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  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,643 Arc User
    Also, @gulberat wrote a novelization of "Conjoined" by Denizen VI for Ten Forward's War of the Masters continuity.
    "Two ways to view the world, so similar at times / Two ways to rule the world, to justify their crimes / By Kings and Queens young men are sent to die in war / Their propaganda speaks those words been heard before"
    — Sabaton, "A Lifetime of War"
    (Vaporware thanks to Foundry shutdown. Thanks a frakking bunch, Cryptic.)
  • starfarerthetastarfarertheta Member Posts: 708 Arc User
    edited August 2018
    [Duplicated post. Yes it took me this long to notice.]
    Post edited by starfarertheta on
  • paxfederaticapaxfederatica Member Posts: 1,492 Arc User
    I've just completed a trilogy of sorts - originally meant to be one story but it turned out so long that I ended up breaking it into two and finally three parts. It is the tale of Irla's (from "The Hundredth") role in the Victory Is Life storyline, which doubles as the origin story for my Jem'Hadar toon Aran'tikar. The trilogy is called "Baptism of Fire". (Fair warning: Certain parts of it do get pretty graphic.)
  • starfarerthetastarfarertheta Member Posts: 708 Arc User
    edited February 7
    Security Tips

    From: Office of Security | Starfleet Command

    To: All Starfleet Officers
    From: Admiral Byrd
    Stardate: 88758.2
    Subject: [IMPORTANT!] Reminder of Cyber Security Tips

    Due to recent suspicious activity on the subspace net, Starfleet Security's Cyber Division would like to remind all Starfleet Officers of these computer security tips:

    - Ensure all computers are secured via fractal encryption codes. Change code parameters often.

    - Perform level 1 diagnostics on computer equipment weekly, and ensure results are verified according to recommended procedures.

    - Stay alert for any suspicious activity on the subspace net. Inform your Cyber Security Specialist and/or Cyber Warfare officer of any suspicious activity you encounter.

    - Back up important data on a secure isolinier chip daily.

    - Keep sensitive data separate from public networks.

    - Avoid using the same security code on multiple databases/computers.

    - Always use secure frequencies when discussing official business over the subspace net.

    - Run database breach drills on a regular basis. Monthly tests are recommended.

    - Remember to stay up to date on latest cyber security news.

    - Beware of connecting to Ferengi Latinum Consortium networks. Their advertisements are known to contain a variety of malicious content.


    A Curious Loguno
    Loguno was intently studying his computer's monitor when he suddenly paused with a question he'd been wanting to ask. "What can you do exactly?"

    Sontag raised an eyebrow before responding. "What do you mean?"

    His hierarchy friend continued, "You're some kind of android right? Or use to be- well I mean- you know. Can you control computers? Other androids?" A brief pause. "Starships?"

    "I'd rather not discuss that."

    "Oh... oh! I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable-"

    "It's alright," Sontag smirked as he continued working on his console, "It's just not something I want to talk about right now."

    "I see, I see." Loguno returned to his own work.

    Both continued beeping away on their con-

    "How much of the electromagnetic spectrum can you see?"

    "Are you always like this?" Sontag exhaled with utmost exasperation.

    Recruiting Pren
    Subcommander Pren sat quietly regarding the drink in front of her. She hadn't even touched it since ordering. She was too busy replaying the event that led to her shameful demotion and reassignment. I've survived the Tholians and the Iconians. I've earned my command of the Leviathan, and it was all taken away by some damn machine! She then decided the drink was silently mocking her and threw it against the wall. It nearly missed the startled figure approaching her.

    "Belan doesn't like it when you break his stuff." the figure said as she took a seat opposite the table. It only took Pren's trained mind moments to identify the visitor.

    "I know who you are. All senior officers in the republic's fleet is trained to distinguish between the Atalanta's."
    "Really? I guess I never thought-"
    "Why are you here?"
    A moment of silence.
    "You're not the only one who's life it affected."
    "You know what I'm talking about."
    "Do I?"
    "You're angry at what it did to you. I'd be concerned if you reacted differently."

    Pren regarded her visitor coldly. Atalanta continued.
    "You need to vent. I ask that you don't do it here."
    "My anger will be the most exciting thing to happen to this place since the war! Besides, I'm right where I'm suppose to be. Out of sight and out of mind."
    "From who?"
    Pren glared at the question.

    The untrained eye wouldn't have noticed, but Pren could tell that her visitor had just become a little uncomfortable.

    "Why don't we cut to why I'm here."
    Pren crossed her arms and waited.
    "Since command has you out of mind for the time being, I'm here to offer you a unique opportunity."
    Atalanta said nothing more and waited for Pren to respond.
    "And what opportunity would that be?"
    "A chance to direct your anger. We have a common enemy, and it's time to bring it to justice."
    Pren smiled thinly.

    Enigma's Bynars
    Location: Yellowstone Runabout Shinai

    "Is anyone closer to solving this?" Atalanta asked as she beheld the sight of the rest of the team messaging their foreheads in various ways. Well, all except Sontag, who was still staring into the distance in deep thought?

    "I'll take that as a no." She pondered for a while before turning to her team.

    "Let's go over this again. What we have is a bunch of numbers that we believe is some kind of code."
    "Yep" confirmed Pren.
    "We know they were created by Enigma."
    "Yep" confirmed Loguno.
    "And we know it's related to a series of disappearances involving subspace telescope personnel."
    "Yep" confirmed Zehikr.
    "But we don't know who is making the scientists disappear at Enigma’s behest nor do we know how these numbers fit into it all."
    Bal'am only nodded in confirmation.

    "Loguno, remind me on how we got these numbers."
    "It's being circulated all over the subspace network" replied Loguno. "It's imbedded in a variety of common data files. You'd have to know what you're looking for to even notice it."
    Atalanta pondered that for a bit.
    "Sontag, what do you make of it?"
    There was silence.
    She waives a hand but got no reaction.
    "Maybe he will figure this out" remarked Pren.
    "I got it." Sontag blurted before dashing off into the next room. Atalanta followed.

    "What is it?" Atalanta asked Sontag as she entered what the team called the "cyber room." Loguno used his experience in the Hierarchy to gather and program the necessary equipment to allow the Anelace team to tap into all known subspace networks in the Beta Quadrant. The most impressive part is that it was installed in a runabout.

    "It's a subliminal message."
    "Subliminal? For who?"
    "For people who can easily think in numbers and who have been conditioned to respond to these specific numbers." Sontag was typing into a computer terminal as he said this.
    Atalanta considered what Sontag said. Vulcans were good in math, but so are a lot of species. Though the Bynars in particular- "Are you saying that Enigma is using Bynars?"
    A planet appeared on the display. Sontag pointed at it.
    "It looks like the numbers began showing up on the Bynar home world a year ago."
    "So this has been going on longer than we thought. Enigma has had been using Bynar agents and only a week ago did we begin to notice. This was the piece I was missing."
    "Enigma could have easily used holograms."
    "It would've been too risky after what happened with the last election."

    Although Sontag still thought it could happen, he did see Atalanta's reasoning. Even though the situation surrounding the Doctor's candidacy had been settled, a close eye remains on holographic activity (mostly by those who remain suspicious). If anything was amiss someone, including the holograms themselves, would've notice. Especially the Anelace Team who watch for any activity even remotely connected to Enigma.

    "Um, I may know what Enigma is trying to hide" Loguno said as he entered the room. "I've been reviewing the data, well, what's left of it, of every subspace telescope the scientists were working on and I noticed a pattern."
    He punched up a map of the Milky Way on a nearby display.
    "All of these scientists disappeared after their deep space telescopes started exploring this region at bearing 09, mark 3." He pointed to a region "north" of explored space in the Beta Quadrant.
    "What's there?" Atalanta inquired.
    "I'm not sure. As I said, Enigma deleted the data. The missing data regarding this region is what led me to realize that this must have something to do with the disappearances."

    Sontag raised a hand, "Wait, while we've been trying to work out what the numbers mean you've been looking at the reports of the scientists?"
    "Uh, yes. Wasn't getting anywhere with the numbers so I needed to direct my mind to something else."
    Sontag considered this for a moment. "Well, good job."
    Atalanta interrupted, "Loguno, can you take a guess on what could be out there? Can you think of anything Enigma wouldn't want us to know?"
    "I wouldn't want to speculate right now. I'll have to take a look at the region myself, and that would mean using a subspace telescope. Enigma would be watching those."
    "I'm sure you can figure something out. Everyone is on my team for a reason."
    Loguno nodded and walked out the room thinking out loud about how to solve his particular problem.

    Atalanta turned to Sontag, "In the meantime the rest of us should find out which Bynars are working with Enigma."

    Loguno's Blunder
    Pren was busy reading a story on her PADD, Earth's The Whale by Herman Melville, as Loguno decided to take a seat opposite of her. Pren noticed but didn't react as she waited for him to speak first. It took a moment before he found the words he needed.

    "So how does it work?"
    Pren's eyebrows popped up.
    "How does what work?"
    "The Dark Matter weapon."
    Silence hung in the air for a moment or two. It didn't take long before Pren's widened eyes began to narrow.
    "You've been spying on my people haven't you."

    Now it was Loguno's eyes to widen a little. He had been so curious that he failed to consider the probable reaction to his inquiry about this particular topic. This had happened before, but never with a colleague quite as dangerous as she could be.
    Silence hung in the air for another moment before Loguno began to visibly squirm a little in his seat. He broke the silence first.

    "Y-you know what? I... I need a little something from the replicator. Be right back."

    And he darted off not to the nearest replicator but the furthest one. Pren grinned a little at this before returning to her attention to her PADD. She wasn't so much focused on the story anymore. Rather, she was now pondering how to punish her little collegue, although she had to admit that she should've known just how capable Loguno was at his chosen profession.

    He would make a very useful ally... Pren mused to herself.

    Report from the Cyber Arm
    "What about those reports from the Cyber Security Department?" Admiral Byrd inquired after finishing some of the more mundane items of Irtok's report.
    "There is a high level of sustained activity on the subspace net. It is very unusual, and it's been happening over the last two days."
    "From what the analysts can tell there are at least two factions involved. They seem to be positioning pieces as a prelude to some kind of battle to come."
    "Battle? How bad could this get?"
    "We don't know."
    Byrd pondered this for a moment.
    "Are any of our networks compromised by these factions?"
    "There have been no breaches so far, and no we don't seem to be the target of these new arrivals. Not yet anyway."
    "Hm. We need to know more. I want you to make this a prioity. With recovery efforts across the quadrant we do not need a war within our communications network compromising communications."
    "Aye sir."
    "In the meantime, I've got to oversee some security preparations for this upcoming symposium."

    Who's Best Prepared?
    "We need this symposium to remind everyone that we shouldn't take what we have for granted. Taking all this for granted can lead down the path of decadence. We of all people should know this…. no, it still doesn’t sound right."
    "Shall I come back later Proconsul?"
    Proconsul D'Tan turned to regard his visitor, Subcommander Thovatha of Romulan Republic Security.
    "You're here."
    Thovatha took a moment to gather words.
    "I thought you were told I had arrived?
    "A lot can happen in a few minutes around here."
    "Pardon my asking, are you nervous about the Symposium?"
    D'Tan took a moment before deciding on a response.
    "Sometimes it's good to take a moment to remind oneself on why we do what we do."
    "I see."
    "I'm also practicing my speech."
    "You said you had something to discuss?"
    "Yes, um, it seems there's some unexpected activity on the subspace net."
    "Is it something we should be concerned about?"
    "We're yet to make a determination."
    "What can you tell me about it?"
    Thovatha took a moment to consult her notes.
    "The most widely accepted theory about the unusual activity, which has been steadily increaser over the last two days, is that it could be a prologue to a cyber war."
    D'Tan considered what he had just been told.
    "Any ideas on who might be responsible?"
    "Nothing we can confirm right now. We're working on it."
    "Do you have suspects at least?"
    Thovatha took a moment to quickly inspect the room once more, just to be safe.
    "This is just my theory, but I believe at least one of the parties is an AI. It fits all the info about this that we have."
    D'Tan nodded in understanding. "I see."
    "How do you want my team to proceed?"
    "I believe that you are more than capable of handling any situation that may arise. Keep me aprised of any developments."
    "Yes Proconsul."
    "In the meantime, the Ask'kaar delegation will be arriving shortly."
    "Then I will take my leave Proconsul."
    As Thovatha left D'Tan wondered how many others have noticed the anomalous subspace net activity. More importantly, he wondered who would be best equipped to deal with a cyber war involving an artificial intelligence...


    Amanda Atalanta has had it with these conversations.
    "For the last time, Zehikr, I'm not related to the Ask'kaar Prime!"
    "But you have the same surname."
    "It is purely a coincidence. Coincidences happens."
    "There are no coincidences."
    Atalanta gave Zehikr an icy stare, but he merely smiled.
    "Have you ever considered posing as royalty? You'd be very-"
    "Get out."
    "Yes your Highness."

    The Lucky Merchant
    "What's happening to my ship?" Captain Fredrick of the merchant vessel Miri shouted amid the noise of his bridge. All the monitors were going haywire as well as the audio channels. It was unlike anything he'd seen his ship do. At least he and his crew could keep thier wits about them despite the efforts of their crazy bridge.
    "We don't know!" shouted his Communications officer, "We just downloaded some navigational data and all systems have been going haywire since!"
    "Can you bring everything back under control!?"
    "We're trying!"
    Just then all the monitors went blank, lights cut, and artificial gravity went offline. There was a moment of silence.
    "Life support?" asked the captain.
    "Checking." Since technician Amy couldn't rely on the computer for an answer she had to check an air duct in person.
    "It's gone too Cap."
    "How long do we have?"
    "10 hours. Assuming nothing else goes wrong."
    "Do whatever you can to get those systems back. Suffocating is not how I will go out."
    "Aye sir." said Amy before she headed down to engineering. Because the Miri wasn't a large ship it never needed a turbolift system. The fact that it wasn't a particularly advanced ship also played a part.
    The captain used the newfound silence to take a few moments in order to get his bearing. He turned to Trals, who was the closest of his crew to being a science officer.
    "You're the one with a science background. Can you tell me what just happened?"
    "We appear to have been hit by a weaponized virus." Trals said.
    "Why would anyone want to attack a merchant ship like us?"
    "I do not believe we were the target of anyone. We just got caught in the crossfire."
    The captain pondered this for a moment, but only a moment. "Hm, just our luck."

    They're not terribly well written, I know. None of my stuff is.
    Post edited by starfarertheta on
  • starfarerthetastarfarertheta Member Posts: 708 Arc User
    edited March 27
    After Action
    Occurs after Transcendence

    In his secured office, Admiral Jorell Quinn studies the report in front of him intently. After finishing the report he directs a question to his aide, Linnea.

    Adm. Quinn
    "Is it contained?"

    "According to that report, yes."

    Adm. Quinn
    "Any reason why we shouldn't destroy it?"

    "Starfleet Intelligence is pushing for study of the device. Understanding it and the program trapped within could jump our cyber security capabilities by several years, if not more."

    Adm. Quinn
    "But the risks..."

    Quinn returns his attention to the PADD, and ponders for a moment or two. He sets the PADD down.

    Adm. Quinn
    "Every pro and con will need to be considered on this matter. Besides, it's not our decision alone. The Vha and Dant'a will want their say, not that I can blame them. And that's in addition to deciding who will ultimately have custody of the device, and that may not be us. In the meantime, there's something else I would like to discuss."

    "What is it, sir?"

    Adm. Quinn
    "It seems that our captain has sighted a spy, twice."

    Linnea quickly scans each of the four PADDS she carries today for the relevant information. She finds it.

    "Um.... from what we can tell, the spy was on our side. However, Starfleet Intelligence has yet to determine what it was she did."

    Adm. Quinn
    "She? Do we have a name?"

    "Intelligence suspects it was the agent known as Black Snow. The way she avoided detection lines up with what we know about her, but we have yet to get confirmation from Admiral Zashek."

    As she spoke she hands the Admiral the PADD, which he proceeds to scrutinize. He didn't take long as there wasn't much there.

    Adm. Quinn
    "Hmm... I don't think we should expect one, not officially at least. Perhaps he will enlighten Commander Burgess should the subject come up the next time they meet."

    "I'll let the Commander know. What if Zashek declines to say anything?"

    Adm. Quinn
    "Then I may need to take a more direct approach and ask him personally. One of his agents was somehow involved near the epicenter of the whole cyber crises and I would very much like to know what she did."

    Note: PaxFederatica offered the character of Black Snow as well as Adm. Zashek for Transcendence when it was in development. They were supposed to have a presence in part 1, but all the issues that surrounded the foundry that chapter was unfortunately never realized (never will be considering the sunset). However, Black Snow can be found in parts 2 and 3, although she disappears when approached.
    Post edited by starfarertheta on
  • duncanidaho11duncanidaho11 Member Posts: 7,541 Arc User
    edited March 18
    Anvil of Time [26c]
    Start of a new writing project, delving into material that I might have done as a Foundry mission but in narrative format
    The hum of the engines carried through the harmonic superstructure of the Enterprise J. The bay was empty except for one pod set in an alcove at the far wall. Alphonse A. Ross stepped through the doorway and over to the cylindrical vessel. He rapped his knuckles against the glassy surface.
    “You awake, kiddo?”
    “I am now.” The voice was soft but carried well through the isolation unit. There was a thump. Cetsa Ji’Goro asked, “How long?”
    “Since I was put under.”
    “Not long.”
    “That’s not much of an answer.”
    “Isn’t it?”
    “How long, Ross?”
    “Three days.” He leaned against the wall and stuck his thumbs in his belt. The grubby overalls were his one allowance from the 25th Century. Earth was missing, the fleet had crossed galaxies to find it, and what concerned him most was his former officer being thrown at the worst Centaurus A had to offer. He asked, “How’s the arm?”
    “It’s back,” she said with a sigh. “The augmentation weave is fully set in. The stuff never leaves new flesh alone for long.”
    “Command has another mission for you, if you’re ready for it.”
    “I’m ready.”
    “I could lie if you want me to.”
    “Dax wouldn’t believe it.”
    “I’m quite persuasive.”
    “I know.” Cetsa smiled to herself. “Remember Donia?”
    “A bucket on my head and I nearly passed for Android. You think I can’t play General Itrex with ‘sorry but I think she needs a bit more time?”
    “I am ready, Ross.”
    “I hear you.” Ross sighed, “Once I leave the locks will be released and you’ll be free to start prepping.” He thumped the pod. “I’ll meet you at the transporter room.”
    There was a heavy thump from the pod. Cetsa managed to push the amplification circuit and called after him, “What? Ross that’s not...”
    Ross called back, “It’s temporal, they couldn’t say no to me this time. It’ll be good to finally see you, kiddo.”
    Then he was gone. Cetsa tried to lay back in her isolation unit. Her back muscles remained tensed, nerves primed like a live circuit waiting for the release of a switch. She settled for rolling onto her side and felt along her plated skin. There would be combat. There would be death. There would be the release for which she’d been suddenly re-engineered. That was her life now. But in the midst of all that was the only friend she had in the fleet, pulled from the depths of time. How much more could she loose?

    Intelligence report: object 8933 exists across 9+ folds of tertiary subspace. The intersection with the 87 first-order folds of perceptible reality is in a state of flux as the tertiary subspace layers shift with the chronometric radiation emanating from the object’s exposed core. The implications are concerning to the fleet’s primary mission. This “black box” can shift in both time and space. It has also been shattered. Relaying report to General Itrex for further consultation.

    Lieutenant James Tardigrade the Fourth pattered around the corner with a nap sack in one hand and a phaser in the other. First time, it would be his first time! He’d been born on ship, first of the generational crew. It was no matter that had been two years ago. He was ready and he was proud. James Tardigrade the first had been a Starfleet officer. James Tardigrade the second had been a Starfleet officer. Pappa Tardigrade had been a cook at one time, pirate lord at another, but he helped build the Enterprise, he’d sired J.T. the Fourth, and helped him find his purpose.
    Lieutenant Tardigrade reached the doors to transporter room one. They were big! This was a main thoroughfare for diplomatic occasions and the grandeur on display marveled the ship’s most junior senior officer. The deck he’d grown up on only had one plant in the hallway. Here there were five! He put a hand to the doors. The room was empty. He pattered in and set his things aside. Captain Dax had given her a big assignment and by his great grand pappy’s honor he’d accomplish with great speed and valor.
    Ross found Lt. Tardigrade sleeping when he walked in.
    Bipedal mammal and senior Foundry author.
    Last missions:
    Evolution's Smile [SSF:3-3]
    Epoch, Part 2 [AEI]
    Transcendence, Part 4
    Memorial Tour

    For the latest Tardigrades and other creative output: @Gorgonops_SSF
    Looking for something new to play? The interactive Foundry Mission Database has you covered.
  • wingedhussar#7584 wingedhussar Member Posts: 72 Community Moderator
    edited March 21
    FYI, Kael is probably going to shutter the Foundry subforum sometime after the announcement, but before then I'm going to salvage this thread and move it up to Ten Forward, where fan fiction usually lives. :)

    Volunteer community moderator for the Star Trek Online forums. Not a Cryptic Studios or Perfect World employee.
  • duncanidaho11duncanidaho11 Member Posts: 7,541 Arc User
    edited March 21
    Would it be possible to replace the Foundry subforums with a group of dedicated community creation subforums? Eg. Writing and Art? Post Foundry it would be nice to have a definite aggregation point for STO creative endeavors which players can point to. Ten Forward discussion isn't always the most inviting place for folks to browse/post with what else might be going on there (ie. lots of other discussion to filter through.)

    Pinging @ambassadorkael#6946 on this.
    Bipedal mammal and senior Foundry author.
    Last missions:
    Evolution's Smile [SSF:3-3]
    Epoch, Part 2 [AEI]
    Transcendence, Part 4
    Memorial Tour

    For the latest Tardigrades and other creative output: @Gorgonops_SSF
    Looking for something new to play? The interactive Foundry Mission Database has you covered.
  • wingedhussar#7584 wingedhussar Member Posts: 72 Community Moderator
    Would it be possible to replace the Foundry subforums with a group of dedicated community creation subforums? Eg. Writing and Art? Post Foundry it would be nice to have a definite aggregation point for STO creative endeavors which players can point to. Ten Forward discussion isn't always the most inviting place for folks to browse/post with what else might be going on there (ie. lots of other discussion to filter through.)

    Pinging @ambassadorkael#6946 on this.

    We've discussed putting a fan works subsection in Ten Forward before; I'll poke him about it again tomorrow.

    Volunteer community moderator for the Star Trek Online forums. Not a Cryptic Studios or Perfect World employee.
  • duncanidaho11duncanidaho11 Member Posts: 7,541 Arc User
    Bipedal mammal and senior Foundry author.
    Last missions:
    Evolution's Smile [SSF:3-3]
    Epoch, Part 2 [AEI]
    Transcendence, Part 4
    Memorial Tour

    For the latest Tardigrades and other creative output: @Gorgonops_SSF
    Looking for something new to play? The interactive Foundry Mission Database has you covered.
  • starfarerthetastarfarertheta Member Posts: 708 Arc User
    Watcher's Watcher
    Occurs after Transcendence
    Location: Alleyway, Paris, Earth

    Franklin Drake was exhausted. The last few days were rather long with the virtual crises that had arrived and went so suddenly and he had been busy making sure that all the assets had knowledge of were still operational (and uncompromised). His organization suffered no discernible losses, and now he was presently out of sight and finding some time to relax.

    It seemed the cyber war had finally happened, and the fact nothing seemed to have changed indicated that the outcome was in the Federation's favor. Both eventualities he had been warned about in advance, although the exact time was never known. Speaking of the one who warned him...

    "Where were you?"

    Drake turns his attention to the nearby monitor, which was not normally of much use in this alleyway. It flickers to life, a blank image printing words...

    "Playing my part."

    "And that is?"

    "It's no coicidence that your operation remain unaffected."

    Drake took only a moment to ponder those words. It's true that he maintained contact with all of his assets despite the widespread communications troubles.

    "Perhaps if our research on Memory Alpha wasn't destroyed you could have done more."


    "In any case, this... cyber crises seems to be all over now. I assume the threat has been eliminated?"

    "Not yet."

    "Not yet?"

    "The threat is only contained, probably of escape exists."

    "I see. What do you suggest?"

    "There is a project that will attempt to study the Enigmatic program. You will monitor its progress. Find someone adequate for the task."

    "That won't be a problem."

    "There are others who will have an interest in that program. Prepare accordingly."

    The monitor shuts off, and Drake quickly left the sanctuary of the alleyway on yet another mission.
  • duncanidaho11duncanidaho11 Member Posts: 7,541 Arc User
    Camp Cochrane
    First Contact Day
    Cetsa Ji’Goro stared out the window of Cabin 3A and noted the intricate play of light that danced through the Montana foliage. She turned over her comm badge and wondered how cold it got in the winter. Would the team send her here then too?
    Cetsa was a Starfleet officer and here she was, spending two weeks touring nature, attending lectures, and building rockets. It was only a technicality that she was under the age limit, but Admiral Quinn…
    She glowered.
    At least the councilors seemed in on the joke. Cetsa was more teaching assistant than participant through most of the games and lessons. That still left her playing along and bunking alone in Cabin 3A. She’d made an enclosed space for herself, bunk beds and sheets cutting out the cavernous space of the silent cabin. The realization that it was essentially a play fort pierced deep.
    Oh Sanna…
    She heard the tour group returning and moved to the door. Cetsa left her comm badge at the side table and moved to the door. It opened. Cetsa said to the small silhouette, “Hey there, do you need…”
    “I with you.”
    The small figure saluted, “Lt. Tardigrade reporting for camp.”
    Reality seemed to cave in for a moment. Cetsa pushed back against the madness and said, “You’re bunking with me?”
    “Mrs. Cuchan said I was a bad influence on the other tardigrades.”
    “She did?”
    Lt Tardigrade pottered in and set a small bundle at the foot of the bunk closest to the door. He scrabbled up the sheets and said, “I hopped up to ESD to get snacks for Party. It was fun and Skipper danced with us but I think it made Smarty sad to be up that late.”
    “I see…”
    “I be quiet.”
    “You don’t have to be.” Cetsa looked out the door to the sunlight glade of the campsite. Another tour group was assembling for their hike. She put on her boots and stepped up to Lt. Tardigrade. “Lieutenant.”
    “I require your assistance on a mission of the utmost importance.” Lt. Tardigrade stood to attention. Cetsa smiled, “Lieutenant, we’re going to have fun.”

    Arty Tardigrade considered their work from a distance. Fins? Check. Hull? Check Engines? Check. Paint? It was a masterpiece. He tottered forward and patted Smarty on the shoulder. Skipper raised her hand and said, “Should it have a nose?”
    Arty looked and Smarty. Party withdrew an auxiliary party hat and placed it atop their technicolor rocket. Skipper clapped. Smarty taped it down. Arty nodded. This would be the best rocket ship ever to fly for First Contact Day.
    Mrs. Cuchan beamed, “Isn’t that adorable! I’m most impressed by your work.”
    Smarty bristled. Arty signed a stabilizer fin. Skipper tugged at Mrs. Cuchan’s trouser leg. “Can Lieutenant see it?”
    She looked down at the fuzzy Tardigrade and said with a smile, “Everyone’s rockets will be launched together this evening.”
    “I want Lieutenant to see it before then.”
    Mrs. Cuchan rested a knee next to skipper. She put a hand on her shoulder and said, “That will spoil the surprise. Everyone will get a chance to see each other’s rockets later on.”
    Party drew an abstracted party hat in the dirt. Smarty began roping off a containment zone around their handiwork. Arty began putting their tools away. Skipper nodded. Mrs. Cuchan beamed, “Now, why don’t you all have some lunch. You must be at your best for the ceremonies tonight.”

    Cetsa took at step back to examine their handiwork. The rocket tipped over. She rubbed the back of head while Lt. Tardigrade performed the post mortem, “I think the glue wasn’t dry yet.”
    “They didn’t give us much to work with.”
    “The aft part is fine.”
    “We’ll rebuild from there.”
    Cetsa sorted through the scattered hull components and looked. It was essentially paper craft. She’d seen other supplies this morning, but this was all that Lt. Tardigrade had been given. She mused, “We could grab more supplies from ESD.”
    “Would that be fair?”
    “It’s leveling the playing field.”
    “The others can’t go to ESD.”
    Cetsa sighed. Lt. Tardigrade started preparing a hull section for gluing. She said, “They can go to their cabins, right?”
    “Yeah, Smarty has his computer there.”
    Cetsa looked up, trying her best to conceal her Ross look. The Lieutenant wouldn’t object, but the universe might. She said, “I have an idea.”

    Mrs. Cuchan called over the gathered throng of children, “If we could use our quiet voices, I shall present our first rocket.”
    Party Tardigrade returned to the group with juice boxes in hand. Each took one and nodded appreciatively. They sat together, leaving a space in their huddle for a fifth, if he happened to...
    “As you can see, Cabin 2B has styled their fins to resemble Ushaans. This is very delicate work.”
    Skipper looked around. Arty took a long sip from his juice box.
    “2C’s is quite authentic, they’ve event left space in the cone for a miniature Cochran.”
    Party examined his hat. Smarty set the extra juice box in the seat reserved for Lt. Tardigrade.
    “And finally, Cabin 3A…um, what are…”
    “It’s a harness,” called Cetsa from the back of the gathering. Lt. Tardigrade stepped forward and strapped himself in. He looked to Mrs. Cuchan.
    “I have approval from Command!”
    Cetsa held up a data pad, “We checked it off with Starfleet.”
    “But it can’t be safe to…”
    Lt. Tardigrade pointed to the end of the rocket, “Don’t worry, we didn’t use an engine.”
    Skipper clapped. The other Tardigrades followed suit. It took a moment for the crowd but by the time the applause had faded the others were all twitching with anticipation. Mrs. Cuchan nodded. The rockets were primed. Tracking units were attached to each. Lt. Tardigrade was allowed to stand to one side of the launch pad. He held up a hand, “I need a tracker too.”
    Mrs. Cuchan stepped over in good humor and handed him one with an overly-complacent smile. The children looked to their respective creations, all except for the Tardigrades. They watched their comrade as the timer ticked down. The music began to play. The lights turned off. The glade was lit by the warm light of a Montana evening. With a flash and a woosh the rockets launched. Lt. Tardigrade managed a small hop and then...

    Cetsa put her feet up on the moonlit window sill. She smiled, “That’s a big jump for the little guy.”
    David Sontag flopped back on the nearby bunk. He sighed, “At least he had the tracking unit.”
    “I made sure that system control was on alert.”
    “So, does that mean…”
    “It’s a new unofficial record, to make it fair for all species the official one is still set by a rocket that flew under conventional power.”
    “The original hardly made it past Lunar orbit.”
    Cetsa turned to her partner, “Humans worked for it.”
    “And the little ones will go where they will.” He smiled to Cetsa, “I’m not about to make any stupid proposals to Starfleet.”
    Cetsa moved to the lower bunk. She said yawning, “Good, otherwise I’d have to report you to the councilors; industrial spy found in my cabin.”
    “You’re okay with staying?”
    “I’ll be okay.”
    “Goodnight Cetsa.”

    The tardigrades snuggled into their bunks. Before turning off the light, Lt. Tardigrade took one last look at their rockets. One was slightly singed. The other was slightly chilled. He hugged the moment and proceeded to bed. Out there was the universe but for now he was happy to be with his friends.
    Bipedal mammal and senior Foundry author.
    Last missions:
    Evolution's Smile [SSF:3-3]
    Epoch, Part 2 [AEI]
    Transcendence, Part 4
    Memorial Tour

    For the latest Tardigrades and other creative output: @Gorgonops_SSF
    Looking for something new to play? The interactive Foundry Mission Database has you covered.
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