoons) Maj. Han, Nuk Dao

    Battalion 2, 9th Marines (#3 MEF)-New Bajor (reserve position) Maj. Trau, Bianh Vin.

    19th Independent Fighter Wing (MCDF)-Joint Fleet facility, New Bajor (reserve position) LTC. Nicklaus, Kren

    Patrol Group (Shuttle), (MHSF)-Joint Fleet Facility New Bajor (reserve/supplementary support position) Lt. Commander Grell, Tinh Vao

    2nd Military Police Precinct-Joint Fleet Facility New Bajor, Commander Tomas Lafayette (Brig and shore patrol duty)

    Other Allied Units:

    SDF Kukri , somraw-class raptor, (retrofit, export) - Maj. Sanjit Kaur
    SDF Singh, (Galaxy-X)- Capt. Munrau, Jason

    RRW Itaeru, Faehht-class Warbird - SCdr. Odirne t’Nennian
    RRW Shavokh, Aelahl-class light battlecruiser - Cdr. Dhiemn tr’Mrian

    5th Order (Detached), Cardassian Union forces
    CUV Protector, Galor Class (retrofit) Gul Vigar, Lon
    2 Hideki class supplementary escorts.

    Almost three times as many starships as we committed to originally, and growing. No wonder they frocked me up a grade—I really am going to have to start handing out admiral’s pips.

    It’s been like this since McKnight’s team found that data on the Founders, but some of these were assigned after Odo’s confession.

    Some of the assignments are obvious—putting one of the Marine battalions on New Bajor to help with defense and training duties, for example. The phekk’ta Fek’Ihri are in the quadrant and nobody has more, or worse, experiences successfully fighting them than the Klingons, except for the Moabites. We don’t get to have Klingons, so we use the Moabites instead.

    The Military Police detachment, likewise, and the headquarters element of a MACO detachment to help keep things peaceful among our advisors.

    Our advisors. Phekk.

    We’re Starfleet, we’re the ones who’re supposed to be doing the advising, we’re not supposed to need outside experts.

  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited December 2018
    Did you ever think for a second
    I'm only human too?
    You have no perception of all the struggles
    That I have been through
    Listening to the nothingness
    I'm hearing while I watch your lips move
    If you really knew me
    You'd think twice about creating my truth

    I'm sick and tired of feeling my face on fire
    When you don't know what you're talking about
    You don't know what it's like to be me
    No, you don't know what it's like to be me

    You are on the outside
    Always looking in but never asking questions
    Could it be that you won't understand
    That we're both born of innocence?
    Empty conversations
    We know nothing of each other's solitude
    You don't the reasons that played me
    And I don't know you

    I'm sick and tired of feeling my faith expire
    In the lies we keep on telling ourselves
    You don't know what it's like to be me
    No, you don't know what it's like to be me

    You don't know what it's like to be me
    (Don't know me, you really don't know me)
    No, you don't know what it's like to be me
    (There isn't a story ?)
    And you hear the sound of me breaking down
    When the judgment calls
    I'm here against a wall
    No, you don't know
    You don't know what it's like
    What it's like to be me

    Kobra and the Lotus, “You Don’t Know”

    Peregrine Wahlberger, Camp Lenaris Parade Grounds, New Bajor…

    There weren’t a lot of bodies to bury.

    Aren’t. There aren’t a lot of bodies. We lost a few here and there. Starfleet lost as many on the Bajor alone as we did across the entire task force.

    “Regiment, Atten-Shun!” I’m getting too used to this. “Present, ARMS!”

    We’re saluting empty coffins. The guys who were infected by the warseed, their bodies had to be disposed of as hazmat. The guys who were killed in their armor and couldn’t be saved? Those remains are being shipped home.

    “Order, Arms!”

    Starfleet’s guys took it harder. A piper begins to play the dirge. And today’s selection is from the Bajorans.

    Good at it? No, I’m just too used to it. Losing my touch, maybe? Can’t feel much of anything these days. Funerals are for the living, but it’s like I’ve become dead inside, no comfort from this.

    Not that there ever was.

    Twenty-one riflemen, they’ve got blank cartridges. One volley for every man and woman lost.

    It’s a wall of sound. I can’t even remember who we’re really doing this for anymore.

    After the volley, comes the benediction. We’re on Bajoran soil, so it’s a vedek giving the benedictions this time, god I hope I don’t look bored.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited December 2018
    Reshek Gaarra.

    Usually when I have Eleya on my arm I’m happy: scars and all, she’s a beautiful woman.

    Not today. Not when she’s standing beside me as I deliver Starfleet’s secular rite, following Vedek Rotaal. But she’s right: this is something the captain needs to do. And having a chance to properly mourn helps.

    “Michael Hezekiah Brody, Deflector Officer, Second Class. Enun Galla, Lieutenant Junior Grade, Security Division. Bomad Rendrik, Special Warfare Operator, First Class…”

    There’s just as many names on the list as when I was writing condolence letters: 187 Starfleet and eighteen Marines. As I finish, Captain McKnight trots forward. Her list is so much shorter than mine. Tess Phohl’s is shorter yet.

    Eleya takes the podium next. “I wish I could say this was my first time burying people who died following my orders. It’s not. I’m ashamed to say, I can’t even remember all of them anymore, though I try. You can’t, shouldn’t let it become routine. Every pagh that returned to the Prophets last week had a path to walk, their own hopes and desires, now dashed. I’m not going to say they would’ve wanted us to keep going. That’s trite, and they deserve better. But we will keep going. Not because of the wishes of the dead, but because we must.”

    I chant with her, and with McKnight and Tess and the others, “We commend the memories of our comrades departed. With love, we commit their remains to the universe. From the stars we came, among the stars we travel, and to the stars, we return.”

    “Detail, atten-SHUN!” Chief of the Boat T’Kel snaps, shocking me a little. It’s amazing how loud that petite Vulcan can be when she wants. “Half-right HACE! Port arms!” The funeral detail in full dress black raises their phaser rifles to chest height.

    “Ready, unlock!” The mechanical safeties disengage with an audible click. “Aim! Fire!” The shrieks of their phasers echo across the parade grounds. “Aim! Fire!”

    Beside me, Eleya takes my hand and squeezes it. I don’t look away, I just squeeze back.

    “Aim! Fire!” The third volley paints the blue sky of my home planet. “Cease fire! Lock!”
    * * *

    The funeral party begins to break up twenty minutes later, but as they do, a silver-haired man in royal blue who barely reaches my chin appears out of the crowd.

    He eyes me up and down. “You looked good up there, son.”

    “Did I, Father?”

    “Well, I’d hope you did better than I ever did.”

    “Aren’t you going to introduce us?” Eleya remarks as Colonel Wahlberger comes over.

    “Yeah. Eleya, Peri, this is Colonel Reshek Tano, my father. Dad, this is Lieutenant Colonel Peri Wahlberger, MCDS Saskatoon Hills—”

    “And this redhead, I gather, is the woman who’s marrying my son,” he interrupts in Bajor’la. “Your reputation precedes you, Kanril’rakana.” He offers her his hand.

    “A pleasure to meet you, Reshek’estil.”

    “Call me Tano.” He switches back to English for Peri’s benefit. “I wish we could’ve met under better circumstances; I hear things could be getting busy for me.”

    At Peri’s questioning look, I explain, “Dad’s CO of the Fifth Colonial Rangers, one of our native units. This is his base, actually.”

    “Huh. You two don’t look much alike.”

    “Gaarra takes after his mother, Prophets guard her. Plus he got a lot more to eat as a kid than I did.”

    Peri chuckles at that. “Will you be at the wake later, Colonel?”

    “Wouldn’t miss it. I have to keep an eye on my vehicle range, after all,” he cracks.

    “I’d suggest coming thirsty and hungry then.”

    Sheri Walford, after the ceremony, maneuver range 14, Camp Lenaris…

    Hard work can be useful. Starfleet usually uses modded tractor-emitters and transporters for doing earthworks and dirt-work.

    Which is handy, when you need it fast, but there’s something good about getting dirt in your fingernails. The cooking trench is roughly a meter deep, and four meters long, and I put the shovel down.

    “Hand up?” Warrant Officer Cohen asks, and I take her hand.

    “Flyers up?” I ask her.

    “Yeah, word’s out, the guys from Two-Batt are finishing the stage.” she tells me, “We even got some volunteers from the Miliz and Starfleet.”

    First the funeral, then the wake.

    “How are we for bar supplies?” I ask.

    “Slash from four ships in the fleet, Wilson off the Snohomish turned up a few cases of real scotch whiskey, and one of the Bajoran officers talked a local vineyard into donating a few barrels. We should be able to stock the bars with enough proper booze, and they have field-ready replicators loaded with Synthehol recipes for the non-drinkers.”

    A Bajoran tactical vehicle pulls up to the pit, and starts offloading charcoal while a couple of guys from the Construction Battalions finish setting up the cooking spit.

    The poster-board is up, I notice, and the names of the fallen are on display, along with ‘candid’ images of them, plus sign-in books.

    A lot of ash-grey uniforms are helping the Marines and Fleeties set up the wake site, stringing audio-wire and setting up speaker systems, testing microphones…


    “Well, it’s not big like the one on Bajor, we found some garage-bands with the Garrison, a few musicians on each of the Starfleet ships...but no headliners.”

    “It’s alright, something will come up.”

    Amanda Nung, outside the Camp Lenaris Exchange…

    The New meat’s arrived. Kei’s hanging with me, since I can’t do much to help prep the Wake and I’m on ‘light duty’ which keeps me off the console. We’re eating Jumja sticks and people-watching outside the Enlisted club while waiting for the holosuites to finish the last show.

    “Green.” I note, nodding to a group of MCDF marines following a Bajoran sargeant across the quad.

    “Green?” Kei asks, he’s Bajoran, it’s forgiveable.

    “Inexperienced. See how they walk? Where their eyes are?” I explain, “They’re watching her *ss or her t*ts, not their surroundings. Green. I’d say from the walk, most of those guys are from the Arluna or Cold Butte squadrons, and this is their ‘first deployment’.”

    A few Blue-suited MHS guys are also across the street, Kei nods to direct my attention, “and those guys?”

    “Senior guy’s got some experience, but they’re green too. See how they walk? Where their eyes are?”


    A couple of guys from the Frazier Bay come out of the holosuite. It’s easy to tell them-Wahlberger authorized ‘war jackets’ for off-duty wear, a ‘war jacket’ is a flight or pilot’s coat with mission or unit patches. The Admiral didn’t have objections, so you can tell who’s been here a while-at least, for Confederacy troops. It’s spread to some of the MHS and even Bajoran units.

    Purely off-duty wear though.

    The blue-suits and the newbies catch sight of each other, and both groups get stiff.

    “TRIBBLE.” I mutter, “There’s gonna be trouble.”

    Their Liaison people move between them. “Nope, see ‘manda, it’s under control.”

    My overclocked brain is already seeing a problem though. “The Admiral’s gotta get these guys to work together.” I say it out loud, “there’s still a lot of bad feelings from the civil war, if those guys won’t work together we’ll have to sit on them-and that’s not good for the mission here.”

    Kei isn’t worried, “She’ll pull them together, you watch, you’ll see...I think our holosuite’s open.”

    I let him lead me into the holo-theater. “What’s the game today?” I ask him.

    “You’ll like it.” he tells me.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Captain Peter Wilson, Bachelor Officer’s quarters...

    When I was a kid, I wanted to be Jim Kirk. Hell, every kid in Iowa grew up knowing that name, our home-grown hero for more than a century. The difference being, unlike a lot of the guys I went to school with, it wasn’t a whistful wishing, my dad made sure I understood that it would take work.
    So while my buddies were getting laid, and tasting alcohol, and doing all the things young, rural men on earth do as kids, I was hitting the books, studying, a perfect 4.0 GPA from elementary on through acceptance to Duquesne Preparatory Academy, one of a handful of programs that get you into Starfleet Academy without a sponsorship if you graduate high enough.

    I did. I Kicked TRIBBLE and took names in what turned out to be considered a second rate school, I lettered in Science and Administration clubs, wrote for the school news-magazine, participated in every sport they had, and still kept a perfect average, and with all that, I almost didn’t get into Starfleet Academy anyway. I can thank the Klingon War for my spot-and the massacres at Vega IX and Hromi 8.

    But according to the entrance officer, I almost didn’t make the cut, and wouldn’t have made it without the emergency.

    I don’t have enough ‘diversity points’, and they were ‘concerned’ at the very things I did to get in.

    As to Starfleet Academy, after being ‘alpha nerd’ through high school, it was a shock, being ‘just one of the cadets’. I learned something important there because of that, and lost some of my c*cksure arrogance. I graduated from SFA in the lower quarter percentile, with no disciplinary marks and no letters of recommendation.

    I realized I wasn’t going to be Jim Kirk, but I could be a Starfleet Officer. My first assignment was duty officer at a boneyard, my second was a tour on the USS San Andreas, a supply ship running along the peaceful side of the Federation, moving goods and checking in on colonists out where the Klingons weren’t.

    Not exploration, just a uniformed bureaucrat doing scut-work that better officers, the guys who were in that upper fifty percent, were too valuable to waste doing.

    I dealt with a lot of discipline problems-including my own, guys like me who realized they weren’t going to be Jim Kirk, or Geordi LaForge, but just mid-level functionaries who would never be famous, who might never even reach Captain of any ship.

    Out there, I found myself becoming ‘King of the failures’, and I settled into that role-and somehow, it was alright...until it wasn’t.

    Starbase 411A was old, and it was a backwater post, serviced by old model Miranda and other, borderline obsolete ships. We still don’t know why the Iconians hit us, but they did, and suddenly, after that first attack, I was the second senior ranking officer on a ship with TRIBBLE engines, TRIBBLE shields, TRIBBLE weapons, and the dregs of Starfleet’s worst for a crew, including me.

    They were threatening a little colony outpost; Gephard Clinton, a little class-M rock orbiting a pretty main-sequence yellow dwarf star on the edge of a nebula, and we were the only thing that could save them.

    And we did.

    Admiral Cartwright pinned my Commander’s pip after we pulled six thousand civilians out of there on four half-dead freighters and escorted them 190 light years to safe harbor after losing the Starbase.

    And Peregrine Wahlberger calls me a ‘greenie’. Sure, I haven’t been fighting wars for almost a decade, I didn’t conduct some balls-to-the-walls raid on unknown territory, I haven’t stopped a genocidal conflict, I didn’t...but there’s a reason that I was recommended by Admiral Cartwright and Admiral LaRoca for this mission, and dammit…

    Why does she make my heart beat like that? Why can’t I stop staring at her in meetings?

    Why am I standing in front of her door?

    Why is this woman so damn confusing?

    I can do this. I reach up, and tap the hail on the doorframe.

    It opens after a moment, and she’s there. Green tee-shirt, wet hair, and bare legs.

    “Hey Greenie.” she says, grinning at me.

    “Hey...I...you...ahm…” where are my words, dammit?

    “You’re in time, but you’re overdressed. I’m late.” she tells me, “A wake’s not the kind of place you wear formals, come on in, I’ll see if the reppymat has something you can wear that isn’t so stiff...here.”

    She hands me a bottle, it’s full of something brown and clear.

    “Glasses are on the side-table. Pour me one and you one, and relax, I’ll only be a couple more minutes.”

    I can’t stop myself from watching her hips sway as she heads back into the utility.

    I pour the drink. It smells like paint thinner.

    “I hear you’re something of a musician?” she calls out.

    “I play guitar some.” I say, “Not really any good, and I studied Piano.”

    She comes out of the Head in black, skin-tight pants that don’t leave a lot to the imagination, a belly-shirt that shows off her abs, and just about covers her perfect…

    “Coolness.” she says, “come on, drink up!” she takes her glass, and downs it. I do the same.

    “Loosen up, Greenie.” she tells me, “you’re so wound you might break.”

    I try to emulate her drinking-and it burns! God, I’ve had slash that didn’t hurt like that...the aftertaste is like a spicy cherry mixed with something earthy...like mulch smells.

    “Jacket.” she says, with a ‘gimme’ gesture, and I take mine off.

    She lays it on the bed and finds a hanger.

    Then she taps something on the wall-screen elcars. “Let’s see...there we go.”

    The replimat shimmers, and she tosses a jacket at me, “try this, and we’ve got to do something about your shoes…”

    Before I really understand what’s happened, I”m out of uniform, my dress uniform replaced with tough cargo pants, leather, laceless boots with straps of a style she called ‘engineer’, a black tee-shirt, and a brown leather jacket with mission patches that somehow match the ‘high points’ of my career.

    Not as many patches as hers, but someone put a lot of effort into the art that we never see from Starfleet’s public relations division.

    “Much better.” she says with a grin, then she checks her wrist-watch, “Our driver will be here soon.”

    “We get a driver?”

    Peregrine laughs, it’s like the sound of an angel, innocent but with an undercurrent I don’t quite understand.

    “Yeah, only POGUES go to a Wake by Transporter, come on.”

    She takes my arm, pours me another drink, downs a swig from the bottle, and we’re off.

    maybe she drinks too much?

    “Pogue?” I ask.

    “Person, Other than Grunt, with Unused Equipment.” she tells me, “we’re going in style.”

    ‘Style’ turns out to be a Bajoran four wheel weapons carrier with the ‘staff car’ body, being driven by her Aide, we get the back seat, and her aide, along with a pilot from her ship, get the front seats.

    “Toby, you’re sober?” she asks.

    “All night mum.” he says.

    “Good, I don’t wanna walk back to base.” she says, “Especially drunk...you didn’t steal this, did you?”

    “No mum, I signed it out of the base motorpool.” he says it with seriousness. Kid’s very serious, his apparent date is also serious looking.

    “Drink up, Greenie.” Peregrine tells me, and presses a cold, metallic hip flask into my hand.

    It’s the same stuff that was in the bottle she just wiped out.

    I finally find words. Maybe not the right words… “you drink a lot.” I say.

    “Yeah. Occupational hazard.” she tells me, “Remember, there’s no regulation against drinking, just regs against being unfit for duty-we have Melorazine for that.” and she laughs again. “YOu know why I invited you along?”


    “Two reasons. One, because you need to loosen up before you stress yourself into an early grave. Two, I found out…” she giggles.

    “Found out what?”

    “Nevermind. Stick with me tonight.” she says.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Sheri Walford, 1930 hours…

    Amanda’s snogging with Kei Lamis over by the bonfire. I guess this is what ‘normal’ is supposed to be, my best friend’s got a man, and I’ve got…

    I’ve got regrets. Lincoln’s book’s full of signatures, he was a great guy…

    It hurts. I finally understand how much. It’s not like when Mom died, and I never knew Dad.

    “Two,” I say, and the Chief holding bar nods, filling my cup.

    I head over to Amanda and Kei.

    “Heya, you gotta try some of this,” Amanda says, waving a half-charred bit of paper and burnt leaves. It smells like an outhouse.

    “No thanks, you gonna be alright?” I ask her, and she gives me ‘the look’.

    “That’s my line, Sheri.” She says it half-seriously. “I’ll still be broken tomorrow, but you’re the one I’m worried about.”

    “You’re not high enough for that,” I tell her.

    “Getting there. This stuff—it’s strong.”

    Kei’s looking a little worried when she says that. “Hey, Corpsman, is that sh*t safe?”

    He sighs. “Safer than the booze,” he tells me. “It’s a mild euphoric, with some tranquilizing effects. If anything it’ll help her pacemaker by keeping her calm.”

    “It’s your *ss if it’s anything stronger, or if there are side effects.” I don’t have to remind him, but I do.


    “Go find some fun!” Amanda says, “I’m gonna take this guy, and find a spot after dark an’ tear his clothes off.”

    He looks a little scared when she says that. “You do that.” I tell her, and drift away.

    My feet carry me over to an older group. I can’t sit with Amanda, not while she’s acting like that, not when she’s decided on her target.

    I feel so alone.

    Colonel Wahlberger’s leaning on now-a-Captain Pete Wilson. I stop to watch. He’s taller than she is, that ‘well fed’ tall you see with native Earthers. I wonder if Kanril would approve? is the first thought, and I realize it’s a petty, nasty one.

    Wahlberger’s from our generation—she was older, and she had a family in the Federation, and Kanril knows she’s been actively ducking their attempts at restoring contact.

    Being the Admiral’s aide, I’ve seen the documentation. Peri Wahlberger’s saved a lot of lives, but she’s wrecked her home, and I don’t really understand why.

    I guess my petty dislike is just knowing what a b*tch Peregrine’s been, throwing away what so many of ours would give their eye-teeth to have.

    Still, I can’t imagine that look she’s giving him is anything but real this time.

    It makes me think of Lincoln, and that makes it worse.

    There’s a Bajoran rhyme singer on stage right now, with a group of more-enthusiastic-than-good musicians from the task-force. The combination’s more my music than Amanda’s, but they’re not as good as Lisa and her band—but then, who is?

    I spot Admiral Kanril and Captain Gaarra with Colonel Reshek, near the stage and the second beer-garden.

    I wander my way over, stepping around a knot of enlisted and crewers who’re talking sports.

    I reach them as sundown finishes painting the skies orange and red, fading to deep purple before darkness, lit with orange flames from the bonfires and the cooking pits.

    “...honestly thought it would be rowdier,” the Militia Colonel is saying. “The reports from their party on Bajor…”

    “Different,” I say. “Sir… sir, and ma’am.”

    “How?” He turns to look me over. “Alenis, right?”

    “Legally I’m still a Walford, but yeah, Alenis is my family, sir,” I clarify. “It’s different because the situation’s different, the mood’s different. On Bajor, we were all angry and ready to see some payback. This time, things are just… different.”

    “How different?” he presses me.

    “You won’t need to post a weapons check at the latrines, sir.” I try to explain what I’m feeling. “It’s not as bad as Da Nang was in the ground war, but it’s… the anger’s cooled and the pain’s still there.”

    He looks confused for a moment, and then, it dawns on him. “Prophets… was it that bad?”

    I shrug. “I remember Wahlberger got her first company command because the Klingon Ell-Tee had a nervous breakdown. She wound up commanding Charlie third for the attempted landings on New Saigon. We had a lot of suicides, people lost whole families. We’re not there yet, but morale’s in the toilet, mostly in the Starfleet units, but it’s spreading to the Marine troops and MHS guys.”

    “Where is she?” Kanril asks.

    “Snuggled up to Captain Pete Wilson over by the south bar, hammered again it looks like,” I tell her.

    “Wilson? Wow.” Gaarra says it like he knows an inside joke. “I imagine that’s going to be interesting tomorrow.”

    “They do make an unlikely pair,” Kanril agrees, “but you know something—out with it.”

    “He’s an Earther,” I put in, getting their attention. “Peri’s from Alpha-Cee, but she’s adopted Moab as her homeland. Think about the political and social thinking going into that… and he’s an Earther.”

    “I still don’t understand,” Colonel Reshek said.

    “Imagine a Kohn-Ma decided to shack up with a Cardassian—not for advantage,” I explain, “and you might begin to understand how incongruous it is. Colonel Wahlberger’s been avoiding her own birth family for years.”

    The old man—“old man”, hell, listen to me, if he’s Gaarra’s dad he can’t be more than seventy his expression runs a gamut as he processes what I said. “Astonishing,” he agrees. “Your mother also abandoned her family.”

    “Yeah, I didn’t get any input on that,” I offer, “but I imagine it was because she wasn’t going to renounce her affiliations and take the amnesty.”

    “We’re gossiping.” Gaarra says.

    It’s like a slap, only sharper. “Yeah...sorry about that.”

    “I hate to bring it up here, but we’ve got units coming to the theater.” Kanril says, ending the gossip.

    “We need to work them in.” Gaarra agrees, “We also need to do something about the morale problem.”

    “I’ve got a few ideas about that.” She turns to me. “Try not to get too wasted, Cadet, we’re going to have work later.”

    “Yes, ma’am?”

    “We’re going to be pulling back for a couple weeks while our reinforcements arrive. I want to organize some wargames, space and surface, make sure something like that mess at Lantan doesn’t happen again.”

    Then her combadge chirps. It’s Bajor’s communications officer. “Sir, this is Lieutenant Merenor. I’ve got Fleet Admiral Cartwright on subspace; he’s requesting to speak to you and your captains.

    Comlinks scattered through the crowd start going off.

    Kanril Eleya, Camp Lenaris command center, 2230 hours local time…

    Nobody really had time to get in proper duty uniform except Michaels, who was doing staff-duty for the shipyard. Peregrine’s barely cleared up from a triple-dose of Melorazine, sitting there looking almost more like a hoodlum than a starship commander, with Wilson across the table wearing an incredibly non-regulation brown leather jacket just like Peri’s, only with unauthorized and unofficial unit and mission patches depicting starfleet instead of the Marines. He looks almost relieved and almost as disappointed as Wahlberger. Tess still makes her civilian clothes look like a uniform, and M’Karrett’s managed to pull on a set of dutys between the beeper going off and getting to the Command Post.

    It’s not just Cartwright on the other end: Foreign Minister Ryoko Hibiki is with him. I have an odd feeling I’m looking at history in the making—there’s rumors on the net that President Okeg is grooming her as his successor in a couple years.

    I’m recommending Joint Task Force Myrmidon for the Presidential Unit Citation for your actions on the 21st,” Cartwright says. “The Admiral and Commodore McKnight are both up for the Grankite Order of Tactics—again—and I’m putting McKnight up for the Christopher Pike. Which probably means she’ll get the Distinguished Service Medal.” She frowns, and he shrugs. “Damned DoS bureaucrats. Not to worry, I’ll lean on them.

    “Sir, I didn’t sign up to earn medals.”

    Well, I certainly hope not, Captain! But fine captaining deserves recognition all the same.” He clears his throat. “Madam Foreign Minister, you were saying?

    Well, from what I can tell, the Dominion is coming apart at the seams,” Foreign Minister Hibiki answers. “Karemma opened the floodgate—three more subject states have declared independence, including the T-Rogarans, and we’ve got reports of a truck-bombing against a cloning facility on the Parlanthan homeworld.

    That wasn’t you, was it?” Cartwright asks me, cracking a grin.

    “Har har, sir. The T-Rogarans, don’t they have some kind of history with the Skrreeans?”

    Good memory,” the Foreign Minister confirms. “I’ve already scheduled a call with Draylon II’s Councillor.

    Peregrine snorts. “Not sure we should get involved with that.”

    “With what?” Michaels asks.

    “The T-Rogarans are… or were slavers,” she explains. “If there’s anyone who deserved to have the Dominion sitting on them, it’s the T-Rogarans.”

    “The Prime Directive—” Wilson begins, and Peri interrupts him.

    “Doesn’t apply to me and mine.” She tugs her shirt. “Not Starfleet, right? I’m saying we don’t get involved unless there’s a strategic objective relevant to this mission. I don’t comprehend why Starfleet and the Empire are bogged down on Kobali Prime, but we don’t need a repeat here. It’s not-our-problem and they don’t necessarily represent a strategic asset that’ll be worth the effort.”

    “Peri, that’s one of the best Prime Directive-based arguments I’ve heard in a while,” Gaarra points out. “You’re arguing in favor of non-interference.”

    “We’ve got real strategic objectives here, now. I recognize Draylon II is a Fed world, so it makes sense to beef up defenses there on the off-chance their former masters wanna come through the wormhole, but the T-Rogs are the Dominion’s problem.” She idly rolls, but doesn’t light, a cigarette, before putting it away. “Our problem is the H’urq. A problem that’s worse if we don’t have a consistent operational strategy.”

    “Your point?”

    “My point is, we can’t afford distractions that come from getting involved in squabbles that aren’t our business. We have the Fek, and we’ve got the Hur’q, those are priorities. The T-Rogs are just a distraction. They don’t have assets that are useful, and offer nothing of value or significance—they’re maybe not even worth saving from the enemy we already have.” Her tone’s got that icy ruthlessness she has in combat situations.

    Foreign Minister Hibiki looks horrified, but then, I notice Cartwright looks uncomfortable.

    You’re certainly not your father’s child,” Hibiki says after a momentary pause of shock.

    “My non-relationship with my parents is none of your concern, Minister.” Peri’s tone is just a mask. I know her well enough to know her behaviour when she’s emotionally on the defensive and insecure. Hibiki’s just hit a raw nerve. Two, really—Hibiki’s comment wasn’t about hurting her, it was in shock. Of course, Peri’s birth parents are fairly prominent officials and Hibiki probably knows Abraham personally… “Do us all a favour and don’t tell them where I am, or what I’m doing. It’s better for them if they don’t know where I am.”
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited December 2018
    Peter Wilson, same meeting…

    “...it’s better if they don’t know where I am.” I’m not an empath, I’m just human, but I know a quaver in someone’s voice when I hear it, and I may not have known her for years, but I’ve seen that posture before. Shipmates who spend their off-time in the bottle of ‘something green’, guys with divorces and estranged kids, failed marriages and canceled engagements.

    Why? Because they cut ties, and they cut those ties, because they chose the job over any sort of work-life balance—the role is their life. Most of the guys who retire and die in ten years are this sort. It’s my own career path in a way—to die in the service, or rot quickly away after retiring.

    “This is unproductive,” I break in. “The situation with the T-Rogarans, does it have any significance strategically beyond a slight degradation of the Dominion’s ability to support our operations?”

    That’s one of the things I wanted to see addressed,” Cartwright says.

    “Speaking frankly, sir,” Captain Phohl puts in, “Odo excepted, the Dominion has been more of a hindrance to our operations than the reverse.”

    Hibiki nods. “I agree. It’s become obvious the Founders, or perhaps just that Founder, never had any intention of dealing with us in good faith. And if you’ll pardon me for pointing out your job, Admiral—

    Oh, do go ahead,” Cartwright says.

    —I’ll counter Colonel Wahlberger’s… assertion by pointing out the strategic advantage.” She brings up a map on an inset which the Admiral expands onto the second screen. “This isn’t like that Kobali mess. Rogar has three major antimatter generation stations, and the neighboring stars in that cluster give us a good position to strike two known Dominion shipyards. And as a matter of policy, I try not to blame entire peoples for the past actions of their leaders.” This said with a pointed look in Wahlberger’s direction. “I know none of us want a regime change war, but if this continues to escalate, it may just turn into one whether we like it or not.

    Oh, hell. In for a penny, in for a pound. I raise a hand. “I’ll take the mission to the T-Rogarans, if that’s fine with you, Admiral Kanril?”

    Hey, I’m the prince of disagreeable scut-work, and a no-glory assignment, as our Klingon allies during the war would put it, is fine with me.

    “It’ll be a first-contact and hostile, Wilson,” Michaels points out. “Are you sure your ship is up to it? Not to put too fine a point, but if we’re really going to do gunboat diplomacy, it helps to have something that has… well… real firepower if things get hot—which they probably will.”

    The Dominion took the T-Rogarans by force in the late ‘60s so they might not have much of a fleet left,” Hibiki counters, “but you raise a good point.” Cartwright nods his agreement.

    “Are you volunteering, Michaels?” Kanril asks.

    “I’ve got a larger ship, designed for longer independent operations, more support craft, bigger and better weapons arrays, and a larger, necessarily more experienced crew complement with experience in insurgent situations,” Iris lists it off. “Also, I think our carrier-boss would have a stroke if you send Wilson out to run an independent operation without her idea of ‘adequate support’.”

    “McKnight or M’Karrett could do it just a bit better than any one of the three of us,” Peregrine notes. “Captain McKnight’s got actual first contact experience, and unless I misremember your file, M’Karrett, so do you.”

    “You were trained by Janey Qua, and she brought two civilizations into the Federation, one of them completely non-humanoid,” Kanril replies. “But Tim Knowlton was with Starfleet when they encountered the H’rrukpt’a, and he’s worked talks with the Sheliak, and we may need a proven negotiator.”

    “You would bring that ratf*ck situation up,” Frasier Bay’s CO grumbles. “May I remind the Admiral that my ship’s still in the body-and-fender and my air wing, the one that’s replacing the ships and pilots we’ve distributed throughout the task force, is still en-route and not due to arrive for another week?”

    “What I don’t get, is you quit Starfleet and smuggled yourself out to join the MCDF right before Goralis,” Iris says. “You weren’t even a discipline issue for the fleet!”

    “Pay’s better, and it fits my skillset better than Ops Officer on a Galaxy-class,” Knowlton counters. “Round peg, meet round hole, I’m not ‘Starfleet material’.”

    “That’s not what your personnel jacket says.”

    “Yeah, well if you ever had to work for Rear Admiral T’sesset, you’d probably agree with me—she’s aggravatingly pompous and narrow minded. If it weren’t for her, we’d have kept six surveyed systems from the Sheliak, but she insisted on some damned stupid ideas, and now that I’m not serving under her, I can say what we were all thinking. Captain Rekja is the only reason they weren’t able to push their borders into Federation space, and she relieved him for stepping on her presentation.”

    “Major Knowlton,” Kanril responds, “if my superiors had given any credence to what overpaid REMFs like T’sesset thought of me, I would’ve been court-martialed before I got past lieutenant. You’re going with Wilson and Michaels; you can depart after your fighter wing’s worked up to operational status. In the meantime…” She turns to the pixelated QT image of Major Jena. “I want you to run surveillance on the T-Rogarans, Lieutenant Colonel Jena. Avoid being seen, gather background info and strategic data in the area, you’re already near it. This is a palms-down covert mission—if you’re seen, disengage as fast as you can and RTB.”

    Aye mum. Don’t worry, I’m no Danjha Theed.

    She turns to Cartwright. “Okay, I’ve got people assigned for now. We’re not going to do a contact without lots of information, as in current information.”

    Suitable, Admiral. Good luck with it.” Cartwright looks pleased, Hibiki doesn’t.

    Admiral Cartwright, this is clearly a Starfleet mission, why—

    It’s Kanril’s mission, she’s in best position to make the call,” Cartwright states.

    Oh, very well, I’ll sign off, but on your head be it.

    “In the meantime, while I’ve got the Mitch out doing long duration recon, and with Frasier Bay getting close to their dock time, we’re going to be working in the additional forces and replacements with simulated wargames and collective training, this is going to necessitate adjustments to recon, strike and support groups.”

    Kanril Eleya, a few minutes later.

    Admiral Kanril, would you please stay behind?

    “Yes sir,” I assent as the others file out. Hibiki has already disappeared from the monitor.

    He pauses for a moment, seemingly marshaling his thoughts. “I’m not in trouble again, am I?” I half-jokingly prompt him.

    No, no, this is nothing like that. Ahem. I want to offer you a job, once this is all over.


    A position will be opening up soon on the Starfleet Academy Board, and I’d like you to take it.

    “Ohhh, no.” I laugh. “I’ll admit, that crack about Cadet Walford being my daughter was kinda funny in hindsight, but you need to work on your sense of humor. You’re serious, aren’t you, sir,” I finish rather lamely at the expression on his face.

    Look, you’ve been complaining for years about how clueless most of our graduates are about the conditions on the borders. Consider this your chance to do something about it.

    “Sir… you need me in the field.”

    I do at the moment, yes. But clearing this mess up is going to take years. Let’s face it, except for that stint at the 77th, you’ve been in front-line combat almost since you graduated. I’d need a break after that long too. And… well, there’s your impending nuptials.” My eyes narrow at that and he quickly holds up a hand to forestall comment. “No, don’t get me wrong… Oh, damn it. I never told you about my son, did I, Kanril?

    “I’ve met Elizabeth, sir; didn’t realize you have a son, too.”

    Had a son. I was chief engineer of the Cygnus, my partner Gulnaz was a general staff officer at Starbase 211, when the Dominion War broke out. Our son… There was a reactor leak when the Jem’Hadar hit the station; he didn’t make it.” I wince. Radiation is a horrible way to go.

    He glances offscreen, maybe at a liquor bottle, but turns back to me. “My relationship with Gulnaz barely survived. Let me just come out and say it: a starship or base on the front lines is no place to raise a family, if that’s what you and him want. Excuse me if you feel like I’m stepping on your toes there.

    “… It’s crossed my mind, sir,” I admit.

    But don’t get me wrong, that’s not why I want you in the job. I think the student body would really benefit from your experience. You’d be teaching a few classes a week, you’d have input into admission standards and curricula. It’s a good opportunity to, dare I say it, put your money where your mouth is. You want the way Starfleet approaches its duties to change, this is how you do it: from the ground up.

    “How long would I be in the job?”

    Try it for a semester, see what you think. If you want back to the front after that, I’ll give it to you. And if you want Cadet Walford transferred with you from the satellite campus to San Francisco, I can do that for you.

    “I’ll want to talk this over with Gaarra—with Captain Reshek.”

    I would say ‘and with Captain Reshek,’” he remarks with a quirk of his lips.

    Peregrine Wahlberger, outside the briefing room…

    Dear Dad, I’ve finally gone over the edge. ‘Regime change’, from one of your prize students.

    This is what it feels like to go insane.

    “She’s not serious, is she?” Pete asks.

    “Who? The Foreign Minister?” I roll my eyes. “I wouldn’t put it past a Federation civilian official to suddenly fall in love with long, drawn-out foreign wars to win an election and look tough to the voters.” I can’t believe I let those words out of my mouth. Dad was always proud of what he called ‘real idealists’. Thus far, Hibiki had qualified, or so it seemed until this meeting.

    Pete looks worried, and a little disappointed. “I don’t think that’s what she said,” he mutters a little halfheartedly.

    “Pete, we’re still here for now, they could come to their senses by tomorrow.” I lie. I lie like a rug. “But, if it turns into a… ’regime change war’… You know what? I don’t want to talk politics.” I grab his shirt, right there in the corridor, and tug, which just pulls me up against him. “I want to see how fast we can go up to your quarters with that lovely grav-assisted mattress, and I want to see if I can make you groan.

    Emigrating to Moab taught me one thing-life is short, it’s hard, you grab what joy you can and make the most of it while you can. Just like I grab him. “Can you do that for me, hmm?”

    People like us don’t get ‘happily ever after’, but we can damn sure do ‘tonight and no regrets.’

    I won’t say the part I’m grabbing is responsive, but it is. I do not want to think about tomorrow… just tonight.

    Still, Pete’s a good guy. I’m hoping he can be a good man, for me, tonight.

    It’s the truth against my heart or just my heart against it all. It’s hard to tell.
    It’s my will against myself, my body failed to keep it up. It’s hard to see.
    But I couldn’t bear my own state, couldn't bear the sight.
    So I hid myself and stood strong until I had

    Nothing left, nothing there.
    I was forced to let it go. Feel what I had done to ruin myself, destroy myself.
    In a run to greater goods I forgot to love me.

    It’s a choice until that’s gone and it is gone ‘cause I was blind. I see that now.
    A choice to stop and see myself, a choice to stop in time to save what’s left of me.
    But I just couldn't see my true state. I couldn't bare the sight.
    So I hid the truth and went on until I had

    Nothing left, nothing there.
    I was forced to let it go. Feel what I had done to ruin myself, destroy myself.
    In a run to greater goods I was blinded.

    Nothing anymore.

    Nothing left, nothing there.
    I was forced to let it go. Feel what I had done to ruin myself, destroy myself.
    In a run to greater goods I forgot to love me

    ReVamp, “Nothing”
    Songwriters, Floor Jansen, Jord Otto, Ruben Wijga, and Joost van den Broek
    Post edited by starswordc on
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Sanjit Kaur, SDF Kukri, Bajoran system. 30 June 2415.

    “I think it went pretty well,” my first officer says, hiding a grin.

    “I don’t want to talk about it.” If I didn’t love him to pieces, I’d be ready to strangle him right now for that comment. Fortunately, the little green… person is on her way to the USS Bajor, out of my hair. Sadly along with Thag and his cat. Those two I didn’t mind.

    “You know they will probably turn it into an opera.” My guest I can’t openly be mad at. General K’Ragh is getting a ride with us through the wormhole to tell Kanril in person that the Empire is joining the battle thanks to Quark. I close my eyes for a second and ask God for strength.

    “We’re lucky she didn’t restart the war with the Iconians,” I mutter. Quark having us sneak with his nephew and a Ferengi commando team to steal back the sword of Kahless was a brilliant plan. Bringing Geargrinder along… “Fortunately while T’ket didn’t burn from whatever explosives that goblin used, the Hur’q did.”

    Sadly Geargrinder didn’t burn either. Oh she lost every stitch of clothing and armor, and managed to attempt to clear out a ton of more artifacts from the trophy room. ‘Attempt’ being the operative word. The Kukri was a small ship—no way a fifty-meter solid gold-pressed latinum statue could be carried—even if they strapped it to the hull.

    “You know, grinding your teeth together isn’t good for humans,” K’Ragh observes. “The Empire is getting officially involved, your crew had a hand in it.”

    “And you didn’t?”

    K’Ragh laughs, “No, I didn’t.” he says cannily, “It is Martok’s achievement.”

    “And you insist you had nothing to do with that?”

    “Absolutely.” He folds his arms. “My fiancée has a saying; it’s truly amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t insist on a share of the credit when things go right, for example, our present situation. It is obvious that the Chancellor and the General needed no one to insist on careful, exacting historical research to verify the provenance of the Sword—Doctor Bashir’s testing was quite sufficient to satisfy those legends-obsessed imbeciles on the High Council.”

    “So why did they have you cornered in there for over ten hours before we left Deep Space 9?” my husband presses.

    “Logistics. Operational details, establishing standing orders… and reviewing the original text of records from the First Dynasty of the Empire.”

    His rueful tone doesn’t fool anyone. There aren’t a lot of Klingons whose reputation in academic circles is one of absolute honesty. Especially historians, and K’Ragh’s got three books on the Imperial blacklist for his.

    “So you verified the doctor’s results,” Taylor surmises.

    K’Ragh shrugs. “Within the possible, yes… but don’t tell anyone I did. I can’t publish my results.”

    “There’s doubt?”

    K’Ragh shrugs. “There is always doubt… but I can’t, because the Chancellor made it a state secret and General Martok agreed.”

    “But…” I catch his meaning. It’s not the original, or K’Ragh doesn’t think so.

    K’Ragh smiles a Klingon smile, which is not mirth. “Relax.” He taps the side of his nose, a human gesture. “It’s authentic enough, and that’s all that matters to the Chancellor, the High Council, or our situation. The metallurgy is the right age, the pattern of manufacture fits with historical images, the provenance is sufficiently legendary. We operated for decades with a Clone of Kahless—or at least, a clone made from DNA reputed to be him, as Emperor.”

    “Surely someone will contest—”

    “And I have given my oath to not get involved,” K’Ragh tells me. “It was worth it to the Chancellor to put Ssharki in charge of the Hromi sector opposite LaRoca, instead of a more… ‘traditional’ governorship under Kagran… though it does mean I have to wait for my ship on the far side of the wormhole.”

    That part made Aaron blink. “Why?”

    “Because my ship is being… borrowed. Anyway, cheer up—adding Klingon forces to the mix might just give Admiral Kanril enough to worry about she never gets around to chewing you out for that little stunt at Karemma.”

    “As if she could.”

    “She thinks she can, and neither your government, mine, or Councilor Garak’s wish to dissuade her of that notion.”

    “Technically she really can,” Aaron puts in. “Leastways, the orders she got put us under her command. So unless we want to start an even bigger mess…”

    “Don’t worry,” I reassure them both. “I know the stakes, and if getting a bit of an *ss-chewing is enough to keep the Alliance intact it’s worth it.”

    Debra MacAulliffe, Ashalla, Bajor…

    “They didn’t invent them, but they did turn them loose on us all.” First Minister Kalin Tala’s a little bit shocked at my tone. “You didn’t see what they did, First Minister. I would burn them root and branch for that.”

    “Your people are still holding down key roles in the multinational effort, Governor.” Tala seems to think I need reminding—if we withdraw now…

    “I’m not going to withdraw from the alliance, First Minister,” I assure her. “Among other reasons, it’s out of their control now, and burning wildfires threaten everyone, not just the damn fools that light them… but there will be an after.”

    “What are you suggesting?” she asks.

    “We’ll stick the alliance out, but… ceterum censeo, Dominatio esse delendam.” I tell her. She gives me a perplexed look. “Cato the Elder—oh, never mind. The Dominion’s going to be dismantled—when this is done, when it’s over, I want to see it partitioned, the Founders deposed, the Jem’Hadar and the Vorta freed or exterminated. Ten thousand years of oppression, criminality, manipulation, brutality and insanity can’t be allowed to stand. They turned a monster loose on us all, two monsters loose… It cannot be allowed to stand.”

    “Debra… you don’t have the forces,” Tala reminds me.

    I shrug and smile. “I know. The translation of the quote begins with ‘in my opinion’. I visited Moab several times after the Fek war, and I’ve toured the pickets over what used to be New Saigon. Did you know we kept those up even while we were fighting each other?”

    “I’ve heard that.”

    “It’s true. Even when he was being influenced, Don wasn’t willing to sacrifice the security of the whole region for political power.” I take a sip of springwine. “We’ve been rotating the Arluna and Cold Butte squadrons, and now MHS ships, to maintain the quarantine of what used to be New Saigon… and it’s not enough, because there’s active Fek loose, only those ones were turned loose by the Dominion.”

    “Well, Debra-il’vah, you may be assured that I am no friend of the Dominion. The trade through the Celestial Temple is lucrative but we have many more partners on the far side, and as long as the Founders insist on their right to rule all of space, they’re a threat to my people. As the Ferengi say, ‘War is good for business.’”

    I nod. “Yeah, they also say the same of peace… but I get your meaning. It’s traditional for national leaders in human history to visit forces conducting peace-keeping. I intend to visit our people on New Bajor—with your permission, First Minister?”

    “Of course. In fact it’s been several years since I last visited, so I’ll join you.” She raises her glass of wine. “I believe the phrase is… ‘Mud in your eye.’”

    * * *

    Admiral Thraz ch’Harrell and Admiral Kurland are each, in their own way, impressive men. Kurland is even more impressive when he’s scowling though.

    “First Minister, I’m sorry but this is an emergency situation and I can’t spare, or allow, two allied heads of state to go into that much danger without a proper escorting force, and I can’t spare the assets from 77th Fleet to provide an adequate escorting force. Never mind the bugs, the civil war in Tzenkethi space is already threatening to spill over into the Ferengi Alliance.”

    “Admiral, I got here on a top-of-the-line Klingon-built cruiser,” I remind him.

    “That’s one cruiser. Bajor’s still waiting on the other two being refit.”

    “We’ve got room.”

    “One cruiser is not enough.” he states.

    I think fast. “Admiral, how about a carrier group?” It’s pulling a big piece of our budget, but we already agreed on this move…

    “A carrier group?”

    “One vod’leH-class carrier with full wings, four destroyers,” I explain. “It’s more force than we committed to Myrmidon, but it lets me bring in replacements and reinforcements. If it’s that dangerous…”

    Tala’s looking at me like I grew another head. So’s Kurland.

    “That would be acceptable… I guess.” He says it reluctantly.

    “If you’ll give me a moment…”

    It takes me five minutes to get Donald to agree to countersign the order, putting our brand-new carrier off shakedown and dispatching them, along with escorts, to this mission. He agrees that fast, because it basically leaves Base Alpha under MHS control.

    “When will they arrive?” Kurland asks.

    “About two weeks.” I look to Tala. “We’ll have room if you want to bring reinforcements for your New Bajor garrison.”

    She nods. “New Bajor has an artillery grid and two Ranger regiments of its own, but I’ll order the 2nd Wyntaran and 1st Perikian to mount up. And while I’m at it I’ll call a meeting of the provincial governors.”

    “Why do you need them?”

    Kurland tightens his lips. “Because she can’t use the Militia offensively without a war declaration against the Hur’q.”

    “Everything I’ve sent Admiral Kanril up to now, I’ve had Fleet Admiral Cartwright activate as a Starfleet auxiliary. She may be a ‘hometown hero’, but there’s only so far I can push it before the constructionists in my own party and the Conservative Association start making trouble—foreign adventurism isn’t exactly popular here.”

    I admire that. “Good to know we’re allies with sensible people,” I remark. “Reins on executive power should be tight.”

    I envy them a little: they can afford to be isolationist, or at least reluctant. We really can’t, not with the Klingons on one side, the Pentaxians on another side, and the Federation on the third. The only protection we’ve really got against three empires on our border is foreign ‘adventurism’. It’s also really the only export we’ve got to keep our neighbours from deciding to take over.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Kanril Eleya, Admiral’s Day Quarters, USS Bajor.

    “Well, Cadet, you called us in here, what’s up?”

    “Well, it’s about the… situation… with Ensign Roberts.” Sheri takes in a breath and clears her throat. “It… it sounded like he might walk because of… differences between the way Moab does things and the way Starfleet, the Federation does things.”

    “Right,” Commander Anaquo fills in. “Some of the evidence could fall under ‘fruit of the poisonous tree’.”

    “Yeah, and that… p*ssed me off. I kept thinking about it, couldn’t get it out of my head…” She takes a deep breath. “Sorry.”

    “It’s all right, Cadet, just keep going,” Gaarra tells her.

    “I had an idea. Just a hunch, but… maybe he’d done it before, okay? So I got on the QT with my flag lieutenant credentials and I started hunting.” She brings up a file on the screen. “Before he came aboard, he was at Space Warfare School in Annapolis, Maryland.”


    “And… September 2414, there was this. One of the campus doctors, Captain Olu…” She seems to be struggling to pronounce the name, as nervous and angry as she is. “… Oluwanifesimi Eze treated a second-class, Biochemistry Specialist Soran Nagar, for injuries she considered, quote, ‘consistent with forcible r*pe’. She filed this report with Starfleet Security, and her last notes say she was trying to get Nagar to identify her attacker.”

    “Where is Doctor Eze now?” Anaquo asks.

    “An urn in the National Military Cemetery in Abuja,” she answers matter-of-factly. “After that it seems like they stopped looking.”

    “A cover-up, you think, sir?” Kinlo puts in. “Roberts’ second cousin is a staffer on the Starfleet Oversight Committee.”

    “Maybe, Master Chief, but I don’t think so. Notice the date?”

    I squint at it, then I realize what she’s getting at. “Right before the Iconians hit Sol.”

    “Yeah. A dozen people and two security cameras saw a Herald Harbinger reduce Doctor Eze to a greasy stain on the floor. I think it was just a snafu—campus security chief was killed too, so maybe the case just got lost in the chaos and nobody picked it back up.”

    “So you think it was Roberts,” I surmise.

    “It is an interesting theory,” Dul’krah puts in, scrolling through the file on a PADD. “The ensign reportedly has no particular preference for partners and is strong enough to have inflicted these injuries, and the theoretical victim is an enlisted person, just like Corporal Hoan.”

    “It’s too circumstantial, Commander Korekh,” Anaquo points out.

    “In my experience, circumstantial evidence is merely evidence of the place to look next.” The big horned alien’s nictitating membranes flick across his eyes. “I shall contact the chief of campus security and follow up. Perhaps we can convince Petty Officer Nagar to come forward now that we have a suspect.”

    “You do that, Commander Korekh,” Gaarra agrees, getting up. “Good work, Cadet Walford. I’m putting a commendation in your file.”

    “Thank you, sir!”

    “Let’s get on it, people!”

    The others file out. Sheri starts to leave, but realizes I’m not following. “Ma’am? Something wrong?”

    “Not wrong, exactly, just…” I let a heavy breath out and turn the PADD around, the screen showing Roberts’s Starfleet file. “Look at this.”

    She takes the PADD and reads it. “Distinguished Flying Cross with ‘V’ device?”

    I nod. “And a Purple Heart. He got those flying a combat rescue runabout during the battle, saved nineteen lives off the USS Salzburg and then managed a belly landing under fire on Syria Planum. Broke both his legs but got all the passengers down alive.”

    “Ma’am… Earth history studies, a man named Lincoln said, ‘Anyone can triumph in adversity, the true test a man’s character is to give him power over others.’ Before we left for Son Tay, one of the heroes of Independence was hanged on the parade grounds for r*ping a thirteen-year-old enlisted. Scum aren’t always REMFs.” There’s something vehement in her tone at the end there. Someone she knew personally, maybe.

    I nod. “Guy who fought in the KLF with my father and grandfather is serving thirty to life for bombing a Federation school for the Circle. Just saying… You think you know a fellow and then…”

    “Bang,” she agrees.

    Dhiemn tr’Mrian, ready room, ch’M’R Shavokh, 4 AUs from the black hole. 31 June 2415.

    “Looks like there isn’t much left, rekkhai,” Erei’Riov t’Hei observed, handing him a tablet. “Some debris and residual heat, a few heat blooms and transmissions from down the gravity well.”

    “Can we identify them? Is there any chance there’s live Fek’Ihri?”

    “Pretty good chance,” Radioman Joselewicz answered, “but these transmissions are so redshifted I don’t think they’ll ever climb out. We could fire a few torpedoes to make sure,” she added hopefully.

    “I’ll take that under advisement. Do we know how many escaped the battle?”

    “According to sensor logs from ch’Harrel’s task force, three or four of what the Khe’lloann’nasu call Fer’Jai-class frigates made it out before Enriov ch’Harrel closed the pincer, though we don’t know how many turned away from…” T’Hei shook her head. “Ahr’nohto enriov Bah’jor.

    Tr’Mrian guffawed. “Indeed, but you were saying?”

    “There are probably Fek’Ihri loose in the area. Not many, but enough to still cause serious damage.”

    “Find me a way to track them.”

    “I have an idea, there, sir,” Joselewicz put in. “Can we go through the logs from her half of the task force, see if we can spot them going to warp when she dove for the black hole?” He nodded. “Then we just draw a straight line and see if it goes near any Class M planets. No guarantee we find anything, but it’s something to try at least.”

    Tr’Mrian slowly nodded. “Not bad, Nesaehne Joselewicz.”

    “If we do find anything… We can’t let a single one survive.”

    “I’m aware. I think it’s time to read you both in on the true nature of this mission.”

    Kanril Eleya, Chan Cho Orbital.

    “It’s big.” Peregrine notes, looking at the window-projection as USS Minerva slides up to the dock. “Not as big as a vo’quv, hm. I don’t think I like the layout of the flight decks.”

    “You can’t see that.” I chide her, “Feeling a little jealous?”

    She shrugs. “I want to see my replacement first hand. I’m less than impressed—those hangars are built too close in, the docking ports are too small.” she lists off, “Starfleet should’ve just gotten the Klingons to sell them export Vod’lehs instead of trying to build a fleet carrier.”

    I laugh at that one. “Yeah right, can you imagine a voD’leH-class trying to sidle up to Earth Spacedock?”

    “I’d pay money to see that. And probably from whatever I won from the guys who don’t think it’d be a mess.” She grins.

    I tip my head to the side as the big four-naceller comes to a relative stop and the umbilicals begin to extend from the station. “She does look kind of like a pregnant hatha-fish, now that you mention it.”

    “What’s a hatha-fish?”

    “What the guys at the barbecue pit were frying at the wake the other night. Well, technically not, it was a local fish that looks like one.”

    “Hm. that was good fish. Also your guys put in enough spice so it had some taste... The Captain’s an ethnic Klingon, here’s his file. I do, on occasion, remember I’m supposed to be running Personnel.” She smirks a little. “But I will argue about mixing our air wings, I don’t have an extra Air-wing to loan them, and they’ve got enough pilots.”

    “Yeah, that’s not happening, not with this one. I do want to put a squad of Marines on there, plus QT techs, but they’ve got a short division of SGF aboard, too.”

    “I’ll get on that with the CO from Second Battalion, I’ll bend her arm to make sure she doesn’t loan us any of her ateups, since I’ll have to draw from my Complement to get enough experienced hands for the job.” I know Peregrine doesn’t have a high opinion of Starfleet’s ground forces, at least, the ones that aren’t forces I’ve had a chance to ‘correct’ to her standards.

    But I actually met the admiral in charge of the 18th a while back. Assuming he hasn’t gone soft since Second New Atlantica, the most I should have to worry about is the various gropos posturing.

    Come to think of it, that could actually be a bigger problem…


    “Sorry, I was thinking about something else, what was that?”

    “I said, according to the files we got, they’ve got a platoon of Ssn’pth. We’re going to have to designate no-go areas and make a list of ships that can safely operate with thousand-kilogram quadrupeds.”

    “Huh. Oh, here he comes now.”

    The hatch slides open and two officers in dress blacks step over the threshold. I snap to attention as an admiral’s flag unfurls on the second level balcony behind me. I’m only an acting two-star and Nrek B’tar is senior by a couple years anyway. Peri quickly follows suit, bringing her hand up to her hatted brow in a knife-edge.

    B’tar and Captain D’Gran nod to us. “At ease.”

    Peri snaps her hand down and clasps it behind her back, while I just widen my stance a little. Starfleet doesn’t do hand salutes. Well, that’s not quite true, but the regulation is you only salute outdoors and when you’re wearing a hat, and they stopped issuing hats almost 200 years ago. “Welcome to New Bajor Joint Services Base, sir. It’s good to see you again.”

    “Glad to be here, Admiral Kanril.” The Zakdorn eyes Peri somewhat skeptically. “This is…”

    “Colonel Peregrine Wahlberger, my G-1 officer, and skipper of the Saskatoon Hills.”

    “Hm. Pleasure to meet you,” he says in a voice that sounds anything but pleasured.

    “Admiral, Sir.” Her tone is just about as warm as liquid nitrogen.

    Damn it, I didn’t expect this. Gotta change the subject, fast. “Sir, I understand you’ve got a few brigades of ground-pounders who could use some liberty?”

    “Indeed. How are you situated for facilities?” he asks as a couple more ships come into visual range outside.

    “Arrangements have been made for the special cases with Camp Lenaris, including mud-pools per Qua’s notation, heated to the temperature range she specified for recreation, and PX cards are ready for issue, the Bajoran Militia have been briefed, and I’ve got a list of no-go areas lined out for your review, Sir.” Peregrine’s still chilly.

    Now he nods, actually seeming mildly surprised. “Excellent. If you’ll excuse me, then, I have to go meet with Admiral ch’Harrel.”

    “Yes, sir,” I assent. “I assume you’ve been briefed on the changes in the Dominion situation?”

    “Mmm. I suspected that wouldn’t go as planned.”

    “Aaaand we’ll be holding a staff dinner at 1900 hours to welcome you and the rest of them to the mission.”

    “Very good, Admiral Kanril. And may I say, congratulations on your promotion, and your engagement.”

    “Thank you, sir.”

    “Colonel.” He turns and strides off down a corridor.

    I glance over my shoulder and see Peri looking after them. “He’s cute.”

    I give her a startled look. “B’tar?

    “No, the Klingon, D’Gran! Of course not B’tar, the Zakdorn’s an idiot.”

    “Just remember, Peri, salute the rank, not the officer,” I drawl. “Oh, and speaking of, you and Pete Wilson?”

    “What’s it to you?”

    “I think he’s too young for you.”

    “He was a fun roll.” She says it dismissively. “Nothing serious, but he’s a lot looser now, and so am I.” She looks at me. “I can’t afford a real relationship, the job doesn’t allow for it.”

    “Hey, I’m not trying to put you on the spot or anything, that was just my personal opinion.”

    “Don’t tell the admiral, hey?” she quips.

    I chuckle. “You know what, maybe there’s an opportunity here…”

    “You’re thinking?” she asks. “I sometimes hate your ideas, Kanril,” she grins, “but that look in your eye says you’ve got something fun in mind.”

    “Just thinking, you mind sitting across from D’Gran at dinner?” I ask. “He’s going to want to take over the air wings.”

    “We’ll have to screen him, I am not giving that post up to someone who isn’t qualified.”

    “Find out if he is. That’s your mission tonight.”
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Peregrine Wahlberger, Maneuver Area 82, New Bajor, southern continent. Exercise Red Flag Day One. 1 July 2415.

    “Toby, what’s the scope say?” I know his answer, knew it when D’Gran picked his ride for this.

    “Disturbance 50 kilometers east, moving at 1500 KPH, vortex and shockwaves.” my WSO for this is also my aide, a situation that kind of evolved over the last few weeks.

    I cut airspeed and nose over, before rolling into a cloud bank. “Predictive algorithm shows he’s still running in hot after that last pass.”

    “Give him time, then we show him why we call these ‘Phantoms’.”

    “He’s pinging active.”

    Toby locks the source of the emission, and track him on passives. D’Gran blows past us, pinging with active sensors.

    I throttle the thrust up, keeping it out of overburn so that the dampeners aren’t overtaxed. “Left or right, Toby?”

    “I think right, with a down-angle.”

    “I think he’ll go left with an up angle.” I tell my backseat, “What’s the predictive algorithm think?”

    “It thinks he’ll try an Immelmann in four… three… two…”

    He breaks right and up-angle, then left, beginning an Immelmann turn.


    I squeeze the trigger and send a signal to the Caitian-Built stealth fighter.

    “What’s that now?”

    “Three to one, Mum, your favour.”

    “He should check out on a Hellcat,” I note, “Those Caitian fighters are fast as all get-out, but we just out-turned him. What damage are we registering from his shot?”

    “Aye mum… coolant hit on number two disruptor, flap assembly on the wing, and some hull scrapes.”

    I nose over and I’m back on his tail—this time with visual range. Thumb the triggers and his smoke gennie goes off. “And there’s his cloak.” I say, “Two to one, where’s his wing-man?”

    Damage alarms sound, and the stick shudders.

    “Ah, there you are...and he nailed our cloak?”

    “Nailed, also we lost number two impulse unit.”

    “Fair enough…”

    Unlike the Caitian ships, we have wings. even with sluggish controls, I’m still able to roll our nose on his wingman, whose inertial dampeners and shaped fields struggle in the warm air at low altitude.

    “Shut down the disruptors, we’re in torp range, stonk a dumbfire, Pattern Trung One.”

    “Aye mum, orders input and confirmed, your torpedo tubes hot.”

    The ‘torp simulator’ shakes the whole ship, and—

    And he reverses thrust to stop dead in midair and the torpedo goes a hundred meters wide of his Stalker as we blow past. “What the—” I have time to say before I’m pressed into my seat by a hard burn. The stationary Stalker spins like a top, spits Xiao with a phaser before he can react, then takes off again. “Okay, maybe dumbfire was too optimistic—F*ck!” I blurt as the another Stalker decloaks ahead of us. Toby dumps power to inertials and I dive for the hard-deck. A phaser burst from the first Stalker tags us on one of the ailerons as we break away. The new one nails Nguyen, but gets spit-roasted by the ammo dump from Nguyen’s main torp. At least, if it was a real torpedo and not a simulator round.

    Sorry, boss, he got me,” Nguyen radios.

    “You been holding out on me, D’Gran?” I wonder aloud. These two are way better than the rest of his crew. The others aren’t bad, but these two are almost as good as us.

    “Watch the trees, watch the—”

    “I saw ‘em, Toby!” I yank back on the stick and gun the afterburners. Need to get some distance on him. He can’t maneuver aerodynamically, but he’s got better antigrav and he knows how to use it.

    “On our six.” Toby observes.

    “Max the dampeners and hold on.”

    There are some maneuvers you don’t do in simulators, because engineers have conniption fits and don’t want pilots to do them.

    “You’re not going to—you are!”

    We’re at 2000 meters, and I nose-under hard, putting my guns on him in a move you don’t officially do in atmo, going from straight-and-level to flying straight backward, inverted. At our airspeed, the compression shockwave is at re-entry speeds and the impulse engine’s slamming a wall of air.

    Engineers hate it when pilots do that, but we already voided the warranties a few months ago doing the modifications.

    Red circle crosses x ring. Trigger. Toby’s swearing in the backseat, but he’s got heat management in hand as re-entry plasma wraps up around my canopy, then dissipates.

    “That’s five,” I say. “Their training’s acceptable, but they need more stick time and better fighters. A swarmer alone would’ve eaten them. How many of ours did they splash?”

    “Four, mum.”

    “Four to five, our guys need to work on that…” I toggle the general channel. “Exercise complete, RTB to the airfield at Camp Lenaris, everyone have your stuff ready for the AAR, Sassy Six out.”

    First after-action review…

    “Alright, we’re going to go over what went wrong out there,” I announce. I’m sitting on the table with my helmet bag under my feet. “four to five. In a real engagement you wouldn’t be facing equal odds, but everyone here TRIBBLE up, starting with me. Captain D’Gran, what in your opinion did I do wrong?”

    This gets some decidedly upset gasps from several of the aviators in the room, but the Minerva’s skipper grins. “Well, you’re good, you’re very good. But you were focused on me and lost track of Corny’s flight.” He tips his head at his CAG and wingman, Bogdan “Corny” Gornikov.

    “Right. That was my first mistake—against the Swarm, your wingman is your lifeline, and I didn’t keep a close eye on mine. Sorry, Xiao.”

    “It’s alright, Mum, you’ve been kinda short hours and a little rusty,” Leftenant Xiao Meun answers from his seat near the wall. “I kinda f*cked up on my situational awareness, got too worried about watching you instead of my sector.”

    “Forgiven, if you were flying with your usual wingman you wouldn’t have missed it.” I placate, “alright, what else, what could have gone better for our team?”

    “Excuse me, but your turn-rates were...I fought KDF fighters during the war, your turn rates were way too tight,” A Starfleet Lieutenant says, “I know this was a practical, but those birds don’t turn that fast.”

    “Wings, jackass,” Captain Gornikov tells him. “We were in atmo and she made that turn using the wings.

    “There are some differences from the KDF issued model,” I add. “Let’s go outside.”

    We walk out to where Pirate B*tch is parked. Her hull’s still ‘popping’ and there’s a heat-shimmer in the local evening air.

    “You said Tu’Doj Mark Fourteens.” D’Gran says, “I’ve seen the specs, that’s a new model.”

    “License-built. Some of our engineering guys took some license with the design. I’d offer to let you check-ride one and take it home, but I don’t have a bottomless supply of them. We call the variant ‘Phantom Threes’, but it’s an unofficial moniker.”

    “Named after the Double Ugly?” D’Gran asks.

    “You know your Earth history. Yeah, but ours isn’t built by Douglas Aerosystems North America.” I nod, “go ahead and take a look.”

    “How does it fly in the Black?” he asks.

    “Turn rate’s still better than that Stalker, and we mount heavier guns—that’s your first mistake. You need to get your tinbenders to revise those Caitan deathtraps with heavier guns—that bitty little phaser cannon you’re using will pretty much just annoy a Hur’q Swarmer. You need heavy cannon to even hurt them, and duals if you want to shoot one down.”

    “Wow, you don’t hold back,” a Caitian lieutenant quips, looking over my borrowed fighter’s nose, “Nice art... “ he says enviously, “wish we could do something like that...are those kill marks?”

    “Maybe.” I note, “The regular pilot has a good record.”

    This stops D’Gran. “The regular pilot?”

    I thumb my chest, “I get as many flight hours as I can to stay current, but my usual ride is a QIn escort carrier. I only get to play with the fighter when I’m not bossing a capital ship.”

    “I know the feeling,” he says. “Still, I was sure I had you, then you turned it on me.”

    “Turn rate,” I remind him. “Your Immelmann was good, and the feint right before going left fooled the software.”

    “But not you.”

    “I used to do this for a living, and did it against Orion pilots and Ferasans. Talk to Iris Michaels about her mod for the Peregrine. I believe she’s naming hers ‘Hellcats’, they’re a better machine for this fight than those bitty little Stalkers.”

    His aircrews knotted up around my fighter, “Alright, let’s get back to the de-brief.” I announce, “The next series the OPFOR will be run by our actual CAGs, which means it’s going to be a lot rougher. Welcome to the Gamma Quadrant, folks. For the next two weeks, we have a full stack of operations scheduled, you will miss meals, and sleep, alerts will happen unexpectedly, and you will be graded. Some of you haven’t been graded since Academy, all De-briefs will begin with a review of operational, tactical, and equipment issues, mistakes, and errors. You will be called on to fight with, and against opponents at seeming random. The performance out there, we’d have all been eaten by the F6 Longbow jockeys from the base. Me, because I’m completely rusty at actual flying, you guys, because compared to them, most of you are green as grass. We’re here to change that.

    And that’s the Lord’s honest truth: last week the air wing here took us five-nil.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited January 6
    Field Headquarters encampment, Starfleet 18th Ground Forces Division, 22:00 hours...:

    N’rek B’tar said, “Lights.” The lighting in his field quarters did not come on. He reached for his phaser, and more cautiously, “Lights?”

    The room was silent, dark. He reached with his other hand to open the door.

    “Uh-uh.” the lighting came on, and a Bajoran NCO wearing green-and-gray armband over his uniform tunic marked “OC” (along with several character variations meaning “Observer Controller”) lounged in his chair, grinning impudently.

    “What’s going on??” the Starfleet Ground Force admiral demanded.

    “You’ve been captured, Admiral B’tar,” A cool-and-quiet voice said from the space to his left. “Though you can resist.”

    He glanced left, and then, right.

    Shadows unfolded. “How did you get in? Our transport inhibitors—”

    “Crawling. Your TIs will be going down in five… four… three… two… one… now.” Leftenant Lung said. “Admiral, once this exercise is over, we will go over what your site security and early warning personnel got wrong. I trust you’ll participate in the debriefing?”

    The Zakdorn looked at the four commandos and one OC in the room, and laughed, “Of course!” he said.

    “In that case, would you like some tea?” she asked. “When my radioman TRIBBLE your control grid, she found some delightful recipes.” The Leftenant noted, “and while we’re waiting for your XO to find his way to come get you, we can discuss why you’re so very reluctant to have a platoon of Marines stationed on the Minerva. It doesn’t match your reputation for fair-mindedness a bit.”

    “Darjeeling, one pot, five empty cups.” she said, and the replicator hummed.

    “I also have a reputation, as you must be aware, for frankness,” the Zakdorn admiral stated, “Your people turned on the Federation in wartime, rebelled, and apparently got away with it.”

    “Fair enough… Milk?”

    “Please. Further, I’ve reviewed the operational records of your forces. Reckless, and careless, the only thing more shocking than your draconian discipline, is the rampant indiscipline in your ranks… Put the milk in first or you’ll scald it. There you go.”

    “Do go on sir,” she said, glancing at a timer. “You were discussing undisciplined personnel.”

    “My point was finished, the next point is the troubling one—mental illness, specifically how many of your people, once they are out of service, suffer from extreme levels of traumatized behaviour, high rates of suicide, substance abuse, self-abuse, depression. Your people have accomplished some amazing things, but every one of you, at least from what I’ve learned, is broken, including those who came to you from the Federation.”

    “Your beef is with Colonel Wahlberger?” she scoffed, recognizing instantly who he was referring to.. “You’re serious…”

    “I met her parents.” he said, “let’s keep being honest… frank, as they say. She’s rejected everything she was raised to believe, including the Federation, placed herself, and negligently, two sweet, kind, and politically influential people in danger, which has placed soldiers serving both with me, and under my command, in danger, for, well, what can only be termed selfish and shortsighted reasons.”

    “Wait, I haven’t heard this one, what do you mean about her parents?” a young man with a face that seemed half scar tissue said, cradling a little, dark carbine with a small emitter under the muzzle.

    “They went looking for her,” he explained. “This happened to stumble into one of my areas of responsibility—my division transferred here from the base on Bismarck, you see.” Lung nodded her understanding. Bismarck was a “sympathizer” world, a planet settled by ex-Maquis that had fought off a Klingon invasion force and then quietly fended for itself until Admiral Alcott’s forces retook the surrounding space, trading with Moab in the meantime. “Their naivete almost got them killed and cost the lives of several of my men getting them back from the gang of criminals that had them… So yes, I have a ‘problem’ with your Colonel.”

    “Duude, we need something stronger than tea to talk about this,” the scar-faced young man suggested.

    “Yeah, no sh*t.” Lung checked the timer again, and the sound of artillery simulators and simulated explosives could be heard outside. “It sounds like a good drinking story, we’ll have to buy you some rounds at the O-Club. Joey, where’s the Admiral’s XO?”

    The scarred young man checked a PADD. “Looks like she’s regained control of the central coms, and is organizing a counter-attack.”

    “Brilliant, what’s your odds?”

    “Well… the OC will have to confirm, but if the XO had the brains to take initiative, then it’s usually a good bet that the Junior officers and senior NCOs should be able to restore order…”

    “It’s a good test of our guys too.” she said cryptically.

    “Excuse me?” the Zakdorn admiral asked.

    “Leftenant Joseph Isaacson, Leftenant Myria Andreas, and Leftenant Lawrence James Vanh.” she said, gesturing to each in turn, “They’re from second battalion, each one commands a company. We let our executive officers and platoon leaders conduct the attack. I’m from First Battalion and the only company commander who isn’t looking to place a platoon on your carrier, because I’ve got one on USS Bajor.”

    “We were worried your concern was competency,” Leftenant Andreas said. “I know Colonel Wahlberger’s worried about whether our guys can work with your guys. My unit’s off Cold Butte, Ike’s company are mostly Romulans from Arluna, and Jimmy’s got a mixed barrel—all good apples, sir.”

    “In case you were worried our guys would spoil yours,” Lung added.

    “Security’s back on-line,” Vanh, a mixed human/Klingon with blonde streaked hair, noted, “TIme index four minutes, nine seconds. I think you’ll want to chew your tech people for that, I didn’t write that good a virus…”

    “Yoyodyne.” Andreas said, “I remember you were cussing about Yoyodyne gear when you were slicing in.”

    “Yeah… I foresee in our future, sending a request to the Bajoran Miliz to get some decent hardware for our Starfleet allies.” he said, “or at least, writing long nasty letters to procurement. lowest bidder is fine in attritional wars, or in low-intensity peacekeeping, but when you’re outnumbered and it’s a real war, you don’t scrimp the small stuff.”

    “If you’ll all excuse me, Gentlemen, Admiral...I need to go back to work.” Lung said, “it was a pleasure to converse with you, sir, and your taste in teas is delightful.” she tabbed a starfleet-issue combadge, “Lung to Bajor, one to beam up.” and vanished.

    “So tell me, Leftenant, where did you learn to overcome Starfleet field security?” Admiral B’tar asked.

    “Oh, I tested up. My original MOS was ‘Radioman’ but I kinda decided that instead of staying a Warrant, I wanted to broaden my horizons. It’s basic infiltration training for a Radioman…”

    He listened with interest, conducting the conversation like what it is; a job interview.

    Amanda Nung, Flag AAR, day one operations…

    “...they walked the OC’s through your perimeter like it wasn’t even there.” The Ground Forces Admiral’s still hot under his collar. Admiral Kanril’s just letting it burn in here, but the GF captain on the other end is turning kinda purple, which is an accomplishment for an Andorian—usually they just get paler or darker blue. The other two O-5s aren’t looking any less humiliated. “I want to know how that happened—they already explained how they did it, I want to know why they were able to.

    Of course, being the intel puke in the room, I don’t get to have my say until the Field Officers have thoroughly chewed asses.

    Besides, OPFOR work is fun, even if I only get to help planning it.

    I shoot Sheri a grin as the SFGF captain starts seething under the whip-tongue of the Zakdorn Admiral. Unfortunately, it catches Admiral Kanril’s attention.

    “Nung! Do you have something to add?” she asks.

    Ohh-kayy then. “They didn’t update their codebook,” I explain. “Also, in spite of just spending a year or so against enemies that literally appear out of nowhere, the monitors and the ground guards weren’t at a high state of alertness. They’re fatigued, too long under drill-alert, too much time under pressure. Also morale’s sh*t since it’s an open secret that the only reason that Earth still exists is because the Iconians stopped short of killing everyone.”

    That stops the Zakdorn mid-breath, and the Andorian, Tellarite, and Human GF Captains kind of stare at me like I’ve grown a horn or something.

    “What are you basing that on?” the Zakdorn demands.

    “Observation. Listening, watching. Your security guys have been over-sharpened, no cutting loose, no real chance to relax-and-digest what they’ve gone through. That makes people just as sloppy as being left out of combat for a sustained period, especially since most ground units off Qo’noS didn’t take heavy casualties until they hit Earth. Your Ground Forces have been trained, and trained, and trained again and again without having much chance to use it, and it’s been rote training. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but Starfleet relies on holodeck training, not force-on-force?”

    “Go on,” he says.

    I look to Kanril, who nods.

    “Means scenarios are carefully pre-planned, with canned elements, usually for the predicted behaviour of a specific enemy. You were hit with a series of commando raids, instead of the attrition-apocalypse of an actual Hur’q attack.” I carefully meter some water into a cup, and pop a heart pill in, to let it dissolve before I have to drink the nasty stuff. “It’s predictable, because first night exercise was done outside the parameters. As far as you guys know, based on your prep, the enemy doesn’t pull sneak-and-peeks, they just hit like a wall of bugs and overwhelm with numbers and firepower.”

    The Andorian looks kinda thoughtful.

    “So what was the purpose, Warrant Officer?”

    “When an enemy is predictable, or thought to be, is when his commando raid will work best.” I answer. “Isn’t it obvious? Your guys are overconfident—they took on some pretty heavy odds in the war and came out okay, and these bugs aren’t as scary, so they blunt up because the bugs are dumb… forgetting that they’re not, because they ain’t as scary-seeming as demons of air and darkness.”

    “You didn’t answer my question,” the Z points out.

    “Admiral, simply this: we got more possible enemies locally than the bugs.” I tell him, “and those potential enemies? They want the Dominion off their necks, and all they have is commando raids-sooner or later, some local or local warlord’s going to try and ‘convince’ the Dominion’s allies to abandon the fight.” I pull up a profile and it displays on the screen.

    “This is a list of races and worlds that are either in revolt, or close to it, they’re weaker than the Moab Confederacy, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t got lots of thinking into countering Jem’hadar garrisons-which means they have lots of planning and thinking about how to beat an enemy that uses Attrition warfare and bottomless numbers. They’re going to want your phaser rifles, personal shields, personal armor, ammunition, spare parts, fuel, food...and they’re going to get those things by stealing, blackmail, black-market, and Kidnapping to get those things.”

    HE looks thoughtful, his subordinates at least look interested. “Ask Peri Wahlberger, she was in when we went independent. The MCDF was initially bankrolled by selling Orions back to the Empire. She and some of the high school girls were involved in capturing a whole lot of Greenskin slavers on Independence Day, and she went to Drozana with the Governor when they were being sold. Someone thought of it on our side, someone here is odds on going to want to pull similar, or worse, start pulling those ops to make the Federation and the Alliance break with the Dominion.”

    “But..why?” the Captain type ground forces guy asks.

    “Because every ship we put on the line is a ship that the Jem’hadar can use for riot suppression and knocking rebels in the teeth.” I say, “The Hur’q create chaos, in chaos, there is an opportunity to get the boot off their necks. That means while we’re saving their lives, they’re a-gonna resent our presence as allies of the Dominion and the Founders.”

    “Oh my god, you’re talking about Earth history!”

    “We might as well be in Earth history here.” I tell the Tellarite, “Nationalist feelings, desire for independence, resenting a brutal overlord who’s also incompetent at anything other than domestic suppression… and these people have thousands of years under that boot, lot of time to get real angry—generationally angry, at their absentee overlords and those overlords’ cloned and genetically engineered boot. The so-called ‘Third World’ on Old Earth only had to suffer it for around five hundred years, and the differences were ideological, but in some cases out here, it’s biological as well… and there’s Option Two.”

    “Option Two?”

    “The ones who see us here as Liberators. How do you think that’s going to play with the Traditionals in the Founders?” I examine my fingers. “I know of at least one that doesn’t want us here and will use any excuse to get us to leave-and if political pressure and rudeness doesn’t do it, she’s not above getting her milky little tendrils dirty with some behind-the-scenes work.”

    I look up, and glance at Admiral Kanril, who gives me the ‘nod’. We talked it out during planning—how I’d present it in this meeting, what material I would give them, and how much. Enough to punch up her own speech with words, terms, and concepts that Starfleet’s dominant culture won’t look at if it comes from one of their own, because there are some words you can’t get a dedicated fleet man to listen to until some outsider’s brought it up in a way he can’t idly dismiss.

    Sugar for the hasperat to make it easier on sensitive mouths. Speaking of which, I drink the awful concoction. It’s goddam bland.

    Zakdorn guy’s taking another look at me. “Kanril, where did you find this woman?” he asks. “And are there any others perhaps lying around unattended?”

    Now the Admiral smiles.
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,620 Arc User
    edited January 11
    patrickngo wrote: »
    Kanril Eleya, a few minutes later.

    Admiral Kanril, would you please stay behind?

    “Yes sir,” I assent as the others file out. Hibiki has already disappeared from the monitor.

    He pauses for a moment, seemingly marshaling his thoughts. “I’m not in trouble again, am I?” I half-jokingly prompt him.

    No, no, this is nothing like that. Ahem. I want to offer you a job, once this is all over.


    A position will be opening up soon on the Starfleet Academy Board, and I’d like you to take it.

    “Ohhh, no.” I laugh. “I’ll admit, that crack about Cadet Walford being my daughter was kinda funny in hindsight, but you need to work on your sense of humor. You’re serious, aren’t you, sir,” I finish rather lamely at the expression on his face.

    Look, you’ve been complaining for years about how clueless most of our graduates are about the conditions on the borders. Consider this your chance to do something about it.

    “Sir… you need me in the field.”

    I do at the moment, yes. But clearing this mess up is going to take years. Let’s face it, except for that stint at the 77th, you’ve been in front-line combat almost since you graduated. I’d need a break after that long too. And… well, there’s your impending nuptials.” My eyes narrow at that and he quickly holds up a hand to forestall comment. “No, don’t get me wrong… Oh, damn it. I never told you about my son, did I, Kanril?

    “I’ve met Elizabeth, sir; didn’t realize you have a son, too.”

    Had a son. I was chief engineer of the Cygnus, my partner Gulnaz was a general staff officer at Starbase 211, when the Dominion War broke out. Our son… There was a reactor leak when the Jem’Hadar hit the station; he didn’t make it.” I wince. Radiation is a horrible way to go.

    He glances offscreen, maybe at a liquor bottle, but turns back to me. “My relationship with Gulnaz barely survived. Let me just come out and say it: a starship or base on the front lines is no place to raise a family, if that’s what you and him want. Excuse me if you feel like I’m stepping on your toes there.

    “… It’s crossed my mind, sir,” I admit.

    But don’t get me wrong, that’s not why I want you in the job. I think the student body would really benefit from your experience. You’d be teaching a few classes a week, you’d have input into admission standards and curricula. It’s a good opportunity to, dare I say it, put your money where your mouth is. You want the way Starfleet approaches its duties to change, this is how you do it: from the ground up.

    “How long would I be in the job?”

    Try it for a semester, see what you think. If you want back to the front after that, I’ll give it to you. And if you want Cadet Walford transferred with you from the satellite campus to San Francisco, I can do that for you.

    “I’ll want to talk this over with Gaarra—with Captain Reshek.”

    I would say ‘and with Captain Reshek,’” he remarks with a quirk of his lips.

    This scene was a little difficult for me to write. Not having actually dealt with Admiral Cartwright in a story before, I wanted him to be a little eccentric and absentminded (him mistaking Sheri for Eleya's daughter is based on an anecdote from when my mom was in the Navy in the '80s), but also very competent and devoted to his subordinates. That plus the Federation's admirable levels of gender equality meant it took a while for me to come up with a version of this scene that didn't feel like he was mansplaining things to Eleya. Patrick came up with what I thought was the best solution: he was concerned on her behalf because he'd gone through losing a family member while stationed on the front lines. Which also goes back to something that was said by the writing crew of TNG, that in hindsight letting crew members bring their families along while stationed on capital ships left a bad taste in the mouth.
    "Two ways to view the world, so similar at times / Two ways to rule the world, to justify their crimes / By Kings and Queens young men are sent to die in war / Their propaganda speaks those words been heard before"
    — Sabaton, "A Lifetime of War"
    (Vaporware thanks to Foundry shutdown. Thanks a frakking bunch, Cryptic.)
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Prisoner Holding, Chan Cho Orbital, New Bajor Joint Services Base...

    “Prisoner, Atten-Shun!!”

    Former Radioman 1st Class Elliott Barncourt rolled out of his bunk and stood at attention next to it, the lock-field to his cell blinked out, and two guards escorted a familiar face in.

    “Well, you really f*cked the dog this time, they’re gonna bounce you for that. How’re the Fleeties treating you?” Spider asked, taking out a medical tricorder.

    “Food’s kinda bland, I’m gonna say I don’t like being put in the same cellblock as the pervert,” he answered. “Don’t they have, like, different zones for different crimes?”

    “Everyone gets put in general holding until they’re convicted,” the MCDF JAG officer stated. “Says you’re inclined to plead ‘guilty’. Wanna explain that one?”

    He shrugged. “I did it. I h*cked the replicators and I gave Shua her favourite candy, and I got caught.”

    “Huh, ‘gave’, you mean you didn’t ask for payment?”

    “No ma’am.” he states, “I wanted her to be less of a TRIBBLE, that’s all.”

    “Okay, you know I’m going to have to find confirmation, and since Shua’s in rehab, do you have any witnesses?”

    “PLEASE! I’m smoother than that.”

    She notes “..no indicators of remorse…” she looks up, “Are you willing to submit to telepathic or narco-interrogation to support your claim?”


    “Because it’s the difference between five years on a terraforming crew, and a drumhead hanging. If you were giving it to her that’s five years, if you were selling it, or trading for sexual favours or other considerations, pursuing profit? That’s a hanging.”

    “F*ck yes, bring in the Lethean and the drugs!” he pauses, “but...could ya maybe see if they can move me to another holding? Somewhere I don’t have to, y’know, share air with the r*pist?”

    “We’ll see after your session of narco,” she tells him.

    Cellblock private room…

    “… don’t understand, that can’t be admissible!” Derek Roberts insisted. “They used a Lethean and narco interrogation to drag that out of him!!”

    “And the testimony of witnesses both before and after the incident,” countered his JAG officer, Lieutenant Seijirou Shinseki. “Listen, this isn’t the only charge of this nature against you. You’re lucky, this is a Starfleet operation and you are a Starfleet officer. If you were under Moabite jurisdiction, you’d be facing summary execution, for crimes of perversion, forcible r*pe, and abuse of position. They hang people for those.”

    “Um, what ‘other’ charges?” he asked.

    “Biochemistry Specialist First Class Soran Nagar positively identified you from a holographic line-up as the man who r*ped her on or about the 3rd of September 2414.” The Kusanagi colonist passed him a hardcopy printout.
    The lineup identification was duly witnessed by the undersigned:
    Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Jason Pierre Bayramoglu
    Chief of Judge Advocate General for Starfleet Academic System, Earth

    Vice Admiral Therinshesa zh’Quo
    Commandant of Starfleet Space Warfare School

    “Once you were identified as a suspect,” Shinseki continued, “SCIS obtained circumstantial evidence placing you near the scene of the assault on Petty Officer Nagar, as well as security holo of her rebuffing your advances repeatedly earlier on.”

    “So… what are my options?”

    “You can do the honorable thing and plead guilty. You’ll be dishonorably discharged, and serve a sentence of psychiatric rehab on a penal colony for a minimum of ten years. Or, this thing goes to trial, and you go away for life without parole.”

    “Life? What are my chances?”

    “One in ten, if I’m generous.”

    “What—But you—” Roberts looked hurt, and confused.

    “Ensign Roberts,” Shinseki cut him off with a clipped tone, “my duty as your attorney is to defend you as best as I possibly can, regardless of your guilt or innocence. It is also my duty to advise you of when I do not believe you have a viable case. The prosecution may not have a smoking gun, but I know Starfleet juries.”
    * * *

    “Well?” Commander Anaquo prompted Shinseki when he came out of the cell bay a few minutes later.

    “He’ll take the plea. Lunch?”

    “That noodle joint on the main level?”

    “Don’t mind if I do—been meaning to try the miso linguine.”

    Tesjha Phohl, New Bajor Justice Center..

    “Well, we’re not going to be hanging him, even if your lot turns over custody,” Major Bianh Vinh Trau announces. “He consented to a telepathic interrogation and Narco-interrogation. He was supplying, but not selling.”

    I place my hands on my hips. “So… what does that mean?”

    The Moabite Provost grimaces. “It means he’s facing five years hard labor, but not execution. I might be able to get the board to accede to mitigating circumstances.”


    “He did it because she asked him to—dipshit has romantic feelings our examiner says he’s repressing, and a plentiful lack of common sense when dealing with a junkie who really wants her fix.”

    “Five years for that?”

    “He (a) didn’t report it, (b) didn’t try to get her help cleaning up, and so on. What he should have done was report that Shua was looking for a hookup source and gotten her some d*mn help. Instead, he tried to get her attention by giving her the drugs. That’s a plentiful lack of common sense by any definition. It’ll be good for him, and if I can get the mitigating circumstances he’ll be able to finish his enlistment term and walk out with a ‘general’ discharge instead of ‘dishonorable’, after he’s served his time for the drugs.”

    “And what about Lance Corporal Shua?”

    “She’s in in-patient care now,” Bianh explains. “As a jun—um, ‘addict’, she’s not legally responsible enough to make rational decisions, so her C.O. was able to sign involuntary commitment papers. Thankfully, that means having Starfleet Medical supervising her treatment instead of our people.”

    Tess frowned. “Still, five years seems… a bit harsh.”

    “Sezzheads will do anything to get a fix, and facilitating that isn’t exactly smart, but no… not that harsh—if you hadn’t insisted on a full investigation, we’d be forwarding him for a capital crimes case, which usually ends with a rope in front of a regimental assembly.”
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Sheri Walford, Operations deck, Chan Cho Orbital…

    “Where’s Admiral Kanril?”

    “She sent me, what’ve you got, Sir?”

    “Excuse me, Cadet, I either need to talk to Admiral Kanril, or Colonel Wahlberger.” The Major speaking has a ‘crusher’ cap (so called because it’s not starched across the top), tan uniform blouse, and the sweater-under-a-greatcoat look that Moab’s uniform designers picked out for its suggestion of twentieth century Submariners. The illusion’s kinda shattered by the pointed ears and small fore-ridges of an Ethnic Romulan. “Look, I know, we’re overdue by seventy hours…”

    “Major Tillman I presume?” I ask.

    “Yeah, listen, we really have a good excuse for being behind schedule getting in, but I’ve got six ships with crew who need fresh air and non-generated gravity, and a resupply of fresh food would be great, but I still need to report in to the CO and present my report.”

    “How about the battle-damage?” one of the yard guys asks.

    “Yeah, that too.” Tillmann says, “Where’s the boss?”

    Ops, right…I look at the actual duty officer. “Dock at slips six through twelve, just the other side of the Carrier, Major, we’ll have the Yard crews start with your repairs and refueling…” she looks at me, “...the rest of it, Cadet- Lieutenant Walford here will assist you with.”

    B*tch, dump it on my lap? “This way, Major...we’ll get your people squared away with shore time.”

    “What held you up?” I ask.

    “We had to wait for a refugee convoy coming the other way through the wormhole, and then we bumped into some decidedly unpleasant fellows who wished to relieve the civilians of their possessions, innocence, and possibly lives.” she said, “can’t let that happen, you know. I had six frigates, they had a cruiser and a couple of destroyers, on the whole not really a fair fight, but why would we fight fair when dealing with pirates?” she has that almost-vulcan deadpan down.


    “So we decided to be sure they or their friends weren’t going to come back, and escorted the civilians through the wormhole, we just got back into the Quadrant.”

    “I think the Admiral’s gonna want to hear about it…” I say.

    “Hey, you were at Son Tay, and at Goralis?”

    “I missed the big fight at Goralis, I was there for the fight with the True Way, but not the rift.” I correct her.

    “Yah. Heard about that. She takes Marines on her staff?”

    “She does. And she listens, too.”

    “Phew, good.”

    “Um, ma’am, ‘Tillman’??”

    “I have a human husband back on Arluna, he’s an environmental engineer.”
    * * *

    “You’ve got three days, then I need your squadron back out.” Kanril tells her.

    “Hot?” Tillmann asks.

    “Red hot..white hot. Your unit’s operational and you’re already familiar with our doctrine out here, and we need more information. Your standing orders are reconnaissance and planting probes. Do not engage the enemy, and if they find you, you run and report.”

    “I can do that.”

    “Make damn sure you do, we’ve still got a week and a half after your squadron’s under way before the main force is in shape to back you up. In the meantime, leave passes are for the city. Stay off Camp Lenaris grounds, we’re running force-on-force drills.”

    “Aye mum.”

    “Talk to Colonel Wahlberger about your specific patrol sectors. You’re dismissed, Major.”

    After Major Tillman walks out, Admiral Kanril sighs, “Our organization chart needs an organization chart.”

    “I’ll get right on that, mum.” I tell her. It takes her a second to realize I’m joking, and she cracks a smile, which falters a bit, “No, that’s my job.”

    Peregrine Wahlberger, CIC MCDS Saskatoon Hills...

    Day to day work still has to happen, even with the wargames. “Here’s your off-limits list, make sure your men know those establishments aren’t joking.” I say, handing Tillmann the list. “I’ve got you prepaid for hotel reservations in a nicer part of town, make sure your guys don’t make the locals unhappy at your coin, it reflects on the Regiment and the Service.”

    Tillmann laughs “I get that, Colonel!” she’s got a big grin, that fades instantly, “while my boys and girls are having liberty, I assume you’re going to brief me in on what we’re actually doing out here?”

    I nod. “Recon for the fleet.” I tell her, “wing pairs, system by system, along a ninety degree sweep into what’s become hostile territory until you reach a specific range, at which point, you’ll start doing planetary surveys.”

    “Planetary...surveys? What’re we looking for?”

    “Candidate systems for the Hur’q homeworld.” I tell her, “You’ll be supplementing Jem’Hadar and Romulan units already engaged in the search, You’ll also be following up on any candidate systems they stumble across and nominate.”

    “We’re not rigged for that.” Tillmann reminds me, as if I’d forget.

    “While your boys and girls are out getting wet, you and I will be visiting the Quartermasters to get that part squared away.” I tell her, “New sensor equipment, cloaked and shielded probes to carry it, data recorders and upgrades to your nav deflectors and sensor suites, you’ll want at least a six man element doing field training on the new gear, studying manuals, you’ll be leaving port with a Starfleet or Romulan tech rep on board, and you’ll be trading one of your Radiomen to another, non-MCDF allied command as liaison.”

    “For how long?”

    “Duration of operations.” I tell her, “the longer it takes, the longer the trade will last.”

    “That seems pretty extensive..and redundant.” this I knew already.

    “We’re not just looking for bugs. There’s a free-and-loose Fek’Ihri presence in the Dominion, and we can’t trust the Dominion.” I tell her, “I have orders from the First Minister in addition.”


    “If we have to fight the Dominion, we need to be able to out maneuver them. IF we have to fight them, we can’t let them have an advantage-and they’ve got the edge in tech, manpower and position.” I explain, “SO...we need to be prepared to either supplement that advantage if they’re still our allies tomorrow, or negate it if we wind up in a position of being the front lines in a renewed Dominion War...or we need to be positioned to intervene either to support, or suppress, nationalistic groups in Dominion territory.”

    “Regime change.” She said, nodding.

    “Yeah, if we end up entangled in local politics, we need to be able to suppress either side. That means having sufficiently better info that we can take and hold the initiative-like when we went after the Orion Trade Houses, only these guys have more and better gear that our best allies can provide.” I study her eyes “our ORDERS are to avoid entanglements for the time being, and the intent is that we’ll withdraw when the Hur’q situation is resolved, if it can be resolved, but missions creep and the Feddie foreign minister used the words ‘Regime change’ already once.”

    “I understand, Mum.”

    “Get your people situated on the ground and meet me at the Yard office at A:30 Nha Tranh local. Dismissed.”

    “Aye mum.” she gives me a hand-salute I return, and leaves my ship.

    And leaves me back to reading the parsed data from the ships we already have out.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Callsign “War Pig”, Hotel Company, 221st Armored Battalion, Operation “Red Flag” Joint Exercises. 4 July 2415, 0735 hours.

    Lieutenant Douglas Wallace peered through the image enhancement scope. “I count one group of seven suits.”

    Chief Darmien spoke up, “Confirmed sir, they’ve got some dug in along the ridge, I count four possibles to the northeast.”

    Today, they were on offense. The MCDF’s ground regiment had humiliated the 18th three days ago with a commando raid that sabotaged most of the ground vehicles and simulated the capture of their Admiral. But today, it was the Starfleet Ground Forces’ turn.

    “Select airburst, four rounds from the main gun, fuse to detonate at three meters.” Wallace ordered, “Driver, prepare for movement, gunner, fire on my designations.”

    The section of Starfleet T-204 heavy combat armored vehicles rolled out of their position, the rock-rovers ranging along each flank behind the arc of the self-defense phasers mounted to sponsons. In ancient days, such vehicles were called ‘tanks’, but these were grav-lift assisted units, able to cross terrain that ancient tankers could only dream of.

    Their target was an air-defense position set up by the Marines. This would open the way for the main assault into the simulated town on the far side of the ridge.

    “Markers designated!” Wallace barked, “Gunner fire!”

    The 120mm coilgun mount vibrated the chassis, the earsplitting crack of the hypersonic round muffled by the hull and his helmet, and on the screens, the ridgeline exploded.

    Return fire was prompt—hypervelocity missiles, too. The systems on the tank obeyed signals sent out by the simulators, the vehicle rocked and vibrated. “Damage alert, we’ve got damage to the port phaser cupola, and… Jesus, they’re using antimatter?”

    The rad alerts howled. “Antimatter fullerene!” Wallace shouted back. “They call it ‘cam dusting’, yeah, they use antimatter rounds for bunker-busting and anti-armor. What’s the fault indicators say?”

    “I’m pumping additional coolant to the fusion pack,” Petty Officer Konerk, the mottled brown Saurian tech, replied. “Those hard rads… Egg salad, these people are insane! Sir, we’re still mission-capable.”

    Wallace swept with the backup sensors. There you are. “Penetrators, five round burst, on my mark… mark!” On the scope, he could see where the suit-grenadier had to be positioned for a strike like that.

    The coilgun bucked the whole chassis, simulating sending a five round string to remove first the concealment, then the cover, then the gunner.

    Screens flashed inside the tank, and that portion of the ridge lost nearly ten meters of dirt, rock, and structure, and had been converted to a bowl-shaped scoop out of the ridge line.

    “Mortar round detected, engaging the sea-whiz!” his gunner announced. The counter-projectile weapon on the turret whined as it drew power from the fusion reactor. More flashes, but these were considerably higher in the air.

    “More of those… ‘cam rounds’. We got them this time, sir.”

    “Let’s get to close quarters, driver, I don’t feel like being someone’s artillery target. One fifty percent speed, up hull!”

    The three tanks lifted two meters up, and accelerated to hundreds of kilometers an hour, inertial dampeners keeping them upright in the sudden rush.



    Secondary explosions where the ADA site had been located. The valley was open to the assault now. The lighter combat skimmers and APCs carrying the infantry battalion were moving up, Peregrines from Minerva covering them from above.

    “Bring us to the deck, one meter agl, and release drones.” Wallace ordered.

    “Drones detected-they’ve got theirs out too!”

    One of the other tanks spun its turret, cracking off a shell into a patch of brush 600-some meters off—simulated grapeshot, consisting of proximity-burst paintballs instead of the usual gravitically compressed tungsten pebbles. A few moments later, Wallace was rewarded with the sight of an unsuited Moabite grunt coming out of cover to try and wipe a big splash of neon pink off his face.

    “Suits! Six o’clock… five… nine…”

    “Anti-materiel rounds, moderate velocity, and overcharge the point defense phasers!” MCDF’s armored suits weren’t going to be hurt by grapeshot: they cost as much as a shuttle and were slightly tougher in ground combat.

    In this case, they were in defilade positions, coming out of ‘holes’ with assault model disruptor weapons—the sort the KDF used for vehicle mounts and plenty powerful enough to be dangerous to a heavy armored vehicle.


    One of the tanks from his section registered a mission-kill, and dropped to the dirt, immobilized and reading as on fire, right as his gunner ‘popped’ one of the mobie suits.

    In a one-for-one like that, there were a lot more of them than there were tanks, but the 18th had infantry support moving up.
    * * *

    Outside the tank, Lance Corporal Todd Vien sat down, his chest plate a neon green from the ‘anti-materiel’ shot from the tank. Radioman 3rd Class Krista Ladner limped over and sat down next to him, her chocolate complexion now covered in lurid pink. The Starfleet tanks, now one short, swept up the road, one of them demonstrating why in history, tankers called infantry ‘crunchies’ on Todd’s fireteam leader, knocking the armored suit over with the now much-slower bow slope.

    “Think they’re mad about the other day?” Krista asked.

    “I think that’s a possibility,” Todd agreed. “Either that or they’ve been practicing shooting man-size targets with anti-tank rounds.”

    The Bajoran observer/controller for Todd’s squad came by. “Come on, you’re KIA,” he said. There were four Starfleet tankers with him, the guys from the tank Todd’s fireteam had ‘taken out’.

    “No way we got all four of you!” Todd said, following.

    A pretty Bajoran petty officer grinned brightly at him. “Wounded!” the brown girl said cheerfully. “Monitor said we got a dose of fatal rads from that CAM burst’s fallout.”

    “Oh, yeah… sorry ma’am.”

    “‘Sorry’? Kosst, man, I haven’t had that much fun since that thing on New Bolias!”

    The ‘ghost truck’ was warming up by the time they got to it. The anti-tank and mortar teams were already in the back, along with Leftenant Isaacson and Lieutenant Phung.

    “I think we need to work on our point defense training,” Isaacson was saying. Behind him, the Starfleet armored column was already moving into the ‘ville.

    Phung nodded. “Yeah, been a while since we’ve drilled defense,” he said, “and we haven’t really dealt with anti-armor doctrine since ‘11.”

    “It shows. We’re gonna get reamed in the after-action… unless Vanh can pull it out somehow.”

    “Vanh?” the O/C repeated, climbing into the driver's seat and punching the power button. “War Pig got him two minutes in, he’s halfway back to base by now.”

    “That’s score,” Phung said.

    “Your pardon, sirs?” the Bajoran tanker spoke up. “Why haven’t you drilled anti-tank tactics since 2411?”

    “Canh Tho, Petty Officer—”

    “Oh, it’s Kyel, Kyel Raba.”

    Phung nodded, shaking the petite redshirt’s hand. “We had a column of Klingon armor with India Company coming in the arcology at ground level. The Fekkies ambushed it and… no survivors. It kinda got a bad reputation with the Marines—death traps, you know?”

    “Ouch. Yeah, I heard the Fek’ll cut through a hull like butter. You know, our stuff’s better than the Klink tanks. Did they ever try it with one of our armors?”

    “Fek Day. The Reserves had half a company of T-193’s from the depot, held the highway bridge into Xiao Loc for about five minutes during the first rush, and the other half died on the ground in Nha Tranh covering the evacuation.” Todd paused. “I remember watching out the back of the school bus while they were being swarmed by hordlings. They held them long enough for the driver to get us going too fast to catch…” Todd fell silent, remembering the day his life went upside down.

    “Well, phekk me.” She let out a whistling breath, then added, “No pun intended.”

    He felt a hand on the back of his head, and Krista said, “Put it away for now, Todd.”

    He sighed, and nodded. “Yeah… gotta stic?” he asked.

    She shook a nic-stic from a pack, and he popped the end against his armored thigh.

    Krista sighed, “At Canh Tho, we had tank support going in the ground floor. Fifty of us out of two hundred forty got out, it was tight urban and three-dimensional. Most of the ground war was. I got bounced in ‘12 for age, and re-upped six months ago, but the Ell-Tee is correct. Tanks were no use for what we were doing. Suits work better for the kind of combat we’ve been in.”

    “Yeah, we never really did much urban in the war,” Kyel said. “Planets I fought on didn’t have that many people on them, and usually by the time you can deploy tanks, the squids have orbit and you’re down to mop-up anyway. Though, I was on Baraka in ‘06. My first tour.”

    “Baraka? I heard about that, dropped a Klink carrier almost on top of the city, right?” Isaacson asked.

    “No, that was the Bajorans.” Kyel froze at their confused looks. “Oh! Uh, I’m actually from Arcadia Planitia—my grandfolks got off Bajor during the Occupation.”

    Krista grinned. “You’re a Marsie? awesome, I heard Marsies know how to party.”

    “Krista, stop—” Todd muttered.

    “No, stop being a stick in the mud, Todd. So you like, did raves and stuff?”

    “DJ’d a few, yeah. Kosst, I used to make my mom so mad…”

    “Can you engineer? I mean, like, mixing tracks then?” Krista pressed.

    “Yeah, actually I was a music major at U-Plan U. Dropped out second year to enlist, though.”

    “Righteous,” Krista said. “This guy?” She slapped Todd’s shoulder. “Is turning nineteen in a few days, and he’s been moping around with his Will filing. He is way wrapped too tight.”

    Kyel grinned. “I think I can arrange something. You know, back around Baraka time? Admiral Kanril, Commander Kanril then, she had a killer collection of old metal records. I don’t know real well what her deal is, she’s kind of a terraphile—”

    “‘Terraphile’?” Todd repeated blankly.

    “Likes Earthie stuff. I mean, not Earth itself, but they was always talking about how many old Earth sci-fi books she had on her shelf. Anyway, maybe she still has some of it.”

    “Kinda like the Colonel’s collection of Chicago blues,” Leftenant Isaacson noted.

    “Ooooh.” Kyel grinned from ear to ear and Todd’s heart skipped a beat. He blamed it on the truck hitting a rock. “I can do some crazy sh*t with that…”

    Peregrine Wahlberger, conducting simulated exercises. 1520 hours.

    Dammit Iris, why did I suggest that to you? I pull the collective and bring up to full power on both impulse units, as D’Gran’s fighter—his new one, a Hellcat modified Peregrine sticks to my six. Another set of damage alerts flashes in my vision, and Toby has to sit quietly in the back, since D’Gran’s first pass nailed his station with a hull breach and he is supposed to be unconscious.

    The Starfleet pilots had caught our flight before midpoint, and their gunnery has much improved over the previous go.

    “Where’s his wingman…” The map carat showed we’re was still 50 KM short of reaching bingo fuel, and there are two of them on us-D’Gran, and his wingman.

    Mine was registered as splashed over the ocean. I roll into a pivot turn and another damage alert sounds, and the fuel system goes from yellow, to red.

    I hit the override, a move that in real life would give my fighter about five more minutes before the impulse units die messily.

    there... trigger the release on the remaining guns, and sweep them over the canopy of a Hellcat as a final damage alert sounds, the damage listings vanish, restoring normal control of everything but weapons, and a nav carat lit showing a path to the airfield where ‘shot down’ pilots were to land. my comm unlocks on the general channel.

    “That’s game, Admiral. Well played.” it was, too. D’Gran’s interception run was perfectly timed.

    I see it, Peri,” Eleya sends. “You get enough sleep last night?

    Colonel, you’ve got an actual problem,” D’Gran’s voice on the comm says. “I’m seeing smoke from your portside engine, no, wait, that’s plasma, and it’s close to your fuel bunkerage, over.


    Disperse! All units, disperse!” Eleya orders.

    “Sh*t. Sh*t sh*t sh*t! We’re losing the bottle on that side, I gotta dump the unit!” Toby yells at the same time. Then, “F*CK!! Eject, Colonel! Eject, eject, eject!”

    I don’t wait for it, I grab the handles and (hopefully) we both vanish in a transporter signal as the matter/antimatter reactor on the port side of the fighter ruptures.

    Next thing I know, we’re in Sassy’s transporter room and Toby hits the ground praying.

    “What happened?” I ask him.

    “The bottle wouldn’t eject,” he tells me, panting. “F*cking interlocks wouldn’t release, and the magnetic containment was past failure point, and no time to shunt it starboard.”

    It’s about that time the medical team rushes us, with rad counters and scrubbers.

    “How much gamma did we take on the beamout?” I ask.

    ‘Not much mum… Hold still…” I get a hypospray of Ketalyn in the neck and some iodine tabs shoved in my mouth, while deck crew pull my fight suit off right there in the transporter room.

    They use the wire brushes and chelation soap on us both. “So what happened?” I ask again.

    “I don’t know, we’ll have to check the transponder record.” Toby tells me, “We shouldn’t have had an EPS rupture there, those were new impulse units.”

    “We find out, then.”

    The rest of the decon procedure goes like clockwork, and I can add ‘survived an exploding fighter’ to my resume’.

    “I want every fighter in the goddam wing gone over for signs of this!” I’m pissed, and it shows, “Full ten-year cycle checks! And i want the history of that engine, from the day they input the fabrication order, that TRIBBLE does not fly with me.”

    Corpsman Sskalmss takes me and dunks my head in a bucket of chelation soap and solvent, to get at my scalp with rough gloved fingers.

    It takes half an hour to trace the defective waveguide components. I don’t even consult Kanril before grounding every fighter with those waveguides installed.

    The contractor numbers trace back to a vendor in the Empire sworn to House K’lek’s yards. We don’t get closer than that with a part-number search, since Klingons don’t like to keep easily searchable online databases, but K’lek has a cozy relationship with a couple of Orion Trade Houses, so i’m gonna leave the issue in a report to our intel people.

    I’m also posting a report to our Procurement officers back on Base Alpha with a recommendation to survey anything with the same parts, and a suggestion to cancel the contract and open it to bidders with some goddamn standards.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    [out of story]

    accidents, equipment failure and ejections even happen in peacetime service. Ejection in the 21st century has 'known' side effects (Reputedly, losing a pilot about an inch of height due to spinal disc compression.) ejecting in the case of the 24th/25th centuries involves a capacitor driven one-use transporter with a fixed target preplotted-it transports you out of your bird, and into the nearest 'friendly' transporter room.

    given the WHY you would eject from a shuttlecraft or fighter, the big worry isn't musculoskeletal injuries, it's radiation exposure from your exploding ship (there's also usually a couple of able spacers and a doctor to pronounce you dead if the signal gets..erm...scrambled. The spacers are there with mops and hazmat containment gear.)

  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    edited February 5
    I'm caught here in this vacuum
    I'm falling from a sunless sky
    I'll rid myself of value
    And leave this emptiness behind

    So I run before it's over
    I run but still never leave it seems
    Run but not getting closer
    I run to get away from this dream

    I have been watching you from a distance
    I have been monitoring you from cloudless skies
    I've been calling your name just to ease your resistance
    But nothing seems to shift your darkened sky

    Run before it's over
    Run but still never leave it seems
    Run but not getting closer
    I run to get away from this dream

    I'm in orbit
    Stars exploding when I call your name
    Here's too dark and lonely
    You're my compass
    My only reason to stay sane

    Run before it's over
    Run but still never leave it seems
    Run but not getting closer
    I run to get away from this dream

    Run but not getting closer
    Run but still never leave it seems

    Evergrey feat. Floor Jansen, “In Orbit”
    Music by Evergrey
    Lyrics by Tom S. Englund

    Deep Space 9, two weeks ago…

    “First Minister Tala, a moment of your time, please?” The voice was one Kalin Tala had heard many times during broadcast of the proceedings of the Federation Council, usually as an expert witness.

    “Professor… Wahlberger?” Kalin pretended to barely recognize the man. She didn’t actually like him, but she respected his passion. “Yes, I have a moment.”

    “This is my wife, Rachel, I find I need to ask a favour…” he said, “It’s my daughter, you see…” He held up a hologram, but Kalin knew the face already, from reports on the Operations of Task Force Myrmidon.

    She also knew the barely-classified reports—that the MCDF Colonel in the image (though now older) had been avoiding her distressed parents. It was a disgrace, for a child to so completely shut their family out of their lives, no matter how wild those lives might be.

    And she studied the faces of the older couple. Humans aren’t that different from Bajorans: there was that desperate panic in those eyes, that locked away grief and that thwarted hope she’d seen during the Occupation, and during the coup attempt in 2370.

    “Come with me,” she said. “We’ll get this sorted out. Do you have your baggage?”
    * * *

    “I’m aware,” Debra told her. “They approached you?”

    “In person,” Kalin confirmed. “I’m bringing them to New Bajor.”

    “Lovely.” It was clear over the comm that MacAulliffe was less than enchanted with the idea.

    “You’ve been helping her duck them,” Kalin accused.

    “I have,” the Confederacy First Minister admitted, and then the red-haired woman sighed, and seemed to age another year before Kalin’s eyes. “But you’re also right—I’ve indulged this for too long. You’ve briefed them on the dangers?”

    “They have been fully informed.” Kalin said, “It failed to dissuade them.”

    “Right then. I guess I’ll have the Commandant of the Corps cut orders to keep her in port at least long enough for the inevitable explosion. I know Peri Wahlberger, I know something of her reasons for keeping this distance, but… You’re right, this is wrong, and it’s been too long, and we must consider how things like this damage families.”

    Amanda Nung, USS Bajor...

    “I recognize some of this code.” They put me on ‘light duty’ and by ‘light duty’ they meant ‘look at this underlying programming code, but we’re disabling your transceiver’.

    It’s a little weird not having to disable augmented reality popups, and I kind of feel really alone now.

    They couldn’t extract the implant, too dangerous, but they could put it into a dormant mode, and that’s what the Doctors did, so I’m not getting the constant stream of passive information anymore.

    Still, it turns out I’ve got all my own brains still...and this underlying code base looks real familiar, especially in the Female Changeling’s logs.

    I”ve seen it before, I was too distracted by other data to notice I’d seen it before…

    “What?” Captain Gaarra leans over my shoulder. The Admiral’s getting ready for her staff meeting on the base.

    “I’ve seen this code before.” I tell him. “I mean, in a context that isn’t Dominion…”


    I close my eyes and take a short ‘brain break’, letting it float in my mind until it bumps into someth—

    “Oh sh*t… I need to confirm something. Permission to contact Colonel Wahlberger.”

    “Why her?”

    “Because she’s probably seen it too.” I tell him, “if I’m right, the inconsistencies on that Dominion base are about to make sh*t tons more sense.”

    “What inconsistencies?”

    “Doors, chairs, desks.” I tell him, “Why would a lifeform whose comfortable state is liquid have humanoid furniture on a base they’re not manning with humanoid servitors? Why would entities that have perfect recall and a shared consciousness need to make verbal reports to each other?”

    “Maybe for the Vorta?”

    “The base predates the Vorta,” I counter, “there’s files on their creation.”

    He doesn’t get it. Then again, he didn’t have to prepare to fight the so-called ‘Good Masters’, he didn’t study Akorem Tarel’s archaeology work, the stuff that got her bounced from most of the reputable civilian science establishments with the same reputation they used to use for people hunting for the Loch Ness monster on Earth.

    “What are you suggesting?” he asks.

    “She wasn’t filing those reports for the other Founders… she was reporting to someone else, and I think I know who.

    “No getting excited, Nung.” He cautions me. They’re still tweaking my heartbeat, ever since I screwed up my body’s natural regulators.

    I pull up the Fleetbook interface, and enter the encryption code.

    Charliebradbury3 has entered the chat.
    Skynet has left the chat.
    Dahak has entered Chat
    Kolossus has promoted Dahak to moderator.

    Kolossus Hey Charlie, how’s the heart?

    Charliebradbury3 They’ve almost fixed the arrhythmia, but I’m still on lite dty… need to speak w/ Dahak, could’ve use Skynet’s help too.

    Dahak What’s up? I’m short on time, meeting in the flesh in one hour.

    Charliebradbury3 Check this {Charliebradbury3 has sent a file, 241GB size to [Group account]} against the Orion data and Tarel’s work from Objective K, is there a match?

    Dahak Kolossus, I get parity to 98%.

    Kolossus Confirmed on this end. Where did you find this?

    Charliebradbury3 Nested subchannel in some Dominion records, featuring B*tchface.

    Kolossus huh. A Founder who’s a cultie?

    Dahak Looks that way.

    Skynet has entered chat.

    Skynet has downloaded file from {Group Server}.

    Skynet Interesting. Weird that it doesn’t look anything like the usual Dominion code, but still. Consulting with Jena now, wait one.

    Skynet Confirmed-Odo was complaining that someone in the Link was keeping information from him-theoretically impossible, but then, so is Changeling biology.

    Dahak Show Kanril what you found at the meeting. I’ll back it up, grabbing files here.

    Charliebradbury3 Thanks! See you in 45 min.
    Dahak has logged off.
    Charliebradbury3 has logged off.
    “Alright Captain, sir, I’m ready,” I announce, then amend it, “Mostly ready. This is hot, hot stuff. B*tchyface Changeling B*tch was either in contact with the Good Masters, or she’s a Cultie.”

    It’s so easy to drop into Marine slang. He looks at me with a confused look.

    “Alright, sir, the ‘Good Masters’ were the Lovecraftian nightmares Colonel Trung sealed in their rift. ‘Culties’ are followers… worshippers, of the ‘Good Masters’, who ran their empire about like the Changelings do the Dominion, only lots uglier… Doctor Akorem Tarel’s work is a good place to start reading.” I sigh. “They’re the beings that warped the whole damn Orion species, and we know they’re closely tied to the Fek’Ihri, something that looked like it shouldn’t be, because the Founder just described how the Dominion created them…”

    That filters into his understanding. He gets that. “A copy?”

    “I think it’s a copy, or she was cribbing ancient history from dig-sites before. Either way, there’s a definite indicators she was either reporting to them, or prepping reports for them.”

    Reshek Gaarra, Operations, Chan Cho Orbital. 5 July 2415.

    Staff Duty Officer. Officer of the Day, it’s a twenty-four hour position that every officer O-4 or higher gets eventually at a forward base, except when the base is somewhere like Base Alpha, where the shift is thirty hours instead of twenty-four.

    Camp Lenaris might be Bajoran, but Chan Cho Orbital is under Alliance jurisdiction, which means it’s really our base.

    That means it’s my turn to stand a long watch at Ops, with Peregrine Wahlberger as my B-shift alternate, supervising a mix of dedicated garrison personnel from the Republic, Confederacy, Militia, and Starfleet.

    If this were purely a starfleet base, we’d be running eight hour shifts with three officers handling the duty over the 24 hour duty day…

    But it’s not. The Average between Bajor, New Romulus, and the Moab Confederacy’s clocks comes out to 28.7 hours, which could be seven hour shifts, except that when the task force is ‘in the field’ the garrison and maintenance staff are working either Bajoran (26 hour day) or Moabite (30 hour day) schedules, and will be until the 18th Ground Forces takes up their chunk of the duty-day.

    So I’m station-bound for 28 hours and working 10 of those as the senior duty officer, with the remaining 18 being station-bound and on-call.

    “Incoming message, sir,” a Marine Radioman First-Class watching the QT stack announces.

    “Text or video?” I ask.

    “Text, sir.”

    “Put it on my screen, Radioman.” Text means classified, or at least, ‘information dense’ content.

    I read it… then I read it again.

    “Ensign Ro’ark, ping the Admiral,” I order, “She’s going to want to see this for herself.”

    “Aye sir.” The young Denobulan Operations man was assigned to the Garrison.

    To: Kanril Eleya, RADM, FOIC, Joint Task Force Myrmidon
    From: Office of the First Minister of the Third Republic of Bajor

    RE: Advance Notice

    Be informed, the First Minister of the Bajoran Republic, along with guests, will be arriving in three days’ time to conduct a state visit of New Bajor and the Allied Forward Operations Base. She will be accompanied by the current elected First Minister of the Moab Confederacy.

    VIP personnel:
    Kalin Tala (First Minister of Bajor)
    Debra MacAulliffe (First Minister, Moab Confederacy)
    Juliette MacAulliffe (civilian)
    Cuong, Anh, Commodore, Moab Confederacy Defense Forces (Commandant of the Marine Corps, Moab Confederacy)
    Kalin Jelten (Chief of Staff to the First Minister)

    Accommodations will need to be arranged for the following units:

    1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment (MCDF)-Security Detail (Surface and shipboard)
    IKS (MCDS) veq’Duj (vor’cha-class battlecruiser, upgraded to Tor’kaht block 5 standards)
    MCDS Ice Ferret (Somraw-class heavy frigate)
    MCDS Voice of Heaven (voD’leH-class carrier)
    MCDS Goralis (K’Vort-class destroyer)
    MCDS Richard Walters Hegh’ta-class frigate)
    MCDS Spotted Glomper (Somraw-class heavy frigate)
    MCDS Damar City (K’Vort-class destroyer)
    MCDS Janice Qua (Norgh-class frigate)
    MCDS Nguoc Cham Norgh Class Frigate
    RBS Kendra (CR-04) Excelsior Block 18 upgrade cruiser
    RBS River Glyrhond (US-21) Verdanis-class armed transport
    1st Republican Guards Regiment (infantry, bodyguard force)
    2nd Wyntara Mas Overlanders Regiment (mixed armor-infantry)
    1st Perikian Amphibious Regiment (orbital droptroopers)

    In addition, the convoy will include for report to assignment:

    RBS Hathon (CR-03) Province-class heavy cruiser (Cheyenne-class retrofit, construction Block 3*(6))
    RBS Li Nalas (FR-14) Defiant-class tactical escort Block 7
    RBS Charna Sar (FR-15) Defiant-class tactical escort Block 9)
    RBS Michael Quhon (FR-16) Moab built Norgh-class light frigate
    RBS Pamela Bentine (FR-17) Moab built Norgh-class light frigate

    “Looks like the circus is coming to town after all.”
    Post edited by wingedhussar#7584 on
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,620 Arc User
    edited February 5
    As mentioned in part one, Bajor is reestablishing its space fleet throughout this story. They've had a very good army for a very long time, but their navy was never really up to scratch for more than commerce protection (Eleya was crew on an eighty-plus-year-old ex-Breen frigate).

    So they've bought a bunch of stuff from Starfleet mothball and have been up-gunning it: the Province-class is a Cheyenne heavy cruiser brought up to more or less Stargazer specs. For frigates or patrol ships, though, they're testing multiple options, both Defiants and Moab Norgh birds-of-prey (the MCDF's bread-and-butter). It complicates logistics a bit to need two different supply trains, but maybe with the Bajoran style of warfare the Norghs turn out to provide advantages as patrol vessels and skirmishers that the tacscorts don't: they favor ruggedness and reliability, and Moab BoPs have proven both abundantly. But they do need bigger ships to provide a credible deterrent, and those are more readily available from Starfleet boneyards.

    I can imagine a scenario resembling Finland during the Cold War. The Finns were officially neutral and bought arms from both sides, but they had a preference for Soviet gear due to proximity. The Bajorans are Federation members but mistrust Earth and worry about POSSIBLY having to fight for their independence again. They build a lot of their own arms, but they've only got the one shipyard which is mostly given over to civilian and Starfleet construction
    "Two ways to view the world, so similar at times / Two ways to rule the world, to justify their crimes / By Kings and Queens young men are sent to die in war / Their propaganda speaks those words been heard before"
    — Sabaton, "A Lifetime of War"
    (Vaporware thanks to Foundry shutdown. Thanks a frakking bunch, Cryptic.)
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    MCDS Mitchellville, K’Vort-Modified vessel, 231 light years from New Bajor.

    The game is ‘spot the carrier group’. We spot them, relay coordinates and headings, and Odo’s units are supposed to run interception.

    When we’re not doing that, we’re salting Class V probes with ‘low observable’ coatings and QT links, to establish a detection sphere.

    The Romulans have contributed additional ships to the mission, while the 22nd Squadron out of Base Alpha’s been chopped, giving the taskforce an additional six Product-improved Norgh class scout ships.

    I don’t know how Admiral Kanril reacted to getting the additionals from our forces, but I guess she must’ve been kinda pleased-additional stealth frigates aren’t necessarily the heavy firepower that even my limited understanding of strategic naval warfare would have recommended, but you can do a lot with information.

    We’re not just doing ‘lucky spotter’ work out here though. We’re also checking leads for the Astrometrics guys.

    “Check this one off the list, the chemical composition is wrong-the orbit’s also wrong, too short a period, it’s just a truly TRIBBLE place to think about putting a colony.”

    If we find it, we’re not landing—we’re reporting it, she’s bringing the fleet if we find the place, and I’m great with that.

    Once we find it, no telling what they’re going to do, I mean, the Hur’q go dormant for millennia
    “… Our ancient forebears were no fools. Despite the best efforts of the Vorta and other Dominion subject and created races to obscure matters, patterns of behavior do not lie. At the time, however, in addition to the depredations of the Burrowers, we were engaged in a conflict of our own. Modern analysis of preserved records suggests that our enemy were remnants of the Orion Empire that fell through the Bajoran wormhole during their flight from the Klingons and Vulcans, but regardless, the Dominion promised safety for our people in exchange for our allegiance, and for centuries this bargain held and served us well.

    “… Hm? Well, I don’t know what precisely you mean by ‘Faustian’ but I think I take your meaning, Mr. Sisko. In fairness, the Dominion tends towards a degree of… benign neglect to those who serve willingly. But yes, in reading those records, I am reminded of the words of a human polymath named Benjamin Franklin, whose writings we acquired through cross-wormhole trade: ‘Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.’”

    — Malkadt, Congressional Chairman of the Republic of Karemma, speaking to Jake Sisko upon the admittance of Karemma to the Federation, March 2418

    Kanril Eleya, Atrium, Chan Cho Orbital, New Bajor…

    It’s a perfect storm. It really, really is. Let me summarize; I have Kalin Tala arriving in ten minutes, with First Minister Debra MacAulliffe. They’re here to visit the troops and do some holo-ops for the press, and it’s Debbie Mac’s farewell tour since the Moab Confederacy’s national elections legally can’t dragoon her in for another term. Her successor gets sworn in in October, and our first minister’s going to be facing an election next year and needs a boost in the polls if her National Coalition government is going to hold up.

    I have two factions arriving in just over a day to conduct peace talks from the T-Rogaran worlds, plus the Dominion wants a seat and Starfleet needs a seat…

    Sheri checks my dress uniform. She’s in hers, but it’s always good to check each other’s monkey suit before the politicians arrive.

    We’d all be in the field, if I hadn’t decided to run collective training operations first.

    “No good deed goes unpunished,” I note aloud.

    “Aye mum,” Sheri says.

    “Where’s Wahlberger?” I suddenly ask.

    “She’s coming,” Sheri assures me.

    Peregrine shows up at five minutes before D hour, she’s managed to make it from a field exercise in suits, to a full dress uniform, with only a few observable flaws-she somehow scuffed her boots, and she left off some of her awards, but her Aide looks perfect.

    “I hate these things.” I say.

    “You and me both.” Peregrine agrees, and we walk out to the reception area. “Your boys look good.” she observes, nodding to the detail from the 18th Ground Forces in honor guard formation.

    We troop the line, as docking control brings in a phekking carrier group.

    I look over the Marines opposite Starfleet’s troops, and there’s a little envy there. Not all of them are in the dress uniform, a Platoon of armored infantry, opposite the Ssnpth troops from the 18th, must’ve spent hours polishing their MKIII combat armors, which were defaulted from the dull gray-green to a pattern closely mirroring the Marine dress uniforms, but with pixel-displayed unit markings. “Fresh off the field?” I ask her.

    She nods. “No time for tailoring services, so I authorized power-armor if it’s clean and in good repair and left it up to the CO of the second battalion to designate a display marking.”

    “Nice move.” I note, “Wish I’d thought of that.”

    “Silverbacks don’t have the same camouflage systems, they can’t mimic the right color scheme.” she reminds me, “They could do OURS but not yours.”

    The entry lock flashed from red, to green…

    Peregrine Wahlberger…

    “Detail! Atten-Shun!” the inner lock opened on the concourse.

    I know how Kanril feels about these things, because it’s only a little bit more unpleasant for me.
    There’s a purpose behind Military Ceremonial. Janey drilled me on it and I drilled my men on it, because it serves a genuine purpose. You dress up in your fancy clothes and you stand in formations and you salute-because it’s not just a reminder for the civvies-it’s about professional pride.

    Which I screwed up, but my aide didn’t. Thankfully, Kanril has to do the talking. This is a joint base, but Bajor is the host nation, Kalin Tala’s bodyguards come out first, and assume their positions. At least, the public ones do.

    Then here comes the First Minister of Bajor…two civilians with her.

    “Oh TRIBBLE.”

    It’s been nearly a decade, but I would know them anywhere.

    M’Karrett’s next to me and he’s probably the only reason my buckling knees don’t put me on the floor.
    “What?” he mumbles.

    She brought my parents.

    And I’m pinned to base while they run a Baryon sweep and an update to the sensor package.


    A hand grips my shoulder, and a feline voice hisses in my ear, “it’ll be fine.” M’Karrett. “Just hold it together, concentrate on the job at hand Colonel

    I realize I’m hyperventilating. go to noplace. There is no time, there is nothing but what is before you… composure. Kalin Tala’s trooping the line, inspecting the troops. They’re with her and with Kanril. The reminder of my rank helps too. I can use that.

    She’s speaking with one of Second’s Radiomen, an Ethnic Bajoran with Delta Third. Kanril’s watching me, but dad…

    I’m five again inside. Been caught doing something wrong.

    Janey Qua’s voice in my head, ”Never show distress in front of the men. Your most important job as a commanding officer, is to Look like you’re not panicking.”

    Focus. Everything is going according to plan...everything is going according to plan. I put my ‘game face’ on as the First Minister reaches the group of senior naval officers. I’m a professional, I am a marine. I stand at the wall and I never break. I am as unyielding as a neutron star. I only feel what is necessary for the mission. I am a Marine.

    Kanril Eleya…

    “...proud of the work you’re doing.” Kalin Tala’s laying it on thick for her guests. Abraham and Rachel Wahlberger, as much as she’s giving me the unnecessary attaboys politicians always give when they visit the troops.

    I couldn’t have planned this better, and I wouldn’t have. Peregrine can’t duck them, can’t be ‘out on maneuvers’ or unavailable, or on the wrong planet.

    It’s funny, in a way. The first time I met Peregrine Wahlberger, she was Janey Qua’s RTO, and they’d just intentionally rammed a surplus Klingon ship into the pressure envelope of an Orion slaving port to assault it with light infantry. The second time was at Berun’s World, where she pulled two suit-drop assaults on fortified positions, and wound up in surgery after the first one.

    And she looks scared. I know why.

    All the bluster she puts out, she’s ashamed-it’s the real reason she’s ducked her family every time they’ve gotten close to finding her.

    And she can’t run now.

    We reach the last row. “These are some of my captains.” I say it mechanically-for the benefit of the guests, Kalin’s met most of them already…” I don’t know what to expect, as the ‘handshake line’ goes through.

    It should go alright.

    “...M’Karrett, and from the Moab Confederacy Defense Force Marine branch, Colonel Peregrine Wahlberger…”

    She’s frozen up. Panicked animal in the headlights frozen.

    “I’d like to think I would know my daughter.” Rachel says, and instead of shaking her hand, the human woman embraces her.

    For a second I’m worried that I’ll have to call a medic, Peri goes rigid.

    But it’s not necessary. She hesitantly reaches up, and embraces her mom, looking as confused as I’ve ever seen her.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    [out of story]
    The first reference to Peregrine Wahlberger's parents was in her third named appearance, the co-written story "The Burning of Berun's World", which is also when we pulled the reveal about her being a Siegfried type AB-which is, an augmented fetus implanted into a civilian family as part of the long-term sociological phase of the program. (The parents were, due to the nature of the experiment, kept unaware and simply thought it was rather ordinary fertility-clinic/ob-gyne treatment).

    Yes, I was laying groundwork for this that long ago.

    Longer, even. I have an unfinished story that is going to be referenced, because I didn't finish it, but the ideas worked, involving Abe Wahlberger and his wife's misadventures chasing down their runaway daughter.

    because parents-especially loving parents-Do That Kind of Thing.

    as to why Peri stayed away? Kanril has it right. there's shame there, a subconscious fear that, once her parents know 'the truth' they won't love her anymore, and there's the fear of disapproval as well-her parents are a couple of pacifist, pro-federation activists with political ties to the 'left' in the Federation council, and her chosen life and career is about as opposite to her father's and mother's public ideals as you can get short of baby-eating and human sacrifice to elder gods-she's a practicing Jew while her father is an avowed atheist who only let her investigate 'her' heritage because he wanted to show her how foolish it all was.

    she forgot that in a truly loving family, none of that matters.

    and there's also the conspiracy-theory garbage she also believes in, but that's going to be covered later.

    [/out of story]
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Debra MacAulliffe, Half an Hour Later, Kanril’s office.

    “You have to send them back, Kanril, this is a phekking war zone and my father’s a pacifist academic!
    “You know, Peri, in all the time I’ve known you, you haven’t been more than a couple light years from the front line of an ongoing conflict of one sort, or another for more than a couple of days. I know we’ve been busy, god knows we’ve been busy, but you’ve been ducking your family for almost a decade!”

    “Please, give me a mission, and send them back to the safe side of the wormhole.” Peri insists, looking at me.

    “No.” I tell her, “this is the second time they’ve come looking for you and got close. The first time, they had to be rescued from a rogue Syndicate operation, this time, we can control the situation, they’re as safe here, as they would be on Deep space 9-safer, even…”

    “That’s debatable, First Minister.” Kanril points out, “I need her on the line-soon.”

    “I’m aware, Admiral.” I tell her, “but she’s one of my officers, those are her parents out there, who’ve been living a nightmare since she ran away from home, you don’t toss chances like this away, you can’t imagine what it’s like, to bury a child, but the next worst thing is to not know if they’re alive or dead, to not have the chance to speak with them, because you don’t know, when they’re dead, there’s all the same questions, but at least there’s closure.” I cross my arms, “ANd they’ve caused multiple security flaps over the last four years trying to reach her. I want this dealt with, without putting someone in a cell or protective custody.”

    “Is that your position as First Minister, or as a mother?” Captain Reshek Gaarra asks, looking interested.

    “Yes.” I tell him, “my god, I know what kind of hell she’s put them through for the last eight years and I didn’t get the chance to fix it..until your First Minister invited them along, so I want this fixed, I want it dealt with. Peacefully.”

    “WAIT. YOU DIDN’T…” Kanril bursts out.

    “No, I’ve been enabling her and this my notice I’m not going to keep doing that, or allowing anyone else to.” I tell her, “Admiral, we both want her up to snuff, that’s not going to happen as long as those questions and issues keep han’in’ on her, and my successor’s a member of Honor and Family-that means Peri’s going to be dealing with a superior who won’t count’nance this kinda thing anymore-so we deal with it now, before Betty Trung tosses her out on a mandatory leave. Kalin invited them along, so if you’re going to have words, it’s with the First Minister of Bajor over this, I just...happen...to agree.”

    “I’ll have to think about this.’ Kanril says.

    “I cogitate you might.” I tell her, and look at Colonel Wahlberger, “Talk to your folks, alright? Get this sorted, I’m trusting you with lives here, least you can do, is get your head straight.”
    * * *

    After Debbie Mac leaves…

    She looked uncertain-until M’karret spoke up “if it helps Peri, you know i’m sort of in the same boat. If you need moral support I’d be happy to go with you.”

    “That’s different,” Wahlberger replied “it’s just your grand sire who’s upset about you being part of K’tirr’s house…” she paused…”no, i guess it’s not that different, is it?”

    He didn’t take offense. “not really no. he has never seen his grandkits because of that, and the fact my wife isn’t Caitian.”

    The colonel chewed her lip for a moment. “Tell you what, you help me with this, I’ll visit Cait with you when this is over, deal?”

    Sheri Walford, Officer’s Lounge, Chan Cho Orbital…

    “I want answers.” Abraham Wahlberger is insisting. His wife’s a nice lady, hell, they’re both nice people.

    I got ‘babysitting duty’, along with Nung and a couple of guys from the First of the First-as enlisted, they’re waiting outside the door and keeping things safe for our VIP’s.

    “I can answer some of it.” I speak up. “What do you want answers for?”

    “Why?” He said, “She ran away-kids do that sometimes, but…”

    “But she stayed away.” Nung notes, “She stayed away from something a lot of us would give our internal organs to have, and hurt you.” she nods to the steward, and takes over the bar-keeping duty. “Sums it up?”

    Abraham nods.

    “She thought-she thinks she’s protecting you.” I tell them, “I’m not sure I agree with her thinking on that, until I met the foster parents, I might’ve thought the same way.”

    He frowns, “that’s what MacAulliffe said.”

    I nod to Amanda, and she pours drinks. “There’s no regulation against drinking, there is only a regulation against being unfit for duty.” she intones, “If sir would accept a drink?” she says, “The Ranking officers will be discussing for a bit yet, same for the politicians.”

    Abraham takes the beer that’s offered. “Cadet Lieutenant Walford was with the Son Tay op, she served with your daughter.” Amanda explains, “maybe help fill in some blanks.”

    “And you?” Rachel asks, giving me a few more seconds before I have to go to bat again.

    “I wasn’t old enough for Son Tay, I was mostly ground forces until Goralis.” Nung says, “some antipiracy missions, but I was on the Yoann Teena and we wound up grounded on Bajor.”

    “I read about that...and heard some disturbing rumours.” Abraham says.

    “Probably true, depending on the rumour and the source.” Nung tells him. “Point is, your girl? She’s a hero, there’s a lot to be proud of, because people aren’t born that way.”

    “She chose to be a soldier.” He finally says.

    “Yeah, and she saved a lot of lives.” I interject, “Wahlberger flew an overloaded shuttle off the Undine prison complex. She had volunteers from her shuttle crew who wanted to wait for a second trip to get the POW’s out, but she wouldn’t have it, she carried them all out of there seconds ahead of an Undine counterattack...with a pilot who was practically flatlined.”

    “She helped the Admiral-that’s Kanril, stop a brutal civil war on Berun’s world, and restored order.” Nung adds, “You knew about that, but what you don’t know, is that she stopped a massacre of civilians while she was doing it, and helped Admiral Kanril bring the perpetrators to justice.”

    “I know about those.” Abraham stated, “It doesn’t help me to understand why she stayed away.”

    “I was in the ground war-when the Fek’Ihri tried to take Moab.” I tell him, “so was Wahlberger, and a lot of others-so was Nung, for that matter. What we saw and went through?” I shake my head, “My nightmares used to leave bruises, and for a while I had ‘flashbacks’ that were one step away from psychotic episodes.” I don’t tell him that I still have them, “With the combination of the training we went through, that’s a tough combo to make ‘safe’ for civilians…”

    “But it’s not the reason she stayed away, is it? It’s just an excuse.” Abraham tells me.

    “Yeah. she could’ve gone back to the Fed any time after the Amnesty.” I tell him, “But she didn’t-she stayed in and she stayed away, and that’s a secret that is hers to share.” I give Amanda a meaningful look.
    She takes the hint, but Abe was better informed than we thought.

    “Project Siegfried.” he says, “It has to do with that, doesn’t it?” his voice is a little quivery.

    “I think we need to un-nerf the drinks.” Amanda suggests.

    “Their option, Amanda, but remember your medical.” I tell her.

    “It does.” he says. “What was it she uncovered?”

    “That’s her story to tell.” I say.

    Amanda snorts. “Might as well find out what you know, Abraham-may I call you Abraham?” she asks.

    “Augmentation, A super-soldier project from Leyton’s term.” He says coldly.

    “Yep.” she pours him a brown, distilled liquor. “That’s Siegfried…”

    “What was her connection?”

    “I can’t tell you that, sir.” Amanda says.

    “And yours?”

    “I’m one of ‘em.” Amanda tells him, “My DNA is stamped ‘property of the United Federation of Planets’, I’ve even got a stock number, and any competent doctor can read it. Unlike your daughter, I didn’t have parents. I was mixed on a slide and incubated in a tank, all my memories of childhood before the Marines were a lie fabricated by Federation scientists to create what they hoped would be an ideal officer candidate. I’d kill to have parents, real live ones, that would risk what you and Rachel have risked to find your daughter.”

    “You’re open about it?” Rachel asks.

    “Why not? Your daughter is the reason so many of us know what we are.” Amanda says, “i have thousands of brothers and sisters, but none of us have...real families, parents, a real childhood with real parents, I’ve got the Foster parents now, and I have a lot of friends in the Bajoran militia, but the nearest thing I have to ‘family’, like blood ties and everything, is the Corps.”

    He accepts the bourbon. “Why did she do it?”

    “Patterns.” Amanda states. “You raised her right, so she found out something awful, and she did what the morality you taught her said to do-only it would endanger you if the wrong people drew the right conclusions, the project was being run from inside the Federation’s government, by people with resources and authority...so she couldn’t sit by and let it happen, right? And she can’t have you dragged down with her, because that wouldn’t be right...so she keeps you at a distance.”

    “But..that’s not how it really works!

    “Imagine you’re a fifteen year old girl, who’s grown up surrounded by important figures in the Federation government, raised by loving, moral parents who, based on your writing and lectures, absolutely believe in the Federation and its inherent goodness...and imagine you find a dirty secret that could up-end that, a secret people involved with are willing to kill over.” Amanda tells him, “What’s your decision tree as a naive teenager with maybe more talent than sense?”

    Rachel speaks up, “That explains why she ran, what explains why she stayed away?

    “The child is the mother of the woman.” I say, quoting a Bajoran saying, “And evidence that the bad actors are still in operation.”

    “An FSA agent was looking into Siegfried after my extradition trial.” Amanda says, “guess what happened to him?” she blinks innocently, “Someone took him out, they killed him right on Earth, and made it look like an accident. You’re both prominent citizens, but how tough would it be for someone who can overcome the public safety monitoring and street cameras on earth, to make you dead or disappeared? She had real reasons to keep you out of it...but that’s all mushroom cloud now.”

    “Mushroom cloud?” Abraham looks shaken.

    “Can’t stuff it back in the steel casing.” I clarify, “you’re here, you’re going to meet her, to speak with her, to grow a target on your back if she’s right, and all her planning goes down the flusher, she’s gotta find another way to keep you safe. Lucky part is, Admiral Kanril knows about it, knows about the threat, and it’s not something they can keep a secret anymore because of her efforts, so maybe less of a target than, say, nine years ago. The only secret they have left, is hiding who they are.”

    Rachel turns pale, and reaches for her glass. “Cornered suspects are always more dangerous. My uncle used to tell me that.”

    Amanda nods. “Yeah, it might be advisable if you have suspicions, not to let anyone know who you suspect...or that you suspect them at all.”

    Kanril Eleya…

    Politicians. “If I ever say I want to run for office, Gaarra, shoot me.” i say.

    “Gently, with a weak stun.” He says and gives me a rueful grin, “Or with one of Nung’s ‘squirt guns’ only. Yeah.” he lets me lean on him. “What were they thinking?”

    “Oh…” He looks musing at the ceiling, “I suppose it’s that they feel bad about this, or maybe the First Minister’s currying favour with a powerful figure in Federation politics?”

    “Not that powerful.” I note, “Abe Wahlberger’s got friends on the Council, sure, and he’s prominent, but he is a civilian and an academic...and this is a warzone.”

    He hugs me close. Sometimes you just need the comfort.

    Peregrine Wahlberger…

    “Mum.” the marines at the door to the base’s rec room nod to me, “We’ve kept it private for you.”

    “I didn't order that.” I tell them.

    “Aye mum, Colonel Reshek suggested it, mum, we’re trading off with a couple Bajorans for relief breaks and monitoring.”

    Right. Chan Cho is technically our dirt, but Bajor’s the majority stakeholder in spite of Starfleet doing most of the build… “Carry on, Corporal.”

    I head in.

    Nung’s at the bar, and Sheri’s sitting with Mom. Dad… Dad’s got a glass of scotch.

    “Should we un-TRIBBLE mum?” Nung speaks first.

    M’Karrett offered, and I even accepted. I could use the support and I didn’t bring him. I take a deep breath.

    “Mother, father…” I don’t know what to say.

    “Peregrine.” Dad says, he’s calm at least. Mom looks like she’s going to cry.

    “I...i don’t know what to say.” I confess, “I didn’t expect it to be like this.”
    “I rather think you didn’t.” Dad says, he’s got that stern look. “You left your room a mess...and you left no notes, and you didn’t call us, or send messages...and…”

    Amanda Nung pours another drink.

    “I had reasons.” I say.

    “NO, you did not!” he finally spits out, “you ran away! I...why? Why did you cut us out of your life like this, you say you have reasons…” he manages to get his emotions under control, “Tell me why. nine Years, Peregrine, six of those we did not even know if you were alive...”

    “Would it have helped if you knew? How would you sleep any better if you knew what I was doing?” it’s a rhetorical question, I know the answer. I’ve done notification duty, I’ve looked at the faces of people whose loved ones died. “How would that be better? Especially given your view of the military? I’ve been fighting wars, father.”

    “I..we know. One of your friends…” he said, “one of your friends was at the University, it’s how we found out where you’d gone to...your friend killed herself, she left a chest full of recordings.”

    Deep breath. “who?”

    “Geena Pak.” mom says, “she was in one of my classes.”

    That’s a cold wash. “Geena? She…”Geena dropped off the net a few years ago....and dammit, I didn’t check, I was…I was recovering from Berun’s world and chasing leads on a group of discharge kids who went terrorist for hire.

    “We’re here about you.” Dad says, and he takes a drink. “My father, your grandfather was a career man in Starfleet...how could you think I would have an..Anyeurism if I found out you chose to serve? How could you believe...?”

    It burns. Shame burns.

    “We know why you left the Federation, Peregrine.” Mom says, “You were young, and curious, and too smart for your own good and you sliced a classified database...but how you could believe it is better for us not to know you’ve chosen a life like...this? Were you ashamed of your family?”

    “N-no mama...but you would be ashamed of me.” I peep out. “I know how you and dad feel about religious faith, and...I know how you feel about any military, much less a foreign military...and the whole secession...and dad’s speeches about the Klingons…”
    “Religious, huh? What are the laws of moses?” Dad turns stern, “I believe there is a line in there about ‘honoring your mother and father’?”

    Nung smirks a little bit, and pours me a drink.

    “I’m...sorry.” I say.

    “Yes, you are...but I am still your father, and Rachel is still your mother, and we still love you.

    How will that change when I tell them? I don’t know...but I know I need to.

    I don’t want to, but I need to.

    “About that...daddy…” Here I reach over, and take my glass from the bar. “Genetically..? Not so much. It’s the other reason I stayed away.”

    “I..I don’t understand.”

    “You and mom went to a Federal clinic.” I say, “I saw the records. They played you false, they-”

    “You think I didn’t recognize that by the time you were five?” Dad bursts out, “We suspected, but-Peregrine, I knew I was shooting blanks, it’s why we went to the clinic! It has to do with this ‘project Siegfried’?”

    I nod. “Yeah, dad...I’m one too.” I tell him, “You know what they’d do to you if it got out that you had an augmented child!”

    Dad slams his glass on the bar, and strides up to me, he takes hold of my arms, and i’m five again.

    “It’s not your fault.” He tells me, “but your fears? Ungrounded. We kept the documentation.”

    “And your colleagues would have torn you apart professionally.” I counter, “Your lives would have been ruined, even without a conviction!”

    “And you leaving us like that, without a word didn’t?” he scoffs, “where did I go wrong with you? that career never mattered as much as our family!” he scoops me up, and hugs me. “You’re my daughter, and I love you, honey...I would have gone to prison willingly to keep you safe.”

    “I didn’t want you to do that…” I mumble.

    “I don’t recall asking your permission.” he tells me, there’s wet on his cheek and it’s pressed my neck.

    Mom’s there too. They’re both hugging me. And crying.

    And my heart burns with shame.
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    [out of story]

    well? is anyone still reading?

    [/out of story]
  • brian334brian334 Member Posts: 2,180 Arc User
    Of course. I have to wonder, though, what comes next.
  • jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 8,211 Arc User
    Dammit, Patrick (or whoever wrote that last scene), a Star Trek Online fanfic about preparations for a potential war with the Dominion and/or the H'urq isn't supposed to make people mist up.

    Damn allergies...
    "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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  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    jonsills wrote: »
    Dammit, Patrick (or whoever wrote that last scene), a Star Trek Online fanfic about preparations for a potential war with the Dominion and/or the H'urq isn't supposed to make people mist up.

    Damn allergies...

    (hands Jon a tissue)

    sometime, I'll get around to finishing the story of Abaham and Rachel's attempts to locate their missing daughter. Once you get that context, I have no idea how it'll mix with what's already here for you, only that what's stalling it, is my own limitations (as both a writer, and a person.)

    needless to say, that scene was the outcome of a whole epic story in my head that I can't get out into words. (I've got the start, but no middle beyond some bald notes.)

    Brian's seen it, though, and my official permission is anyone who's seen it, or seen the document it's from, is perfectly welcome to share it with you, because I really don't have the right grounding or research to finish it.

    one of the things I did enjoy, was sticking a thumb in the eye of the usual by showing parents who actually DO love their kid enough to accept who she is, even when she doesn't think they do, or can, or even should. So often with these kind of things, writers take the easy way out and do moralizing, instead of letting their characters speak for themselves. (Truth be told, I wasn't sure how the scene would play out until after I wrote it.)
  • patrickngopatrickngo Member Posts: 9,743 Arc User
    Iris Michaels, MHS Sierdegardt, entering Kotha Tremali system.

    “We’ll be at New Bajor in an hour and a half,” I tiredly assure the quadripedal bug-man-lizard-thing looming over Commander Agustovski’s head.

    “Make sure we do,” the T-Rogaran’s vocoder necklace says over the clacks, hisses and hoots coming from its mandibles.

    ‘Its’. Royal Envoy Qe!Yah!Quen!a has been on my ship for the better part of two days and I still don’t have any idea if the guy is male or female, or if they even have a male and female the way I’d understand it. There’s a lot we don’t know about them: the Skkreeans weren’t exactly in a position to study their conquerors’ biology.

    I can only imagine what it’s like for Wilson. I’ve got the Separatist representative, and he’s got the Loyalist. But the kid’s got a good head on his shoulders. I’m a little jealous of him, actually: he’s got a real career ahead of him if he keeps his nose clean, whereas even if I went back to Starfleet I’ve got that bullsh*t from my last tour on the Beauregard hanging over my head.

    Success buys a lot of goodwill. We’re stalling what looks like it’s going to be a nasty civil war—or several—because the Task Force managed to stabilize Karemma. The T-Rogarans with me, want that same kind of autonomy, while the ones riding with Pete want to stay with the Dominion.

    I envy him, Wilson didn’t even flinch at the size of these guys, or their sheer alienness, but went straight to work, getting the Loyalist faction to stop and think.

    “Are Bajorans like you?”

    “You mean humanoid? Yeah.”

    The Envoy makes a honking noise that the vocoder doesn’t translate, then adjusts something on the machine. Then it starts talking again. “Poor translation.”


    “Your language is limited. It needs words to express what should be transmitted by the abdominal tonal subchannel.”

    “Oh, uh… You mean you can generate sound from your body to communicate?”

    It reaches its left arm around from its roughly humanoid torso and taps its abdomen, just behind its front pair of legs. “About here, we have… three drums. Where was I going with this?” It freezes still, then makes another untranslated squawk. “How is the Bajoran spirit? Do they fear the outside? Or do they leave the hive bravely? We have interacted with them very little.”

    “I think you’ll find there are as many answers to that as there are Bajorans.”

    “Oh, of course; no people is a monolith. But there are some generalities, are there not?”

    “Well, they have a reputation as some of the fiercest fighters in the galaxy. And they earned it. But I think they also have a reputation for fighting battles long after they’ve ended.”

    “And your people, the humans?” This time I catch its mouthparts attempting to reproduce the sound—it comes out like ‘hoonh-ahssss’.

    “Similar. In a lot of ways.”

    Capt. Peter Wilson…

    “We’ll be arriving in just over an hour.” I tell Salis. Who’s Salis? Salis is the Vorta accompanying the loyalists on behalf of the Dominion, and from what I can tell, the real ‘power player’ in the negotiation team. I have a small advantage over Michaels, who’s stuck ferrying the Separatist representative. That small advantage is Ensign H’rrrkk’t. She’s an Osiran, and her assignments kinda require special screenings, because her species doesn’t resemble anything so much as a meter and a half of fleshy spider. I found out I was one of four Captains with an open slot willing to accept a crewman that alien. Go Starfleet.

    Arachnophobes beware, she’s social.

    Thankfully, that leaves me only having to deal with the Vorta handler, and her ‘first’.

    I have to give Michaels credit, she was a big help getting the Separatists, which include the ostensible royal family, to come talk it out in a neutral forum. They wanted us to supply them with weapons and backing. On the whole, nobody can afford a costly civil war in the middle of an invasion, and Iris was effective at getting the rebels to the table before too many lives are lost.

    “You do understand how ridiculous this is, Captain?” Salis mentions. “This whole rebellion against the Dominion would not even be contemplated if—”

    “If one of your bosses hadn’t turned a nightmare loose on the galaxy? Yes, I’m well aware.” I must be picking up some of Wahlberger’s traits, I regret it as soon as it leaves my mouth. “Right now, we all need to focus on this not turning into a sideshow and a bloodbath— once the threat of the Hur’q and the Fek’Ihri have been dealt with, I’m sure the Dominion will be able to re-establish order.”

    Radioman Pawe rolls his eyes from the comm station, and the Admiral’s insistence on having a platoon of power-armor assigned to my ship makes a lot more sense in this context, with at least that many Jem’Hadar accompanying a group of aliens strong enough to tear through standard interior doors.

    “You don’t care for the Dominion, Captain?”

    “I’m neutral on the Dominion—you have your internal affairs and they’re normally not my concern, but your mess has become our mess, so here we are, here to help deal with and clean up that mess.”

    “You are refreshingly cynical, Captain,” Salis tells me. “Unlike your rebel counterpart.”

    That’s a dash of cold water. “Miss Salis, I’m not Jim Kirk or Jean-Luc Picard. We’re ferrying you to meet with the real diplomats so maybe when the fighting with the Hur’q is done, you’ll still have a Dominion to argue in favor of, instead of a war zone that makes Turkana IV look like a polite disagreement. That’s a job I’m not qualified for, but there are people at base who are, and that’s who you’re going to meet when we arrive.”

    “And your counterpart?”

    “Iris Michaels placed higher than I did when she went through the Academy, she’ll keep your rebels from opening fire, I think,” I tell the Vorta. “She’s a much better-qualified diplomat than I am.”

    “I’ve studied Federation structure, Captain Wilson… how did you ever get to be a Captain of a Starfleet vessel?” Salis almost scoffs.

    “Klingon promotion,” I tell her. “You can thank the Iconians. Everyone above me died and I was good at keeping everyone below me alive. Miss Noor, status?”

    “Nothing hostile on sensors, Captain, no Hur’q sign for at least eight light years.” Lieutenant Commander Noor, as always, is crisp. She’ll be a captain in the time it took me to make lieutenant.

    “Maintain course and increase speed to warp nine-point-eight-nine.” No reason to strain the engines.

    “Aye sir.”

    Kanril Eleya, conference room, Chan Cho Orbital, New Bajor…

    “First Ministers, I kind of hate to do this to you,” I tell them, “but I need a favor.”

    “Shoot,” Debbie Mac says.

    “The T-Rogarans. Based on the information my team forwarded, they’re on the edge of either a civil war or a reprisal campaign by the Dominion, possibly both. I’m assuming you both know what the Dominion did to the Teplans the first time they rebelled?” The two women nod. “I want you guys to moderate the talks for me.”

    “Are we allowed to do that?” First Minister Kalin asks.

    “The Moab Confederacy is a neutral here, I think,” Captain McKnight puts in. “At least, officially you’re just here to fight the H’urq and Fek, right?”

    “Unless the Dominion changes that.”

    “But we’re members of the Federation, Kanril’entana,” Kalin points out.

    My mouth tightens, and McKnight raises an eyebrow at me. “Yeah, but the whole galaxy knows we don’t completely see eye-to-eye with Earth,” I rejoin, a little sharper than I intended. “I’m going to be frank, I don’t need you guys to actually solve anything—though that would be nice—I just need you to keep a lid on it long enough for me to get to the bottom of the Hur’q situation so I don’t have to be watching my flank.”

    “Sorry, Admiral, what was that?” MacAulliffe says. I kick myself for slipping into my native language at the honorific and repeat it in English.

    “The only thing we need to worry about doing that, is whether the parties involved will adhere to the terms of the talks,” Debra states, looking surprisingly thoughtful. “If they won’t, it won’t even work as a distraction.” She turns to her daughter, and signs something at the girl.

    The younger MacAulliffe nods, and signs back, looking a touch impatiently at her mother.

    “I’ll do it.” Debra says, “I hate to impose on you, but…”

    Juliette MacAulliffe…

    Sometimes Mom forgets I can read lips. Of course, it helps she still hasn’t digested my being able to occasionally read minds.

    She’s worried I’ll be bored, I’m worried that I’ll miss something. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. It doesn’t help that what’s wrong with me isn’t correctible with the current tech, but then, I’d say it’s not something that’s wrong with me.

    There’s a certain advantage in an argument to being able to close your eyes, after all, and having to learn sign means someone is more likely to listen to what I have to say.

    But that’s not going to help mom here, and I came along, but I know I’m about as useful for what they’re doing here as wheels on an ice sledge.

    I’ll be fine, mom. There’s plenty to see and do around here. Do what you have to do.

    Which doesn’t stop her from trying to fix me up with a babysitter who can sign.

    Kanril Eleya…

    “You were frowning for the entire back half of that conversation, ma’am,” McKnight mentions as she follows me out the door.

    “I was?” She ‘mm-hm’s at me. “Oh.” I breathe out. “I’m guessing you were using your universal translator?”

    “A little bit, at least when you and your PM had that little back-and-forth.”

    “She’s more like a president than a prime minister. But yeah, the chip doesn’t always catch the idiosyncrasies of our honorifics—she called me ‘Kanril’entana’, probably meant it as a compliment. Aref’entanal—there’s a few variants for sex and age but it refers to somebody who surpassed their D’jarra. Their caste,” I add by way of explanation.

    “And you didn’t like that?”

    I shake my head. “It implies I should’ve had a caste to begin with.”
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