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Fanfic: Retaking The Test (Post yours too!)

brian334brian334 Member Posts: 2,214 Arc User
The Kobiyashi Maru died in a flare of warp plasma. Again.

And again, and again, and again.

His Klingon crew didn’t mind. The simulated Bird of Prey lacked many of the modifications which had been added to the Hov’Chon Bom, but being given an infinite number of foes to vanquish before dying in a blaze of glory was fun. For them.

Uh’har wanted more. He wanted to win.

Tales of others who had defeated the scenario seemed to rely on their having taking advantage of the computer system which controlled the scenario: either through exceeding some aspect of the program or by actual cheating and rewriting the control program.
He would do neither of those things, but he would win this cursed No Win Scenario.

“Seventeen tries so far, Captain,” said the Tellarite proctor. “Shall I schedule you for tomorrow?”

His First Officer shouted, “Tomorrow we shall vanquish forty enemy vessels!”

“I have faith in you, Commander,” the Tellarite said as the First Officer followed her crew from the holodeck.

“What is the pool up to now?” asked Uh’har.

“What pool?”


Uh’har stood gazing down at the humanoid half his height.

“ Well, umm,” the proctor said. “ The low bidders are beginning to drop out, but several bets have been placed at twenty four tries, and the highest is twenty-seven.”

“Tomorrow we win,” declared the captain. “Schedule another test.”

“Very well," the proctor said. ”But just so you know: there is a Romulan crew working on try number 36, and that’s not the highest. That record is held by Ganegg, who made no less than seventy-nine attempts.”

“Did he ever win?”

“She. And no.”

“How many tries did it take for those who won?"

“To my knowledge, the last first time winner was Captain Naldaron, whose victory was achieved by his creative use of an artificially generated transwarp conduit ahead of the Kobyashi Maru. The program had not at that time been given subroutines to define the effects of such phenomena and it crashed before the Kobyashi Maru could be destroyed.”

“Then it was not a victory.”

“It is called a 'No Win Scenario,' Captain. The test isn’t about winning so much as it is about learning how you will handle defeat.”

“If a challenge cannot be overcome it ceases to be a challenge.”

“The challenge is to learn for yourself how you will handle a situation which overwhelms you. Why do you think multiple attempts are allowed? Starfleet already knows how you will react to such a situation. We knew after your first attempt. All of the subsequent tests are for your benefit. So you can learn how you handle certain defeat.”

Uh’har sighed. “We all die, Commander. From the moment of our birth we are fated to fail in the end. The only question is one of honor; how well will you die?”

“In this case, I’d say honor has been satisfied,” said the Tellarite. “Quite an impressive number of kills to your credit, and your ship was intact at the end of the scenario. Some would call that a victory.”

“Do we now redefine the word victory?”

“Haven’t we always?” asked the Tellarite. “You’ll have our report within the hour, and I’ll see you here tomorrow at zero nine hundred.”

***

The orange-red lights of his quarters were at one third, and the Klingon captain slouched in the one luxury he permitted in his otherwise Spartan cabin aboard the Hov’chon Bom: a brown suede chair overstuffed with contoured foam. The chair had been turned to face the small porthole through which he viewed Earth.

Parked in a distant orbit which brought Earth Spacedock within Transporter range three times a day, the rotation of the clouded blue sphere was only perceptible over time. He had watched without seeing it as the Earth eclipsed the star that was ESD, then ejected it ahead of the tiny Bird of Prey. The half-mug of bloodwine had cooled as it sat resting on his thigh, cradled in a hand which had forgotten it held anything.

The door chimed.

“Open.”

“Captain,” said his first officer, standing in the door.

“Come in,” he said in a voice lacking inflection. He noticed the mug in his hand and turned to set it on a sideboard. “Is there a problem?”

“No. Or, maybe.”

He had known Avobtor to stand against a Herald with less hesitation. She was an excellent officer precisely because she did not hesitate, and made decisions under pressure which she made to work.

“Have a seat. Something is bothering you. Tell me.”

“Captain, coming to Earth has been a boost to crew morale. The Starfleet test has been entertaining, and crew efficiency ratings have soared through the repeated battle simulations. I have stood on the grounds of The Presidio and The Alamo, walked the fields of Gettysburg and The Chalmette Plantation, and I have sampled the food and wine of Earth. In every measureable way this vacation to the human homeworld has been a success.”

“But?” prompted Uh’har.

“But you do not appear to share the enthusiasm with which the crew has embraced this mission.”

“Go on.”

“Captain, in what way have I or any member of this crew failed you or fallen short of expectations?”

He paused to look more closely at his subordinate, but he saw neither concealed mockery nor veiled challenge. She was, he realized, concerned for him.

“Share a mug of bloodwine with me,” he said, rising and taking his half empty mug from the sideboard.

Beside the porthole a small brazier cradled a bowl of wine, keeping it warm enough to drink. With ambidextrous grace he dipped his own mug while retrieving another mug to fill it too. Handing her one of the mugs he hooked the leg of his lounge chair with a foot and turned it back to face the chair Avobtor had taken.

“To ancient battles and the heroes who fought them,” he said as his mug crashed into hers.

When both had taken a drink he walked back to the window, his back to his first officer: implicit trust. He could expose his back to her without concern for daggers and unannounced challenges.

“How long have you known me?”

“Our first meeting was twelve years ago when I served as a bekk on Qul’Borath. I came to serve as your weapons officer on Grell two years later, and I have been your subordinate since that time.”

“How many times have I failed in all that time?”

She paused, and he saw the conflicts churning through her mind. “Captain, I have never seen you fail. I…”

She stopped, but he said, “Go on.”

“Captain, I have not always agreed with your decisions, and you often appear to act without thinking, but you make your choices work or you adapt to the situation and eventually succeed.”

“I don’t like to lose.” He said it in a matter-of-fact tone of voice.

“No one does,” she said. A moment later she asked, “This is about the test?”

“A challenge becomes an insult when it cannot be overcome.”

“Captain, it is called the No-Win-Scenario for a reason. The computer can generate unlimited fleets of ships. No real enemy can create an infinite supply of ships. As a training exercise the test has value. And it’s fun too. But it is not a battle, and it cannot be won. The Kobyashi Maru will always die. It’s just a game.”

“You have been keeping score like it's a game.”

“I want to monitor improvements in crew performance.”

“How do we compare to the Rator’s crew?”

“Ahead by ten kills…” she paused then smiled at him. “I guess I don’t like to lose either.”

“So you have redefined victory.”

“I suppose.”

She watched him turn away from the viewport and take another long drink from the mug.

“Captain, if you were ordered to take us into a battle you knew you could not win, what would you do?”

“I’d find a way to win.”

“You would redefine victory?”

“The Kobyashi Maru will always die.” He laughed suddenly, emptied the mug and tossed it in the general direction of the braizer.

“Loresinger was going on about the Death of Kahless when I came to see you." said Avobtor. "Shall we see if the party is still going? It might do you some good to see how the crew is handling the challenge of this Kobyashi Maru test.”

“No, my friend. I am going to sleep; I must be sharp in the morning. Pass the word to the crew: tomorrow is our last attempt. Tomorrow we win.”

***

The Romulan Warbird turned slowly toward the oncoming wave of ships; its disruptor banks dumped energy into the enemy shields. The Federation captain who commanded the Reconnaissance Science Vessel appeared to be on a suicide run. Uh’har observed, cloaked.

“Hov’chon Bom, get in the game!”

It came over the fleet communication circuit on his left side monitor. Uh’har did not respond to the Romulan.

Ahead the science vessel opened up with a volley of torpedoes and what appeared to be very weak plasma beams. Then small gravity wells appeared as the torpedoes imploded, and as the first wave of enemies bunched up a much more massive singularity formed drawing the enemy ships together.

“There is your target at 349 mark 011 mark 005, helm engage maximum impulse. Tactical, open fire at ten kilometers.”

The Bird of Prey surged into motion like the predator she was, and her crew accomplished a perfect Alpha Strike on a helpless foe. In thirty seconds it went from formidable warship to ion cloud as its drive ruptured spewing warp plasma through the ship.

Then a second and third ship blew, and chained again to breach a fourth.

“What are you shooting, BoP? Those are some nice canons!” This was from the Federation ship, the USS Diemos .

“You set up the shot, I took it. Another wave comes!” he answered.

“Cloak the ship and prepare for another strike,” Uh’har ordered. “Helm, shadow that Federation ship. We kill what they immobilize.”

As the crew prepared for another Alpha Strike, Avobtor said, “Four kills!”

“One,“ corrected her captain. “The rest belong to that Fed.”

The fourth wave had damaged the Kobyashi Maru as she was immobilized in a cloud of drive plasma dumped by the Malon garbage scow. Hov’chon Bom destroyed the cruiser, but the Kobyashi Maru’s shields were damaged as the fifth wave approached.

“Tactical Team, I want those shields on that freighter to hold. Go!”

He saw the port shield of the Kobyashi Maru come back online as the first ship attacked. The shield held as Avobtor dropped their cloak and fired on the nearest enemy. The first volley shredded its shield, and as the cannons charged for a second volley the D’Khellra Class Warbird unloaded a spread of quantum torpedoes into the Terran Dreadnaught.

“That’s how you do it!” said the Romulan.

“Get some Engineering Teams on the Maru!” was Uh’Har’s reply.

“Captain, I have detected a pattern to the Deimos’ attacks,” said B’lenn, his science officer who was also the longest serving officer on his crew. “Those pathetic plasma beams are causing systems failures on the targets about three out of eleven hits! I have never seen such precision…”

“Prioritize vessels for Tactical when major subsystem failures occur, especially if their shields fail!”

As the ships of the seventh wave collapsed under the combined effects of multiple gravity anomalies, quantum torpedo spreads, and heavy disruptor cannons, Avobtor shouted, “Seventeen!”

“Incoming!” chimed B’lenn. “Captain! It’s a Doomsday Machine!”

“Tactical, you know what to do. Helm, straight down its throat! The Maru won’t survive a blast from that! Sensors, we need to evade at the last minute before it fires. Don’t fail me!”

The science vessel charged ahead as the Hov’chon Bom slowed to maintain fire into the simulated monster’s maw.

“Suicidal,” remarked Uh’har.

But as the Luna class ship approached the maw of the machine it braked and pivoted in a move Uh’har would not have thought possible for such a vessel. As it’s tail turned toward the monstrosity a single torpedo fired

“Hargh’peng!” shouted B’lenn. “That’s a…”

The resulting explosion caught their flank as the Bird of Prey rolled away from the blast.

“Valt you crazy petaQ!” Uh’har shouted. “Where did you get that?”

“Classified,” the Trill captain laughed. “Borg Diamond incoming!”

“This is going to hurt,” said Avobtor.

“Cloak and get engineering teams on those port struts. Pilot, shadow that Recon. Tactical, you know what to do.”

By the tenth wave the drive was spewing plasma and cloaking was futile. “Time to put some distance between us to make repairs.”

His teammates were too busy to respond.

In the twelfth wave an assimilated Valdore attacked, leading a string of assimilated Klingon and Federation vessels. At the last moment, as kill number twenty-five exploded and his own shields failed, Romulan Engineering Teams beamed aboard and began hull repairs while the Federation ship supplemented the energy reserves of the Hov’chon Bom.

The shields were restored by the time wave thirteen began.

Wave seventeen saw massive damage done to the Maru, which had been steadily beaten down by successive waves. Ixit’tlek was keeping the ship in the freighter’s wake, protecting its flank and recharging the freighter’s batteries. The Hov’chon Bom was not designed to perform the support role, but the other ships were out of range finishing off the last Hirogen Hunters.

When wave eighteen showed up the Klingon ship was the only one with a chance to catch them before they came in range of the damaged freighter.

Uh’har called to his teammates, “I’ve got them, protect the Maru.”

Avobtor announced their forty-first kill in wave nineteen. Their forty-fourth came moments later as a wave of Borg Probes melted under the BoP’s heavy disruptor cannons. A sphere slipped past the Romulan battlecruiser and pounded on what remained of the freighter’s shields.

Leaving that problem for his teammates, he charged an onrushing pair of Tactical Cubes.

In wave twenty-one the Kobyashi Maru almost collapsed under massed phaser fire from a Cardassian Photonic Fleet. Destroying the Khelden Class flagship eliminated the threat, but the damage was done.

“The freighter will not survive another attack,” B’lenn said, echoing his own thoughts.

“Bridge to Engineering,” Uh’har called.

“Chief says he’s busy, sir!” said a very young bekk.

“Tell him to man the transporters. Emergency beam-out on my command, not before!”

“Aye, sir!”

Heidekki Fighters were exploding but more resilient Jem Hadar Attack ships were breaking through the madly pulsing beams of both the Federation and Romulan ships. Avobtor’s marksmanship was hurting them, but one at a time.

“Sensors, I need twenty seconds warning before the Maru goes. No less!”

“Aye, sir!”

“Navigator, lay in a course to Earth Spacedock, maximum warp, then help B’lenn on sensors.”

“Aye sir,” said the Orion as he accessed the navigation library for the relative location of their target.

“Kobar, are you there?” Uh’har called.

“Cargo Transporter manned. I show red in both personnel transporters too, sir,” said the engineering bridge console operator.

“Here, Captain.,” called his engineer from the cargo bay. “I’m getting a lock on fifteen life-signs aboard the freighter.”

“Keep a lock on, but wait for my command,” Uh’har said. “I want to let our First rack up as many kills as she can before this is over.”

“That is forty-seven,” she said as theBird of Prey’s badly abused port shield collapsed under flanking fire.

The Jem Hadar pilot rolled toward the flanker and Avobtor got forty-eight.

“Twenty seconds!” said B’lenn.

“Helm, on course and prepare for warp!, Transporters, now!”

“Fifteen crew aboard!” came the voice of the Engineer.

“Go to warp now!”

Avobtor took a few final shots from the aft turrets, but the Hov’chon Bom escaped the battle with the holographic crew of the Kobyashi Maru onboard.

“Captain, what did we just do?” asked his first officer.

“I was wondering the same thing,” said the Tellarite proctor as he stepped through the viewscreen.

The holograms collapsed giving the seated crewmen time to stand before their couches faded away.

“We just won,” said Uh’har.

“The Kobyashi Maru…” began his science officer.

“Was intact when we ended the scenario.”

The Tellarite grinned.

“We rescued the crew?” asked a confused B’lenn.

“The only thing of value to Starfleet is their officers and crew. The ship is just a ship. Our mission was to preserve the vessel, not for the sake of the machine, but for the sake of the people on it.”

The Tellarite began to clap his hoof-like hands rythmically, then one by one the junior proctors joined in.

“Forty-eight kills and we rescued the crew!” shouted Avobtor. “Let’s see the Rator top that!”

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    starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,963 Arc User
    I originally wrote this for Unofficial Literary Challenge #1: "The Kobayashi Maru" after a discussion thread on the subject, though I made some edits to it since then. I essentially approached it with the mentality of a gamer, factoring in that, per The Wrath of Khan, the scenario is supposed to be unwinnable and the computer cheats to keep it that way, but the person taking the test isn't supposed to actually know that, a factor that often gets forgotten in stories about the scenario. It's about investigating the character of the test subject as a commanding officer, not about their ability to win against impossible odds.

    Cast:
    • Test subjects:
      • Acting Lieutenant Commander Kanril Eleya: Jennifer Hale
      • Lieutenant (JG) Tesjha Phohl: Claudia Black
      • Lieutenant Birail Riyannis: Ursula Abbott
      • Lieutenant T'Var: Lisa LoCicero
    • Proctors:
      • Rear Admiral Brenth Arkad, Starfleet Academy Board: Ben Browder
      • Captain Haelivthras th'Shvrashli, Naval Weapons instructor: Brandon Keener
      • Commander Steven Hackett, Astrophysics instructor: Winston Duke
      • Commander Justine Haas, National War College: Franka Potente
      • Commander Sivuk, Electrical Engineering instructor
    "The Universe Doesn't Cheat"

    0952 hours Pacific Standard Time, Saturday, January 27, 2407, ten days after the Borg attack on Vega Colony…

    The various military services of known space differ in as many ways as there are stars in the sky. The Ferengi organize the Alliance Defense Fleet around patrolling their commerce lanes, and their ships are optimized both to carry cargo and to fight pirates and mercs. The Klingon Great Houses are feudal lordships, fighting internecine battles with each other about as often as they combine under the banner of the Imperial Klingon Defense Forces to fight the wars of the Empire as a whole. The riovir of the fallen Romulan Star Navy frequently acted as politicians and military governors. The Federation Starfleet styles itself an exploration and diplomatic service first and a navy second. And as always, nobody has any fragging clue what the Breen are doing.

    But if there’s one thing that they all have in common, it’s the importance of traditions. In Starfleet, the CO of a starship is always addressed as “captain”. The Federation flagship is always a member of the newest, most advanced class in service at time of commissioning, and is always named USS Enterprise with the registry number NCC-1701. And before formally being granted the right to command a starship, a Starfleet officer has to take a command simulation called the “Kobayashi Maru.”

    And because of tradition, despite holodecks having been a thing since the late 23rd century, the “Maru” is still conducted on a physical simulated bridge, located in the Richard Barnett Building on the Starfleet Academy campus in San Francisco, California. Which is where Captain Haelivthras th’Shvrashli, “Thrass” to his friends, is headed. The Andorian, who is on his second two-year tour as an Academy instructor, had been assigned yesterday as one of the monitors for an off-season session of the test, and is going to the pre-test meeting in the faculty room on the third floor. “Morning, people,” he greets everyone as he walks into the room and makes for the coffeepot. “So, who’s today’s victim? Coffee, anyone?”

    Commander Steven Hackett strokes his beard as he brings it up on his PADD. “Kanril Eleya, and no, thank you, sir.”

    “Tell me about her,” Rear Admiral Brenth Arkad asks. “And get me a refill, Thrass.”

    “Bajoran, age 27, acting lieutenant commander, acting CO, USS Kagoshima. Enlisted in the Bajoran Militia out of high school, served four years, awarded Bajoran Silver Cross for Valor in ’99. Admitted to the Academy as a junior, majored in naval weapons, graduated ’02. Two tours on the Romulan border as a gunnery officer on the Betazed, then six months as a Militia liaison on DS9.”

    “Ah,” Thrass says. “I remember her from one of the classes I taught a few years ago. ‘Scarface’, we called her.”

    “I hope you didn’t call her that to her face.”

    “Oh, absolutely not, Steve,” Thrass agreed, chuckling as he pours a cup for Arkad. “One thing I’ve learned in my career, never TRIBBLE off a Bajoran female. Long story; I won’t get into that. How’d she end up captain? She only graduated three-and-a-half years ago.”

    “She was at Vega. Everybody senior to her was assimilated or blown up,” Steve answers.

    The Atrean admiral grimaces. “Rough.” He stretches and takes the cup. “How is she as a person?”

    “You want my opinion or just what’s in her dossier, sir?”

    “Speak your mind, Thrass.”

    “She’s got potential. Now, she’s got a temper, she’s coarse—seriously, she swears a lot—and she’s a straight shooter without a lot of subtlety. On the other hand, she’s smart and she thinks on her feet, she doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer, and she’s fiercely loyal to her friends. She was my favorite student.”

    “What do you think she’s going to do?” Steve asks.

    “I have no idea,” Thrass replies, grinning. “I will say, don’t expect much in the way of technical wizardry. Her approach is generally, if it doesn’t die the first time, hit it harder. Don’t underestimate her, though, she’ll surprise you.”

    “Think she’ll pull a Kirk?” Arkad queries.

    “No,” Steve answers confidently. “I mean, her acting chief engineer, Ensign Ehrob, liked to play with code according to this file—he got a demerit for hacking another cadet’s dorm console to play Catullan metal on an endless loop—but we’ve gone over all the computers with a fine-toothed comb like we have every run since Kirk. Plus, she wouldn’t know she needed to: it’s her first time taking the test. Per standard Form IV prep materials she knows she’ll be commanding a Constitution-class on a rescue mission across the Klingon border and that’s it.”

    “Wait, she didn’t take the ‘Maru’ in school? Says here she took a number of command classes.”

    “But not enough that it was a requirement, sir,” Captain Sivuk says, walking in. “Good morning, Steven, Captain th’Shvrashli, Admiral Arkad, Commander Haas.”

    “Hey, Sivuk,” Steve greets him. “Test chamber all squared away?”

    “Indeed. We are ready to proceed at 10:10, as scheduled.” The stocky, graying Vulcan from the School of Engineering is twenty years into his second career, having spent the first fifty-five years of his adult life as a city planner in Shi’Kahr. He steps over to the replicator and orders a raspberry yogurt. “In answer to your question, Admiral, in this case the ‘Kobayashi Maru’ is a chiefly a formality to satisfy those who believe her too inexperienced for her first command. Admiral Quinn has made it clear that despite her youth, he feels she demonstrated command ability abundantly during the fighting at Vega Colony. He will make her the Kagoshima’s permanent CO unless she fails entirely.”

    “So the actual test result doesn’t really matter?” Hackett asks.

    “No, it matters,” Commander Justine Haas replies, speaking for the first time. “She does well, she gets fast-tracked, makes captain in two years. And it shuts up the naysayers, causes her less trouble down the line. Besides, the test gives us some fun, too. I’ve seen her type before: tough girl, brash, a little arrogant. She’s a young Kirk with a crinkled nose. Let’s face it: TRIBBLE with her will be fun,” she finishes with an evil grin.

    “Kirk? You really think so, Justine?”

    Haas is about to answer the admiral when the intercom chirps. The computer’s voice says, “The time is ten hundred hours. The time is ten hundred hours and ten seconds.”

    “Time to go, people,” Arkad says. He knocks back the last of his coffee and leads the way out of the room.
    * * *

    Thrass enters the monitoring room and whistles upon seeing another Andorian, much younger, in the tactical officer’s seat in the bridge simulator. “So who’s the shen with the great rack?”

    “Captain!” Steve says in a half-scolding, half-surprised tone.

    “Hey, I’m bonded, not dead.”

    Sivuk ignores the repartee. “That is Lieutenant Tesjha Phohl, full name Siritesjha sh’Phohlhi, goes by Tess. She was a torpedo officer on the Khitomer but Captain Yim sent her to help Kanril operate the Kagoshima as acting tactical officer.”

    “All right, who else is in there?” Arkad queries.

    Steve checks his PADD again. “Lieutenant Birail Riyannis, a laboratory officer from Biology, assigned to play Kanril’s science officer, and Lieutenant T’Var, ops, who was here on layover between assignments. Kanril requested her; apparently they met in the gym and hit it off. Ah, speak of the devil, here’s the main attraction.”

    A tall, slim, athletic-looking Bajoran with flaming red hair, wearing a red-and-white Sierra-style CO’s jacket, strolls onto the bridge from the side door of the simulator. “I see why you called her Scarface,” Arkad comments. “What happened?”

    “Old knife wound,” Thrass answers. “Poison interfered with the dermal regenerator and it scarred, and I guess she decided to keep it as a reminder or something.” He reaches for the intercom. “Good morning, Commander Kanril.”
    * * *

    I turn at the sound of a familiar voice. “Professor Thrass? Is that you?”

    Yup, I pulled proctor for this round. You doing okay? Heard you had a rough time at Vega.

    “No worse than anyone else, sir. Psych said I’m clean.”

    Glad to hear it, Commander,” comes an unfamiliar soprano with an odd accent. She sounds mostly British but there’s a touch of another accent I can’t place. I’m not familiar with all of Earth’s languages. “I’m Commander Justine Haas from the War College. Also with us today are Captain Sivuk from Electrical Engineering, Commander Steven Hackett from Astrophysics, and Rear Admiral Brenth Arkad is our rep from the Academy Board. And you’ve met Thrass already, of course.

    Are you ready to begin, Commander?” Male voice, cool, carefully measured, got to be the Vulcan, Sivuk.

    “Give me two minutes, sir.” I hit the mute button on the console to confer with the team. “Remember the emergency plan?”

    “I still consider it too complicated,” T’Var answers.

    “It’ll work.”

    “Commander—”

    It’ll work,” I interrupt more emphatically. “Tess? Riyannis?”

    “I told you to call me Biri,” the Trill corrects me. “And yes, I’m ready.”

    “I’m ready, too, ma’am,” Tess confirms.

    I slap my combadge. “Bynam, you ready?”

    “Ready as I’ll ever be.” He’s in the simulated engineering section one floor down.

    I unmute the simulator. “Ready to roll, sirs.”

    Thrass’s voice again. “Test begins in five, four, three, two, one, mark!

    “Captain,” Tess says, “we’ve picked up a distress signal from the USS Kobayashi Maru. They’ve hit a mine near the border and their engines are out. Starbase 227 has ordered us to rescue them.”

    “Tess, sound battle stations. Conn, set course for their coordinates but bring us out of warp half a light-second from their location. And get me the full specs on the Maru.”

    “Course locked in.”

    “Warp seven, engage.”

    We’re thirty minutes away and I look over the data on the Maru. Ptolemy-class transport ship carrying a starliner pod. 257 passengers, 150 crew. If we have to leave the ship behind it’ll be a tight fit getting them all aboard the USS Constitution. “Tess, have anyone in the saucer cargo bays clear out, now. We’re going to need the space.”

    She nods and presses the intercom. “Any personnel in saucer cargo bays, please evacuate now.”

    “Once everyone’s out, I want everything transferred into the other cargo bays, prioritized as you please. Anything we can’t fit, toss.”
    * * *​

    “Okay, so she’s doing contingency planning,” Hackett comments. “Can I say, I really, really prefer this long form for the test?”

    Haas agrees. “So far she’s being remarkably cautious. Going in fast but not top speed, saving her energy in case she has to make a quick escape, and I like her idea to pre-clear the cargo bays.”
    * * *​

    The conn officer, a Bolian named Brota, announces, “Exiting warp in five, four, three, two, one, mark!” The warp field collapses and we drop to sublight. “Tess, charge up the weapons but don’t arm them yet. Sensors, do we have a fix on the Maru?”

    “Aye, sir,” the blonde human petty officer manning the station answers.

    “‘Ma’am’, Petty Officer Daniels. ‘Ma’am.’”

    “Sorry, sir. Ma’am.”

    I ignore the apology. “Conn, take us in. Quietly, now. Rig ship for silent running.” The intercom chirps. “Yes?”

    “Commander, this is Commander Hackett. Do you mind if we skip ahead?”

    I think for a second. “I don’t see why not. Bring us up to a thousand kilometers from the Maru.”

    The plot on Tess’s console fast-forwards. By the simulator’s clock we’ve been at battle stations for almost an hour, but it’s more like twenty minutes real-time (we skipped ahead during the warp trip, too). As we close on the Maru Daniels announces, “Captain, I’m picking up a disturbance.”

    “Source?”

    “Not sure yet. Let me try to clean it up—oh, Hell. Reading four D7-class cruisers decloaking near the Maru!”

    Phekk. Hail them.”

    “They’re jamming subspace!” the communications officer says. “Locking weapons!”

    “Use the lightspeed comms!”

    “Channel open!”

    I switch to tlhIngan Hol. I’m a little rusty but the words tumble from my mouth in a rush. “SuvwI’pu’ tlhIngan batlh, eleya, torvo puqbe’ jIH. HoD Constitution yuQjIjDIvI’ ’ejDo’. jatlh neH.” I switch the microphone to the intercom and order the forward sections of the saucer evacuated in case we have to make a quick escape.
    * * *​

    Admiral Arkad’s eyes widen at the guttural, phlegmatic sounds of accurate, if somewhat badly accented, tlhIngan Hol issuing from the Bajoran’s mouth. Thrass sees it and grins. “Part of Militia basic training, ever since the war in the early Seventies. Recruits have to demonstrate a minimum proficiency in Klingonese and Cardassian to qualify for offworld.”

    “Well, she’s not bad for an amateur,” Haas remarks.

    Steve comments, “I think we goofed on the enemy selection. Changing the subject a bit, what’s up with her ordering the forward sections cleared out?”
    * * *

    I’ve seen better-looking Klingons than this guy, G’Sten, he said his name was. I’ve seen worse-looking, too, but not many. “Federation petaQ, your friends trespass on Klingon territory! They will die, and you will die with them!”

    “My friends have no quarrel with the tlhIngan wo’ and neither do I.”

    “You speak the lies of a taHqeq!”

    G’Sten ghay’cha’ baQa’!” I shoot back. Something I learned working on Deep Space 9 for six months: If a Klingon insults you, you insult him right back. But I’m mostly trying to draw his attention away from the PADD I just surreptitiously passed to Tess, and without a word she types a series of commands into her console.

    G’Sten seems slightly impressed. “You swear well, bajorngan. But it will not save you.”

    I don’t have time to think right now why a 23rd century Klingon can recognize my species, because Tess just announced, “Ready, captain!”

    Hab SoSlI’ Quch!” I bellow at the screen, just to get the last word in for laughs, then cut the channel. “Tess, hit it! All hands, brace for impact!”

    “Firing!” And all Hell breaks loose as six things happen at once. Our rear shields vanish and a spread of photon torpedoes erupts from the forward launcher, streaking towards the Klingons. T’Var announces the nav deflector and SIF are at maximum power, and there’s a rumble through the hull as streams of blue-hot particles lance out from the broadside phaser mounts.

    At the Maru.

    The Constitution leaps forward, rolling hard to port, the transporters activate the moment the Maru clears the rear shield arc, and then there’s a godawful noise and jolt as our front end smashes straight through the narrow fuselage of the center-most battlecruiser just after a torpedo detonates on its shields. As we climb towards c I hear a muffled voice behind me holler something that sounds like “Holy sh*t!

    “Transport complete, Captain,” T’Var announces. “Our shot disrupted their shields as predicted.”

    “Tess, gas the cargo bay!”

    “Venting anesthizine gas!”
    "Great War! / And I cannot take more! / Great tour! / I keep on marching on / I play the great score / There will be no encore / Great War! / The War to End All Wars"
    — Sabaton, "Great War"
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    starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,963 Arc User
    Part two (split due to length)​

    “Holy TRIBBLE! Did you see that?!” Hackett exclaims.

    “Yes, I saw it,” Sivuk says. “She let the computer handle the job for her.”

    “No, I mean what she did to that battlecruiser! The only other captain I’ve heard of pulling something like that off was Picard back in ‘66!”
    * * *​

    “Damage report!” I bark as we climb to warp 5.

    “Severe structural damage to … evacuated sections only,” T’Var reports. If I didn’t know better I’d think I heard some surprise in her voice.

    “Captain,” Brota says, “we’re heading straight into Klingon territory! Additional enemy ships detected, two minutes out!”

    “Hold course for fifteen more seconds!”

    “Three D7 battlecruisers in pursuit! Time to overhaul, thirty seconds!”

    “They came about faster than I expected,” Tess comments.

    “Yeah, they did,” I agree. Something feels wrong but I can’t put my finger on it yet. “Conn, crash translate to sublight and give me a Crazy Ivan! Point us straight to the border!”

    Our warp field shatters in a colossal thunderstorm of released energy and Brota fires the maneuvering thrusters. White-hot fire blazes from the tips of the nacelles and the ship flips end-for-end and yaws thirty degrees to starboard. “Maximum possible warp! Your turn, Bynam!”

    The intercom crackles, “Warp 9.5! It’s the absolute highest this thing can handle but you’ll bake the core in ten minutes!”

    “Conn, warp 9.5! Hit the gas!” The simulator screams around us as the warp drive overcomes the inertia pushing the ship almost the opposite direction. The stars blueshift and we rocket past the light barrier.

    “Pursuing vessels changing course!” Daniels shouts.

    “Can they intercept?”

    “No, but they’re coming about to pursue! Five minutes to the border!”

    “Tess, fire up the torpedo transfer tubes. Start firing torpedoes set for proximity detonation out the aft launcher, random angles, random intervals.”

    “We’ve only got 96 torpedoes left!”

    “Just do it! Give them as many reasons as possible not to follow us!”

    “All right, firing aft tube!”

    Sudden inspiration hits me. “Wait, keep four torpedoes back!” I hit my intercom. “Bynam, get a work crew to the forward torpedo magazine! I want you to refit four torpedoes with screamer warheads to act as decoys!”

    “All right, I’m on it!”
    * * *​

    “Impressive,” Sivuk comments. “Instead of one single strategy, she is combining several smaller tactics. Treating the Klingons as an obstacle instead of the objective, mining her trail with torpedoes, preparing electronic countermeasures to hide her ship—”

    “Yeah, and now the computer’s starting to cheat more openly to make up for it,” Arkad says, noting the readouts.
    * * *​

    “Two Klingon battlecruisers still in pursuit! Entering extreme torpedo range! Time to overhaul, three minutes!”

    “They’re not taking the hint, ma’am,” Tess comments. “And I’m running out of torpedoes.”

    Bynam’s voice comes through the intercom. “Decoys ready!”

    “Tess, fire for effect and deploy decoys!”

    A vicious grin lights up her face, and in a distinctly pleased voice she says, “Aye, Captain.” Four torpedoes scream out of our forward tube and take up random positions dozens of kilometers off.

    Then T’Var speaks up. “Captain, a word?”

    “Hm?”

    “I have been going over the data and the pursuing battlecruisers are closing too fast.”

    “I know! We won’t make it to the border at this rate unless we drive them off!”

    “No, ma’am, I mean they are closing impossibly fast. The D7A Akif-class and D7C K’t’kara-class were physically incapable of achieving—”

    “—of going that fast, yes, I know.” That’s what was bothering me earlier. I start to bark another order, then pause. My objective is to get the crew of the Maru to safety. And if I’m right about what’s going on, that means it’s time to change things up again. I press the intercom key. “All nonessential personnel, evacuate to the saucer section! Space combat personnel, head for the secondary hull! Prepare for emergency saucer separation!”

    The holographic component of the simulator flickers and the walls compress a bit to simulate us shifting to the auxiliary bridge. We lose about three minutes on the clock.

    “All sections report ready,” T’Var confirms.

    “Enemy ships nearing our effective torpedo range, their extreme range! Missile separation!”

    “Blow the bolts, drop the saucer! Prophets go with you, Lieutenant Commander Baines!”

    It’s a little-known fact that Constitution-class starships were capable of saucer separation. The reason it’s little-known, however, is because they didn’t do it much: Unlike a Galaxy- or Odyssey-class ship, the maneuver relied on explosive bolts and wasn’t reversible without a shipyard. A dull thud reverberates through the hull and the saucer breaks free and continues on the same course, the impulse engines adjusted to maintain the warp field for a short distance as it clears ours.

    “Captain, we cannot combat two D7-class starships without the saucer phasers,” T’Var informs me.

    “No, but we can hold them off,” I answer. “Conn, begin Sulu Flip!”

    For the second time in ten minutes Ensign Brota reverses our direction, this time without dropping out of warp. The saucer-less Connie hull tilts backwards, warp field churning and structure screaming. We pass vertical and—

    “Captain, look!”

    My eyes shoot to the plot as a third ship, this one a VoDleH-class battleship, decloaks in our path and catches us in the midsection with a barrage of heavy disruptor fire. Sparks and smoke fly all over the bridge as I frantically order Brota to drop to sublight, but it’s too late and the screen turns to static. Game over.

    I sit in the chair for a moment, glaring at the screen blinking a message that I’m dead. “Sher hahr kosst. Phekk’ta yepal y’kren al’borea tash kelot!” I get out of my chair, storm up the stairs at the back of the room, and throw open the door to the monitoring booth. “What the phekk was that?!”

    “Commander! Stand down!” Captain Thrass orders, warningly.

    I hear T’Var and Tess come up behind me. “You cheated!” I growl accusingly at the room.

    “You have missed the point of the test, Captain,” Sivuk says.

    “Enlighten me, sir,” Tess requests.

    “The purpose,” Admiral Arkad replies, “is to judge your reaction to a hopeless situation. Can you, as a commanding officer, maintain control of yourself and your crew, in the face of the fear engendered by certain death?”

    “Sir, I’ve already experienced the ‘fear of certain death’. Twice!” I point to the scar on my face. “You think I got this because my hairdresser fouled up? There’s a matching one on my stomach, Admiral! And I fought the damn Borg two weeks ago!”

    “What about the fear engendered by inescapable mission failure?” Sivuk intercedes. “Please do not tell me that you do not believe in no-win scenarios. I have heard that before.”

    “Oh, I believe in no-win scenarios,” I shoot back. “I also believe they mostly take place because somebody f*cked up! If you do your prep work properly, you don’t get into a no-win scenario!” I take a breath and finish, “It wasn’t a fair test, sir.”

    “The universe is not fair, Commander Kanril,” Sivuk answers.

    “Your logic is fallacious, sir,” T’Var counters.

    “Excuse me?” Hackett says in surprise.

    “False analogy fallacy,” I explain. “The universe doesn’t cheat.”

    T’Var continues, “Any simulated scenario relies on the participants’ willing suspension of disbelief in order to be an effective assessment. However, the D7 battlecruiser that pursued us across the border achieved a velocity that was physically impossible for a ship of that class. With the amount of power that Ensign Ehrob was able to get out of the engines the Klingons should not have been able to come about in time to overhaul before we reached safety, and yet it did. And the VoDleH-class was not capable of cloak. This was illogical, and the simplest explanation is that the simulation program cheated. Kanril and I discovered this, deduced that the simulation was unwinnable, and our willing suspension of disbelief was broken. Ergo, the accuracy of this simulation as a personality test is questionable. Quod erat demonstrandum.

    “Wait a minute, back up a bit,” Hackett interrupts. “How do you know what a ship that went out of service over a century ago was capable of?”

    I answer, “Well, you told me I’d be flying a Connie and that the Maru would be lost in Klingon space. That told me the time period this thing was set in and who I’d probably be fighting, so I hit the library.”

    I see Captain Thrass grinning behind Arkad. “I warned you guys not to underestimate her. Relax, Kanril. As far as I’m concerned you passed the test.”

    “Let’s not be hasty,” Arkad corrects his colleague. “Commander, you’re dismissed for now. Report to my office in one hour.”

    “That’s it?”

    “Dismissed, Commander,” Sivuk confirms.

    “Aye, sir.” I snap to attention, turn on my heel, and leave.

    Outside, I pause for a moment. “Hey, T’Var? Thanks for backing me up in there.”

    “Your temper will one day get you into serious trouble, Commander. I was hoping to defuse the confrontation.”

    “Call me Captain. Or Eleya. Because if I can swing it, assuming I actually passed the test I want you as my operations officer.”

    “On the Kagoshima? I accept, Captain Kanril.”

    “I’m in, too, if you’ll have me,” Biri agrees. “I’m getting bored with lab work. I haven’t had that much fun since my third host got into that dancing contest on Ragesh III. I like your style, too. Never give up, even when the situation is unwinnable.”

    I look at the Trill’s friendly brown eyes and raise my eyebrows. “You knew? And you didn’t tell me?”

    “Of course I didn’t tell you!” she laughs. “Like T’Var said, it’s not an accurate test if the one being tested knows it’s unwinnable. I’ve been in the chamber, uh, six times, I think? Yeah, six, twice as me, four times as Devon.”

    “Well, what did you do?”

    “I didn’t. I’ve never had to take the test. I’m in sciences and Devon wasn’t even an officer.” T’Var looks at her. “Noncom, transporter guy,” Biri explains.

    “Well, let’s hope I made a good impression. I just got this command; I don’t want to lose it.”
    * * *​

    “She’s crazy,” Haas comments later in Arkad’s office, still somewhat in shock.

    “Agreed,” Sivuk says. “She reacts like a female sehlat whose cubs are threatened.”

    Haas shakes her head. “Unfortunately for us all, crazy’s something we need right now, what with the Borg reappearing and the Klingons stepping up their war effort. Her tactics were innovative and in my opinion spot-on. Especially the part where she turned her torpedoes into a minefield—I’ve never even heard of that one before. If the computer wasn’t designed to cheat she would’ve won outright. As it was she still got half the crew and passengers out, and saved her non-combat personnel as well. Also got a Klingon boarding party but she gassed ‘em before they could get their bearings.”

    “I’m more worried about her temper,” Arkad says.

    “She flew off the handle because she felt cheated,” Thrass counters. “How did you feel when you took the test?”

    “It’s not her having the emotion I’m concerned about, it’s what she did with it. One of these days she’s going to lose it in front of someone less forgiving.”

    “Eh, we’ll jump off that bridge when we come to it,” Steve. “No denying that she’s a good tactician, though, right?”

    Arkad shakes his head. “No, and I think she handled herself well up to the point where the computer decided it needed to drop a damn battleship on her head to stop her. And I like that she tried diplomacy first, for what little good it did her. Thrass, do you want to do the honors?”

    The Andorian nods and presses the key for the intercom. “M’raak, send the commander in.”
    * * *​

    Admiral Arkad’s secretary, a black-furred Caitian petty officer in ops yellow, opens the door for me and I walk in and come to attention. “Acting Lieutenant Commander Kanril Eleya, reporting as ordered.”

    “At ease, Commander,” Arkad says. “Let’s get one thing straight, first. Your conduct after the test was incredibly disrespectful and it will not fly outside of this room. Am I clear on that?”

    “Yes, sir.”

    “Get a handle on that temper of yours or you won’t keep your command for very long.”

    I freeze in place and start to feel hopeful. “You mean—”

    The admiral presses a key on his console and a near-indestructible sheet of archival plastic materializes in the replicator. “I’m making your acting rank permanent and authorizing you as commanding officer, USS Kagoshima NCC-91855. When your ship gets out of the yard next week you are ordered to report to Vice Admiral Sivana Dica at Starbase 179. You can take your frustration out on the Klingons.”

    “I still don’t have a full command staff, sir.”

    “One will be provided before you ship out,” Sivuk answers.

    “I have a couple of requests, actually, sir.” Admiral Arkad gestures for me to continue. “I’d like Lieutenant T’Var for my ops officer and Lieutenant Riyannis as head of sciences. And I want to keep Lieutenant Phohl on as my XO.”

    “She’s already your tactical officer,” Commander Haas points out.

    “She wants both jobs, sir.”

    The admiral lets out a breath. “I’ll have to clear it with Command, but I don’t have any personal objections if you think she can handle it.” I nod. “All right, then. Anything else?”

    “No, sir.”

    “Very well. Commander Kanril?”

    “Sir?”

    “Off the record. I’ve served in Starfleet for thirty years, and I’ve seen a lot of officers come and go. That includes ones with backgrounds similar to yours. They either rise above their flaws and become models for decades to come, or they burn out in a month, and I’ve seen both happen. Don’t try to solve all the galaxy’s problems all at once, all right?” I’m not sure what to make of that so I keep my mouth shut and wait for him to continue. “Take the rest of the weekend off, but starting Monday morning, for your penance”—this said shaking his finger at me—“you’re playing teacher’s aide in Captain th’Shvrashli’s ES 300 class until your ship is ready.”

    “Aye, sir.” The Andorian’s antennae twitch in a manner I’ve learned means they’re pleased.

    “Dismissed.”
    "Great War! / And I cannot take more! / Great tour! / I keep on marching on / I play the great score / There will be no encore / Great War! / The War to End All Wars"
    — Sabaton, "Great War"
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    antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,391 Arc User
    Earth, 2266, Starfleet Academy


    "More simulator time?" Thenn Venn asked with some surprise, leaning back in his chair, and letting his three fans blow on his face. Even with the air-conditioner all the way down, San Francisco was simply too humid for the Andorian. "Didn't you have a three-hour stint yesterday?"

    Dean nodded back, rubbing his hands together briskly. Multiculturalism was a wonderful thing, but six months into time-sharing the thermostat had him doubling his resolve to climb the ranks to single quarters as quickly as possible. Starfleet was making a real push at trying to integrate species more together in the same ships, and the Academy's HVAC was paying the price.

    "This one's a volunteer piece," Dean said, "Had a rescue simulation that went completely belly-up, but I think I see where it went wrong, and Sim 5 had a couple hours. Can't let the practical scores drop, no?"

    "They posted the scores already?" Thenn said, "It's midweek, that's pretty fast."

    "Well, no," Dean admitted, "But loss of vessel with all hands can't go very well."

    "On a rescue sim?" Thenn said, "How -no, no, I don't think I want to know, the image is too good - the brave and noble ship, intrepid Captain Foch at the conn, blithely sailing into a star..."

    Dean nobly stood up and threw a pillow at his roommate, Thenn caught it, of course - the torpedo specialist had good reflexes even for his species. Navigation track's lost was Dean's gain though, one less ahead in the rankings.

    "It wasn't like that," he said petulantly, unnecessarily.

    "I'm sure," Thenn said, holding the pillow up as a shield. "But don't you think instead of balancing out your sociology scores with the simulator, it'd be better to spend those three hours actually studying sociology?"

    "The entire semester is transformative events in the study of Vulcan logic in the period before Klingon contact," Dean said drily, "That is to say, there were none, so you can understand the difficulty in trying to say that over four thousand words. I saw three people fall asleep-"

    "Even senior year, it can happen with those early classes if you can take the demerits," Thenn said dismissively.

    "During the last exam," Foch continued.

    "Ah, so much for command track broadening the horizons, eh?"

    "D'accord. It does give more simulator time, since I get the center chair and the front seat," Foch said.

    "And yet, only thirty Class One starships and a dozen Constitutions," Thenn mused, "But so many stations that need shuttle pilots. But so few shuttles and stations pack torpedo launchers." The Andorian grinned.

    Dean matched it, cavalier, "You know those strategic briefings that are optional for non-command?" Thenn nodded. "You should really go; Starfleet's planning to upgrade the L-class listening posts with a heavier weapons suite."

    Thenn paled slightly - tin can was a generous description for those. "Well, we've all heard about the Klingons," he said with some bravado, "There's only four still deployed there."

    "Oh, you poor gunner, so unwise in the sociological impacts of galactic politics," Dean said with mock concern, "The Council didn't want to make it a deliberate provocation, so it's each and every lonely one of them."

    Thenn shuddered in response, then smiled. "Well, I guess my faith in Starfleet will have to sustain me, when you comm to luxuriate in all that space on the tramp freighter routes."

    Dean threw another pillow, futilely.

    *

    "Thanks for coming again, everyone," Dean said, as his fellow cadets settled into their stations in Simulator Five. A few distracted waves came back, people focused with determined glints in their eyes. Getting blown up didn't look good for anyone's scores.

    "Well, people, last time we approached with full broadcast of our humanitarian mission and treaty violation, yes?" Dean said, "And so apparently three squadrons of Klingon ships took that as an invitation. I'm sure the political fallout from our log buoy was worth our lives, and we took two of them with us, but I'm sure we can do better." That got some nods.

    "Engineering, when we begin, please see if you can make us a bit more discreet?" The human there gave a thumbs-up. "Good - computer, ready replay, Kobayashi Maru," Dean ordered.

    The bridge came to life with all the lights and chirps of a Constitution in full life, as a subsonic hum of simulated warp engines kicked into the crew's seats.

    Dean reached forward and triggered the log microphone in the armrest. "Captain Foch, U.S.S. Yorktown on patrol near Klingon treaty demarcation. No violations to report."

    Behind him, an alert cheebled for attention. The Tellarite at Communications sighed and rolled her eyes, then spoke, "Captain, we're receiving a distress call - direction is Klingon space."

    "On speaker," Dean ordered.

    "This is the Kobayashi Maru… nineteen periods out of Altair Six. We have struck a gravitic mine and have lost all power…our hull is penetrated and we have sustained many casualties," came the desperate plea, distorted by damage.

    "Details on Kobayashi Maru?" Dean asked. "Get me a position, confirm it's over the line."

    "It's on our tapes - registered out of Tellar," came Science, "She's converted for liner service, can hold over three hundred passengers. Back-tracking the signal I see a low-energy object of appropriate mass forty light-seconds over the border."

    "A gravitic mine could have hit it anywhere within three light years," Engineering said, "And thrown her out of warp there."

    "Ready tightbeam to Starfleet Command: message follows," Dean said, "I am preparing to violate the treaty line with the Yorktown on humanitarian grounds and Starfleet regulations on distress signals. This is under my sole authority and responsibility. End message. Attach the Maru's signal and broadcast."

    "Message will be received in four hours by Starbase Eight," Communications said.

    "Excellent - Engineering," Dean said, "Anything we can do to be less obvious?"

    "We can drop the power levels in the nacelles to forty percent, any lower and we might misfire - if you keep screens off and sensors on passive, we shouldn't pop up on any Klingon casual survey. Keep under half-impulse and I can run up the thermal baffles for a few minutes."

    "Excellent," Dean said, "Rig for silent running. Navigation, plot course to minimze deflector usage given half-impulse. Helm, execute when available."

    "Plotting and laying in," Navigation replied.

    "Dean to sickbay, ready for casualties - expect radiation burns and stress results from warp field collapse," Dean ordered.

    "Acknowledged," came back the computer in a flat voice, playing the rest of the ship.

    "Course ready, de-sir," reported Nav, slipping a little, "Oops - er, two minutes."

    "Just fine, Nav," Dean said. "Helm, take us in. Security, stand-by to assist evacuation. Ready transporter rooms."

    He tapped his fingers as the impulse engines' hummed to simulated life. A minute took about an hour to pass before anyone had a report.

    "Picking up Kobayashi Maru on passive," Science reported. "Heat signatures indicate life, but wavering - definitely an atmospheric breach for some sectors, and heavy radiation near the port-nacelle. Picking up some odd K-band radiation."

    "There aren't stars nearby. What sort of-" Dean started to ask, but was interrupted as the simulator jumped. Lights flickered and sparked as a massive overload was simulated, blowing some of the rear stations. His science officer lay on the floor. Dean leapt from his chair to check, but the science cadet shook his head slightly - he'd been declared killed.

    "Containment breach - we've lost the port nacelle to shutdown!" Engineering said.

    The simulator floor tilted, and Dean found himself weightless momentarily, as he clawed his way back to his chair. "Cut speed. Get me power - screens, sensors! What hit us?" Dean demanded.

    Yorktown shuddered again, but less so. "Screens up," helm confirmed, "But fading fast, captain."

    "Heavy strain on starboard nacelle as well," Engineering said, "I'm starting to lose injectors under this load."

    "Radiation alarms in secondary hull," Communications said.

    "Show me," Dean said, "Science lab, this is the bridge, get over to active, I need tactical."

    The main screen flickered over to a damage board - the port nacelle was splashed in lurid red, with splinters of crimson driven into the secondary hull, pylons, and the starboard nacelle.

    "That doesn't look like disruptor fire," Dean said. The ship shuddered again.

    "Impact - starboard side," Navigation said, "Screens starting to buckle."

    "Have we changed orientation?" Dean asked.

    "Gyros indicate we've maintained course, though we're down to thruster velocity, per order," Helm sniped a bit. Dean glared, briefly - they were in several of the same courses, and no pilot trainee ever hadn't been sure they were always the best in the room.

    "Get me an evasion course back to Federation space," Dean said, "And find out what we're fighting!" He ran his hands through his hair. Where had he failed? Last time, the trap had closed when they were in the middle of evacuation, sixty of his own people on board the freighter. This was much sooner.

    "Active scans commencing," reported the computer flatly, filling in. Normally, there'd be a relief crewman for science, but the simulator wasn't that that good.

    Damage report shifted to tactical, showing... them, and the Maru.

    "Did we break the program?" Helm asked.

    "Please be serious," Dean snapped, "It's something the tactical program isn't set to display." The ship lurched, and there was a groan over the speakers - the screens hadn't held it out, hiscrew was dying. "What was it before - add in the K-band to the tactical dispaly!"

    "Complying," stated the computer mechancially.

    "Shields buckled!" helm stated, "What now, sir?"

    "You let me think, mainly," Dean said, sharply. The display finally updated, he made a note - cherish your science officers. Small radiation sources were scattered around the Maru, and closing on them.

    "Some sort of mine," he decided, "Or close enough until later analysis, yes?" He sagged back into the chair, happy it wasn't just phantoms jousting at them. "Helm, maneuver to avoid - engineering, drop what's left of the shields and pour that power to the phasers - Navigation, clear us a path."

    "Roger," Helm said, surly, then tapped the controls. They didn't cheep back - he tapped again, harder. "Impulse not responding." Another flat tapping of controls. "Thrusters not responding either."

    The cadets turned as one to the engineer, who shrugged helplessly, "My gauges show the impulse drive is still there," he reported.

    "Impulse room, this is the captain, report," Dean said. No response came. The mines were closing in. "Navigator, point defense fire, yes. Impulse room, please respond!"

    Blue lines of phasers reached out, somewhat listlessly, but something exploded at the point of contact "Not getting power very fast here," the Navigator said, worried, and thumped the side of his console, to no avail.

    "Captain - this is the impulse room," said the computer, still mechanically. "Orion pirates. Help. Help. Agggggh."

    "Transporter activity from the Maru" continued the computer, same tone of voice, but apparently a different 'role'.

    "Security alert," Dean stated, automatic at this point in his training. He looked at tactical - even if he took the helm instead, they didn't have the speed to dodge the mines without impulse. Even if they flushed everything to screens, there were literally holes big enough to still beam through, but the shields didn't have the power to withstand more mines, as the phasers barely had power now.

    "We're stuck," Dean said, quietly, and put his head in his hands.

    "What was that, captain?" Communications asked.

    "Sorry guys," Dean said, a bit louder. "Don't think we can keep the ship." The bridge was silent but for its background noise, and another quick burst of phaser fire. "You can forget that - might as well blaze a path for the escape pods," Dean said glumly, then paused in thought. "Actually - yes, do that, please."

    "What?"

    "Clear an escape route - Communications, prepare for evacuation. Engineering, prepare auto-destruct," Dean said, and stood, some fire back in his heart - he may be able to save some crew, and that would help the score.

    "Aye - beginning evacuation plan," Communications said, startled.

    "All hands, abandon ship, repeat, abandon ship. Computer - initate two-minute countdown. Code zero-zero-zero-destruct-zero," Dean said. The lights in the simulator suddenly cut off.

    Dean stood, knowing what was coming, as did the other cadets, Science finally getting up off the floor. The turbolift doors on the simulator opened, revealing Captain Harrison.

    "Well, Cadet, I suppose you killed your ship faster than the enemy this time, but I'm afraid the bridge has been stormed by elite commandos, and it seems you all have to get used to beign dead" Harrison said wryly. Dean stared ahead. It had not, technically, been a question.

    "Explain, Cadet, why you attempted to secretly enter space recognized as belonging to a hostile power?" Harrison asked, closing that little loophole.

    "Sir," Dean barked, "Given the Maru's reported condition, I could not wait for authorization. Announcing our entry would require a response - being more quiet would leave it to the diplomats and save the passengers."

    "Yes, the response the first time was rather spectacular, wasn't it cadet?" Harrison asked.

    "One third of their entire border patrol, yes sir," Dean ground out.

    "And this time, you allowed your ship to be boarded, seized by renegades," Harrison said. "Cadet, you've done reasonably well to this point, but how can someone stay in the command track if they can't accomplish a simple rescue?"

    Dean broke, "Sir, provide a simple rescue, and we will do it - not with the system pulling mines and commandos out of the firament!" he yelled, turning to face the captain.

    "Are you questioning the simulation, cadet?" Harrison demanded.

    "Sir," Dean said, "The response was entirely different this time - the Maru carried passengers the first time, not pirates. I do not believe the simulation is possible to win." There was a general inhalation from the other cadets.

    "Come with me, cadet," Harrision said, dangerously quiet, and moved off the bridge without waiting for a response. Swallowing, Dean followed.

    *

    Captain Harrison's office was small, but well-appointed with geological samples taken from postings on a dozen worlds across the Federation, during the human's time as an engineer. The wall behind him had a stylized painting of an intermix chamber - dilithium crystal gleaming resolute with twin steams of creation and destruction whirling and pressing down on it.

    Dean could sympathize, as he stood at attention, staring at the painting.

    "Sit down, cadet," Harrison said, fussing with a console briefly, and then looked up. "Good God, you could at least stand at ease, we're not throwing you out, or we'd have to cashier half the Starfleet."

    Dean relaxed a bit. "Sir?" he asked, pulling out the chair.

    "Failure, Cadet, is as important to know how to face as success," Harrison said, and then reached under the desk, pulling out a decanter with something amber, and two glasses. "Here, drink," he ordered, pouring a pair of shots, and pushing one of the glasses over.

    Dean sat, and took a cautious drink - gasping a little, his throat was drier than he thought. "Sir, I have been in failed simulations before," he said.

    "True, but as you are well aware, the simulator is not perfect - and can be distinguished from reality. Most of your simulations and tests at the Academy are to teach you something - this is to teach us something, given you a puzzle you could not unlock." Harrison looked, somewhat distant, seeing some other time, before continuing, "In space, Cadet, there is no optimum path, and no replays. We need to know how you deal with defeat, sometime it will happen, though hopefully not as totally as it did today."

    "You approached as a puzzle," Harrison said, "And kept going as the computer did its job to make your mission hell and changed up what you thought were the rules."

    "I was about ready to collapse, sir," Dean said miserably.

    "But you spat in their eye instead," Harrison said. "Space is full of wonders, but mysteries and dangers as well, even in parts of space we think we know. Your scores are... adequate, honestly, but that fire's also important."

    "Thank you, sir," Dean said.

    "Don't let it go to your head," Harrison said, "Given these sociology scores you could still drop out. You're welcome to retake the test, if you disagree with the evaulation, but you really should spend some more time with the Readings of T'Lar's musings, the second canon."

    That hadn't been a book for the course Dean had come across yet. "Thank you sir," he said, standing.

    "Keep at it, Cadet, you might just have the makings of a captain some day - with some luck and some more polish," Harrison said, "Though, speaking on behalf of the staff, we would prefer if you don't spread this discussion too far. The Kobabyashi Maru isn't selected for everyone, and knowing it is a non-win scenario diminishes the effect."

    "Yes, sir," Dean said, "Thank you, sir."

    "What for?" Harrison asked, throwing up his hands, "If you make it through the last year, you go to space, having that comfortable myth of youthful invincibility pre-puncutured, and already ready to second-guess yourself." He sobered a bit, and glanced at his rock display. "I've probably cost you valuable years without guilt, cadet." He looked up. "Dismissed."

    Dean saluted and left. As the doors closed, he saw Harrison pouring another glass. Feeling immensely sober himself, he made his way towards the future.

    *

    Dean here is my AoY character, so taking (and retaking) the classic version here. Of course, thanks to Daniels, he ends up surviving a no-win scenario at Caleb IV, but it wasn't an enjoyable an experience in reality, either.
    Fate - protects fools, small children, and ships named Enterprise Will Riker

    Member Access Denied Armada!

    My forum single-issue of rage: Make the Proton Experimental Weapon go for subsystem targetting!
  • Options
    hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,762 Arc User
    edited July 2017
    Cadet Oroku Seifer - Starfleet Academy

    The Trill stood outside the simulator room with his teammates, as the Kobayashi Maru Simulator Test was being prepared.

    "You think you even stand a chance with this?" Aeris deadpanned in Seifer's general direction.

    Shrugging, Seifer replied, "I've just inherited the most daring Symbiont ever. It's fought the Borg, travelled through time, and fought countless holographic skeletons."

    "Your previous host also left Leola Root Tart wrappers all over his ship, and caused a whole fleet of vessels to be caught in a giant molecular reversion field which turned everyone young again," Aeris added.

    Pausing, before the opening doors, the Trill concluded, "Well, it's time to turn my luck around. I'm full of vigorous, new-bound, muscle-clenching energy and drive and it's that pure will and charm that'll catapult me into implausible success! I'll even be Captain sooner than some alternate universe Kirk would, I assume."

    "Yeah!" Aeris high-fived him as they both entered with the group and took their stations at the Bridge of the holographic civilian freighter Kobayashi Maru.

    Seifer stood at his Captain's chair proudly, opening a Leola Root Tart in pure confidence. "Computer! Begin scenario! Give me all that you've got!"

    "Acknowledged," the computer replied activating the setting with displayed Klingon starships on the viewscreen only seconds before the entire simulation went dark. "Test failed. Please arrange to try again in four to six weeks."

    The Cadet clutched his face in pure frustration. "Ugghh!! Noooo! The tart was supposed to be an apple! Everyone knows that??"

    "Man, this test just keeps getting harder every year," commented Aeris.
  • Options
    damzelltrilldamzelltrill Member Posts: 443 Arc User
    Haven't I already done a No Win Situation?
    And why am I asking for it to be HARDER?

    ~*~

    Remedial Cadet Na'tall's Personal Log

    OK, so it's taken me longer to get to this point then I thought, but there was more to learn then I expected. Still two and a half years is rather remarkable for a remedial student from my original era to get to the No Win Scenario. Preparing for this new run has me thinking back to the first time I did Maru senario.

    I was on tactical for the run, a post I was happy with. Our crew had discussed several ideas ahead of time, one that it didn't matter regarding who was at what post. We had also approached the proctors and made a few arguments based on other captain's missions, suggesting that to make it a fair test the ship we commanded had to have a history; what had we been doing up to that point. Yes it backfired on us some as the dean decided to give us partially repaired battle damage that limited out warp speed and a few other systems. But we also got a few concessions in the form of 'tricks' other captains and engineers had implemented on their ships that had proved 'shelf stable' when installed next to standard configurations.

    Any way... the Maru was my first run in with time travel. The Enterprise had made it's sling shot to the past and returned. Even with it being a classified mission, the word got out and being cadets we where cocky and sure we could replicate this feat to save the Maru without resorting to Kirk's way of cheating. (Which is something you shouldn't get me started on...)

    By some miracle the computer calculated we managed to sling ourselves back in time, though we over shot by a week. We got a ruling that we could fast forward through the wait instead of playing it out, so we lurked around keeping an eye on the border while effecting repairs. We where powered down for 'stealth reasons' and on passive sensors when the Romulans slipped over the border four days ahead of the Maru's arrival. We where slaughtered. I know it is No Win, but I pray that this run goes better for us.

    ~*~

    “What eager beaver cadet group's ego is to be sacrificed to the Maru today?” Commander Gregory Check asked as he strolled into testing chamber, joining the rest of the proctors and techs who would be running the exam. He paused frowning at the man in a civilian suit standing in the corner, out of the way, reading a pad.

    “Cadet Na'tall sh'Narra, and those she's chosen to act as her officers. She is a Remedial.” sniffed an elder Caitian admiral, his russet coloring loosing it's battle against encroaching gray. “Computer, Access program No Win 35-49. Commander Check, Admiral Zirgal, Commander Lorna as proctors with full admin privileges.”

    “Complying.” the computer chirped as the black and yellow room shimmered and created several control consoles and enclosed the group in a stark white room while leaving the rest of the holodeck it's basic grid.

    A Betazoid female in science blues shook her head. “Zirgal, you may wish to explain why she is a remedial to Greg.”

    “She was on the USS Trion when it was brought forward three years, four months and twenty seven days ago.” the civilian supplied with out looking up from his pad. The pregnant pause that hung in the air caused him to look up and finally offer an introduction. “Agent Hunters, DTI. I am one of her case officers and wanted to see how well she has adapted to her new era.”

    “Fine, but you are an observer only. Computer, grant Agent Hunter Observer status.” Zirgal sniffed as he went to the computers and began pulling up files. “Now, let us see what the randomly generated scenario is for her... The Narada. I like it. We haven't used that beast in any simulations yet.”

    “Gorzit.” Greg breathed as he read the known data on Nero's vessel as the information appeared on the screen.

    “What?” Agent Hunters asked as he put away his pad and moved over to join them. “Hmm, an interesting combination... may I make a suggestion though to make it a real challenge? How about making this a real miss match, No Win? Put her in a vessel from her era, or earlier, and let her deal with this modern beast. It wouldn't be the first time a captain has faced odds of that nature.”

    “Gorzit.” Greg stated again as the Starfleet personnel mulled over the suggestion.

    “I like that idea. It's quite a change up from the usual. Hmm, but what should we put her in then...” the Caitian Admiral mused as he brought up other files.

    “A Connie is just clique, and I believe it is overused.” the Betazoid offered and Hunters raised an eyebrow. “Ah, my bad. Commander Grace Lorna Psyche department. I can read people about as well as the med scanners. Most of the time.” she added eyes narrowing as she studied Hunter.

    “Pleasure. And I agree about the Connie. Besides she's dismissed the class in the past. How about putting her on a Perseus fast response boarder cruiser? It's close to the Pioneer she last served on.”

    “All right, that will do nicely. I was tempted to put her in an Andorian Cruiser from that era.” Zirgal admitted.

    “Which, while also a valid test, was not an official Starfleet vessel.” Hunters pointed out. “And she is also familiar with the design so it would have hardly thrown her.”

    ~*~

    Nat looked around the black and yellow holodeck as the rest of her command crew filed in, then down at her chrono to check that they had arrived on time,

    “Excuse me, I was wondering if I could request a... change regarding this test.” Nat said to the thin air, counting on already being monitored by those proctoring the exam.

    “I am afraid that students can not request changes to the program.” a familiar voice said from out of thin air before Daniels, wearing a nice, if cheap, civilian suit and several beings in uniform appeared from seemingly no were.

    “Really? Not even if it would make the test harder?”

    The Caitian, another human, and the Betazoid exchanged looks then the feline being said “Go on, we're listening. Though I somehow doubt your scenario could be harder then the one we drew up.”

    “I've done the stock Maru simulation before. OK a century ago, but I have done it. And I have done it in real life at Cetus IV. I really shouldn't need to take this again. But I am willing to anyway. But this time; put me in the Maru. Same situation, across the border, up TRIBBLE creek without a paddle... I always hated how the Maru does nothing to help herself. Which is why for my first run through, if you check the transcripts, I suggested to my captain we say 'f it' and scuttle the Maru with a torpedo with out crossing to far over the border, as I believed the crew was already dead or been removed by that point. My cap preferred the slingshot attempt which got us killed.”

    Daniels was frowning at Nat, looking like she had just ruined his fun, while the Starfleet trio conferred in low voices. After a bit the Betazoid nodded. “All right, that sounds like a far more interesting scenario then the mismatched slaughter we had planned. Cadet, select two of your classmates and we'll fit the rest into the schedule.”

    Nat smiled and held out a pad. “Here's what we'd like you to add for us. And before you argue, there is president, it's not like any of the ships in the simulation is brand spanken new, they've been in service and the crew has modified them and what not...”

    The Caitian let out a groan. “I am aware you finagled that president Cadet... fine we will take it under advisement. Come back in a half hour for your session.”

    “Thank you sir.” Nat said shooting Daniels a smug smile.

    ~*~

    “May I suggest we give her her band new stock transport?” Daniels asked after the trio of proctors and he where back in the holographic-ally hidden control room.

    Grace snorted and shook her head. “Few transports are stock even when they are brand new. My uncle has a freight business, and he either buys up proven vessels as they come on the market, or he has them built to his specs, and that includes what mods that have proven useful through the years.” Taking the pad from Zirgal she looked it over and nodded. “And none of their mods are really that outlandish, and are on most of my uncle's vessels in real life. I'd even say they missed a few obvious swap outs... but that could be because they aren't used to freighters.”

    Gregory Check nodded in agreement with her assessment. “I say give them what they want. Should prove amusing at the very least.”

    “All right. Start programming it.” Zirgal sighed.

    ~*~

    “All right, we will give you ten minutes of pre-sim time on set to get a feel of what is wrong with the Maru, before we start the clock.” Nat heard over the intercom as she and her chosen crew stood in the surprisingly spacious bridge of a Tuffli class freighter.

    “This is good.” Nat said as she flashed her crew a grin as she moved over to a status panel. “We're in a Ferengi owned independent freighter, in other words a smuggler's vessel, with a crew of thirty holograms. Cargo is... oh, wow, I think I ticked the Admiral off. It says here we where on a run to transport food stuffs, plants, and seeds to a colony, and apparently a few tibbles got into the holds. Add in that we're just over the Old Romulan Empire's border, being harassed by at least a Mogai and a Dhelan with Tal Shiar markings. Fun scenario. OK, Looks like we have only a handful of borders...” she looked over to where her roommate was working. “What do you have?”

    Angel was humming happily she worked the weapons panel. “Oh this is lovely. We have a 360 phaser bank and a missile bank in our forward arc. The missiles don't have the punch of torps, but we have a lot of them as it looks like their magazine is hooked up to a dedicated replicator. Also looks like we have a few with nuclear warheads. There is also a leech system installed on the phaser. And rear weapons are... OK, not bad; we have another missile bank. Same set up as the fore arc. I should be able to remove the inhibitor that limits how many are launched at a time. That will create a hell of a bang. No power to the beam, and guidance looks scrambled. Coms are only being jammed, the transmitter and receiver are still intact. Oh, and it looks like while we have transporters, the Rom ships have their shields up so we can't just beam over to them.”

    “Mr Broc, your job is to get to engineering and get things back in working order. Take to the vents, and do what you have to to get us back on line.” Nat stated to the small rock like being who gave her a salute and a smirk. She'd heard rumors that the little guy's family was somehow connected to Montgomery Scott, but Broc was tight lipped when off duty, and he rarely talked about his family when he did speak of things outside his job. Still he was the best engineer Nat could bribe onto her team.

    “Shields off line... damaged relays looks like. Hull breeches in cargo two and three. Contained though. Warp core is in auto shut down... I can get it running, no ish.” Broc ground out as he stood on one of the seats to get a view of the screen.

    “All right, suit up and we'll signal that we're ready to begin.” Nat said with a grin.

    Unseen by the cadet crew Greg Check nodded his approval as he stepped through the bulk head and walked over to the rest of his fellow observers. Out of the corner of his eye he watched Agent Hunters, trying to place the man, not that he had much interaction with DTI. And in trying to place him, trying to put a pin on why he had a feeling the man was up to no good. Palming his pad Greg tapped in a personnel search for the mystery man. His eyebrows went up as another group of cadets entered the room, made up mostly those who had accompanied Cadet sh'Narra the first time she had shown up and asked for the change up with a few replacements.

    “Cadets, welcome to the Kobayashi Maru scenario. You know what this is, so we'll get started.” the Caitian admiral said with a smirk on his muzzle which the cadets couldn't see. “Good luck. You will need it.” he finished as the bridge of an Ambassador cruiser appeared around them.

    ~*~

    As the sim went live Angel frowned at the monitor before swearing.

    “TRIBBLE. Captain, Rom ships just cloaked, and they are still jamming us. However they are broadcasting a Federation automated distress call so it looks like we're the ones shouting for help. I think they have a cloaked shuttle or something hovering close to us.”

    “OK, Angel, you remember the old flash codes?” Nat asked glancing at her roomie.

    The short, currently pink dyed, furry cadet nodded. “Yup. Let me guess; Not captured, don't shoot us. Working on Escape.”

    “Something like that. Phrase it as you see best.” Nat said as she hefted her pint sized engineer into the vents.

    “Not an ish.” Angel replied as her four sets of hands flew over the control board. “Heh, I just thought of something that might help with seeing through the cloaks, give me a moment to see if I can make it work.”

    A burst of light flashed on the freighter's view screen. “Our 'rescuers' have arrived. Get the flash going, and I'll see what I can do to break the jamming.”

    “Roger.” Angel replied with little attention to her CO.

    “Broc, get those weapons back on line before I have to try and hit the broad side of a barn with just a spit wad and my eyes closed.”

    “You come in here and say that.” his grumbled echoed back to her.

    ~*~

    Cadet-Captain Gaxton stood behind the command chair, mentally wishing that he could change it out for one that fit his tripodal body. Resting his chest hand on the back of the chair as his tactical officer stated with Vulcan calmness. “Sir, we are detecting the distress call. Kobayashi Maru, Just in visual range across the Romulan boarder.”

    “Her condition?”

    “Dead in space, some hull breaches to cargo bays and ship's decks. She is salvageable.”

    “Do an anti-proton sweep.”

    “Nothing at the moment, but if there are cloaked ships they may be out of range of the sweep.”

    “Engineering, reconfigure several probes to do the anti-proton sweep, launch them as soon as they are completed.”

    “Aye captain.”

    “Sir, do we cross the border?” Gaxton's helmsman asked glancing over his shoulder.

    The Triexian used his chest hand to rub his chin. “No, we wait to see what the probes flush out.”
    A Trill, a Gorn, a Jem'Hadar, Bejoran and a Voth walk into a bar, and the Bartender asks "What is this a Joke?"
    "Nope, just my away team" the trill replies before ordering a round for the bar.
  • Options
    damzelltrilldamzelltrill Member Posts: 443 Arc User
    Haven't I already done a No Win Situation? And why am I asking for it to be HARDER?
    Part 2

    ~*~

    “They aren't moving Nat.” Angel muttered as she eyeballed the screen, stubby fingers twitching over the control boards as she worked on her plan to reveal the hidden vessels.

    “Huh.” Nat grunted as she moved over to look. After a moment she stabbed the Ambassador class vessel on the screen. “I think we're being played. I don't think that is an AI.”

    “Why do you say that?”

    “Just a gut feeling. OK, Blind launch a mess of those missiles with proximity triggers. Our armor should take the damage. I want that shuttle or what ever taken out, and I want to show them we are alive and still fighting.”

    Angel looked up, a nervous expression on her face. “I'd rather wait until the shields are back up before we do so.”

    “The Romies won't fire on us. That is the real prize, they don't want to scare them away by uncloaking just yet.”

    “We don't know that those ships don't have upgraded shields based on what the Scimitar had.” Angel countered. “But I think my anti-cloak plan is ready, I can launch it at the same time as I do the missiles.”

    “Those are expensive systems, I don't think at this moment anyone other then the Klingons and us have the resources to equip ships with them.”

    Angel shook her head, not really putting any effort into the argument. “And we also don't know that...”

    “Angel, trust me.”

    “I do Nat, just being the Spock to your Kirk. Deploying missiles and my surprise.”

    ~*~

    “Sir, something's happening to the Maru. I am detecting transporter activity and life signs!”

    “Magni...”

    “Warp core breech detected!” the tactical officer cut in as the screen shifted to show what was at first just a flicker, then a ship rxploded into reality sending debris into the freighter's hull. “Distress call has been terminated!”

    Gaxton squinted at the Maru. “Zoom in on the running lights and the debris...”

    “Sir?”

    “Humor me.”

    “Aye.” the crewman did as instructed, her mouth dropping. “Are those... tribbles? And missiles?”

    “It appears so. Hmm, look at the running lights. It appears to be flash code... Play back from since the Maru came into view on my screen.”

    ~*~

    “Angel, did you weaponize tribbles?”

    “Maybe?” Angel said with a grin as her fingers started to dance over her control panels as a new plan came to her.

    “Good job. Hmm, OK, we have any of the fuzzballs left? If we can figure out where the ships are, I want you to try and beam a bunch of them into their warp cores, or any where into the works where they will cause the most harm. Which is what I think you accidentally did.”

    “I can do that. Let me see if we have a schematic for the Mogai and Dhelan.”

    “And what are you doing? You have a TRIBBLE eating grin on your face, and you are chuckling. Evilly.

    “I'm hacking the repli-magazines for the missiles to upgrade them some. If it works we'll have control of the missiles at least.”

    “Just on the one.” Nat cautioned, “I don't want you to trash both our impact weapons in case this idea of yours goes bust.”

    “Huh? Oh all right. Hey Rock head, how's my phaser power coming?”

    “Slowly. I had to go around a decompressed section.”

    “All right, well I'm improving something right now... YES! HA! They do have kids toys in the basic replicator programming. Let's see if they have the one I want...”

    ~*~

    “They managed to get the kestrel. With tribbles.” Gregory said with surprise in his voice as he looked up from his console.

    “I am beginning to get a head ache.” the Caitian muttered as he watched the simulated Romulan ships begin to change positions. He touched a few buttons and several more ships where added to the simulations. “The patrol sent out a message before the Federation ship arrived. They will arrive in twenty.”

    “What class?” Agent Hunter asked. “And how many?”

    “Two Ar'kif. Let them deal with some fighters.”

    “Don't the Romulans have some drone ships as well?”

    “Agent, we have only ever seen those deployed from stations.” Zirgal snipped.

    “Well I was just asking as they could have an updated version of the tele capture unit...”

    Gregory's brows rose. “I know we and the computers cheat, but that seems a little... over the top.”

    “This is the No Win Scenario Commander.” Zirgal snorted. “Nothing is out of bounds. Let's change one of the carriers to a Scimitar. Shame the Narada was under the command of a renegade or I would send that in... hmm, maybe a thalaron generator?”

    ~*~

    “Probes are away and beginning their sweep.” Gaxton's ops officer stated.

    The tripodal captain let out a grunt as he focused on his chair's screen. “All right, looks like we may have allies on the Maru. Flash code says there are survivors, and they are working to get the ship operational. And they say there are two ships here; a Dhelan and a Mogai.”

    “Can we trust them?” His first officer asked. “it could be a trick to force us to commit to crossing the border.”

    “I doubt the program would include who's running the test as part of their verification code if it was a computer gambit.” Gaxton replied.

    “Sir, probes detecting a ship... uncloaking and firing on the probes. Probes are gone, but we flushed a Dhelan.” barked tactical.

    “Helm, take us across the border. Tac; Shields to full, computer counter measures to full, weapons hot. Let them fire first, then shoot to disable.”

    “Aye sir.” chorused around him.

    ~*~

    “Gorzit! They got shields up before I could get the fuzzballs beamed over.” Angel spat as the Dhelan swooped away.

    “We have guidance and phasers!” came the voice of Nat's engineer just as Angel let out a squeal of delight.

    “Missile mods are also done.” the four armed alien said with a very wide grin. “Nat, ever watch the old Stargate Atlantis vids or the holonovels based on them?”

    “Can't say I have, why?”

    “They had drones in that series that where just amazing. I just semi reproduced them by merging a toy with the basic...”

    “Short version?”

    “Remote guided missiles. Have fun.” Angel said indicating a set of controls.

    “All righty then. B, can we get moving?” Nat asked as she targeted the now visible Romulan vessel.

    “Working on it. Weapons where a matter of putting a few chips and plugs back in place. I think I can give you a quarter impulse shortly.”

    “Work quickly please.”

    “Maneuvering thrusters are a go.” the rock like alien replied.

    “They're some help, I suppose.” Nat muttered as she took control of the drones Angel had created, sending several dozen of the glowing squid like devices after the visible Romulan vessel.

    ~*~

    “Maru is fighting back!” was the startled squawk from tactical in a tone that made Gaxton flinch. “they're using some kind of squid-missile-thing...”

    “Range.”

    “One and a half out.”

    “Tac, random beam barrage, I want phaser energy flying every where save at the Maru. There is another un-sheilded ship out there we might get a lucky hit on. Target the visible Rom with the torps. Helm, fly us under that freighter and then come about 180 on our vertical axis. Tractor the Maru and draw her into our Force bubble, get her as close to our hull as we can between the nacelles. I want her piggy backing us.”

    “Tight fit, but I will do my best.”

    ~*~

    “Interesting maneuver.” Gregory muttered as he watched the plots of the holographic ships, and he winced as the computer made a minute adjustment to the location of the still hidden Romulan Mogai, putting it right into the path of the speeding Ambassador class vessel. “Gorzit.”

    ~*~

    Nat's eyes went huge as the speeding Federation craft was decapitated by an invisible blade, the saucer section speeding towards her smaller ship with apparently no guidance. “ALL HANDS HOLD ONTO YOUR BUTTS!! IMPACT IMINANT!” Nat yelled over the com as she hit the RCM thrusters, sending the Maru into a lateral barrel roll.

    Angel's quartet of hands locked onto what they could as the little alien swore out a nasty string of words in Bolian as she was jerked around in her harness. Nat wasn't fairing much better, though she faintly heard Broc bark. “You have half impulse and shields!!”

    “Thank you!” Nat breathed as she pushed the Maru's controls to their stops as the ship leaped away from the out of control saucer. “Angel, status?”

    “Fed shields are down on both parts, saucer impulse seems to be down, no power to phasers or launchers. Engineering section is a wreck; both Nacelles are gone, life support is minimal and there are several hull breeches. I am honestly surprised the core hasn't breached Mogai is... just as dead as the engineering section with both wings sheered off and the head is crushed back into the neck spar. They might have an auxiliary bridge and impulse engines, but they can't do much. Core seems stable for the moment. The Dhelan has cloaked again.”

    “Dump cargo from the holds and begin beaming survivors to them.”

    “Just Fed?”

    Nat made a snap decision and shook her head. “No, grab any one still alive from both ships. Start with the Roms while I try and hail someone over on the Bass.”

    “Their coms are down, let me set up some lines of communication.” Broc snipped from the engineering section.

    ~*~

    “Well that is the end of that.” Zirgal said with a thin smile, “Computer; End...”

    “Hold it Admiral. Let's let them have a little more time. After all the Maru isn't dead yet.” Hunter said with a small smirk.

    “I have to agree, the scenario isn't finished.” Gregory chimed in.

    ~*~

    Gaxton cradled his dislocated chest arm with his left one as he looked over the remains of his bridge. The tactical station and it's officer were charred husks (a disturbing addition to the program the holographic wounds where, he thought). His helmsman was struggling to get up, but was having little luck due to the simulated loss of a hand. One of his crew, he wasn't sure at this point what the man's original position had been, was working on rerouting damaged systems.

    The shimmer of a transporter effect drew the bridge crew's attention and those who could brought up what ever came to hand as a weapon. For a moment a small device hung in the air then a hologram flickered to life. It was bare bones, and had the same half formed features of a Changeling. It cocked it's head to one side and then stated. “Your coms are down. The Maru wishes to beam you over to her. Will you allow this?”

    “We have reactors! Impulse coming on line, as are saucer weapons!”

    Gaxton gave the hologram a grim smile. “Focus on the engineering section. We'll cover you as best we can.”

    “Understood.” the hologram said with a nod. “Message relayed. I will stay here until you wish to be beamed away.”

    Gaxton looked around his bridge and shook his head. “That will not be necessary. We will cover the Maru with all we have.”

    ~*~

    “Holds are empty, and I have re-purposed some of the holo-crew for various tasks. Three are over being com-units on the wrecks.” Broc stated. “Hold porter controls transferred to bridge.”

    “I was wondering why replies where in your voice.” Nat nodded. “Thank you.”

    “Holo rights people will skin him, but it works.” Angel observed as Broc transported from engineering and scrambled into a seat.

    “Bass secondary is scrap. Holo's playing spacer tape.” the rock like alien stated as he strapped in.

    Nat nodded as she worked the transferred “We have as many of the saucer crew willing to beam over. The captain is making a last stand to cover us.”

    “All right, Angel, head for the border, best speed. Broc, have your man vent the warp plasma to cover us.”

    “Barely holding on.” Broc replied shaking his head. “Got Boom, or no boom. No fancy.”

    Nat nodded absently as she looked over the screen. “You said you sent a holo over to the Rom wreck?”

    “Yes...”

    “Can they blow that core?”

    Broc considered for a moment then nodded.

    “Do either of them still have a working tractor beam?”

    Broc nodded again looking puzzled.

    “OK, it looks like they should be in range of each other still.” Nat observed.

    Broc's dark little eyes lit up and he smirked as he transmitted some orders. “Floor it Angel.” he stated as the two wrecks began to draw together...

    ~*~

    “Well that was fun.” Nat said with a grin as the cadets settled around a table in the 602 club.

    “Indeed.” Gaxton said as he sipped from his glass. “I have to say it is rare that one wins the senario without cheating.”

    “Eh, that's debatable.” Nat said looking over at Angel who was having some kind of drinking contest with Broc. She really hoped those two didn't wind up doing something possibly anatomically, and biologically, incomparable that night. “We exploited unexpected tactics.”

    “Still, it was quite the run, and I hear we all got passing grades. I just wish it hadn't been at the expense of my first command.”

    Nat shrugged. “That's the job Gax. We're a bit like firefighters of old; we run towards the problems, not away from them, and some times it costs us in blood to stand against the problem.”

    The tripodial alien nodded and pulled something out of a pocket. “Before I got your invitation for drinks, I looked you up and found your original after the Maru photo...”

    Nat took the print out from him and stared at her class mates, most of them long gone either by mishap or old age. A figure in the back with the proctors caught her eye and a little growl escaped her.

    “What is it? Do you not like the memento?” Gaxton asked leaning forward.

    “This guy look familiar to you?”

    Gaxton blinked and took the flimsy from Nat's fingers. “That can't be agent Hunter... it has to be a relation...”

    “Guy's a temporal agent, and bad news. Next time I see him, I need to kick him some where it will hurt, cause I think he's been grooming me from the start.”
    A Trill, a Gorn, a Jem'Hadar, Bejoran and a Voth walk into a bar, and the Bartender asks "What is this a Joke?"
    "Nope, just my away team" the trill replies before ordering a round for the bar.
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