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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:30 pm 
Mr. Party-Killbot
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"And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."

- Genesis 3:22-24

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Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Last edited by General Havoc on Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:58 pm, edited 9 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:31 pm 
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First Officer's Log, Stardate 75591.7

Archivist's Note: Lt. Commander Fi'yat Ereshal was an Aenar promoted from Ensign following the decapitation of the Argonaut's command crew at the Battle of Andoria. Though she, like the other senior officers of Argonaut, most likely kept a personal log of her own, almost no entries from it have survived, even in fragments. This entry, recorded shortly after the conclusion "Avenger Incident" detailed above (see Chapter 2), was preserved only by being recorded within the captain's log of the Argonaut, which pursuant to normal Starfleet practice, was automatically copied to the emergency computer backups meant to ensure continuity of data during a shipwide catastrophe.

It's been six hours since the Commander beamed over to the S'harien to participate in the negotiations with the pirate admiral in command of the Romulan fleet tender we found in the badlands. We have had no word from him since the Immortal opened fire on the enemy fleet only a couple of minutes later, and though the fighting has died off, our search has turned up nothing. The S'harien suffered minor damage during the engagement from the pirates' weapons, and their crew has been too busy piecing themselves back together to find him. We've been completely unable to locate the Commander's com badge, and I don't know how to ask Cretak the right questions without half the bridge crew finding out what's really going on here.

Archivist's Note: 'Cretak' refers to Riov (Commander) Galen Cretak, Captain of the Romulan Valdore-class Warbird S'harien. Analysis of the Argonaut Chronicle has brought to light a familial connection between Commander Cretak and Senator Kimara Cretak, a member of the Romulan Senate imprisoned for treason in 2375 under circumstances believed to involve the infamous "31st Section" of Federation Intelligence. If true, this connection would go a long way to explaining certain actions taken during the events of the later stages of the Quadratic War by Commander Cretak. For further analysis, see Warriors of the Stars: The Soldiers of the Quadratic War (pp. 223-261, 491-503)

This passage, particularly the remark concerning damage to the S'harien, has been incredibly controversial among scholars of the Battle of Bajor, as it directly contradicts several surviving records from S'harien herself. Most modern scholars discount the possibility that a fleet tender of the Artificitor-class could materially harm a Valdore-class Warbird in full battle array with its meager point defense systems, and some scholars (Torvarix et al) have suggested that the damage incurred was either fictional, or the result of blowback from the discharge of S'harien's own main guns. On the other hand, it was unofficial Romulan policy to understate damage incurred, particularly if incurred as a result of less-than-creditworthy circumstances, and make up the difference through "maintenance" reports (a major reason for the Romulan Star Navy's persistent reputation for mechanical unreliability). As the maintenance logs of the S'harien have failed to survive, we can only speculate as to the extent of the damage suffered by the ship during this engagement. The question has recently been reopened with the discovery of fragmentary sensor logs from the USS Humbolt, another participant in the battle, whose readings have been interpreted as referring to some form of massive energy-draining weapon, the specifications of which are still speculative.


Reports from the Immortal and the Riskadh say that the tender has been fully secured, and that the resistance aboard the civilian vessels, or what's left of them, has been stopped. The tender is in awful shape, the S'harien practically ripped it apart with one volley, but we've got Joral'vek and three dozen of his engineering staff over there now trying to figure out what can be salvaged from it. There's already tension among the Klingons and the Federation marines over who gets to steal what, but I haven't bothered to weigh in. Argonaut doesn't have the facilities to use a Tricobalt torpedo anyway, and I don't expect the Romulans to be willing to hand the tender over to anyone but themselves, assuming we can even get the thing running enough to protect itself from the plasma storms. A handful of ships are positioned around it now, extending shield coverage over the thing, but multi-ship shield integration is a complex business, and I don't know if those shields will hold if a major plasma tongue decides to plot a course right through the middle of it.

The Gilgamesh has been rounding up stragglers who escaped into the plasma storms and carting them back here for the last six hours. I don't know how many slipped past her, but we've gathered nearly fifty civilian vessels of all types, and effort to catalog what they have aboard and what state they're in are only just beginning. I don't know how long Anderson wants us to remain here, the Borg will be along eventually after all, but I suppose that's one of the things we'll be discussing at the meeting.

Archivist's Note: Thanks to analysis of Argonaut's transporter logs, we know that the 'meeting' in question was held aboard the Immortal twenty minutes after the end of this recording. There are no records existent as to the minutes of that meeting, nor to those present for it, but the matters discussed and decisions taken can be inferred from later evidence.

The USS Gilgamesh was a modified Valiant-type Destroyer, based on the famed Defiant-class, under the command of Captain Matthias Solheim. It is not known exactly when the Gilgamesh joined the task force, but most historians place it as meeting the rest of the fleet at the assembly point near Nivoch IV. For more on the Gilgamesh and its unique systems, see Ships of the Late Federation (pp. 350-361)


Honestly, I'm indifferent to all of this. Most of the crew doesn't know that the commander's missing, and those who do keep telling each other about how 'lucky' he is, and how everything'll be fine. Luther looks angry enough to put a hole through the bulkhead with his fist, he told him not to go, but I just need to find the Commander and get him back onto the ship. I don't know how to run this crate for any length of time without him, and I can't even start to think about what his loss might do to what's left of crew morale. Cretak knows what the Commander is. He might be able to help. Otherwise...

Archivist's Note: Commander Kalpov's policy during this period was to never refer to his biological nature during official logs, but it is apparent that Commander Ereshal was either unaware of this, or chose to disregard it. We can only speculate as to why Commander Kalpov did not have the log edited to remove this reference. It is possible that, as a changeling impersonating a Starfleet officer, brevetted to Commander rank without warning, he simply did not know that his access codes would allow him to perform such edits.

Despite a great deal of research, we do not know the circumstances of Commander Cretak's discovery of Commander Kalpov's nature, though this reference would seem to indicate that the Riov was aware of it from before the Avenger incident. Speculation centers around the events of the Battle of Nivoch, but there is simply no proof one way or the other at this time.
.

I have to get to the transporter pad. Captain Anderson has some things to answer for today, and I'd better like the responses he gives. More importantly, the Klingons and the Romulans better like them too. Otherwise this could get very bad.

I'll worry about that when the time comes, I guess.

End Log.

Archivist's Note: From the events that followed, it is possible to infer how well the Klingon and Romulan commanders liked Commodore Anderson's explanations...

_________________
Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and despair...

Havoc: "So basically if you side against him, he summons Cthulu."
Hotfoot: "Yes, which is reasonable."


Last edited by General Havoc on Thu Jun 06, 2013 6:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 7:02 pm 
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Commanding Officer’s Log, U.S.S. Scylla

‘Well, that was unexpected.’

For the first time since I have been able to properly take Scylla into this war, we’re not alone. It remains to be seen whether this is a good thing. As Scylla was a late arrival to the party, I’m still trying to parse out exactly what went on here. It seems somewhat murkily clear, however, that subtlety is not part of this squadron’s lexicon, or at least not a part of it that every member can agree on. I’ve no doubt that the Romulan and Klingon contingents can manage it to some degree (likely more on the Romulan’s side, but I admit that may be simply playing to my own preconceptions), and Humboldt’s Vulcan captain seems quite adept in that department, but...

Well, I suppose Starfleet never selected Sovereign captains from the pool of officers who enjoy skulking about in the shadows, even in peacetime.

I frankly don’t know what to make of this squadron. Houston has been able to discern that there’s a lot we can’t discern about our new companion ships. Given that we should be able to discern nice, standard hardware if they were nice, standard ships, that tells us something itself. Not something surprising, I’ll grant, and it’s not as if I can throw stones given the current state of Scylla’s systems. Even the captains and crews I already know about are another matter, however; this will be very little like operating in concert with a Starfleet force. Of course, none of us have any real experience in operating with a force of any kind, Starfleet or otherwise, so that’s less of a hindrance than it could be. I’ve already ordered emergency crew training, particularly among the tactical and tac-auxiliary crew, to try to make up for that deficiency, but if the balloon goes up again in short order, things could be messy.

I suppose I should actually include some sort of after-action report in this log; given the hellstorm it turned into, someone will want every angle they can find to look at it all.

Scylla had been monitoring a large group of contacts of an unknown affiliation a short distance inside the Badlands when the rest of the squadron showed up on our passives. We had received Starfleet’s call-to-arms and were on our way to Bajor ourselves when we stumbled upon the first group of ships and went silent to observe them and gather data. The second group’s arrival prompted more questions than it answered, but that ceased to be a problem before long. At least one ship in the new contact group proved to have exceptionally capable sensors and was able to pick Scylla out of the background howl of the Badlands’ plasma stores at approximately nine light-hours distance. That could have been catastrophically bad, but instead that ship managed to make covert contact with us and...I suppose I should say ‘introduced’ us to the mixed Starfleet/survivor squadron that made up what we’d just been referring to as ‘Bravo Formation’ until then.

We exchanged basic identifications, I determined the captain was a Vulcan by contextual cues in our text-only exchange, and then, some time later, things went sideways at speed.

We picked up three new drive contacts, and then, minutes later, we picked up the signatures of weapons fire from both Federation and Klingon sources initially. Through a cooperative deception operation between Scylla and elements in the squadron, Scylla made her run in at warp pretending to be an entire cruiser group of Borg-assimilated vessels, which broke the resolve of the majority of the presumed-hostile entities. By the time we arrived on the scene and dropped sublight, things had devolved to something of a standoff; the flagship of Formation Alpha was apparently a very large tender vessel of visibly-Romulan origin, one that had the Romulan squadron member at its mercy and had demonstrated possession of a stock of Tricobalt munitions.

As my command was not yet properly integrated into the squadron’s tactical network, our view of the subsequent events was less than complete. Accordingly, I will simply attach our sensor logs of the engagement rather than attempting to summarize based on an imperfect understanding of events and proper context. The logs of other squadron members should possess more detailed accounts. Once the fighting died down, Scylla docked against the tender, extended shields around as much of the hulk as we could, and began beaming in teams behind the Klingons to start stripping out weapons and munitions to ensure the ship stayed down. And, to be honest, because Scylla has a voracious appetite for things that explode.

There’s to be a meeting of the captains; I’ll be presenting my engineering teams’ preliminary reports on the tender then. Here’s hoping no one kicks up a fuss over dear old Dad.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:11 pm 
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The Barbarossa
Captain's Room


Hizir sighed and rubbed at his face. He was alone, finally, and had time to think.

"Captain's Log, Auto-set Stardate." He said in accented Romulan.

The computer chirped at him to signify it had done so, and he began to speak in English.

"Well that was a fucking disaster. Captain Anderson is a damned lunatic and he might have just decapitated what was left of the Orion Syndicate, leaving all sorts of potential mess. A potential mess that I, unfortunately, have the best chance of cleaning up. Shodar Tyran was a son of a bitch, but he was a son of a bitch I could work with, and the longer the rest of the Orions sit on this the worse it's gonna get when they finally decide to do something. They're sitting on thousands of potential hostages and eventually one of them is gonna be smart enough to figure it out."

Hizir sighed. "Damn Federation, making a simple passing into a bloody mess, putting their precious morals before the reason we're out here, and the 5,000 civilians I have on my damn ship. Still, Danava is chomping at the bit, as are the rest of the Orions on my crew, not to mention what the rest of the fleet wants to do with these Orions will be seen as a precursor to what they can expect on Bajor. All I can do is hope that the idealism of these captains doesn't lead us down into a worse hell than we're already in. I plan on putting forward a motion to replace Captain Anderson with another Captain of the fleet. Someone I am able to work with better, someone less likely to forget that the enemy is the Borg. God knows they won't pick me. Half of them are probably still surprised I didn't open fire on them with the rest of the Orions. Heh. Like I said, most of them don't even know who the enemy is."

He switched back to Romulan "Computer End Log."

The computer chirped at him again and Hizir leaned back in his chair. Waiting for the call to come in that the meeting of the Captains would begin.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2013 5:24 am 
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Alpha Quadrant
Badlands
Empyrean Sickbay


Captain DuBois looked to Doctor Vares as the mass of living liquid began to move. The Doctor nodded and made adjustments to the medical equipment aiding the Changeling recover from its ordeal, including the medical field surrounding it, reinforcing it and adding a secondary layer should the first fall. The two men remembered their training on what to do with Founders while in the Gamma Quadrant, including what should happen in hostile encounters. Numerous holographic security personnel waited “nearby”, meaning they would be able to appear in the room at a moment’s notice. The rest of the staff of the Sick Bay, however, were notably absent. Not that it mattered for secrecy, by now the entire ship knew what Vares had in containment, and the ship was on fire in its optronic pathways. Speculation as to what this meant and who was involved was everywhere, but until the liquid gave form to solid shape, nothing was known for certain.

And then Commander Ivan Kalpov asked the question that first appeared in DuBois’s mind. The Captain’s eyes narrowed as he processed the information before him. Was Kalpov a Changeling the whole time? How long was that? What was his purpose here? But most importantly, what happened that a Changeling, a Founder, was in his Sick Bay here in the Alpha Quadrant after seven years of running from the home of the Founders? Anger and frustration flickered across his eyes for a moment. Did those bastards open up the wormhole after they refused to let the Empyrean back through? Did his entire crew sacrifice themselves and get brought back just because of the whims of the Founders? Did he make the decision to fill his ship with the shadows of people he saw captured by the Borg because those formless fools thought it was funny? His knuckles grew white as his fists clenched and his jaw set. He was about to open his mouth when a hand rested on his shoulder.

Captain, we can’t know that any of that is true. You shouldn’t let that anger lead you into this right off the bat, we have much to do. DuBois heard Vares say inside his mind.

Damn it Dian, he could be the reason everyone is dead! He could have sealed the wormhole! Even if he didn’t, his race did! You know how they work, it’s all consensus! What the Link decides goes, and this son of a-

He’s here, now. The Link wouldn’t let themselves be compromised like that if they had a choice. You remember the files, they did everything they could to bring Odo back into the fold, and then the stakes weren’t nearly as high as they are now. It’s just as likely he’s here of his own accord to try and help, that he broke from the Link. Just...keep an open mind, Marc. We’re going to have enough problems with the other captains when we’re done here. Doctor Vares let go of DuBois’s shoulder and returned to his medical station, looking intently at “Ivan”, trying his best to get a reading of any kind from the Changeling’s “brain”. His actual experience with the Founders was limited and so long ago the sensation was hard to remember.

DuBois, notably calmer than before, stood in front of Ivan with a raised eyebrow. “Commander Kalpov, it’s good to see you survived that mess. As to what happened, we found you floating in open void. In the Badlands. Without a suit. As you can imagine, that interested us greatly. What interested me more was that a Founder was found this side of the Bajoran wormhole seven years after they declared it sealed, and that said Founder seems to be wearing a Starfleet uniform. As I have been out of contact with Starfleet Command for the last several years, I think I must have missed the part where the wormhole was reopened and the Dominion came to aid us against the Borg invasion. Perhaps you could fill us in?” The tension in DuBois’ voice was clear, and Doctor Vares gave his captain a pleading look which was ignored as the older man’s gaze was fixed on the now solid Changeling.

***

Human or not, the expression that came over Kalpov’s face as DuBois made his introduction was clear enough. Confusion, then shock and surprise, and then slowly a bitter realization of just what was going on here.

Kalpov did not answer DuBois immediately, turning back and sitting down on top of the diagnostic bed. He did not return DuBois’ gaze, closing his eyes and staring down at the floor for several moments before answering in any way.

“I’m not certain, Captain,” said Kalpov without looking up, “what I could possibly say to you at this juncture that you would have any reason to believe. But since you have to be wondering about it, yes, I am the commander of the Argonaut, and yes, I am a changeling.” He looked up at the Captain at last, his expression stern and collected. “I assume that you had already worked that much out from my badge?”

The changeling sat back slightly, crossing his arms. “I was on the umbilical between the S’harien and that Romulan monstrosity of a fleet tender when the pirates... well I don’t know what they did, but they managed to disable the emergency forcefield that was holding the atmosphere in. The marines all died from explosive decompression, but...” he trailed off a moment, shaking his head as he pieced the memory together. “I tried to find another way into the S’harien, but I must have passed out before I could find one. Open void is not an experience I recommend to anyone.”

He took a deep breath, let it out slowly, though whether this was just for show or some actual exercise on the part of a changeling who quite literally did not require oxygen could not be determined.

“What happened to my ship?” he asked DuBois. “The last I saw of her, she was trying to support the Immortal against that leviathan. I’m assuming that if you’re here to talk to me, then we won the battle?”

***

As he eyed Kalpov, DuBois held back the urge to engage in the sorts of interrogation methods he had prepared himself against prior to his excursion to the Gamma Quadrant. To tell Kalpov his ship had been destroyed without his being there, to gauge the emotional response. His anger continued to burn beneath the surface, but his face had developed an eerie calm to it, one almost akin to a Vulcan. “Yes, we were victorious, though it was not without consequences. Right now the Empyrean is rounding up what ships didn’t make it far enough from the battle, bringing them back in, and making sure that we have as much lead time as possible before the Borg come to investigate the massive energy spikes we just sent ricocheting through the Badlands. What I need to know, ‘Commander’, is more about you. This ship spent the last seven years trying to get back to the Federation, not even knowing if there was a Federation to get back to. We get back, and here you are, telling us to get to Deep Space Nine, the source of the Wormhole that your people blockaded. I am not fond of happy coincidences, ‘Commander’, but I do not reject that they can, on occasion, happen. Perhaps we were brought together through the machinations of a benevolent being with power greater than I can imagine, or maybe something else is going on. Either way, I want answers. First, I want to know what happened to the original Ivan Kalpov, and if your crew is aware of who you are. Second, I want to know if you had anything to do with the Dominion’s blockade of the Bajoran Wormhole,” DuBois approached the stasis field, coming within mere millimeters of it, his breath causing the energy fields to sparkle in front of him. “I want to know if you are the reason my crew is dead, ‘Commander’.”

Doctor Vares eyed Captain DuBois with a timid eye, feeling the emotion from his superior officer like the heat from the midday sun on Ceti Alpha Six. While the Captain’s attention was on Kalpov, he began to put together a quick mixture into a hypospray, loading it with sedatives, just in case the Captain were to go too far. Dunok He sent, You may want to make your way to Sick Bay, I may need help down here.

With what, Doctor? came the response from the ship’s Science Officer. I am rather busy making sure that the Borg do not discover our ill-advised firefight with the slavers.

With perhaps preventing the Captain from killing the only Founder this side of the Gamma Quadrant. Vares waited for a response, noting the shift in “emotions” Dunok went through before responding.

Fascinating. I will be down presently. It is perhaps a good thing you did not use the communicators, as I suspect that if you had, Commander Stone would now be battling the Captain for the chance to kill the Changeling.

Yes, I would rather appreciate keeping the amount of death in my sickbay to an absolute minimum if we can.

I am afraid it may be a bit late for that, Doctor Vares, with no slight on your impressive skills of course.

Of...of course Vares fought against letting the comment get to him, he knew Dunok did not mean it as an insult, but to be a Betazoid physician was a difficult enough endeavor, to be one on a ship where nearly everyone he had known was dead, only to be replaced by holographic shades to remind him day in and day out of his failures was something that lesser telepaths might have committed suicide over.

***

In his head, perhaps, the creature that called itself Commander Ivan Kalpov had constructed scenarios for what it might be like to undergo this sort of interrogation. Perhaps this was not the first one it had undergone. Perhaps it had been a wholly theoretical possibility until today. It was impossible to speculate on such matters, but it was possible to make one generalized assumption.

If there had been previous bouts of questioning, this was not how they had gone.

Kalpov watched the other captain carefully, like a man might watch a dangerous predator, as though he were the mortal human and the other the shape-changing being of unknown capacities. There was a forcefield between them, a powerful one by the look of it, though he had not yet tested its strength, yet Kalpov would have been less than foolish if he had not at that moment wondered, if only for the briefest of instant’s, whose sake the forcefield was there for.

“I didn’t kill your crew, Captain,” said Kalpov, carefully and slowly, the way one might speak to a foaming animal or enraged killer. “I never laid eyes on them before you arrived at Nivoch. I suspect I’ve not laid eyes on them still.” His eyes flickered to the doctor, the intention obvious. “I don’t know why the Dominion blockaded the Bajor wormhole, but they certainly didn’t do it on my account. As far as I know, Captain, they don’t even know that I exist. I’ve never been to the Gamma Quadrant, not with your ship or without it, at least not as far as I can remember, and the only authority that ever asked me to take you to Deep Space Nine was what’s left of Starfleet Command. If you suspect that they’re leading you into a trap, then you’ll have to take that matter up with them, but mine wasn’t the only ship they asked to round up stragglers.”

The Commander reciprocated DuBois’ gesture, leaning carefully in towards the forcefield so as to give his next words additional weight, his expression clinical and cold. “Whatever you may think I am or I’ve done,” he said, “I didn’t lead your ship to the Gamma Quadrant, and I didn’t send you back out of it. I have no idea who did. If you want to know why the Dominion does things, then my suggestion would be to go ask the Founders themselves. Because I’m not one of them. I never have been. What I am, right now, is the commanding officer of the USS Argonaut, and if you’re going to condemn me, Captain, then condemn me for that.”

***

DuBois measured the reactions of the false man in front of him, his own features masking the strong emotions he was keeping locked away. In an instant, he could send the Changeling back into the screaming storm of the Badlands, or bring the plasma into the containment field. He could use any of a dozen compounds developed by Starfleet as potential countermeasures to Changeling incursion, including ones that could conceivably kill. A small, dark part of DuBois wanted to see if the projections were correct, if the resulting reaction caused “Kalpov” to slowly dissolve into a boiling mass of slime before drying up into plate of fragile carbon. As he pushed those thoughts down, his gaze never left the man before him, meaning that he didn’t notice Doctor Vares watching the situation carefully with a hypospray hidden below his desk.

“Very well then, ‘Commander’, you claim to not be with the Dominion, we’ll go with that for the moment. That does not, however, explain your taking the likeness of a Federation Officer and assuming command of a Federation ship. What, if anything, should I be condemning you for with regards to your command of the Argonaut, and perhaps the fate of the real Ivan Kalpov?” DuBois’ eyes were cold as he asked this, but still the intensity was that of a small star. If he believed Kalpov or not, only an empath would be likely to tell.

Doctor Vares nervously watched the Captain question Ivan Kalpov. He stayed out of the Captain’s mind, but the emotions he was bleeding filled the room. Were he not a Betazoid, he might have trouble picking up the nuances, but the desire for murder was clear, if subdued at the moment. Vares knew the Captain had spent months in a terrible way after he had made the decision to bring back the crew he had lost from the Borg attack, and the First Officer didn’t speak of the holodeck simulations he had dragged the Captain from, but it was clear some of it was coming back, and not for the better. Still, he knew enough to let the Captain be for the moment.

***

At that, Kalpov withdrew slightly from the forcefield, sitting back down on the bed with a sigh. He did not look back up at the Captain.

“Ivan Kalpov is dead,” he said simply, letting the statement sit there for a moment by itself. “He’s been dead for almost four years. Since Andoria...”

There was another pause, longer this time, as the changeling seemed to stare off into space. “I was on the planet,” he said at last. “Posing as a refugee from some other system, I don’t even remember which one. The Borg had already invaded the planet at seventeen points. I found a shuttle picking up supplies from one of the smaller towns in the southern hemisphere, snuck aboard as a data pad. They took me up to the Argonaut without realizing I was onboard. Changeling security atrophied once the Borg invaded. Nobody was looking for people like me anymore.”

He raised his head again. “All I was looking for was a way off Andoria. The Borg were pounding the planet into steam, melting entire cities down. Even I couldn’t survive that. I got on board the Argonaut and made myself scarce. I figured the fleet was going to regroup somewhere else, Vulcan or Earth or who knows what. But instead they counterattacked. Fifty-two damaged ships against a hundred and fifty cubes. Went in hell for leather, not a second thought. If I ever imagined they’d try something like that I’d have taken my chances with the Borg...”

He shook his head. “It was a massacre. The borg cut the ship’s bridge apart with a cutting beam, killed every man above the doctor in two seconds. I was on the bridge by then. Had to see what was happening. I was hiding as a bulkhead on the ceiling behind the tactical station. The borg nearly sliced me in half, and the vacuum didn’t help, but the bridge crew...”

He took another deep breath, collecting himself, before continuing. “Lt. Ivan Kalpov was the ship’s tactical officer. He was the only one who made it off the bridge. Other than me, I suppose. He managed to force the door to the captain’s ready room open, dragged himself through with his lungs half-frozen and his face near boiled off by the cutting beam. I don’t know if he even saw me following him. I sealed the door behind him and he collapsed on the floor and...” the changeling closed his eyes as though recalling something painful. “... and I watched him die.”

Another pause, and the changeling continued. “It might have been... I don’t know, half a minute before someone called his combadge. An engineer who’d lost contact with the bridge and didn’t know what to do. The Borg had beamed a dozen drones into main engineering and killed half the engineering crew, and they were trying to figure out if anyone was still in charge. There were ships exploding on all sides, cubes crashing down into the planet, debris fields the size of asteroid belts flying past. I knew that if the ship didn’t leave the system immediately, she was done for, and everyone on it would die. Myself included.” He looked sharply back up at DuBois. “So I took his combadge, and his voice, and I started giving orders. Because somebody had to. We got the borg contained, put the fires out, and limped out of the system under thruster power. I snuck through a ventilation shaft down to deck 2 and scuffed myself up and told them that I’d gotten off the bridge in the nick of time. Nobody asked any questions. And while I was gone, the Borg finished what they’d started. Cut the entire bridge off the ship, and sent it plummeting into Andoria’s atmosphere. Nobody ever found Kalpov’s body. Nobody ever even knew they were supposed to be looking for it.”

He shook his head. “All I wanted was to get away from Andoria and find somewhere else to go,” he said, “but when we got away from Andoria, they towed us into a shipyard, patched the bridge up. There wasn’t any time for me to slip away quietly, nowhere to run to. So I stayed. Read Kalpov’s logs, figured out how to fake it. Most of the people he’d known on board the ship were dead anyway, Starfleet rounded up a new crew and ordered me to take them to Earth. I thought, ‘what the hell, plenty of chances to escape once we’re at Earth’, but then there were more fleet actions, skirmishes, and then the big throwdown. And when that was over we were alone.”

Once more he locked eyes with the Captain. “I could have escaped,” he said. “Even then, found some way to do it. Just disappear on some empty planet or fake my own death. But the crew were already talking about how ‘lucky’ I was, how I’d gotten them through fights that nobody else had survived. Before long it had been a year, and then another and... I wasn’t sure what would happen if I just disappeared or died. If they’d look for me, or panic, or there’d be a crew divide or mutiny or any damn thing. And I could do things nobody else could. I could stand down a hallway full of Borg or tear an assimilation tube apart, and as long as nobody saw me do it, it was just more ‘luck’. Maybe they needed luck. Or maybe I was just being egotistical. But I stayed. For three and a half years. And now here we are.”

Carefully, the changeling stood up. “I don’t expect you’ll believe me, Captain, I’m not sure I would in your place. But I did not kill Ivan Kalpov, or the rest of the Argonaut’s bridge crew, or your crew for that matter. I am not a Founder, or a Dominion spy, or a member of some plot to take you to DS9 for whatever reason. I wasn’t even supposed to be on Andoria, let alone Argonaut. Just as, I assume, you were not supposed to be trapped in the Gamma Quadrant and slaughtered by whatever did that to you. And whether or not you believe me, my crew believes that I am exactly who I have been saying I am, and I would like to know what you propose to do, since they are no doubt right now trying to figure out just what happened to their commanding officer.”

***

Few Telepaths could claim to have had experience with the minds of Founders, and those that had told tales of the oddities of attempting to read the minds of Changelings. One of the foremost experts in the field, however, was a Betazoid, one who Doctor Dian Vares had the pleasure of meeting on more than one occasion, a fact which was likely true of half the Alpha Quadrant given the nature of Lwaxana Troi, daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed, the Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, and Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed. To say, however, that one had held in-depth conversations with the mother in law of the famous Captain William Riker, however, was another matter, and one Doctor Vares could not lay claim to. He did, however, read the various reports she had made on the matter of Changeling PhysioPsychology, and had used it in preparation for his trip to the Gamma Quadrant. It had come in a bit less than useful the last time he had a chance to practice the art, when the Founders had denied them access to the Wormhole. While he could tell that the Founders were unwilling to bend on the matter, one hardly needed empathic arts to come to that conclusion.

Now was a significantly different affair, however. For starters, he had proximity, and the lack of other minds in the area aside the Captain’s allowed for more focus to be held upon the Changeling under the identity of Ivan Kalpov. Specific thoughts were difficult, but emotions were present in their own way, if perhaps muted in comparison to the war of emotions within Captain DuBois. He looked to the Captain to see if there was any change to his expression, but there was none on the surface. However, for whatever reason, he began to put down the hypospray he had been holding ready.

DuBois, however, continued staring into the eyes of the Changeling before him, unwavering. “So,” he said calmly, “you did what you had to do to survive, just like the rest of us. You took the identity of a man you watched die to save the rest of his crew, or at the very least, yourself. If that’s enlightened self interest or genuine concern I suppose doesn’t matter at this precise moment. As far as what I intend to do, there are several options I have before me right now, and I would be lying if I said that the more severe actions were not weighing heavily on my mind, ‘Commander’. I’m strongly considering throwing you into my brig right now until we reach Deep Space Nine to prevent you from sending some sort of signal to the Dominion and to question you further. I’m also weighing the option that you’re lying to live, and thus throwing you back into the Badlands to see how long you last,” A hint of bitterness lined the tone of the last few words, the first crack in the facade he had been maintaining up until this point.

“That said,” DuBois sighed, his face falling to that of resignation, “I know what it means to do something difficult to keep moving, and as Doctor Vares has not filled your field with some of our various interesting gases, I suspect he believes your stories at least on some level. So as for what I intend to do with you, I suppose it will be simple. I will burn you, or rather, maintain the fiction that you spent some time exposed to the dangers of the Badlands unaided before we could get you on board. Doctor Vares can help with that, I imagine, though you’ll have to do most of the work yourself,” the Captain turned from the Changeling and began to walk out of the Sick Bay. As the door slid open, he looked back briefly over his shoulder. “Since we’re putting secrets on the table, I have to put my crew back to work. We’ll talk more when you’re ready.”

Dunok had been waiting outside the Sick Bay, and nodded to the Captain, entering the sick bay as DuBois was leaving. He looked down at Vares and raised an eyebrow. “It appears the meditations I taught the Captain were most effective. Do you still need me, Doctor?”

“No, I don’t think so Mister Dunok, but thank you for your timeliness. If you’ll excuse me, I have to get my staff up to speed on Changeling physiology,” Doctor Vares said.

“Very well, good day Doctor, Commander.” Dunok left the Sick Bay without a single word more.

Vares sighed, looked over at the Changeling and shook his head. “You have to forgive the Captain, but, well, you’ll understand later. Just...just try not to be too shocked by what you’re about to see,” He paused, looking at Kalpov with a nervous look on his face as he screwed up the courage to say the next few words. “Sick Bay Staff, please report to stations.”

As if by magic, a dozen medical staff appeared in Sick Bay, none of which bore any resemblance to any model of the Emergency Medical Hologram that had ever been employed by Starfleet. They began to move under Doctor Vares’ orders, and before long, they were brought up to speed for helping a Changeling mimic barely healed plasma burns that could pass for exposure to the Badlands.

***

One did not need an empath to determine that Kalpov was plainly not expecting Captain DuBois to believe him. He looked... well guardedly confused was perhaps the best term for it, as though he half-expected three million degree warp plasma to be vented into the chamber despite the Captain’s words. Yet the Captain said his piece and turned away, and the plasma rather stubbornly refused to materialize.

Kalpov said nothing as the Captain left, nor did he answer the doctor as he couched Kalpov to prepare himself for some sort of shock. In other circumstances that might have sounded ominous, but Kalpov was not exactly concentrating at his best right now. And so he was not prepared at all when twelve holographic crew appeared out of nowhere.

This was... a surprise certainly, but not exactly the caliber of shock that Kalpov had expected to see. He knew already that the crew of the Empyrean was all but non-existent, and he had no doubt received reports of fragmentary or less nature as to what that actually meant. A ship such as that would no doubt have multiple holographic EMHs just to make things work. Yet there was something off about these holograms, something Kalpov plainly could not face, and it took three tries before the doctor could receive his full attention.

Faking plasma burns was not something new to the Commander, but in this case the difficulty was that there wasn’t all that much faking required. Changelings did not sustain burns the way most solids did, which rendered the actual damage not much help, and it took several tries, and a good deal of tinkering, before Kalpov managed to find a state that he could both maintain long-term, and that he felt might be accepted, at least at a cursory glance. Only then did the doctor indicate that he would signal the Captain, leaving the Commander to continue to study the EMH holograms as they moved about and spoke, trying to piece together what it was about them that seemed so off...

***

It had taken some time in a stopped turbolift to convince Commander Stone to not kill the Changeling known as Kalpov, as well as intervention by Chief Engineer Barclay who actively prevented Commander Stone from suddenly appearing in Sickbay. After about as much time as it took for Kalpov to practice being burned and yet alive, Doctor Vares gave the signal that they were ready. DuBois ground his teeth together and took the turbolift back down, barely able to snatch five minutes in his ready room to grab a tumbler of Synthetic Whiskey. One day he would open that fifty year old bottle of Aldeberan Whiskey he had hidden from even Dunok and Barclay’s eyes, but today would not be that day.

Back in the Sick Bay, DuBois looked around and nodded at the sight before him. “All right, good job people. Take five, Doctor Vares and I need a word alone with our guest,” the holographic crew nodded and blinked from view as though they were never there in the first place. Captain DuBois eyed Kalpov over and nodded again, “Yeah, that should sell it. Your own doctor would be able to tell the difference, but if he’s not figured it out by now, you’ve got a glorified rating with first aid training. Now then, Commander, we need to talk about what you have seen here, so long as we’re putting out respective cards on the table,” DuBois pulled out a Padd and left it on the now unshielded bed next to Commander Kalpov. On it was the crew roster for sick bay from the original launching of the ship. Included were images, records, and psychological profiles of each member of staff. Also included in the files were the dates and methods of the respective deaths of nearly each and every one of them, and their reactivation after the fact. DuBois’s eyebrows furrowed as he watched Kalpov’s reaction.

***

“Argonaut’s Doctor is aware of my... condition,” said Kalpov. It seemed futile to pretend otherwise. “I wouldn’t have lasted this long without his help.” It was clear however that Kalpov’s attention wasn’t on the finer particularities of who knew what concerning changelings. Gently he picked up the PADD and scanned over with the one eye not artistically swollen shut by the flash radiation. It was five seconds before he forgot that it was supposed to be unusable and opened it again.

“You... you digitized your crew?” asked Kalpov, in a voice that indicated that he didn’t know whether to be confused, or surprised. He blinked once, re-read the PADD again as though expecting it to suddenly begin making sense. He’d detected something amiss with the holograms, but...

“How did you even... where did you find the storage space for this many crew?” he asked. Moments later, a better question arose. “Wait, nevermind that. How did you manage to digitize them at all?”

***

DuBois allowed himself a small sardonic smile as he looked over Kalpov’s reaction, shaking his head. “You talked before about doing what you needed to do to survive, ‘Ivan’. You took the identity of a dead man to save the lives of hundreds. My situation was...somewhat different. The Borg...took most of my crew. I won’t tell you the details, but we were able to get them back, but only in part. I’m sure Chief Barclay would love to tell you the details, but the short version is that it involved transporter buffers and one hell of a holographic specialist. What happened afterwards, you do not want to know if you enjoy sleeping or becoming a puddle or whatever it is you do at night. The point is, I did what I had to do to save my crew and to keep this ship back on course. We spent seven years through hell to come back to the hopes of saving something of the Federation. Hell, what’s on board this ship may even be a part of it. I just want you to understand one thing, when I say that I will do whatever it takes to keep my crew safe and stop the Borg, remember this, and know that this protocol exists for every crewmember still living on board this vessel, myself included, should it come to it. In death, I will not rest in peace, not until some Borg son of bitch destroys the last atom of the Empyrean to erase the digital facsimile of my mind. Should that unholy capture of my last thoughts not be erased, I will drag myself kicking and screaming back into service, and I will not rest until my work is done in one final, glorious medal winning battle that I’m sure someone else will take credit for,”

DuBois’s face became somber and serious as he continued. “But to be clear, I want you to understand that if I am wrong in trusting you, if you betray me in any fashion, remember this, remember the lengths I am willing to go in the face of adversity, and then consider a sudden change of heart.”

***

Kalpov listened to the Captain’s speech in silence. He gave no gesture, no change of expression, no nothing to indicate what he thought of it, whether he felt bowel-quaking fear or contemptuous laughter. To hold one’s expression could not be difficult for one used to changing their shape, volume, and even mass with a thought. Yet when he answered, his voice was calm and collected.

“I am not your enemy, Captain,” said Kalpov. “And I understand your need to protect your crew from all comers out here. I don’t know how you pulled something like this off, and I’m not sure that I want to know, but I’m certainly not in any position to preach morality to someone who has a ship to care for and limited resources with which to do it.”

He paused a moment, taking a deep breath, metaphorical though it might have been.

“But I also have a ship, Captain,” he said. “And a crew besides. And I’ve been around this galaxy for even longer than you have, that much I guarantee you. I’m not here to make threats or even promises, but whether you think I’m full of it or not, it is my belief that my crew needs to feel protected, even if it’s by some bullshit good luck charm half of them don’t believe in anyway. Call me an egomaniac if you want, but there are twenty-five hundred people on board the Argonaut right now, better than 40% of them permanent crew, and of all of them, only two know the truth. I lied to you when we first met, for five minutes, and you threw me in a containment cell and threatened to dump burning plasma on my head until I was ash. I’ve been lying to my crew for four years. And while they’re well within their rights to do whatever they want to me, I won’t have them tear themselves apart because you or some other Starfleet officer can’t abide the notion of me sitting in that chair.”

Commander Kalpov slowly picked the singed combadge up from the table, dusting it off and attaching it to an ‘unburned’ section of his uniform front.

“We all have to play roles, Captain, whatever else we do. Some of us don’t know we’re playing until the performance has long-since started, and some of us just stopped in to get out of the rain, and never expected to dance. I’m not here to make trouble for your ship, or your crew. All I ask is that you not destroy mine.”

Kalpov took another deep breath, let it out, and then with an artistically designed slump, adopted an expression of agonizing pain, barely kept in by force of will, his body automatically slouching to one side as though to favor the limbs that had not been burnt.

“Permission to return to the Argonaut,” he asked, his voice clipped and tight, just the way it should have been, “sir?”

***

Shaking his head, DuBois laughed for a moment at the end of Kalpov’s speech. “My dear Changeling, I thought you understood us solids better than your brethren in the Link. You could have been in and out of this ship without seeing a single one of my reconstituted crew. This is the last vestiges of my Starfleet sense of fair play, of diplomacy. I know your secret, and yet despite that I’m willing to trust you, even though I probably shouldn’t. In order to encourage the growth of our relationship, and your assistance down the line with certain...questions, I gave you something of roughly equal value. Any threats I have made have been only for the purpose of letting you know that despite the uniform, I am not a weak-willed man who will shy from what is necessary. You do what you need to keep the Argonaut running, I will do what I need to do. It will likely take me some time to deal with your...unique situation, but I imagine now the sensation will be mirrored. My only request should this work out is that I want more information as to how you found yourself in the Alpha Quadrant, and why you are here. That said, we shall arrange transport back to your ship once we are back in range with the rest of the fleet. There should be a meeting on board the Immortal in a few hours. Before you go, anything you want to tell me about what happened in that Umbilical just before the fight started?”

*******


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2013 4:11 pm 
The Artist formerly known as Rhoenix
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U.S.S. Gilgamesh
Bridge Section


"...Thirty seconds...and clear, the Sky Pride and the G'orvek are now with the others," Lieutenant Nevola reported, rapidly manipulating her pilot's interface. "Plotting course to the next ones on the list now, Captain."

"Good," Captain Solheim nodded as he got out of his chair. "Keep it going, Swift. The Commander and I will be in the ready room, preparing for the Captain's meeting soon. Let us know if anything unusual happens."

"Would you mind clarifying, Captain?" Lieutenant Adranis' voice drifted from his station, appearing hard at work and nonchalant.

Captain Solheim narrowed his eyes slightly, bracing himself as the ship whipped around to fly toward the next group of ships. "Clarifying what, Lieutenant?"

The older Romulan looked up from his station, looking at Captain Solheim contemplatively. "Captain, surely you can agree that within the past few days, the definition of 'unusual' has changed somewhat?"

At this, Captain Solheim smirked. "Fair enough. Let us know if anything interesting happens then."

"Please don't tempt fate, Captain," Lieutenant Adranis replied, looking somewhat more tired.

Chuckling at that, the Captain and Commander went into the ready room. Captain Solheim dropped into the main pilot's chair, exhaling as he leaned back. "That got ugly for a minute," he sighed. "That situation devolved amazingly fast."

"True," Commander Inzeti replied in a gentle tone as she stepped behind the chair, lightly massaging Captain Solheim's shoulders in the darkness of the ready room. "However, you are learning quickly, and showed this ship's skills well in that engagement."

Captain Solheim smiled slightly. "One step at a time, I suppose," he said with a long sigh, closing his eyes for a few moments as he relaxed. However, he knew those moments were precious, and should be spent wisely, and so opened his eyes, putting one of his hands over one of hers. "Alright - I'll make the Captain's Log."

The Commander leaned down, and kissed the top of his head gently before rising, and heading to the door. She spoke in a more normal, precise tone now. "I will check on the refugees, and the status of the ship. Both will need to be ready before we have another engagement such as that."

Captain Solheim nodded as he replied. "Alright. Stay clear of the Doctor - I think she was looking for you."

Commander Inzeti spun around and gave Captain Solheim a glare that was withering in intensity. Captain Solheim responded by shrugging lightly, and giving her a smirk. "Just passing along the warning."

"Hmm," Commander Inzeti replied, giving him one more look before heading off to perform her duties.

Chuckling, Captain Solheim began, leaning back in his chair as he did.

"Captain's Log, stardate 75591.7. We have finished our unexpected engagement in the Badlands. I must say, I've had operations in my Section 31 days that devolved less spectacularly than that, but we and the other ships in what is now our small fleet pulled through. The Gilgamesh is currently trying to rescue ships stranded in the storms of the Badlands while engineers from the other ships try to un-break the Romulan fleet-tender that Cretak pretty decisively broke. We're all hoping those engineers pull it off, since having a fleet tender would give our little fleet a much-needed boost to repairs, supplies, and morale most of all."

He sat in silence for a moment before continuing. "After so many years of searching the dark and trying to not give up hope, hope has arrived in the form of drama and explosions over Nivoch IV. It might be fruitless, it might be foolhardy - but I think we're all tired of running. I don't know about the other Captains, but I want a chance to fight back. I want a chance to beat back the Borg, and let the survivors of this galaxy pick up the pieces and move on as best they can."

Captain Solheim was silent for a moment more. "I want to retire to a house on a warm beach on a remote, beautiful world with Samara. I want the galaxy to be in such a state where I can do that, and not feel like there is still something out there demanding our bodies and souls in an insatiable hunger. Perhaps time will tell," he said with a sigh, "but I will keep fighting in the hopes of seeing that day, and I'll try to help others do the same."

"It's what I feel I must do," he continued. "End log."

_________________
"Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes."

- William Gibson


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 06, 2013 11:55 pm 
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U.S.S. Humboldt

Sickbay

Dr. Genetris's regained consciousness after having his mind bombarded by the seething emotions and thoughts of thousands of people. For a few minutes, he had the odd sensation of not hearing the little mental voices of the rest of the crew. For a moment, he was afraid that he had burned out. Then they started to slowly filter back in. Their emotions came as low whispers, held in check and avoiding what would be in humans be considered type II bipolar disorder by the rigid confines of Vulcan logic. Each emotion that attempted to assert itself in any but the most minor way was quickly blocked off. Walled inside a tomb like in The Cask of Amontillado, but by logic instead of bricks. Courtesy of their metacerebral cortex. By the time a Vulcan child was old enough to go to formal school (where their brains were almost literally bombarded with knowledge), this was down to a reflex action. Something that they could do unconsciously. When he first arrived on the ship, he could not sense anything but the cold logical decision making leaking from the thoughts of his crew. Now? Now he could hear the emotions, the impulses, the jealousy, the grief and rage. He did not know if this was simply familiarity, or if the voices got louder with time and unresolved pain of having to watch the mass suicide of most of their homeworld. Only time would tell. As he mused, he blinked his eyes open to see Dr. Suvok, his chief of neurology looking down at him.

"Were you in my head that whole time?" he asked. The other doctor spocked an eyebrow.

"No" the Vulcan replied after a brief pause, as if the question were nonsensical "doing so without your permission or in extremis would be an ethical violation. I was simply scanning you for neurological damage" he followed up, gesturing toward a medical tricorder. "Thankfully, there is none. You simply experienced metasensory overload. The bridge crew filtered out enough to prevent lasting damage."

"I thought as much. Am I cleared to return to duty?"

"You are. After the battle, there may be casualties on other ships where your assistance would be most welcome."

"Battle? What about our ship?"

"Affirmative. Captain Anderson learned there were slaves being held on the Orion fleet. He reacted... decisively. Our ship's casualties were minimal and already treated for their injuries. In fact, the civilian population of his ship suffered heavy casualties. The rest of this ships medical staff have beamed over to treat the wounded. We have taken our civilians out of the pattern buffers to facilitate rapid transport. I suspect our sick bay may hold a number of children in short order."

Before Dr. Suvok finished his matter of fact statement, Dr. Genetris was already off the bed and in surgical prep.
......

Captain's Ready Room

Captain Vladstok knew that Captain Anderson hated slavers. He knew he would go out of his way to kill slavers. Admittedly, it was a feeling that deep down and most of the time suppressed that he himself shared. On the other hand, he could not help but feel the urge to permit himself to be irritated. There were other ways to achieve the proper end than immediately opening fire without warning to the other fleet ships, or without a bargaining chip that could be used to force bloodless compliance. Anderson had children aboard his ship. Children subjected to an already battle damaged ship taking heavy weapons fire. Tlorn did not need to read the casualty reports, he knew Genetris would be in his quarters later with a bottle of synthetic gin to decompress. It could be difficult, he knew, being a telepath under such conditions. The fear, pain, anguish. It was hard to block all of it out.

He considered composing his log, but decided to wait until after the debriefing. It would be better to sort through all of the information. The S'harien had its shields back, his own engines were repaired. It was much more pressing to get shielding up over the heavily damaged tender. Its sheer size would protect it for the time being, but if it was even going to be salvaged safely, it would need minimal shielding--even if only the navigational deflector. If it was to move, warp drive would need to be restored and adequate crew scrounged for. Then there was the Borg problem.

He tapped on his comm badge

"Communications, could you patch me in to the IRW S'harien? A personal message to Riov Cretak."

His communications console beeped on. The message would be sent, and he would wait for the Romulan to reply.

"Riov, This is Captain Vladstok of the Humboldt. I assume you intend to salvage your Fleet Tender." he put just enough emphasis on the 'your' to let the Romulan know that he recognized the sovereignty of the Romulan Empire--such as it was--over one of its own ships.

"This is only logical, and my science and engineering teams will be standing by. However, we have limited time, and I wish to get started on a plan of action we can present at debriefing. Therefore, I humbly request to meet with you and an engineering team--or an engineering team of you are not available--along with any technical information on the ship that you may have stored in your data banks. At the very minimum, we need to restore shielding. Warp power would also make matters much easier, but we may not be able to accomplish it. If not, I think I know of a way to tow the vessel out of the badlands."

With that, he waited.

_________________
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."
- Theodosius Dobzhansky

There is no word harsh enough for this. No verbal edge sharp and cold enough to set forth the flaying needed. English is to young and the elder languages of the earth beyond me. ~Frigid

The Holocaust was an Amazing Logistical Achievement~Havoc


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 07, 2013 10:24 am 
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Operations Room, Vor'cha Class Battlecruiser Riskadh

It is a Klingon truism that if one does not want a thing to be heard, one does not say that thing. In the darkness of the operations room Morizan sat and considered the unthinkable. His gaze slid from the tactical display to the ship status monitors displaying the status of the squadron's ships to them main bridge monitor to the display showing the Romulan tender.

Here there was no Security to watch and listen in and Intelligence knew better than any other how Security's reach was more illusion than reality. Not that any of that mattered now. The khomerex was dust now and Security was the Captain's entirely. One master instead of two. But what of Imperial Intelligence?

He was Intelligence now. Master of a handful of agents and keeper of an khomerex of a single ship. The captain was his oldest and best friend, but Morizan served the Empire and not its master. As long as Kadon was worthy, Morizan would serve him. And when he ceased to be, Morizan would act as Intelligence had acted against Emperors and Chancellors and members of the High Council in the past.

"Log on," he said softly. "Captain Anderson chose to attack the pirate band without consultation, planning, or preparation while it was in the Badlands. Recovery of prizes was difficult and the greatest one, the Romulan tender was damaged possibly beyond recovery. The Marines deployed emergency force fields to seal breaches and deflector shields were extended around the tender, but such measures are temporary. Chief Engineer Seragal is leading a damage control and evaluation team aboard the tender. Hopefully it's engines can be restored at least in part or a joint warp field can pull it free.

"Captain Kadon hopes to salvage it. The Romulan will claim it, but as long as it can be used to maintain the fleet we will reap the benefits. Kadon thinks he can reach an accord with the Romulan as one warrior to another. The Federation remains a greater concern.

"They expect their orders to be obeyed but do not obey. Anderson commits impulsively when there is time to plan and almost any plan would be better than his. Kirk disobeys an order in combat and her torpedoes strike the Riskadh. Imperial Marines die to save a Federation ship who blew out her shields foolishly and Starfleet expects them to charge in and rescue Federation civilians Starfleet itself has endangered and cannot save.. If Kadon were a lesser warrior there would be grumbling already, but it is noticed. If it does not change and Kadon does not take action, the Riskadh will need a new captain.

"And what action can Kadon take without breaking the squadron? Most of them were Starfleet and Anderson was their choice for leader. Klingons would accept taking the head of a rebellious or headless captain, but not Starfleet. Nor would they accept a change of command by way of assassination or crossed blades, but Klingons would not tolerate the current trends continuing. Morale was bad, but when morale is bad among Klingons it means Klingons looking for a fight."

And there it was. He had his answer. Intelligence served. Kadon was an impossible position if nothing changed and a change of captain would not improve things. He had his task and targets.

"Retain log for successor briefing." He too might pass. His logs were closest thing to institutional memory he could hand agent or Security chief who would take his place. His fingers danced on a keyboard as datafiles popped up on screens. He had much to consider.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:15 am 
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Alpha Quadrant
IRW S'harien, Bridge


"Riov, I may have found something." The sensor officer said a moment before the data gathered by the warbirds sensor pulses was transferred to the command dais of the S'harien.
Riov Galen Cretak watched closely as the sensor feed manifested in front of his dais in a continuous holographic feed. His eyes narrowed as the trail which may very well represent Kalpov intersected the path of the USS Empyrean. It was possible that it had all been coincidence, but the Federation science ship was the most likely to detect such a small target in the midst of a battle with all of the interference the Badlands generated.

If Kalpov is in the hands of the Empyrean, his secret will not remain for long.

"Send a message to the USS Empyrean and make an inquiry regarding Commander Kalpov's current circumstances." He said. His eyes watched his communication officer for a moment before the sensor data was dismissed and his attention focused on other feeds. Engineering reports fed to the warbirds systems gave him a minute by minute update of the systems of his ship. Arrain Velal was pushing her men and women hard as she sought to reestablish shields and dealt with other problems throughout his vessel.

His attention shifted and flowed between a seemingly unending wave of reports and other assorted data not only about the condition of the S'harien but the condition of the ships of the task force as well as intermittent reports about the troops about the IRW Saehir. His forces and those of the Riskadh coordinated together better than had been expected for ships that did not have a shared history. The professionalism of the Romulan forces blending with the natural aptitudes and training of the Klingon forces. The information brought within him a ripple of pleasure that momentarily displaced the physical and mental exhaustion that often times accompanied hostilities. He hoped to establish a strong relationship with the IKV Riskadh and her captain.

He took a deep breath and held it as he manipulated a console to his right, the sensor feeds shifting and focusing on the stricken IRW Saehir. The information presented to him in a series of holograms was what he expected. The survival of the vessel was a matter of luck as much as it had been redundant systems. Nonetheless, the tender was in a sorry state. He held two men responsible for that state more so than any others. The Orion Shodar Tyran bore the brunt of the responsibility but Captain Anderson also bore some of the blame. It was possible that had Anderson not acted in the decisive and forceful manner that he had done he would have been able to encourage the Orion in a less destructive manner both to the Saehir itself and perhaps, to other ships within both task forces. The presence of the modified Breen system had however complicated matter immensely. The moment that Shodar Tyran had revealed the system by using it on the S'harien he had forced the hand of all the ships involved in the conflict.

He sighed, a tendril of pain slithering past his shoulder and down his spine. He barely acknowledged the pain, his head turning as he glanced down to his shoulder where his uniform was ripped and green blood oozed. He would deal with that later, there was too much to be done. The USS Humboldt sought to shield the tender from the ravages of the Badlands. With the tender secured, it presented the next obstacle to the task force.

If the ship can be salvaged and brought to Bajor it could prove a decisive advantage. If it cannot, then we have to take what we can and destroy it utterly.

"Riov, you have a personal message from the USS Humboldt" his communication officer said.

"Let me see it." He replied, the message was transferred to his command dais and he read it quickly. Before he could respond however, the Vulcan medical officer entered the bridge and looked towards him. Before he could speak, he took a breath and stood from his command dais.

"I will respond from my ready room." He glanced towards the doctor. "Will you join me?"

The Vulcan nodded and waited for Riov Cretak to walk to an adjacent room to the bridge before following. By the time that the doctor had entered the ready room, Riov Cretak had removed his shirt and waited patiently for the doctor to do his inspection. The Vulcan was the highest ranked member of his species in the S'harien. The doctor watched the Riov closely taking note of various bruises scattered over his left side. As expected, Romulan like Vulcan physiology was hardier than those of other lesser races.

"How do you feel Galen?" The Vulcan asked as his left hand reached out and applied pressure to a particularly nasty bruise on the left hand side of the Romulan.

Riov Galen Cretak did not flinch beneath the ministrations and probes of his medical officer. His eyes glanced towards the Vulcan as he spoke. "Like I have been in the middle of a shooting war doctor. The Saehir and her sisters were once the pride of the Empire." They had been symbols of the Star Empire. One of his tasks now was the secure those symbols but much like the swords of S'harien he had assumed them lost. The IRW Saehir was in the precipice of being lost and once it was gone it could never be replaced.

This ship alone could do so much towards the restoration of the Empire and the long term survival of this task force.

"And you have played a part in crippling if not destroying one of these ships. I can understand how such thoughts would be in your mind Riov. I simply hope that you understand the truth. You did what had to be done for the safety of this ship and the others in this task force." The doctor replied. His right hand reached out for a tool from a bag which emitted an emerald beam over the Riov's wound. Within seconds, the wound had healed and new skin had grown.

"Thank you doctor." Galen Cretak said.

"Don't thank me yet. As soon as this situation is resolved and we are no longer in harm's way I want to do a complete check up. You are Romulan and that makes you tougher than most but you are not invulnerable."

"Agreed. Now, if you will excuse me there is still work to be done." Cretak said.

"Of course." The Vulcan responded before he nodded his head and exited the ready room.

Galen Cretak watched the Vulcan leave the ready room before he moved and selected a new uniform. After he was dressed, he opened a channel with the USS Humboldt from the privacy of his ready room. Once the connection linked both ships, he spoke frankly with Captain Vladstok. "Captain, you are correct in that I will make every effort to restore the IRW Saehir long enough to get it to Bajor. The ship could prove invaluable in the days to come both to this task force and the survival of all our peoples. However, I will not allow the recovery of the ship to prove a distraction to our long term objectives. If the Saehir cannot make its way to Bajor, it needs to be scuttled after we have taken all that we can. I am sending to you all the relevant data that we will need to try and restore the Saehir to partial operation. I will attempt to redirect an engineering team or two to the IRW Saehir as soon as I am able to do so. I have had some issues with my shuttle craft, those that are available are in the Saehir itself conducting operations with the Klingons. "

He waited for a moment letting his word sink in and allowing Captain Vladstok the opportunity to reply before he continued. "We may continue this conversation aboard the Immortal. I have been given word that all captains will have a meeting therein to discuss the conflict and our next steps. Now, if you will excuse me Captain I have to prepare for the meeting." He closed the channel as soon as Captain Vladivostok acknowledged.

A few minutes after the meeting had closed, Cretak emerged from the ready room wearing a green and brown outfit. He made his way to the command Dais of the S'harien and examined the data that continued to flood into the bridge. The shuttles that had been recovered were in the Docking Bay and were worked in. Two of these shuttles would be sent to the IRW Saehir representing engineering teams and would coordinate with elements of the USS Humboldt. One shuttle was being repaired in order to ferry him to the Immortal. He leaned against his chair and waited for the call that his shuttle was ready.

This meeting is going to be...memorable.

_________________
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:43 am 
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Leyton stepped out of his ready room onto Scylla's bridge, the closing door hiding the cot crammed into a corner of the small compartment, and began crossing over not towards his chair at the center of the bridge, but the turbolift. As he walked, he called across at the Andorian woman just starting to rise from her own seat just to the right of his own, vacant one, "Lesschey, please inform Immortal that I'll be coming aboard early; there's a gap in our boat bay's activity coming up, that should make a good excuse. Separately, please inform the captains of the S'harien and the Riskadh that I request a meeting with both of them before the main event if possible. And no," he added with a wry smile, "I will not be taking an escort along. Sends the wrong image."

He wasn't, of course, unarmed; no one was, not with the tender and its theoretically-pacified crew under Scylla's shields. A decidedly nonstandard phaser pistol hung in an equally-unusual holster at his hip, one that looked from the arrangement of grip and...magazine?... more like an undersized machine pistol than anything else. His other hand held a PADD filled with reports from the teams combing the tender and stripping its munitions stockpiles. He paused for a moment until the Andorian nodding her understanding, then stepped into the turbolift.

"Shuttlebay."



The small craft that departed Scylla shortly thereafter bore only a passing resemblance with a normal Starfleet shuttle, in that it most likely started life as one long, long ago. The lengthened fuselage, the extra maneuvering thrusters and drive pods, the sections of starship hull attached as additional armour, the unusually-strong emissions from its shield generators, the aft ball turret and its phaser mounts -- whatever it had been, it certainly wasn't a transport by now. When it docked aboard Immortal, the hatch that opened up wasn't the typical aft bulkhead, either; a narrow section of hull by the cockpit unsealed and slid aside, giving a nearby rating a glimpse in at the decidedly cramped, two-man interior of what had begun life as a transport craft.

The grey-haired lieutenant commander that stepped out of it caught the questioning look and just gave an easy smile in return, adding, "You make do with what you have," with a low chuckle.

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Chronological Incontinence: Time warps around the poster. The thread topic winks out of existence and reappears in 1d10 posts.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 4:06 pm 
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USS Spector
Captain's Cabin


"Ship's Log, Acting Captain Eoife Kirk." The grand-neice of the infamous captain looked out the cabin's window to the battered bulk of the captured fleet tender. "I have to wonder of this battle was necessary, and if there could have been a way to get the Orions to work with us. The Immortal opened fire as soon as he heard there were slaves aboard, I have to wonder why. Why the sudden reaction?" Eoife fell silent, pondering. The captain's actions had resulted in the deaths of most of the civilian refugees onboard his ship. "Several ships have suffered damage, but it will be repairable if -- IF -- we can get the ship tender running. We may not have time to get the bridge back, but what repairs we can finally get done would be welcome."

IF they could get the ship tender repaired, after the hole that was blasted in its forward arc. The Kingons and Romulans were already on board working to try to close the bulkhead enough to survive being moved, and the Spector was extending her shields to protect the tender as much as possible from the plasma storms. "Currently we have extended shields to protect the tender from the plasma storm. I have been invited to a meeting aboard the Immortal to decide what is to be done next. At that meeting I am fully expecting to hear from the commander of the Riskadh on the damage done to his ship by our torpedos. Other than not looking away or backing down, I have no idea how to face him or what to say, when it was bad luck and a plasma strike.. Looking like a coward is the worst thing I could do, not only because of the Klingon Warrior Culture, but because far too many civilians in this fleet are starting to believe "Captain Kirk" is back. That the Hero of the Federation is going to save them...."

How could she save them, when she was making this up as she went along? "... At least the Vulcans on the Humboldt will understand how the torpedo went off course. It still leaves me wondering how to approach Anderson about starting a war. End log. Append sensor data from the combat." The computer beeped politely at Eoife's order and she rose, straightening her uniform and tapping her badge. "Comms, please inform the Immortal I am on my way." A last look around the cabin, and Eoife picked up the datadisk with the Spector's post-engagement report. Damage taken, ships and ammo remaining, it was all things that Anderson would need to know in order to keep the fleet running. Information that Eoife hated to see, as it again reminded her this battle had been unnecessary and far too costly.

With the plasma storm, a shielded shuttle was a safer bet than the transporters, and so Eoife and her pilot left the Spector's bay and joined the line of shuttles landing on the Immortal.

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Last edited by LadyTevar on Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Editted, after rereading the facts.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 7:05 pm 
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Alpha Quadrant
Badlands
Empyrean Ready Room


“You know, I’m not sure,” DuBois mused as he sat at his desk, his console open to a myriad of files he had opened upon returning from Sick Bay. “If we hadn’t been able to contain him, oh certainly, but no, I think I would have started with pain. I would have made the bastard feel the pain every single soul on this ship has suffered, I would have seen just what it takes to tear one of them from the realms of lucid thought. I’d have been at it for a while, too, but no, I think I would have left him alive. He’s too valuable at this stage, his very existence might be enough to finally involve the Dominion. Still could be, and he might even help.”

“Because you didn’t do those things?” Dirrina asked, dispassionately.

“In part. In part because he’s in the same boat we are,” DuBois replied.

“Do you regret not doing those things to him?”

DuBois pondered his response for a moment, and then shrugged. “No, he wouldn’t have deserved it. Even if he’s lying, it wasn’t his decision to lock the door to the Alpha Quadrant, it was the Link’s.”

“And would you like to do those things to them?”

DuBois’s eyes settled on his ship’s counselor and nodded. “Yes, I suspect I would. Never mind what happened here, look at what happened to the rest of the Quadrant! People are dead, and they could have helped! They could have helped us beat the Borg back, save trillions of lives, save entire worlds from devastation! All the bad blood from the war? Gone in an instant! It would have given them the kind of peace with solids they’ve been after for who knows how long! Even if they joined now, that’s gone forever. Their greed, their fear, their lack of vision helped damn us all!”

“And what part of that makes you angrier do you think?”

“DOES IT MATTER?!” DuBois stood up, his rage unleashed as he threw a replicated glass to the ground. “People, civilizations, entire cultures are dead! The Borg may have killed them, but the Dominion stood by and watched! Earth burned, and where were we? Vulcan burned, and where were we? Even if we were all alive here, only one person on this ship has a home they can go back to, where friends and family might still be alive, and even then, for how long?”

“Do you feel jealous of Maren? First she met an old friend of hers, now she’s getting to go home and see the skies of Bajor again.”

DuBois stopped, shaking his head. “No, no I’m not jealous. I might have been, once, but these days, I’m sorry for her.”

“Why is that?”

“She will have to watch it turn to ash before her eyes.”

Alpha Quadrant
Badlands
Empyrean Bridge


Commander Stone sat in the captain’s chair with a grim look upon his face. The clash of words he had with Captain DuBois earlier had settled in his mind, and while he was unhappy about it, he knew the Captain was right, and that disturbed him more. DuBois carried with him something deep within that was troubling, and when DuBois spoke from that, it was clear. When that part of him wants someone alive, it is either extremely fortunate or to be pitied. Time would tell which fate was true for Commander “Kalpov”, and Stone attempted to avoid considering which was true by going over the logs from the battle. The numbers of dead were large, and the salvage situation was, at best, grim. The Tender, a glorious prize, lay barely functional in the plasma storm of the Badlands. If it could be brought back to Deep Space Nine, it could keep an entire fleet functional for years, or refit the barely functional battlegroup to battle-ready status. Sadly, it would likely be able to do much for the Empyrean, as its problems lay elsewhere.

“Sir, we’re getting a transmission from the S’harien, they’re asking about Commander Kalpov,” Maren reported, looking to Commander Stone for a response.

Stone sighed and shook his head, “Of course they are. Tell them he’s alive but in serious condition, and that we’ll be transferring him to the Argonaut when he’s well enough to be moved.”

“Message sent,” Maren turned back to her console. “Course has been set to the center of the fleet, we’ll be in transporter range soon.”

“Good,” came DuBois’ voice from the door to his ready room, “I’ll transport over once we’re in range. We’ve got a lot to talk about, I suspect.” The Captain’s voice was deathly calm as he walked over to the turbolift, Dirrina following behind long enough to break off to her communications console. As the doors to the turbolift shut, Stone looked at the Trill, trying to determine what had been discussed. Dirrina simply shook her head with a sad look upon her face, glanced at Maren, and then turned towards her work.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:25 pm 
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Quote:
"Captain, you are correct in that I will make every effort to restore the IRW Saehir long enough to get it to Bajor. The ship could prove invaluable in the days to come both to this task force and the survival of all our peoples. However, I will not allow the recovery of the ship to prove a distraction to our long term objectives. If the Saehir cannot make its way to Bajor, it needs to be scuttled after we have taken all that we can. I am sending to you all the relevant data that we will need to try and restore the Saehir to partial operation. I will attempt to redirect an engineering team or two to the IRW Saehir as soon as I am able to do so. I have had some issues with my shuttle craft, those that are available are in the Saehir itself conducting operations with the Klingons."


Tlorn listened attentively before responding
"Thank you for the data Riov, I will be taking precautions to ensure we are not... to use a human expression, 'caught with our pants down'. If our engineering teams report that getting the I.R.W. Saehir minimally operational again will take too long, our only logical option is to scuttle the ship.

Quote:
"We may continue this conversation aboard the Immortal. I have been given word that all captains will have a meeting therein to discuss the conflict and our next steps. Now, if you will excuse me Captain I have to prepare for the meeting."


"As do I. I shall see you shortly"

and with that, he closed off the channel.

Then, he tapped on his communicator.

"Commander Forsythe"

"Yes captain?" he replied

"We need to give ourselves an early-warning system. I need twelve class eight sensor probes readied for launch."

"That can be done in fifteen minutes or so."

"Excellent. Have eight of them spread in a net radiating--in a random configuration--from our entrance point into the badlands. If the Borg are tracking us, that is where their sensors will take them, and it gives us a good estimate of how long it will take them to find us. But it will not give them any information as to our vector in the event that they see the probes. Have the other four within the badlands, acting as telemetry relays at different vectors from our location. That should make signal tracing somewhat more difficult. Each primary probe should send its data to all four relay probes. Set the probes to self destruct should they be detected by Borg ships--after they burst transmit their last telemetry."

"You are falling into the Vulcan habit of exposition and complex instruction again."

"Yes. I am aware. It does appear to be a tradition among my people."

The commander chuckled, before signing off, but the captain kept his badge on

"Lt. COmmander Vagel?"

"Responding, Captain."

"You have clearance to begin repair or salvage operations aboard the I.R.W. Saehir. I am sending you all the data Cretak saw fit to send. If you need parts, you have my permission to scrounge what you need. However, ask me when and if you feel the need to engage in larceny. Stores of spare parts from captured vessels... we shall have to see after a Command debriefing. But whatever is floating around in space or that you can obtain legitimately from other ships is fair game."

"Naturally. Time restrictions?"

"Hard to say. Assume you have eight hours to evaluate the ship, and sixteen to get it functional, if it can be done in that time. If not, sixteen to salvage and scuttle. We will know more once the sensor probes get outside the badlands. If they detect Borg, we will have an hour to evacuate with any margin of safety"

"Acknowledged Captain. How much of the engineering staff?"

"Everyone you do not need to monitor critical crew stations. Take everyone but the sensors officers in the Science staff too. We may need to indulge their... creativity."

"Yes Captain. Vagel out."

The crew of the Humboldt was broken down into 36 science crew, 28 engineers, 16 Security and Tactical all on eight hour rotations--in addition to the primary command staff. There was, by necessity, a lot of cross training as well. She rousted thirty scientists and 24 engineers many of whom would otherwise be off duty to go over to the Tender and see about getting her operational again. The remainder were left to man critical crew stations. Transporters, sensors, and making sure the ship did not spontaneously explode. All of these men and women crammed into the work bee and shuttle to transport over to the Romulan Behemoth in several trips, first to get the shields up and running, then the propulsion systems. Each was fitted with a pattern enhancer just in case rapid evacuation was necessary, and each went well armed for the event that they ran into some pocket of resistance that had not otherwise been dealt with.

...

Sensor Control

One of the four science crew had the unenviable task of programming twelve sensor probes in around fifteen minutes. Of course, unlike manual release switches for the main deflector, this one had a nice easy user-interface with LCARS drop-down menus, barring some basic programming to set contingent conditions and identify relay points. They also did not need to be done individually. Replacing these using the old and now superfluous torpedoes would not be as pleasant--even though most of the components could be replicated or manufactured in the ship's machine-shop from replicable materials, but there were still plenty more where they came from, even on a small science vessel.

The only issue was that each step in the process and the effects of the programming were confirmed by a computerized voice. Not that Ensign G'drel really cared. She was largely incapable of caring. Commander Forsythe however, did. He stopped by the sensor control room on his crew rounds during this period when a voice said:

"Confirmed: Auto Destruct to initiate on detection by Borg Sensors, after burst telemetry transmission." Every other vocal warning or confirmation he might hear over the course of his daily business had been changed to a computerized monotone remeniscent of the 20th century Earth physicist Stephen Hawking at his insistence, except for this one. He shuddered audibly at the voice, prompting the Ensign to look up from her task and acknowledge him.

"Commander"

"Ensign. Any issues with the probes?"

"None sir. I just finished. They are ready for launch."

"Good. Though I have to ask, would you mind at some point switching the voice."

She looked puzzled

"For what reason Commander?"

"I know it is illogical, but that voice sounds far too much like someone who annoyed the hell out of me back when I was an Ensign."

"Who?" she asked, raising an eyebrow quizzically.

"Lwaxana Troi."

...

Several minutes later, the probes launched out into space on their appointed trajectories.

_________________
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There is no word harsh enough for this. No verbal edge sharp and cold enough to set forth the flaying needed. English is to young and the elder languages of the earth beyond me. ~Frigid

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 2:09 pm 
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Alpha Quadrant
IRW S'harien, Bridge


Galen Cretak busied himself with a half a dozen of tasks as he waited for reports to trickle in from the state of his Warbird. The first task that he worked on was the drafting of a preliminary salvage agreement between himself and key members of the task force. The IRW Saehir had been built at great expense by the Star Empire and it would be as far as the Romulan people be concerned perpetually their property. While a Riov would never dream of making arrangements regarding the sale, seizure or usage rights of one of the gems of the Romulan Star Navy, individual Riov's were given a great deal of latitude about negotiating for salvage rights. The document that he crafted was not meant for use for the task force as a whole. He felt that he could negotiate with Captain Kadon and to a lesser extent with Captain Anderson in good faith and they both would see reason. This document was being crafted as a safeguard upon their arrival to Bajor. His information as to the Romulan hierarchy in Bajor was slim. This document once signed and ratified would offer some ammunition to the task force to if nothing else, have preferential access to the IRW Saehir should she make it to Bajor. It was not his first time crafting a document of this nature, but it was the first time that salvage had held so much meaning both for himself and perhaps, to the long term survival of his people as a relevant power in the galaxy.

He had managed to finish the first draft of the document when the message from the USS Empyrean arrived. It was short and to the point and he found a weight from his shoulders lifting with the knowledge that Kalpov had indeed survived his ordeal. His attention shifted fully on the message and he allowed himself a small smile. It offered him precisely what he had asked for and nothing else. Nonetheless, the mentioning of his condition indicated that he had been taken to the medical bay of the Empyrean. If they had not managed to tease out Kalpov's secrets he would be surprised.

It is a Federation science and exploration ship originally tasked with exploring the Gamma quadrant. If Kalpov managed to keep his secret they don't deserve their ship.

His left hand moved and a message was quickly crafted thanking the USS Empyrean for the information. Kalpov would have to fight his own battles he had too many of his own to deal with. The message from the USS Scylla drew his attention next. A meeting with Captain Kadon and Captain Leyton prior to the captain's meeting in the USS Immortal. There were only a handful of reasons for why Leyton would want to meet with Kadon, the elected vice-captain of the task force and himself prior to the official meeting. Few of these reasons would please Captain Anderson. He did not hesitate in agreeing to the meeting however. The Romulan people had a reputation for secrecy, treachery, and perhaps caution. The Romulans had been one of the last powers to join the fight against the Dominion. At the time, the Federation had complained that they had been too busy waiting to see which side gained an advantage and there had been some truth to that. In this instance, he could not afford to take a wait and see approach. The only way to guide the task force towards a proper outcome was to be directly involved. He quickly crafted a message to the USS Scylla.

"This is Riov Cretak. I look forward to speaking with you." The message was sent and he leaned back slightly against his chair. He gathered some data about the trans-warp passage to the badlands and was about to focus on the number of ships in which the task force had swelled to when he was interrupted.

"Riov, this is shuttle bay. We have a shuttle ready for your transfer to the USS Immortal. We estimate ten minutes before we will have shuttles for our engineering teams to transition to the IRW Saehir."
He answered immediately. "Understood shuttle bay. I will be there momentarily."

He stood from his command dais and made his way towards the nearest turbolift. When the turbolift doors opened in the deck which housed the shuttle bay he was not surprised to find his head of security therein. "Idrakht..." He began.

"Riov, I am here to accompany you to the shuttle bay and give you an update on our casualties. You will not need an escort to where you are going." The Reman said.

Riov Galen Cretak hesitated for a moment before he nodded. "Walk with me."

Alpha Quadrant
IRW S'harien, Shuttle Bay


The shuttle bay of the S'harien was full of activity as groups of engineers worked feverishly on the shuttles that engineering teams would use to transition to the IRW Saehir as well as host of other tasks ranging from fixing internal damage to the shuttle bay itself to salvaging what they could from one of the Warbird's stricken shuttles. He had spent less than fifteen seconds within the shuttle bay itself when he was approached by an Engineer he did not immediately recognize.

"Riov! This way please. Your shuttle is ready." The engineer said.

Galen Cretak nodded and allowed the engineer to separate him from Idrakht and lead him towards the waiting shuttle craft. The hull of the shuttle craft bore the marks of recent combat but the hum of its engines and the familiar emerald glow of its drive system placed him at ease. He transitioned into the shuttle without hesitation. Behind him, Idrakht and a handful of engineers watched as the door closed and the Shuttle lifted itself from the deck and smoothly accelerated out of the S'harien. The activity within the shuttle bay continued as Idrakht waited a moment and then turned. Within a dozen or so steps, he had exited the shuttle bay itself and disappeared down one of the corridors.

Alpha Quadrant
USS Immortal, Shuttle Bay


The Romulan shuttle asked for and received permission to land in the shuttle bay of the Immortal. Having previously informed of the condition of the shuttle bay neither the pilot nor its guest was surprised by what they found within. The USS Immortal bore its wounds with pride, a testament to the fires it had faced and wounds it had both received and dealt since the arrival of the Borg. The Romulan shuttle landed on its designated position and within thirty seconds the door opened.

Riov Galen Cretak exited the shuttle wearing an Emerald Green vacuum suit. The weight of the suit did not bother him and he seemed at ease with its bulk as he maneuvered down the ramp and into the shuttle bay proper. He was guided away from the shuttle bay by a human crew member. Upon exiting the shuttle bay, he removed the helm of the suit and allowed himself a moment to look around the hallway.

This is the first time I have been within an actual Sovereign.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 6:10 pm 
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There was a soft hum and flare of red light as Kadon appeared on the Immortal's deck with a pair of aides. One was a lean and short Klingon who carried a slim data terminal under the crook of his arm and a massive scarred Klingon who was easily large enough to play a Blockader in klin zha kinta, which in fact he had in his younger days. The Immortal's transporters were nonfunctional, but those aboard the Riskadh worked fine.

They had signaled Immortal first, of course. Kadon returned the salute of the Starfleet officers who on hand to greet him and then hit his comm badge. "Captain Layton, this is Captain Kadon. I have arrived on the Immortal and I am ready to meet with you."

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 6:33 pm 
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The pre-meeting meeting -- and Leyton's mouth tugged in a momentary smile at that mental designation -- was certainly going to be a short one by necessity, given the way minutes were ticking past on the way to the...meeting-meeting. At which point his commbadge bleeped at him and spouted out a somewhat tinny-sounding rendition of what was undoubtedly a firmer klingon voice in person. At the name, he winced, then just muffled a chuckle before responding.

"Thank you for coming, Captain. I've managed to find an empty compartment near the main conference room; this shouldn't take long. There are some things that should be dealt with before the main event. I had asked the shuttlebay crew to direct you and the Riov here on arrival; I hadn't expected a Badlands transport."

Ah well, I was about to introduce myself anyway. I suppose one of the boarding teams dropped my name in passing. No matter.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 6:35 pm 
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Captain's Log: Negotiations did not go as planned. Nothing went as planned. The Immortal opened fire upon learning the nature of the other fleet, that being a band of slavers holding thousands in captivity. Due to the ad hoc nature of the squadron there were command and communication issues. To be blunt, Captain Kodan authority was frustrated when he attempted to lead the combat as was his right. By my bridge crew, who were reacting to my own personal situation. The loyalty while touching creates a tense situation as the Klingon's rights have been trod on. This is not something they take lying down. Nor should they. It is my responsibility to make what restitution is possible without besmirching their honor or showing weakness. This is something that even seasoned experts in Klingon psychology and sociology have fucked up beyond belief. If they were the simple brutes of stereotype, I could simply offer my remaining biological arm or something that would do it. But the Klingon's are not that simple, they were a people capable of ruling an interstellar empire after all. I must see to this while respecting the Klin and doing my duty as a Starfleet Officer.

Captain's Ready Room, Federation of United Planet's Ship Immortal
"I am not overseeing the meeting with a platoon of Gorn in heavy armor. That is not going to solve the problem." Captain Anderson said coldly.

"Captain, emotions will be running high and who can say how the Orions, or the Romulans will react?" Shran Tak responded.

"With harsh language. If Captain Kadon wanted me dead he would have either killed me on the tender when I was surrounded by Klingon Marines with no witnesses or challenged me by now. If Commander Cretak wants me dead he'll do it in such a way that it's someone else's fault. No one who survived years of fighting the borg is stupid enough to attack someone while standing in the middle of their ship. Furthermore, having the Gorn there would reek of fear and that's the fastest way to lose whatever respect we have among the Klingon and the Rihannsu. I wouldn't have Mak Than there expect the only way to stop him is throw him in the brig and we can't afford the medical issues that fight would cause." Captain Anderson replied. Shran Tak did not quite flinch at that statement. Most of the Immortal's medical bays were tied up treating children... As a result of one Shran Tak's decision.

"Well, then I should be there. It was my decision," Shran Tak was cut off by Captain Anderson.

"But it is my responsibility. I am in Command. You will not be there. I will be. Now let's be about it." Captain Anderson interrupted. Shran Tak gritted his teeth and saluted. Captain Anderson returned the salute and walked to the meeting room, shadowed by the Breen. His distinctive footfalls preceding him. The heavy *klunk* of his metal cybernetic foot hitting the deck drowning out his lighter biological foot.

OOC: I'm jumping ahead to start the meeting, if anyone has something they need to take care of beforehand go ahead.

Briefing Room, Federation of United Planet's Ship Immortal

Captain Anderson, once in the meeting room wasted no time.

"Captains. We are under the clock so I will waste no more of your valuable time. I am aware that a number of you have well earned grievances. They will be addressed as is fitting. But now is not the time. We must organized and salvage quickly if we are to be away before the Borg arrive. This will not happen if we begin hashing out the mistakes that have happened. You have my oath we will address them as soon as we are away from here, we will address them on route if you feel necessary. Additionally, I will ensure that anyone of you who requests will have the chance to make their grievances and injuries known directly and in person to Starfleet Command and any other Command bodies if necessary as well as to me. Nor will anyone who is uncomfortable with the situation be required to stay with the squadron. But now we must deal with the situation at hand. Commander Cretak, the status of the fleet tender?" Captain Anderson said.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 9:16 am 
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Last edited by Josh on Mon Jun 10, 2013 7:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 11:58 am 
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Alpha Quadrant
USS Immortal


The hallways of the USS Immortal were not unknown to him. He had trained in hallways such as this back when the Romulan Star Empire preoccupied itself first and foremost with the Federation. It had not been unusual for Romulan forces to train in a dizzying array of Federation ships out of the possibility that a boarding action may have transpired in open conflict with the Federation. Still, walking through a simulation and walking through the real thing were two separate experiences. He had been intercepted shortly after leaving the shuttle bay by a federation crewman. He deftly made his way towards the location and upon arriving therein was pleased to have found Captain Kadon and Captain Leyton.

His eyes flickered towards Captain Kadon as the door closed behind him. The Klingon was an imposing figure projecting an aura that far exceed his physical size. He had interacted with or met many Klingons throughout his career but none projected the same aura that Kadon did. His attention shifted towards Captain Leyton, the human lacked the raw magnetism of the Klingon opposite him but the human radiated calm professionalism. It was also on his initiative that the meeting was taking place. As a result, he was not someone to be underestimated. He had seen an opportunity and he had seized it.

That was admirable for a human.

"Captain Kadon, Captain Leyton." He nodded to each man as he spoke their name.

"What are we to discuss?" He said simply. Keenly aware that the sole reason to have a meeting at this juncture was to come to a consensus prior to the official meeting. Captain Kadon was Anderson's equal in the eyes of the task force. He was perceived by many as being an advisor to the two leaders of the task force, representing the third of the great powers before the arrival of the Borg. Captain Leyton himself was a representative of Starfleet. An understanding between all three of them could set the tone in the meeting to come.

OOC (If the consensus is to post here and in the main official thread simultaneously I will do so by editing this post and answering Anderson's query)

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:21 pm 
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"I'm glad you could both make it here ahead of the main meeting. First off, I have these for both of you." Leyton proffered a somewhat worn-looking PADD in each hand to the other two captains, "Captain Kadon, you've dealt with me in good faith, and I am quite happy to return that in kind. Riov? Riov Cretak. Apologies if I got the pronunciation wrong. In any case, you'll both find Scylla's complete engineering reports on the tender, both its current state and a listing of what munitions we've stripped off so far, as well as executive summaries that are perhaps more well-suited for the short time left before the meeting. Additionally, I've had my engineers," his lips quirked in a slight smile at that wording; no one who didn't know of Scylla's hilariously-unbalanced staffing could get the joke, "prepare preliminary reports as to the feasibility of rapid repair or replacement of systems in all cases where they deem it practical. As much as I've got my gold-shirts drooling over the tender, it's Romulan, so as far as I'm concerned; you have first call on what goes on with it. I'll back your play regarding it. We've been stripping the magazines bare as a just-in-case measure and to save time later, but the launchers themselves are still intact; if you make the call to try to repair it, we can put things back where we found them."

"One more piece of official business, and then I've got a more...personal question to sound you both out on. More you, Captain Kadon, but I may have enough problems wearing my own uniform; I want to make sure I know where I stand from your contingents. In any case, Captain Kadon, your scans have doubtless told you my ship is...unorthodox at best. We make extensive use of more or less any kind of munitions we can find, powered or unpowered. Since I assume you require actual torpedoes for your launchers," another wry smile, "And since you have helped us out immensely with that whole 'things that explode' issue, just let me know if you need any of the assorted more conventional munitions you see in that report. Assuming, of course, that we aren't able to rehabilitate the tender. Gentlemen, I'll be honest, I'm dubious as to those prospects myself given the inevitable time pressure, but a prize like that may well be worth the risk."

Leyton cleared his throat and frowned for a moment before moving on to the last piece of business he'd wanted to speak with the two captains about.

"I don't claim to be an expert on Klingon or Romulan societies, Romulan even less so I'm afraid. That said, I know that family lineages and honor -- or dishonor -- play a role, especially in your peoples' case, Captain Kadon. We don't have the time to go into the whys and wherefores and such, so I'll just say this: My father was court-martialed and found guilty of attempting to overthrow the lawful government of the United Federation of Planets. Many in my own uniform have had a very hard time looking past that, and I would like to know if either of you will have any issues along those lines. I will understand if that is the case, and nothing I have said or offered here will be affected by anything you say in response to this question. I simply need to know where I stand, behind whom, and with whom behind me."

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:56 pm 
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As Kadon listened to Anderson talk, part of him mind wandered back to the earlier conversation with Captain Leyton.

"The tender is a great prize," he had said. "If we can salvage it, we must do so. Failing that we must strip everything of value from it that we can. Riskadh's hull is already full of battle salvage, so for the time being that which has value must be placed on other ships before final distribution can be agreed upon, as is the case for the parts in our cargo bays. Your ship can use the tricobalts and it is best that they can be used if it is needful, so Scylla received them. All efforts must be focused on the tender. Other problems must wait.

"As for the one's father, he played the komerex zha, the Great Game of Empire, and lost. Many who are honourable have done so. The one sought to protect his home against a dangerous enemy. We who are all homeless know there is no dishonour in such a motive."

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:42 pm 
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Hizir, perhaps to the surprise of everyone, arrived to the meeting alone, no guards, nor his First Mate or Tactical Officer as had been with him last time. The former pirate was actually sensibly dressed as well. He sat, leaning back in his chair, his eyes on Anderson for several long seconds before he turned to Kadon.

"My crew is adept with salvage and stripping, and are familiar with Romulan construction. They will be capable of handling whichever we end up doing. If it comes to stripping the ship, we still have plenty of room to store cargo though." The advantage of enormous ships like D'deridex's.

There were other issues to handle, of course, but the Fleet Tender was the most important of issues. The fate of the Tender's crew, and the crew and slaves of the fleet would be a much thornier issue, he imagined. It was enough to make him wish someone had brought a bottle of wine, even replicated would have been acceptable.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 7:49 pm 
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Alpha Quadrant
USS Immortal


Galen Cretak reached out and accepted the offered PADD from Captain Leyton. His eyes taking note of the wear and tear in the device. It was in a sense a reflection of their ships. He activated the device and sought to skim its contents.

"Your pronunciation is adequate Captain." He said reassuringly.

"The information here appears to be quite thorough." He admitted. A few moments later he nodded. "I appreciate the thought on backing my play regarding the Saehir. As for its armament, I would prefer for the short term for the munitions to go to specific ship within the task force as needed. I would expected that no more than 25% of the munitions if appropriate be returned to the Saehir. The ship will be best suited away from the front lines, restoring our vessels and keeping the hope of repairs and potentially resupply. " It was a sensible strategy. The truth was that there was no guarantee that the ordnance within the Saehir will remain under the direct control of the task force when they arrived on Bajor. As a result, now was the only opportunity they would have to secure and hold the munitions.

"I would prefer personally to salvage the Saehir if it is possible although clearly, I am pragmatic enough to know that we are on a time limit. If the Saehir cannot be moving within a relatively short amount of time, it will be left behind. It would sadden me to do so however, as it is one of the last surviving wonders of the Romulan Star Navy."

His head turned and he glanced towards Captain Kadon for a moment.

Yes, it seems that we are all on the same page.

Alpha Quadrant
USS Immortal, Official Meeting


The meeting room was nowhere near as impressive as the assembled individuals within it. The commanding officers of close to a dozen ships of various sizes each representing a wealth of experience fighting a losing war and surviving encounters that had separated their less capable peers either in skill or luck. The seat beneath him was comfortable enough but had been designed for a universal manner that did not match his contours with the same familiarity as the seats in his own Warbird. The Romulan Star Navy had been preoccupied with making Romulans comfortable.
His head turned as he quietly observed each of the assembled personalities within the room. The bulk of his attention focused on Captain Anderson as well as Captain Kadon. They represented the heart and soul of the task force and were without question the most important individuals in the room. His attention then flickered towards Solheim and then Leyton. Eventually, his eyes would seek out and linger on every captain seeking to read their demeanor via their posture and body language.

Captain Anderson began to speak and he focused on the imposing figure. He moved quickly and a part of him could not help but being somewhat impressed by his method of attack. He sought to defer concerns about leadership and any potential grievances while focusing on the situation of the Saehir. It was a valid strategy, he simply was not certain if it would work this time. If the task force were fully composed of Starfleet officers it likely would have. The task force was more varied than that however and he expected that at least one captain would object. Nonetheless, the topic of the Saehir was important to him and he wasted little effort in answering the question that had been asked of him.

"The IRW Saehir is not in good shape. My ship bears a great deal of the responsability for its state which I assure you brings me significant discomfort. However, Captain Leyton and Captain Kadon's forces have done an admirable job of identifying the damage." He allowed his words to sink in before he continued.

"In essence, restoring the Saehir to full working order is out of the question. The best that we can hope for is to restore some shields and its ability to move on its own power. In order to do so, a significant amount of time and resources in both material and personnel will be necessary. I do not feel a need to remind anyone here how important the IRW Saehir could be to this task force and Bajor should it be possible to restore her to some working order. We are aware of what is at stake. Every minute that we devote to the restoration of the Saehir is another minute that we give to the Borg. However, without risks there can be no rewards. As such, here is my proposal."

"The S'harien saved this task force roughly a day via its transwarp. Give me twice that time and all the people that your ships can spare to work alongside and under the direction of the engineering teams of the task force. I have given Captain Leyton whatever relevant information I had available about the Saehir and her sisters in the hope that such information would expedite the restoration of the vessel. I am prepared to share this information with anyone that requires it. If after two days the Saehir is not capable of surviving a trip out of the badlands then we may have to scuttle her and move on towards Bajor. I also ask for the permission to conscript as many able bodied men and women from the surviving ships that were part of its task force in order to aid in this endeavor. A partly restored Saehir will be able to hold many of them and will allow us to transition towards Bajor far more effectively than escorting all of the surviving ships alongside us."

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Last edited by Marcao on Tue Jun 11, 2013 7:50 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 8:08 pm 
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Alpha Quadrant
Independent Vessel Meh'Ta

"Hail confirmed. We are welcome at the bastard assemblage," Zarv Gleck reported. He pivoted in his chair, flipping switches.

Frank Shirazi rotated his chair to face the Tellarite. "Tell me you closed the channel before..."

"Yes, yes captain, I didn't insult our so-called allies," Gleck replied irritably.

"This time," M'Lara said. She rose from her station to lumber ponderously to Shirazi's side, the heavy tread of her metallic legs beating the steady rhythm known and dreaded by the crew. She was entirely capable of more limber, quiet movement, but only chose to do so when it suited her purposes. Bracing a hand on the arm of Shirazi's chair, she ascended the bottom step of the Klingon-style command throne (as Shirazi thought of it) and spoke more softly.

"Are you certain of this commitment?" she asked. "We do not possess a third of the firepower of most of the vessels here."

"We're a recon asset," Shirazi said quietly. "The only ship in the area mounting a phase cloak. We can contribute more in this fight than we can in patrolling the deeps."

She gave him a toothy grin, her mechanical eye irising to a narrower aperture as she spoke again. "With all your talk of 'submarine warfare' from your planet's history, I was wondering if you'd lost your spine after the last fight."

He snorted. "You should have read the texts I sent you. Sub operations were high aggression and high risk. We have a knife and we get one or two chances to plant it."

"I approve of that metaphor," Yhrea tr'Ledetham contributed from his station.

M'Lara pushed away from the command chair. "As usual, the Romulans listen in on everything," she snarled.

Yhrea smiled at her as he finished inputting a task into his console. "At least, esteemed lieutenant, we're all on the same side now."

M'Lara snorted at that as Shirazi rose from his seat. "Mr. Jefferson, you have the conn," he said to the helmsman. "We're going to meet the team."

"I earnestly hope they have at least some intelligence and cohesion, captain," Gleck offered.

"Don't we all," Shirazi said.

***

The ship's lone shuttle, the Sargon, was a patchwork job, rebuilt from a crashed Federation shuttle. The engine nacelles were mismatched salvage, one salvaged from a Vulcan yacht, the other from a Bajoran commerce shuttle. An extra strut had been affixed to the underside to balance the vessel for landing, and crude steps had been welded up the side. Shirazi sat at the conn and powered it up. It was a tricky ride, with the engines constantly competing to spin the vessel out, but in the right hands it could be surprisingly agile. In front of him was another weld-job, a patch of duranium to replace the shattered viewport. There was no eyeballing from the the Sargon, but that was fine. Shirazi pulled the visor rig over his eyes and tapped the button on the side. Now all the appropriate panels and sensors before him, and a complete view of the surroundings of the shuttle, along with pertinent displays he needed to fly.

It was much like his Meh'Ta- something that shouldn't work or even be here, but somehow still managed. He smiled and queried his passengers.

"All settled in?"

M'Lara and Yhrea gave their assents and he powered the engines.

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GIVE ME COFFEE AND I WILL ALLOW YOU TO LIVE!- Frigid
"Ork 'as no automatic code o' survival. 'is partic'lar distinction from all udda livin' gits is tha necessity ta act inna face o' alternatives by means o' dakka."
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2013 3:43 pm 
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Immortal Meeting Room
Official Meeting


When Anderson suggested laying matters aside to deal with the tender, Eoife's lip quirked slightly in annoyance. Putting off the questions of why the Immortal had started a firing war was not going to work. Even with the delay, Kirk could feel Capt Kaden's glare from when she first saw him. She had acknowledged him respectfully, but Anderson would not be able to hold off the heated discussion that was building.

She listened closely to Riov Cretak as he laid out the problems with the tender (the Saehir, Eoife reminded herself). When he finished speaking, she leaned forward. "We still have the large replicators on the Spector, which would merely need material and blueprints to create replacement parts. Again, this will take time. If you wish, I can get my engineers started on basic parts."

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