Proud Legion-Story

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Proud Legion-Story

Postby Tyyr » Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:05 am

Proud Legion
By: bsmart

Disclaimer: Rated R for the good stuff, you've been warned. I don't own Trek, but the people who do probably shouldn't either.

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Chapter 1: Centurion

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Memorandum

From: Office of the President of the United Federation of Planets

To: General Issue

Stardate: 56943.9 ##Tuesday Dec 11, 2379 13:00##

Re: Establishment of a Federation Defense Force; General Order 658213-A4

Effective as of Stardate 57419.2 ##Mon Jun 2, 2380 12:00## Starfleet will establish both an Explorer Corps and a Federation Defense Force under their auspices. All the exploration, scientific, and humanitarian duties of Starfleet will be the responsibility of the Explorer Corps. All border patrol, law enforcement, and security duties of Starfleet will be the responsibility of the Federation Defense Force. Starfleet Command shall make provision for this division of duties as well as establish appropriate chains of command and offices to ensure the administration of these divisions. The commanding officers of these divisions shall report directly to the Secretary of Starfleet. The Federation General Assembly shall revise and expand Starfleet's budget by 6% over the next five years to allow for the Explorer Corps to retain at least 90% of Starfleet's current budget while providing sufficient funds for the Federation Defense Force to raise, equip, and maintain a fleet of no less than 1200 combat vessels and auxiliaries.


United News, Stardate 57050.2 ##Jan 19, 2380 9:00##

Debate began in the Federation Council today over General Order 658213-A4 as senators from no less than eleven worlds, including the Vulcan contingent, but forth a bill to the Council formally protesting the order and questioning its legality. Debate over the bill lasted from the beginning of the day's session until 9:00 PM local time on Earth and is expected to resume first thing in the morning. A com interview with representatives of the Vulcan senator's office has likewise confirmed that another bill with the aim of blocking General Order 658213-A4 is currently being drafted.

United News, Stardate 57063.9 ##Jan 24, 2380 9:00##

A fifth day of debate of General Order 658213-A4 erupted after an announcement by the Federation Governmental Procedure Office that the order in no way represented a breach of procedure an was indeed a legal order. The written statement from the FGPO states "The President of the Federation is well within the bounds of his office as Chief of Starfleet to mandate a reorganization of Starfleet. Likewise he is also justified in this office to mandate new ship production goals and foci. Finally his requested increase in the annual budget for Starfleet operations by 6% per anum over the next five years falls well within the bounds of his office and the Appropriations Committee's authorization limit." This statement did not deter the anti-military faction as no less than five of the delegations opposing the General Order have already indicated that they intend to refer this matter to Federation Supreme Court.

United News, Stardate 57088.5 ##Feb 2, 2380 9:00##

In a stunning turn of events today the Federation Supreme Court released a unanimous decision that they will not accept the anti-military faction's petition regarding General Order 658213-A4 for consideration. While the anti-military faction has swelled to encompass delegations from one hundred and thirteen members that is still far short of the four hundred and eighty three votes needed for a simple majority to block the General Order. Likewise only two of the fifteen members of the Senior Budget Appropriations Committee and three of the eleven members of the Starfleet Budget Appropriations Committee are members of the anti-military faction. Amid the din of protesters outside her delegation's embassy Vulcan senator T'prin assured her supporters by com that the anti-military faction would continue to seek a resolution to this matter.

Taken from the Editorial Section of United News, Stardate 58008.8

This creation of a military faction of Starfleet, which now it appears will happen regardless of its dubious legality, is a repudiation of the core values that have guided Starfleet for the past two and a quarter centuries. The construction of this war fleet will only mark us a threat to the rest of the galaxy. How will our new allies respond to twelve hundred heavily armed warships being launched over the next five years? How will those we have peace treaties view this, on one hand we claim to desire peaceful coexistence, cooperation, and exploration while on the other we ready the forces of destruction. This fleet is being created out of fear, a fear that it will only feed on itself and magnify and project onto others until finally the fear returns to its creators. We can't give in to terror and reactionary armament, we won the Dominion War, we have defeated the Borg twice, Starfleet is capable of handling defensive duties and we can do it without becoming a lightning rod for hate.

Captain Marcus Fletcher, U.S.S. Lelander

Taken from the Editorial Section of United News, Stardate 58012.0 ##Mon Jan 5, 2381 14:00##

With all do respect to Captain Fletcher the core values of Starfleet are just that, the core values of Starfleet, they are in no way binding to anyone else in the Galaxy, something that has been proven time and time again. Within a decade of the foundation of the Federation we were at war with the Romulans, a few decades later it was the Klingons. Then the Borg came, all the way to Earth, then the Dominion and Cardassians decided to repudiate our ideals, and the Borg came again. History has proven time and time again that there will come species and empires and collectives who do not care if we espouse a peaceful philosophy or wish for cooperation, to them we are simply resources, or spare parts, or just in the way, and we must be ready for them. Starfleet has risen to the challenge time and time again to defend us from those who would destroy us but look at the cost. Billions died in the Dominion War, the fleet, even with legions of recommissioned ships, is at less than 30% strength; we lost more than nineteen thousand ships. This fleet isn't going to turn the Federation into an imperialistic power, the proposed fleet is barely more than five percent of new construction and it will still be under the direct control of the Federation council. All this is meant to do is allow the Federation a better chance to defend itself so that when the next Dominion shows up billions won't have to die.

Fleet Captain Timothy Hayes, Commander U.S.S. Typhoon

United News, Stardate 60743.5 ##Thursday Sep 29, 2383 10:00##

The newest battlecruiser of the recently formed Federation Defense Force, the Monsoon class U.S.S. Typhoon NCC-79853, is making final preparations for her commissioning ceremony to be held next week. Once she is accepted into the fleet the Typhoon will activate the newly minted Task Force 1 of the 17th Fleet and the FDF will begin its first official mission by sending the 1st of the 17th to patrol the Romulan border.

*******************************

"You don't look happy sir."

"Why would I Jo, I missed her first impulse test, her first warp test, her first weapons test, her acceptance trials and finally her commissioning ceremony. What in the hell do I have to be happy about?"

Johan Luhrner took a moment to look across the cockpit of the shuttle at his commanding officer, "You only missed a bunch of technical glitches and bad speeches by politicians. I wish I hadn't been there."

"Bullshit Jo, I would have killed to have been there for all that and there's no way you wouldn't have been."

"You're just not going to let me cheer you up are you Tim?"

"No. It's bad enough that they pull me off of her just after they laid the keel but then they make me stay an extra day just to debate some half-wit on a holovid and make me miss my ride out here?"

"The FDF hasn't been popular since it was created, they needed someone to help make the case for the Force and you fit the bill."

Timothy Hayes sank down a little into his seat as his already angry face got worse. "One article, one, and they drag me back to Earth."

"Yes, one well written refutation of the prevailing sentiment by a war hero, I can't imagine why they would deem you a worthy defender of the Force."

"Glad to see that dictionary I got you isn't going to waste."

"Five credit words sir," Jo said with a smirk. His console beeped. "Coming up on the outer doors."

The view out of the shuttle was truly incredible, beneath them the red and purple swirled ball of the gas giant Antares VI swirled away in eons old storms while above it the glimmering spire of Starbase 108 stood like an ornament of the gods. The wide mushroom head of the dark blue station gave way to a cylindrical base, and then another smaller, but thicker disk, another cylindrical section and finally a last ball before that tapered away to nothingness at the end. The gigantic construct was almost ten kilometers in diameter and nearly fifteen tall. All around the enormous station stretched out the feathery tendrils of the Antares ship yards but appearances were deceiving. Next to the titanic station there were few things that would appear to be substantial and the skeletal space docks and construction frameworks of the yards, while large enough to swallow Sovereign and even Titan class explorers whole, weren't among them. Even a casual sweep of the eyes revealed how truly gigantic the yards were. Dozens of ships of every size were encased in spider like gantries and nest like docks. Tim didn't have to look hard to count a half dozen Sovereigns a pair of Titans, a good dozen Akiras and a handful of Intrepids in various states of construction from barely recognizable space frames to partially plated hulls to ships that looked like they were only waiting for a champagne bottle to get under way.

"I really did miss this," he said in hushed wonder.

Jo nodded beside him, "I don't know how I'm gonna cope myself. It's just too bad that the Force yards are on the other side of VI-C."

"I'd love to get over there and have a look but Admiral Janeway wants us moving ASAP."

"How ASAP?"

"Yesterday ASAP."

Jo whistled in surprise as he deftly maneuvered the shuttle towards a docking bay near one of the sets of gigantic space doors on the upper rim of the Starbase.

"How quickly can the ship be ready?" Tim asked.

"The ship was just tied up for supply transfer and we should get loading underway in an hour or two when first watch starts." Tim practically see the gears turning in Jo's head as he started to calculate man power requirements and shifts, he was one of the best managers, and therefore best first officers, that Tim had ever worked with and when he had received this assignment there had been no one else he wanted as his first officer. Sadly this would probably be their last cruise together since he'd be putting Jo in for a promotion to captain when it was over. "We're loading dry though, we're going to have to load everything, fuel, weapons, consumables, supplies, spares, everything. Five days at least, maybe three if we pull everyone off of everything and get them loading along with priority for supplies from the base and maybe a little extra help on their end."

"What about the crew?"

"Ninety nine percent; there are a few more stragglers like you but we've got full watches otherwise. It's mostly officers though, taking their sweet time getting here."

"Good, don't put everyone on loading detail but I want to be out of here as soon as possible, we're rendezvousing with the rest of the task force at Deep Space Three and I'd prefer not to keep them waiting."

The shuttle glided easily into the docking bay but didn't set down, they cruised past dozens of shuttles sitting in repair and loading bays as they passed down the hundred and fifty meter bay towards the entrance into the bases' core. A slight tug at the shuttle was the only clue that they were back in vacuum as they passed through the second containment field of the bay.

The interior of the starbase was one of the largest enclosed volumes known to man if you threw out the occasional Dyson sphere. Once you were inside the hundred and fifty meter thick outer hull of the upper section the only other part of the station that intruded into the space was the kilometer thick central column that stretched from the floor to the curved ceiling of the space. It was hard to imagine that such a titanic volume could exist and your mind wanted to reject it, or shrink it, but it couldn't. Throughout the interior of the main docking bay docking arms and umbilicals reached out from the central spire and from the exterior walls like hairs and hundreds of starships clung to them, stacked in side by side and one on top of another they filled the interior but there were still as many unoccupied slips as there were occupied. Child-like wonder began to creep into Tim's consciousness only to be displaced by gloom as he got a closer look at many of the ships.

"It's not a pleasant sight," Jo said.

"There weren't anywhere near this many ships here when I left."

"No, we didn't really see the big rush until a few months after you left. I think Starfleet expected to be able to carry out most of the ship repairs out in the field but most of those frontline starbases can only handle a dozen major repairs at a time and there are thousands of ships that need work. It took them almost two years to get everything straightened out and moving."

The area around the space doors was relatively clear of ships and traffic and their shuttle was able to make good time as they passed by the ships moored to the outer wall and into the lane between those ships and the ones moored to the central column that encircled it. "How did some of these ships even make it here?"

"Tows mostly, though some of them weren't this bad when they got here. See that Nebula?"

Tim followed Jo's finger out the side view port to a Nebula class starship that was missing both of her nacelles, her weapons pod and huge sections of its hull. It was all too easy to imagine that as his old ship and he winced at the thought. "Yeah?"

"They've been ripping her apart for spares since she got here."

"What about that Oberth?" Tim said gesturing towards a small battered ship moored to the floor of the bay.

"We got her that way."

"Ouch."

"Yeah but you wouldn't know it from talking to the crew, they say 'Yeah, but you should see the other guy.'"

"That little science ship?"

"Yep, a pair of Jem'Hadar fighters got stranded behind the lines and stumbled onto a civie transport. They started screaming for help but it was behind the lines, there weren't any starships in range..."

"Except for that one?

"Exactly; that little bastard goes charging in and kicks the crap out of both of them, saved the transport and fifteen hundred refugees."

"Two Jem'Hadar fighters versus that thing, it was outgunned what, five to one?"

"More like seven or eight, she only had five torpedoes left."

"Wow."

"She refused a tug, escorted the transport all the way to Risa then made it all the way back here, where, I swear I'm not lying, her core crashed just as soon as the mooring clamps grabbed a hold of her. The crew got the Medal of Valor and the ship and the captain got a Medal of Honor."

"So what's gonna happen to her?"

"Dunno, Starfleet command is trying to decide whether to scrap her or turn her into a museum. The crew is lobbying to have her preserved as is and turned into a monument."

"Sounds like a good plan, she's too small to really make a difference scrapped anyways. What about the crew?"

"Transferred to one of the new Hussars, they'll be part of Task Force Two. Oh, here we go, coming up on slip five twenty four."

The mention of slip five twenty four ended any further attempts at conversation, for the first time since her keel had been laid Timothy was going to be able to see his ship in person, he'd kept up on the reports and logs of her construction but there was nothing like seeing it with your own eyes. It had killed him not to be present when she had been commissioned and it made his longing to see his ship for himself even stronger. Timothy ignored the chatter between his friend, the spacedock harbor master and ship ops, straining to catch the first identifiable glimpse of his command and desperately restraining himself from leaning against the window like a child trying to get those last few degrees into their field of vision.

"There she is," Jo said cheerfully as the rim of the saucer section hove into view from behind a docked New Orleans. Their approach from the low starboard forward quarter gave Timothy an almost perfect view of his ship.

The rush to produce a war fleet for the Federation hadn't left a lot of time to create all new designs from the keel up and as a result several well proven designs were modified to create warship variants, though the variants were so different from their ancestors that new class names were given to them all. The small Novas had been gutted of their science labs and been completely overhauled to produce the Hussar corvettes, that while not as deadly as the similarly sized Defiants, also put into full scale production, they were far more livable for long duration cruises. The quad nacelled Cheyennes had been given the most extensive external refit with a large extension of their aft saucers that gave them a look like a much more graceful Constellation to provide the Garret class frigate for the fleet. The Akira's had the simplest transformation, losing a large portion of their shuttle bays in addition to their scientific and diplomatic facilities in their transformation to the Paladin class destroyers. The modularity of the internals of the Nebulas had proven to be an asset when two of their production lines were co-opted by the FDF to produce the Wolf 359 class cruisers. Finally came the largest of the ships, the battlecruisers. Initially the Sovereign class had been pegged for a transformation to an even more potent ship of the line but there were only two production lines, one at Utopia Planitia and one here at Antares, and both were in full swing. To stop a line, convert it to production of a modified class, and start it up would deprive Starfleet of at least five of the fine ships before production of the battlecruisers could even begin production. Instead the FDF turned it's eye to the new Titan class explorers, the initial production run was already underway leading to thunderous praise for the class and a second production line was just being constructed at the Antares fleet yards that could be converted to produce an uprated combat vessel with no delay, though the Explorer Corps demanded the FDF pay for the construction of a new second production line for the Titans. After a minimal amount of inter service squabbling the FDF had a production line for its Monsoon class battlecruisers.

At first glance the Titan/Monsoon's lines appeared to be derived from the Sovereign's design but that was actually a reversal of reality. The Titan had been on the drawing boards from the day the first Galaxy class ship was commissioned as an eventual successor to those graceful ships; larger and faster than the Galaxies the Titan's would be the next great explorers of Starfleet. The Sovereigns had been the product of a long term hypothetical design project for a warship that could be quickly fielded should a threat present itself, and during the 2365 design update, the update that was eventually fielded, it was decided to make use of the more advanced warp geometries being studied for the Titan but on a slightly smaller scale. Because of the necessity to fit the ship into the warp field being calculated the hull forms of the ships, and eventually the Monsoons, were very similar.

Timothy knew all of this but his breath still caught in his throat as he looked upon his ship for the first time. At nine hundred and forty two meters in length she was the largest ship in the fleet, positively dwarfing the Excelsior and Norway docked near her. Her great elliptical saucer melted into the thick sturdy engineering hull while a pair of warp nacelles arched gracefully upwards and back from the hull. Just like her sister and cousin ships the Titans and the Sovereigns she looked like she was doing warp five even when she was tied up, but unlike her relatives there was a subtle menace to the ship. Her hull was darker than her sisters, a gunmetal gray rather than the soft haze that covered the Explorer Corps ship's, she didn't have as many windows lighting her flanks, unnecessary chinks in the armor for a warship. Phaser arrays followed the curves of her hull and dozens of torpedo tube muzzles poked their heads out from under the thick ablative armor of the ship. To anyone familiar with Starfleet ships she was obviously a warship, never meant to explore strange new worlds, only to protect those that did. Timothy loved her at first sight. "My god she's beautiful."

"I agree, but uh, you might want to be careful who you say that around."

"Not here too."

"They're everywhere."

"I just spent two years dealing with these people, why the hell can't I seem to get away from them?"

"Guess you're just popular like that boss. Docking Bay 52-C this is Commander Johan Luhrner requesting clearance to land."

Tim left his First Officer to his job, it was a little strange for a Commander to make a shuttle run to pick up someone, even the captain, but he knew Jo enough to know that he wouldn't have let anyone else do it. The shuttle glided smoothly up over the top of the saucer section and Tim got his first look at the long row of umbilicals connecting the ship's spine to the station, providing power, consumables and only an engineer knew what else. As they finally moved from the starboard side of the ship to the port the small docking bay they were headed to in the central spire was revealed, with the ship connected to the loading umbilicals its primary shuttle bay was obstructed and the secondary bay at the rear of the engineering hull that had been in the Titan class had been eliminated for the Monsoons. The shuttle passed easily through the containment field and set down in an empty slot with nary a bump.

"You know if you're this good with a shuttle it makes me wonder if you've been neglecting the rest of your duties."

"With all do respect, go to hell sir," Johan said as he shut the shuttle down.

"It's a good thing you said 'With all do respect,' if you hadn't you'd be looking at a court martial."

Johan shook his head, "Another tour with you, what did I do to deserve this?"

Tim chuckled as he collected his bags. "You were born Jo, you were born."

"Just leave those; I'll have them sent over to your quarters on the ship along with the rest of your stuff when it arrives."

"Alright then, let's go."

The two Starfleet officers left their shuttle and checked it back in to the Starbase after leaving orders with the Bolian deck officer to have everything transferred to the ship. They wasted no time in making their way to slip five twenty four; the halls were almost empty, first watch wasn't set to start for another three hours and the only crews that worked through the nights were assigned to repairs on damaged ships, which is why it was such a surprise to find Admiral Cox, commander of the entire base, waiting for them at the entrance of the slip.

"Admiral," Timothy said as his hand snapped up into a salute a half second behind Jo's.

Cox's hand sluggishly came up in a sad parody of their honorific. "I'm not FDF, no need for that."

"All the same sir, that's the way we do it," Timothy replied. "You seem to be up rather early."

"Not by choice, I got a call from Admiral Janeway, it appears you're going to have some visitors in short order, I felt it might be best to tell you in person."

"What type of visitors sir?" Timothy asked warily.

"A delegation of the old anti-FDF league including Senator T'prin and a gaggle of media types, they'll be arriving this afternoon."

"Oh for the love of "

"I understand that you and Senator T'prin have a bit of a history, that's why I thought I should tell you in person, though I imagine that Admiral Janeway will be contacting you shortly."

"Yes sir. We've been on opposites sides of the FDF debate since the General Order was drafted, she doesn't hold us in any kind of esteem."

"I've seen some of your articles, and hers, I think that was some of the most polite hate I've ever seen penned."

"Thank you sir."

Admiral Cox smiled, deepening the wrinkles on his face. "Unless there's anything else there's a pile of paperwork that never gets any shorter on my desk, I might as well get to it early today."

"Actually sir, we've got orders to get underway ASAP, any assistance the starbase could provide would be appreciated."

"Well you've already got first priority on supplies but I'll see what I can do to get a few extra cargo handling crews assigned to you."

"Thank you sir."

"I won't hold you up any longer, I'm sure you're ready to get to your ship."

"Thank you sir, good day sir."

The admiral nodded and headed for a near by turbolift.

"Well this will be fun," Jo said as they turned and started down the slipway. "I take it you don't like the Senator much?"

"Actually I admire her, most of the people I had to deal with while defending the FDF were less than brilliant, but T'prin was actually a worthy adversary, the media, well, why don't we see if we can give them a tour of an airlock, the outside of it."

"I'll see what I can do sir."

*********************************

"With all do respect ma'am..."

Admiral Janeway held up her hand. "Just stop right there Tim, nothing that has ever followed that sentence has been respectful."

Timothy was not going to be denied, "Ma'am I'm trying to get my ship underway, I don't have time to be babysitting tourists."

Back on Earth Katherine frowned at the image on her viewer, Timothy Hayes often reminded her of another willful blonde she had been forced to deal with in the past, but he didn't have the excuse of being a former drone. "Captain, the FDF is still not popular with a lot of people in the Federation and we need to take every opportunity we can get to try to improve that."

"Ma'am senator T'prin is not going to change her opinion of the FDF just because some ensign takes her on a tour."

"No, but some ensign isn't going to take her on a tour, you are; and then you're going to make sure that she's comfortable since she's going on your first deployment with you."

"Ma'am?!"

"Tim you heard me, this wasn't my idea but just like you I have my orders. The senator and her aide along with a reporter from United News will be accompanying you on your deployment, you will extend them every courtesy befitting a member of the council and you will treat the reporter with respect, do you understand me?"

"Yes ma'am."

"They won't be on board for the duration but expect to have them around at least until DS three. This was dumped on me at the last minute too but this is important Tim, I trust you can understand that."

"Yes ma'am, perfectly ma'am."

Katherine smiled to try to improve Timothy's outlook on the situation. "This is your own fault Tim, if you hadn't come rushing to the FDF's defense like some knight on a white horse you might not have gotten stuck with this."

"In the future I'll be sure to keep my mouth shut."

Katherine's smile was genuine now. "We both know you couldn't keep your mouth shut if your life depended on it."

Tim grinned a little as he replied, "Probably not ma'am."

"Good luck Captain."

"Thank you Admiral, I'll let you know as soon as we're underway."

Katherine closed out the comm connection and sank back into her overstuffed office chair; there were days where she almost missed the Delta quadrant.

***********************

"I've been on this ship for three hours and she expects me to give a tour?"

Across the ready room on the couch under the window Jo shrugged. "You know this ship inside and out, you'll do fine."

"I know the holo-engineering version of this ship inside and out."

"Those were the plans she was built from, all the changes we made out here were put into those plans."

"I just know I'm going to turn a corner expecting to get into a turbo lift and walk right into the enlisted women's gym shower."

"I still do that all the time and I've been here for three years."

"Yeah about that..."

Jo raised his hands defensively. "Joking, joking. Look at it this way, all we're doing is cargo loading right now; the only thing you'd be doing is wandering the ship or reading reports. This'll be good for you."

"Those reports need to be read..."

"And you'll have a long boring year patrolling the border to read them."

"Fine, the senator and company will need quarters assigned along with replicator rations and holodeck time. They'll probably both need access to the comms as well."

"Monitored access?"

"Not for the senator but definitely for the reporter."

"What a world we live in, where politicians are trusted and reporters aren't."

"Get to work Jo."

"Aye aye captain."

***********************

Timothy watched as the last of the reporters filed out of the turbo lift and into the larger foyer area for slip five twenty four and tried not to fidget. He was acutely aware of stares of the dozen members of the press and the small holo-corders most of them wore. Even though he'd spent a good portion of the last three years in front of similar groups the seeming dishonesty of trying to hide a holo-corder in lapel pin still bugged him, he much preferred the few reporters who still used one of the old style halos or shoulder cams. The real source of his discomfort was standing serenely in front of the reporters, seeming even more unflappable than the rest of her species with nary a strand of her severely cut short coal black hair out of place, T'prin waited patiently for the tour to begin.

Tim gave the bottom of his uniform jacket a tug to straighten it out and got the dreaded tour underway. "That looks like everyone. Just in case no one's done it yet I'd like to welcome you all to Starbase one oh eight specifically slip five twenty four. My name is Fleet Captain Timothy Hayes, captain of the Typhoon and commanding officer of the seventeenth fleet's task force one. I'll be giving you a look at the newest ship of the Federation Defense Force and hopefully answering any questions you might have." A dozen hands shot up as one. "Though for the duration of the tour they will need to be confined to the ship." Every one of the hands dropped down. "Senator T'prin, with your leave?"

The Vulcan senator just inclined her head a fraction of an inch.

"Then let's get started, follow me please." Tim turned around and made his way to the slip, the heavy pressure doors that could seal it off from the rest of the base sliding quietly out of the way as he began to walk down the long corridor. "We're going to take the long way today instead of a turbolift so that you all can have a good close look at the ship. The Typhoon is a Monsoon class battlecruiser which are significant modifications of the Titan class explorers, which she edges out in terms of shear size by a few meters in length and about three million metric tons in displacement. Actually modification doesn't really convey the extent of the changes as you'll soon see."

Tim made a sweeping gesture to include the entirety of the slip including the curved transparent ceiling and the magnificent view of the spacedock and the Typhoon it afforded. "What we're walking down is actually only part of the slip; this is just the access way which is built on top of the docking clamps. The corridor is ten meters wide and over a twelve hundred long, it's made that long so that the spacedock could accommodate ships far larger than those in service today." He pointed out the windows to his left to the great dark gray form of the ship looming over them. "As you can see even the Typhoon doesn't take up the entire slip and standard procedure would be to dock two ships along each side of the slip although the Typhoon has this slip all to herself. Below us runs a pair of turbolift channels along with a cargo transfer port and below those is the primary beam that holds the clamps."

"You mean the ship isn't tractored in place?" a voice from the back of the group asked.

Timothy answered without breaking stride; it was a long walk to the gangway. "No, there's no point really, tractor beams are power intensive and interfere with movement around the ship, and you can imagine what would happen to a Work Bee if it ran into a tractor beam holding an entire starship in place. Clamps are free and don't cause those problems."

"Thank you."

"No problem. If you'll look up you'll see the service boom, it contains all the umbilicals that connect the ship's systems to the spacedock. At the moment we're loading slush tritium along with all manner of consumables and there's a similar service boom below the ship that will load anti-matter before we set out."

"Why is the ship as dark as it is?" Senator T'prin's aide asked.

"Several reasons actually, first is the half meter of ablative armor that covers the ship, its anti-reflective and dampening properties give it the dark grey color which we saw no reason to paint over and second there aren't nearly as many exterior viewports on this ship as on a typical explorer."

"There seem to be an awful lot of phaser arrays," another reporter said.

"You're right, the refitted Sovereign class ships have sixteen phaser arrays, and we have fifty four."

"Why so many?"

"There's a finite limit to the amount of energy you can put through even a type twelve array and that limit is far below the power output of a warp core, much less three like we have. So extra phaser arrays were added and rather than an array that runs the perimeter of the saucer section we break it up into four arrays to allow us to engage more targets and put more total energy through our arrays."

They were passing the back end of the nacelle strut and a different reporter asked, "You mentioned three warp cores, why three?"

"An explorer type ship like a Galaxy or Titan has different goals in their design than a warship like a Monsoon. When they design one of those ships they decide on a field geometry, design coils to produce it, calculate the inefficiency of the coils and then using that they size a warp core so that it will produce a sufficient amount of power to reach the desired cruise speed. Since the warp engines are the most power intensive part of the ship if the core can keep them happy then the rest of the ship is fine. In a warship like the Monsoon we'll accept the inefficiency of the coils and will achieve higher speeds by simply dumping more power into the coils, it's a brute force approach to improving warp speeds, and highly inefficient, but this is a warship, speed and power trump fuel economy and component life in an emergency. At a flat out run we can dash at about twice the top speed of a Sovereign but we're burning fuel more than five times as fast. Also our shield generators are powerful enough that they actually rival the warp engines for energy consumption, to keep them fully supplied and the warp engines functional we needed more power."

"What is the top speed of the ship?"

"That's classified, but I can say that we can comfortably cruise at warp nine point nine plus."

"Just how strong are the ship's shields?"

"Again the exact number is classified but it's well above twenty million terrajoules."

"How many torpedo launchers are on board?"

"Eighteen, all quantum." Tim didn't let the smile he felt appear on his face but he did enjoy getting to brag about his ship. "As you can see we're coming up on the gangway that connects to the engineering hull and another member of the crew is waiting for us. If you'll all give her your attention we'll get through this little briefing quickly and board the ship."

"Good afternoon," the brown haired lieutenant beamed, "My name is Lieutenant Bell and there are a few things we need to go over before boarding the Typhoon..."

Tim ignored the briefing, the gist of it was simply keep your hands to yourself and don't do anything stupid, things he figured that only reporters would need to be reminded of, and still probably ignore. Instead he turned to the one member of the tour party who didn't need the briefing. "Senator, it's good to see you again."

"It is good to see you as well Captain."

"I have to confess, I wouldn't have expected you to be accompanying us, you always seemed to...disapprove of the FDF."

"My position has not changed Captain and neither has your capacity for understatement. Even though I do disapprove of your service that is no reason to be ignorant of it; I believe that this voyage will be most enlightening."

"Wise as ever Senator, I must caution you though, it's a four week voyage to Deep Space Three."

"I am aware of this, and I have taken an extended leave of absence from the council, I expect that I shall be with you for several months."

"And the reporter accompanying you?"

T'prin pointed out a blonde haired woman standing close to the lieutenant. "She is the one who will be accompanying us, though I don't know how long she will stay."

"Is she with you?"

"As for your unstated question captain no, I did not invite her. When she learned of my trip she requested to travel with me. She is interested in my mission but I believe she is also interested in the story of your newly created task force."

"I see, well if you'll pardon me Senator it looks like the lieutenant is almost finished."

"Of course, I will speak to you later."

Tim again straightened his jacket as he took the lieutenant's place in front of the gaggle of reporters. "Well then, now that that's out of the way lets get started." T'prin resumed her place at the front of the group while the lieutenant took her place at the rear of the group while Tim led them down the gangway towards the ship. "The Typhoon is nine hundred and forty two meters from stem to stern and grosses just north of twelve million metric tons, she, along with her sister ships are the largest ships in Starfleet and outside of commercial super carriers they're the largest ships in the Federation period. Eleven hundred and fifty people will call the Typhoon home whenever she deploys which can be for as long as three years, and contrary to popular belief the habitability standards set by the Galaxies and Titans are equaled in the Monsoons. The biggest difference between the Monsoons and the Titans is that the majority of the science labs and research spaces of the Titan's, along with family quarters, have been removed to increase things like fuel storage, added shield generators and of course, weapons. We've retained a handful of labs and our holo-cores have the necessary blueprints to replicate most any other if the need arises. And now ladies and gentleman, welcome to the U.S.S. Typhoon."

Tim stepped through the hatchway and waited for the crewman on duty to fire off a salute and then bring his pipe to his lips. "U.S.S. Typhoon, arriving!" was followed by the same three notes that had greeted every captain since the days of sail. "At ease crewman, just got a tour group here."

"Aye sir."

"If you'll follow me we'll start our tour with the metaphorical heart of the ship, the engine room."

****************

Tim stood at the back of the group of and let his chief engineer show the group around her humming domain. Terzi Dels wasn't big for an Elysian, which meant she was absolutely tiny when compared to most of the crew, but behind her big blue eyes and pale skin waited an intellect so overpowering that you forgot she was a meter and a half tall and started to feel insignificant beside her. The support frame that allowed her to work in what otherwise would have been crippling gravity for a member of her species was perfectly silent in its operation, with only the silver shoulder plate peeking out from under her uniform tunic to give its presence away. She led the group of confused journalists, the senator and her aide, up onto and across one of the catwalks that stretched over the tops of the warp cores and gave access to their reaction chambers. The three cold warp cores ran from fore and aft on the ship beside each other. Horizontal warp cores weren't uncommon, but they were uncommon on a ship this large.

Terzi pointed to her silent charges. "As you can see we laid the cores down on their sides, this puts more of the ship between the matter and anti-matter injectors which makes the ship's design more damage resistant. Three cores means more work for me and my crew but it means we've got better than triple the power reserves of a Titan. We can run any combination of cores we want to from just a single core to all three at once." Then she started to unload another rapid-fire barrage of facts and figures into her captive audience. Tim doubted she would spill any classified information but even if she did no one would be able to separate it from the morass of data she was throwing at them. Tim chuckled to himself as a few of the journalists actually tried to take notes but were utterly incapable of keeping up with her as she bounced from subject to subject in rapturous glee as she got to show off her babies. A few more minutes of indecipherable engineer-speak passed before she handed the group off to one of her junior engineers and made her way towards the console he was standing by. Most of the group seemed relieved to have relatively slow talking Andorian leading them, except T'prin, "She probably caught it all," he muttered to himself.

"Are we having fun yet sir?"

"Did you enjoy confusing the hell out of those poor people?"

Terzi smiled impishly. "I don't know what you're talking about sir."

"I've seen you explain warp field theory to a three year old so that they could understand it, you blew them away on purpose."

"Maybe a little sir."

"How long will it take to get the ship under its own power?"

The smile disappeared from Terzi's face as she shifted back into engineer mode. "Well if you want we can be to full power in fifteen minutes if we pull an emergency start, it'll shave about five years off the life of the cores though."

"Not an emergency, just a haul ass within the limits."

"Three hours from your go to get one of the cores up so we can be underway, another hour more and the other two will be ready to run sir."

"Good."

"Sir, if it's all the same to you I'd like to run on three cores for the trip to the border, let all the cores get broken in good and get all the parts bedded properly."

"You're the engineer Terzi, that's your call."

"Thank you sir. Is it true that T'prin's going to be riding along with us?"

"How'd you hear that?"

"A little ssylis told me."

"I'm going to have Jo plucked."

"Is she sir?"

"Yes she is, she'll be tagging along all the way to the border and probably even after that."

"You don't seem happy about that sir."

"Not particularly, now if you'll excuse me I think it's time for me to play tour guide again."

"Have fun sir."

***********************

"And here we are at the end of our tour, the bridge, the brain of the ship, if you will." It was strange how the formerly spacious bridge felt claustrophobic with so many people on it who shouldn't be there. "As you can see we're running a skeleton crew right now, we don't need many people on the bridge while we're tied up in spacedock." Tim took a step down into the command pit and stood in front of his chair with his back to the viewer and its image of the workbees scurrying back and forth in front of the ship. He turned around to face his charges and was relieved to see that none of them were touching anything. "Up here port, that's left when you're facing the bow, forward we have the ops area. During normal running only one of those four seats is filled. Port aft, behind you, is the engineering section, only the big console there facing forward is usually manned, we can actually run the ship for more than two weeks with no one in engineering from up here. Center aft is tactical and up here on the railing behind my chair is where the gunners sit. Unless we're in combat only tactical is manned, typically. Starboard aft is damage control, they run our shields, electronic countermeasures, point defense weapons, internal security etcetera. Starboard forward over here on my left is the sensors station, just like ops we can have up to four people up here but typically only one station is manned." He paused to catch his breath and then tapped his chair, "As you may have already guessed this is where I sit, with the first officer on my right and an open spot here on my left for whoever might need it. Finally right in front of the view screen is the helm and navigation, port and starboard respectively."

This time it was T'prin who had a question, "There appears to be more bridge stations than is typical in a starship, even one of the Typhoon's size."

"And you're correct ma'am; there are twenty eight stations on the bridge."

"Why is that?"

Tim was certain she already knew the answer, maybe she was just asking him the obvious before on the reporters got to it. "Division of responsibilities ma'am. On a Galaxy a single officer is responsible for all tactical systems on the ship, twelve or fourteen phaser arrays, depending on the mark, a pair of torpedo launchers, the shields, and all damage control. Since the Galaxies aren't intended to be warships and to only rarely engage in direct combat that's sufficient, however the Typhoon's purpose is combat, and her tactical systems are far more numerous. With seventy two phaser arrays, twenty four torpedo launchers, and three shield grids a single tactical officer would be overwhelmed, so we spilt things up. The tactical officer hands off targeting assignments to the individual gunners who are either given a zone to protect or to go ship to ship. This allows us to effectively target many more enemy vessels than we would otherwise. Also the damage control functions and defense systems have been handed off to a separate defensive systems officer. By reducing the number of simultaneous tasks that each member of the bridge crew has to cope with we allow them to do the tasks they are assigned much more effectively. The new Titans have a maximum bridge crew of eighteen, we have a maximum of twenty eight, but neither of us are going to normally be anywhere near that, we only average twelve crewman on the bridge outside of combat, and only six while cruising at warp in friendly territory."

"Thank you."

"Any other questions about the ship?" There were none. "Any questions in general?" Tim had been expecting this; most of the reporters probably weren't really here for the ship as much for another round of questions about the FDF. "Alright, you in the back in the red shirt."

*****************

Watching the turbolift doors close on the last of the reporters was like having a five ton weight taken off his chest, but there was still another one there. T'prin and her aide, a young Vulcan male, though for a his species that might mean he was fifty, along with the blonde reporter were still there on the upper deck waiting patiently for him to make the next move. "I know the Senator's name quite well but I'm afraid I don't know either of you," Tim said while looking at the reporter and T'prin's aide in turn.

"I am Solin, Senator T'prin's aide," the tall Vulcan replied, though in typical Vulcan fashion he didn't offer anything more. Unlike T'prin's voluminous blue robes that covered her from neck to feet Solin was wearing a simple gray jump suit and jacket and when he stood still the natural reaction was to stop looking at him, to let him blend in, something that made Tim wary of him.

"Bella Mavil United News," the reporter replied and for the first time Tim really looked at her, she was tall, maybe four or five centimeters short of his hundred and eighty five centimeters, and very attractive. He noticed because her red low cut top and black pants did nothing to hide it and everything to accentuate it. Her curly blonde hair framed her face nicely making her look quite young, like she'd just graduated journalism school, and the subtle extra point to her ears and hint of oriental narrowing of her eyes hinted at an ancestry that wasn't entirely human.

Warning bells started to scream in Tim's head, he'd had more experience with newsnet types in the last two years than he cared to and everything about this woman's appearance broadcast an attempt to disarm her subjects by appearing to be young and innocent, 'So she can eat you alive later,' Tim mused.

"Captain if you have a minute I'd like to..."

"At the moment Ms. Mavil..."

"Bella, please."

"At the moment I don't have a minute, but we're going to be in spacedock for..."

"I need to file a story "

Tim kept his burgeoning frown in check. "...three more days, I have a few things to take care of..."

"I need to file today..."

"...and then we can talk, later." The last word came out hard and final, Tim knew he was scowling but he didn't care. This was the bridge of his ship, HIS ship; the only person who outranked him here was God himself, and even then only in emergencies. The absolute unmitigated gall of this little tart to interrupt him on HIS bridge. "Right now I need to show the Senator and you to your quarters so that you can get your gear stowed away, after that we can discuss a time for your story." Not really the best foot to get off on but he needed to make it clear who was in charge here, he'd met too many reporters who thought that because their face was in front of a camera they could do as they pleased and he needed to set boundaries right away. Before Bella could protest his abruptness he turned to the console beside his command chair and thumbed the comms. "Lieutenant Bell."

The public affairs officer's voice came through crystal clear on the bridge speakers. "Yes sir?"

"When you're done with our guests please meet me at the quarters assigned to Ms. Mavil."

"Aye sir, I just put the last of them on the gangway."

Tim shut the comm system down and plucked his PADD from its recharging slot on the arm of the console pausing to make sure that it had the info he needed. "If you will follow me I'll show you all to your quarters.

T'prin and Solin simply nodded but Bella positively fumed at the way she'd been dismissed. She tried to cover it up but failed and Tim mentally kicked himself for pissing her off before they had even left spacedock.

********************

"So that's the captain?" Harry said looking up from his Ops console.

"That'sss him." His scaly red companion answered.

"You were with him on the Atlas?"

Riway bobbed her head; the small red scales that dotted her mostly human face and grew more common as you approached her collar shimmered in the light of the bridge and the glow of her console. "Yesss, from time he took command." Her sharp nailed fingers pecked at her console as she monitored the loading of one of the cargo bays.

"All through the war?"

"Isssh what I sssaid."

"I heard you did alright," he said, making conversation with his Si'rak subordinate hadn't been easy so far but she was the highest ranking member of his team so he kept after it.

"We fair well. Many Domeenion die by hour clawsss."

"I heard you did better than well."

"Three Breen frigatsss, five Breen cruisersss, four Hideki, twelve Galorsss, hheight Kheldon, thirty one Jeem'Hadar attack ssships, seex battlecroosiers, and two battlesssheeps," she said as her lips curled up in a smile that exposed a pair of gleaming white and elongated incisors.

"That's a little better than well," Harry said duly impressed. He had done some research on his new commander and his former ship but he hadn't heard the total count until just now. "All that in a Nebula?"

"Uprated, weeponsss pod."

"Still..."

"We do our dutee, nho more, nho lessss."

"Starfleet didn't seem to think so, the Medal of Valor for the whole ship and the Medal of Honor for the captain."

Riway shrugged. "Fhhight or die, thossse optionsss, we nho die, sssame asss everyone elssse," she said as she brushed a strand of her short green hair out of her face.

Harry never thought that he'd been lucky to be stuck in the Delta quadrant until he'd heard about the Dominion War. He felt a touch of survivor's guilt that he hadn't been there for the war, but also a little relief. "Are you looking forward to getting back out into space?"

"Yesss, ssspend thoo much time in ssspace dhock, thoo many peoplesss."

Harry didn't comment on the fact that they'd be sharing the ship with twelve hundred other people but he knew that Si'rak were mildly empathic and that they rarely had settlements larger than five thousand people on their homeworld. Apparently they found a certain amount of background mental buzz from those around them agreeable but too many people and the buzz became a roar. Spacedock with its millions of people must be almost unbearable for her. "I'm looking forward to it too. I got used to waking up to new stars every morning on Voyager, being cooped up at Starfleet command and then Spacedock for three years has just about driven me crazy."

"I have heard leettle of Voyager'sss time in Delta, what deed yhou dooo?"

Harry's cherubic face positively beamed when Riway finally seemed to join a conversation. "Have I ever told you about the time I was infected with a deadly virus by Borg killing creatures from fluidic space?"

********************
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Tyyr
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Re: Proud Legion Chapter 1 Cont.

Postby Tyyr » Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:07 am

********************

The turbolift ride was mercifully short and Tim didn't have to look at her as they traveled, but he could still feel the two spots on the back of his head where the reporters eye's were trying to bore straight through his skull. He was going to have to find a way to mollify her quickly or every story she was going to file in the next four weeks might reflect badly on the Typhoon and the FDF in general.

"Deck four section one," the sure feminine voice of the ship's computer announced as the lift's doors slid open with a whoosh and Tim stepped out into the corridor.

"The colors are a little more threatening than they were on the last ship," Bella observed as they walked.

"Starfleet's always trying out new color schemes, trying to see what works best," he explained, he supposed that the colors were a little harsher than might be normal for a ship of the Typhoon's vintage, the tans and browns that were the used in the Sovereigns and Titans had been used in the Monsoons but he could see how the steel colored panels at the top and bottoms of the walls might add a little hostility to the look; and then the solution hit him. "Although the steel colored panels at the top and bottom of the walls had to be that color."

"Why is that," Solin asked flatly.

"Because they're actually holo-emitters."

"Why didn't you mention that on the tour," Bella asked suspiciously.

"Well thanks to the commercialization of the technology, holo-decks have a bit of a sordid reputation in some areas. Finding out that every space in the ship had holo-emitters might not sit well with some people, and the rest of the group was just stopping by so they got the five cent tour, since the Senator and you will be with us for a while you get to see some things they don't."

"Why is that, I thought you said on the tour that the ship had holo-decks, why would you need the whole ship to be one?" Bella asked.

"Not for recreation I assure you," he said. "Actually let's stop here for a moment." He tapped the glossy black computer console that ran the length of the hallway at shoulder level. "Computer, activate the emergency triage, standard maintenance, and internal security holo-programs, all in standby mode."

"Affirmative."

Three utterly nondescript individuals materialized in the middle of the hallway. On the left was a female human nurse in a typical uniform, in the middle was a totally forgettable human male in a Starfleet engineering uniform and on the right was a burly, but plain, security officer in light combat armor.

Tim pointed to each hologram in turn and said, "I'd like to introduce you to Alice, Mike, and Bob. Sorry if they don't greet you back, they're a little lacking in the social graces."

"Interesting captain, what are these programs for?" T'prin asked.

"Well as their names suggest Alice is an emergency nurse, Mike is a maintenance program, and Bob is for security. In Alice's case she can be summoned instantly anywhere someone needs medical attention to stabilize them until a medical team arrives or they can be transferred to sickbay. Mike handles simple things like routine maintenance rather then tying up valuable personnel on simple or repetitive tasks; he also can be used to help repair battle damage as long as the holoemitters still work in an area. Bob is used for internal security to augment the internal shielding and weapons. Any of them can be used anywhere at anytime. It reduces response time to emergencies and in Mike and Bob's cases it reduces the risk to personnel, there will still be a need for humans obviously as these three aren't actually self aware and are simply extensions of subroutines in the main computer, and there will be times when these three are either insufficient or unable to get somewhere maybe because the holo-emitters in an area were damaged."

"You said that...Bob there is for internal security, couldn't boarders simply destroy the emitters to get rid of him, them, and where is his phaser?"

"Good questions, first off there are lockers in every section of the ship that contain emergency medical kits, maintenance kits, and phasers; any time these three are called up they'll make for the nearest locker and retrieve the supplies. As for taking out the emitters well there are four panels in each hall section, between the ceiling and the walls and between the deck and the walls," he said indicating the metal strips, "and these coatings on the outside are hardened to resist weapon's fire. While boarders are trying to take out the emitters Bob here would be taking them out, and you'd have to take out every emitter along the corridor for it to work, and there's the back up."

"What back up," Bella asked almost excitedly. Tim could see the wheels spinning behind her eyes as she thought of the advantage she would have over every other reporter that had been here today.

Tim reached up and tapped a black strip that ran just below the holo-emitters at the top of the bulkhead. "Phaser strips, type III. They line every corridor in the ship, between them, Bob, and the shields that can block off every section on the ship, the life expectancy of an intruder onboard the Typhoon is measured in microseconds."

"So there are emitters in all the crew quarters as well?"

Tim knew exactly where Bella was going with her question and he was going to end it as quickly as possible. "Yes, but to answer your next question no, the crew does not have access to them. A member of the senior staff's authorization is required for any non-emergency use of the emitters outside of a holodeck. Computer end programs." The three holo-crewman vanished in a swirl of dissolving color; Tim turned to lead them down the hall but stopped when he saw lieutenant Bell coming towards them, the usual warm smile plastered on her face, he didn't know how she managed it but she could stay pleasant in the middle of a Klingon feast, which was why she was the perfect public relations officer. "Ah, here's the lieutenant now, Ms. Mavil she'll show you to your quarters, Senator if you'll please follow me."

******************

"Was that so bad?"

"Yes!" Tim snapped.

"Oh come on, that reporter girl is pretty cute."

"Jo, I'm asking you as a friend, and telling you as your captain, keep it in your pants around her."

"Oh that's rich, remind me again which one of us had to be treated for a dislocated shoulder and lacerations at five in the morning on Pacifica?"

"You can't hold that against me just because you struck out with her."

"Ok fine, but I'm not the one who caught Leckvari flu on shore leave, twice."

"The symptoms are completely different for an Andorian, you know that."

"Did those ever heal?"

"Shut up Jo."

"How many hard copies of the 'Interspecies Protocol' do you have now, seven, nine?"

"Three. How's the loading going?"

"Heh, alright. Pretty good so far. The bulk loading is at about sixty percent, but that's the easy stuff. The critical path is going to be the ten million odds and ends that have to be brought aboard that are too small to do it with workbees and loaders."
"How's the fuel loading going?"

"Pretty well, the tritium tanks are at twenty five percent, they should finish loading late tonight, figure about oh four hundred. They'll start loading anti-matter tomorrow about ten hundred, maybe a little after, that'll take until about that time the day after."

"Good, how long do you think before we can depart?"

"We're getting a lot of help from the starbase, assuming we keep that I think we can be ready to cast off in sixty hours."

Tim was impressed. "That's a bit ahead of schedule."

"Like I said, lot of help from the starbase, and both crews are really working hard. Of course Harry's little invention helped."

"Mr. Kim?"

"That's the one; he's got a hundred copies of Mike helping with the loading."

"Well I'll be damned."

"Surprised the hell out of me when I first saw it, he wrote the subroutine in two hours and we've got a crewman monitoring and directing each crew but they're working."

"I suppose it's going to take a while to get used to having holographic crewman like this."

"I dunno, Harry seems to be taking right to it. I guess the Admiral was right about that boy."

"Apparently, I'm impressed with him that's for sure. Couldn't happen at a better time either, the sooner we're out in space the better."

"Much better."

"I want an O Group tomorrow morning, oh nine hundred, senior staff only for the moment, we'll bring the juniors in later, and readiness to launch is what I'm concerned with."

"I'll see to it that everyone knows."

*******************

"How did this happen?" the balding medical officer asked as he peered at a vicious gash on the lieutenant's hand.

"I was attempting to increase the efficiency of crewman Daniel's loading operations," the blonde said in her usual imperiously perfect diction.

"I assume you were as tactful as always."

"Captain Hayes issued explicit orders that loading operations be completed as quickly as possible. Crewman Daniel's constant conversations with ensign Nurchal were not facilitating that endeavor; I attempted to correct this deficiency."

The doctor frowned, more than normal, "I'm going to assume that ensign Nurchal's spinal ridges aren't the cause of this injury."

"That is correct, when crewman Daniels saw me approaching he ran his grav-sled into a stack of crates upsetting a tool case, I attempted to catch it. I failed."

"Obviously. You're not a drone anymore Seven, you can't catch a tool case in one hand and not expect it to be damaged, certainly not your unaugmented one. I'm beginning to wonder if not removing all the rest of your implants when we had the chance was wise."

"On the contrary Doctor, my sensory and cardio muscular implants are quite beneficial, only the cortical implants were impairing my proper function."

"That's a matter of opinion." The holographic doctor picked up an instrument from the small triage kit and quickly cleaned the wound. "I assume you came to me rather than just regenerating because of the time."

"Correct, the amount of regeneration time required to restore optimal functionality is becoming excessive," Seven said with a hint of annoyance as she watched the green beam sterilize her wound.

"Are you getting enough sleep?"

"I am... uncomfortable with the practice."

The Doctor paused before using the dermal regenerator, "That's not what I asked."

"I prefer regenerating in my alcove."

"Unfortunately for you your alcove isn't going to be enough to sustain you anymore. You don't have a sufficient number of nanoprobes anymore to maintain your body without sleep, bathing, or food, speaking of which..."

"I have been consuming a sufficient amount of nutrients as you requested," she said with determination.

"I noticed," the Doctor said haughtily as he set down the regenerator and picked up a PADD. "Five hundred grams of vitamin impregnated protein and plant fiber paste? Seven, that's not a meal."

"It is sufficient."

"This is hardly better than raw replicator feed!" he said exasperated.

"It is the precise amount of food with the nutritional value that you prescribed."

The EMH shook his PADD at his semi-Borg patient before tossing it on the biobed behind him. "It wasn't a prescription Seven; you are allowed to enjoy this."

The former drone's only response was one gracefully arched eyebrow.

"Fine then, if you're going to be difficult about this, notify me before your next meal and I'll join you unless I'm tending a stubbed toe or some equally weighty medical matter."

"Very well Doctor, may I return to duty?"

"Yes you may," he said gesturing towards the door.

"Thank you Doctor," she said before sliding off the bed and heading for the door.

The Doctor watched her leave, his holographic eyes taking note of the movement of her hips for a split second longer than necessary before he started to clean up his instruments.

********************

His cabin seemed smaller than it had in the holo-design. It was subjective of course, he knew he'd need a micrometer to find any differences in the size between the photonic and actual room but it just seemed smaller. The view, however, couldn't be faulted. The vast open expanse of spacedock spread out before him, graceful starships shining against a glimmering cobalt blue background. A bit of movement in the distance caught his eye and what he first thought to be a shuttle moving through the dock revealed itself to be a starship as it passed behind the distant but familiar form of a Nebula class starship.

A familiar sense of longing took hold of his heart as he gazed at the far off ship. It was the same every time he saw a Nebula, even after three years out of her command chair he still missed the Atlas, she had been his first command and his first love. Most people thought that their sisters of the Galaxy class were the most beautiful of the family but in Tim's eyes no ship had ever been lovelier, not even the Typhoon. The Typhoon was like his second wife, special, beautiful, beloved, but she would never be able to replace the Atlas. He'd been given command of her a year before the war began, before that she'd been the providence of another captain for three years, but she would always be his. They'd spent their first year in deep space beyond the badlands, taking advantage of the gap between the Cardassian and Romulan Empires to explore towards the core. It had been a glorious year in deep space exploring places that no one from the Federation had ever seen; it gave him just enough time to become comfortable as captain before the war began.

The war, he still didn't like to dwell on it. It had been the darkest time the Federation had known, they'd come so close to be being destroyed and they'd only survived because of a rogue captain's connection to some aliens. Unlike most of his compatriots he refused to call what had happened a victory, they hadn't defeated the Dominion, in fact the whole Dominion was still on the other side of the wormhole, all they'd done was drive them back. Still, the Atlas, and her crew, had performed remarkably.

He glanced over at the plaque that had been the first thing he'd hung on the wall of his new cabin, pieces of scorched green, yellow, and purple hull metal were mounted on a plaque made of dark red wood right beneath the hull outlines of different types of Breen, Cardassian, and Dominion ships. Beside each outline was a date and time and place, the exact when and where each of those enemy ships had died beneath the guns of the Atlas. He raised his cup of coffee in mock salute to his fallen enemies and returned it to his lips for a sip. A similar display, without the pieces of hull metal, had been painted on the port side of the bridge module of the Atlas and even though it was strictly against regs, as far as he knew it was still there. The plaque had been a parting gift from his crew when he'd transferred to the embryonic FDF, and it was something he treasured deeply.

Tim sighed and took another sip of the strong black brew. After the war they hadn't been able to return to exploration, they'd spent two years patrolling the Cardassian border and that had been where he'd become convinced that Starfleet needed to do something, anything, to protect itself better. Two years later, late in twenty three seventy eight, they had been returned to their exploration duties and for two years they had tried to return to normal, they almost succeeded.

He had loved the exploration, the newness, the opportunity to go places no one had ever gone before, but there had always been the concern in the back of his mind that something would happen, the Dominion would find a way through the wormhole, the Klingons would decide they'd had enough of peace, the Borg, something would come spoiling for a fight again.

General Order 658213-A4 had been exactly what he'd been waiting for, and as much as he loved exploration he knew that he'd never be happy doing it unless he could be sure that the Federation was safe. At 12:01 on Jun 2, 2380 he'd transmitted his transfer request to Starfleet Command, four months later the Atlas had docked at Deep Space Nine to deliver her old captain and to meet her new one. It had been bittersweet, he'd known what he was doing would be important, but that hadn't made it any easier to say good bye to the ship that had been his command for eight years.

His free hand drifted up to touch the rank insignia on his collar, the black pip in a gold box, a Fleet Captain, he'd been promoted as soon as he'd arrived back at Earth, along with the news that he would be commanding the very first task force the FDF would field and receiving notice to report to the Antares fleet yards to oversee construction of his flagship. The welds on the Typhoon's keel hadn't even cooled when he'd written that first scathing editorial. It had been the dumbest thing he'd ever done, within a week he'd been summoned back to FDF Command and unceremoniously shoved into the firing line of every FDF hating reporter and politician in the Federation. For two years he'd accomplished little besides making sure that a few hundred seats didn't get up and walk away from their talkvid sets.

But now he was here, on the Typhoon, preparing to get under way and do what needed to be done.

***********************

Bella Mavil sat in front of her computer and wracked her brain for a story; even if it wasn't published she wanted to put something in front of her editor every single day. She needed to make sure that her name was never far from him and that he would always be able to quickly find an example of her writing that would prove how good she was.

She considered the holo-stuff angle for about two seconds before dismissing it. Doing it smacked of sensationalism and personal holodeck type things were beginning to become quite common among the wealthier members of society. She'd been to a party where that had been the gimmick, everything in the house had been holographic, you'd stand up and your chair would change form, or a fluorescent blue pillar of light would serve you drinks. Even a few of the more daring guests had worn holographic clothes that continuously changed form and color. There might be a little kernel of interest in these things being installed everywhere on the ship but the whole lock out thing killed it. It was page three material at best. She might resurrect it for her on-line journal later, she could play fast and loose with it since it was unofficial, and the story might be something the people who visited it could appreciate.

A story on the ship lasted a little longer, between the tour and the PADD the overly helpful PR officer had given her she certainly had the technical side of it covered but a story like that would only keep techno-geeks entertained. Front page of the tech section material, and it wouldn't hurt to show some diversity in her work but she'd need a lot of time to polish it to keep it from being dull so she shelved that as a long term project.

The crew? Human interest pieces usually did pretty well but they rarely made the true front page, the life section maybe. Besides, she had barely met any of the crew outside of the Captain and Lieutenant Bell, and the lovely PR officer was trained to dodge questions.

The captain? The thought struck her as she considered what she knew about Timothy Hayes, a decorated war veteran, a man who had spent time as a bona fide Starfleet explorer only to turn soldier and then back to explorer and finally back to soldier. Aside from that, nothing. His service record or a good part of it at least, was public record but aside from that she knew little about him, a few minutes spent checking the datanet confirmed that no one else did either. Whenever he made a vid appearance or a written debate he never talked about himself, just the FDF.

The beginnings of what was sure to be an award winning story started to form in Bella's head, the man, the machine, the system. Timothy Hayes, the Typhoon, and the FDF. Text started to scroll before her eyes as an outline started to take shape in her head and she began to dictate to her computer. She wouldn't have a story for her editor today or even anytime soon, but when she did, she would be famous.

**************************

Timothy relaxed in his conference room chair, it wasn't as comfortable as the one in his ready room but when things were quiet it didn't threaten to let him doze off like his overstuffed one did either. The long obsidian conference table was lined with similar, though a bit smaller, chairs down each of its sides. The wall that butted up against the back of the bridge had a large view screen in the middle of it, currently displaying the Typhoon's Master Systems Display, the MSD, and on either side of that were murals of actual typhoons. The opposite wall of the room was hardly a wall at all; instead it was half a dozen large transparisteel windows that showed off the station's central spire and the dorsal umbilicals that connected the starbase to the ship.

He had arrived early but he didn't have long to wait as his senior staff started to file in a few minutes before nine. The first to arrive was as always Deekan Braal. The Capellan tactical officer had served with him on the Atlas coming aboard in the middle of the war after their original tactical officer had died repelling Jem'Hadar boarders. The old descriptor of "tall dark and handsome," could certainly be applied to the man as he stood over two meters tall and had black hair and ruddy skin. His hair was long but he kept it in a braid almost all the time. The Capellan had proven to be an excellent officer and while he'd been stand offish and a bit cold when he'd first come aboard the Atlas over time he'd warmed up and though he presented a stoic front he was a good natured fellow. Many people had been caught off guard when the severe looking giant would make an offhanded joke in his gravely monotone. Fiercely loyal to Timothy personally, as soon as he'd heard that Tim was transferring to the FDF he too put in for an immediate transfer and got it. Three years and a promotion later, Commander Braal was sitting at his table, a definite comfort to Tim as he knew that his tactical department would be well looked after.

The next to arrive was Terzi Dels, though that would only last until the warp cores came on line. Once that happened Tim knew that she'd beg out of as many meetings as possible, just as she had on the Atlas. Starfleet engineers were known to be obsessive about their machines and even in a sea of obsession Terzi stood head and shoulders above the rest. With three warp cores to look after and a hull full of brand new machinery Tim knew that Terzi would spend the next three years in a tritanium haze, her head buried in an access panel of some system or other. Her blonde hair was cut short to keep it out of the way but it looked better than it had during the war when she had sliced it down to within a half inch of her skull after a large chunk of it had been burned away in a fire. The pixyish Elysian quickly grabbed a seat beside her tall Capellan friend and launched into a series of questions about shield grid performance and phaser capability. Tim found it hard to keep up even though Deekan didn't but from the gist of things it sounded like Terzi already had more than a few ideas for improving the weapons systems of the ship.

With only a minute to spare a rather harried looking young Asian man hustled into the conference room and sat down across from Terzi. Harry Kim was the only member of the command crew who hadn't served with Tim on the Atlas but he didn't have any reservations about the newly minted lieutenant commander. According to every report he'd read the young man had acquitted himself well in extremely difficult circumstances, and he came with Admiral Janeway's personnel recommendation in addition to having spent three years at Jupiter Station with Dr. Zimmerman and Voyager's EMH developing the new holo-crew system. Tim hadn't had much contact with Harry since he'd been stationed on Earth but Jo's reports of his work practically glowed in the dark. His title, chief of operations, or just ops, was a bit of a catch all; it meant that he was responsible for everything except the tactical systems and the maintenance of the ship itself. Terzi would keep the ship functional and Deekan would keep it fighting, everything else, which would make up the majority of the ships life, would be his responsibility. It was a big job but the reward was that the ops track got you command of a ship a lot faster than coming up from the gun deck or the engine room.

Finally Johan Luhrner came ambling in at precisely oh nine hundred, taking his seat at Tim's right, directly across from Deekan. Jo had been with Tim since the Atlas, all through the war and through its various ups and downs. Tim suspected that Jo was personally responsible for the mass migration of a good part of the Atlas' crew to the FDF and eventually the Typhoon. This deployment was bittersweet in a way because like most of the Atlas' crew that were now on the Typhoon Jo was in dire need of a promotion. Starfleet wasn't exactly an up-or-out type of organization but it did have its track, and Jo and the rest of the crew were dangerously close to falling off of it. If he wasn't promoted soon the best Jo could hope to wind up in command of would be a corvette or a small survey ship. Tim was already talking to the right Admirals to make sure that when this cruise was over Jo would be promoted, kicking and screaming if need be, to captain and get a ship of his own. Deekan would probably be promoted first officer in his wake. Terzi was still young enough that she could spend another cruise in the engine room after that but then it would be her turn. Harry would probably need to be promoted as well, which would put him off the ship, but that was years in the future and he'd worry about it then. Yes this cruise would be the last time the whole Atlas crew would all be together and Tim was determined to make it count.

"Thank you for deciding to join us Commander."

Jo pretended to yawn and scratched at nonexistent stubble, "Not a problem sir."

"Alright, this should be short and sweet, all I need to know is how perpetrations for launch are going, and we can save everything else for a proper O-Group the day after tomorrow."

Tim could just catch the subtle head nod that Jo gave Deekan a half second before the tall Capellan started. "Torpedo loading is currently at sixty eight percent and we'll have our full compliment by thirteen hundred hours. All weapons and shielding systems have passed their final level three diagnostics. Our full compliment of marines have already arrived and are in the process of loading their equipment, the current estimate to finish this is twenty one hundred hours tonight at which point we will be ready to depart."

"And the fighter squadrons?"

"Once we depart the station they'll meet up with us prior to the jump to warp."

Tim nodded, "Very well."

Terzi quickly sat her PADD down and started her own report. "Right now all the engines are cold but we can be ready for space in three hours. Since we're black at the moment and we've already knocked out the punch list I've put everyone I can spare on the loading, and everyone I couldn't has started a level two diagnostic of anything they can get their hands on. The tritium tanks are topped off and antimatter loading will start in about an hour and run through till tomorrow. When that's done we're ready to go whenever you are bossman."

"Good."

And now it was the new guy's turn. Tim knew that Harry had to be feeling out of place as the only non-Atlas person in the room but it was important that he get over that and gel with the rest of the senior staff immediately.

Harry cleared his throat and gave his PADD a final once over before starting. "As of five minutes ago all systems were green with no faults reported..."

"None?"

"No sir, no mechanical faults in any of the ship's systems."

Tim looked over at Terzi and the small Elysian shrugged. "We haven't had anything else to do."

"Go ahead Mr. Kim."

Harry nodded and consulted his PADD again. "Cargo loading is ahead of schedule; right now it looks like we'll be able to ship out another four hours ahead of schedule."

"And why is that?"

"Sir?"

"Why are we ahead of schedule Mr. Kim?"

"I umm, I added a subroutine to the holo-crew programs to allow us to use them to help load, with a uh, normal crewman supervising."

"How many holo-crew are running right now?"

"One hundred sir, I didn't want to stress the system."

"What's the design limit of the system?"

"Well sir each holo-crew man requires approximately point oh two five percent of the computer's cap..."

"Short answer Mr. Kim."

"I designed it for four hundred holo-crewmen at the maximum."

"Well since we're already in spacedock why don't we give your little menagerie a stress test, say six hundred?"

"That's..."

"More than the design limit I know, but we need to make sure this thing isn't going to cry uncle if we push its limits a little, this is a ninety ninth percentile ship Mr. Kim, if we get into it we're going to be violating a lot of limits on equipment."

"Yes sir. The subroutine is simple enough that so long as we don't try to activate the standard subroutines..."

"I assume that means you can do it?"

"Yes sir," Harry said with a little more confidence.

"Good, how much time will that shave off the loading process?"

"I'll have to run some numbers at my console to get the exact number but I would suspect at least twelve hours sir."

"So we should be able to cast off in... thirty six hours?"

"About sir."

This was the second time that Jo had heard everyone's reports so he knew when Harry was finished and when he could start to give his own. It was just part of his style to hold a "pre-meeting" with the department heads before any actual meeting with the captain. Not only did it keep him on top of things so that the meetings ran smoothly but it let him get his people started on solutions before the captain even heard the problems. It made them look good in front of the captain, which gave Tim more confidence in his subordinates, and it helped the rest of them out by making them start to solve problems early, hopefully instilling a little more of a take charge attitude. "The crew is almost all aboard; the only people missing are the fighter squadrons' pilots and crew who'll join up with us when we depart and a few stragglers. I'll get a hold of them and let them know of the new schedule. We have clearance from spacedock to depart whenever we want and I've notified the Task Force that they need to be assembled at DS Three in four weeks. As soon as we finish loading we're ready to go."

"Very good work everyone, especially you Mr. Kim. Before we break up there are a few things I need to go over. First off you all know that we're taking Senator T'prin and her aide along with a reporter from United News for a ride. I just want to reiterate that the Senator is the only person in that group who has the clearance to go where she pleases, both her aide and the reporter, especially the reporter, are to be kept out of all restricted spaces without exception, understood? Alright then, lets all get back to our jobs so we can get in space as soon as possible. We'll have a full O-Group tomorrow at fifteen hundred in expectation of a twenty one hundred departure. Dismissed."

*****************

"You might want to go a little easier on the boy," Jo said as he sat in a chair across the desk from his friend.

Tim looked up from the work manifest that Jo had given him a minute before. "What?"

"You rode the boy kinda hard in there Tim."

"I didn't do anything I don't normally do."

"Really? You think so?" Jo asked suspiciously. "Did you interrupt Deekan or Terzi? Me?"

"I needed to clarify a few things."

"Exactly, you had to clarify some things. You just took everything the Atlas crew said at face value but you made the boy explain himself."

Tim dropped the PADD on his ready room desk. "I needed more info on those holo-crewmen he's using."

"But did you have to question him about the physical faults, or interrupt him for the holo-crew?"

Tim glared at his first officer. "Your point?"

Jo didn't let his captain's tone bother him, Timothy was a good man who was willing to listen and learn, he just wasn't always happy about it. "You don't have to be a Betazoid to tell that you trust the rest of us implicitly but that you're not too sure about the kid."

"I doubt anyone noticed it."

That was a lie. "Even so, if it happens often enough some people might catch on. The last thing we need is an Ops manager who isn't given the respect he deserves, or worse, one who doesn't think he deserves it."

Tim's glare softened. "I'll see what I can do."

"Just save the questions till the end and maybe ask Terzi or Deekan some questions too."

"None for you?"

"Come on bossman, you know I don't make mistakes."

*********************

"How can you eat that stuff?"

"I put it in my mouth and chew," Deekan replied.

Terzi looked at his plate, piled high with all manner or rich and spicy foods. "Makes me sick just looking at it."

Deekan ignored his small friend's protests, he often wondered how she could eat the same bland Nachial porridge everyday and that nutrient bar but he had the decency not to ask.

"Hey Harry!" she called to someone behind him and across the officer's mess, "Come sit with us!"

Deekan turned around and saw the ships operations officer smiling sheepishly. Even in his thirties Harry Kim had a boyish quality to his appearance that was impossible to shake.

"Hi, I didn't where I was going to sit."

"Eh, don't worry about it," Terzi said as she gestured towards the large mess hall. "No one around here bites, well except maybe the Ottliians, but they usually ask first..."

"We are happy to have you eat breakfast with us," Deekan said.

"Yeah, tickled," Terzi said as she ate a spoonful of her porridge. "So how do you like the Typhoon?"

Harry took a moment to arrange his tray as he considered his response. "It's big."

"She is isn't she," Terzi said with a smile.

"Is the size an issue?" Deekan asked.

"Size is always an issue Deekan," Terzi said with an impish smirk.

The Capellan frowned at his little friend and Harry had to hide his grin with a forkful of food. "It just takes some getting used to," he explained after swallowing. "I've got more people in my department than were aboard Voyager. I think this ship is larger than Jupiter Station even."

"It is," Terzi chirped, "but a holo-research center doesn't need lots of space, you guys can make it!"

"Well, sort of, he holodecks don't really get any ."

"Oh come on Harry, we're not freshman cadets." Terzi scolded him playfully.

Harry blushed a little, flustered to have tried to lecture the ship's engineer on how one of her systems worked. '"Yeah, I guess not."

Terzi took a quick scoop of her porridge and smiled. "Lighten up, it's not a big deal."

Harry relaxed and went for a bite of his vegetables.

"But if it happens again I'll have Deekan kill you."

Harry blanched and looked up quickly at the Elysian and Capellan. Deekan just nodded.

"Wow, Tom was right, you are gullible."

"You talked to Tom?" Harry said.

"Oh yeah, when he found out you were transferring he looked me up and made sure to send me a list."

"A list, wait, how do you know Tom?" Harry said, less embarrassed then interested.

"Well engineers need pilots to test their engines."

Harry chuckled, "Well I guess it's a small galaxy."

Deekan calmly took another bite. "That it is."

*********************

Timothy Hayes tossed the PADD down on his desk and rubbed his temples. Too many hours staring at the display reading personnel files were taking their toll. He hadn't bothered with the senior staff, they'd been handpicked and were for the most part old Atlas crew. The few that weren't came highly recommended from people he trusted. The general crew though, he'd never admit it but he'd been nervous. The FDF was still unpopular with a great many people, and the personnel office could determine who wound up in the FDF. There had been a very real concern that the FDF would wind up with the weakest of the graduates of the Academy and the cast offs of the explorer core. Thankfully that was not the case if the performance reviews he'd been reading were correct.

If anything it appeared that they were getting the cream of the crop from the fleet and the academy, more than half the crew of the ship was Dominion War veterans and the rest came with glowing recommendations and stellar service records. They weren't all perfect, but overall it looked to be a fine crew.

Getting up from his desk Timothy walked to his bedroom. His cabin was the largest on the ship, large enough to warrant separate rooms with doors. The door into his cabin opened into his sitting area, a large space with a few couches and one large recliner for him. A large view screen dominated the wall the door was on while the far wall curved back gracefully and was dominated by a half dozen windows that went from the back of a couch up to the ceiling. On the right was his dining area, a long oaken table big enough for a dozen people sat in the middle of it with massive matching chairs spread around it. A half wall separated the dining area from the rest of the room and the top of it nearest the windows was covered in ferns while the side nearest the door had a three meter long, meter wide and deep fish tank full of brightly colored fish, most of which couldn't be found in Earth's oceans. Off to the left of the door was the hall way to his office and his bedroom and bath.

He sighed when he walked into his bedroom, while the hand crafted furniture his father had made him was already waiting in it, and arranged the way he wanted, that was the only thing properly arranged. Boxes full of clothes and possessions and various knick-knacks collected over two decades in the service were stacked all over the place. The previous day hadn't given him much of a chance to unpack and today wasn't looking any better.

Timothy put a hand on one box in passing, pondering unpacking it for a moment but then discounted it, there was too much to do and if he unpacked one box he'd just be more annoyed with only having one done than he was now with none done. Instead he walked over to the most familiar piece of furniture he owned. The overstuffed blue recliner accepted him like an old friend just like it had when he was a baby and his father had held him in it, and when his father had held him in it, and on and on. The chair was at least two centuries old and a family heirloom, however Timothy knew that the upholstery had been redone too many times to count and he himself had rebuilt half the frame. A flick of his foot spun the chair to face the window that overlooked his bed and he looked out at the spacedock even though his thoughts were elsewhere.

He was very aware of the position he was in, the nascent FDF had plenty of enemies on the Federation Council, powerful opponents who were undoubtedly waiting for the least little slip up to call for its elimination. This deployment could make or break the Defense Force, if nothing happened if things were quiet then the deployment was useless, the questions would still be there, an answer to the question of the FDF's existence was needed on this deployment. In a way heading to the Romulan Neutral Zone was a blessing, after the Scimitar incident and the near perfect silence from the Romulans since then the chances of this deployment being quiet and uneventful were practically nil.

The future of the FDF rested in the results of this deployment and it weighed on him mightily. If the FDF failed the Federation could wind up at the mercy of the next marauding power that came along and Timothy couldn't let that happen, regardless of the cost he had to make sure that the FDF survived, it would mean the survival of the Federation.

"Mr. Luhrner."

A soft beep from the comm system let him know that it had activated and put his page through to the ship's first officer.

"Aye Captain?"

"Mr. Luhrner, I need you, Mr. Deekan, and the Senator in my ready room in fifteen."

"Aye sir."

The comm system faintly clicked off and Timothy returned to gazing out the window, his mind blessedly clear, he knew what he had to do; now he just had to do it. Besides, it would take three minutes for him to get to his ready room.

*********************
"Wow, look at this beast."

A pair of long thin jaws snapped shut with a soft hoot. "It is almost a kilometer long."

"With all that armor I bet it handles like a stuck graal." A tall Cardassian girl said with her hands on her hips.

"With me at the helm it will not matter." A firm stomp of one hind leg signaled her sauroid companion's determination.

"I can't believe they'd even let you on the bridge."

All four of the Nileen's eyes blinked in unison, a mannerism that Milana had learned meant the same as a Cardassian rolling them. "Well Milana Tuul, this is what happens when you graduate top of your class."

"Top of the class in practicals, even I couldn't help your book work."

The short Nileen waved both his right arms down in a sweeping gesture. "I will learn what I need on the job; I know how to fly a ship."

"Biggest thing you've ever flown is a Cheyenne; I would imagine this is slightly different." Her Nileen companion's exuberance never ceased to flummox her.

"No matter, that is what holodecks are for ."

"Among other things," Milana said under her breath.

Villec did his best to ignore her comment, " let us get aboard before morning shift, I have heard they are trying to leave early."

The Cardassian girl and her Nileen friend quickly hustled to the gangway of the ship and headed aboard,

*********************

Johan, Deekan and Senator T'prin all filed into his ready room as Tim watched the stars stream past his view ports. "Please, have a seat," he said as he gestured towards the couch. "Thank you all for coming, there's something that everyone needs to be brought up to full speed on."

Senator T'prin's eyebrow rose skeptically but she said nothing as Timothy rose from his seat and handed each of them a blank PADD before sitting back down and picking up his own. He thumbed a control on his desk terminal and each PADD lit up and requested a security clearance from its bearer.

"Computer, security level one." The doors to the bridge and to Tim's private turbo lift thudded mutely as physical locks inside them slid home. A faint electronic buzz filled the air. "As you can see you're about to be given a sensitive briefing, you'll need to unlock your PADDs," Tim said and then settled down to wait as they did.

In turn Jo, then the senator and finally Deekan each entered their Starfleet security codes and began to browse over some of what was presented. When Jo's eyes spied a familiar shape his gaze immediately snapped up to his superior.

"As you all probably realize this is a special weapon's briefing. Six years ago Voyager returned from the Gamma Quadrant, she came bearing gifts from 2404; transphasic torpedoes and ablative armor generators. Due to the way this technology was acquired Temporal Investigations immediately impounded all of it, stripping the ship of all this equipment. The power of these systems can't be overstated, the armor generators allowed an Intrepid class starship to withstand the full firepower of several dozen Borg cubes and a pair of these torpedoes were sufficient to destroy an entire Borg tactical cube. Because of this the FDF was interested."

"I still don't understand why TI let that happen; shouldn't they have stopped Admiral Janeway?" Jo asked.

"The violation happened in the Gamma quadrant, TI can't get out there to stop it," Timothy explained.

"Yeah but what about TI in 2404, who the hell fell asleep at the wheel there, then... eventually?"

Tim shook his head, "You read the same report I did, from all the usual TI-ese I think that since TI 2404 didn't pick it up TI 2377 didn't feel like they had to, that it was some kind of tacit acknowledgement that this was alright with TI 2404 and all versions of TI hence."

"I still don't see how that's not a violation of the Temporal Prime Directive," Jo said.

"I do not understand it either," Deekan admitted.

By some kind of unspoken agreement in the group everyone's eyes turned toward the Senator. "I am not aware of an answer sufficient for your questions," she said simply.

"Perhaps backlash from the Brittain?" Deekan asked. "They had five suicides, ten nervous breakdowns, and two thirds of the crew isn't even in Starfleet anymore. Maybe they didn't want to do that to another crew," the Capellan offered in his deep gravely voice.

Jo nodded, "TI doesn't usually have to play god, they just tidy up the pieces after someone else messes things up or tries to fix them, maybe they don't have the stomach for it. Though maybe the transfer of this technology is important to the timeline, we might need these torpedoes to stave off the wholesale destruction of the Federation."

"Well aren't you just full of happy thoughts. Whatever the reason, we're drifting, but I suspect that you two may be right. After negotiations with the office of Temporal Investigations and the Security Council, the FDF managed to secure authorization for a limited deployment of transphasic torpedoes to the FDF. Right now we have twenty four weapons aboard like all the Monsoons will carry, the Wolf 359s will all have twelve and each Paladin will be armed with four."

"There goes the TPD," Jo muttered.

Tim chose to ignore his subordinate's comment, he felt the same way but as commanding officer he didn't have the luxury of expressing that sentiment. "Pursuant of the terms struck between the Security Council, TI, and the FDF the weapons will only be used after all other weapons have proved ineffective in stopping a threat or if there is insufficient time for conventional weapons to prove effective. Their use requires the verbal authorization of the acting senior officer of the ship, the first officer and of the tactical officer, that's you Deekan."

"Understood sir." Deekan and Johan said.

"These weapons are not something we can just rely on; in fact we have to avoid their use if at all possible. Right now they're our trump cards against the Borg, we play them too often and they might figure out how to stop them, I can't emphasize enough how that can't happen. Use against more common threats is authorized but must be minimized; if word got out about these weapons it could be very bad for the diplomats."

"It would be prudent to mention that I voted against the deployment of these weapons, they are far too provoking for our local neighbors and could increase the threat we pose to the Borg, making us more... attractive, for assimilation," T'prin said.

"Regardless, we have them." Timothy said. "I can't stress enough how this can't be leaked, this information requires a level two security clearance and a pressing need to know. Even if someone has a level one clearance unless they need to know, you don't say anything. Deekan, you'll have to appoint a crew of weapons officers to be in charge of maintaining the weapons and you'll need to inform lieutenant commander Ulin of this when she arrives."

*****************

"It looks like you're settling in well."

The Emergency Medical Hologram, or Joe as he was starting to think of himself turned towards the other familiar voice on the ship. "About as well as can be expected I suppose. I haven't had seven years to get things arranged."

"Give it time," Harry Kim said with a smile.

"It's out of place now," he said dryly.

"Oh that's just because I told your nurses to keep moving things without telling you."

The EMH raised a skeptical eyebrow. "Is there an actual medical reason for this intrusion or are you just trying to annoy me?"

Harry grinned boyishly. "Can it be both?"

"No."

He chuckled, "So, how about the rest of the ship, enjoying being able to move around without your emitter?"

The Doctor set his PADD down on a cart and leaned back against one of the diagnostic beds, a mannerism he had learned in one of his many social experiments. "It's interesting. Not having to worry about my emitter has certainly simplified things."

"What about your quarters?"

"I don't see the point honestly, I don't have to sleep."

"That's not the point Doc," Harry insisted, "it's a place of your own where people won't intrude on you."

The hologram cupped his chin in his palm. "That would be nice," he said while pointedly looking at his visitor. "I suppose I'll have to replicate some knick-knacks to keep the place from seeming empty. Starfleet issue furniture is functional but not terribly decorative."

"And it'll get you out of sickbay, you have to be tired of looking at biobeds and hyposprays by now," Harry added.

"While I don't find the accouterments of my profession objectionable as of yet, I do see your point."

"And once you're done you can have people drop by to take a look around, it'll be fun."

"And here I thought you were touting the privacy of my quarters."

Harry's smile refused to fade. "Come on Doc, you weren't just turned on, you like socializing."

The Doctor sighed and gave in with mock exasperation. "Fine, though I don't know the protocol for having a house warming on a warship."

******************
Last edited by Tyyr on Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Tyyr
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Re: Proud Legion Chapter 1 Cont.

Postby Tyyr » Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:07 am

******************

Timothy glanced up over his PADD and did his best not to stare or grimace, even though the newest members of his bridge crew made him want to do both. He despised having to deal with things like this early in the morning.

"Lieutenant Tuul reporting as ordered sir," said the Cardassian girl.

"Lieutenant Villec Bissan reporting sir," said her sauroid companion.

Timothy looked back down at the PADD and nodded, deliberately not making eye contact after their pronouncements or saying a word. He let the two of them stand there and stew for a bit, he was always curious to see how new crewmen handled a protracted silence. The little experiment worked equally well on new species he came across.

He wasn't wasting his own time however as his PADD had the database on the Nileen pulled up and he was consulting it on what to expect from his new helmsman. The Nileen were a sauroid race, which at first glance looked very similar to the dromaeosaurs of Earth's cretaceous period. However their similarities to a velociraptor or its ilk died almost immediately. The Nileen were hexapodal, having the expected two large hind legs but having four arms instead of two, a heavily built lower set, and a more delicate upper set. At one point in their history the lower set had been good for little else besides grabbing and ripping into prey but genetic engineering had given them enough fine motor control to be useful, though most Nileen still favored their upper set of arms for delicate work. They also lacked the expected claws on their hands and feet, claws the Nileen kept retracted at most times to better let them manipulate objects. Balancing the large upper body were a pair of side by side tails that were at least partially prehensile. The Nileen had four eyes, a forward pair more attuned to visible, human visible, light and UV with a pair higher up behind them and more to the sides adapted for the infra red. The Nileen used the front pair for tracking and hunting while the rear pair helped them scan their surroundings and keep track of what happened all around them. A flat lip covered most of their teeth and allowed them to speak English haltingly with a little help from an implanted voice modulator. According to the database a large portion of the Nileen's native language was contained in the soft hoots, hisses, and growls they made in addition to conventional words, even body position and orientation had meanings beyond simple body language. The general consensus of the Nileen seemed to be that while English was great for doing things like describing a color, it was horribly imprecise and unwieldy for most anything else. Lieutenant Bissan was the first Nileen officer in Star Fleet and the first one to be assigned to a starship.

Lieutenant Tuul was another first, the first Cardassian officer in Star Fleet, the first intentional one anyways. Even though she was just another a academy graduate her file was thicker than Johan's, and those were the parts he was authorized to see, and given the rather, intimate, nature of some of what his authorization allowed him to see he had trouble fathoming what could possibly be classified even higher. Apparently the Lieutenant's grandparents had defected from the Cardassian Empire and had brought their daughter and grand-daughter with them when Milana was very young. Her mother hadn't been able to adjust however and around the time Milana was seven her mother had stolen a shuttle and had last been seen running hard for the border. Milana had been on an early admissions fast-track prior to the war and in spite of the odds she had managed to join the academy only a few days after the final battle of Chintaka. The notes in her service jacket seemed to indicate that Starfleet intelligence had thought it would be easier to keep an eye on her if she was a cadet. She had surprised everyone by not just succeeding in the academy, but excelling, graduating in the top two percent of her class and earning herself her choice of assignments. With a spotless record and nothing at all turning up in any of the many intelligence probes on her Starfleet had no real choice but to follow its own protocol for high ranking graduates and honor her request for assignment to the FDF and the Typhoon in particular.

Lieutenant Bissan had been expected, Lieutenant Tuul had not. Timothy had intentionally requested that as many non-human crewmen be assigned to the Typhoon as possible, the current vogue in Starfleet was greater diversity in ships' crews. Since the Titans had been designed with diverse crews in mind and the Monsoons still had all the requisite connections for accommodating strange habitation requirements he had thought it would be a good way to be seen as a team player, for the FDF to be seen as towing the Starfleet line rather than constantly bucking it. He hadn't thought his request for non-human crewman would saddle him with a Cardassian.

The silence dragged on for several more minutes as Timothy mulled over his new navigator's file and to his disappointment she was the one who broke it. "Captain ?"

"Lieutenant Bissan, you're the first Nileen to gain a commission and a posting aboard a starship, congratulations."

"It was no great accomplishment, any Nileen could, Nileen have no motivation to do so. Nile still has a great many things to teach the Nileen."

Timothy nodded but said, "Learn to take a compliment Mr. Villec."

"Yes Captain Timothy Hayes."

"I see that you have yet to pilot anything larger than a Cheyenne."

"That is correct."

"Well Mr. Bissan, this is not a Cheyenne, or even a Garret, it's a Monsoon class battlecruiser. According to my clock you've got just a bit over twelve hours until we'll be ready to depart, I would suggest that you make the most of them."

"Yes Captain Timothy Hayes."

"Talk to Mr. Kim about what you'll need, dismissed."

The Nileen helmsman gave his best approximation of a salute, one hand over each eye, and turned sharply to exit. The wince on Timothy's face must have been obvious as he watched the sauroid's twin tails go whipping by within centimeters of prized possessions in his ready room before he disappeared through the door.

"Villec is really very careful about his tails ," Milana began, tapering off as Timothy fixed her in his stare, " sir."

"Lieutenant Tuul ," Timothy began, making a bit of a show out of flipping his PADD over to her record and consulting it, " top of the class in your bookwork, but you slipped up a bit on your practicals, drug your whole ranking down."

"With due respect sir, I had a rough start."

"Your first two years at the Academy were rather rough."

"Sir?"

Timothy held up the PADD, "According to your file, which is a great deal larger than even Commander Luhrner's; your first two years at the academy were rather rough."

"I'm not sure I understand sir, I had no disciplinary actions during my stay in the academy." The Cardassian girl fidgeted where she stood, her slate gray skin flushing a bit darker.

Timothy smiled inwardly, he enjoyed pushing people to see where their limits were, and his new navigator's innocence about how she was perceived, or her unwillingness to acknowledge it, would prove an excellent point to attack from. "This has nothing to do with official disciplinary actions Lieutenant." He feigned disbelief, "Surely you know there was extra attention paid to you at the academy."

She stood up a little straighter, her spine stiffening defensively. "I received the same treatment every cadet did sir." Milana's short bobbed hair bounced with her clipped defense.

"Come now, you can't actually believe that." Timothy paused waiting for her to respond, but she stood at attention, unwavering. 'Defensive or indignant?' he pondered. "You have to know you were monitored by Starfleet intelligence." He saw a fire in her eye and her lips draw to thin black lines on her face. 'Indignant,' he decided.

"I was aware of no such monitoring."

"Lieutenant, honestly, a Cardassian attempting to join Starfleet immediately after the Dominion War? Starfleet intelligence has already kept a close eye on the comings and goings of your grandparents and you, especially after your mother headed back across the line."

"My mother wasn't able to stand the way she was treated, the change in her station in life after the defection, sir."

"Perhaps. But you have to see how Starfleet Intel would be interested in you, especially once you applied to the academy. They made sure you got in, if anything just to see what you'd do."

There was a minute quiver in her voice, "I was under the impression that I was accepted to the academy based on my merits, sir."

"Oh your merits were certainly good enough Lieutenant, Intel just made sure that nothing else held up your acceptance. I'm sorry to break it to you Ms. Tuul, but you've been living the last four or five years in a Petri dish."

"I didn't think the Federation treated its citizens like this, I thought I'd left this treatment behind twenty years ago."

Timothy let his voice harden. "When the citizen is a defector from a hostile power who regularly raids our borders and tortures our citizens for the hell of it we'd be a tad bit lax not to keep a close eye on them wouldn't we? We'd be downright foolish not to watch them like a hawk when their former home decides to side with the enemies who almost destroy us, wouldn't we?"

"I'm Cardassian by biology sir; I'm a member of the Federation by choice."

"I'm going to be brutally honest with you Lieutenant, there's a very large bit of the Federation who'd love nothing more than to see you and yours thrown back across the border, and more than a few of them would like to see it done out an airlock. You're coming aboard a ship where sixty percent of the crew served in the war, and where almost everyone knows someone who died in it." Timothy leaned back and steepled his fingers. "Now I'm not telling you this to scare you, I'm not telling you this to run you off; I'm telling you this because I want to make sure your eyes are wide open Ms. Tuul. There are a lot of people watching you, most of which don't wish you well. I hope there's some tritanium in your spine because you're going to need it."

Milana nodded hesitantly, "Yes sir."

"Understand me Lieutenant, I expect one thing from you, get my ship where I want it. You do that and do it well and I'll defend you against anyone, screw up, and I'll let the hounds have you. Is that understood."

"Aye sir."

"Good, now the same advice I gave your friend applies to you, I'd suggest you get very comfortable with this ship because tonight you're plotting her and your first course, make sure it's proper."

"Yes sir," she said as she turned towards the door.

"You weren't dismissed Lieutenant," Timothy said with an edge. Milana immediately returned to her previous position. "Take this," he tossed his PADD with her service record on display, with the encrypted parts decoded, to her across his desk. "It makes for interesting reading, Intel was quite thorough. Now you're dismissed."

Milana quickly saluted and hurried out the door. Once the doors hissed shut behind her she glanced down at the PADD in her hand and the note stuck to the back of it. She unfolded the small piece of paper and blushed furiously, stuffing it in her pocket and shutting off the PADD display.

'Exactly what do you do with two Orion animal women, a full bottle of Romulan ale, and a type 8 shuttle on a four day pass?'
Captain Hayes

*************************

Johan walked quickly down the familiar gray and tan corridors of the Typhoon. Contrary to the laid back image he tried to project his actual day was a constant juggling act of a hundred little details, and occasionally those details didn't appreciate being juggled.

Bella Mavil didn't appreciate being juggled.

Johan had taken a piece of advice his former first officer had given him right before he'd been promoted and become Hayes' first officer. The older Trill woman had taken him aside a few days before he'd been dropped off at Starbase 1 to meet the Atlas.

"Johan, if you don't pay attention to anything I say, and I'm sure you never have, pay attention to this. You're about to become a first officer and run the show for some unsuspecting captain. Yes, running the show. Captains like to think they're in charge but they're not. It's up to you to run the ship for him Johan, the Captain's job is to use his ship as a tool to complete his mission, it's your job to make sure that tool is sharp. Your captain should never have to worry about the day to day running of his ship, ever, that's your job. If the captain has to worry about why ensign idiot and crewman dumbass don't get along, you screwed up. If he has to wonder why no one ever seems to fix that power relay, you screwed up. If he has to decide how to discipline some lieutenant for being late to a duty shift you screwed up. Manage your captain Johan, keep them focused on their jobs. They all used to be first officers and they're all tempted to try and take that job back over, never let them. Anticipate their needs and have them accommodated before they even ask, anticipate their orders and have the crew already moving that way. Keep their noses out of the day to day crap and let them just worry about the big picture."

He could remember the first year of his cruise on the Atlas and sure enough, Hayes had tried to poke his nose into things like duty rosters and maintenance schedules but Johan had steered him away from them. Over the years they had formed an almost perfect team, in Johan's estimation. He took care of the little stuff, and Timothy directed the ship. He still kept Hayes appraised of everything that went on in the ship, he had a detailed report on the captain's desk every morning, that detailed everything that happened down to the littlest minutia but he'd also trained Timothy to read it and for the most part ignore it, relying on him to tell him what he needed to know and deal with.

It bothered him to think that in a year he'd likely have a promotion forced on him whether he liked it or not. He knew he was overdue for one but he hated the idea of being forced off his friend and captain's ship. He especially wasn't fond of the idea of tossing Hayes to some new first officer, he knew Timothy well enough to know that he'd be driven mad by not having someone of his caliber around taking care of things. Maybe he could wrangle things to get Terzi promoted to first officer, Timothy had a soft spot for the little pixie so he'd be less likely to blow his stack if things weren't just right for him.

Unfortunately this reporter was bound and determined to make herself a problem for the Captain and was doing her best to thwart his attempts to manage her and keep her from becoming something Hayes would have to deal with.

He turned the corner in the corridor and had to quickly side step to avoid plowing into Bella who had her head buried in a PADD.

"Ms. Mavil," Johan exclaimed as he dodged her.

The mass of blonde curls whirled until her face appeared out of the forest. "Oh, Mr. Lanner, excuse me."

Johan let the annoyance of her fumbling his name take root rather than stamping it down. She'd replaced her more professional blouse and pants with a light blue sundress short enough to show off a pair of legs that just wouldn't quit and he needed something to keep his mind focused on his job. "Mr. Lurhner actually, good Austrian stock," he said with a smile.

"Oh! I'm sorry, I know how annoying that can be." She reached out and laid one hand on his shoulder in a pseudo-friendly gesture.

'Focus Johan,' he thought. Had she not been so intent on turning into a problem for his captain, and likely the entirety of the former Atlas crew he would have been sorely tempted to violate Timothy's order and work to see if Bella wouldn't have objected to being violated as well. "That's alright, is there something I can help you with?"

"Oh, I was just going to the bridge to see Timothy."

'Jackpot,' Johan thought as he fought to keep the annoyance off his face. She'd screwed up three times in one sentence, first by going to the bridge uninvited, second for referring to the Captain by his first name, and finally and gravest of all to him, she was going to talk to the Captain without clearing it with him first. Johan took his job seriously, and one facet of that was ensuring that Starfleet's liberal 'open door' policy between captain and crew didn't get out of hand by screening everyone who wanted to see the Captain and handling almost all of them without bothering the Captain. An ensign had pulled the same stunt this reporter was trying to and now he was in an EVA suit hanging onto the port warp nacelle with his bare hands degaussing the several hundred meter long structure with a micro-field adjuster. The crew seemed to get the gist of what he was trying to communicate. Unfortunately he couldn't do the same or worse to her. "Perhaps I can help you out with what you need, the Captain is very busy getting ready for departure this evening."

Bella gave Johan her most disarming smile. 'You're not going to manage me you stuffed shirt bureaucrat.' "Oh, I don't think so, I wanted to talk to Timothy in person."

"Tomorrow might be better for the Captain's schedule, I'd be happy to see about getting you in then."

'Which means not tomorrow either,' Bella knew. She'd been around enough of the First Officer's type to know that he'd try to punish her for upsetting his little world today by finding reasons she couldn't see him tomorrow either. Under normal circumstances she would have just plowed right in guns blazing and forced the issue. Under normal circumstances she wouldn't have been around for more than a day or so however, not a month or more. "Well if he's going to be that busy, tomorrow then," she said after appearing to consider his words for a moment.

"Just give me a call and I'll see what can be done," he said while offering her his most charming smile.

She matched his smile with her own, "You can bet I will."

Johan watched as Bella turned and walked away. "You're going to be a tremendous pain in my ass," he muttered.

***********************

Cesina checked her PADD for the fifth time and grumbled, she had checked in with the Ops officer, a human named Harry, the moment she'd come aboard but for some reason the ship's computer had no idea where her quarters were and it refused her requests to track her luggage because it refused to accept her as a crewmember. A helpful crewman had taken her bags from her when her shuttle had docked with the station but where he'd taken them was a mystery to her. If the computer refused to acknowledge her as a crewmember then how did her porter know where to take her bags? The sixth check of her PADD confirmed that in the last ten seconds the computer hadn't decided to stop being difficult and tell her where her quarters were. 'At least I should be on the right deck,' she thought, the turbo lift had dumped her off in the primary hull near the few sets of low ranking guest quarters the ship had when she'd asked to be taken to her cabin. With the computer not responding to her general directions she'd had to figure out where she wanted to go by deck and frame. On a new ship that had taken her a while. When she finally looked up out of her PADD she was surprised to see she wasn't alone. Even more surprised to see that the woman approaching her was an Orion, a female Orion dressed in a Starfleet tactical uniform, dark gray all over, padded, and covered in pockets, but with the center zipper pulled down to the middle of her chest.

Peili chuckled softly when she saw the Andorian girl quickly stuff the PADD she'd been reading in a thigh pocket and did her best to look confident in where she was. Shifting her duffle bag to a more comfortable position on her shoulder she stopped just on the verge of too close for a new acquaintance and gave her best smile. "You look like you could use some help."

The blue skinned woman sighed, "Is it that obvious?"

"A little," Peili said with a smile, trying to put her at ease.

Cesina's antennae drooped in time with her shoulders. "The computer refuses to acknowledge that I'm one of the crew, consequently it won't tell me where my quarters are, which makes me wonder how the porter from the starbase knew where to take my bags and I haven't even seen him since I got on board." She ran a hand through her silvery hair and sighed. "I'm sorry, my name's Cesina Bul'ra, second officer of the ship if anyone will believe me."

"Glad to meet you, my name's Peili," she said with an extended hand. "Ship's security chief." She politely left off that she already knew who Cesina was, having already gone through every member of the crew's service records looking for anything she'd need to know later.

Cesina took the Orion's green hand and was surprised when hers wasn't shaken, but kissed. "Oh , umm, no last name?"

Peili released Cesina's hand and shrugged, "Where I'm from women don't merit last names."

"Oh, umm, I'm sorry."

Peili waved her hand, "Don't be, not like you have anything to do with it, and I'm not there now am I?"

"I suppose not," Cesina said as her antennae perked up just a little.

"Ok, let's see about finding your room, I hear we're shoving off soon, don't wanna get stuck without a place to bunk right?"

***************

Lieutenant Commander Ulin did her best to not take off in the opposite direction when she saw the crewman coming up behind her. Binni knew that Lieutenant Fealst'rak wasn't dangerous even though that primitive part of her brain still in charge of her fight or flight response told her that this monster was going to try and eat her or something even worse. Just like she was supposed to she'd read the crew briefing that had detailed the various species that would be serving on the Typhoon and when she'd gotten to the section on the Rurutic she'd desperately hoped that whichever of them would be serving would be serving somewhere she'd never have to come in contact with them. No luck. The lieutenant was going to be in charge of the Typhoon's meager science department and would almost certainly be present at every major staff meeting.

Fealst'rak's footsteps rattled the deck plates as his hooves thudded across them, the powerful gripping claws around them clattering down with each step. Thud-claclaclaclack, thud-claclaclaclack. When he stopped beside her he reached one six fingered hand out to tap the turbolift call button with a claw even though it was already lit up. Binni watched the hand come back to his side and tried not to thing about how easily it could wrap around her head, the long middle four fingers could probably curl around from her forehead to her neck and the thumbs could wrap around each side of her head. A shudder ran though her body and she tried to focus on something else, like the way the chameleoid had turned most of his body a dull deep black and just his chest plate Starfleet science's blue. His head was molted green and black from the tips of his horned frill in the back to the feeding tendrils that obscured the razor sharp beak at the front. She couldn't tell if he was looking at her because of the polarized eyelids that protected his delicate eyes, the shimmering oil slicks gave no clue as to what his attention was on though she supposed he could see almost everything since the dull gray patches of his infra red sensing organs were spread over his head. She had almost calmed herself with thoughts of how it must look to be able to see 360 degrees in IR when the Rurutic shifted his second set of arms and Binni felt like prey all over again.

The set of arms that were above his manipulator ones and right behind his head were enormous, powerfully muscled upper and lower arms connected to a pair of grasping talons that when unfolded would curve back over the Fealst'rak's shoulders and frame his head like a praying mantis' arms. Two and a half meter killing claws tipped these arms, just ready to impale some hapless human with a shorter but just as wide half meter pair below them ready to cut the hapless victim in half. They weren't really killing claws she knew, the Rurutic were an arboreal species and used their larger arm/claws as their primary method of moving through the canopy of their home world. While the lower part of the arms did look like giant claws and were in fact used to help bring down prey at times the Rurutic mostly used them to climb, the smaller flexible finger claws that lined the main ones allowed them tremendous grip when moving about the trees. Fealst'rak had quickly learned however that the normal carrying position of those arms, extended forward over his shoulders, tended to seem aggressive to most of the species in Starfleet. He wasn't hunting of course but in order to put the small ones at ease and to make getting around a cramped starship easier he had just adopted the habit of keeping them folded and down at his sides where his uniform black color at most times helped them disappear. Of course, he still needed to loosen them up and stretch at times.

'Be calm, be calm, be calm,' Binni had to tell herself. 'He's just another sentient being, he's an officer and your ship mate, calm down. There's going to be more just like him in not too long.' The turbolift arrived quickly and opened up, Binni immediately slipped into it, happy to not be sharing the space with the lieutenant, until he took a heavy step towards the turbolift. Binni didn't know whether to scream in frustration at being stupid enough to think that Fealst'rak wouldn't be getting on the turbolift he had also called for or terror at sharing an even smaller space with him. Two strides of his detigrade legs carried him in with her and he turned to face forward bringing his prehensile tail in with him. There was no clear dividing line between a Rurutic's tail and body, their abdomens' simply turned back and started to narrow, providing a thick powerful tail base that tapered down over the next two meters before flaring out into a wide diamond shaped pad at the back. The tail was prehensile which allowed them another powerful grip on the limbs and branches of their home environment and was strong enough to support their entire weight, something Binni was acutely aware of as it curled around the perimeter of the 'lift, the diamond shaped tip right at her knees. "Officer's quarters," she said and the turbolift was off with a faint hum.

"Deck five, science labs." Fealst'rak did his best not to take up the entire turbo lift but it wasn't easy, most of the sentients in the Federation were just so tiny. He watched the human woman beside him try not to fidget but fail, he could sense her increased body heat, the electric signals surging through her muscles that compelled her to run and stay at the same time, and he could perceive the signals racing through her mind pooling in the place he had learned meant nervousness and even fear. He shifted his body a little to give her more space and moved his tail to wrap around his own feet. He could understand how they could be nervous around him, he easily out massed her at least nine to one, but the fear was just so odd. Surely humans understood that there was no point for a Rurutic to ever ingest one of them, their right handed amino acids and left handed sugars meant they would be as nutritious as the carpeting of the turbolift for a Rurutic, if not downright poisonous. Of course if he felt the urge to he could easily kill her, her frail little body wouldn't last long against a species that had developed to hunt fast moving armored prey that weighed tons but there would be no point to it, no challenge in it. It was one more thing to learn about this new Federation his people were a part of.

The Rurutic were new to the Federation, having joined only a decade prior after making their first warp flight. The ambassadors that had arrived, Andorians and Betazoids if he recalled, had responded much the same way that this lieutenant commander was, but just like her they had tried to hide it and move on about their business. The Rurutic's transition into the galaxy had not been pleasant, putting even the Humans to shame. While the little ground dwellers had managed to only kill off half their population the Rurutic had managed to kill off more than eighty percent of the population of their homeworld and irradiate all but one small continent in the north. The Rurutic that had made contact were citizens of a colony on one of Rurutic's large arid moons. The colony had been working on warp flight before the final war and had been ignored by all three sides. The scientists and citizens of the colony had managed to avoid falling into factiousness, probably because everyone was equally devastated in the war, and had moved on with their experiments. They had surprised the other members of the Federation by how quickly they had acclimated to the new galaxy opened to them and Fealst'rak had graduated from the Academy only five years after they had joined the alliance.

His astrophysics instructors had been surprised to learn that his own knowledge on the subjects had equaled, and even surpassed in some places, their's. Fresh from the academy he had been given charge of a deep field examination of the galactic core and had only recently finished. However rather than give him a teaching assignment so as to have plenty of time to analyze his data in peace they had informed him that both he and his small cadre of fellow scientists and assistants would be transferred to the Typhoon to serve as the core of the astrophysics department. Due to his commission Fealst'rak had become the default leader of the whole science department as well, if you could call the forty or so members of the Explorer Corp on board a department. The Defense Force had wanted to maintain some scientific presence on some of their larger ships and with the Explorer Corp already having plenty of trained scientists they had come to an agreement that deployed Explorer Corp scientists on Defense Force ships. He had asked for the reasoning behind his deployment and been told that he was here so that he could accumulate both command and starship experience and the Typhoon would likely be quiet and uneventful for a scientist giving him plenty of time to compile his data and write his papers. The neutral zone held no scientific mysteries that Fealst'rak was aware of, so in its own way this deployment would be almost a sabbatical for him.

"The ship . very busy making preparations to leave."

The lieutenant's halting speech drew Binni's attention to itself as much as what he said. She knew that the Rurutic had an extremely precise way of putting some things, proper nouns were described extensively in their speech. Whoever had programmed the universal translator for them had decided to have it cut out a lot of that description, the end result was that Fealst'rak appeared to pause from time to time when he was speaking. He had probably included the ship's registration number and commissioning data along with the exact preparations under way to get going. Even his name was an abbreviation as his true name included his matrilineal lineage, clutch number and rank within the clutch, for at least four generations. Proper nouns in Rurutic were very, very proper.

"Yes ," she stammered, "yes we are. The captain is hoping to leave by this evening."

"Ship to depart in morning would be preferable , for good fortunes."

"Oh? Is that a Rurutic custom?"

Faelst'rak bobbed his head, feeding tentacles writhing. Binni quickly found the turbolift control panel fascinating. "Yes, vessels will be blessed by the rising sun if launched with it."

"Poetic," Binni said.

"Yes, it is. Time is of the essence in this case."

***************

"Come on, hurry up and get that gear in the turbo lift. You don't get that in there and I mean right now I swear I will toss your kit right off the shuttle to make room for it. Half an hour people, we've got half an hour to get this stuff loaded and over to the Typhoon so the can load it properly!"

"How's the loading really going Marcos?"

"Just fine my spotted friend, just fine." Marcos Hernandez showed his PADD to his fellow squadron leader. "Everything important is already over and loaded on big momma, we're just packing up the little stuff it's nice to have with us."

Rilo Gulia took the PADD from his partner. "Typhoon still planning to leave dock at twenty one hundred?"

"Last I heard she was, I'd like to get us airborne by twenty thirty so we can be ready for her."

Rilo thumbed through several manifest pages before passing it back to Marcos. "Sounds good to me. Tycho have anything to say about it?"

Marcos frowned at the mention of their CAG, "Danor always has something to say about it, 'Why not twenty hundred for a little more margin?' Because it takes us maybe three minutes to all get out of dock, that's why. Why can't he just give us an order? You want us in the sky at twenty hundred tell me, don't question my decisions for the freaking hell of it."

"Yvethan's are mildly empathic, you might not want to think that way around him."

"I didn't say it to his face."

"Think it hard enough and he'll pick up the emotion. He's probably just trying to get more info out of you, not to be difficult."

"It's still annoying," one of the loading crews caught Marcos' eye and he yelled across the bay. "What the hell is that? Put the boxes on the bottom of the pallet, not on top of the gas cylinders, are you trying to piss off the unloading crews?!"

"So how are the ships?" Rilo prodded. When it came to material and planning issues Marcos had the advantage, but Rilo was better at dealing with people. It meant things were busy for Marcos right now but down right peaceful for him.

"Alpha two two's port lower just can't stay lit, the mechanics tell me the initiators for the fusion chamber are desyncing and the fuel pellets aren't getting burned. Of course to fix it they'll have to rip out half the guts of the fighter so Banshee and Bubbles are just going to have to limp home on three tonight. Alpha four three's cockpit heater either runs full blast or not at all so Ringer and Vega are relying on their suit's, not a big issue for short hops but if we wanna pull any marathons that'll have to get repaired. Beta one two's repulsors are wonky so they're not doing any precision flying in the shuttle bay but they can get outta here and in to roost just fine. I'd say we're about ninety five percent over all."

"Looks like all straight forward things to fix."

"Yeah, shouldn't be a problem, can't see any reason we wouldn't be a hundred percent by the time we get to the border. How are the guys and girls?"

"Nothing odd, everyone's just ready to get going." Marcos said as he crossed his arms.

*******************

Captain Hayes walked into the conference room just a few minutes before 1500 to find his senior staff already present, even Johan. Most of them were seated but a few had gotten up to hold their discussions in the corners of the room either to spare everyone else the details or get close enough to hear one another over the buzz of voices. He quietly sat his coffee down on the table and took his seat, folding his hands over his chest and waiting for his staff to quiet down. Timothy shook his head no as he took a sip of his coffee when Johan looked his way. Slowly, in ones and twos the staff caught sight of their commanding officer and quieted down, taking their seats and waiting for him to speak.

"By all means, don't let me interrupt." Hayes took another sip of his coffee, ignoring the rest of the room and focusing on his first officer. "Mmm, I've been meaning to ask you, who makes this coffee Jo? I know it's not you, it doesn't taste like tar."

"That's called strong coffee sir, this stuff is brewed up by the cook."

Hayes set his cup down, "Remind me to pay him a visit, this is good coffee."

"It's milk with a dash of coffee, but will do sir," Johan said with a sly grin on his face.

Timothy turned to his left and his second officer. "You should try this, Johan might not have any taste but there's still hope for you."

Lt. Commander Bul'ra looked flustered with her antennae moving about erratically. "I will sir, thank you sir."

"Good." Hayes looked back up, glancing around to take in the room. "So, are we done?" He paused for a second. "Alright, let's get started then."

Johan gave a slight nod and once again Deekan started the meeting. "Sir, all torpedoes are aboard and loaded and all phaser banks have passed their final check outs and diagnostics. All my gunners are aboard and the weapon's department is ready to depart."

Lieutenant commander Ulin waited for her superior to finish. "As of thirteen hundred all defensive systems have passed their final inspections." She paused to pick up her PADD and check her notes. "Short ranged defensive phasers all pass muster as well as the shield grid. We did note a power fluctuation in the port aft ventral second layer shield, it's out of spec but nothing that would make me say it's down."

Terzi piped up from across the table and interjected. "It's on the bitch list bossman, probably a fritzing relay or maybe a bad coupling somewhere, no biggie we'll get it fixed."

Timothy nodded. "Bump it to the top of the list, I don't want our tactical systems to have issues."

"That's it sir," Binni finished.

Peili propped her elbows on the table and leaned forward. "Sir, all my marines are on board and our gear is stowed. We're going to be starting familiarization drills tomorrow morning, alternating days of holodeck sims and real world drilling."

"Real world?" his second officer asked.

Peili nodded. "Yes, we can only learn so much on the holodeck. We'll be touring the ship and speaking with crewman all over to try and get a feel for things. The holodeck can tell us how the ship is laid out, not how it lives."

"Interesting," Cesina said.

"After that we'll start to familiarize ourselves with the lay outs of the rest of the ships in the task force."

"Very well, just be sure to coordinate holodeck time with Mr. Kim. Mr. Danor, report."

Their Yvethan air group commander shook his frilled head from side to side, the wide expanse of bone and skin that projected back flushing dark blue in a way meant to ensure he had the attention of the group. When he began to speak his beaked mouth moved independently of his voice, like a badly dubbed movie. The bone and mouth structure of the Yvethans precluded any ability to ever speak English so his universal translator was designed to dampen out the sound of his voice to anyone but himself and to replace it with a rather pleasant if generic human voice. If you sat close enough you could pick up the chirping trill of his natural language but from Timothy's vantage point is was just a disorienting clash of mouth movements and voice. "The bulk of the shuttles and small craft are aboard. The docking umbilical prevents loading the fighters or the runabouts, they will be coming aboard after we leave space dock. Their supplies are already aboard."

"Make sure they get aboard smartly, I want to get to warp as quickly as possible."

"Aye sir."

The doctor perked up as Tycho finished his report. "Ah, my turn? Well, all medical supplies are aboard and accounted for so I see no reason to delay our departure." His holographic face grew a bit dourer as he continued, "We have seen several injuries in sickbay since preparations for departure began, significantly more than would be attributed to normal wear and tear. I would advise a formal review of Starfleet safety protocols for the crew after departure."

"I'll let you handle that Doctor."

The Doctor brightened immediately. "Thank you sir, I'll set it up immediately." Thankfully he either missed or ignored Johan's faint chuckle.

"Mr. Fealst'rak?"

The tentacles covering the Rurutic's beak writhed as he talked. "My department is aboard. Ready for departure we are."

"How are the labs working for your team."

"Working with instruments that are not always present is odd, but convenient."

"Hopefully this arrangement will work out for you."

"I am looking forward to this deployment "

"Good," Timothy wasn't sure how anyone in the science department could be looking forward to a deployment along a section of space that had been scanned, rescanned, and scanned again right down to the stray hydrogen atoms every day for the last two centuries but he didn't question it, better that they start out in high spirits.

"Lieutenant Boritsolav?"

The ship's young communications officer tried to tug her uniform jacket into position and sit up a bit straighter as she answered. "I have already informed Stardock of our intended departure and downloaded all the latest database updates and intelligence reports from their files. I've contacted DS3 and the rest of the task force to let them know we will be departing slightly ahead of our previous schedule."

"Have you accommodated our guests?"

"Aye sir. The reporter is not very happy with the restrictions though." Yumiko tried to look dignified with her hands clasped on the table in front of her, until a stray lock of purple hair drifted down in front of her face and ruined it, making her look just as young as she was. Her almond eyes crinkled in annoyance as she pushed the errant hairs up behind her ear.

"If she's getting in your face bump her up the command chain." Timothy wanted to tell her to just cut her off for a little while if Bella was going to complain about what she got but the FDF needed to look good right now, which meant swallowing his pride in this instance.

"Aye sir."

Seven of Nine didn't wait to be called on, as soon as Yumiko finished she began. "All sensor systems have tested operational at ninety five percent efficient or better," the former drone said in her brusque tone. "We will be conducting extensive sensor scans of several systems and nearby starship traffic during our journey to Deep Space Three in order to verify the sensor systems' operation." Seven of Nine continued to look Timothy's way with her hands folded in front of her. Her eyes turned to the side to look at Harry, who didn't seem to notice until the silence in the room dragged on for an awkward moment. He then looked up to see Seven staring at him and then towards the captain. His head snapped around to see Timothy taking a long drag from his coffee cup and looking pointedly at him.

"Oh, yes umm," he rapidly thumbed through pages on his PADD until he found what he was looking forward.

"When ever you feel up to it Mr. Kim."

"Yes sir," he said before clearing his throat. "I've cleared our departure with spacedock, we have clearance to depart as soon as we're ready. The last few crates of supplies are being loaded and secured as we speak. There was a computer glitch in the personnel roster earlier today; some people were not registering as crew members or being allowed the proper access."

"Did anyone get more access than they should?"

"Not that we can tell, no sir."

Timothy sat his cup down and paused for a moment. "Just the same, Lieutenant Peili "

"Yes sir?"

"Work with Mr. Kim, tear that portion of the computer apart, look for anything you can find that might suggest something less benign than a 'glitch'."

"Aye sir," they both answered. Harry continued on alone, "Aside from that all ops systems have checked out. Our duet/trit slush loading has finished along with the antimatter, our fuel tanks are topped off."

Timothy looked at his chief engineer. The little Elysian was vibrating in her seat, her pent up energy and excitement plain to see only hours from taking her new engines out into deep space. "Terzi?"

"Impulse assemblies one and two both check out in spec. The reaction control system and auxiliary fusion reactors all passed muster. Power distribution is checked out to hundred and twenty five percent and all ancillary systems are in prime condition."

Terzi seemed relieved to finish her report on those systems, they were her little nieces and nephews, 'If Elysian's have those,' Timothy pondered, but her real children were her reactors.

"Warp core two passed its full power test this morning, a hundred and five percent without even a hiccup. Number one is going right now and since nothing's exploded I'm guessing it's good as well. After that we'll run number three up and see if anything pops."

"How long before we can get under way?"

"Three's test will take about two hours, figure we'll be done and ready to go by about eighteen hundred hours sir."

Johan had a faint smile on his lips as Terzi finished. When the captain looked at him he just shrugged. "I'm good to go."

Timothy sat his mug down and nodded. "Very well then, since everyone's ready to go or will be shortly I see no reason to delay departure. Notify the ship, spacedock, and the fighter squadrons that we'll be shooting for an eighteen hundred departure time."

********************

"Reactor two on-line and released to general load, reactors one and three on stand-by. Impulse engines one and two on-line and under helm control. Reaction control system operational, secondary generators on stand-by. All propulsion systems are on-line and prepared for departure."

"Very well Ms. Saral."

"Primary umbilicals one through seven and eleven through twenty three are detached, eight, nine, and ten securing detached, umbilical gantries retracting. All gangways and turbolift connections released. All stations reporting in secured for departure," Harry reported.

"All sensors operational and in passive mode, prepared to engage active once we leave spacedock "

Timothy relaxed in his chair, enjoying the deep, subsonic thrum of his ship preparing to leave. All around him his officers chimed in with her readiness and theirs, each one a step closer to getting his ship out into space. In a moment of mirth he reached over to his own control console and tapped in his orders. The massive viewscreen that dominated the entire forward bulkhead and showed the interior of the space dock appeared to melt, its top extending up to the ceiling overhead and showing the long arch of the dock and the central spire they were docked to. It was as if a giant had peeled back the roof. He heard a few of the bridge crew gasp. After all what was the point of having holoemitters everywhere if you couldn't play with them a little?

"Most impressive captain," T'prin said from the seat at his left.

"The bridge can get a little claustrophobic at times." Over his shoulder he could see Cessina and Bella Mavil standing beside the gunnery stations behind him. His second officer had given up her seat to the Senator but seemed to be using one of stations to keep herself in the loop.

"Show off," Johan muttered. "All systems and stations ready for departure sir," he said loud enough to carry around the bridge.

"Very well then, Mr. Bisaan, take us out, smartly."

"Aye sir." The Nileen's arms became a blur of motion as all four of them started to work his control panels far faster than a human would have. "Mooring tractors on and holding, docking clamps released and retracting," The ship shivered as the clamps released her with a dull thump that echoed through her frame. "Mooring tractors released, the ship is free."

The view before them shuddered somewhat as the spacedock gave up her last grip on the ship. Timothy could just catch Bella gripping the railing harder as the Typhoon's structure moaned as she came from free from the dock for the first time in months.

"Port drift, three meters per second," Villec said as he pulsed the ship's thrusters.

"Ten meters clearance," Milana called out, helping her friend maneuver the ship. "Twenty. Thirty. Clear to maneuver."

"Canceling drift, ahead ten meters per second."

"Five hundred to the channel," Milana said.

Timothy flipped his display to the channel of one the spacedock's cameras, watching his ship slip from her berth from afar, her graceful lines picking up speed as she shed the clunky confines of her nest.

"Down on the bow, five meters per second."

Timothy looked up at his helmsmen, surprised at the direction but allowing his new crewman to take control. It would make a good exercise to see what he did. With a few more commands he added the view from the spacedock's tracking cameras to one side of the view screen. He sat back to appreciate the view as the ship left dock with quite a bit more flair than was strictly regulation.

"Ten meters clearance on the starboard nacelle."

"Of this I am aware, coming starboard, ahead fifteen meters per second."

A smile crept onto Timothy's face as his ships swung below her own gantry and just above the ship's below, pitching through an opening between the clutter and accelerating into the channel, cutting the corner off the turn.

Milana glanced over at her friend, "Channel in one hundred meters."

"Canceling all vectors but forward, twenty meters per second."

"Sir," Yumiko piped up from her station, "the harbor master is hailing, he's demanding that we slow and assume a standard dock departure plan."

"Acknowledge it," Timothy replied, but gave no orders to his own crew. Ships and dock structures slid by on either side as the ship moved out. In the distance he could see the great space doors trundling open as they approached the turn towards them. With a deft hand Villec spun the ship to port quickly, making the sharp turn and lining them up dead center in the exit way.

"In the channel, five thousand to outer doors."

Villec's claws whipped across his controls, "Full ahead thrusters, two hundred meters per second."

In a handful of seconds the ship slipped between the slabs of duranium that made up the spacedock's doors and out into open space.

"We're clear of spacedock and in the departure channel."

"Very well Ms. Tuul, Lieutenant Bisaan take us out on thrusters until all craft have been recovered then go to impulse."

**********************

"There she is!"

"Roger that Bravo one three," Marcos said. "Let's get it home people." The giant battlecruiser slipped between the doors of the spacedock and headed out into space, she was moving quickly, relatively, and Marcos didn't want to waste anytime getting aboard.

"Starpalace this is Galahad six, requesting permission to land."

"Galahad six, Starpalace, permission granted."

Marcos flipped back over to his squadron's general frequencies. "Alright everyone out of the pool, trashmovers in first then Bravo and last Alpha. Take it in pairs and let's get a move on."

While the first pair of large runabouts lined up and slid into the ship's shuttle bay the rest of the fighters took up station high and behind the ship, waiting their turn.

"Lovely view, ain't it?" Hound, his backseat weapons officer asked.

Marcos grinned, he'd worked his way up as a combat shuttle pilot, struggling to stay alive in the relatively fragile and lumbering ships even though they'd been built for fighting. Now he was at the controls of a real fighter, one that could out shoot, out run, and out last anything he'd ever flown before and he was getting to take it on a cruise aboard the biggest toughest ship in the fleet. 'No more Dominion War disasters,' he thought to himself. "That it is, that it is."

****************************

"Ahead one quarter impulse."

Timothy was becoming quite pleased with his helmsman, rather than wait for his Captain to give him the order again he had just taken the initiative and gone to impulse as soon as Tycho had reported the last fighter was aboard.

"We're in the lane, two point three million kilometers till we're clear."

Timothy wait for a moment before asking, "Madam Senator?"

"Yes?"

"I was wondering if you would join me for dinner tomorrow evening."

The Senator paused for a moment to consider before replying, "Thank you captain, I will join you "

"Excellent I'll make "

" and perhaps Ms. Mavil will join us?"

Only three years of having to choke down his real opinion when dealing with reporters allowed him to keep a straight face even as felt a sudden overwhelming urge to throw the Senator off his ship. "Of course, it will be a pleasure." Timothy turned his head and gave the reporter a smile.

Bella smiled back sweetly. "I look forward to it."

"I'll have Lieutenant Bell get to you with the particulars."

"Captain, we're coming up on the outer buoys."

"Very well, lay in a course for Starbase Three, warp seven."

Milana checked her figures over again quickly before committing the ship to her course. "Aye sir, course laid in," she said, hoping the tension in her voice wasn't evident. The consequences of screwing up the course now made the reprimand she would get in the academy for a bad one look inviting.

"Engage."

============================================================

Dramatis Personae

Crew, U.S.S. Typhoon NCC-79853

Timothy Hayes, Fleet Captain, Commander 1st Task Force of the 17th Fleet, Male Human
Commanded the U.S.S. Atlas during the Dominion War, transferred into the Federation Defense Force immediately after its establishment, given command of the Typhoon and the 1st TF soon after.

Johan Luhrner, Commander, Male Human
1st Officer of the Atlas during the Dominion War, 1st officer of the Typhoon

Cesina Bul'ra, Lt. Commander, Female Andorian
Lieutenant aboard the U.S.S Galaxy, 2nd Officer of the Typhoon

Terzi Del, Commander, Female Elysian
Chief Engineer of the Atlas during the Dominion War, Chief Engineer of the Typhoon

Deekan Braal, Commander, Male Capellan
Security Officer then Tactical Officer of the Atlas during the Dominion War, Chief Tactical Officer of the Typhoon

Peili, Lt. Commander, Female Orion
Lieutenant in charge of the defense of a border station during the Dominion War, Chief Security Officer of the Typhoon

Harry Kim, Commander, Male Human
Operations Officer of the U.S.S. Voyager, Operations Officer of the Typhoon

EMH (Joe), Commander, Hologram
Chief Medical Officer of the Voyager, Chief Medical Officer of the Typhoon

7 of 9, Lieutenant, Human/Borg Female
Served on U.S.S. Voyager, Chief Sensors Officer of the Typhoon

Riway daughter of Jaheel, Lt. Commander, Female Si'rak
Ensign on the Atlas, 1st Operations Officer of the Typhoon

Binni Ulin, Lt. Commander, Female Human
Lieutenant on the U.S.S. Lelander, Defense Officer of the Typhoon

Villec Bisaan, Lieutenant, Male Nileen
Starfleet Academy Cadet, Helmsman of the Typhoon

Milana Tuul, Lieutenant, Cardassian Female
Starfleet Academy Cadet, Navigator of the Typhoon

Saral, Lt. Commander, Female Vulcan
Asst. Chief Engineer of the Typhoon

Fealst'rak, Lieutenant, Rurutic Male
Headed a research project using a space telescope to study the galactic core, Chief Science Officer of the Typhoon

Others

T'prin, Senator, Vulcan Female
Federation senator and chief opponent of the FDF

Solin, Aide, Vulcan Male
Senator T'prin's personal assistant

Bella Mavil, Reporter, Human Female
United News reporter on assignment aboard the Typhoon

===========================================

Author's Notes

1) I've been working on this for over a year, on and off mostly. It's good to finally have it done.
2) The FDF is completely my own idea, I'm sure that some people will throw a hissy fit about it. Honestly Star Fleet already has many aspects of the military, from their crews to the fact that the ships are in fact armed. All this does is pull the military aspects out of Star Fleet and condense it in a much smaller sub-organization.
3) The creation of the FDF is set shortly after the events of Star Trek: Nemesis. The Federation has finally hit its limit on the number to times it was willing to almost be annihilated and decided to do something about it.
4) Most of the characters are entirely my own creations, I'm only reusing Harry, the Doctor, 7 of 9, and Janeway. I can't see the DS9 crew signing up for another go in the military and TNG crew is mostly all spoken for.
5) When I started writing this the only thing we knew about the Titan class explorers was that they were going to be the next great exploration ships of Star Fleet. Given that so far the progression had been to ever larger ships I figured that trend would continue and that the Titans would be very large ships. I was wrong. The Titans are actually being described as much smaller vessels, more Excelsior sized I believe. I have no intention of coming up with a new progenitor class, this is a divergent continuity anyways.
6) I drew a lot of inspiration for this work from the new Titan series of books. I highly recommend that you go and read them, very, very, very good stuff.
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Tyyr
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Chapter 2

Postby Tyyr » Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:12 am

Proud Legion
By: bsmart

Disclaimer: Rated R for the good stuff, you've been warned. I don't own Trek, but the people who do probably shouldn't either.

============================================================

Chapter 2: Road

============================================================

"Have we identified the last agent?"

In the dark room the speaker's features were hidden beneath the hood of his rain cape. Outside rain was falling hard enough to make the metal roof of the warehouse rumble but he would have worn the cape anyways. Even with his features hidden and his normally raspy voice altered everyone at the table knew the identity of their fellow conspirators.

"We have, and we've begun surveillance, in a three or four weeks we'll know her habits and be ready."

A smaller form, a female one stood from her seat and placed her hands on the table, leaning forward enough that the light overhead began to illuminate her features. "Three or four weeks!? We don't have that kind of time!"

He folded his hands behind his back; even with what they were plotting the conspirators were still a group of politicians and businessmen at heart. Most of them anyways, there were a few military men like him on the council, though they had been discerning enough to avoid becoming the spymaster of this little plot. "Actually we do, the pieces won't be in place for another month and the event won't happen for at least a week after that. We'll be ready ahead of time."

"And this is the last operative?" The first man asked, trying to appear nonchalant by resting his hands on his impressive girth.

"That we know of, yes."

"Know of? What do you mean know of?" The woman demanded again, with two other conspirators raising their voices to join hers.

"I mean just that, the ones we know of."

"You mean there may be others?" one of the woman's supporters piped in.

He tried his hardest not of show any reaction, glad his own cape hid his exasperated expression. "Of course, these are simply the agents we know of, there may be others that we don't know of. In fact there are certainly others we don't know of yet and that's not including the sleepers."

The assembled crowed broke out in a clamor of voices as half the conspirators were thrown into an uproar. He wasn't surprised by it, or who was part of it. A quick scan of the crowed confirmed that the ones that mattered were quietly accepting the news, military men, a few of the more intelligent politicians, and the cut-throat business men who'd risen to the top of their fields in a place where "cut-throat" was more than just a colorful description. Unfortunately they needed the rest of the conclave to move their plans forward.

Once again the woman took the forefront, as she had so many times before. If she hadn't been in charge of one of the largest news distributors in this sector they never would have bothered with her. He wasn't even really sure why they had, her contentiousness, she seemed to disagree for the shear joy of it, had caused so many delays that their margin of error was already gone. "This is unacceptable; we need to identify ALL opposing agents before this can proceed. The disruption they could cause would be disastrous!"

He knew that what was truly unacceptable was that once they moved all their lives would quickly be in jeopardy and the odds of several of them being assassinated were almost certain. In fact a few of his junior officers had a betting pool going. He even had a little money riding on her untimely death, though it was less of a sound financial decision and more a bit of wishful thinking. "Identifying every enemy agent is impossible; we have located every one that we reasonably can."

"Are you trying to tell me we should be happy at you've done all you reasonably can?!"

"Given that some enemy agents might not even realize they are agents, or might even think they're working for us, yes."

"WHAT!?"

"I've seen it before, they'll employ someone posing as a rival company, for a little extra money they'll dupe someone into what they think is just a little industrial espionage, maybe even sabotage, all the while having no idea who they're really working for. I've even seen them pose as members of groups like this and trick others into spying on their leaders simply as a way of providing checks and balances," a few people suddenly twitched and he noted them for proper, treatment, later on. Others were looking apprehensive, nervous even, and that was good. He'd studied to0 many failed plots like this that had collapsed simply because the plotters had thought themselves invincible, a little fear would keep them all on edge, more attentive, less likely to make mistakes. It also made them more reliant upon him, which meant they were less likely to notice or object while he carved his own little piece of the pie out. "There's simply no way to root out every security risk and ever move forward "

The woman looked to be ready to start another contrarian tirade but he ignored her.

" In fact a little anarchy, a little disruption, a touch of chaos is a good thing. Our goal has never been to remove every single agent, but simply to remove as many as possible so that what ever trouble the remaining ones might cause is both beneficial and manageable."

The portly man sat up straighter and leaned forward, clearly taking charge of the discussion again.

"Regardless of the risks we're on a fixed time table and too far in to affect any changes. We will proceed as planned. We are adjourned."

====================================

"This salad is quite good captain."

Timothy smiled; drawing praise from Vulcans was always something to celebrate. "Thank you Senator, I made it myself."

"What did you call these fruits?"

"Avocado and red grapefruit, I'm surprised no one has introduced you to them during your stay on Earth."

"Most functions have provided somewhat blander fair in the interests of accommodating many varied cultures, tastes, and body chemistries."

"Did you make the dressing as well," Bella said as she plucked up another green slice topped with grapefruit and rubbed it in the dressing.

"I made everything by hand."

"Impressive," the senator said.

Timothy grinned and dismissively waved his hand. "Not really, all I did was slice up the fruit, juice a few lemons and whip some stuff together, it's actually very easy to make. I tell you what, I'll contact my supplier, have him send a few of each tree over to the consulate on Earth."

"That would be most appreciated."

"Think nothing of it, you really must have this dish with fresh fruit, the replicators are fantastic but they just don't manage to capture something about the flavor of this properly."

"I thought replicators were perfect?" Bella asked.

Timothy shrugged. "Supposedly, but if you ask me there's just something about fresh food properly prepared that they can't capture in my opinion."

"So this is fresh?" Bella asked.

Timothy grinned, "Captains privilege, I have my own little corner of the airponics bay." and with that he stood and went to retrieve the next course from the cart he'd used to bring it down. The cook and stewards hadn't been happy about him making his own food and even serving it in this case but they'd have to get used to that. He enjoyed cooking from time to time and he wasn't about to give that up, and he didn't want the stewards at this meal, he wanted something more informal. The next course was quickly handed out and he took his seat back at the head of the table. "Up next, sweet teriyaki grilled mahi mahi."

"This smells delicious," Bella said as she inhaled the heady aroma.

"Captain I do not eat meat."

Timothy gave the senator his most reassuring smile. "Of course Senator, it's tofu. Thankfully the ship's chef knew some tricks to make it flake properly and absorb the flavors."

T'prin nodded silently and took a small bite. "This is, very bold."

"Well I couldn't image it being bland; I used enough sauce making it to float a boat." Timothy smirked until both women stared at him blankly. "Ahem, old Earth expression, I umm, used a lot of sauce."

"I believe I would enjoy seeing the galley where this was prepared," the Senator said as she cut off another piece to eat.

"Yes, and speaking of sightseeing," Bella sipped her wine and set the glass down, "I was wondering if I could see some of your people in action."

"In action?"

"Yes, in action. The tour was nice captain but I saw mostly empty halls, surely your people do something exciting to pass the time." Bella smiled disarmingly and not for the first time Timothy noticed that her clothing was on the daring and risqué side of casual.

He had seen her tight knee length black skirt when he'd led her in and her bright blue halter top hung loose enough to make the primitive side of his brain hope she'd lean forward in just the right way. She wasn't being terribly subtle in her attempts to manipulate him which wasn't a surprise. From what he'd seen and read of her she seemed to prefer short, direct, confrontational approaches to dealing with her subjects, which made him wonder why she was here for such a long stay. "Well, lieutenant commander Peili's marines will be commencing drills immediately, those should be interesting. We'll also be conducting drills for the whole ship, battle, damage control, that sort of thing."

"Yes, that would be perfect," she smiled. "I don't suppose I could arrange another tour could I?"

"I'm sure we can work something out, Lieutenant Bell "

"I was hoping you could give it to me."

Timothy fought the urge to roll his eyes. "I'm sure I can find the time. Senator, how are you enjoying your stay?"

T'prin swallowed the mouthful of greens she'd been eating and wiped her mouth with her napkin. "The accommodations are excellent, precisely what I would expect from Starfleet."

"We do our best. I can't imagine that you're going to find this trip very interesting."

"On the contrary captain, I have already found it to be very enlightening."

Timothy pushed his empty plate away from him and relaxed in his chair. "Is that so?"

"Three hours of observation is superior to three years of speculation."

"Who said that, Surak?" Bella asked.

"T'prin," the senator answered.

Timothy kept his chuckle to himself. "And what have you observed so far?"

"A well built ship with a competent crew who seem to be acutely aware of the scrutiny they are under and the responsibility they bear." T'prin's eyes moved from his to look off at something to the side. "Though I am learning some things about the captain that are, interesting."

Timothy didn't need to turn to know what she was looking at. Gathering his wine glass in his hand he stood up and walked around the table, past his fish tank that served as a dividing wall and out into his living area. The senator's eyes had rather purposefully looked at the plaque on his wall. He considered it for a moment before asking, "And what would that thing be?"

"He is someone who takes pride in the battles they have fought," her voice lowered slightly, "the lives he has taken."

Timothy sipped from his glass as his eyes absently roamed over the plaque, his mind's eye recalling each and every ship on it. "And?"

"Is that something to be proud of?"

Timothy stared at the plaque, "Yes."

"May I ask why?"

"My ship, my crew, they stood in front of an onrushing horde and stopped them. We fought hard, for months on end, long past the time we should have given up and collapsed from exhaustion. We survived battles we had no place surviving. We defeated enemies bent on our own destruction," he turned to look at both women, "and yours. So pardon me if I take some pride in that."

For a long moment no one said anything, Bella looked particularly uncomfortable until the senator stabbed her last piece of tofu with her fork, soaked up some of the glaze and ate it. "The sauce was exceptional."

Timothy smiled and nodded. "Thank you, shall we have dessert?"

==================================

"And you can guarantee that it will last long enough?"

"I can't even guarantee that it will happen at all."

"We planned all this based on your assurances that this would happen!"

"I said I can't guarantee it, you can never be one hundred percent certain about things like this, ever. All our data leads to the conclusion that it is likely to happen however."

"The computer models you showed the ."

"Pretty pictures based on nothing more than assumptions and conjecture; like all computer models are."

The spymaster ran his hand through his hair, exasperated. He felt no need to hide his face, he only did in the conclave meetings because it was tradition, and standing out in a crowd was something he didn't like to do. "This entire operation is based off your research and you're telling me you're guessing?!"

"All science is a guess until you can actually observe something happen." Rail thin and more than a head taller than his fellow, and not exactly short, conspirator the scientist was a youngster in the normally elderly science community, he'd made headway in his chosen field by being absolutely brilliant. He would have regretted some of the things he'd said to the cabal if there might have been some other way to get them to move. He sat down on one of the stools surrounding a holotable where one of their simulations was running.

"We're risking our lives on your guess," the spymaster said, partly for his own benefit but also to remind the scientist of the risks.

"And I'm risking my own life and the lives of my family whom I hold in much higher regard than anyone else involved in this." He sighed and slumped back against the table. Hovering over it a small twisting knot of brightly colored lines writhed. "It's a guess, but it's a very, very good one. Our sensors have already detected the instability beginning to form."

The spymaster's eyes widened. "Already?"

"Yes, somewhat to our surprise."

"Well now that you're observing something can you give me any guarantees?"

"No," the scientist said, enjoying goading his compatriot a little. The man looked like he was on the verge of another outburst when he said, "However the observations have allowed us to refine our models somewhat. Continued observation will let us improve them even further."

"And what do these say?"

"That it's very likely to last more than a week, you'll have your time."

"Excellent."

=================================

The second time Timothy walked into a full staff meeting he was pleased to see that everyone immediately took their seats and quieted down. He quietly sat his coffee on the table and took his seat, setting out two large PADDs in front of him reaching for his mug to take a sip. At the far end of the conference room he could see the Senator sitting at the conference table with her aide sitting on a stool behind her.

Terzi smirked as her captain took his seat and allowed them to sit in silence for a moment. Timothy had always been more laid back than other captains she'd served under but for some reason he didn't tolerate any laxness in staff meetings. Pulling her toes up the tiny Elysian let her legs swing freely under her chair. She hoped that the new crew would learn the routine quickly because Captain Hayes didn't tolerate deviations very well. A small smile graced her lips as she thought of someone so young already so set in his ways. She glanced across the table at her Capellan friend and caught his ruddy face smiling back at her, they were used to it.

When he sat down his mug Timothy nodded, "Good to see everyone is here, let's get this started." He tilted his head towards his first officer. "Commander?"

"Yes sir," Johan said as he unfolded his lanky frame from his seat and stood. He picked up a PADD of his own and tapped the controls, dimming the windows that gazed out the back of the bridge module and causing the holoemitters in the room to create a large view screen in mid air in front of the ship's display case. He moved around to stand beside the screen and gave everyone a chance to turn their chairs to see it.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the Romulan Star Empire," On the screen a map of the galaxy zoomed in rapidly to the small area where the borders of the Alpha and Beta quadrants met and most of the space known to the Federation resided. The colored map zoomed in even farther, cutting out the other powers surrounding the Federation and focusing on the emerald green space of the Romulans and the thin red line of the Neutral Zone that separated it from the pale blue territory of the Federation. Briefings like this were one of Johan's more enjoyable duties and he liked to bring visual aides to them. He knew his commander and the fastest way to lose him would be a dry boring speech, not that his commander didn't know everything he was about to detail, but Johan wanted to keep him interested while everyone else was brought up to speed. It would help Timothy's stature and his own if his captain was paying rapt attention to the briefing rather than reading a PADD and tuning everything out.

"In recent years the Romulan Empire has experienced a total leadership decapitation and rebound. In his ascension to power Shinzon first eliminated the whole of the Romulan senate with a tholaron bomb. After this assassination he started a short lived but thorough program that resulted in the elimination of many prominent military and civilian leaders throughout the Empire. Following his death at the hands of Admiral, then Captain, Picard the Romulan Empire was left with a total power vacuum. Shinzon's predations had eliminated anyone with a clear line of succession to the Senate in order to remove challenges to his own power."

On the screen the Empire fractured from an emerald green whole into dozens of small territories. "Immediately following his death the Empire fell apart. With no strong central leadership every sector administrator or ambitious admiral carved out their own little kingdom. There was surprisingly little direct conflict in this time, most of the competition took the form of alliances, back alley deals, and outright assassination." The various small entities that the Empire had dissolved into began to merge together on the display. "Over the course of about eighteen months things sorted themselves out until a little more than twenty major powers remained. Of these remaining powers fifteen allied themselves together and their leaders declared themselves to be the new Senate of the Romulan Empire." The fifteen largest territories on the screen merged together and once again the emerald green Empire graced the display.

"Since that time the reformed Empire has engaged in a campaign, both political and military, to return the rest of the independent areas to their control. They've been largely successful and as of right now there are only a handful of small areas on the far side of the Empire that remain to be reintegrated."

Johan took a long pause and Cesina spoke up. "It looks like it was a rather civilized civil war."

"By most standards it was, by Romulan standards it was a political holocaust. There was little direct military conflict but the political situation worsened. The Romulan Empire now has a Senate again but little else in the way of government. Virtually every office from planetary governor on up has been in flux, most of the old guard has either been wiped out or their powerbases have. The politicians now in place don't have the experience or connections and they certainly haven't even begun to create the network of favors and allegiances that used to exist. Forming them up again is almost impossible as the appointees are shuffled around looking for the best place for them." Johan began to pace. "The end result of this is that the Senate exists but has no dependable way to enforce its will short of the military."

"We now find ourselves looking at a second Romulan civil war, but instead of a fight between the established powers this is an ideological fight. Every social group, special interest group, and even plain old terrorists, that felt the old regime wronged them are being emboldened by the disconnect between Romulus and the rest of the Empire. Our agents in place are already reporting rioting, protests, anti-government rallies, and more than a couple of terrorist bombings. Things that would have been completely unthinkable a decade ago are becoming common place, and its got the Senate worried, very worried."

Timothy set his coffee down. "Where is the Tal'Shiar in all this? Shouldn't they be going into overdrive, stomping this out?"

"The Tal'Shiar underwent its own microcosm of what the Empire went through. Internal ambitions sprang forth after Shinzon wiped out the leadership of the Tal'Shiar and they spent as much time going after each other as looking after the Empire. The Senate managed to rein things in but the Tal'Shiar is devoting as much time to monitoring itself as the rest of the Empire. The unreliableness of the Tal'Shiar is a major reason why the Senate is so worried. That worry is why we're here." Johan reached the end of the conference table and turned around.

"We're here because the Romulan Senate is worried?" Harry asked.

"Yes, we are. The Senate is convinced that they barely have the Empire under control and right now things seem to be getting worse, because of this they have begun to entertain some ideas that we would like to discourage."

"Like?" Harry prodded.

"A war." Johan paused to let his words sink in. "Right now the only thing the Senate has a firm grip on is the military and we know that the military has the ear of the Senate because of this. The Romulan military thinks that they can solve most of the problems confronting the Empire with a limited war with the Federation lasting for six months to a year."

Terzi threw up her arms. "That's insane, a war? We've both just now gotten our feet back under us after fighting the Dominion."

Timothy mulled it over before he spoke softly, "It actually makes a lot of sense."

"How could that make sense? Millions dying just so they can stay in power," Terzi couldn't believe what she was hearing. The sharp straight lines of her eyebrows knitting together in a tight V over her eyes. Combined with her heavy brow it gave the Elysian a very aggressive appearance totally out of sorts with her tiny body.

"Well first off you can make the argument that if the Empire collapses billions could die in the ensuing chaos, and sacrificing a few million to save a few billion is a trade most people would be willing to make. Second, we have to be realistic and admit that this is not the Federation we're talking about, they don't necessarily have our values and to them a few million deaths among the peasants could be a small price to pay to remaining in power."

The conference room was filled with murmurs as the assembled officers made comments to themselves or their neighbors. Timothy stood up and made his way to the display when Johan pointedly looked at him. "And that is precisely why we're going to patrol the border. The Romulans don't want a war with the Klingons; they're just too unpredictable which means us. We're going to the border to discourage them."

"What about the Breen or Cardassians?" Peili asked, spreading her hands.

Johan stepped into answer her question. "If the Romulans got into a shooting war with either of them they'd have to either cross Federation space or go the long way around. At the very least they'd have to conduct it across the only anti-spinward corridor into the Beta quadrant the Federation has left. They know that we'll poke our noses into things if that starts to happen which won't help them at all. No, a direct attack on the Federation is their best bet."

"And their relations with us? What about Ambassador Spock?" Harry asked.

"They don't much care for us Mr. Kim, never have." Timothy said. "They've considered themselves to be in a cold war with us for the last two centuries, even if they really piss us off it's just the status-quo to them. Most of the people the Ambassador were speaking to are now buried in unmarked graves."

"That's Starfleet Intel's read of the situation. Things are especially volatile right now as there are serious concerns that a rogue admiral or even over-zealous right wing group could seek to start this conflict without the Senate's approval." Johan said as the display behind him changed to show off a ship familiar to everyone at the table.

"Based off this I'd just like to give everyone a quick run down of our likely opponents should something get started out there. This," he said as he gestured to the holographic display, "is a D'deridex class Romulan warbird, the staple of their fleet for the last thirty years. As we all know the Romulans prefer an all big guns navy focusing exclusively on producing what we would term heavy cruiser designs. The D'deridex was the pride of the Romulan fleet until encounters with the U.S.S. Enterprise D made them realize that they were falling behind the technological curve. The Galaxy class, even with all its non-combat functions was able to take on a dedicated warship like the D'deridex one on one and win. Soon after those first encounters the Romulans initiated a program to develop a new class of warbirds called the Norexans."

The display screen shifted to display the newest Romulan warbird. Long and lean the Norexan class was a far cry from the airy bulk of the D'deridex class. Technical details of the design started to scroll across the screen and in one corner pictures and video of the design that had been acquired began to display. "The Norexans are a quantum leap beyond the D'deridexes, such a leap that it took them more than fifteen years to get all the kinks worked out. A few production models were completed towards the end of the Dominion War but as far as we can tell they never saw combat."

The screen was wiped clean and replaced with a set of sensor logs, two Norexans and a Federation Sovereign class were engaging another far larger warship. "We did however get to see them in combat during the Enterprise's ill fated mission to Romulus. The results were impressive."

"One was destroyed and the other disabled, quickly," Cesina pointed out, both her antennae pointing forward.

"True," Johan said, "but given the nature of the engagement they accounted well for themselves. I won't bore you with the exact criteria used to arrive at this conclusion, it's all contained in the files you'll have access too, but the Norexans are easily twice the ships the D'deridexes are, and almost on par with the uprated Sovereigns. They lose a little durability, but they are very maneuverable. Starfleet Intel has confirmed that all D'deridex production orders have been canceled in favor of Norexans. The last few ship yards are completing the final D'deridexes that were in the pipeline and will be converting full scale Norexan production soon."

"How many do they have now?" Timothy asked.

"Approximately one hundred and twenty, with more being added even as we speak. We expect production to peak at around fifty vessels a year in about four years."

"That's a lot of ships," Harry said with concern lining his normally youthful face.

"They're replacing their entire fleet?" Timothy asked.

Johan nodded in agreement, "Right now the Romulans seem to be planning to replace every D'deridex with a Norexan, and expand the fleet even more."

"Expand it?" Deekan asked.

"Yes, we believe that this is as much an economic as a military project."

"Economic?" Harry asked.

"Economic. That's a lot of ships which means a lot of money. The Romulans are going to spend themselves into a hole but the pay off will be a tremendous economic boost for the Empire and more money in the people's pockets means they're less likely to think about a revolt. It's been done before, the twentieth century Earth nation of the United States, twenty second century Andoria, and it works rather well if you can handle the debt afterwards." Timothy sipped his coffee, "As the Ferengi say, 'It takes money to make money.'"

"What about the Scimitar, does it appear that class will be going into production?" Deekan asked.

"Short answer, no. The Scimitar was built around the Tholaron radiation weapon; it was an intimate part of the design. If the weapon is removed it will require a serious redesign of the vessel, practically a new one. It will also require new shipyards to be built, they can convert existing D'deridex lines into Norexan lines without too serious a conversion but a Scimitar sized vessel would require all new production facilities. We believe the Norexan project has a high enough priority that they wouldn't invest the resources in something larger at this time." Johan shook his head, "No, the Scimitar was Shinzon's pet project, it died with him."

"Well that's something at least," Harry said.

Johan nodded and switched the display back over to the display of the Romulan Empire. He zoomed in on a long section of the border with the Federation and tactical symbols began to pop up all along the border. "The Task Force will be responsible for patrolling sectors 791, 792, and 884. Patrol will consist primarily of the Task Force breaking down into battle groups and puttering around their own sector."

"Puttering around?" Senator T'prin asked levelly with both arms hidden in her sleeves.

"Puttering," Johan confirmed. "Stopping over at outposts to show the flag, paying visits to the local planets, conducting a few battle simulations, and scanning the neutral zone. Puttering."

"Ah, puttering." T'prin replied. If Johan didn't know any better he'd have sworn he saw a small smile crease the corner of the senator's mouth.

"Our primary goal is simply to be seen," Johan said. "To let the Romulans know that we know they are up to something and to show them our ships and that we have no intention of backing down."

"Such a display could raise tensions and precipitate the very war we are seeking to avoid."

Those that had been with him for a time could see the slight down turn in the corner of Timothy's mouth. The middle of a briefing was not the time for policy debate as far as he was concerned. "Doing nothing could be interpreted as a sign of weakness or even arrogance. Doing nothing is even more likely to precipitate a war Senator."

"In your interpretation."

Now even those new to the room could see the annoyance on Timothy's face. "In my interpretation and in the interpretation of Starfleet Command, if you take issue with this perhaps you should address your concerns to the appropriate authority."

"I already have," the senator said primly.

"And?"

"You and your ship are on course for the Neutral Zone. I think the outcome of my petition is obvious."

Timothy did his best to hide his smirk. "Then this is a discussion best left for another time." The Senator had been slapped down by Starfleet Command. That was something Timothy had known. He hadn't expected her to try and throw her weight around in his briefing room though. In his opinion you could say what you wanted about Vulcans and their lack of emotion, but they were the most arrogant people he'd ever met.

============================================

"Come on, you'll like it."

Timothy followed his first officer as they walked along the main corridor of deck three. The deck usually referred to as "Officer Country" because most of the ship's senior crew had their quarters on it along with the officer's mess. "The last time you said that to me we spent the night in a Risan jail with me trying to sweet talk our captain into bailing us out." Timothy took a sip of the water he'd gotten from the mess on the way here and tried to imagine what Johan was going to get him into.

"Well you're the captain now, problem solved."

"We're gonna have to work on you learning how to determine what the point really is Jo." Johan kept on walking until they came to the Timothy's own quarters. "And you've brought me back to my own quarters why?"

"You'll see," Johan said as they stepped inside. "Have a seat."

Timothy flopped down into the large leather recliner he kept in this common area and waited. "I'm gonna regret this."

"No more than you usually do," Johan said. "Computer, activate program cabin girl seventy seven charlie."

"Oh lord," Timothy groaned. It wasn't as bad as he'd been dreading however, not good but not as awful as it could have been coming from Johan. "Are you kidding me?"

The form that had materialized in front of him was that of a young woman in a Starfleet uniform. Only the uniform was of the twenty two hundred's vintage with a skirt that barely covered anything. The girl herself looked to barely be old enough to entering the academy, much less having graduated. She was Johan's type, tall, leggy, busty, and with hair a shade of blonde that necessitated alien genes or aggressive chemical treatment.

"Good morning commander, how may I..." the holographic woman looked him up and down, "serve you?" The wicked glint in her eye made her intentions clear, or at least the intentions of her creator.

"Johan..."

"Oh cool your thrusters," Johan said as he rolled his eyes. "Computer, cycle appearances."

The leggy blonde faded away instantly to be replaced by a less ridiculously proportioned brunette, she kept the uniform though. A few seconds later the brunette disappeared for a dark skinned girl with short curly hair. Seconds later she changed again. "Tell me if you see something you like." The hologram kept on flipping appearances.

"Come on Johan, honestly?" He took a sip of his water...

"Damn you're hard to please. Cycle appearance subset three alpha authorization code mu seventy seven gamma."

...and promptly spit it out. The hologram had shifted to a perfect physical copy of 7 of 9, complete with the old style uniform. The warm smile on her face seemed out of place given his experiences with the woman. Before he could even protest she shifted again to lt. Commander Peili. "Damn it Johan what the hell!?"

"You gotta admit, in that skirt, mmm baby. They used to know how to make a uniform."

"Seriously, stop it. Computer end program." The holographic girl dissolved leaving the two friends alone again.

"Who jammed a stick up your ass Tim?"

"Starfleet did damn it! Come on Jo, you know better than this."

Johan rolled his eyes at his friend. "Lighten up Tim, I know the regs. Their physical templates were already in the system for Peili's training simulations, I just borrowed them." He walked over to the wall terminal by the door and started to enter something. "Besides, I'm not serious about those; I know you'd never go for them. In public anyways."

Timothy let his friend's snarky comment slip by.

"What I am serious about is getting you some help. You might not rate an aide like a full admiral but you've got an even larger work load with the whole task force to sheppard and this ship. Besides, with the proper programming and a little creativity," Johan tapped a final sequence of commands in and a new woman materialized. "A holographic aide can be almost as useful."

"And anything a hologram can do the computer can to."

Johan shook his head, "But where's the fun in that?"

Unlike the previous few holographic characters Johan had conjured up the new girl was wearing a proper SDF uniform that fit her rather than being sprayed on. A few centimeters below average height, her curly red hair framed a cute freckled face. The smile she had seemed earnest rather than suggestive and a large data PADD was clutched in her hands. "Good afternoon sir, how can I help," she asked cheerfully.

"Can she get a cup of coffee?"

Johan beamed, "Yes sir, she knows just how much coffee you like in your milk."

"You're still a jackass."

"Aye aye sir."

============================================

"Cover that doorway to port! Lay down some suppressing fire; don't let them poke their heads up!" Peili snapped before she brought her carbine up and cut loose a burst of phaser pulses down the hallway. The enhanced compression rifle bucked in her grip, ejecting the pulses with enough force to generate some actual recoil. Down the hall the pulses impacted the stanchion a Romulan was hiding behind. Each impact spattering molten duranium across the ship's passageway. She tried to press herself farther back into the doorway she was using as cover but there was only so far she could go and still be able to shoot.

Two Romulans poked their heads out of the doorway she'd just ordered to be covered and they snapped off several shots in rapid succession before ducking back into the doorway. Most of the sickly green beams dissipated harmlessly against the bulkheads but one struck corporal Degneis in the chest. The Tellerite howled as the beam ate at his chest, disassociating the atoms that made up his uniform, skin and eventually organs. Peili didn't watch the corporal go down; she'd seen similar wounds and knew he was as good as dead. "I said suppress damn it!"

The private Jobyn next to her finally got his heavy repeater situated to his liking and let loose a roaring burst down the hall towards the doorway. Normally used only in land engagements each bolt fired from the weapon melted out craters in the hallways of the ship. Given enough time it would just chew its way through the Romulan's cover until it found them. Which seemed to be exactly what he was trying to do.

"The whole hallway, the whole HALLWAY! Bear left!"

Her order and her suppressing fire didn't come fast enough and the Romulan she'd made to duck seconds before emerged long enough to get off a shot and so did several of his compatriots. Peili heard another pair of screams as two more of her team were hit but her attention was entirely focused on the grenade arching towards her. Jobyn yelped in surprise as the explosive bounced towards him and Peili dove for it. Plucking it off the ground next to the heavy weapon's man she tried to flick it down the corridor towards it originators but the Romulan knew his stuff, the grenade had a short fuse and exploded only a few meters down the hallway. Peili and Jobyn yelped as fragments smashed into them and knocked the wind out of them.

She blinked her eyes, vainly trying to clear the spots from them. She rolled over, off Jobyn and she felt more than heard him moan. Her head rung with the concussion of the explosion in such a small area. With an almost detached interest she watched the remaining few members of her squad start to emerge from cover to try and blunt the inevitable rush that was coming. She languidly swung her head back down the hallway to see the Romulans starting to leap frog forward. Her world snapped back into focus when the green beam of a disruptor swung near her face, leaving another streak in her vision.

Her whole body protested the abuse it was receiving but she forced it down as best she could. Fumbling at her belt she found a grenade hanging there. Jamming her finger into the activation stud she snatched off the retaining clip. She let go of the activation stud and heard the whine as the grenade started to power up. Holding it for a three count she lobbed it into the hallway towards the charging Romulans and grabbed Jobyn by his equipment harness and rolled him back into their own doorway, throwing herself across his body even as the grenade exploded.

"Program Terminated."

Peili sighed as silence returned to the corridor. She rolled off Jobyn and sat up, her back to the door.

A bald head and a stern expression hove into her view. "I hope that in the future you conduct these simulations with the safety protocols at a higher level."

Peili chuckled, "Then how would you spend your time Doc?"

The EMH frowned as he pressed his hypospray to her neck.

Peili sucked in her breath as the stimulant surged into her body. The foggy dull world snapped back to full clarity in an instant as the chemicals slammed into her mind, driving open passageways the holoprogam had stunned shut to simulate damage. The clarity was alarming in its suddenness.

"Doing something more constructive than patching up self inflicted injuries."

"Just a few stuns," she said running her hands over her face and through her black hair.

Corporal Degneis moaned as the doctor's stimulants worked on him. The pig faced Tellerite sat up and brought a three fingered hand to his chest, reassuring himself that his body was still intact. The program had nailed him with a stun beam and Peili knew he'd be feeling it for a while stimulants or not. The doctor moved on to treat other patients and Peili stood up. Ensign Jobyn was sheepishly safing his heavy repeater when a new face intruded.

'Intruded might be too strong a word,' Peili thought as she looked over Bella Mavil. The Orion woman had learned to have a bit more tact when dealing with other races during her time in Starfleet. Apparently they didn't always take her roaming eyes as the compliment it was. In times of stress or fatigue it was always easy let manners slip and Peili's eyes were sliding over the human woman's shapely hips before she caught herself.

Bella had long ago gotten used to being checked out, in fact she'd learned to encourage such thoughts in others and use them to her benefit. People weren't on top of their game when their mating drives took over. She wasn't used to the frank and hungry manner she was being appraised now by the Orion. She didn't know in what manner the green woman seemed ready to devour in, 'Animal women indeed.' As quickly as the look came over her it was gone again. The Lt. Commander's face smiled warmly as if nothing had ever been amiss. "So, ahem," Bella stumbled.

Peili quickly ran with the conversation, annoyed that she'd let her instincts get the best of her. "That was not the kind of performance I'd prefer someone to see," she explained.

Bella quickly focused. "Not up to snuff?"

"Not even close," Peili said as she shook her head. "Six intruders in that confined space shouldn't have lasted thirty seconds. We took casualties we shouldn't have. It was not good," She said loudly enough for those around her to hear. Normally she wouldn't have chastised her people in front of an outsider like Bella but in this case she thought their performance warranted it.

"What I don't understand is why bother? With the phasers, the internal shields, holographic bodyguards and all that, why bother training for something you'll never need to do?"

"Because those things can break, or fail, go offline, or just not be appropriate. Besides, what kind of security force can't defend their own ship?" Behind them the security team was picking up the last of their equipment and heading for the turbolift. "I have to go do an after action report. Would you be free for dinner at say, nineteen hundred hours Thursday?"

Bella found herself trying to refocus as Peili's electric blue eyes bored into her own. "Well uh, yes. Yes I'd love to."

Peili's eyes narrowed ever so slightly as she smiled, "Wonderful." Bella could feel her heart starting to hammer in her chest from Peili's smile but as quickly as the smile had come it was gone as the Orion woman turned back to her troops. "Alright, grab your shit and get to the briefing room, this won't be pretty."

As the security personnel fell in and headed for the nearest turbolift Bella moved quickly to use her holocamera to capture a few pictures of the men and women Peili commanded. The little camera was tucked back behind her ear with just the lens peeking out over it. The bracelet around her wrist was also busy recording everything that was being said in her vicinity. Like many reporters Bella had found that those being interviewed and observed were far more outspoken when there wasn't an obvious camera or recorder in their face. Having everything recorded also prevented Bella from misquoting someone and getting into trouble that way.

After a short turbo lift ride the marines filed into small auditorium. With seating for fifty each of the troops seemed to avoid the others, giving at least two or three empty seats between each of them. Bella stayed in the back of the auditorium while Peili walked down front. From the way the marines spread out it was obvious to Bella that they were taking their commander's verbal brow beating to heart.

"That...," Peili said as she sat her carbine down on top of the lectern at the front, "was absolutely pathetic." She ignored the smattering of grumbled responses. "I say that because I hand picked each and every one of you for this assignment and I know for a fact that you are all better than what I saw today."

The Tellerite raised his hand.

"Yes Corporal?"

"I take full responsibility ma'am, this is my section and any fault you find in them is a failure on my part."

"That goes without saying corporal," Peili said humorlessly. "I'm not going to be putting anyone on report though. I'm going to assume that today's poor performance was either rustiness from too much time in space dock, or you just didn't take the simulator seriously. I believe the corporal can attest to how that is a mistake."

"Yes ma'am."

"Tomorrow we'll be doing this again, several times. I'm going to warn you now that today was a freebie, you won't be getting any more. If you all do this poorly tomorrow I will be making it official. Private Jobyn?"

The large man with the brown crewcut that Peili had shared cover with earlier perked up. "Yes ma'am?"

"You do realize that when I say to cover the hallway I mean the entire hallway?"

He frowned and nodded, "Yes ma'am. It won't happen again ma'am."

"Good." She turned slightly to look at the Tellerite in charge of the section, "Corporal, you do know that disruptors don't have a stun setting, and that your duty uniform is not a shield generator?"

"I do ma'am."

"Then kindly stop trying to block disruptor beams with your chest." That comment drew a few snickers from the marines. "I don't like writing letters to parents about how their child died bravely in battle when truthfully they died because they were idiots."

For the next ten minutes Bella watched Peili debrief her marines, pointing out each flaw in the battle but then offering two or three suggestions or orders on how to fix it. By the time they finished the marines were all looking more upbeat about things. Peili dismissed them and Bella walked down to meet her. "That must be intimidating," Bella said, gesturing up to the view screen that dominated the front wall of the auditorium."

"You think so?" Peili asked as she retrieved her rifle, putting the sling over her shoulder and letting it hang.

"Having every thing you do recorded and played back so that every tiny detail can be picked apart and analyzed. I'd call that intimidating."

"Maybe," Peili said, "but that dissection of events lets us learn everything we can from these exercises. Besides, I wouldn't expect a member of the press to complain too much about being recorded and all."

"Well it's a little different," Bella protested.

"Is it?" One of Peili's free hands cupped Bella's cheek. The Orion woman's hand soft and smooth against Bella's skin as it skimmed over her face. Bella's eyes had started to narrow when suddenly the touch was gone and Peili held her ear camera in front of her. She chuckled as she turned the small device over in her hand then handed it back to Bella. "I don't mind being recorded, in any activity, but I don't' forget about it either." Peili held up her wrist and consulted her chronograph. "Now if you don't mind I've got to get a shower and then get to work on tomorrow's sims. So unless you want to join me..." Peili let her question hang in the air, eventually drawning a negative nod from Bella. "I'll have to talk to you later." She headed for the door and called back, "Dinner Thursday at nineteen hundred, don't be late."

As Peili left Bella stuck her ear camera into her pants pocket. She had the feeling that an affirmative nod would have been an acceptable answer to Peili's shower question. An image of wet green skin flitted through her consciousness and Bella cursed. She'd just been manipulated, expertly, the same way she'd always tried to manipulate others herself. Try as she might she couldn't get mad at the Typhoon's security chief though. "Thursday at nineteen hundred," she repeated to herself, she didn't want to forget. Manipulated or not she wasn't going to miss it.

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Tyyr
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Chapter 2 Cont.

Postby Tyyr » Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:14 am

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For the tenth time in as many minutes Villec Bisaan checked the condition of the engines. Maneuvering thrusters warm but on standby. Impulse reactors running at minimum capacity. Warp cores one and two operating at twenty five percent capacity, core three operating at thirty eight percent capacity. All within norms for a warp cruise through Federation space. Out of curiosity he pulled up the standard operating procedures and confirmed what he remembered. During alert status or if traveling in potentially hostile areas the impulse reactors would be maintained at fifty percent capacity so that the ship would be immediately ready to maneuver at sublight should they have to drop out of warp. With a sigh he closed that window and returned to his displays. Everything was green, again. Glancing at his board's chronometer he sighed, not even thirty seconds killed.

Adjusting himself he turned his attention to Lieutenant Milana Tuul beside him. The Cardassian woman was cooler in his infrared vision than other members of the crew, except for lieutenant commander Riway daughter of Jaheel, who was several degrees cooler still than Lieutenant Milana Tuul. He turned his head slightly to let his normal light eyes observe her then quickly set them back to watching his console, he didn't really need them that much, his infrared vision would do just fine. From the way she slowly worked at her own station Villec decided that she was likely as bored as he. There was no surprise there; most species were far more easily bored than the Nileen. An impatient hunter was a hungry one after all. Though if he was bored how his mercurial friend wasn't ready to scream was something he wondered about.

Milana could feel the Nileen's gaze on her. She'd tried to teach her friend about being subtle but the nuances of humanoid subtlety were as lost on her sauroid companion as the proper way to flair your tails to communicate territorial problems were on her. "What's the matter Villec?"

Large empty eyes blinked, his head turning so his forward set of visible light ones could focus on her. "Nothing is the matter Milana Tuul."

"You're a horrible liar Villec. You keep glancing over here every thirty seconds." Milana found his visible light eyes far easier to look at; they had proper pupils and such, even if they were compound. His infrared eyes were large and featureless though she always seemed to know where they were looking.

Villec opened his mouth a few centimeters and snapped it shut with a click, his version of a huff as best Milana could tell. He'd only looked with his infrared eyes which he thought were featureless to humanoids and were for the most part. "How is it that you are not bored," he asked, managing to use a pronoun instead of a proper name. Milana had struggled to teach him pronouns for months at the academy and seemed to make some progress. He never started with a pronoun, or used one with someone of a higher rank, but he seemed to have learned to use them with her. "When cruising at warp there is little for me or you to do. It is uninteresting."

"Multitask Villec," she said as she pointed at her console with one gray finger. Rising on his hind legs the sauroid could see that the center of her display was taken up by a window with what appeared to be a text book filling it.

"What is this?"

"Subspace sensor theory. I'm studying it for sensor tech quals."

"You wish to run the sensor array?"

"No you silly lizard. The more systems I qualify out on though the better it looks on evaluations."

"You are not being attendant to your duties."

"Right now my duties are to sit here and watch the little dot crawl across the screen for three weeks," she said, pointing at her console. "All you're doing is checking engine parameters that haven't changed in four days and its not like you're gonna notice something wrong before the engineering department does," she said, twitching her head back towards the engineering station at the back of the bridge.

Villec snorted, inflating his neck pouch slightly. She was right, but she didn't need to make him seem quite so useless at the moment.

"Look, no one here really expects you to stare at that display for three weeks straight. So long as you're doing something productive no one is going to care. Study something, check something, do something. Just sitting there staring at the repeater isn't going to impress anyone."

Milana turned back to her own console, appearing to check their course before returning to her manual. She did have a point; his talents weren't really being taxed at the moment. Accessing the database he brought up the manual for the Typhoon's type eleven shuttles. They were quite a bit more advanced than the type eights at the academy. It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to review their operating manual.

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"See right here, that power coupling?"

Marcos strained his neck, twisting his head around in the confined space. Starfighter pilots tended to be on the short side but even he was finding the contortions necessary to see where the engineer was pointing difficult. "You mean the molten slag attached to the power conduit?"

"Yeah that," the engineer said.

"That's what's got the engine messed up?"

The engineer laughed. "No, redundant systems would have taken care of it except..."

Laying on the deck, crammed under Alpha two two's port lower engine was not a comfortable place to be normally, much less with another person. Marcos' patience was strained. "Except what?"

"...Except when it slagged it arc'd and liquefied the data bus here," he said pointing to an empty space. It took Marcos a moment to trace things back and see the melted ends of the wiring harness. "Which tripped the safety there," another charred piece of machinery. "Which didn't work because the power couldn't dump through the slagged conduit so it back fed into the reaction chamber here," he pointed to two warped spheres of one of Alpha two two's impulse reactors. "...and slagged it. The first reactor was fine, but the two that were slagged downstream made it impossible to generate stable but reduced thrust."

"Well what's the fix?"

"We tear this thing apart and replace them."

Marcos already knew what was coming. "How long."

"Four days."

"Double up on this, get it done." With that he slid back out from under the wounded fighter.

"What bad huh?" Rilo asked after seeing the scowl on Marcos' face.

"It's a damn design flaw, whoever set up the safety managed to give it just one way to vent, which also happens to be one of the lines its a safety for."

"You want to write up the report to Starfleet Engineering or should I?"

Marcos waved dismissively. "No I got it," he said as he wiped his hands off on a rag.

"We should work on getting a fix cooked up, prevent this from happening again. I'll talk to Commander Del about it."

Marcos started walking towards the turbolift. "Shouldn't be too hard to fix, just run an alternate line for the safety, still..."

"I know I know, it shouldn't have happened." Rilo pushed the call button, the spots that ran from behind his ears and down the sides of his body were paler as he tried to reassure his friend. Marcos stayed keyed up enough for the both of them. "Come on though Marcos, we're taking out some of the first ones, bound to be some problems."

"Yeah well when we're going to the neutral zone and the Romulans are feeling antsy I'd rather not have to worry about stupid engineering screw ups in my ship." The turbolift arrived and they entered. "CAG's office," Marcos said.

With only the faintest tug of acceleration the turbolift sped them towards their destination. "You really believe that briefing?" Rilo asked.

Marcos shrugged. "I dunno, most of its based off spook work we'll never see but I can buy it. I don't care what anyone says, the Romulans hate us, always have. I can see their rulers deciding to go to war rather than lose power."

"That's pretty damn cynical."

"Cynical, realistic. Potato, potahto."

The turbolift doors opened and they stepped out into the side corridor. Turning right they headed for their Yvethan commanding officer's office. "You have to explain that to me one day, that expression makes no sense, potahto is obviously the incorrect pronunciation."

Marcos ignored his friend and thumbed the door chime. The musical tone rang and a moment later they heard, "Come in."

Tycho was busy pecking away at his computer terminal when they entered. The Yvethan only had two rather large digits and a thumb that ended in large thick nails. They could be mistaken for claws but Marcos knew for a fact they were duller than their owner was. One thing Marcos couldn't fault his superior for was his choice of office. Behind Lt. Commander Danor's desk was a two meter wide window out over the main shuttle bay. Down below and off to the right Marcos could see Alpha two two and the tech crew starting to gather around. "Yes lieutenants?"

The Yvethan's speech was always disconcerting to Marcos, his beaked mouth never moving in time with what seemed to come out of it. "Sir, I just finished checking on Alpha two two's situation. Reactors number two and three of its port lower impulse engine slagged themselves. I've got the engineers working on repairing it immediately. They estimate four days, I told them to double on the crews."

The Yvethan's crest flushed red, what he'd been told was Danor's equivalent of a nod. "What was the cause?"

"A power coupling burned out, took a critical wiring harness with it. That tripped a safety that tried to dump through the line with the slagged coupling. It back fed the reactors and slagged two of them."

Another red flush. "Cascading failures, and a poorly designed safety. Corrective action?"

Rilo nodded, "I'll be contacting Commander Del and see if she can modify the safety with another dump route."

"And I'll be writing a report to Starfleet Engineering along with whatever Commander Del comes up with. We'll have her implement her fix on all the fighters."

"Prior to approval from Starfleet Engineering?"

Marcos nodded. "I think it would be appropriate given where we're going. I believe the solution is something our engineering department can handle."

Danor flushed red again. "Very well, proceed as you see fit."

Marcos and Rilo nodded. "Thank you sir."

"Dismissed."

After they stepped out of his office Marcos turned to Rilo and said, "You ever get the feeling he's always trying to give us just enough rope to hang ourselves with."

Rilo sighed, "You're just paranoid."

Marcos looked at his friend and pointedly said, "And you're not paranoid enough."

The spots running down the sides of Rilo's neck darkened. "So you think he's out to get us?"

"Maybe."

Rilo frowned at his dark haired friend. "What possible benefit could he get from us failing? If someone under his command is incompetent it looks bad on him."

"Maybe that's it, what if he's always trying to see if we'll slip up and he can toss us?"

"So what if he is?" Rilo asked as they walked into the squadron briefing room and headed towards their office at the back. "Do you have some horrible flaw; some screw up on your part that's going to give him a reason to send you back to Earth?"

Marcos bristled, "Of course not! I just want some damn trust." He slid behind his desk and flopped down into his overstuffed chair. Across the cabin Rilo slid into his own chair. Their simple office was a shared one. Five meters long and three deep with their desks at either end and the entrance from the briefing room right in the center. A two meter window in the long wall opposite the door looked out into the flight bay but didn't give much of a view to the men behind their desks. "Besides, he doesn't necessarily have to be against us."

"So you're saying he's incompetent?"

"The Jonestown's air group took one hell of a pounding during the war. Their casualty rate was one of the highest in the fleet."

"They spent the whole damn war on the front lines Marcos, what do you expect. That they survived at all is a pretty good showing of the lieutenant commander's skill."

"Maybe," Marco said, slumping in his seat.

"Just write your damn report to Star Fleet Engineering and stop worrying about it. I don't need you getting into another 'My Commander is out to get me,' funk."

"Yeah yeah, whatever."

"Hey, he still let us do as we wanted with it, that's gotta count for something."

Marcos called up his computer and got ready do draft the report. "Yeah, maybe it does."

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Cesina sat in the captain's chair, watching the stars whip by at warp. She'd sat aside her PADD a few minutes ago to just enjoy the view. She knew she was enclosed in a bridge that had no actual view outside of the ship. In fact the bridge itself was covered in almost two meters of ablative armor. Only the captain's ready room and the conference room had actual windows out into space. A simple window was just too inflexible for a starship bridge. The sweeping holoprojection in front of her kept the space from feeling anything but claustrophobic. The captain's modification to the program had made the entire forward wall of the ship and most of the ceiling disappear as if made from one gigantic sheet of transparent aluminum. It was disconcerting to walk onto the bridge and have it look like there was nothing holding in the atmosphere but after a few days it was far odder to walk onto the bridge and not see it. Most of the second shift personnel seemed to feel that a conventional view screen was a far better arrangement but she'd come to love the view. After all gamma shift was usually as dead as could be.

By conventional thinking there shouldn't be any real difference between the shifts. The Typhoon had thousands of crewmen and day and night were what you made of them. They should be able to have all three shifts fully staffed and functional and yet something about most of the space going species that insisted that there be a day and night cycle on a ship. Gamma shift's quietness was a function of it taking place in the dead of night.

Cesina enjoyed the quiet. It gave her time to think, read, and study. She'd only recently begun to realize just how poorly she'd prepared and been prepared for her posting on the Typhoon. Having transferred only months before from the explorer corps she was used to a completely different way of running a ship. She had to remember the priorities the FDF had were not the same as the explorer corps. There was so much to learn, so many old habits to break, she hadn't felt comfortable running the earlier beta shift and had requested gamma.

Cesina knew that second officer was a functional rank in much the same way that a screen door was a functional hatch on a spaceship. She was a Lt. Commander but most of the senior staff outranked her or just plain had more experience. The FDF had taken the recommendation of the explorer corps and fast tracked her for command but given her lack of experience had decided not to give her a department. Instead she'd been assigned to the dreaded second officer position. No real function except to stand there and not touch anything so that maybe at the end of the cruise she'd be ready for her own department.

Even though she knew she shouldn't she still felt useless. Second officers usually fell into two categories, screw ups that were being given a chance to redeem themselves or young officers too good to be kept in the lower ranks but not with enough experience under their belts to give full fledged assignments.

"Second officer," Commander Luhrner had said when she'd reported in. "Been a while since I've had to baby-sit one of you." Her antennae still quivered in annoyance. There might have been a lot of truth behind the words, but the way she'd been casually dismissed still rankled her. Cesina hadn't said anything, convinced that he hadn't been out of line. It was a baby sitting job for him. They'd only been in space for four days and she could already feel it. Always giving her hints, nudges, suggestions. How bad must she be screwing up if he always had to remind her of those things? He made it look so easy, flowing from task to task like it was nothing, never seeming bothered, hurried, or out of control. How did he do it? Even with her minor responsibilities the work was overwhelming.

Drawing in a deep breath and exhaling it slowly she promised herself she wouldn't be a screw up any longer, she'd prove she deserved to be there.

She glanced at the chronometer built into the arm of the captain's chair, another twenty minutes to go until the end of gamma shift. Baring any unforeseen occurrences her report for the night was written and ready to be filed, the log updated. She really had nothing left to do for the shift. Pursing her lips she decided to indulge her creative impulses and called up the holoprogram that was providing the views out into space. Copying it into a new file she began to work on it, tinkering with the set up she set about one of her hobbies, holo-architecture.

Holo technology had given people many new ways to enjoy their hobbies and where as a few centuries ago someone like Cesina might have been restricted to doodles on paper she could now create her ideas full size. Looking up at the vast open area above her head she used a stylus to sketch out what she wanted. The computer filled in the details and soon graceful arches stretched from one side of the bridge to the other, connecting the ceilings above the raised platforms on either side to one another. A few smaller sections connected the arches and gave it a trellised feel. On an impulse she entered her orders and a few small plants quickly grew on the tops and sides of the arches, encrusting the duranium with their vines. A few vines hung down below the arches. She smiled as she looked at her handiwork.

"Now that's an interesting look for a starship bridge."

"Captain!" Cesina exclaimed as she bolted up out of the chair. She snatched up her PADD and started to enter the commands to remove the modification. "Sorry sir, I'll remove it immediately."

Timothy held up his hand, "Now hold on, don't be hasty. It's a nice touch. I like it." He looked thoughtfully up at the projection. "Yeah, I like it. Might wanna lose the flowers though. They don't really say ship of the line, know what I mean?"

Cesina nodded and watched her captain head for his ready room. Following right behind him was an ensign she'd never seen before. The girl's curly red hair and freckles made her look young for a human by Cesina's estimation. In her hands was clutched a larger model PADD that she was busy entering something into.

"Oh gods," Cesina muttered as she looked up at the vine encrusted arches she'd added. Just what she needed, the captain to catch her messing around with his viewscreen program. So much for not being a screw up.

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Harry Kim sighed as he looked over the mess of a duty roster he was preparing for the next week. He'd had the same duty on Voyager but it had been a little easier. The Typhoon had more than ten times as many crewman and none of the department heads seem to have adjusted to his style just yet.

Some, like Terzi, just sent him note saying it was handled and others had given him a list of personnel and a list of work to be completely with no information about either the crewmen or a prioritization of the jobs and resources needed and he was supposed to miraculously come up with a duty roster.

Neither extreme was helpful. He needed more info than Terzi was providing but he needed others to take more initiative. There was a middle ground between the extremes and he needed to get everyone there quickly. The duty roster shouldn't be a difficult thing to compose

Finally giving up he tossed a half finished roster off to the side and opened a message. Dictating it quickly and succinctly he laid down what he expected from the department heads when it came to a duty roster along with his expectation for them to fix what they'd submitted and return it to him. Immediately. Punching his board to end the dictation he sent it back to his subordinates.

Catching Riway watching him out of the corner of his eye he turned to her. The half reptilian woman quickly became very interested in her own work. "Something amiss lieutenant commander?"

"Yhou ssseem ssstressed cohmmander. That wasss a veery forssseful sssummonsss for sssuch a thing."

Harry grimmaced. She was right, he'd probably been more on edge than was necessary. He would have to learn his department head's habits and ways of doing things just the way they'd have to learn him. Send out a message telling them all he was sorry probably wasn't a good idea, he'd just have to work on being more understanding. "Probably."

Riway risked another glance over at her commander. He was staring down at his console and from Riway's vantage point it looked like he was going over the message he'd sent again. "They weell mossst likely noot take offensssse," she offered. "Sssuch difficultees are tooo be exxxpected weeth a new commander."

Harry nodded. "Doesn't excuse me taking my bad mood out on my team."

"Missstakesss made. Correction choossssen. Dhou not let it happeen ageen."

"Huh?" Harry looked over at his subordinate to find her looking right back at him. The coughing hissing sound she was making was making the oily green quills that were her hair bounce and rattle against one another. She smiled at him, flashing her long canines at him and in spite of the differences between them Harry had to chuckle along with her after realizing what she'd been doing. "Insubordination, wonderful."

"Ohnly weeth vou cohmmander, noht in vront of zee men."

Harry smiled and turned back to his console. He had been overly harsh but there was nothing to be done about it now. He'd leave the message as is and deal with it later. Sorting out normal operations prior to getting to their patrol area was important and a few ruffled feathers he could live with.

Harry was still trying to get used to the idea of patrol area. The last time he'd been assigned to a starship they'd spent seven years racing for home in a rather squirelly straight line. To go somewhere and then putter around was disconcerting. It would be a welcome change though. After arriving home from the Delta quadrant Harry had felt adrift for a long time. His first year home had been spent trying to pick up the pieces of his former life and failing miserably. Seven years lost on the other side of the galaxy had caused most of his friends and even his fiance to move on. Classmates from the academy had moved on to new postings and higher ranks. It had become obvious to him soon that he was in serious danger of falling off the career path in Starfleet. There weren't a lot of seven year ensigns in Starfleet.

He'd returned to Starfleet academy and for two years he'd crammed as much command school and holotheory in as possible. During his time on Voyager he'd taken an interest in the EMH and his tinkering with the Doctor's program had given him more hands on experience with advanced holography than most Starfleet officers. Pushing that interest even farther in the academy had gotten some people's attention.

When he'd arrived he'd been given a much belated promotion to lieutenant. Upon graduation he'd been promoted again to lieutenant commander. To his surprise his first assignment was to Jupiter station as operations manager. The post had been almost as interesting as Voyager but far more frustrating. Managing a group of artist/scientists who's job was to create virtual fantasies made herding cats look like a simple task. The Doctor's creator, professor Zimmerman, had been the worst of them all. After he'd learned that Harry was 'that ensign Kim,' who'd tinkered with the Doctor's program it had been all downhill as the Professor seemed intent on making his life as difficult as possible for the crime of trying to improve 'HIS' creation. Just as often as he'd made Harry miserable he'd call him to his lab and grill him about some modification to the EMH they'd made and listen intently as he'd explain it. Such moments always ended with the Professor declaring it the stupidest idea he'd ever heard. A few weeks later the professor would call him in to show him some new subroutine or program incorporating one of Harry's ideas and proclaim him, and himself, a genius. The Professor's personality had given him more insight into the Doctor than he'd ever wanted.

After two years at Jupiter Station he'd recieved an unexpected call. Admiral Janeway had offered him a promotion and a posting on an FDF flagship if he'd transfer to the new division of Starfleet.

At first he'd rejected the offer out of hand. His posting was a good one and the thought of having to fight another battle wasn't a pleasant one. Encounters with the Borg had convinced him of his own mortality. Getting to know Seven of Nine had convinced him there were worse fates than dying. The Admiral had given him a week to think about her offer and he had. It was the captain in charge of Jupiter station that had convinced him though.

"Harry, take the offer," he'd said. "You're a good ops manager and I don't want to lose you but you need to go. You think this is a good job here and it is, but Starfleet is about the ships Harry. Officers who make careers on starbases and stations get left on starbases and stations. If you ever want to get out in space again you need to go and do it now."

Three days later he'd called Janeway up and taken her offer. A week after that he'd left Jupiter station for Antares and his new position on the Typhoon and his new rank, commander. Five years before he'd been an ensign and dangerously close of being passed by in Starfleet's career path. Now he was one promotion away from being a first officer and another after that of becoming captain of his own ship.

The commissioining of a ship the size and complexity of the Typhoon had kept Harry busier than he'd ever imagined he could have been. It was nice to be back in space and have things quieted down. Coordinating work during the commissioning of the ship had been difficult. Most of the people working on the Typhoon didn't report to him or anyone else on the ship and therefore took his direction as mearly suggestions.

Looking to the side he remembered meeting Riway for the first time. Like most of the former Atlas crew she'd been standoffish and abrupt. Her odd manner of speaking, to him at least, and her superficial reptillian appearence only added to his discomfort with his subordinate. He'd been pleasantly surprised with the way that Riway had opened up to him though she'd only recently started to open up about her experiences during the Dominion war. She'd been more forth coming about her species though, he'd even found out that Si'rak were at least partial endo-therms, though Riway kept her quarters well above normal temps and was always wearing the heavy under-sweater that was issued for colder climate postings.

Part of him had to admit that even with the differences she was an attractive woman, the scales on her neck and quills of her hair were even appealing in an exotic way. No forked tongue though, he'd checked. The fangs were a bit worrisome and he saw them every time she smiled which was becoming a much more common experience.

Shaking his head to rid himself of the stray thoughts Harry called up some of the work orders he'd already put in. There was work to be done and he didn't have time to day dream.

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"I fail to see why you would ask me to come here."

"Because I value your opinion Seven."

One graceful blonde eyebrow arched upwards. "I do not believe my aesthetic tastes are up to human norms."

The Doctor sighed. "That's not the point; I'm not asking you about human norms. I'm asking how it looks to you."

Seven of Nine looked around the small cabin. "The space is functional."

The Doctor closed his eyes and rubbed them. "It was functional before I decorated. I mean does it look like someone lives here. Is it ME?" he said throwing his arms wide.

Seven sighed and looked again at the cabin. It took conscious effort on her part to look at the space and consider it for its value as something other than just pure functionality. The Doctor did appear to have invested considerable time in decorating his cabin. She noted the hardbound medical journals he had put on a bookshelf. Her enhanced eyesight allowed her to quickly scan the titles and she was surprised to see texts dating back into Earth's fifteenth century along with many alien titles, also hopelessly out of date. She assumed they were kept out of novelty or sentimental value, or so she hoped. Numerous small models of various organs were displayed about, including an amazingly detailed one of a human heart. The doctor had used his holopictures as well. The walls held many large landscapes he had taken while in the delta quadrant and smaller pictures of the crew were sitting on shelves and in other places. She even saw a music stand tucked back in the corner with a violin nearby.

"I did not realize you played the violin Doctor."

"Oh, oh, that. Well, I enjoyed singing I wanted to see if I would enjoy playing as well."

"I think I would like to hear you play sometime."

The Doctor stared at her for a moment before stammering, "Well, yes, yes of course. I'd be happy to play. The cabin though, what about the cabin Seven?" He ran his hand up over his bald pate then quickly snatched it back down to his side.

"The cabin does appear to conform to your tastes and interests. I... like it."

"Excellent!"

"I fail to see the purpose of it however."

The Doctor crossed his arms again. "You're not the only one. I don't sleep, I don't eat, and I don't get tired. If I want to read I can always do that while continuing my duties. Lt. Commander Kim suggested that I could use my cabin as a place to get away if I wanted to be undisturbed."

"Solitude is preferably at times."

The Doctor looked over at her, a little concern etching his face. "But not all the time, right Seven?"

"No," she said. "Not all the time." For a long moment silence reigned in the cabin until Seven broke it. "Perhaps a reading of the logs of Commander Data might be appropriate?"

"Commander Data? He died though during the Enterprise's trip to Romulus before the civil war."

"He did, however his logs contained several references to the dilemmas you are encountering now. He had no use for a cabin either but as time progressed he discovered many uses for it. He postulated that a period of unconsciousness but not total shut down allowed him to, 'dream' and his cabin was a suitible place to engage in this activity."

"Dreaming? An android?"

"Yes."

The Doctor pondered it for a time. "I never really considered it. I'm either on and conscious or shut down and not. I don't even know if I have an in-between state. It would certainly give me something to do in here."

"Perhaps we could investigate writing subroutines that would allow you to mimic the state of unconsciousness?"

"Would you be able to help Seven? Harry's been busy for the past few days."

"Yes I can." Seven nodded. "Would now be an opportune time?"

"Yes, excellent. You can even provide some insights into what dreaming is like. I find myself somewhat curious about it now."

Seven turned towards the door. "I doubt my insights would be of any help Doctor, when I do dream it is... unpleasant."

"Well, none the less," he said following her. As they walked out the door and out into the corridor he said, "Have I told you how much better you look in a proper uniform?"

Seven looked down at the simple blue accented uniform she now wore. "The skin suits were becoming impractical."

The doctor bristled at the comment. "I'll have you know those suits were perfectly functional and you can thank them for a normal dermal layer."

"The suits were functional," Seven replied, "But they drew unwanted attention."

"How so?"

"I was told they were, distracting, to the male populace at Starfleet command, and a certain portion of the female populace."

The Doctor processed this for a few more strides. "I would have expected a bit more professionalism at Starfleet Command."

"Indeed." Seven led the Doctor into a turbolift and ordered it to the lab section of the ship.

"The labratories?"

"Since we do not have holodeck time reserved the labratories offer the best alternative."

"Of course."

Seven continued to stare straight ahead as the turbolift wisked them through the ship. "It was during my time at Starfleet Command, after my debriefing, that I decided to begin wearing a duty uniform."

"Assimilating into your new collective?"

The Doctor had to smile as Seven turned her head towards him and replied levely, "Indeed."

"There was some resistance to your comissioning."

"There was some unfounded concern about making a former drone a Starfleet officer. Admiral Janeway was only able to make my comission palatable to all involved when she agreed to transfer me to the Federation Defense Force immediately."

'That was an understatement,' the Doctor thought. He'd been called to numerous hearings in regards to Seven's disconnection to the Collective. It had taken almost four years of trial and error and surgeries to finally excise the last of the Borg's hold on Seven but they were confident the link was severed, permanently. The collection of admirals who'd presided over Seven's petition for a commission hadn't been satisfied pumping him for answers once, or even twice, he'd testified on six different occasions for Seven. Even then it had taken admiral Janeway's assurance that she'd take Seven into the FDF for the panel to admit her.

When the turbolift stopped and they stepped out Seven led them towards one of the free labs. Entering the Doctor was struck by how it looked nothing like a proper labratory. A few work tables holding a few non-replicable insturments were stashed in one corner but aside from that the labratory was little more than an empty room.

"Computer, activate holographic labratory."

As the Doctor watched, in the center of the space a large work console materialized. The remainder of the room shifted into a familar looking hologrid, not unlike the workshop of his creator on Jupiter Station. He glanced around and found that the few insturments that had been in the labratory were now hidden behind a holographic wall. "Impressive."

"Quite. These labs are a far more efficent use of space than a conventional labratory set up."

"How, Borg, of the designers."

"On the contrary Doctor, the Collective makes no scientific endeavours of its own. All knowledge is assimilated. The Collective has no labratories."

The Doctor rolled his eyes as Seven stepped up to the work console. "Of course, how silly of me." He followed her, watching as she started to call up his program on her station. Seven was one of the few people he trusted enough to give unfettered access to his program. "I'm curious, how do you plan to simulating an unconcious state?"

"I am planning to dampen your sensory perceptions by ninety percent and reduce your logic centers contribution to your thought process to twenty percent of normal."

The Doctor frowned, "That's a bit drastic."

"During human unconciousness awareness of the surrounding world is diminished greatly and the concious and rational portion of the brain is at a low point of activity. I believe my modifications will mimic this state."

"I hope you don't forget to turn my logic centers back on when I wake up. I don't think the crew would appreciate me operating on them without them."

"I am including it in the modification, as well as provisions that would allow you to control the state and be roused from it by outside sources." Seven's hands glided over the controls, making the final few imputs before starting the additions compiling. "It will take a few moments."

"What do you suppose I'll dream of?" the Doctor asked.

"Unknown," Seven said. She continued to watch the display as the computer integrated the new subroutines into the Doctor's program.

"Well, what do you dream about," the Doctor probed.

He didn't need his enhanced senses to see the way Seven's face tightend. Her finely sculpted jaw tightened, her eyes narrowed, the tendons in her neck started to strain. The hints were subtle but there. To someone who's eyes were designed to perform microsurgery unaided she might as well have been wearing a giant sign with her feelings. Her slightly elevated heart rate, vascular constriction, and shallowed breathing were all sensed as well. "Unpleasant things."

The Doctor leaned in closer to the former drone. "Do you still have the nightmares?"

The way Seven cringed at the mention told him all he needed to know. "Some nights, yes. They are not as vivid since my final surgery but they remain." Seven closed her eyes and held them shut for a moment before opening them and looking directly at him. "My subconcious imagination supplies all the details my implants no longer do."

Usually ignored subroutines for bedside manner compelled the Doctor to cover Seven's augmented hand with his own. The cold metal that covered it like a web pressed against his palm but he could still feel the skin beneat it. "Have you..."

Seven cut him off, "Yes, I have spoken to Starfleet psychologists. They say the visions will fade in time."

"It's been almost six years."

"I'm aware of that," Seven snapped.

The Doctor felt her hand tense under his own but she didn't pull away. He remembered how she'd been almost a decade ago when they'd first taken her aboard and removed most of her Borg implants. That Seven would never have even let him touch her at all outside of a medical sense. She'd come along way and he'd done his best to help her. It was an odd feeling to know that now there was little he could do for her. For the longest time whenever Seven had a problem he'd been the one to help, but not now. The only thing he could do anymore was be there for her. It was an odd feeling, one he still hadn't fully processed. "I have to say, you're not exactly encouraging me to give dreaming a try."

For a moment confusion was painted across Seven's sharp nordic features, then just the barest hint of a smile. "I'm sure your dreams will be much more pleasant. Commander Data reported that some of his first dreams were of his creator." Seven eased her hand away from his as the computer chimed that the compile was complete.

The Doctor frowned. "My creator is an asinine old hermit who's only companions are holograms he can turn off and who considered me to be his crowning failure."

In the middle of the lab a simple cot materialized and Seven gestured towards it. "I would suggest an initial period of only a few minutes to test the new subroutines."

The Doctor laid down on the cot and folded his hands on his chest. "Well, I haven't said hello to 'Dad' in a few months, now is as good a time as any."

"You have a vivid imagination," Seven declared. "I'm sure you will find something enjoyable. Perhaps another attempt at being an Emergency Command Hologram."

It was the Doctor's turn to grimace. "You had to bring that up."

"Or perhaps you would prefer to return to your time as a figure painter? I still will not pose nude for you."

The Doctor groaned in embarrassment. "Maybe this was a bad..." the Doctor opened his mouth wide and yawned, "...ahhhh, bad idea."

Seven smiled as he looked at her quizzically. "Artistic liscense."

"Wonderful, artistic...ahhhhhhnnn... Borg," he grumbled as his eyes grew heavier and finally closed.

"Sweet dreams Doctor," Seven said as she walked back to the console to monitor her friend's progress.

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Chapter 2 Cont.

Postby Tyyr » Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:14 am

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"The disturbance is growing. I believe we have pinpointed its location however."

The scientist took the data slate from one of his research assistants and scanned the data. The trace was faint; merely a burble in the background noise of subspace but it was there.

"The deviation is approximately zero point zero nine millicochranes above the norm. It's approximately seven light minutes away from its predicted location."

The scientist stood up from his work terminal and proceeded to the large holo tank in the center of the lab. He saw the display was already focused on the anomaly. A totally nondescript point in space situated within the orbits of a trinary system of two pulsars and a blue giant. "It's favoring the slower pulsar. I wonder why?"

The aide shifted nervously, still not used to the scientist's ways and unsure if he expected an answer or not.

"Still, seven light minutes isn't too bad. What's its current diameter?"

"Twenty four light seconds and growing."

"How fast?"

"One point three six percent per hour. Plus or minus point eight two percent."

The scientist turned the data slate to the appropriate page. "That's a wide margin of error."

"We're dealing with very slight variations in the background noise. It's difficult to determine if we're looking at regular fluctuations or the anomaly."

The scientist nodded, comparing notes on the data slate with the simulation.

"Sir," the aide said nervously. "Should we be transmitting the data to the Science Directorate, giving them access to the data stream from the probe as well?"

This was the tricky part. The scientist was fully involved in the plot but his subordinates were not, and he couldn't carry out his work without them. "Not yet."

"Sir?"

"I said not yet," he replied raising his voice. "I will not have some stuffed shirt bureaucrat who can't remember which end of field monitor does the measuring take credit for my work!"

"But this could potentially affect..."

"I know what it can affect! I also know just like you do that it will not be significant enough to cause a problem. Has the new data altered the models in any way?"

"Well no sir... no it hasn't but still," the aide was getting flustered.

"If anything comes of this it will be on my head. In fact if anything comes of this you'll probably get my job. So I don't know what your problem is."

The slam of the aide's hand on metal cut through the room drawing the attention of the other research aides. "I'm not looking for advancement!" The aide noticed all the nervous eyes watching them. "I'm only concerned about you and your work. I don't want to see you brought down because of the bureaucracy sir. You've been good to us, to all of us these last few years. I wouldn't stab you in the back."

It pained the scientist to keep the young man in the dark. He knew he genuinely did care. It bothered him even more than declaring that they knew something based off a stupid model, one he knew was completely doctored. If his aide had any clue that the anomaly was going to be thousands of times more powerful than any of the models said it would be he wouldn't be asking the scientist to pick up a communicator, he'd have done it himself.

Later that night the scientist returned to his lab. He again called up the simulations but his special access code gave him access to the code that controlled them. He hadn't told his workers but the simulations for the anomaly were doctored, drastically. Made to misrepresent the eventual size of the anomaly by several hundred thousand times. A few key strokes removed the filters and altered constants he'd added and the simulations began to display the true extent of what was likely to come.

It pained him to let them labor under false pretenses but the Tal'Shiar was everywhere. They were certainly in this lab. After all subspace research had tremendous implications for the military and government, what fools wouldn't have eyes and ears here. He was amazed that he'd been able to conceal the happenings so far. His cover story was certainly plausible; research of this magnitude could make a career. If word got out they could find all their hard work taken by someone else. The science directorate was full of people who'd risen to their positions by doing just that. Swooping in to claim credit for the work of others at just the right moment. If that happened all the prestige, funding, and opportunities this could generate would evaporate in an instant. Given all that why would he report this to the science directorate? Not until he had everything sewn up, all the research done, the papers written and distributed, the data locked away somewhere safe and the event over. He hoped the logic of those actions was keeping whatever agent the Tal'Shiar had in his team satisfied to just give progress reports to their masters.

It wasn't as if anyone in the Tal'Shiar would have a clue what was going on. There were maybe a hundred people in the entire empire who could even begin to grasp what they were working on, and thirty of the brightest of them worked for him. Still, it paid to be careful.

The computer dredged the appropriate simulations up from deep within his private computer, displaying the anomaly in all it's primitive savage glory. The tangled knot of force lines and disruption waves writhed in the star system that gave it birth. Growing, but not slowly. It expanded outwards, easily swallowing the entirety of the trinary system that had birthed it and growing farther, faster, deep into interstellar space.

He ran all eight of their simulations in turn. Each one designed to approach the simulation of the anomaly in a different manner. Each giving different results but all close enough to be confident in. Committing times, dates, and locations to memory he quickly doctored the simulations back to their original, incorrect, forms. Leaving the lab he contacted his fellow conspirator. He'd want an update.

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"He just, he makes me nervous alright?"

"Such a reaction is understandable, but is it not the goal of the Federation to put aside such base reactions and strive to understand other's as people first?"

Binni glared up at Deekan. "Yeah, talk to me about high minded ideals when you're sharing a turbolift with a predator the size of a shuttle pod." The two had settled down in the bridge conference room to discuss Binni's idea of using the point defense batteries offensively without disrupting the rest of the bridge crew. They had the long conference table and the excellent view aft all to themselves.

"In your time with Starfleet surely you've met and dealt with other predatory species," Deekan said as he sipped his glass of water. His home planet had a tremendous arid region of almost pure desert that covered all the land masses up to twenty degrees above and below the equator. With freshwater rare on his home planet he'd learned to adore a simple glass of water and even after more than a decade and a half in Starfleet he still savored it.

"Of course I have, it's just different when they're a meter and a half tall and... well... and..."

"Humanoid?" Deekan said gently.

Even gentle, Deekan's voice reminded Binni of a landslide, but it wasn't his voice that grated on her nerves. "I'm not a speciest ok? Or a humanoidist, I'm just... it's primal."

Deekan nodded to his human companion. Her unruly black hair was drawn back into a ponytail not unlike his own. A few tribal tattoos decorated her neck near her collar, the red ink standing out sharply against her porcelain skin. Her skin was pierced in several places with small rings, her nose, her in ears in several places, and her left eyebrow. She didn't look all that unlike the females from a tribe that didn't live too far from his own on his homeworld. Even her vivid green eyes were more like a Capellan woman's than a human. "The fact that you are bothered by your instincts and not embracing them leaves me with little doubt as to your motivations."

Binni sighed, turning back to her PADD and their discussion. "The problem with the Type XIII pulser's is that they aren't designed to handle low loads. Apparently whoever spec'd them out didn't figure we'd be firing them at anything we didn't want to vaporize."

"The phasers can be tuned to lower outputs," Deekan responded, happy to be back to the real subject.

"Yeah but look at the power output figures. At those low outputs the controller is down to like, eight percent open. At that level even a minor twitch in the controller can lead to a huge spike in output. The first pulse is what you expect then the follow ons are half again as powerful and slag what you just wanted to mess up."

"Yes, however Terzi is very good about keeping these systems in excellent condition."

"I'm not saying she's not," Binni replied, trying to smooth over any ruffled feathers. "It's nothing to do with maintenance or the people operating them, it's purely an issue with the system."

"And your proposal is?"

"Use the point defense turrets. They've each got a pair of type seven pulse phaser cannons in addition to the micro-torp launcher and the eighteen of them are enough to cover the whole sky. Interlinked they could provide a good alternative to the type XIII's and give us an option to disable or warn rather than vaporize smaller ships. Take a look at my proposal."

Deekan held out his hand as Binni slid the spare PADD across the table to him. He picked it up and began to consider what was written in earnest. While he still held doubts about whether or not his fellow commander was disparaging Terzi's work in any way she had offered the appropriate apologies and honor was served. Until evidence proved otherwise he would assume she was telling the truth and not hold it against her.

"I don't even think it's his predatory nature ya know? Lieutenant Bisaan is a predator. He wouldn't be my go to sentient for a friend but I don't give his nature a second thought. I mean he's only up to here on me," she said putting her hand up under her breasts.

Deekan lowered his PADD and politely didn't stare. Binni was tall for a human female and her assessment of the pilot's height was correct. He was secretly happy she wasn't a few inches shorter or her demonstration of the Nileen's height might have been a bit more personal.

"I just think it's because he's the size of a damn aircar. I mean have you seen what Rurutic's eat? It's like King Kong with armor and claws."

"King Kong?"

"Giant gorilla."

"Ah," he said, glancing down at the PADD again.

"I mean something that can EAT those? It's scary to think about."

Deekan shifted a little, trying to focus on the proposal but finding it increasingly difficult with the human's drifting off subject. "Perhaps greater contact with the Lieutenant would be advisable."

"Spend more time around him? Did you miss the part where I almost lose it when he's near?"

Deekan ignored her outburst. "You have shown a great deal of interest in the Rurutic and the Lieutenant in particular. Perhaps discussing your interest with him, and the time that would lead to would allay your fears of the lieutenant?"

"Yeah, lemme jam my head in the lion's mouth and get to know it better,"

Deekan sighed and laid the PADD down. "Your proposal seems sound. I will incorporate the necessary command changes to make the PDT's available for offensive use and make use of them in upcoming simulations."

"Just so long as I still have first crack at them to shoot down fighters and torpedoes."

"Of course."

============================================================

Yumiko twisted the ear piece again, looking for some position that the device would be comfortable in. The ship's doctor had taken a scan of her ear canal and that had been used to make the ear piece. It was supposed to fit so comfortably that she'd never know it was there but instead it was a constant irritation.

Pulling the piece out she wiggled her finger in her ear to try and clear the itch that was forming but nothing helped. She wondered if her half Gors'ic blood had anything to do with it. Her Gor'sic father, Tendelm Boritsolav had met her mother while stationed at the Gor'sic consulate in Old Tokyo on Earth. To everyone's surprise they'd been able to conceive and her three older brothers were evidence that her parents hadn't been content to wonder if their first born had been a fluke. Her father's race had an amazing ability to differentiate sounds even in crowded and noisy rooms, even able to follow multiple conversations all at once. It was a trait he'd past down to her along with a few other things.

'Why do my spots have to itch,' she wondered as she discreetly tried to rub her back against her chair to relieve the itching. Her father's race was from a very wet, humid world. Their skin dried out very quickly. A good moisturizing cream usually took care of things but she couldn't reach the middle of her back. With no friends and no family around, and her temporary boyfriend broken up with and left back at Antares she had no one to rub her back down with lotion, a situation that was going to be intolerable soon.

Putting her ear piece back in she keyed up the next three transmissions in the buffer, eager to catch up on the backlog her moment had caused. Listening to all three at once she quickly moved their information along, storing some in the computer, forwarding a message to the engineering department, and in general acting as a first filter of information for the ship. Most of the information was of no real import. Simple messages broadcast widely or sent directly to the ship. Unless immediate reply or conversation was needed most were stored in the buffer until she got to them. The ones that did need immediate confirmation would cut in.

As one recording ended another began, a simple situational report from an outpost along the neutral zone this one had an annoying background buzz, almost like static. The small prehensile tendrils behind her ears wiggled in annoyance as the static grated on her nerves, making the ear piece's itch worse. Clearing the rest of the running communications she focused on the neutral zone report alone. Frowning she recorded a quick reply asking that for the sake of everyone's ears they take a look at their transmitter and fix it.

Glancing down their side of the bridge she saw her superior Commander Kim talking to the snakegirl lieutenant commander Riway. He was actually pretty cute, reminding her a little of home. Still he was obviously Korean and not Japanese. Besides, the snakegirl was moving in on him unless her senses were way off.

'Ugh,' she fumed, rubbing her back against the chair again. She needed to find someone to put lotion on her or talk to the Doctor soon.

============================================================

The spymaster closed his eyes and mentally reviewed the scientist's last report. While he was still qualifying himself a great deal there was far more certainty in his voice. The appearance of the anomaly very close to where and almost exactly when he'd predicted it had reassured him. The dates and times he'd been supplied with allowed more concrete plans to be established. A few events would have to be accelerated but that didn't concern him, plans changed, they had to.

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Dramatis Personae

Crew, U.S.S. Typhoon NCC-79853

Timothy Hayes, Fleet Captain, Commander 1st Task Force of the 17th Fleet, Male Human
Commanded the U.S.S. Atlas during the Dominion War, transferred into the Federation Defense Force immediately after its establishment, given command of the Typhoon and the 1st TF soon after.

Johan Luhrner, Commander, Male Human
1st Officer of the Atlas during the Dominion War, 1st officer of the Typhoon

Cesina Bul'ra, Lt. Commander, Female Andorian
Lieutenant aboard the U.S.S Galaxy, 2nd Officer of the Typhoon

Terzi Del, Commander, Female Elysian
Chief Engineer of the Atlas during the Dominion War, Chief Engineer of the Typhoon

Deekan Braal, Commander, Male Capellan
Security Officer then Tactical Officer of the Atlas during the Dominion War, Chief Tactical Officer of the Typhoon

Peili, Lt. Commander, Female Orion
Lieutenant in charge of the defense of a border station during the Dominion War, Chief Security Officer of the Typhoon

Harry Kim, Commander, Male Human
Operations Officer of the U.S.S. Voyager, Operations Officer of the Typhoon

EMH (Joe), Commander, Hologram
Chief Medical Officer of the Voyager, Chief Medical Officer of the Typhoon

7 of 9, Lt. Commander, Human/Borg Female
Served on U.S.S. Voyager, Chief Sensors Officer of the Typhoon

Riway daughter of Jaheel, Lt. Commander, Female Si'rak
Ensign on the Atlas, 1st Operations Officer of the Typhoon

Binni Ulin, Lt. Commander, Female Human
Lieutenant on the U.S.S. Lelander, Defense Officer of the Typhoon

Villec Bisaan, Lieutenant, Male Nileen
Starfleet Academy Cadet, Helmsman of the Typhoon

Milana Tuul, Lieutenant, Cardassian Female
Starfleet Academy Cadet, Navigator of the Typhoon

Saral, Lt. Commander, Female Vulcan
Asst. Chief Engineer of the Typhoon

Fealst'rak, Lieutenant, Rurutic Male
Headed a research project using a space telescope to study the galactic core, Chief Science Officer of the Typhoon

Marcos Hernandez, Lieutenant, Male Human
Combat shuttle pilot during the Dominion war, Alpha Squadron leader of the Typhoon

Rilo Gulia, Lieutenant, Male un-Joined Trill
Combat shuttle pilot during the Dominion war, Beta Squadron leader of the Typhoon

Tycho Danor, Lt. Commander, Yvethan Male
Airgroup leader of Akira class USS Jonestown during the Dominion War, Airgroup commander of the Typhoon

Yumiko Boritsolav, Lieutenant, Female Human/Gor'sic
Graduated from Starfleet academy, familiarization deployment on the USS Carthage, communications officer of the Typhoon

Others

T'prin, Senator, Vulcan Female
Federation senator and chief opponent of the FDF

Solin, Aide, Vulcan Male
Senator T'prin's personal assistant

Bella Mavil, Reporter, Human Female
United News reporter on assignment aboard the Typhoon

===========================================

Author's Notes

1) Despite the often cavalier approach that most Trek writers take with travel times I decided to make it take three weeks for the ship to get to the edge of Romulan space.
2) I've had the grapefruit and avocado salad, it is incredible.
3) Harry Kim is in this story for a couple of reasons. Primarily he seemed to do a great job as Ops on Voyager. Second, for some odd reason I like him. Finally, he was Voyager's butt monkey. Every bad, stupid, unpleasant thing seemed to happen to him. Need someone to catch an alien virus, send Harry. Need someone to fail at love, send Harry. Need someone to impotently oppose someone's bad command decision, send Harry. As a character the guy got the short end of the stuff time and time again, usually after being jabbed in the stomach with it. And couldn't Janeway at least made him a Lieutenant?
4) The Doctor is in this story because I couldn't resist playing with his character; he's too much fun and was one of the characters who evolved the most on Voyager. I also really enjoy trying to interface artificial with biologic intelligence along with the attendant difficulties of exactly what makes a person.
5) Seven of Nine is in this fic because on Voyager no character had more room and possibility to grow and develop as much as she did. Her opportunities were as great as the Doctor's but unlike the EMH she was never allowed to grow at all. Any time she got close to some character growth some Borg part of her would freak out and she's be right back to being a drone at the end of the episode.
6) Aside from those characters they're all my own creations.
7) Enhanced compression rifle, a toy from Elite Force 2. Think a rapid fire compression rifle. I won't be bringing every toy from that game in but I'll probably bring a few.
8) The security force is a combination of the hazard team from Star Trek: Elite Force (the video game) and the MACO's from Enterprise. Typical ship's security in Star Trek seems almost laughable. Honestly given the technology with internal sensors, forcefields, and environmental controls boarding a Star Fleet ship and running rampant on it seems to be a laughable prospect. Still, people do it all the time and the rubes in the golden uniforms are actually surprised at times when they run into people. Surprised! All those fancy internal sensors and they'll blindly stumble around a corner into someone. The tactical squads are going to be much better equipped, trained, and skillful at dealing with these kind of situations. Don't like it? Be happy I decided against full on power armor for the security personnel.
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Chapter 3

Postby Tyyr » Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:15 am

Proud Legion
By: bsmart

Disclaimer: Rated R for the good stuff, you've been warned. I don't own Trek, but the people who do probably shouldn't either.

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Chapter 3: Frontier

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"More wine?" Peili asked.

Bella smiled and offered her glass, "Please." Peili filled it again with the deep red liquid and set the bottle down. Bella took a sip and shivered as the liquid slid down her throat. It wasn't the familiar burn of alcohol but more of a tickle as the wine set off every nerve ending in her body. She shivered and Peili laughed.

"It's Orion," she said.

Bella's heart skipped a beat.

"Don't worry, it's perfectly safe. Nothing funny in it aside from real alcohol."

"Oh," Bella said, unsure if that was comforting or a bit disappointing.

"My people have a bad reputation," Peili replied as she took a bite of the pasta dish she'd made.

"Well with the... umm...," Bella stuttered.

"Slavery, narcotics, organized crime, and piracy as a way of life?"

"Yes, that," Bella said. She wasn't used to being tongue tied, but then again she wasn't usually concerned with not offending people. Offending them was usually her goal.

Peili licked some of the blue sauce from her lips. "You can be blunt with me," she said. "Not like it isn't true."

Bella took a bite of vegetables, remaining silent as she chewed, using it as a cover while she regained her composure. She was off balance and the feeling bugged her. Yes, the Orion woman was attractive, very attractive, and her insistence on wearing what she called traditional clothes only reinforced that. While leaving nothing truly exposed the layers of gauzy red fabric had a habit of catching her eye and making her wonder if at any moment some new bit of Peili's anatomy would be exposed. Being distracted like she always endeavored to distract other's was disconcerting to say the least. Next to Peili even her rather daring low cut dress seemed downright prudish. The green woman's dress covered everything necessary and nothing else. The layers of thin silk billowed around her body, giving the appearance of a traditional dress but covering little.

"I've been meaning to ask you, how did you wind up here?"

"Here?" Peili asked in reply. "The Tyhpoon?"

"No, well yes, sort of. In Starfleet, how did you get here."

The barest grin tugged at the corner of Peili's mouth as she replied, "I applied of course. I even graduated in the top twenty percent of my class."

Bella huffed, something she hadn't done in ages. She could see the sly grin that was starting to take over Peili's mouth. The way it formed her full black lips was intoxicating but the meaning behind it, that she was being toyed with, infuriated Bella. "Blunt?"

"Always."

"How does an Orion animal woman wind up in Starfleet. Shouldn't you be in some mouth-breather's harem, dancing and screwing all day long?"

Peili's unwomanly guffaw only made Bella's scowl deepen. She'd intentionally tried to make it as offensive as she could and the alien woman just laughed it off. She smiled broadly at Bella, pushing some of her ebon curls behind her ear so they didn't obscure her face. "Humans are adorable. I'm sure that might have offended someone from Earth but if you want to shock me you're going to have to try a lot harder than that darling." She took a sip of her own wine. "You tried though, so I'll tell you."

"I was raised on a colony in the Idfu system. Like all females I was property from the day I was born. My father sent me to school as was normal. Boys went to learn the basics, reading, writing, math. My brothers did well, their aptitude scores meant they got to go on in schooling. They might even be engineers now. Does that surprise you?"

"A little, yes," Bella said. "I wouldn't expect much schooling."

Bella chuckled. "A little prejudiced but I guess it makes sense. The Federation does sort of assume that educated civilized people wouldn't approve of slavery, even though historically those most educated are those that help to push the system. No, our people might be criminals and pirates dear but a warp engine still needs a competent engineer, even on a pirate ship."

"That's not the kind of image most of you... most Orions give off."

Peili kept smiling. "Yes, we don't do we. After all I'm sitting her having dinner with you and showing more skin than you probably do in your underwear," she took another bite of her pasta. "Think about it dear, do the best and the brightest conduct the scut work of a company? No, they let the underlings handle things. Well in Orion society we don't train people in excess of what their use is. If a man's only job is to tend a slave pen what does he need higher education for?"

Bella swallowed some of her pasta. Aside from the odd color it had a delightfully spicy sauce. "That's... pragmatic."

"Oh stop it, it's barbaric, savage, unenlightened. You're a reporter and I'm sure the idea offends your delicate sensibilities, use that wonderful vocabulary you have."

"Fine, yes it is barbaric. To intentionally school someone only enough to do the job you decide their good for. Seems like a self fulfilling prophesy to me."

"It probably is," Peili said as she used one of her vegetables to soak up the last bits of pasta sauce on her plate. "Then again how much time and energy would be wasted fully educating a hundred slave handlers if only one of them might have the drive to do something more with his life? My people are pirates and crooks by trade, but that doesn't mean we're living in the lap of luxury. The school my brothers went to had a dirt floor and they shared one textbook. We didn't have the resources to indulge more civilized ideals."

Bella kept her own council on that. It might make for an interesting discussion on down the line but it wasn't what she was really interested in.

"Anyways, while my brothers went to their school I went to another with my sisters where they taught us how to be good little slave girls."

"What did that entail? Dancing and how to serve drinks?"

Peili looked Bella right in the eyes. "Yes, and cooking, sewing, how to dress and most importantly how to please both men and women," she grinned as the reporter squirmed. "Sexually."

"How old were you?" Bella managed to ask.

"I started school at five with the housekeeping things. They started teaching us the rest when we turned ten."

Peili fought the urge to laugh as Bella blanched. Humans were such a nice race. They'd managed to come so far in such a short amount of time. They'd made huge strides in ridding their race of many of its darker traits. They were a far cry from her own. Amusingly it had made it so that most of them had difficulty letting themselves go to say what they thought. They'd repressed so many of their darker urges that it left them flustered trying to deal with them. Their innocence, and the culture of the Federation that let such innocence exist, was admirable. She doubted that Bella could ever really grasp how she'd been raised and she knew the reporter would never be able to comprehend that while Peili loved where she was, the idea of where she could have wound up wasn't really that repugnant to her.

"That's..."

"The way it is darling. Some buyers prefer their girls as young as possible, so they want us well trained as early as we can be. After all, wouldn't want someone to be disappointed in an Orion woman, it could hurt sales."

Bella's mind was reeling. Lightheaded like the time she'd sucked down too much helium to amuse her young nephews with her squeaky voice. What Peili was describing was some of the most vile conduct she could imagine, and the Orion woman was telling her story matter of factly, even laughing about it. When Peili pushed her plate back and offered to go somewhere more comfortable she could only nod as she tried to process it all. Peili led her to a small sitting area and guided her to a loveseat. She sat the bottle of wine and their glasses on the coffee table in front of them before gracefully sitting beside the stunned reporter. Peili easily folded her legs up under her body, letting her sit facing her guest.

"So how did you make it to Starfleet?"

"Well," Peili said as she refreshed their glasses. "I finished my schooling, top of my class I might add, and a trader bought me. I fetched almost fifty bars of gold pressed latinum," she said with pride.

"You're proud of that?"

Peili sat up a little straighter. "Of course I am. Most girls only get thirty or so when bought from their families." She puffed out her chest a bit, how many other women could claim to be worth that much. "And that's just from my family, to a real buyer I would probably be worth three times that, maybe even two hundred."

Bella shifted nervously in her seat, how was that something to be proud of? She took another drink but as she leaned over to set the glass down she had to catch herself on the edge of the love seat, her balance seemed to be off. "What happened after you were... bought?"

And humans couldn't hold their liquor either, Peili thought as Bella slumped back into the overstuffed cushions, leaning closer to Peili to keep herself steady. "The trader took me off world with the other girls he'd purchased. He was going to stop by a few of his better customers to show us off before taking us to the slave market on Surab'Nok. Fortunately for me the first customer was only interested in younger girls and I was fifteen..."

"...younger?"

"...not fortunate for the trader though. His next customer was going to meet him on Qa'en three. Well, it was his bad luck that a Federation cutter was coming through the area and decided he looked fishy. After a very short chase he was caught, the girls were found, and he went to jail. The Federation takes a very dim view of slavery."

Bella simply nodded her assent, slipping further over towards Peili.

"Well most of the girls requested to return to Idfu, after all they could be sold again, netting their families even more money. Since I'd been worth such a high price though I decided to stay with these new people."

"They let you stay?"

"Of course they did, they didn't have a choice."

Bella twisted to look up at Peili. "No choice? Did you request asylum?"

Peili chuckled, "Nothing that intelligent. I didn't even know the concept much less the word. No, humans are very easy for an Orion woman to manipulate."

"I thought Starfleet personnel were supposed to be disciplined and self controlled?"

"Oh they were, but not for lack of trying on my part. Their discipline was probably the only reason I didn't get taken right there in the shuttle bay by all of them... not that that wouldn't have been entirely unpleasant. No darling, an Orion's woman's pheromones are very powerful to a human. We can even tweak them at will to make them have the effect we want, like repelling one sex and attracting the other."

"I haven't found you very repellant."

"No, you wouldn't have."

For a moment Bella was silent, then she quickly looked at Peili, "So that's why...?!"

"No, one thing I learned a long time ago was how to control them. Right now I'm not doing anything one way or the other. If I did I'd have every male or female on this ship banging down my door or trying to kill me every day."

"I doubt that," Bella said.

"Oh? Just a moment ago you seemed convinced I was using them to attract you."

"Well, maybe giving me a little extra push, you couldn't have attracted me if I wasn't already... I mean...!"

Peili just smiled as Bella tried to catch herself. "First of all thank you, and second of all its not a surprise. I didn't think you just accepted my invitation, and then wore that dress, just because you had a platonic interest in me." She took another drink of her wine and watched the reporter do the same. Her thick blond curls obscuring her face as she bent low to take a sip. She'd be visiting sickbay tomorrow for sure. "Now where was I?"

"You were about to start an orgy in the shuttlebay."

"Oh, right. No, I just asked the Captain to stay, as forcefully as I could. He accepted."

"Did you...?"

"Sleep with him? Again, not for lack of trying. He was a handsome man but he was also a married one, and as devoted to his wife as any man I've ever seen. No, he kept me at arm's length in that department. He spent months in close proximity to a Orion woman doing her best to attract him and he resisted. He did take an interest in me, though more so as a daughter. He saw too it that I learned to read, write, and do some basic math and science. In return I helped out in the galley, or repairing uniforms. It's odd now, thinking about the way I'd sit in a pile of uniforms, mending them all. They could have just replicated new ones, but I was intent on being useful. I was so confused at first, doing all I could to make it obvious to the captain that I was useful, and interested, and his for the taking if he chose. I spent all that time studying and learning thinking it would please him so he'd lay claim to me. It never happened though, and at some point in that cruise I started to pick up on things, to understand the Federation and humans."

"What happened after that?" Bella asked. She sat down her empty glass and sank back deeper into the couch, relaxing as Peili slipped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. Bella took a deep contented breath and closed her eyes.

"The captain adopted me. I was still seventeen by the time the cutter returned to starbase. I went home with him to Tau Ceti. His wife was happy to see me, he'd apparently been telling her everything about me from day one."

Bella took another deep breath through her nose. She didn't know why but there was something in the air that she needed more of. "Weren't your parents still alive?"

"Oh yes, but I was sold off, they no longer owned me."

"You don't want to go back?"

"Not really," Peili said. "I don't see the point."

"But they're your parents," Bella said, snuggling closer to Peili. Whatever the smell was, if there even was one, seemed to be coming from the Orion woman. She wanted to get more of it and Peili didn't seem to object.

"I'm an Orion woman, that doesn't mean much beside them being my first owners."

Bella cracked her eyes to look at the green skin of Peili's stomach. The smooth jade skin pulled smooth and flawless over her muscles. Her cute little belly button sitting just above the gauzy red material of her dress. "Mhmm," she said wordlessly.

"So anyways, captain DeVays and his wife took me in and saw to my schooling as best they could. They taught me all about the Federation and how humans see things. It's still a bit odd, but I admired it. By the time I turned twenty I had caught up my education. Mrs. DeVays," Peili giggled, "Mom, used to say that was proof I was good for more than cooking and screwing. She encouraged me to keep going, to try and go to college. I didn't, I still wanted to impress Dad. So I did the next best thing, I joined Starfleet."

Bella's face was only inches from Peili's stomach. She was trying to look like she was just resting but the urge to lick Peili's skin to see if it tasted as good as it smelled. She surreptitiously turned her head, following the skin up to where it disappeared into the hazy bits of her top. She swore she could see the green undersides of Peili's breasts before the cloth got to dense and just above those beautiful orbs was Peili's face, smiling down at her so sultrily. On impulse Bella pushed herself up, bringing her bright red lips towards Peili's black ones. She could feel the Orion woman's sweet breath on her face and she closed her eyes as she went in to close the distance.

"...still don't believe me about the pheromones?"

It took Bella a moment to comprehend that she wasn't kissing Peili, and that Peili had instead said something. Her eyes opened to look at the Orion's face but the sultry stare was gone for a quizzical glance. It was as if her brain was trying to run in molasses. Something was wrong here, they should have been kissing each other but weren't because...

And in a rush it hit her. "WHAT!?" she squealed as she shot back to her corner of the loveseat.

Peili shook her head. "Don't let me stop you, we can finish that kiss if you'd like."

"You mean?!"

"It was nice to not have to hold them in for a while."

"You mean... you drugged me!?"

"I'd hardly call it that. Still, see what I mean?"

Bella hopped up off the couch as quickly as she could and backed away.

"Oh come on now, I'll stop if you want." Bella paused for a moment. "Or I can keep them going so you can blame whatever happens next on them if you'd like."

And Bella unpaused, storming towards the door and out it.

Peili sighed, "I should have told her afterwards."

============================================================

"And Commander Lufkin of the Cavalier is requesting authorization to conduct anti-starbase training with outpost three ninety one."

Timothy frowned, "Three ninety one? That's not even a light year from the neutral zone."

"Point four two eight light years."

"Thank you Kaitlyn," Timothy said as the hologram provided the exact number.

"You're welcome sir," she said back with the barest of grins.

Timothy looked at her quizzically but dismissed the nagging uncertainty. Her attitude was probably an artifact of Johan's hand, much like her insistence on wearing a dress uniform skirt instead of pants. He couldn't fathom how the narrow scrap of cloth was remotely in regs. "That's bound to get the Romulan's attention. Tell him he's got authorization, but keep it low key. We're here to show the flag and rattle a saber, not start swinging them."

"Aye sir."

"Anything else Kaitlyn?"

The holographic aide-de-camp checked her large data slate. "No sir, nothing requiring your attention," she said as she moved the PADD around behind her back and clasped her hands there. She bounced gently on the balls of her feet giving her the air of an over-eager cadet with too much energy.

Was it his imagination or was her chest bigger than when he'd first seen her in his cabin? Again Timothy dismissed the thoughts. He checked his watch and smiled. "Well I'll be damned, it's not even time yet for my second cup of coffee." Across his desk Kaitlyn positively beamed. Timothy had to admit, Johan had been right. Even though she was just an extension of the ship's computer Kaitlyn had already helped him to cut down on the time he spent on paperwork a great deal. An average morning's housekeeping could last till lunch. Now with Kaitlyn that time had been cut in half. If there was anything bad to say about the holographic aide he didn't know what it was. He was still comparing his raw work load versus what she pared it down to but he was pleasantly surprised so far that she'd been fairly on top of what really required his attention and what didn't. He'd brought a few items to her attention and she was getting better every day. Even with the hour he would spend double checking her he was till finished well ahead of his usual schedule. Soon he suspected he wouldn't even need to check up on her but once in a while. He wasn't sure what he would do with the extra hours.

"What about appointments, anything I've got today?"

"Nothing official sir. The reporter woman is getting pretty insistent about getting an interview though. Commander Luhrner has been putting her off so far but I don't know how much long she's going to keep going through proper channels."

"Oh really?" Timothy said with a smirk. "And exactly how would Daddy feel about his little girl squealing on him?"

"The commander programmed me to be an aide. If he didn't want me tattling he should have written that in, sir."

"HA!" Timothy's exclamation made Kaitlyn grin. "Good one. I think he might have given you a bit more personality than he meant to." Timothy kept smiling as he took a sip of coffee. "Talk to Johan, let him know I want to give her that interview ASAP. We've been out of spacedock for well over a week, lets give her her interview before we burn up any good will she might have left. Johan will just have to find another way to annoy her."

"Aye sir," Kaitlyn replied. "You've also got a meeting with lieutenant commander Bul'ra this afternoon at the end of alpha shift. Nothing official or anything, I made sure she understood that."

"Excellent, always good to meet the junior officers."

"Anything else sir?"

"Not now Kaitlyn, thank you."

"Anytime sir," she said cheerfully before dematerializing.

============================================================

"Wow, who buggered this up?"

"Banshee, she firewalled it cold," Marcos said while thinking of the white maned Efrosian woman.

Terzi easily slid out from under the starfighter's belly. "I meant the design," she said. "but yeah, that's kinda stupid too though. Don't do that."

"Some desk jockey at Starfleet Engineering," Rilo said letting Terzi's comments slide off. He still wasn't used to the rather informal way the former Atlas crew operated. Marcos said he needed to loosen up but slackening decorum, especially in the face of combat, seemed to be a recipe for disaster.

Terzi frowned. The mechanical frame that held her whined as she stood. It's servo motors working to help her weak muscles move her. The anti-grav suit she wore under her uniform kept her body floating and comfortable in the near zero gee of her crystalline homeworld. Standing still required a certain amount of force though, an amount her muscles just couldn't generate. She prided herself on keeping the anti-grav field not quite at full power though. The extra weight it placed on her muscles made them work hard and strengthened them. "Hey now, I know some desk jockeys at SE, some of them are pretty cute."

"Well it's still a poor design," Rilo said a bit more diplomatically. He should have figured the wrench heads would stick together.

"No," Terzi said, wiping her hands on a rag. "It's an incredibly stupid design. I said they were cute, not smart."

"Can you fix it?" Marcos asked. "We can't have this happening again. Stupid or not sometimes you need the power now."

"Oh sure, it's not complicated," she said as she tucked the rag into one of the back pockets of her pants. "Gonna take a while though."

"How long?" Marcos asked.

Terzi frowned. "Figure four people working on them as a team, about four hours an engine, four engines per fighter. Figure about forty eight shifts."

"Forty eight?! Are you kidding me?" Marcos exclaimed.

Rilo was far calmer than his companion. "That does seem excessive."

Terzi crossed her arms in front of her. "Well it's not. You've gotta strip the old parts. You've gotta splice in a new section of conduit to replace the one that's tapped for the safety. You've gotta build a new dump conduit for the safety. You've gotta mod the safety to mate with the new conduit. Then you have to reattach the safety, route the dump conduit to a new dump valve on the exterior of the hull, which you've got to mod and install as well, then button it up and move onto the next one. Four hours is how long it'll take them after they get used to doing it."

"No way to reduce that?" Marcos asked with a bit more composure. "Like say a starfleet engineer overestimating how much time she needs so that when she's done early she looks like a miracle worker."

"First, we only do that to impress captains, you two don't have enough swing to be worth it. Second, no not really, not unless we cut some major corners like just capping the old conduit and letting the safety dump raw. We might drop that to two and a half or three hours per job but that's a piss poor way to do it. If we do that I'll be back here in a few months redoing the whole job, properly this time."

"What's your plan to deal with it?" Rilo asked as he leaned against the hull of the fighter.

"I can chop about eight people to this and I hope I can get just as many of yours. That way we can get together four teams and knock this out in about two weeks with your guys providing the flight deck know how and mine the muscle with a cutting torch."

Rilo and Marcos looked at one another and the human said what they were both thinking. "We'll be to the Neutral Zone before we're all finished, by a couple days at least."

"That's the best I can do guys. I've only got so many people here who are competent to do these kind or repairs and mods and I still need some to work on the rest of the ship. When we get close we can have two teams working a fighter port and starboard at once to reduce the number of birds down with their engines ripped up."

Rilo frowned. "I guess we don't have a choice."

"Not really, not unless you wanna risk slagging more engines," Terzi said.

"I'd rather slag engines than pilots," Marcos said.

"Hey, I'm just the engineer, I worry about the machines."

Marcos nodded, "Alright, I'll check the roster and see who we can assign to this."

"Gimme a day to draw up the plans for this and get some people shifted around. I figure we can get this started Monday morning, oh eight hundred?"

"Oh eight hundred," Rilo said.

After a few more checks and a few holo pics Terzi had what she needed and left. As she walked off the flight deck she consulted her PADD, checking to make sure she had the right schematics and P&ID's flagged so she could get to work when she got back to her office. She was thankful the flyboys had something interesting for her to do, she just wished it had been more interesting. It was a simple fix and design so it wouldn't take her more than a few hours to have some good looking prints. The report to Starfleet Engineering would be interesting. She'd probably have the modified design sent into them before they'd even puzzled out who would be in charge of designing the fix. She even pondered sending in an article to Starship Engineering Monthly but dismissed it just as quickly. This wasn't really that interesting a problem. The original design might be worth sending into their humor column though.

When she got back to her office she flopped back into her desk chair and rubbed her sore thighs. She'd reduced her grav suit's setting by another tenth of a meter per second squared and she was paying for it. Not that she would let anyone see it though, she had her pride as a command officer. She opened up a drawer on her desk and pulled out the hypospray the Doctor had given her. The serene pink liquid inside the hypospray swirled as she handled the instrument. He'd assured her that the medication would not only increase her bone density but make her muscles more receptive to growth. The mixture was more for her bones than muscles though, he'd been nervous about her muscles getting too strong too fast and snapping one of her delicate bones from the sheer force.

The idea of one of her muscles being able to break anyone's bones was comical all by itself. She couldn't even support her own weight in the Typhoon's gravity field. The standard nine point eight meter per second squared gravity would crush her to the deck plates, a body designed for two tenths of a meter per second gravitational field just couldn't handle it. She relied upon her anti-grav suit and her frame to allow her to even leave her near zero-gee cabin. She had it easier than other's of her kind. The first Elaysians in Starfleet had only had the frames. She remembered her early days as well. Even though she'd been able to move the crushing gravity was omnipresent, making every breath a gasp, every movement agony, every moment outside her quarters a pure contest of wills. She had Commander Xin Ra-Havreii on the Luna class Titan to thank for her anti-grav suit that kept her body in near weightlessness while her frame fought the gravitational load. She couldn't fathom what bureaucratic screw up had allowed the whole Titan class to have it's class name co-opted by a Luna class ship. She was sure someone had been demoted for that little malf-up.

As she brought the hypospray to her neck she her fingers ran across the deep gouge that was still in the collar piece of her frame. The plate covered the top of her shoulders and lower part of her neck and was the piece that her anti-grav suit hung from now. The gouge was an old one, from the Dominion war.

Even though she didn't want to Terzi remembered how she got it every time she felt the deep rend in her frame. She could remember every sight and smell that day. Her engine room going to hell. The heat from the fires breaking out all over singing her uniform. The acrid stench of her own burned off hair. The choking fumes of plasma coolant leak. That had been the day the Atlas had come closer to destruction than any other. Her engineering crew had been struggling to restore main power, to get the ship back into the fight instead of drifting powerlessly off into the void. They'd been so busy no one had even noticed the warnings as ten Jem'Hadar started to beam in. They hadn't missed it when her crew started dying though.

She remembered the blue shimmer as the warriors had started to materialize. The small part of her mind she could spare to consider the observation wondering why someone was using the transporters instead of the turbolifts. Her chief assistant had been the first to die, his eyes bulging as the Jem'Hadar's weapon ravaged his chest. Another of her engineers had sprung for the intercom, smashing the activation stud and howling an intruder alarm before another Jem'Hadar's beam had crushed her skull, spraying the wall with the remains of the woman's head. Terzi had dove behind the console she'd been working at, fumbling at her side for a phaser she'd never fired in anger and rarely in practice. She saw one of the invaders fall clutching at his ruined face as one of her crewman fought back but the grown soldiers converged on his position, multiple polaron beams flaying his body into ruin. Other's soon joined in, golden phaser beams passing silvery polaron ones as her engine room was turned into a battlefield.

Terzi was not a trained fighter but even to her their pattern was quickly obvious. Two of them were crouched near the matter/anti-matter reactor fiddling with some kind of package while the remaining warriors tried to screen them. Leaning out from behind her console she'd taken aim but found herself unable to fire, her own nature making the idea of pressing the trigger abhorrent. It had only been when another of her people died that she'd pushed the trigger, mostly on pure reflex.

Her first shot in anger was a clean miss, passing over the Jem'Hadar and their package to smack into the railing behind them. Instantly both of the ones working at the item looked her way as did one of their protectors. Her second shot wasn't aimed at all, her eyes too fixed on the Jem'Hadar warrior now stalking towards her, his polaron rifle tracking towards her head. Her second shot was better though, pure instinct moving the weapon on target and hammering the Jem'Hadar between his shoulder blades, destroying every nerve leaving his neck and killing the warrior instantly. His limp body collapsed and fell between the edge of the deck and the reactor.

The fear gripping her as the other Jem'Hadar stalked towards her faded as she finally processed what they were doing. Whatever the item it was it was intended to destroy the reactor and the ship. They'd killed many of her crew and now they wanted the whole ship. She ignored the tall warrior that surged forward as the cowering woman suddenly became a threat and she snapped off two quick shots. The first smashed the devices control pad, showering the Jem'Hadar who'd been working on it in slivers of metal and plastic. He grunted and pulled back, right into Terzi's second shot, the beam slicing across his head and frying his brain.

Her victory was short lived as the advancing Jem'Hadar seemed to know what had just happened. His calm demeanor shattered as he leapt towards her with a snarl of rage. Terzi's phaser shot wasn't fast enough, the beam was wide and in a shower of sparks ruined his rifle but the warrior cast it aside without slowing down and pulled a knife out. Terzi tried to roll away but she wasn't fast enough, her frame and body unused to working with this much excitement and in this acrobatic a way. Walking was a chore, never mind hand to hand combat. The Jem'Hadar's boot caught her hand and crushed it, casting the phaser out of reach. He'd stopped her roll with a hand on her shoulder and as he crouched over her he brought his knife towards her neck. With ease it parted her uniform, slashing the neck of it open but halting when it found metal underneath. Her frame had stopped the Jem'Hadar's knife and his surprise gave her the moment she'd needed.

Her grasping hand found the toolbox she'd always kept stashed under the console and quickly found what she was looking for. Subconsciously boosting her frame's power to the maximum she'd swung the half meter long torque wrench for the only target available, the Jem'Hadar's head. Three kilo's of wrench swung with more force than a Klingon could have mustered met his skull just below his temple. Terzi remembered the sudden puff of stinking breath as the pain of the impact drove the air from the soldier's lungs. Whatever pain he'd felt was short lived though as the wrench continued on, crushing skin, bone, and then gray matter. She could still see the life slip from the alien's eyes as she'd killed him, still feel his white blood on her face as capillaries exploded from the violence just done to his head. When he fell it was right next to the lifeless body of her chief assistant, a man whom she'd worked with for years.

At that moment Terzi had felt a new emotion, one Elaysians rarely felt and never acknowledged, rage. Drawing the wrench back from the crushed mess that was the side of the Jem'Hadar's head she'd driven it into his face over and over, stopping only when the servo's in her frame's arm gave out from the stress of running so long in overload. By the time she'd stood back up all that was left of the Jem'Hadar's head was a mess of shattered bone chips, gore, and white blood on the deck plates. She remembered the security officer who'd arrived asking if she was ok, if her arm was hurt. She'd looked at her limb, the appendage dangling useless in the gravity field now that the frame's arm was out of commission. Dismissing his question She'd asked about her crew and found that the security detail had quickly eliminated them. They'd gotten main power restored minutes later and the Atlas had finished the fight.

It had taken weeks of work to right the ship. It could have gone quicker but starbase space had been limited to the truly damaged ships. A definition that had changed greatly since the start of the war. She could remember when the damaged they'd received would have been characterized as catastrophic in peace time. During the Dominion war it had been merely, "Moderate."

After the battle Terzi had shaved off her charred hair, cutting it down to just stubble over her pate. She'd kept it that way until the War's end, when she'd gone home for the first time in years. When she'd first arrived it had felt incredible to be rid of her frame and just float free in the microgravity. The freedom hadn't lasted long. Her biological mother had spotted the damage to her frame before Terzi had been able to remove it and stow it away. She'd asked about it the next day.

In retrospect Terzi knew it had been a horrible mistake. During the war the others she'd been with had told war stories to reminisce and share the burden. At first she'd hesitated but eventually she'd joined in at Deekan's encouraging. It had been strangely liberating to find out that she wasn't alone. That others had similar beliefs about violence but had also had to lose those preconceptions or die or even worse, watch others die. Their discussions had been frank with little pretense. It had been so wonderful to know that others felt the same way. It never occurred to her that her mother wouldn't be prepared to hear it as frankly as she'd become accustomed to telling it.

The look of concern in her mother's face as she described the beginning of the war had been bad and spoken volumes. The look of abject horror in her mother's eyes as she'd described killing the first two Jem'Hadar and then beat the third to death with a torque wrench had been worse. She'd stopped talking after that story, but her mother had goaded her on, wanting to know everything. She'd eventually discovered that Terzi had been forced to kill twice more in self defense. When her story had been finished Terzi had felt ashamed of herself for the first time in nearly two years and fearful of what her mother thought. The elder Elaysian had left her room and Terzi had not seen her again the rest of the day.

She should have known better. Elaysians were non-violent. They just had no use for it. What disagreements Elaysians had were settled with words and mediators. Only a few times in their history had violence been the final solution to a problem and those old wars were rarely spoken of. Violent Elaysians were considered sick and disturbed. Most were committed to healing institutions and a rare few even banished. She'd just admitted to killing six Jem'Hadar, not simply fighting, but killing.

The Elaysians weren't fools. They knew that few outside their world shared their views on violence. It was one of the reasons so few Elaysians left the homeworld voluntarily. They knew that the Dominion would show them no mercy when they came so they'd helped the Federation anyway they could, usually as nurses and Doctors in the zero gee wards, or with supplies like dilithium. For an Elaysian to have actually participated in combat though, directly, was unthinkable.

She still hadn't expected the looks she'd gotten from her siblings or creche-mothers at the dinner the following night. Even her father had been distant. Looks of pity, disdain, and even disgust in some had been like an icy knife buried in her gut. She'd sat in the nest, surrounded by family, but she could never remember being so alone. Her mother's speech that evening had sealed it, her meaning as clear as a bell when she had said, "And we pray for the safety of our daughter and sister Terzi as she continues her wanderings with Starfleet, off world."

She hadn't even waited for the personnel transport to make its return leg trip two weeks later. Less than fifty hours after setting foot on her home planet she'd boarded her shuttle and with nary a good-bye she'd left. It would take almost a week for her to reach the nearest starbase in a shuttle only capable of only a bit beyond warp three. She hadn't cared though, she'd only wanted off of her planet. After six years she still hadn't returned to her crystalline home, neither had she heard from a single person in her family.

She chuckled grimly as she recalled the words she's heard some ensign once utter. Damaged goods. Somehow that described perfectly how her family had seen her, as damaged goods.

The hiss of the hypospray against her neck brought Terzi's thoughts back to the present. She swayed as the drug momentarily upset her delicate sense of balance. Unlike many humanoids Elaysians didn't rely at all on their sight for help with their sense of balance, you couldn't when up and down are relative concepts on a microgravity world. The delicate spatial balance organ in her mid-brain did not care at all for some part of the Doctor's medication though. Damaged goods or not she was not going to let history repeat itself. As she tossed the hypospray back into its drawer she saw her service phasor sitting in it with its leg holster. Replacing the previous hand vacuum shaped weapons with an old style pistol had been a good decision by Starfleet in her opinion. She'd found it much easier to hit on the first shot with it during her practices.

Sighing in frustration at the way she still dwelt on the past every time she felt that damn ding in her frame Terzi refocused on the problem at hand, redesigning the safety for the starfighters. She promised herself that this time she was going to go down to the metal shop and get the stupid thing worked out of her frame.

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Johan walked into the officer's lounge with his lips pulled tight. He'd known he would have to eventually give in to the reporter's demands and let her speak to the captain but he hadn't wanted to give in to her. For reasons both obvious and not, something about her grated on his nerves. He was mildly surprised he'd managed to hold her off for this long, they were more than halfway to Deep Space Three and if anything her requests for an audience with the captain were become more sporadic. She'd originally bothered him three to four times per day but in the last few she'd only contacted him once, and it was more perfunctory than pushy.

The Captain's message, to give her the meeting, had been a bit overdue. Which only convinced him that he should have given Kaitlyn to him the second he showed up. The little holo-aide seemed to be doing a much better job of keeping Timothy on top of things. Johan's grimace turned into a grin. He wondered just how on top of things his friend might get. He had programmed the little minx to be fully functional and then some.

He let the smile stay as he suppressed a chuckle and headed for the mop of curly blonde hair out in the middle of the mess. He'd allowed her access to the officer's mess largely because she'd complained long and loud about how she was being confined to her quarters and only let out for supervised field trips. Letting her eat in the mess gave her more autonomy than Johan would have liked but it let her mingle with the ship's officers directly. He'd hoped he could delay her speaking with the captain by giving her this but she'd complained even louder afterward. 'If you give a mouse a cookie...'

What was odd was how she'd tapered off recently, starting a week ago. If his sensor tracking of her was any indication she'd started to spend quite a bit of time observing Peili's people. No real surprise there in his opinion. Peili's marines were the only ones doing much of anything interesting on the ship at the moment. At least the only ones that would make a good story. He made a mental note to see about hooking Bella up with Danor. Maybe he could get the Yvethan to let her take a holo hop with some of his flyboys soon.

"Mind if I sit down?" he asked as he came to her table.

Bella started as if he'd caught her by surprise. "Commander Luhrner, of course not, please have a seat." She smiled and took another bite of the food on her tray. "You really should try the Andorian stir-fry, they have some interesting spices."

"I... think I will," he said. Not only had she used his proper name and title but she was being down right pleasant. A far cry from the combative and pushy woman who'd shown up two weeks ago. "I don't have time for it right now though, I wanted to let you know that we've found time for you to meet with the captain."

Bella put down her fork. "Oh, of course. When can I expect it?"

"Would tomorrow morning at ten hundred hours work for you?"

"Yes, of course. I won't see Peili's marines again until tomorrow afternoon."

Johan detected just a hint of a glow in Bella's face when she said the Orion woman's name. "I'm also going to speak to lieutenant commander Danor and see if we can arrange for you to take a ride with some of his fighter jocks, see what that's like."

"That would be wonderful," she said amiably.

"Excellent. Tomorrow at ten hundred the captain will meet with you and I'll let you know when the lieutenant commander can give you a ride."

"Thank you Commander," she said.

Johan nodded, "Enjoy the stir fry." As he left the mess he did it with a grin on his face. "Peili you little randy dog you."

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Chapter 3 Cont.

Postby Tyyr » Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:16 am

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The scientist added the latest sensor data into his models and confirmed his suspicions. The anomaly was growing rapidly, and with greater intensity than expected. It was on the extreme end of all of his models in terms of its growth. Distortion at the heart of the anomaly had already exceeded three millicochranes, far stronger than either of his manipulated models ever expected.

Nervously he looked up from his console, the late night shift was only a few people dedicated to monitoring the probe and the data coming in. He'd stayed late under the excuse of taking care of some additional paperwork but he'd really just been waiting for the latest download from the probe. With it in hand he realized the time had come to act.

Opening up an innocuous program on his desktop he imputed a code he'd committed to memory months ago. In less than a second the signal was sent to the probe and then any trace the signal and the program that had sent it had ever existed was wiped from the computers. It was only a matter of time now. It really was a pity, he'd spent months petitioning the mental midgets at the science directorate to launch such an elaborate and expensive probe.

One of the young controler's head snapped up. Her near slumber suddenly interrupted. "What?! Anomaly!"

"What about it?" The young man next to her asked.

"Not the anomaly, something's happened to the probe! Data feed's erratic, none of the sensors are making sense!"

The young man was stirred form his complacency and started to work his own panel. "We've lost control, the vehicle is spinning out of control!"

"Well lock it down!" Bellowed the flight controller behind them.

"Thrusters are firing, rotation is accelerating."

Mentally preparing himself the scientist stood up, he had a part to play. "What's going on!?"

"Unknown sir," the flight controller said.

"I can't get it under control, the thrusters aren't responding!"

"Structural integrity field is losing power," the next controler, the flight engineer, reported. "Inertial dampers are offline!"

"Damn it, get it under control!" The flight director demanded.

"What is going on!" the scientist yelled but was ignored. If he'd really been an angry their ignoring him would have enraged him but at this point he actually smiled. He was glad to see the people he'd chosen responding professionally and ignoring the blustering blowhard who could do nothing to help the situation.

"Thrusters still non-responsive, rotation is continuing to accelerate."

"Shunt power from the sensors to the SIF!" the flight director ordered.

"Working on it... SIF still deteriorating! Estimate ten seconds to loss of SIF!"

"Sir, the thrusters have at least five minutes of reaction mass at this thrust level."

The expression on the flight director's face said it all. No inertial dampers, no structural integrity field, and thrusters capable of 100 g's of acceleration stuck on for at least another five minutes. The probe was going to rip itself apart.

"Alright, dump the data, everything in the buffers. Now!" He bellowed.

"Dump initiated, thirty percent complete."

"Five seconds to SIF collapse."

"Fifty percent complete."

"Three seconds."

"Eighty percent..."

"SIF down."

"Data connection lost."

The flight controller's fist thumped the table at his work station. "How much did we get?"

"Eighty six percent sir."

"What happened?" the scientist asked.

"We don't know sir. It appears that the probe was struck by a micro-meteorite moving fast enough to punch through the probe's deflector. The probe started to spin but something was damaged, the thrusters wouldn't shut down and the probe's power generator was destroyed. The probe ripped itself apart when the structural integrity field failed."

The scientist shook his head, putting on a show for his people. "This is not good. If I try to get another probe they'll force me to divulge everything we've discovered. Even if they do untie the purse strings it'll be days or weeks before a new probe is in place and by then this will be over."

"I'm sorry sir," the flight director said. "We tried."

"I know you did," the scientist said. He turned and walked to his office and closed the door. Pulling a small communicator from its drawer he mentally reviewed the last download he'd received then activated the communicator.

On the far side of the city the spymaster smiled. After two weeks of waiting it was time. He double checked the scientist's timeline and then called in his subordinates. "It's time," he told them. "Mobilize and prepare for the go order. Expect it before the day is through." There were other calls to make of course, but none of the other conspirators were really that vital to the plan's succeeding, not now.

============================================================

Timothy was busy reading in his ready room as his shift ended. He'd been over the encounter logs of the Enterprise D/E and Voyager a dozen times before. All three ships had more time in direct contact with the Borg than every other ship in the Federation combined. None of them offered any tactical insights into the Borg. Both Enterprises' and Voyager's encounters with the Borg tended to end with some set of circumstances and events that were impossible to recreate at will nor were the Borg ever likely to fall for the same stunts. They'd solved the problems temporarily but never permanently or repeatably. There was plenty of psychological insight into them but precious little real hard data on how to fight them.

The latest Borg incursion into sector 001 had provided a good deal of technical and tactical data due to the long running battle between Starfleet and the Borg cube, but it had been a battle of attrition that had left nearly fifty vessels damaged or destroyed in the cube's wake. There was also strong evidence the Borg cube had self destructed in an attempt to hide the launch of the sphere.

The Dominion war was little better. The Federation had fought the Dominion to a stand still, but they'd only fought the fragment that was cut off and isolated in their part of the galaxy. The Dominion itself was twenty times larger than all the civilizations that had fought them and allied with them put together. They'd only been saved from destruction by the quick thinking of DS9's engineering team which bottled up wormhole reinforcements for so long, and then the fickle tempers of the wormhole dwelling entities. If either failed the Federation would have been drowned in a flood of Dominion warships. Even with the Dominion forces cut off from the Gamma quadrant it had still taken several years to beat them and at tremendous cost.

Too many times the Federation had been on the verge of destruction only to be saved by the greatest of luck or happenstance. It never ceased to amaze him how most of the Federation seemed to believe that lucky streak would never break, that they'd always be saved at the last second. Timothy was convinced that one day it wouldn't and something like the FDF would be needed.

His musings were cut short though when his ready room door chimed. "Come in," he said forcefully.

"Lieutenant commander Bul'ra reporting as ordered sir."

"Oh sit down Cesina," Timothy said with a smile. "It wasn't an order this time, it was a request."

The captain's smile and lighthearted manner were off putting to Cesina, but she wouldn't make the mistake of addressing her captain as informally as he addressed her though. "Sorry captain, I'm not used to my senior officers making requests that aren't thinly veiled orders."

"Well don't get too used to it," he said with a grin. "Don't worry lieutenant commander, I know its getting late in your day, you like to sleep beta shift away and wake up for gamma, I won't keep you long. I just like to get to know the people I'm working with a little better. Especially someone I let con my ship eight hours a day."

"Of course sir," she said.

The captain stood up and went to his replicator. "Can I get you anything? Something to drink?"

"No thank you sir."

"Oh, right, of course. You're about to hit the rack," he said. "Red apple, whole." A bright red apple materialized in the replicator on top of a small plate and he took it and resumed his set. "Hope you don't mind if I have something, dinner's not for a few more hours and I'm starving."

Cesina knew a rhetorical question when she heard one and kept her mouth shut as her captain pulled out a small knife and flipped it open. He quickly began to section the apple.

"So, what brings you to the FDF?" he asked.

"I want to serve sir," she replied a touch nervously.

"According to your service record you graduated during the last months of the war and were assigned to the Galaxy. You spent most of the war in dry dock with the Galaxy during a repair and refit cycle after the battle of Chin'toka. The only battle you saw personally was Cardassia."

Cesina bristled a bit at Timothy's suggestion and he covered his grin by eating a slice of apple while he cleaned his knife off and slid it back into his pocket. "I did what I could sir. I was where they assigned me."

Timothy nodded. "The Galaxy did alright there. What was your station during the battle."

"Sensors, sir." Cesina was sitting up straighter now, her antenna leaning forward aggressively.

Timothy wasn't well versed in reading Andorian body language but he didn't have to be an exobiologist to see that someone was pissed off. Johan had given him grief from time to time about how combative he could be with the nuggets but he liked to get an idea of how people dealt with stress. Someone who backed down and tried to mollify him wasn't going to impress him much. "Must have been rather boring, not much to do but watch the pretty light show."

Cesina was starting to lose her temper. She'd run into a few people like her captain before. People who thought that people like her, who hadn't spent months on the line fighting weren't real veterans, weren't real officers. She'd joined Starfleet the moment she'd reached the age of majority, she'd joined up in the middle of the war during some of it's darkest days. She'd gone through Starfleet's crash course program and excelled. Yes she'd spent most of her time during the war on board the Galaxy while it was repair and refitted to get back in the fray but she'd spent all that time working fourteen or sixteen hour shifts to get the ship back into the fight. The Galaxy shouldn't have even made it into the final battle but the crew had worked non-stop for two months to get the ship back in fighting trim. She didn't think herself vain but her work at the sensors of the Galaxy had been instrumental in keeping the entire fleet appraised of what was going on. No ship in the Federation arsenal had as good a sensors as a Galaxy class ship at the time of the battle. "With all due respect, sir," she said with a growl, "The Galaxy was responsible for supplying sensor data to over eighty other ships and keeping them updated on the battle. You might have had time to admire the pretty lights but I was a little busy."

Timothy met her stare with one of his own, slowly eating another slice of apple while glaring back at his Andorian officer.

Cesina tried not to show it but the longer Captain Hayes stared at her the more her gut hollowed out. Defending herself and her contribution was probably not a bad idea. Accusing her superior, a decorated war veteran, of contributing nothing during the most important battle of the war was probably going just a little bit too far. His eyes never left hers as he finished chewing his snack and swallowing it. The slight flare of his nostrils as he exhaled left her desperately trying to remember if spacing was still a punishment on the books.

Slowly her Captain's hateful glare melted into a lopsided grin. "Well, captain Tapping said you could have a bit of a temper. He didn't say you'd tell me to get bent right to my face though." He chuckled lightly as the color drained from Cesina's face leaving her a pale gray.

"Sir, I apologize if it was taken that way but..."

Timothy held up his hand. "Don't finish that sentence commander, I dislike dishonest politeness. That's exactly how you meant it. Frankly you've got nothing to apologize for, anyone who spoke to you like that would have it coming."

A little bit of color returned to Cesina's face.

"Not that I'm encouraging you to tell me where to get off when you're pissed but I do understand."

"I'll try to bite my tongue in the future sir."

"Not too hard, you're on the command track. Starfleet expects its command officers to have a mind of their own and to share it, when appropriate."

"Aye sir," Cesina said. Some of the tension leaving her body. "I could use that glass of water now though sir."

Timothy smiled and fetched a glass from his replicator. "So tell me, what really brings you to the FDF?"

"Sir..."

Timothy held up his hand. "'To serve,' might have worked on the recruiters. Tell me why you're really here, and be honest. You excelled in the sciences, captain Tapping couldn't have written a more glowing recommendation of your performance at both sensors and as a science officer. The FDF isn't exactly a place where an aspiring science officer can grow."

Cesina bit her bottom lip, the truth just sounded so selfish. Lying though, that could end it here in this office. "I want a ship sir."

"Oh?"

"I liked the sensors and science stations sir, they were interesting and challenging but... they don't go anywhere. Science officers don't get to command ships sir, not real ones. If I kept going I might have a ship of my own one day but not for a long time, and not a real ship sir. Not one of importance. I'll get an old Excelsior or maybe a Nova if I'm lucky. I'll spend all my time puttering around known space scanning every nebula, each rogue planetoid, every slightly out of place hydrogen atom. That's if I even get a ship."

Timothy raised an eyebrow but said nothing.

"Science officers don't go anywhere sir. It's a dead end in the Explorer Corps. The average science officer doesn't start their first officer tour until nearly eight years after the average for any first officer. They don't make captain until five years after everyone else." The way he looked at her Cesina was sure captain Hayes was about to dress her down for being so impudent but it felt good to let it out and stopping now would only make things worse.

"That's not what I want to do sir and that's what I was locked into. If I'd tried to transfer to another specialty Starfleet would have rolled me back to the Academy. The old boy's club in Starfleet command doesn't take it well when young officers tell them we don't like our postings and want another. If I'd tried to switch I'd be so far down the seniority ladder I'd be doing good to ever work my way up any quicker than as a science officer."

"And the FDF enters this how?"

"There aren't any dead end tracks yet sir, and no old boy's club in place yet. Everyone just seems happy to have warm bodies to fill stations on ships and not too picky about where they came from. I figured I could get my fresh start here."

"You don't want to spend your time surveying nebulas, so you join the FDF? Ms. Bul'ra you do realize that we're going to spend a year doing nothing but patrolling the border, burning holes in subspace, and scanning the same stretch of space that's been scanned a hundred thousand times before?"

"Yes sir, but it actually matters. If a science ship is lucky they might make one, maybe two great discoveries in their service lives. Maybe. Most of the time what they do is of no consequence. Defending the Federation actually matters. The people I'll command will be the best of the best, the ships will be the best, and what we're doing will make a difference in the long run. I'm not that eager to have some obscure scientific constant named after me."

Timothy waited after she finished, picking up his last apple slice and eating it. She'd been honest, which he liked, though he wasn't wild about her primary motivation being getting command of a ship. She was also annoyingly correct. The FDF did need warm bodies, well living ones. An Andorian's body temperature was in the low eighties. She'd also come highly recommended and showed every trait of being an exemplary officer, though with a touch too much ambition. However, what was a second officer slot but a chance to put someone through the wringer who really needed it?

"Well, at least you're honest," he said. "Captain Tapping had a few other things to say as well. Specifically that while you're great under pressure you tend to not be as focused when you aren't, and are prone to flights of fancy. Like say... redecorating my bridge."

Cesina kept her mouth shut, accepting the chastisement.

"Not that I don't like the embellishments, but obviously there's not enough going on during gamma shift to keep you busy."

Inwardly Cesina was cringing, she didn't know what kind of scut work was incoming but it wasn't going to be pleasant.

"That's why I've decided to put you in charge of the Typhoon's readiness training. Additionally all scheduling of duty shifts during gamma shift is now your problem. Also, work with commander Seven of Nine to ensure the sensors are up to snuff and stay that way. Finally, I want you to coordinate with Lieutenant Fealst'rak and ensure that his department has everything it needs." Timothy smiled as Cesina's tense face went from anticipation of agony to astonishment in seconds. "You were expecting me to assign you to clean the warp coils?"

"No sir, I just... I didn't know what to expect sir."

"Don't be too happy. I take your position as second officer seriously. If you want command of a ship you're going to have to prove it and prove it quickly. You'll need to work with Commander Luhrner to coordinate both his schedule for training for the entire taskforce and his schedule for the other two duty shifts."

All too rapidly the magnitude of her responsibilities hit Cesina.

"That's right commander, you're in charge of ensuring the Typhoon is prepared for battle. Do not let me down. Any questions?"

Cesina's mind raced, she had plenty of questions, but none suitable to ask her commanding officer.

"Good, and commander, I expect our first simulation tomorrow at sixteen hundred hours. Something short and sweet, to get the crew warmed up."

"Yes sir, right away sir," Cesina said with her mind barely on the hear and now.

"Commander," Timothy said sharply, causing her to snap around and face him. "Relax. According to your former captain you are more than capable of handling all the tasks I gave you. I wouldn't give them to you unless I was confident they could be carried out. Consider these a warm up before I give you some real responsibility."

"Yes sir, of course sir," she said. Her mind was reeling with the implications of her new responsibilities but she was already prioritizing things, beginning to work on schedules and preparations.

"Alright Cesina, get out of here and get some sleep. I think you'll be very busy tonight."

"Thank you sir," she said before standing up and slipping out of the room, squeezing by commander Luhrner as she went. "Commander..."

"Tomorrow morning, oh eight hundred right after gamma shift. We'll talk."

"Yes sir."

Johan walked into his friend's office and flopped into the chair the Andorian woman had just occupied. The two couldn't have been further from each other, Cesina nervous and stiff, Johan relaxed to the point of insubordination. "We need to work on your interpersonal skills. You like jumping the junior officers a little too much."

"Oh come off it Johan," Timothy shot back. "A good dose of adrenaline focuses the mind."

"But do you have to bushwhack them every time they talk to you?"

Timothy shook his head, they'd been having the same conversation for more than half a decade. "You know why she joined the FDF?"

"The spiffy uniforms?"

"She wants a ship."

Johan went rigid, both his boots connecting with the deck with a loud stomp. His hands gripped the edges of his chair and he leaned forward. "My god man... who doesn't?"

Timothy glared at his insubordinate friend as Johan went limp in the chair again, slouching far enough to make Timothy wonder how he stayed in it. "She transferred from the Explorer Corps because she thinks being a science officer is a dead end with the possibility of commanding a little Nova or Miranda at best."

"It's not like she's wrong," he said. "Besides, it'd be good to have some people in the FDF who aren't purely gun deck or engine room types."

"It still doesn't sit right with me, the FDF isn't about career advancement."

"Bullshit Tim. The FDF is just another branch of Starfleet and you'd better get used to the idea that not everyone is going to be as altruistic as you are. Yeah, the first generation might all be Dominion War vets but expect a lot more people like her. Doing it for their career, the thrill, or just having a bad attitude. They'll come."

"Doesn't mean I have to like it."

"When did you become a grumpy old man?" Johan asked with a smile.

"Damn kids," he replied and pointed at Johan, "and that includes you."

============================================================

Yumiko grimaced as she called up another set of messages. Whatever had made outpost three ninety three's transmission so awful to listen to was apparently spreading. They'd replied a few days ago indicating that it wasn't them, something else was causing the interference. Today outpost two oh six and deep space three had joined the ranks of the annoying to listen to. If anything three ninety three was even worse.

The itch in her back forgotten she began trying to filter the static out, hoping it was isolated but no matter what she tried it was still there. Flipping to alternate channels she played back several other recordings. She heard similar distortions in reports from Mardan and Galilar though very faint. Flipping over to the latest from Kimbesh she heard the same distortion only nearly as bad as deep space three's.

"Something the matter lieutenant?"

Yumiko's head popped up to see Commander Kim leaning over her console, inspecting the wave form patterns on it. "Nothing!" she said on reflex.

"Must have been a pretty awful nothing to listen to, you're ah...tentacles," he motioned behind his ear.

"Tendrils, sir," she supplied for him. Tentacles might have been more correct for her prehensile appendages but people seemed more at ease with Tendrils.

"Well they were scrunched up and you were grimacing," he said with a boyish smile.

"Well uh, actually sir," she pulled out her ear piece and activated the console speakers. "There's something wrong with these transmissions."

Harry looked puzzled as she played the Mardan and Galilar transmissions but as she progressed to Kimbesh, then deep space three and finally outpost three ninety three he started to grimace himself at the discordant hash of static that was starting to overlay the signal. "That can't be right."

"No sir it's not. It started a few days ago and it just keeps getting worse. It's also spreading."

"Spreading?" Harry asked.

"Yes sir," she said, calling up a map. "It started with three ninety three, but since then its started to affect all these systems as well. I thought someone just hadn't kept up maintenance at three ninety three but now I'm not so sure."

Harry only had to study the map for a moment to reach a decision. "Seven, can you come over here?"

Across the bridge the blonde woman moved away from her console and came their way with a mechanical precision that make Yumiko's skin crawl. Former or not the fact that the word Borg was used to describe the woman unnerved her. "Yes Commander?"

He pointed to the star chart. "Take a look at this. Yumiko is detecting subspace comm interference from this area, and its getting worse over the past several days."

Seven considered the map. "Have the subspace radios been confirmed to be in working order?"

"I haven't checked yet Ma'am," Yumiko said. "I thought it was just outpost three ninety three's transmitter until I started to pick up on the interference from other locations."

"What about other worlds or starbases anti-spinward?" Harry asked.

"Nothing sir, they still come in clear as a bell."

Harry tapped his comm badge. "Commander Del?"

"What is it Harry?" came back the chief engineer's voice.

"We're picking up some severe subspace interference on the comms from a few locations near the neutral zone, can you run a level three diagnostic on the subspace comms?"

"Sure thing Harry. Need this ASAP?"

Harry nodded, "Please."

"Consider it done."

Harry nodded to himself. "Alright, Seven, can you scan this area around three ninety three? See if you pick up anything out of the ordinary?"

"Of course," she said, heading back to her station.

"Thanks."

Yumiko had been sitting quietly, trying not to draw attention to herself. She should have reported the interference days ago. How stupid was she to have not immediately reported it.

"Lieutenant Boritsolav, work with Commander Seven to coordinate our scans with the outposts' and the station's." Harry reached over to pat her on the shoulder. "Good work catching this, now I just have to go tell the captain."

"Thank, thank you sir," she managed to stammer. "You can call me Yumiko."

"Good work Yumiko," Harry said with his characteristic boyish grin.

Yumiko bit her tongue before she could ask if he'd like to put some lotion on her back and maybe everywhere else.

============================================================
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Chapter 3 Cont.

Postby Tyyr » Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:17 am

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Bella Mavil was just getting settled into the seat in front of the captain's desk when the young Asian ops commander walked in. "Sorry to bother you captain. I need to speak with you."

"Go ahead Commander Kim," Captain Hayes said.

'Harry, that was his name,' Bella thought as he looked at her.

"Unless its sensitive just give it to me commander."

"Yes sir. We believe we've identified some sort of... anomaly near the neutral zone. So far its disrupting communications with several outposts and DS three. Nothing serious but the problem is worsening. We don't know anything else but we're starting to work it."

"Have you verified the working of the subspace radios?" the captain asked.

"Yes sir, Commander Del is starting a level three diagnostic."

"Scanned the area?"

"Commander Seven of Nine is starting long range scans."

"Contacted the affected outposts and station?"

"Yes sir, I've informed them of it and they are aware of the situation. We're coordinating our scans with theirs to try and get a better picture of what's going on."

Captain Hayes shrugged. "Well then it seems like you've got it well in hand, if it's all the same to you I'll just take a nap." Harry fishmouthed for a moment, unsure of how to respond to the jest. "You've got it under control Harry, just keep me informed if anything changes."

"Aye sir," Harry said before spinning about and exiting the captain's ready room.

"There are days when I wonder exactly what it is they keep me on this ship for," Timothy said after the doors had slid closed.

"Is that normal?" Bella asked. "For him to have done all that without your approval?"

"It should be," Timothy replied. "I want to seem my junior officers taking some initiative instead of wanting me to hold their hands. Harry is a good officer with a lot of experience. If he hadn't already taken steps, then I'd be worried."

"So what about this anomaly?" Bella said, sliding easily into the interview.

Timothy shrugged. "Space is an odd place. The more we explore the more we grasp just how odd it can get."

"So you don't see anything out of the ordinary about this?"

"Oh no, something is very out of the ordinary. Something disrupting our communications along the neutral zone? No, that's out of the ordinary and something we will investigate fully."

"You don't seem that upset about it," Bella said, turning on her tablet and starting to scrawl a few notes. Her holorecorder would get every detail and nuance of the conversations but she could put her own notes down on the tablet. It also soothed her nostalgic desires.

"At the moment all we know is that something odd is happening and my crew is responding appropriately. I could run around like a chicken with my head cut off but that just seems counter productive."

Bella tapped out a few notes on her tablet, more to give her time to think that actually need to write something down. It only took her a few seconds to decide that line of questioning had run out. She'd grill him on it more later, once the situation progressed but until then it was fruitless. Better to get back on track with her interview. "So Captain, can you tell me something about yourself?"

It was a simple question, almost an inane one. Timothy wouldn't have expected someone with Bella's reputation to have asked such a grade school question. "Like what Ms. Mavil?" he asked cautiously. Much like his previous encounters with her the reporter's clothes were revealing but could still be considered professional, barely.

Only Bella's hundreds of interviews worth of practice allowed her to suppress her smile. It was such a simple thing really. Get them off guard with a simple, even stupid question then as they recover let them lead you to the story. Coming into an interview with an agenda was the fastest way to fail to fulfill it. "Well where were you born, what brought you to Starfleet?"

"Well, I was born on Varlt two. My parents were third generation colonists and Varlt was growing quickly. We were still a bit of a frontier colony but after fifty year the colony was well established. Established enough to have some good schools. I did pretty well and when I turned eighteen I decided to join Starfleet."

"Why was that?"

"Guess you've never been to Varlt two have you?" Timothy asked. "The planet's pretty wild, dense jungles and forests. Massive mountain peaks and tropical oceans. Our colony had been built on an island chain off the coast of one of the major southern continents. The world itself is a gorgeous place and growing up it kept me constantly exploring. As I grew older I wondered what other kinds of amazing places there might be in the galaxy. I was fifteen when a Starfleet ship stopped by to check up on us. The school arranged to take up some of older students to tour the ship. Thirty years later I can still remember her, the McCaffrey, just a little Miranda class cutter. That was when I knew what I wanted to do. Three years later I headed off to take the placement test."

"You're parents were proud?" Bella asked, keeping things moving.

"Mostly furious. My great grand parents had been some of the original colonists and I was the first person in our family to decide to leave Varlt two permanently. They had hoped I'd go to one of the major universities. I had the grades to do it. They wanted me to get a useful degree and return to help colonize the planet. I didn't. Neither of my parents had much at all to say to me the whole time I was in the Academy. I mostly talked to my grandfather during that time. He encouraged me and passed messages back and forth amongst the family. He told me everyone would come around."

"Did they?"

"When I graduated from the academy I saw them, in one of the first rows. They'd brought my whole damn family. My father said he'd never been prouder than when I graduated. I asked my grandfather about it later. Apparently in the months before my graduation my father hadn't been able to stop talking about his boy, the Starfleet cadet. His enthusiasm had been infectious enough to get my mother excited as well. Some members of my family like my brothers had to be dragged onto the shuttle against their will but they saw to it that everyone would be there."

"That must have been special."

Timothy snorted. "After four years absolutely convinced they were going to disown me I didn't even know how to respond." He smiled. "Since then he's always asked me what new worlds I've explored whenever we see each other. I think he took me joining the FDF almost as hard as I did."

That made Bella perk up. She knew in a story she'd just condense his history into two, maybe three lines if she was generous. This though, this was insight. "You both took it hard?"

"Ms. Mavil, I never wanted this," he said, sweeping his hand around his ready room. "I wanted to be an explorer, that was my first love, my only love. I wanted... want, to be out on the edges of known space, pushing the boundaries out farther. Exploring strange new worlds, finding new life, and contacting new civilizations. Introducing them to the Federation, showing them that there is a group of people out here who's only desire is to explore and cooperate and learn all we can about each other and the universe."

"You sound like a true believer captain."

"I doubt you'll find anyone on this ship who isn't."

"So why are you, why are they, here?"

"Because we believe in the Federation, that it stands for something good, something better. It's not in our nature you know. All the fine talk about the innate goodness of sentient life, it's bullshit. It's a bunch of people trying to make one another feel better about their natures. The truth is that sentient life doesn't become sentient by being good natured, by being kind and compassionate. Only the strong survive, the true bastards. The guy who'll stab his best friend in the back if he has to in order to survive. The people who shot first and ask questions later. Who can leave an injured or sick comrade to die if he's slowing them down. That's who nature chooses to survive and prosper. Look around us, the Romulans, the Klingons, the Cardassians. That's who our nature wants us to be. Pick off the weak, chew them up for all their worth, and spit them out again. Look out for number one and number one alone. The Federation is different. It's contraire to everything in our nature. It's proof that we've moved past the need to be cast iron bastards and can grow beyond our nature and be the better for it. It's worth fighting for, its worth sacrificing for. That's what the FDF is about."

"Is that why you're here?"

"Yes, it is. After the war I just couldn't get back to exploring. I knew something had to change. The FDF was what I knew we needed. The Federation is worth protecting, worth standing up for. I knew that I had to take responsibility for it, even if no one else did. Much of my crew from the Atlas felt the same way, and so do most of the people on this ship."

"You seem to inspire a lot of loyalty in your crew."

"The Atlas was one of the finest ships in the fleet, because of her crew. They are some of the finest officers and crewman in Starfleet. I was and am honored to serve with them. I suppose they feel the same."

"The war was tough on the Atlas," Bella led. She watched the captain's posture change. His relaxed posture changed. The muscles in his neck and face tensing, his arms and legs getting more rigid and his eyes narrowing. It was all Bella could do to stop from smiling.

"The war was tough on a lot of ships," he replied.

"The Atlas though... your ship suffered proportionally more damage and took more casualties than most ships in the fleet. In fact the Atlas was in the top ten percent in both areas."

"We're very good at what we do. When you're that good you find yourself put on the frontlines a lot, being given difficult missions. We did our job and we did it well."

Bella paused, acting as if she was scribbling down notes. She was on to something, but the captain was getting tense and defensive. If she pushed him much farther he might lock up completely. Normally that wasn't a problem, she had little contact with most of her interviewees after their first meeting. She'd be stuck on the Captain's ship for quite a while longer though. She backed off and moved to what should be familiar ground for him. "The FDF isn't that popular in many circles."

Timothy felt himself relax as she mentioned the FDF's unpopularity. He'd spent several years dealing with just such arguments. He knew his position and Ms. Mavil's backwards and forwards before she ever said any more. "With good reason. The Federation has always put peace and non-violet dispute resolution first."

"And how does a fleet of warships figure into that?"

"Not everyone is as committed to peace as we are. We may be disliked but I'd venture a guess that being the subjects of someone like the Dominion or turned into Borg drones would be a far more disliked option for most of our critics."

"And yet the Federation has survived both those threats without the FDF."

"Yes, the Federation survived," he said with emphasis. "There's a great wide gulf between surviving a war and winning one."

Bella leaned forward. "Is that the goal? To win?"

"If you're in a fight the only logical thing to do is try and win. Fighting not to lose or worse fighting to try and convince the other guy to just quit only guarantees greater destruction and loss of life."

"The essence of war is violence. Moderation in war is imbecility."

Timothy smiled grimly. "Admiral Fisher had a point." His respect for the reporter went up a notch. Few he'd encountered ever made an attempt to understand any viewpoint but their own.

"What about our neighbors, like the Romulans? What about how they perceive the FDF? We claim we want peace but build warships."

"The Romulans and our other enemies already see us as threats, FDF or not."

"What if the simple presence of the FDF on the border is enough to incite the Romulans to violence?" Bella asked, pushing a little. He was entirely too comfortable with this.

"You should give the people running the Romulan Empire a little credit. They're not fools. Yes, we're warships, but a large number of armed ships already patrol the Neutral Zone daily and in the grand scheme of things we'd be a foot note right now if a full scale war broke out."

Bella pressed him, "What if they demand that the FDF be removed from their border, or disbanded entirely, due to it being a threat to them? If it came down to choosing between keeping the FDF or starting a war because of it?"

"So we're to allow ourselves to be held hostage by every hostile government? If we gave into that demand what's next? All ships must be disarmed? Their phasers are too threatening. All planetary defenses must be removed? Are we to bow to the whims of every petty dictator in the galaxy lest we hurt their feelings?" As soon as he said it Timothy knew it had been a mistake. He'd let his guard slip for a half second. The petty dictator comment was going to be on every front page tomorrow and the way Bella's eyes widened at the phrase confirmed it.

The door chimed and Bella frowned.

"Come," the Captain said tersely.

Commander Kim came in. "Sir, we have some initial reports back from DS three and the outposts. There's some sort of subspace distortion emanating from a point over the neutral zone. Commander Del has confirmed that all our sensors are operating properly."

Bella watched as the captain nodded and pondered his next course of action. "Very well Mr. Kim. Set up an O-Group, senior staff only, oh and Lieutenant Fealst'rak, for the end of Alpha shift. Notify Mrs. Tuul and Mr. Bisaan to alter course for the nearest point to the anomaly on our sides of the NZ."

"Aye sir," Harry said as he left the ready room.

"I apologize Ms. Mavil but that's going to have to be the end of our conversation today," Timothy said as he stood.

Bella knew how to take a hint and didn't protest. "Perhaps tomorrow?"

"Speak with Commander Luhrner, he'll set something up." Timothy watched her leave and as soon as the door slid shut behind her, "SonofaBITCH!"

============================================================

"It's not gonna work, the weld's all buggered up. We'll have to cut it free, grind it back down and reweld it." Terzi frowned, her people were better than that, should be better than that. It was a tight space but a simple weld to make. "Get on it." The chastised maintenance crew did as they were told and the whine of a rotary cutter starting up hit her ears before she'd even broken eye contact.

Turning away from the gutted mess that was Bravo two-four's starboard ventral engine bay Terzi looked at Bravo two three sitting in the cubicle directly across from this starfighter. Like it's sister two-three was in the middle of being repaired. Crews were working port and starboard as quickly as they could to get things back in working order. They were getting very close to the Neutral Zone and they were trying to minimize the number of fighters down.

Two-three's pilot seemed to be hanging around a lot. Terzi hoped he was taking an interest in the modifications they were making to his ship. After all, he was using it, and using a tool without understanding how it worked was just foolish in her opinion. Leaving her crew to fix their screw up she started across the shuttlebay to see what had his attention.

Being born on a low gravity world with a thin atmosphere Terzi's hearing was far better than most humanoid's would normally be. Normal speaking voices for Elaysians wouldn't even be whispers in the thick atmosphere of a Federation starship. She'd long ago gotten used to chewing her air but the constant din of a starship had not damaged her hearing only because of Starfleet medical's work. Few people knew how acute her hearing was and she didn't tell many people either, it was just too much fun to blow her cover. What she heard though made her wish she'd changed that policy.

"Look, come on baby. I'm male, you're female, what's the problem?" she heard the pilot say.

Crewman Leeds, one of the people she'd assigned to the repair job turned her head and said, "You're an officer and I'm not!" She hesitated then added, "Sir."

The tall brown haired pilot leaned over where the Bajoran woman was working, "Different chains of command, not a big deal."

"It is a big deal sir. Now I'm not interested."

"Are you gonna make me order you? Come on, with a hot little body like that why not. Take it out for a spin, take mine out for a spin if you like. Please."

"No thank you, sir," the crewman said, looking far more nervous than she had a minute ago.

Terzi picked up her pace, seeing how the Ensign working there seemed to be actively shying away from Leeds and the two aircrew maintenance staff were finding something else to do well away from the pilot and crewman.

"What's going on over here?" Terzi barked as she got close.

"Nothing at all," the pilot said.

"Nothing at all, MA'AM," Terzi snapped. Humans, especially human males, tended to not take her seriously either because of her support frame, sex, or fact that she didn't even break a meter and a half high. "I may not be in your chain of command but I outrank you, lieutenant...?"

"O'Neal, ma'am," The pilot said, standing up a little straighter. By human standards he might have been handsome but at the moment all Terzi saw was a damned fool.

"Off the flight deck," the pilot hesitated, unsure of whether or not the little blonde woman could actually give him orders. "Now lieutenant, and don't let me catch you back on this deck," she said and he hustled off. "The rest of you get back to work," she said and the deck crew and her ensign made themselves very busy. Terzi motioned Leeds over and patted her on the arm. "Come by my office after shift, we'll talk."

"Yes ma'am," the crewman said.

Terzi sighed, humanoids and hormones. She could deal with mechanical problems. They were easy. They had a problem and a solution. It either worked or it didn't and they didn't have feelings to hurt. Too bad ninety percent of the headaches in her job were entirely related to the people working for her.

============================================================

Binni slipped her PADD into one of the pockets on the thigh of her pants. She remembered the old style uniforms from the Explorer Corps. 'What maniac designs pants with no pockets?' she wondered. The new FDF fatigues she wore certainly had plenty.

She'd been busy supervising the maintenance crew that was running a diagnostic on one of the shield generators when she'd received word of the staff meeting at the end of the shift. She'd stopped by her cabin to freshen up a bit and wipe some of the soot and grease off her face.

As she turned to get on the turbolift she saw a familiar black form waiting beside it. Inwardly she groaned as she pulled up beside lieutenant Fealst'rak.

"Good afternoon... lieutenant commander... Ulin..."

"Lieutenant," she replied nervously. "Do you know what this meeting is about?"

"This meeting... I have heard regards a spatial anomaly... Lieutenant Boritsolav... detected."

"She did?"

Fealst'rak bobbed his head. "Through interference... in subspace radio."

Binni thought about it for a few seconds as the turbo lift arrived and they crowded in. "You know a lot more about this than I do. Bridge."

"Actually, you... now know all that I... do on the subject." His mouth tendrils writhed.

Binni chuckled, "Well you were useful while it lasted."

Fealst'rak's mouth parts continued to writhe for a moment longer. "I... will endeavor... to be as useful in the future..." Faelst'rak studied the little biped next to him. Unlike the last time they had been in the turbolift together she seemed much calmer. He'd read that laughter was a stress reliever for humans so perhaps that was what had eased her mood. "Lieutenant commander... I... have noticed that you... and others... are not always at ease around me.... I... can assure you... that I... would never slay and consume you... there would be no nutritional value... in such an act."

As the turbolift doors opened onto the bridge Faelst'rak noticed the electrical and thermal patterns in the human woman shift immediately into the most agitated he had ever seen. Without even a word to him she bolted from the turbolift far faster than was dignified and turned the corner down the short corridor that led to the conference room. As he followed he couldn't help but reflect on what odd little creatures these humans were.

============================================================

"As of twenty minutes ago this is a rough map of the disturbance," Harry said. On the viewscreen a roughly circular orange cloud occluded a swath of the neutral zone, covering various outposts, deep space three, and several Federation worlds. It's shape extended far across the border though, into Romulan space.

"What is it?" Captain Hayes asked. His senior crew was all present, as was Senator T'prin. She had insisted on being able to observe the ship and its goings on and he was glad Johan had remembered to invite her. He just hoped she'd observe and not start commenting on his decisions.

"We're not sure," Harry said.

Seven piped up, "So far we have detected nothing in the affected area out of the ordinary. There's nothing in the local area we can attribute this do."

"Detected nothing?" the captain asked. "No radiation, no objects, nothing?"

"Nothing," Seven said levelly. "The only thing we have detected is that it appears to be spreading."

"Captain... Hayes... with permission," Faelst'rak said looking up from a PADD. The captain simply nodded. "Sensors... detect nothing... because there is nothing... to detect. This disturbance..., degradation in sensors... and communications... is not from an outside... source. From what I... see this disturbance is a property of subspace... itself."

"A property of subspace?"

Faelst'rak's mouth tentacles swirled. "From this data...," he said, tapping the PADD in front of him, "It... seems to be the most logical conclusion."

Terzi nodded. "It makes the most sense sir, subspace isn't a featureless realm of existence. It's like our universe, the void of space isn't really empty. In subspace there is sort of a background radiation, very minor fluctuations in the field."

Faelst'rak bobbed his head. "This... would be a disturbance... hundreds of times... greater than normal. A tenth of a millicochrane... perhaps more."

"A tenth of a millicochrane? Surely that's not enough to matter," Deekan said.

"For the engines, no," Terzi said. "Even warp one is a field strength of a thousand millicochranes. Our sensors and comms rely on much finer attenuation of sub space fields though. A disturbance like this could seriously impair long range sensors and communications."

"The outposts along the border are already suffering almost a twenty five percent reduction in sensor range and a thirty eight percent reduction in resolution." Seven of Nine said. "Difficulties with the subaspace radios are impairing voice transmissions and severely hampering data transmissions."

The room got very quiet very quick. In another part of the Federation this anamoly might have been a scientific curiosity and minor annoyance. On the neutral zone, with a destabilized and belligerent Romulan Empire, it wasn't just a curiosity. "Have we detected any shift in ship or troop movements along the border?" Captain Hayes asked.

"None," Seven replied. "However the anomaly is degrading the outposts' range and resolution. If the Romulans were to initiate a military build up on their side of the Neutral Zone it'd be difficult to detect, and soon it would be impossible."

"Do we know where it's originating from," Commander Luhrner asked.

Seven nodded. "We are refining the position data but it appears to be originating from a trinary system, P3904-G. A blue giant, a pulsar, and a magnestar. No planets." She tapped a few keys on the console at her seat and the Wall display started to highlight the system.

"That's right in the middle of that cluster of three worlds," Captain Hayes observed.

"Sarab, Jaisalmer, and Yecheng," Johan said.

"Any tactical significance?"

"None," Johan said. "They're minor and unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Like most everything in this sector."

"Not a bad place to start a war," Timothy observed.

Johan mulled it over, "Yeah, it's not important at all."

"Sir?" Commander Kim asked.

"If the Romulans want a limited controllable war what better place to do it than over someplace that doesn't matter. No matter how things go neither side has much to lose or gain making a peace treaty attractive no matter the outcome," Timothy said.

Harry caught on quick. "So this could be a prelude to an invasion?"

"Blind the early warning sensor, prevent anyone in the area from communicating out, seems like a good way to start to me," Johan said.

"Begging your pardon sir but I don't see how the Romulans could be doing this," Terzi said. "There's no way I know of that you can extend a warp field across dozens of light years. Even if you could the power such a field would require is staggering. It'd take half of Starfleet to generate the power to do it. This has to be a natural phenomenon sir."

"We can't discount the Romulans out of hand Ms. Del," Timothy said slipping into his formal nature. "Even if it is natural they might still choose to take advantage of it."

"What do you want to do then Captain," Johan asked.

Timothy allowed himself a few moments to ponder what was happening. Terzi was right, the odds the Romulans were doing this were incredibly low, but it wouldn't be the first time the seemingly impossible had been done. V'gyer, the Dyson sphere, time travel. All things people would have flatly declared impossible at one time but now realties of the universe. It's status as a natural or sentient created phenomenon was immaterial though. It was happening and the Romulans could take advantage of it.

"Notify Deep Space Three we'll be delayed, indefinitely. Lay in a course for the neutral zone, take us in to within a light year of the Romulan side. I want to get as close to the anomaly as we can and try to scan it. Notify outpost three ninety three that we'll be joining them shortly. Johan, you're with me, we'll need to redeploy the task force along the border. Commander Seven, Lieutenant Fealst'rak, learn everything you can about this anomaly, this is your top priority right now. Commander Bul'ra, do us all a favor and make sure your scenarios feature Romulans from here on out. Commander Kim work with Deep Space Three and the border posts, see what we can do to coordinate our efforts so we can maintain the integrity of the border." Timothy snapped his orders off quickly and received a chorus of "Aye sir"'s in reply.

His people quickly got up and headed out to deal with their tasks. Johan stayed but went to the wall monitor, reconfiguring it to display the rest of Timothy's task force. The senator waited for the commotion to die down and everyone else to leave before taking a seat beside Timothy. "Senator," he said.

"You seem convinced that the Romulans will take advantage of this disturbance," she said.

Timothy shook his head. "I wouldn't say that. It's a definite possibility, and given the danger that possibility poses to the Federation I have to take steps to mitigate the potential damage."

"The phenomenon is most likely natural," she said levelly. "The Romulans might be as perplexed by it as we."

"Perhaps," Timothy said, "but maybe not. In twelve seventy four and twelve eighty one the Mongol fleets attempting to invade Japan were broken up and dispersed by powerful Pacific typhoons. The Japanese were then able to take advantage of this and wipe out the survivors. The typhoons were completely natural but that didn't prevent one side in the conflict from using them to their decisive advantage."

"Interesting choice of stories captain," she said. "I will be monitoring the situation closely."

"I'd expect nothing less Senator."

She nodded to him, then stood up and left.

"Does she really think we want a war?" Johan asked as the doors closed behind her.

"No, but I do think she thinks we're jumping at shadows."

"How can she not see the danger?"

Timothy shrugged. "Face it Johan, ten years ago we were the same way. The war happened Johan, we see things differently now."

Johan leaned over the back of one of the chairs. "You sound a little like you agree with her."

"Maybe a little. We could just be jumping at shadows you know. Maybe we need some grounding with people like her that don't assume that everyone with a phaser is just itching to point it at us."

"Yeah, but sometimes they are."

============================================================

Dramatis Personae

Crew, U.S.S. Typhoon NCC-79853

Timothy Hayes, Fleet Captain, Commander 1st Task Force of the 17th Fleet, Male Human
Commanded the U.S.S. Atlas during the Dominion War, transferred into the Federation Defense Force immediately after its establishment, given command of the Typhoon and the 1st TF soon after.

Johan Luhrner, Commander, Male Human
1st Officer of the Atlas during the Dominion War, 1st officer of the Typhoon

Cesina Bul'ra, Lt. Commander, Female Andorian
Lieutenant aboard the U.S.S Galaxy, 2nd Officer of the Typhoon

Terzi Del, Commander, Female Elaysian
Chief Engineer of the Atlas during the Dominion War, Chief Engineer of the Typhoon

Deekan Braal, Commander, Male Capellan
Security Officer then Tactical Officer of the Atlas during the Dominion War, Chief Tactical Officer of the Typhoon

Peili, Lt. Commander, Female Orion
Lieutenant in charge of the defense of a border station during the Dominion War, Chief Security Officer of the Typhoon

Harry Kim, Commander, Male Human
Operations Officer of the U.S.S. Voyager, Operations Officer of the Typhoon

EMH (Joe), Commander, Hologram
Chief Medical Officer of the Voyager, Chief Medical Officer of the Typhoon

7 of 9, Lt. Commander, Human/Borg Female
Served on U.S.S. Voyager, Chief Sensors Officer of the Typhoon

Riway daughter of Jaheel, Lt. Commander, Female Si'rak
Ensign on the Atlas, 1st Operations Officer of the Typhoon

Binni Ulin, Lt. Commander, Female Human
Lieutenant on the U.S.S. Lelander, Defense Officer of the Typhoon

Villec Bisaan, Lieutenant, Male Nileen
Starfleet Academy Cadet, Helmsman of the Typhoon

Milana Tuul, Lieutenant, Cardassian Female
Starfleet Academy Cadet, Navigator of the Typhoon

Saral, Lt. Commander, Female Vulcan
Asst. Chief Engineer of the Typhoon

Fealst'rak, Lieutenant, Rurutic Male
Headed a research project using a space telescope to study the galactic core, Chief Science Officer of the Typhoon

Marcos Hernandez, Lieutenant, Male Human
Combat shuttle pilot during the Dominion war, Alpha Squadron leader of the Typhoon

Rilo Gulia, Lieutenant, Male un-Joined Trill
Combat shuttle pilot during the Dominion war, Beta Squadron leader of the Typhoon

Tycho Danor, Lt. Commander, Yvethan Male
Airgroup leader of Akira class U.S.S. Jonestown during the Dominion War, Airgroup commander of the Typhoon

Yumiko Boritsolav, Lieutenant, Female Human/Gor'sic
Graduated from Starfleet academy, familiarization deployment on the U.S.S. Carthage, communications officer of the Typhoon

Others

T'prin, Senator, Vulcan Female
Federation senator and chief opponent of the FDF

Solin, Aide, Vulcan Male
Senator T'prin's personal assistant

Bella Mavil, Reporter, Human Female
United News reporter on assignment aboard the Typhoon

===========================================

Author's Notes

1) I've been spelling Elaysian wrong for three chapters. Great.
2) Expect a lot of aliens. I'll do my best to detail all the important ones but remember Memory Alpha is your friend. http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Main_Page So is the DITL www.ditl.org
3) Some of you might have noticed I ditched the Enterprise interpretation of the situation of the Orions. Specifically the women are back to being simple slaves. Why? Because the Enterprise interpretation is boring. It appears to me to be a simple chickening out on the part of the producers. After all while women being sold as slaves and the men being enticed might fly in the 1960's we can't have that on TV today. So they created the new backstory, the women are in control and only appear to be slaves in order to covertly infiltrate places. That just doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The impression I get is that in Kirk's day it was well known what Orion women were and it was not unheard of for them to be sold as slaves. So unless Orion women are spying on every two bit low life with enough cash for one the Enterprise set up doesn't make a lot of sense. Also, Kirk doesn't show any indication of believing the Orion woman to be anything but exactly what she was portrayed to be. Then again if the Borg are any indication Archer's record keeping habits were horrifically inept for an explorer. That said as far as my story and I are concerned the Enterprise thing was an isolated incident. The bulk of the Orions are exactly as Peili is portraying them.
4) I'm not going all the way with a Titan style anti-grav suit for Terzi. While I love the Titan series of books, I don't want Terzi out of her frame. Anti-grav suit so she's not struggling to breath, ok. It's just the full on Titan style suit seems to remove one of the big differences between her and everyone else. It'd be a case of having a backstory and just ignoring it. Incredibly low grav world but it's ok, I have this spiffy suit that lets the writers completely ignore that and the problems it could cause. Terzi will keep her frame.
5) A lot of Bella this chapter.
6) I can't spell anomaly for shit.
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Tyyr
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Re: Proud Legion-Story

Postby Tyyr » Fri May 22, 2009 11:57 am

Proud Legion
By: bsmart

Disclaimer: Rated R for the good stuff, you've been warned. I don't own Trek, but the people who do probably shouldn't either.

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Chapter 4: Patrol

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"Captain, wake up captain."

Timothy blinked. There was something not quite right about this.

"Wake up or I turn on the alarm."

Timothy sat up in bed, rubbing his eyes to try and clear them. The lighting in his cabin was subdued but not off like he kept it during the night. Behind him he caught site of the stars streaking towards them as the Typhoon made its run to the Neutral Zone. All expected, all right. The unexpected part was the small redhead perched on the end of his bed. Her long curly hair and freckled face peering at him. Kaitlyn was dressed in a standard issue gray cotton tank top and gray cotton pants, both fitting quite loosely on her slim frame except over her large bust and hips. Finding a woman unexpectedly in his bed was something Timothy was familiar with, but hadn't had to deal with since he'd made captain a decade before.

"Good morning sir," she said cheerfully.

Timothy ran a hand through his hair, trying to clear the cobwebs from his mind. "What are you doing?"

"I figured this would be a nicer way to wake up than to some noisy alarm," she said. "I've already got your coffee and breakfast ready sir."

Timothy shook his head, Johan seemed to have knocked himself out designing Kaitlyn and he'd have to remember to thank him. As he tossed off his sheets and stood up he was suddenly very aware that Kaitlyn was watching him intently and the only thing he had on was a pair of black boxer briefs. He wasn't particularly self conscious, a good exercise regime and Starfleet's meticulous attention to nutrition in what its members ate had let him keep himself in excellent shape for his age. Still, Kaitlyn was cute and he was one small garment away from naked. He might not be fully awake but he would swear he'd caught her taking far more of a personal interest in his physique than he'd expect from an assistant. "Care to explain what you're doing in here?"

"In here sir?"

Timothy pointed indistinctly into the air. "Here, as in the emitters are supposed to be disabled."

"Oh that!" Kaitlyn exclaimed. "Commander Luhrner disabled the security protocols, he said it would be damned inconvenient if I couldn't follow you around, or turned off if I walked through the wrong door."

Timothy nodded, momentarily appeased. He broke from his usual routine to grab a pair of gym shorts from his dresser and pull them on. He wandered into his dining room with Kaitlyn in tow and found that she had gotten his breakfast ready, coffee, pancakes with syrup, bacon, and scrambled eggs. "Well I'll be damned. How'd you know?"

Kaitlyn beamed, obviously proud of herself again. "Well I am part of the computer. I accessed your replicator records for the last fifteen years. I correlated what you ate compared to your daily activities and determined that when cruising this was your breakfast of choice seventy eight percent of the time."

"How astute and what an incredible invasion of privacy," Timothy quipped as he started cutting up his pancakes.

"Sir?"

"I was under the impression such things were supposed to be kept sealed and only available to medical officers."

"Oh they are sir, but general eating habits are part of the public database that Starfleet keeps and makes available for research and study. The records are taken anonymously but it was a rather easy task to correlate reported eating habits from replicators you would commonly use along with duty logs for those days."

Timothy chewed on pancakes, staring out the windows of his cabin at the stars rushing towards them. He was definitely going to have to talk to Johan about her. It wasn't unheard of for data mining AI's to perform such feats, but it was unheard of for them to do such things just because they wanted to, and for them to be incorporated into holograms. "Well, aside from invading my privacy what else have you done this morning?"

Kaitlyn frowned but didn't press the issue. She hesitantly presented him with a large display PADD and said, "I ummm..."

Timothy looked at the contents of the PADD, cherry picked articles from the news agencies, journals, and periodicals he read the most often and the sections of them he spent the most time in. "I see you've been busy correlating more than just my eating habits."

"Yes sir," she said sheepishly.

Timothy felt another twinge of annoyance. "Am I really that much a creature of habit?"

"Just seventy one point three percent of the time."

Timothy shook his head. While he wasn't particularly happy about how much initiative his holographic aide was showing, or how easily she'd managed to deduce what he liked for breakfast and to read during it, he had to admit he was pleased she'd tried to get out in front of him like a good aide should. Besides, the collage of articles she'd put together made it easy to scan through the areas of his interest. He swallowed a mouthful of eggs and tilted the PADD down to make eye contact with Kaitlyn. "Just try and be more subtle about it in the future."

"Aye sir," she said perking up.

============================================================

Milana ran the towel through her hair again trying to get the last of the sea water out of it. For some reason no one bothered to include a freshwater shower in the cetacean lab to get the salt off. That would have to wait until she got back to her quarters and headed to the junior officer's shower.

She couldn't see where she was going for the light blue cotton of the towel in her eyes but when she finally pulled it away she was in for a rude surprise. She had to dart to the left to avoid her captain. The young ensign walking beside him saw her at the last moment and with more force than a tiny girl like her should be able to muster managed to pull the captain out of the way.

"What the hell Kaitlyn!?" Captain Hayes barked as he regained his footing and stopped looking at his PADD.

"Sorry sir," Milana said in stereo with the ensign.

Her commander looked at Milana first in recognition then in surprise. "Lieutenant Tuul, you're a bit under dressed for your duty shift."

Milana stood up straighter as she regained her composure. Her red once piece bathing suit was Starfleet issue but she still felt odd standing in front of her commander in it. "I was in the cetacean lab sir."

"From the looks of things all the way in it."

"Aye sir," she said. "I think the best way to interact with the cetaceans is in their own environment."

"And they didn't mind you?"

"No sir, they were fine with it, happy in fact. I mean if they can get used to the aquatic Xindi that are in there with them..."

"I'm surprised the dolphins can stand them. They're not the most patient creatures."

Milana relaxed a little as captain Hayes seemed content to talk as opposed to chew her out for not watching where she was going. "They've come to a kind of mutual understanding sir, and it's good. I think the Xindi are the only thing keeping the cetaceans calm."

"Why's that," the captain asked.

"Well sir, they say that space doesn't... well they say it doesn't taste right. It's got them pretty agitated. They've not been as much help as they usually are."

"How so?"

"Every course they help plot sort of curves away from the anomaly. They want to avoid it, badly. I'm not sure we're going to be able to get them back from this, not until we get away from the anomaly."

Milana watched as the captain mulled it over. Technically they didn't need the cetaceans to navigate with. They could be cut out of the navigation plotting loop entirely. Milana was already monitoring their refinements to her courses and had vetoed most of their refinements, unofficially cutting them out. She'd come down to the lab to try and talk it over with them along with Bob and Alice, the nicknames their two Xindi aquatic handlers had been given. The Xindi never complained about their names, probably because no other sentient one the ship had the vocal range to pronounce them and they said listening to everyone butcher their names was just this side of insulting. Both of them had established a special rapport with the dolphins and had helped improve the quality of their warp courses even more. Milana was eager to get them cetaceans back in line, their innate ability to read the fabric of subspace and refine their courses both before going to warp and while at high warp speeds were incredibly beneficial. The three week run to the border would have taken nearly four weeks without them. They had an incredible ability to feel the areas of subspace where the ship could move through more easily than others. Like finding the calm spots on a stormy sea.

Her attempts had failed though. Whatever the anomaly was it was making it impossible for the cetaceans to operate effectively. It was blanking out their natural abilities. Even with crewmen Bob and Alice doing their best all they were really managing to do was keep them calm. Without the Xindi they likely would have had to have sedated the dolphins.

"That'll put a serious crimp in our mobility," Captain Hayes said.

The ensign next to him was working quickly on her PADD. "I'm finding some references to similar issues with cetacean crewmen but not in the way of how to fix it."

Milana took a second to look the ensign over. She was short for a human woman, which meant she was tiny next to Milana's natural Cardassian stature. Her long curly red hair was something only a human could manage Milana reckoned. She was curvy for a human girl, certainly very attractive, and young, barely out of the academy if Milana could judge. Her uniform was the oddest part of her outfit. The short skirt style uniform had been discontinued from general use twenty years before and was supposedly still available for certain species or diplomatic functions. Technically there was no reason someone couldn't chose to wear it, but it was far less practical and Milana hadn't seen one in general use ever. The ensign had also given the replicator the wrong measurements as Milana was certain it was a good ten centimeters too short.

She was tempted to find out more about the girl, she hadn't seen her on board when they'd left spacedock but now she was glued to the captain's side. Still, the verbal ball was in the Captain's court and she wouldn't step out of line by grilling the ensign, she'd wait for later.

Captain Hayes looked over the girl's PADD, consulting whatever it had been she'd brought up. "That's the problem, their semi-sentient. They've got a mind of their own and can't really be fixed like a piece of equipment."

"Aye sir," Milana agreed.

"Any insights on what we can do to get them back in the game Lieutenant?"

"Nothing definite yet sir. I was going to consult with the doctor, see if he had any thoughts on something we can do. Maybe a relaxant, some kind of suppressant, something to take the edge off."

"Maybe a shot of Romulan ale," the ensign said.

"That might get them calm but I wouldn't trust their courses," Milana fired back.

"Ah, I'm sorry. Lieutenant Tuul, this is Ensign... Kaitlyn. My aide," the Captain said.

"Pleased to meet you ensign," Milana said diplomatically.

"Likewise Ma'am," Kaitlyn replied, offering her hand. Milana reached for it but watched as her hand passed right through the ensign's. Kaitlyn laughed at the look on Milana's face but stopped when the Cardassian glared at her. She offered her hand again but left it solid. "Sorry Ma'am."

"You're a hologram," Milana said flatly.

"Aye, Ma'am."

"Consult with the Doctor," the Captain said, ignoring his aide's antics. "You might also want to talk to Lieutenant Fealst'rak and Commander Del. They might have some insight on approaching this from the anomaly side rather than the biological."

"Aye sir," Milana said. She'd considered talking to the Commander but not the ship's science officer. She was hoping for a biological answer that might keep the cetacean's ability to navigate intact. She wasn't sure how to approach it from the other side of the coin without totally blanking off the dolphins from subspace, which would make them useless from a navigation standpoint.

"Carry on lieutenant. I'm sure you're ready to get out of that and into uniform."

"Aye sir, thank you sir."

"See you on the bridge," the captain said before heading off again.

Milana watched him go then turned and headed for her cabin. She was surprised to learn the ensign was just a hologram, then again that would explain the uniform. She remembered the note he'd left her on the PADD he'd given her with her service record unlocked on it. Her CO was a dirty old man. Of course, they had a holographic doctor, and she'd spent a couple hours last night playing cards with some of her crewmates in a bar full of holographic patrons. She shrugged, holographic crewmen were almost normal compared to some of her crewmates. She was not looking forward to talking to Lieutenant Fealst'rak.

============================================================

"One other thing sir."

Johan looked back at Cesina. Their meeting had gone well, having two people working on the ship's schedule was a great way to completely wreck it but thought they'd reached a mutual agreement that might avoid that. He'd dismissed her but she'd stuck around. "What is it?"

Cesina slid her PADD across the desk to him. On screen was the outline of a battle simulation. "Ya know, to be a real test you can't go giving the opposition the script." He started to page through the simulation, taking mental notes all the while.

"I know sir, but since you are in charge of training the fleet I thought it would be best to run this by you."

Johan nodded silently. "Not bad, but too easy."

"Sir?"

"There's no real complications Cesina. It's just show up, shoot, call it a day." He slid the PADD back to her. "Such things have their place, but when you're going to involve the whole bridge crew you need to try and stretch them, give everyone a work out. Make them think." Cesina pursed her mouth in a tiny frown as she considered this. For his part Johan was glad the old Andorian bowl cuts had gone out of style. Cesina kept her long silvery hair in a much more attractive ponytail and her bangs concealed the larger than normal, to a human, forehead her species had. She had that young, earnest, eager to please look all young officers seemed to have. He could remember when Terzi used to look like that, in fact Cesina reminded him a lot of the little Elaysian except tall, and blue.

"What could I do to complicate it sir? I don't want to get too ridiculous." She'd spent a long time trying to come up with something but it all seemed contrived or just stupid when she'd thought it up. She knew the pressure was getting to her because it wouldn't just be her commanding officer, or a few subordinates who witnessed this. The entire bridge crew would be taking part in the simulation. If she did an awful job every senior officer on the ship would witness it first hand.

"Oh certainly. Make it to complex and you reduce their workable options, sometimes even eliminate them. The trick is to add in something that makes the situation more difficult, but somewhat ambiguous."

"What would you recommend sir?" Cesina asked.

Johan smiled, "Well since you asked..."

============================================================

Terzi folded her hands on her desk as Crewman Leeds sat down across from her. "I'm sorry about having to put off our meeting, something came up."

"Of course ma'am," she said as she sat down.

Terzi had looked over Viwan Leed's record before she'd come to her office. The young Bajoran woman had a good solid record. Excellent marks in the academy, a heartfelt recommendation from her last CO on the Dallas, and unless she messed something up royally a promotion to petty officer third class would likely come sometime late this cruise or just after it. Overall a record to be proud of with few black marks aside from the usual foolishness crewmen were want to get into on shore leave. It had been why Terzi had selected her from the pool of candidates for the Typhoon's engineering crew. With any luck she'd play ball and keep her record looking good.

"I wanted to talk to you about what happened on the flight deck yesterday."

Leeds nodded. "Yes ma'am."

"Lieutenant O'Neal was out line, there's not question about that," Terzi sighed. "The question is what do we do about it?"

"Ma'am?" Leeds asked as she tilted her head. The long Bajoran earring she wore hung like a pendulum and Terzi wondered how she managed to never get it caught on something.

"The lieutenant will be punished, severely, but unofficially. Unless you object I think it would be best for everyone involved if this didn't go on the record."

Leeds scrunched her eyebrows together. "Are you saying I shouldn't file an official complaint?"

Terzi shook her head. "No, nothing of the sort. We have to consider the ramifications of a complaint however. Something like that on O'Neals record will be a blackmark that will ruin his career. And honestly though he was out of line, if the two of you had been off duty and out of uniform at a bar would he have been anything other than a pushy and annoying suitor?"

"With all due respect ma'am, I don't ever have to see a guy at a bar ever again. I'm stuck on this ship with the lieutenant."

Terzi nodded and pressed on. "Also, making this official isn't going to look good on your record." Leeds' eyes went wide. "What he did is against regs but everyone knows what making it official will do to his career. Most people won't think it's fair to phaser his career over this kind of thing. It might impact your career in Starfleet." Terzi hoped she wouldn't press the issue. She wasn't kidding that it would impact both their careers. It would certainly color her perceptions of the Bajoran if she had to make things official instead of letting them take care of it in house. "Don't worry. Lieutenant O'Neal is going to be punished for this, harshly."

Leeds sat there for a moment, staring at the floor. "I don't suppose I have a choice," she said.

"You do," Terzi replied. "This is up to you."

"I won't file a complaint," Leeds said finally.

Terzi gave her a faint smile and nodded. "Thank you, we'll take care of this."

"Aye Ma'am, permission to dismissed?" she said tersely.

"Dismissed," Terzi said. The Bajoran woman got up quickly and left her office.

When the door closed behind her Terzi rocked back in her chair and sighed. This kind of thing hadn't happened during the war. Most people were too physically exhausted to go hunting for a piece of tail. The few that were interested were usually desperate enough for physical affection and closeness that they weren't terribly picky. Hell, if the pilot had been so hard up he should have just taken care of it the next time his holodeck time came up. Terzi rubbed her thighs, they were hurting again and she didn't feel like dealing with it right now. In her desk drawer next to the pink bone and muscle mass stimulant was a blue green vial of pain killer. Popping the ampoule in she pressed it to her neck and sighed as the hypospray hissed and the medicine went to work immediately.

She could deal with mechanical problems. They were easy to fix. They had a cause. They had a solution. Once they were fixed they were fixed. It was the people who drove her insane. The higher up in the command structure she went the worse it got. When she was just an ensign the only thing she had to worry about was the mechanical problem at hand. Now it felt like she spent two thirds of her time dealing with the people at her command and their interpersonal problems instead of mechanical ones. If it just kept getting worse she didn't understand how Johan or the Captain could put up with it.

She leaned back in her chair and looked around her office at the many hard copy blueprints of various pieces of equipment on board that she had put up on the walls. Why couldn't people be as easy to deal with as machines?

Pulling up a schematic of the warp plasma collection/distribution headers she tried to get back to some real work.

============================================================

"I'm a doctor, not a vet!"

"I know that sir, but we don't have a vet on board and the cetaceans are semi-sentient," Milana said.

"Semi-sentient or not we still don't fully understand how the dolphins detect subspace fluctuations. I can't begin to treat them if I don't even fully understand what the problem is," the Doctor said in exasperation.

"Can you at least try sir?" Milana asked. "We need them to help us navigate. The captain approved of your trying to help them." That might have been stretching the truth just a little. The captain hadn't ordered the Doctor to help, but he also hadn't told her not to bother seeking the Doctor's help.

The Doctor sat his tricorder on a nearby biobed and pondered it. Even if they were only semi-sentient and a well known species from Earth he would still be doing research on a part of them that had eluded explanation by some of the best minds in the Federation for nearly two centuries. He folded his arms in front of him and reached up to stroke his chin. "I suppose I could have a look at them." When Milana's gray face lit up he held up a hand. "I promise nothing you understand. I'll look into it."

"Thank you sir," Milana said. "The captain also asked me to get the input of Lieutenant Fealst'rak and Commander Del."

The Doctor nodded. "Yes, someone more familiar with what's affecting them would be helpful. Have them contact me and we'll see what we can do."

"Aye sir," Milana said, quickly leaving the sickbay. The Doctor nodded, his thoughts already turning towards the medical journals he'd have to review, equipment he'd need, and testing procedures. Three seconds later he felt up to speed on it and only needed to hear from someone to get some background on the anomaly.

============================================================

Binni spotted Commander Deekan rising from his seat as she sat down at her console on the starboard aft quarter of the bridge. Inwardly she groaned. During the last staff meeting she'd caught him paying close attention to her and the way she'd done her best to stay away from Lieutenant Fealst'rak. Unfortunately aboard a brand new ship as well maintained as the Typhoon ensuring everything was ready for anything didn't take very long so she knew her hope that he'd have something else to talk about was in vain.

"Lt. Commander Ulin," he said in his gravelly monotone. He was pretty attractive but the dull voice and psychiatrist way he grilled her killed that. That and the fact that he was her direct superior.

"Commander Deekan."

"I noticed that you still seem uncomfortable around the Lieutenant," he commented as he stood in front of console. His stature making her look up to him slightly even though her station was on a raised platform.

"He made some comments when I ran into him on the way to the briefing yesterday," she explained lamely.

"And what sort of comments would these be that would cause such a reaction?"

Binni grimaced. "He commented that he'd never eat me because it would have no nutritional value."

"That's...possibly correct," he said. "As a non-humanoid species his amino acid and sugar handedness would at the least render you of no nutritional value and could render you poisonous."

"How does that make me feel better? That he doesn't eat me I'm poisonous? I'd like a better reason like 'Eating another sapient creature is abhorrent.'"

Her commander had to think about it for a moment, something that gave her a small feeling of victory. "Perhaps that should be a comfort. He has to treat you with a modicum of respect as you could be very dangerous to him."

"No thanks," Binni said.

"Are you going to make me order you to be in contact with the lieutenant more?"

"No sir," Binni replied.

"I am not unsympathetic to your situation Lieutenant Commander, however in Starfleet its a situation that cannot be allowed to stand."

"Aye sir," Binni replied. Deekan walked back to his station and Binni sighed. It was like being lectured by a rock grinder. She reached over and turned one of her displays over to the ship's library and called up information on the Rurutic homeworld. There had to be something interesting to talk to him about.

Deekan sat back down at his station and glanced over at his subordinate. He didn't want to seem to harsh on her but her fear of a fellow crewmate wasn't something he could tolerate. In his mind, and his culture's, fears had to be faced head on and conquered. She needed to deal with this and overcome it. It wouldn't do for her to fear the Lieutenant, one day he might have to rely on her or she on him. If that day came and she still felt as she did now how would they react. Deekan shook his head slowly, no, that wouldn't do.

As an officer Binni had impressed him. She knew her job and had presented some interesting solutions to things. From a technical standpoint she was a fine officer. Unfortunately as you rose in rank technical proficiency became less of a concern. Her continued fear of the Lieutenant could put a damper on her career. He'd certainly have difficulty recommending her for promotion as it stood now. How could she serve as chief tactical officer if she could one day find herself cowering in fear of one of her subordinates.

He sincerely hoped she'd solve this problem, and soon. So far he'd been able to handle things discreetly, off the record. He'd hate to see something happen that would force him to deal with it officially. Even hints of specism could put a crimp in an officer's career.

============================================================

Yumiko stood next to Seven of Nine at the former drone's station on the bridge. She appreciated how logical she could be but the Lt. Commander was hard headed once she got her teeth into an idea.

"I'm telling you, we can use the signal strength from the neighboring outpost to help chart some of the subspace fluctuations. The carrier signal modulates over a hundred thousand times a second."

Seven's graceful eyebrow arched skeptically. "It will only provide data over a very narrow arc across an area we have already traversed and it will require maintaining and open comm-link to the stations."

"Yes," Yumiko said as she tried to keep her voice in check. It wouldn't do to start yelling at a superior officer. "However it will provide detailed information for the science department to examine."

"Possibly," Seven replied, giving ground for the first time in the conversation.

Yumiko pressed her advantage. "Every bit of information we can get them will be important. It might not help us immediately but it could help us understand the anomaly in the long term. Help us develop some kind of filter to get some of our sensor resolution and range back."

Seven slowly nodded. "Very well coordinate this with the outposts. I will make the necessary adjustments so that the sensors record the carrier signal fluctuations and forward it to the science department."

Yumiko grinned as her suggestion finally won out. She kept her feelings mostly in check but her neck tendrils writhed rapidly in joy. "Thank you ma'am."

Seven nodded and Yumiko headed back for her station port side.

"Win yourself a victory over the Borg?" Commander Kim asked as she passed.

"Yes sir!" Yumiko replied, pausing at his station.

Harry twisted his seat about to face Yumiko directly. Having a place to sit down was a welcome change from his station on Voyager. He didn't know what sadist had designed a station that required the person manning it to stand for their entire duty shift but he bet they'd never had to man it themselves. The restraints built into it were nice to. He didn't know how he still had had all his teeth with the way he'd been knocked around on Voyager. "Don't let Seven get to you, if you think she's tough now you should have seen her right after we'd freed her from the collective."

"You mean the stick up her bum was even bigger?"

Harry had to restrain his laughter. Not only at how true her observation was, but at the way Yumiko turned beet red when she realized she'd just insulted a superior officer. "Yeah, it was. But don't tell her I said so. The Voyager crew put in a lot of long hours shrinking it."

"Yes sir, sorry sir," Yumiko said before hustling back to her station.

"Ssssuch insssubordination. Yhou deed not punissssh the lieutenant for eet," Riway said from the next station over.

Harry nodded. "She knows what she did. What was I going to do, give her demerits for it?"

"Vhou could have ssssaid ssssometeng."

"Complaints about other people's insubordination coming from you? Will wonders never cease?"

It was Riway's turn to blush, though her skin turned a pale green which made her crimson scales stand out against it. "I vassss noht trying to geet zee lieutenat in troouble. I vass jussst..."

Harry held up his hand. "It's ok, I get it. I'll crack the whip a little harder in the future."

Riway grinned, showing her elongated canines and eyeteeth again. "Sssooome people dhou noht mind zee vip zough Commander."

It was Harry's turn to blush and find something very interesting to look at on his console

============================================================
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Tyyr
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Re: Proud Legion-Story

Postby Tyyr » Fri May 22, 2009 11:59 am

Chapter 4 Cont.

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"This way Ms. Mavil," the Andorian officer said as she led Bella through the open doors of a holo deck. The captain had informed her that Lieutenant Commander Bul'ra would be her guide for the exercise so she'd followed where she'd led. She was surprised to find the holodeck empty.

"Where is everyone?" she asked.

"Still on the bridge," Cesina replied. "We're just here to observe."

"Then where are they running the simulation from?"

"The bridge. The holoemitters have the ability to make it seem as real there as it would be on the holodeck. This just lets them stay at their posts and seamlessly transition into the simulation."

"So who's running the ship," Bella asked.

"During cruising like this there's not much to really do. Commander Luhrner is monitoring the ship's situation while the rest of the bridge crew participates in the exercise."

"And you came up with this exercise?" Bella asked, settling back into her normal form.

"I did," Cesina replied. "Computer, activate bridge simulation observation program."

Bella watched as the floor and walls around her dissolved into the vacuum of space. Five meters in front of her and to the right and hovering with its equator just aabove the plane they were standing on was a small blue planet that looked to be thirty or so meters in diameter. Off in the distance behind it she could see the gas giant it was orbiting a few hundred meters away dominating the sky in that direction. The planet had a one moon hanging far above their heads, a simple bit of blasted rock. Orbiting the planet not to far from them was a single long boxy ship trailing plasma and looking quite damaged. To their left Bella could see the bridge of the Typhoon in small scale below them. It was as if someone had pulled off the ceiling and replaced it with a piece of transparisteel that they were now standing on. "Impressive. When does it start?"

Cesina waved her hand and a display appeared in the air beside her. She reached up and tapped a line of code on it. "Right now."

Below them Yumiko sat up straighter at her comm station. "Sir, I'm receiving a distress call. A freighter in orbit of Birjand two C. They report they are heavily damaged, unknown attackers. They've lost primary and secondary power and are running on back ups. Their orbit is decaying.... that's it sir, the transmission cut off."

Timothy nodded. "Conn, alter course to Birjand two C, maximum warp. ETA?"

"One minute sir," Milana replied.

"Well I suppose its good we're in the area," Timothy said.

"That seems awfully quick," Bella commented, looking up from the bridge.

Cesina shrugged. "The trip to the system doesn't actually do much for them. Better to move them forward to the scenario right away."

A few meters away the tiny form of the Typhoon decelerated from warp drive and swooped through space towards the freighter. The graceful ship passed by them treating Bella to a close look at it. As the Typhoon neared the planet the perspective changed, and without moving Bella, Cesina, and the bridge rushed towards the planet. "Whoa," Bella gulped as the sudden movement made her stomach lurch.

"Oh, sorry about that," Cesina said. "Wanted to give us a better perspective."

"Scanning," Seven of Nine said. "The freighter has suffered heavy damage to its engineering section. I'm detecting no warp or impulse power, no shields, minimal life support. Over seven thousand life signs. I'm detecting disruptor signatures from the damage sir."

"Launch fighters and raise shields," Timothy barked.

"A colony ship," Johan said.

Timothy nodded, "Hail them and match orbits."

"No response," Yumiko reported.

"They've suffered damage to their command section as well, it could be affecting their communications," Seven added.

"Their course is degrading Captain Timothy Hayes," Villec said. He was busy comparing the other ship's course to their own. "They will enter the planets atmosphere in approximately three minutes."

"Confirmed captain," Seven said. "Their structural integrity field and inertial dampers are not operating well enough to let the ship survive."

"Mr. Kim, get a tractor beam on it and work with Mr. Bisaan to get her into a better orbit.," Timothy commanded. "How long will their life support hold out?"

Seven consulted her readouts. "They are operating on battery power captain. I would estimate another five to ten minutes at most."

"We might want to start beaming people off," Johan said. "Buy us some time by reducing the load on their life support."

"Agreed," Timothy said, "and keep scanning. I doubt whoever did this has gone anywhere.

"Ready for tractor beam," Villec said.

"We need to drop the ventral shields to establish the tractor and start beaming," Harry said.

Timothy nodded. "Do it."

"Dropping ventral shields," Binni said from her station at the rear port side of the bridge.

From their vantage point Bella watched as the Typhoon slid into position above the damaged freighter. A pale blue beam connected the two and the battlecruiser's impulse engines flared up softly as the two started to move together. "That freighter is huge," Bella said. The ship's fighters, looking like gnats, took up positions above the Typhoon both forward and aft.

Cesina smiled, "It's an Oregon class colony ship. Designed to haul up to ten thousand colonists and enough gear to get them started all in one shot. It actually masses almost twice what the Typhoon does."

"Tractor established," Harry said. "Transports starting. We're going to be pulling over about five hundred per minute."

"That'll be cutting it close," Johan said.

"We should buy some time by reducing the load on the environmental systems." Timothy said. "I hope."

"Adjusting orbit," Villec said. "Full thrusters."

"Captain!" Seven yelped. "Romulan warbirds decloaking bearing one ninety five mark twenty five, range two hundred thousand kilometers."

"On screen. Hail them," Timothy said, "and get that freighter into a better orbit now, we may have to cut them loose."

"Detecting five D'deridexes and three Norexans," Seven said. "They're moving towards us. Their shields are up and weapons charging."

"Can you say trap," Johan quipped.

"They've locked weapons," Binni confirmed.

Bella looked closely at the position of the Typhoon and the warbirds. For the moment the Typhoon's dorsal shields would take the brunt of the assault but that wouldn't last.

"They're moving to get a shot at us from below," Timothy said. His hands balled into fists and Bella could just make out him squeezing and relaxing them, the only obvious sign of the adrenaline in his body. "Status of the transport and tow?"

"We've got a little over eight hundred colonists," Harry said.

"Stable orbit still not achieved," Villec reported.

"This is gonna suck," Johan moaned.

"Why aren't they firing?" Bella asked as the Romulans closed on the Typhoon.

"Which ones?"

"Either of them."

Cesina's antennae bent low and twitched as she smiled. "According to the simulation there are no current hostilities between the Federation and the Romulans. Even in the FDF we still can't fire until fired upon. As for the Romulans, well they know we can't fire until fired upon. They won't waste a chance at a vulnerable side."

Timothy nervously watched the main viewer. On it he could see a visible light image of the ships moving through space and beside it hung the planetary maneuvering display showing the relative positions of the ships and planet. The Typhoon's fighters had moved towards the Romulans but were keeping their distance. It was only a matter of seconds until the Romulans got a clear shot at the Typhoon's exposed belly.

"Eleven hundred," Harry said.

"Still not enough," Timothy said quietly. "We move off now and the ship re-enters before we can get the rest of them."

The Romulan's line of sight cleared the dorsal shields and Timothy braced himself.

"Why are they so small?" Bella asked.

"The ships?" Cesina asked.

"Yeah."

"That's how big they really are," Cesina said. "The images you usually see are modified. At the speeds and ranges starships can fight at all you'd see otherwise would be tiny dots zipping around firing at one another. In order to make it easier to see what's going on most recordings greatly increase the size of the ships involved so that its easier to follow what's happening. I can enlarge them for you if you want."

"No, that's ok," Bella said. If what she had seen had been altered she wanted to see what it really looked like.

The warbirds were nearing the planet, getting close enough that the curve of it threatened to break line of sight with the Typhoon. At the last moment all five emerald ships fired. Sickly green pulses of disruptor fire blended with the pale orange glow of torpedoes to form a seething swarm of energy coming up towards the Typhoon from low and behind.

"Return fire!" Timothy barked.

Numerous phaser banks along the aft of the hull lit up and spat streams of phaser bolts towards the attacking ships but the Romulans had anticipated it. They swung down into the atmosphere, letting parts of it take the brunt of the attack. Dissipated by cutting through the atmosphere the phasers only rocked the Romulans but did nothing to slow them down. They pressed the attack only minorly disturbed. The volley of torpedoes from the Typhoon's aft engineering hull passed the Romulan torpedoes and had better luck. Plunging into the atmosphere the torpedoes detonated as soon as they got close. One D'deridex pushed its luck too far, driving hard and pulling ahead of the others it ran head first into two tubes worth of torpedoes. Explosions blossomed across its shield surrounding the ship in yellow light. For an instant it looked as if they'd hold out but that didn't, collapsing and letting the destructive energies hit the ship. One nacelle ruptured two torpedoes detonated in it.

They Typhoon wasn't lucky. Its point defense turrets reacted as quickly as they could, knocking down a score of torpedoes but the volley was too heavy to stop them all. With shields down and slowly tractoring the wounded freighter there was nothing it could do but watch as the Romulan disruptors and torpedoes slammed into its fantail. Sheets of armor disintegrated as they were designed to do as the hellish energies ripped into it, sacrificing itself to save the ship.

"I didn't think he'd take a shot like that to the armor," Cesina said. "I thought he'd drop the tow and raise shields."

"Heavy damage to the aft ventral section, minor armor breaches," Binni reported. "Another volley will go internal!" On the main viewer a stray disruptor bolt clipped the freighter and tore a ragged gash along its side.

"Mr. Bisaan, put us between the freighter and the Romulans and keep us there. Mr. Kim cut the tractor but continue beaming survivors off, that'll have to be enough of a pull. Drop aft shields once we're in position. Mr. Danor get those fighters moving and Harry anyone who tries to get around us.

Bella winced as the Typhoon took fire, the big ship shuddering under the impacts. Beside her Cesina had called up a small model of the ship that clearly showed the damage the battlecruiser had taken. The next volley of Romulan fire wasn't as coordinated as the first, a victim of their spreading formation. The Federation ship had rolled enough to take the next round across its shields and while they shimmered they held. The Romulan ships fanned out, the D'deridexes drifting across the front of the Typhoon while the Norexans swooped up high on the port side. The big battle cruiser started to pivot, trying to keep them both as in front of it as it could while the fighters started to swarm one of the Norexans.

Timothy watched the maneuvering of the Romulans, not sure if he should be disappointed in Lt. Commander Bul'ra or in the computer. Either way their maneuvering was subpar. It was at that moment he realized he was to content to think of it as a simulation put together by a junior officer.

"Shields!" He demanded.

"Two Norexans decloaking directly aft, five thousand kilometers," Seven said at that same time.

Timothy gritted his teeth. He wouldn't allow himself that conceit again. The Andorian's stock was going up in his eyes.

"Gotcha," Cesina said as the two warbirds decloaked directly aft of the Typhoon. Both fired the instant their cloaks dropped. Disruptors spat streams of fire into the unprotected aft of the ship as their torpedoes came in after them. At the last second the angry orange dipped low and slammed up into the already damaged belly of the Typhoon.

"That went internal," Binni replied. "We've got hull breaches on decks twenty six to thirty one."

"How many colonists," Timothy asked.

Harry glanced up, "Two thousand."

"I hope it's enough," Johan said.

"Return fire, focus on the D'deridexes."

"That seemed rather mean spirited," Bella observed.

The Andorian woman shrugged. "Maybe, but it worked. This whole exercise is really meant to try and catch them off guard like that."

"They're having to fight with one foot nailed to the floor with that disabled freighter."

Cesina nodded, "That's the idea. With freedom to maneuver it would be rather easy for the Typhoon to keep moving and deny them the chance to pick their shots. Having to stay there and defend the transport prevents that."

"Still, is taking away one of their abilities really fair?"

"No, but neither is combat, and you have to learn to fight in less than ideal conditions. Besides, what better way to impress the captain than to blow his ship out from under him?

In the distance Bella watched as the fighters harassed one of the Norexans until it peeled away from its companion. The second ship curled out and around, maneuvering to try and bring its heavy guns to bear on the gnats pestering its companion. Most of the fighters seemed to do fine but at least two were immediately destroyed when they were caught by a disruptor beam. They were avenged quickly as the Typhoon's phasers battered down two of the D'deridex's shields and a flurry of torpedoes destroyed them both. The final D'deridex quickly swept down, trying to evenly space itself equally around the Typhoon.

All five Romulan ships pounded away at the Typhoon but her shields held in a shimmering curtain of azure light. In return sheets of rapid fire phaser bolts connected the Typhoon to the other ships. The smaller Romulan ships didn't fare as well as the Typhoon did, the silver bubble of their shields rippling as massive amounts of energy were dumped into them. The Federation battlecruiser did an admiral job of placing itself between the Romulans and the colony ship but spread out as they were it couldn't shield the other ship all the time. Stray disruptor shots pelted the freighter from time to time, eating away at its unprotected structure.

Beside her Cesina grimaced as she watched.

"What's the matter?" Bella asked.

"I had them split apart to try and keep the freighter threatened and the Typhoon nailed down but all its doing is letting the Typhoon engage them all at the same time and destroy them. I should have concentrated the forces." Cesina's antenna drooped as she watched the Typhoon's pulsing phasers chew away at its attackers. "I might have been able to batter down the shields if they'd stayed together."

"Well, looks like the bridge crew won't be the only ones learning something today," Bella quipped.

A Norexan disintegrated as a burst of phaser fire sheared its port wing from the ship sending it into a spin towards the planet below. The final D'deridex shuddered as a spread of torpedoes broke it's back, its upper and lower halves collapsing towards one another.

Cesina consulted her displays, looking over read outs for the final trio of Romulan ship. "That's the game," the said morosely.

"Captain," Seven said. "The remaining Romulan ships are withdrawing."

All three remaining Norexans wheeled about and surged away from the planet, but one not quite fast enough. A final burst of phaser fire ripped into it's aft quarter and found it's warp reactor. As the other two ships distorted and went to warp their sister ship disappeared in an anti-matter fueled fireball.

The Captain stood and up and took a step towards the main viewer. "Resume transporting colonists off the freighter. What is the ship's status."

"The freighter took damage during the exchange. All batteries and emergency power are down, life support has failed. Grav decking, inertial dampers, temperature control, and atmospheric recyclers are off line. Internal temperatures have already risen three degrees and carbon dioxide concentrations are up twenty percent," Seven reported.

"It's going fast," Johan said. "Keep an eye out for those Norexans, they may decide to circle back."

"Keep beaming them off Mr. Kim," Timothy said as he watched the view screen intently. "Ms. Saral, is there anything we can do to try and help the other ship get life support operational?"

The Vulcan woman pushed a lock of wavy black hair out of her face. A strand had fallen out of the ponytail she kept in in behind her and that stray hair messed up a lot of the traditional Vulcan image. "It may be possible to effect a power transfer captain, but I do know for certain. The freighter's engineering spaces have taken significant damage."

"Try it," Timothy ordered.

"Are you going to have them get attacked again?" Bella asked.

Cesina shook her head making her snow white hair sashay. "No, no real point in it. A pair of Norexans can't hope to take out the Typhoon. They'd only die pointlessly." She waited a few more minutes and consulted her read outs. "They only lost eight hundred and five colonists."

"Eight hundred and five?" Bella asked asked incredulously.

Cesina's antennae nodded. "In most of my simulations anywhere from two to three thousand colonists died. I think the computer was more cautious about protecting the Typhoon than the captain was. Lt. Commander Bul'ra to the Captain."

Below them Bella watched the Captain incline his head as Cesina's voice filled is bridge. "Go ahead."

"Captain, the simulation is concluded, we can resume normal cruise operations."

"Thank you commander, and good work."

Timothy started to give orders as Cesina said, "Computer, save and end program." Bella had another moment of disorientation as her god's eye view of the proceedings shrunk down to a single room. "Well, how was it?"

Bella considered her words. "It was informative," was all she said.

"The captain will be expecting us," she said with a wave towards the door. "After you."

============================================================

"Captain, something is happening with the anomaly," Seven reported.

"What's that Commander?"

"Unknown sir," she replied.

Timothy watched as she transferred the readings to the display next to his chair. The rising and falling bars on the graph were pulsing quickly and gaining in speed and amplitude. He called up the readings of the disturbance from the hours before and they were much calmer. "I need to know what's going on Sensors."

"The fluctuations in the subspace field are growing rapidly captain. I do not know why."

On the starboard side of the bridge Cesina and Bella walked out of the turbolift.

"Ms. Bul'ra, is this your doing?"

"The simulation's over sir," she replied as she hurried to one of the gunner's stations, shooing the crewman aside and calling up the display the captain was looking at. No sooner had her eyes taken a solid look at the graph when suddenly it spiked, filling the screen with red. A half second later she was thrown forward into the railing along with everyone else on the bridge as the ship suddenly, massively, decelerated.

"Crash stop!" Saral yelled from the engineering station at the back of the bridge.

"Report!" Timothy snapped as he picked himself up off the deck. At the rear of the bridge Terzi was sitting next to her Vulcan first officer working feverishly at their console. Neither woman seemed to hear him or look up from what they were doing. "I said report Ms. Del."

"We lost sensor resolution on the deflector dish as well as collimation of the tractor beam," Terzi snapped. "We were flying blind and defenseless."

"Confirmed Captain," Seven said from her position. "The intensity of the anomaly increased. Average distortion is now three point four six millichochranes."

"We lost sensor range and the deflector's range is severely reduced," Terzi explained. "It can't be sure to sweep our path of debris in time."

"So?" Bella asked from beside the gunner's stations where she was pulling herself back up along with Cesina.

The shock of the stop and then Bella's question threw Terzi off base. "So?," she snapped. "So you can't fly at warp speed without a functioning deflector. Twenty three sixteen, the USS Mont Blanc, they had multiple failures in their deflectors and the safeties didn't catch them until seventeen seconds later. A third of the crew was dead and the rest were injured. What was left of the Mont Blanc was towed back to space dock and scrapped. When you run into things at a hundred times the speed of light it's a bad thing."

"How bad is it?" Johan asked, getting Terzi and everyone else back on task.

"Sensor range has been greatly reduced," Seven replied. "Approximately three light years maximum range."

"I've lost communications with Deep Space Three and all outposts," Yumiko said.

"Terzi," Johan prodded. Both her and Saral were crouched over their console, discussing something.

"Gimme a second," Terzi said under her breath.

Saral's eyebrow perked. "We need a few moments to analyze the situation," she said trying to cover for her superior officer. "Lieutenant Tuul, please join us."

As the Cardassian woman walked past Johan eyed her over. For a Cardassian woman she was actually pretty attractive, if you could get past the fact that she was room temperature and gray. Tall and skinny she was his general type and her neck ridges were almost small enough to forget about. He'd never thought he'd actually see a Cardassian serving in Starfleet and his initial reaction to her had been much the same as his Captain's. She did make nice eye candy for the bridge though. He pushed the thoughts out of his mind and focused. He'd have to make it a point to talk to Terzi about bridge protocol later, he didn't care if she spoke to him that way and Timothy wouldn't either, but it wasn't the Atlas and it wasn't the war. The last thing they'd need is her seeming insubordinate with the Senator on the bridge. Bad enough Bella had. He didn't see a holocamera on her but that didn't mean much.

At the back of the bridge on the port side the three women had a hurried and hushed conversation. "When ever you three are ready," Timothy said drolly.

Terzi's head never came up as she worked feverishly, leaving the explanations to her chief. "Sir," Saral began, "based off the distortion to subspace we are seeing our velocity will have to be reduced to accommodate for the reduced effectiveness of the deflector."

"How much," he replied.

"Warp seven," she said without a twitch.

Johan whistled, "That's a big knock to our top speed. Good thing we're almost to the Neutral Zone."

"Sir, there's more," Milana said. "With this kind of field distortion we're not going to have much fine maneuvering ability. If we have to start maneuvering at warp speeds it'll get bumpy."

Timothy nodded. "Understood, get us underway again Ms. Tuul, warp seven." As Milana went back to her station he looked back towards the engineering console. "And Ms. Saral, a little warning next time?"

"Yes sir," the Vulcan said without cracking a smile.

Terzi walked down to the command level when Timothy beckoned her. "Any chance of a work around?" he asked as Milana took the ship back to warp.

Terzi shook her head. "No sir, not with this kind of distortion. Maybe if it was consistent but not random like this."

From on the upper platform Bella asked, "Can't you modulate it or something? Flip the polarity?"

Terzi looked at her incredulously. "The polarity of WHAT? Modulate something? It's a deflector dish not a magic wand!"

"She's not an engineer," Timothy said. "Lay off."

"I'll work with Lt. Fealst'rak to see if there's any usable pattern to the distortions but I'm not holding out much hope."

"Understood," Timothy replied. "Do what you can."

"Captain," Yumiko said from her station. "I've tried to reestablish contact with DS Three or the border outposts but no luck yet sir. I am picking up a subspace relay approximately two light years away but that's it sir."

"Two light years?" Senator T'prin said. "That effectively cuts us off from communication with the Federation at large."

"Mr. Kim, start spinning up message torpedoes, we may have to do this the old fashioned way," Johan said. Timothy let his first officer do his job; it gave him a chance to think. It was short lived though as Johan leaned closer to him, "So does this feel like an invasion just yet? Our sensors are so limited we couldn't see a warbird if jumped into our laps and kissed us and a tin can and a string would be a more reliable communications device. If they decided to come across the Neutral Zone no one would know until half the planets in this sector had already fallen."

"This anomaly is surely causing them as many problems as it is us," the senator said calmly. "However even I must cede to the logic of preparing for the worst in this instance."

"Time to the observation point on the Neutral Zone?" Timothy asked.

"One hour, seven minutes sir," Milana replied.

"We have to modify the deployment of the Task Force on the border," Timothy said, calling up a star map and the fleet's deployment on his screen. Johan leaned closer as well and they began to discuss the best way to deploy the Task Force's assets.

============================================================

Timothy sat in his command chair watching space rush by as the Typhoon's massive engines violated every law Einstein had ever dreamed of in order to push the ship closer to the Neutral Zone. Only now the immaterium was fighting back. Alpha shift was over and Beta should have taken over bridge operations but due to their arrival at the Neutral Zone Timothy had held them over. Unless something very odd happened they'd arrive, find nothing, and hand things off to Beta shift to begin a long and detailed series of scans. In the mean time the extra bridge stations usually left empty were filled with Beta shift cramming in to keep up to speed on what was happening and lend a help hand, claw, or tentacle as individual case may be.

At least he hoped they'd find nothing. He very much wanted to be completely wrong right now and maybe run into a Romulan ship wanting to know what the hell was going on as well. He and Johan had crafted a redeployment of the task force, moving his smaller ships up closer to the border to act as pickets in the newly created sensor blind spots while his heavy ships held farther back, ready to intercept any aggressors. It was simple and by the book, which made Timothy loathe it. With the total lack of information they had however there was nothing he could do about it.

Timothy passed the time as he often did in these situations, focusing on the view. Which on this ship was rather impressive. He need something to occupy his mind, any triviality just to keep his mind calm and loose rather than spinning itself into knots over things he could do nothing to control. "You'd almost expect it to look different," he said absentmindedly.

Johan ignored his captain's off hand comment. He was used to them and knew that some junior officer would rise to the challenge. To his surprise it was Senator T'prin who did. "How so captain?"

Timothy glanced to his left. "This close to the Neutral Zone and the Romulan Empire you'd expect it to look different."

"Green?" Johan quipped.

T'prin was unfazed. "The lines sentient creatures drawn on maps have no influence on the appearance of space. Once area will look much the same as the next."

"I disagree senator, unexplored space has an appearance all its own," Timothy said.

"That is again a single sentient's point of view. Something the universe cares little for," the senator chastised.

Timothy's rebuttal was cut short. "Sir, I'm detecting a small craft in the neutral zone, only a few light minutes from the Federation side." Seven called from her position on the right side of the bridge. "Romulan. Approximately five hundred tons. It appears to be a long range shuttle."

"Status," he called out.

"They're at full power, no signs of distress. Shields are down and weapons on standby."

"Why didn't we spot it earlier?" Timothy asked.

"I believe it was cloaked sir, our sensors haven't degraded that much," was Seven's clipped reply.

"Sir, we're receiving a hail," Yumiko reported.

"A Romulan shuttle just happens to be waiting for us in the Neutral Zone and wants to talk?" Johan said.

"And to think you complained about holding the shift over," Timothy replied. "On screen," he barked.

============================================================

The spymaster watched as the fat old bastard the conclave thought they'd chosen as their leader stood when the communications officer announced their hail had been accepted. He'd been very careful about who he'd chosen for this, his plans had fallen apart the last time when his superior had turned out to be less amiable to his manipulations than he'd planned. So far this one had done as he'd been told, and if he decided to step out of line the spymaster had a file five centimeters thick full of dirty secrets the old man would never want to have see the light of day.

When the viewer came on he was taken aback by the size of the bridge he saw. From the camera angle over a dozen crewman were seen at their stations with room for at least as many more. It was also different from the usual Federation colors, less warm and with more bare metal. In some ways it reflected the culture that had birthed it. The Dominion War had taken some of the luster off the Federation.

The man who arose from the central command chair was a textbook human by his judgment. Average humanoid height, weight, and build, male, with blonde hair. He snorted. If he'd chosen an appearance to help disappear in the Federation he couldn't have chosen a better one to emulate. The man tugged the bottom of his uniform jacket and stood with his feet shoulder width apart and his hands clasped behind his back.

"This is fleet captain Timothy Hayes of the Federation Defense Force battlecruiser USS Typhoon. May I ask what brings you to the Neutral Zone?"

The spymaster brought up the results of the shuttle's scans of the battleship before them. Refitted by the Talshi'ar the shuttles sensors were top of the line and subtle enough that they likely escaped detection by the Federation ship. The readout would have been enough to make his blood run cold back in his academy days. The ship was everything they had feared the Federation might one day decide to build. The Empire had been able to compete with the Federation when they'd just built exploration ships with enough firepower to defend themselves, but something like this monster would throw that out of balance. The Klingons had faced a similar situation at the time of the Praxis disaster. They would either have to massively expand their fleet to allow their lower tech designs to continue to compete with the Federation or sue for peace. When Praxis exploded and its clean up and rebuilding consumed all the resources the Klingons could have used to expand the fleet they'd done something remarkably out of character. They'd sued for peace and normalized relations. The spymaster absently wondered if Shinzon's rebellion might be enough to push the Empire into the same situation. Expand to stay competitive and bankrupt the Empire, or accept that they'd lost and seek peace. He was thankful such a decision would never be his.

"My name is Governor Taliren," the portly Romulan said. "I represent the worlds, Jaisalmer, Sarab, and Yecheng." He paused to take a deep breath and the spymaster sighed. The theatrics were annoying, they were long past the point of no return. "We have seceded from the Romulan Star Empire and would like to petition the Federation for protectorate status. Perhaps we could come aboard to discuss this?"

To the human's credit the only outward sign of surprise he gave was the widening of his eyes. "Yes, I think you should," he replied. "We'll arrive at your location in," he leaned over the console of a Cardassian woman in front of him. The spymaster made a mental note to inquire about that. "...forty five minutes. You can land in our shuttle bay or transport over."

"We'll land if its all the same to you captain."

"Very well Governor," Captain Hayes replied. "We'll arrive as soon as we can."

"I look forward to it."

"Until then," the blonde human said.

"Until then," Taliren said and the screen returned to displaying the starfield. "There we go Cossick, that wasn't so hard was it?" he said as he returned to the command chair.

"Getting the Federation to talk to you is one thing, getting them to listen and do what you want is another," the spymaster cautioned.

============================================================

"Command staff. Conference room. Now." Timothy barked.

"So much for just burning holes in subspace," Johan said as he rose.

"Son. Of. A. Bitch," Timothy said under his breath. "It just can't be simple can it?"

============================================================

Dramatis Personae

Crew, U.S.S. Typhoon NCC-79853

Timothy Hayes, Fleet Captain, Commander 1st Task Force of the 17th Fleet, Male Human
Commanded the U.S.S. Atlas during the Dominion War, transferred into the Federation Defense Force immediately after its establishment, given command of the Typhoon and the 1st TF soon after.

Johan Luhrner, Commander, Male Human
1st Officer of the Atlas during the Dominion War, 1st officer of the Typhoon

Cesina Bul'ra, Lt. Commander, Female Andorian
Lieutenant aboard the U.S.S Galaxy, 2nd Officer of the Typhoon

Terzi Del, Commander, Female Elaysian
Chief Engineer of the Atlas during the Dominion War, Chief Engineer of the Typhoon

Deekan Braal, Commander, Male Capellan
Security Officer then Tactical Officer of the Atlas during the Dominion War, Chief Tactical Officer of the Typhoon

Peili, Lt. Commander, Female Orion
Lieutenant in charge of the defense of a border station during the Dominion War, Chief Security Officer of the Typhoon

Harry Kim, Commander, Male Human
Operations Officer of the U.S.S. Voyager, Operations Officer of the Typhoon

EMH (Joe), Commander, Hologram
Chief Medical Officer of the Voyager, Chief Medical Officer of the Typhoon

7 of 9, Lt. Commander, Human/Borg Female
Served on U.S.S. Voyager, Chief Sensors Officer of the Typhoon

Riway daughter of Jaheel, Lt. Commander, Female Si'rak
Ensign on the Atlas, 1st Operations Officer of the Typhoon

Binni Ulin, Lt. Commander, Female Human
Lieutenant on the U.S.S. Lelander, Defense Officer of the Typhoon

Villec Bisaan, Lieutenant, Male Nileen
Starfleet Academy Cadet, Helmsman of the Typhoon

Milana Tuul, Lieutenant, Cardassian Female
Starfleet Academy Cadet, Navigator of the Typhoon

Saral, Lt. Commander, Female Vulcan
Asst. Chief Engineer of the Typhoon

Fealst'rak, Lieutenant, Rurutic Male
Headed a research project using a space telescope to study the galactic core, Chief Science Officer of the Typhoon

Marcos Hernandez, Lieutenant, Male Human
Combat shuttle pilot during the Dominion war, Alpha Squadron leader of the Typhoon

Rilo Gulia, Lieutenant, Male un-Joined Trill
Combat shuttle pilot during the Dominion war, Beta Squadron leader of the Typhoon

Tycho Danor, Lt. Commander, Yvethan Male
Airgroup leader of Akira class U.S.S. Jonestown during the Dominion War, Airgroup commander of the Typhoon

Yumiko Boritsolav, Lieutenant, Female Human/Gor'sic
Graduated from Starfleet academy, familiarization deployment on the U.S.S. Carthage, communications officer of the Typhoon

Others

T'prin, Senator, Vulcan Female
Federation senator and chief opponent of the FDF

Solin, Aide, Vulcan Male
Senator T'prin's personal assistant

Bella Mavil, Reporter, Human Female
United News reporter on assignment aboard the Typhoon

Romulans

Taliren, Governor, Romulan Male
Governor of the Triumvarite of Jaisalmer, Sarab, and Yecheng

Cossick, Romulan Male
Chief of Intelligence for the Triumvarite

===========================================

Author's Notes

1) ...and Romulan plots OH MY!
2) So honestly, how badly am I preaching in this damn fic? Do I not shut up about how I think some things in Trek are wrong and I try to fix them? Is this pure Author Tract/Appeal from start to finish? Let me know. Even if you just like when I run my mouth let me know. I'm kinda curious.
3) The cetacean lab is something we never got to see during TNG. It's part of TNG tech manual and on the Ent-D blueprints there is a clearly labeled cetacean lab. I ran with it and added it to the Monsoon class as well.
4) The handedness of proteins and sugars is a consideration in life. Trek sort of side steps the issue with the whole "Founder" crap that implies all humanoid life in the Galaxy, or at least the Trek corner of the galaxy, are all descended from a single progenitor race and therefore everyone gets along nicely, able to eat the same things, make babies, etc. with no real problems.

===========================================

"That is again a single sentient's point of view. Something the universe cares little for," the senator chastised.

Johan coughed, "If captain Quixote is quite done tilting at windmills..."
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Tyyr
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Proud Legion Chapter 5 Part 1

Postby Tyyr » Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:26 pm

Proud Legion
By: bsmart

Disclaimer: Rated R for the good stuff, you've been warned. I don't own Trek, but the people who do probably shouldn't either.

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Chapter 5: Senate

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"It's a trap," Harry said. "Sir," he added after the fact.

"That's fairly obvious," Johan said. "We acknowledge this, do anything with this and the Romulans have their little war. We should smile, nod, and tell them to get lost."

"What if it's not?" Deekan said calmly.

"What?" Harry asked.

"What if it is not a trap? What if this is an honest request."

"Did you miss the part about them being Romulans?" Johan asked. "The only time they're honest is after they've shoved the knife in your back."

"But what if Commander Braal is right?" Cesina asked. "If they really have seceded and we do nothing the Romulans will wipe them out, make an example of them."

"It'll be a blood bath," Terzi said. "If the Empire really is hanging on by a thread they can't afford to show any weakness. The ones they don't kill we get work camps off world or worse."

"And if we're wrong we start a war," Harry said. "We should contact Starfleet command."

"We can't," Seven said. "The anomaly is preventing any long range communications. The only methods we have to contact the rest of Starfleet is either with a message torpedo or by physically traveling beyond the edge of the anomaly. At our current maximum speed it would take over a week to make it back to communications with Starfleet and return to this point in space."

"We're going to have to hear them out," Timothy said. He looked to the Senator sitting at the end of the conference table. "Do you have an opinion?"

The Senator slowly shook her head. "At this time we have insufficient information to form an opinion. We will have to hear them out as you say."

Timothy sighed. She was right, if a tad arrogant about it. "I want all departments to run a full set of diagnostics. We're thirty five minutes from rendezvous with the Romulan shuttle. I want everything double checked and checked again. Ms. Seven, I want sensors as on the ball as you can get them. Do what you can to try and sniff out anything cloaked and waiting for us. Mr. Braal we're going to battlestations the moment we're out of here. Have everything spun up and ready to fight and I mean everything, phasers, torpedoes, shields. Have the pilots in their fighters and Commander Peili's marines in the shuttle bay. Mr. Kim, I want message torpedoes in the tubes ready to go. The situation is going to start changing rapidly. Everyone else, on the chance this is a trap, make sure your departments are prepared for it. If it's not, lets get ready to receive some guests. Dismissed." As the officers began to file out of the room Timothy placed his hand on T'prin's arm. "Senator, a moment?"

She nodded and sat down beside him. When the last of his crew had left Timothy began to speak. "Senator, if this is a trap I can deal with it. Combat is this ship's element. It's what we're good at. If it's not...," his voice trailed off as he contemplated the gravity of the situation. "If it's not we're going to find ourselves in a very awkward position. I would greatly appreciate your council."

T'prin inclined her head thoughtfully. "I must confess I am somewhat surprised at this request."

"Senator, no matter our differences of opinion I still value your's," Timothy said.

"I will provide you any council you need but I must point out that in this situation I am but a single senator. As the captain on scene any decisions ultimately made must rest with you."

There was a momentary flicker of disappointment in Timothy's mind. A small part of him wished there was some way out of this, to unload the responsibility onto the Senator. It was only a momentary feeling though. He'd known what he was getting into when he'd accepted his captaincy. These weren't the days of Kirk, Spock, and Sulu, when captains explored so far out into the wilds of space that they were totally on their own. These weren't their days, but a captain was still expected to be able to handle situations independently, to act in the stead of and on behalf of the entire Federation. "I understand Senator. I would appreciate your presence on the bridge and during any talks with the Romulans."

"I do not believe I have anything more pressing to attend to for the next few days."

Timothy chuckled. "If I didn't know any better I'd think you just made a joke."

T'prin raised one eyebrow. "But you do know better."

"I do," Timothy said.

"One other thing," T'prin added. "The reporter, Ms. Mavil." Timothy's gut locked up instantly. "I believe she should be present during all this."

"Senator, what's going to be happening here very shortly will have to be classified, highly. I can't invite a reporter to these kind of talks."

"Captain, this is a starship. Undoubtedly half the crew already know about the Romulan shuttle and in an hour they all will. Ms. Mavil will hear of this. If you do not allow her to have access to the proceedings she will undoubtedly fabricate something in order to stake her claim as the reporter on the scene. If she has access she will at the least write something somewhat factually accurate."

Timothy scowled. "I'm not going to have a reporter sitting on my bridge while I discuss the secession of three Romulan worlds."

"Captain, because of what you will be discussing you should have her there. This meeting could have serious implications for the Federation. Having a non-Starfleet viewpoint to rely on could provide some comfort to the general populace."

"Fine, she can be present. You are going to be in charge of her however. Make it clear to her that she is to observe only. Keep her mouth shut and her questions to herself. If I catch her within fifty meters of a Romulan without an escort she'll be riding the next message torpedo back to DS three."

"Understood," T'prin said.

Timothy pulled back the sleeve of his uniform. "Alright then, let's go meet our guests."

============================================================

Cossick felt an unease shiver pass down his spine as the Federation ship's tractor beams locked onto them and began to pull them towards the shuttle bay. The massive ship's nacelles alone dwarfed their shuttle. The bay they were being hauled into could swallow a dozen of their ships' with room to spare. He was very aware just how delicate this next portion of the operation was. They had no real power over the Federation types. They would have to convince them with words alone. They'd have to convince people with no real reason to trust them.

"Nervous Cossick?" Taliren asked.

"Who wouldn't be?" he shot back.

"I just hope your pet scientist can convince them about the disturbance. Our time table is tight."

"Sesk will do his job. He convinced us, and he's been right so far."

"These humans can be rather full of themselves when it comes to scientific matters though," Taliren pointed out.

"Yes, but I doubt even they'd be able to dismiss his work based off what's happening."

One of the battlecruiser's center shuttlebay doors began to open as the shuttle neared it. Inside they could see rows of shuttles and attack craft packed into the surprisingly crowded space. More than two dozen people were arrayed in the shuttlebay awaiting their arrival.

"Well at least they know how to properly welcome us," Taliren said.

Cossick didn't point out that fully half the people waiting for them looked to be carrying phaser rifles.

Timothy stood in the middle of the deck watching as the Romulan shuttle was guided into the bay. The green bird like shape slid through the containment field without even a whisper. It extended a set of landing skids as the tractor beams lowered it gently in to place dead center in front of them. The skids sank a bit as the tractors shut down and let them take the shuttles weight. No one in the shuttle bay said a word and he could hear the soft pings and pops as the shuttle adjusted from the vacuum of space to the pressurized shuttle bay.

He glanced up at the catwalks around the shuttle bay to the armed security personnel there. Unlike the squad playing honor guard on deck the marines on the catwalks were in full combat armor and carrying their heavy weapons. He doubted even a large shuttle full of Romulans could do anything but die futilely in the shuttle bay but he wasn't taking any chances. His own side arm was strapped to his thigh as was everyone else's. The only unarmed person in the shuttlebay was the Senator beside him.

The small implant in Timothy's ear buzzed. "The shuttle's powering down," Lieutenant Commander Danor said, his voice small but clear from the implant and audible only to him. His report was confirmed as the various hums and growls of the shuttle's systems faded. Moments later a gangway dropped down from the belly of the shuttle and several Romulans emerged.

The first was the portly Romulan he'd spoken to on screen. Dressed in a dark orange coat that went almost to his knees and a dark, almost black pants he managed to exude the aura of a politician. The kind who's warm smile you couldn't remove with a quantum torpedo it was so deeply etched into their false countenance. Timothy loathed him already.

Following after his were two more male Romulans. The first was a very tall, very thin middle aged man. There were dark patches under his eyes and his hair was mussy. His plain tan long sleeved shirt and black pants were slightly wrinkled. He looked to Timothy to be someone who wasn't eating enough and had spent too many nights up late working on something important. He fidgeted, glancing around the shuttle bay nervously as he came. A stark contrast to the Governor who's eyes had never left Timothy's group. At the back came someone who instantly set off alarm bells in Timothy's head. He was taller than average, but not much so. Average build, maybe middle aged, a bit older than Timothy was if Romulans aged anything like humans, and they didn't. His dress was conservative, a simple gray jacket and blue pants. All of it so incredibly plain, not unlike the Senator's aide. Someone who cultivated a manner of dress and presentation specifically geared to be forgettable. It was the eyes though, they gave him away. Unlike Solin the Senator's aide who only concerned himself with T'prin this Romulan's eyes were everywhere. They'd settle onto some detail in the scene before him and linger there, measuring it, assessing it, cataloging it. He could practically see the wheels turning in his head. Before he'd ever said a word Timothy was sure he was Tal'shiar.

As the governor approached he kept a polite but reserved smile plastered on his face. "Governor," he said graciously as he extended his hand. "Welcome aboard the Typhoon."

Taliren paused for a moment then quickly grabbed Timothy's hand and shook it. "Thank you Captain. I apologize, shaking hands is not a traditional form of Romulan greeting."

Cossick watched as the human captain exchanged pointless pleasantries with the governor. How the Tal'shiar had difficulties infiltrating Starfleet was beyond him. Humans lacked any appreciable skill at subtlety. He could see the strain in the Captain's jaw as something bothered him. There might be hope for him yet if he found these saccharine platitudes loathsome. He was forced to admit that it could just be the human resisting the urge to order his troops to open fire and kill them all. Either one was acceptable to him though, so long as he had feelings and opinions they could be swayed. The worst thing they could have found would have been the typical Federation empty headed optimist in charge. He walked with Sesk, taking his position on Taliren's right shoulder as Sesk stood behind his left.

"This is Commander Cossick," Taliren said as he turned to the side. "He is our chief of intelligence and this," he said as he turned to the other, "is Sesk, the scientist who discovered and predicted the disturbance that is now afflicting us all."

Cossick kept his smile to himself as the Federation's eyes went wide at that little revelation. He supposed if he'd been in their position he'd want all the info he could get on the disturbance. If their sensors, communications, and engines were as affected by it as their's were then they must be very worried. He imagined the Romulan high command would be as terrified of the prospect of an invasion as the Federation was, if the high command had any idea what was going on out here, and they didn't. He'd seen to that.

He listened closely as the Captain introduced his crew. "This is Senator T'prin of Vulcan." The Vulcan woman nodded at them, but denied them the physical contact of the human. It was just as well to Cossick, telepaths made him nervous. He couldn't fathom how the Federation could be so cavalier about them. Admittedly the Vulcan's required physical contact, and a specific form of it, or so they said. He would still take no chances. "Commander Johan Luhrner my second in command," another human, much like Hayes dressed in their standard issue black, gray and red fatigues. "And Lieutenant Commander Peili, our chief security officer." The Orion woman caught Cossick's interest but not in a carnal way. He wasn't surprised the Federation had allowed a female Orion to join the ranks, they were a bunch of optimists and idealists. Rather it was her uniform. Unlike Hayes and Luhrner uniform had no coloration on the shoulders, it was simply black. On her shoulder was an odd badge, the United Federation of Planets logo with a sword behind it and the letters FDF beneath it. A quick glance confirmed that the badge was on all the Starfleet personnel's right shoulder. Apparently the Federation Defense Force had recently crafted new uniforms for its members. "Finally, this is Bella Mavil, a reporter for United News," he said, motioning towards a young woman with curly blonde hair. His initial admiration for the captain was tempered a bit. A young woman with ensign's tabs on her collar stood behind Hayes but he declined to mention her, most likely an aide of some sort.

"Captain, while I would be quite happy to exchange pleasantries all day with you we do have a matter of some import and urgency to discuss," Taliren said.

Timothy nodded. "That we do. This way Governor." Timothy led them through the shuttlebay airlock and into the ship's corridors. Kaitlyn hustled up to walk beside him. "Have Leiutenant Faelst'rak join us in the main conference room, he'll want to speak to the Romulan scientist."

"Aye sir," she chirped.

"Also, arrange quarters for our guests, I don't know how long they'll be staying."

Kaitlyn nodded, her oversized PADD already in hand and making notes. Technically she didn't need the PADD, she was tied in intimately with the ship's computer. The PADD was just an affectation she kept in order to fit in with the crew a little easier.

Cossick was the last of the Romulan delegation out of the shuttlebay and he was inwardly pleased when he saw the Starfleet security personnel start to surround and closely scan the shuttle the instant they left. There was still a small crew onboard the ship but neither they nor the shuttle itself held any secrets. It was still reassuring to see the competent way they carried out their duties. It made him a little more at ease with this entire scheme. Even the presence of armed security personnel following them put him a bit more at ease. He didn't miss how they ensured that two burly armed men managed to squeeze into the turbolift with each load. Taliren, the human captain, his aide, and the first officer took the first lift with two security officers and he, Sesk, the Orion, , the reporter, and another security man rode the second.

During the ride to the bridge the Governor made no attempt at conversation and Timothy didn't either. He pulled his own PADD out of a thigh pocket and checked it. The doors onto the bridge itself were sealed. The turbo lift would deposit them in the small corridor that connected the bridge to the conference room and the door would make sure they didn't poke their noses anywhere they didn't belong. Peili had even stationed a pair of her marines at each entrance to the bridge according to the display. He'd have to remember to commend her for that later.

They stepped out of the turbolift and took a hard right, walking down the corridor to the conference room aft of the bridge. As the walked in they saw the other half of their group coming in through the doors on the far side of the room. The senior staff, including Lieutenant Fealst'rak, were already waiting for them. Timothy quickly took his seat and indicated for the Romulans to sit in the first three seats to his left while Johan took his customary seat to the right. Bella took a small seat in the corner of the room and put her ear piece recorder away. The conference room's scanners would record everything she could possibly need for a story.

As everyone settled the captain introduced the Romulans and then his command staff in turn. Cossick carefully committed their names, faces, and positions to memory. As the captain's senior staff they would be the ones he turned to for advice, convincing them would be critical to convincing the captain. He also noted Commander Kim's and Lt. Comamnder Danor's green and orange uniforms respectively which confirmed the FDF had made some significant changes in their uniforms from Starfleet norms. Apparently they had taken their break from the explorer corps seriously. When Timothy motioned for the Governor to start Cossick began to scan their faces, trying to ascertain their reactions.

"As I said in our initial transmission we represent the triumvirate worlds of Jaisalmer, Sarab, and Yecheng and we have seceded from the Romulan Star Empire. We are here to petition for protectorate status within the Federation."

Cossick saw the consternation and discomfort in their eyes. Except for the airwing commander, his facial structure seemed to be a rigid mass of bone with only his colorful frill to indicate any emotion. The science officer was unreadable as well, and subtly disquieting to be in the same room as he was.

"Our worlds are have long been restless under the rule of Romulus. We are simple worlds with few natural resources of note and little strategic value. The Senate paid us little mind but had no hesitancy to plunder our worlds of the riches we had, both material and the best and brightest of our young men and women to fuel the Empire's military might. After Shinzon's death at the hands of your Captain Picard the Empire fell into chaos. We took the opportunity and declared ourselves independent of the Empire. In retrospect it might have been foolish to think the Empire would be too busy with more important areas to not send a task force to reintegrate us into the Empire."

"Many of the initial leaders of the secession were rounded up and executed and many more were sent off world to work camps. A few escaped however and formed the nucleus of our attempt. You see captain, the people of our worlds have not stopped wanting to be free of the oppression of the Empire. Our movement suffered a setback, but we were not intimidated. When we learned of Doctor Sesk's discovery we moved quickly to prepare for the coming disturbance."

"You see Captain, this subspace disturbance has given us a chance we might not otherwise have. With this region of space difficult to traverse, scan, and communicate with we have an unprecedented opportunity to try again. To reach out to the Federation without warbirds immediately falling upon us, or Remans marching through our streets. For the moment the Empire is deaf and dumb to our machinations but that cannot last forever captain."

Cossick watched Taliren launch into the most critical portion of the speech. He'd tried to get the old bastard to listen to reason and practice it but he insisted that a rehearsed speech would just put the Federations off. He believed he needed to give it the personal touch of improvisation to really connect with them. Cossick had his doubts but so far his off the cuff style seemed to be working.

"Which brings me to our request," Taliren said as his tone slipped from a simple presentation of facts to a more heartfelt plea. "We've had it made clear to us before that we have no way to leave the Empire on our own. News of our rebellion will reach the Senate and they will respond with force. That is why we are requesting protectorate status with the Federation. The first stages of our rebellion are already underway. Our people have seized key governmental assets. However once this disturbance ends we have no doubt that loyalists will inform Romulus of our actions and even if they don't we cannot maintain a facade of everything being fine. We will be discovered and when we are we will be crushed." Taliren leaned forward. "We must have the Federation's help. We've done all we can but it will not be enough. Without your help the Empire will crush us again. With the Federation's help we can establish a free society without the tyranny of Romulus. Without they sucking our worlds dry of resources and our younger generation. Please captain, you must help us."

Cossick choked down a grimace. He understood why Taliren had spoken the way he had but it offended Cossick's pride to beg these people like that. He looked down the table at the captain. Cossick felt a moment of admiration as the Captain sat in his chair, still, not making a sound for several painfully long seconds. It was very Romulan of him. His officers also sat quietly waited for their commander to take the lead.

Timothy's body might not have been moving but only because his mind was too busy to bother. It was everything they could have wanted and everything they didn't all rolled up into one nice neat package. New worlds wanting to join the Federation, but for the moment one of their most bitter enemy owned them. A people requesting their help, but it could start a war. The Romulans showing real weakness, but that weakness could cost both sides millions of lives. There were too many questions and not enough answers. He had to start somewhere. "Are you responsible for this subspace anomaly?"

For the first time the tall wiry Romulan spoke up. "No captain and I'd be envious of anyone who could do such a thing at will."

"Doctor Sesk, correct?" Timothy asked and the scientist nodded. "What information do you have on this anomaly?"

Sesk pulled several data disks from a satchel he'd set beside his chair. "This is all the information we've collected on it, every last bit. Long range scans, reports, theoretical papers, models, short range sensor scans, everything. I assumed you would want to see it."

Timothy nodded and inclined his head towards the other end of the table. "Lieutenant Fealst'rak will want to review those. Also give Mr. Sesk access to our sensor logs of the anomaly. See if you can find some method to this madness."

Sesk passed the data disks towards the Lieutenant but quickly added. "Captain, by my estimation this period of maximum distortion in subspace will last a few more days, three at most. After that time limited communications will be restored and we will be discovered."

"Lieutenant, confirm that. Immediately," Timothy said.

"Aye, Captain...," Fealst'rak replied. "I... would like to begin study... of this... immediately."

"Do it, dismissed."

Sesk leaned over to Cossick and after Cossick nodded he left. That bit got Timothy's attention immediately. As the Ruurtic and the Romulan left Timothy continued. "As you can imagine I'm going to need some proof that this decision to secede is the will of the people of the planet, and not just of yours."

"Of course Captain," Taliren said. "We have detailed information about the earlier attempt at secession and this one. Polls, written statements, visual records, even some voting records where we were able to gather them. I can assure you captain, this movement is the will of the people of our worlds. We are sick of the yoke of the Empire and wish to be free."

"Have you informed the Empire of your grievances?"

"Repeatedly," Taliren assured him. "Envoys were dispatched prior to Shinzon's rise to power and after his downfall. Our entreaties have always fallen on deaf ears."

"And will you inform them of your secession?"

"Yes Captain, though we had hoped to do so as a protectorate of the Federation," Tailren said hopefully.

"Let's assume we agree, and we help you to break away from the Empire. Do you intend to stay with the Federation or will you renounce your status once you believe you are safe. At the moment it sounds like you're requesting our help just long enough to get away from the Empire."

"At this time we do not know Captain," Taliren replied causing several of the Federation officers to shift nervously in their seats. "It is a matter the people will have to decide for themselves. At this moment we are only trying to accomplish our goal, to be rid of the Empire's tyranny. We need your help to do that. I feel confident that your assistance will go a long way in convincing our people to join the Federation but I cannot guarantee it."

"At least you're honest about it," Johan said.

"At this point lies would be counterproductive and foolish," Cossick said quickly. "When trying to gain someone's trust it is best not to begin by lying to them."

Timothy held up his hand to keep his first officer from replying. "Gentlemen, you've given us a lot to think about. Would you please step outside for a moment so we can discuss it?"

"Of course Captain," the Governor said. "Take as much time as you need, just not too much."

Timothy nodded and both the Romulans headed out into the hallway. "Thoughts?" he asked as soon as they'd left.

Commander Kim wasted no time. "It's a trap, obviously sir. They send these guys out to find us. We take them up on the offer only this disturbance keeps us from confirming its a trap until we've already crossed the border and are in orbit of one of their worlds. They can use it as pretext for a war."

"I agree," Johan said slowly. "The timing is to coincidental and we know they are desperate for a way to stabilize their Empire. We could be giving them exactly what they need."

"I'd expect better from the Romulans," Terzi said. "Doesn't it seem just a little obvious?"

"It lacks a degree of guile I would have expected from them," Seven added.

"If we don't help them and they're genuine what then?" Cesina asked. "Do we just sit back and let them get crushed because it might be a trap?"

Binni piped up, "They seemed genuine to me. The Governor seemed to really believe what he was saying."

"My kingdom for a Betazoid," Johan grumbled.

"Before we commit to a course of action perhaps we should at least confirm the data we've been given," the Doctor said. "We're making some significant assumptions with little evidence one way or another."

Timothy nodded. "I agree. Commander Kim, get their information from them and start going over it. Commander Bul'ra, help him, and prep five message torpedoes for launch, this information has to get back to Starfleet. Once we get the data dumps from their scientist and from the Governor send it all, raw. Commander Seven, do your best to verify the veracity of what he's handing over, try and make sure nothing's been tampered with. Johan, go over what we've got on these worlds, see if we can confirm any of their story independently. Terzi, go with Fealst'rak and Sesk, see if you can find anything that might let us figure out how to get around this anomaly. The priority is communications. If you can do something about warp drive go for it but we need our comms up. Senator, do you have anything to add?"

T'prin shook her head slowly. "We must verify their claims before any logical conclusions can be reached."

"Alright." Timothy thumbed a switch on the desk before him. "Send them back in." Seconds later the doors into the conference room opened and the Romulans returned. Once that had been seated Timothy continued. "Governor Taliren, you've given us much to consider. As of this moment I cannot give you an answer. That must wait until we have at least some verification of your claims."

"Understandable Captain."

"Commander Kim will take your information and we will consider it," Timothy said and Harry raised his hand. "Please transmit it to him immediately."

"Of course, though once again I feel I must urge some speed in your deliberations Captain, time is not on our side."

"I understand, my aide has arranged temporary quarters for you and will show you the way."

Taliren nodded his ascent and both he and Cossick rose and followed Kaitlyn from the room.

"Harry, get that information immediately and lets get to work people." A chorus of "Aye sir,"s responded and they all quickly headed out for their assigned tasks. As his officers filed out Bella made a bee line right to him. "Yes Ms. Mavil?"

"I'd like to interview the Governor and his aides immediately."

Timothy's first impulse was flat denial. T'prin had been right though. What happened out here could very well affect the entire Federation, best not to have the record of it full of self censoring. "Contact my aide, and set up and appointment with them and me through her."

"And you?" She asked.

"Yes, I want to be present if you're going to be doing more than simply recording what happens."

Bella jammed a finger towards Timothy. "That's censorship!"

Timothy frowned but didn't move as her finger stopped a few millimeters from his nose. "No, it's being prudent while in the middle of a very delicate, very important situation. Besides, you assume I'm going to censor you, did it occur to you that I would want to hear your questions and their answers?"

"You could read the transcript," Bella snapped.

"And we both know that's at best half the story. Look, if that's not acceptable then we can work out another arrangement."

"Such as?" Bella asked skeptically with her arms crossed under, not over her breasts. That bit didn't escape Timothy's notice.

"You can be confined to your quarters for the duration of this cruise," he said flatly.

Timothy had never seen someone turn beet red so quickly. "I was assured I would have access to this ship, her crew, and this entire situation!" She spat.

"Yes, I am allowing you to sit in on multiple, delicate meetings. To observe first hand every detail of what could be a turning point in Romulan/Federation relations," Timothy said, his voice steadily rising. "The defection of not just one Romulan officer but three Romulan worlds. I'm even willing to let you interview the leaders of those three worlds and all I'm asking is to sit in on the proceedings, so get some perspective!"

Bella's jaw clenched up and for a moment Timothy thought the woman would explode at him but just as quickly she mellowed, her serene and inviting reporter face returning. "You are correct captain, and I thank you for the opportunity. I would like to schedule the meeting as soon as possible."

"Fine then," Timothy said. "Tell Kaitlyn I said to set it up for just after lunch tomorrow."

"I will, thank you captain," she said with a graciousness they both knew was fake but common courtesy required Timothy to accept at face value.

"Is there anything else?"

"No," Bella said.

Timothy nodded, turning away from to consider the PADD he'd left on the table. She got the hint and left. With the last of the crew and passengers gone Timothy turned back to admire the view of the stars over the massive nacelles of his ship. He couldn't shake the feeling that he'd just had a problem way over his pay grade dumped in his lap.

============================================================

"I suppose it was too much to hope for that the Captain would make a decision at the initial meeting," Taliren said as he paced back and forth in his newly assigned cabin.

"Given the magnitude of our proposal I would find a lack of caution on their part disturbing," Cossick said. The rooms they'd been assigned were well furnished if a bit bland. A small sitting area with the table he was sitting at, a bed and dresser adjacent and their own small restroom. The view out the windows was impressive though.

"Still, he didn't seem the least bit excited about it. Nothing, it was like talking to a statue. Like talking to you."

Cossick let himself have a slight smile. "Well then, you must think quite highly of our host." Taliren snorted. "Come, sit down. I imagine they'll be at this for several hours at the very least." He poured another cup of tea from the pot he'd had replicated and slid it across the small table. "Have some tea, it's tasty if uninspired." Taliren sat down and accepted the cup, sipping from it experimentally. "And I'd remind you that we're most likely being watched."

"These Humans? Unlikely," he snorted.

"From what I've seen these defense force types aren't quite as trusting as the ones we're used to dealing with. Did you notice the well armed soldiers over watching us in the shuttle bay? Of the ones that have been escorting us around?"

"Our bad luck then."

Cossick inclined his head. "Not necessarily."

"Oh," Taliren exclaimed, setting down his cup. "How so?"

"While it would be preferable for our proposal to be accepted on its own merits there are angles here that a military man might consider advantageous that other's might not."

"Such as?" Taliren asked skeptically.

Cossick refilled his own cup. "Have you considered what our secession will do to the Empire?"

"Yes, they'll lose three rather unimportant worlds."

"Beyond that," Cossick said. He poured out a small cup full of sweetener cubes and began to stack them. "The Empire is at a delicate moment, a loosely held together coalition of worlds. The Senate needs to cement them back together into a cohesive whole. If one group were to up and leave," he flicked one of the bottom most cubes out of the stack and brought the rest of them tumbling down. "It could prove to be disastrous."

"And you think that will appeal to this Captain Hayes?"

"The destruction of one of their major enemies without even firing a shot? What soldier wouldn't want that? Especially when it costs them so little to try. They could even wind up with dozens more worlds joining them instead of the warlords and admirals."

"I'm not comfortable with this line of thought Cossick," Taliren said. "Such a thing would cost the lives of millions of Romulans."

Cossick shrugged and took a sip of his tea. "Did you think our actions would be entirely without consequence to the rest of the Empire?"

"I think I would have rather have met a member of their explorer branch," Taliren said.

"Yet here we are," Cossick said with a smirk and another sip of tea. "Did you transfer the information they wanted?"

"Yes, are you sure it's all there?"

"Everything they need to know," Cossick assured him. "Nothing they don't."

"I hope Sesk is convincing."

"Sesk knows his role and the stakes. Besides, he has science and hard data on his side. Unless that lumbering monstrosity of a lieutenant is an idiot Sesk will do fine."

"The tea isn't bad," Taliren said.

"I've had better."

============================================================

Sesk looked at the sensor data the Federations had provided him and felt a spike of envy. The sensors they had on a warship surpassed even the planetary arrays he'd had to work with. He also felt a bit more secure in his predictions.

"From these readings the average distortion amplitude was within four percent of what I had predicted, and the maximum affected radius is within seven percent."

"Impressive... predictions...," Fealst'rak replied. The lab they were in had been configured for this type of work and most of the center was occupied with a large holo projector displaying both the Federation and Romulan data along with Sesk's models.

Sesk nodded. The way the lieutenant spoke was annoying, but given that they could translate what he said at all he was willing to put up with it. The huge creature seemed to know his subspace field theory well enough. He'd had to do very little in the way of explanation.

"I need to feed these readings into my models, see how it affects them."

"The Captain... is most interested in the duration... of the anomaly... We... should investigate... that facet... first."

"I agree," Sesk said as he called up his model. He quickly began to enter the new data on the anomaly while the lieutenant began to consult the sensor logs of the probe they had stationed in the star system. The few members of Fealst'rak's team on board were spread out around them using different consoles and displays to review the data Sesk had given them. Two years of data that had to be analyzed in hours. He was still amazed that none of this lab had existed until Fealst'rak and his team had entered it with Sesk an hour ago.

"The sensor... logs terminate... early."

"An unfortunate necessity," Sesk replied.

"Necessity?" Fealst'rak asked, his mouth tentacles writhing.

"A side effect of living in the Empire. There was no way to be sure someone on my team wasn't working for the Tal'shiar. I destroyed the probe before it could being to report on just how quickly and severely the distortion was growing. The models most of my team saw predicted an effect confined to a star system and a few tenths of a cochrane. You're the first living soul to actually see my unadulterated models."

Fealst'rak rolled his shoulders. "Compartmentalization... of scientific... endeavor... and data... is not conducive to progress."

"No," Sesk said. "It's not." He entered the last of the data and watched at the simulation began to run. His envy ratcheted up a notch as what would have taken his computers at the lab minutes took this ship's computers seconds. Both scientists closely observed the model's behavior as they advanced the time frame. "fifty nine hours on the low end, seventy eight on the high."

"Significant... deviance... from the norm...," Fealst'rak replied.

"Fifty nine hours. That's barely enough time to make it to Jaisalmer even if we left right now," Sesk said.

Fealst'rak raised one clawed hand and poked at the fifty nine hour prediction hovering in the air before them. "Confidence... level is low... Only nine percent." He scrolled through the results. "Sixty eight seems... most likely."

"Still cutting it close," Sesk said. "To bad we cannot make this distortion do as we pleased."

"First... we... must understand... it...," Fealst'rak replied. "And if we... could control... it... I... doubt we... would need to worry... about the time table."

"True," Sesk said and he got back to work refining the model. It was the only thing he could do in order to not think about his family. He had been present when Cossick's men had taken charge of them and whisked them out of the capital to a secure villa to ride out the uprising with many of the other conspirator's families but he couldn't help but worry about them.

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Tyyr
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Proud Legion Chapter 5 Part 2

Postby Tyyr » Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:28 pm

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"I have been unable to locate any evidence of tampering so far in the data that has been presented to us."

Timothy sigh as he scanned over the PADD Seven had given him.

"Sir?" she asked.

"It actually might have been easier if you had found some lieutenant commander. Some clear cut evidence that they're lying would make my job easier. Instead it looks like we have done the impossible and found three honest Romulans."

"I will continue to investigate sir, however I have scanned over the most critical pieces and have found no evidence so far."

"Keep at it. Do you have enough help?"

"Aye sir, I've assigned beta shift to maintain normal sensor scans while using alpha to analyze the data."

"Alright, dismissed."

Seven collected her PADD and left quickly. The door hung open for a moment and Johan entered. He sat down across from Timothy and slid him a PADD. "Ever seen the pictures of her right after the de-Borgified her? Wow. What dumbass decided to put her in a regular uniform?" Seeing Timothy ignore his usual antics Johan got down to business. "Our resident super-predator is still going over all the data that Romulan scientist brought over."

"What's the verdict?" Timothy asked.

"Sixty eight hours till things start to clear up. Could be as little as fifty nine or as many as seventy eight though. His stuff look legit."

"What's their capital again?"

"Apparently Jaisalmer," Johan replied. "And before you ask it'll take us fifty five hours to get their right now."

"Oh well, so long as we've got some time to kill. If we want to get there before the Empire finds out that gives us a whole four hours to get this sorted out."

"Fealst'rak was pretty confident about the sixty eight number, said plus six or minus four is most likely."

"Still not enough time," Timothy said. "We can't get a message torp out and back in time, we can't run to the edge of this anomaly in time, there's just not enough damn time to contact Starfleet and still get to these worlds in time."

"Yeah, looks like this one is firmly in our lap," Johan said.

"This is way over our pay grade."

"Yeah, no shit."

Timothy sighed. "Find out anything interesting about them?"

"Starfleet intel doesn't have anything on Taliren or Cossick, not a blessed word. Sesk is apparently one of their hot shot subspace physicists though so he checks out. Their little rebellion did occur right after Shinzon got himself killed. It went over like a lead balloon. They apparently had popular support but without a military of their own it didn't last. They got lucky though, the admiral assigned to return them to the fold had bigger fish to fry. He just rounded up anyone who looked suspicious, shot them, then left a couple regiments of ground troops to hold the capitals and a few banged up destroyers in orbit with orders to start glassing cities if the people got uppity again. They left a few months later after everything calmed down."

"Charming," Timothy said. "Is Terzi having any luck?"

"Last I heard she's not. Apparently the Romulan's data says what we've thought. This thing is random, she can't compensate for it. Harry has most of Ops up and pouring over this but so far he's not finding anything either. So far these guys look legit."

"Honest Romulans, what's the galaxy coming to?" Timothy glanced at the old wooden clock he had hanging on the wall. "It's nineteen thirty hours now," he said. "Get a hold of everyone and tell them I want their findings ready to go at twenty three hundred. I'd like to take longer but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.

"Aye sir," Johan said. "Call me if you need me, sir."

Timothy nodded as Johan left.

============================================================

Timothy plucked his rook up and slid it half way across the board, knocking over a pawn.

"Hey!" Kaitlyn complained. "I need him!"

"No you didn't," Timothy said.

"Jerk," Kaitlyn mumbled before picking up one of her knights and roundly thumping over his queen. "Check."

"What the... where the hell did that come from!?"

Timothy took the knight with one of his pawns but left a hole in his defenses in doing so.

"Queen's bishop to D five," T'prin said from her seat beside their table.

"Hey! No kibitzing!"

Kaitlyn giggled and quickly moved her bishop. "Check!"

"Damn it," Timothy muttered.

"Why not three dimensional chess captain?" T'prin asked. "The added dimension adds a new layer of strategy and quintuples the possible moves."

"Because I'm a purist at heart." He looked up to see Kaitlyn quietly laughing. "Alright, I'm a grumpy old man, happy?"

Timothy moved his king. His PADD beeped and he checked it. Seven's analysis was complete, everything appeared to be unaltered and accurate. "I don't suppose you've got an official position on all this Senator."

T'prin slowly shook her head. "I am just one Senator of the Federation, one of many, and one on leave. I do not have the authority to speak for the council in this matter."

Kaitlyn scanned the board then pushed her rook to the side pinning Timothy's king in place.

As he considered his rapidly diminishing options T'prin spoke up again. "In this situation I must defer to your judgment as the senior officer on scene. You do have the authority to speak for the Federation in a situation such as this."

Timothy sighed, advancing one of his pawns to try and block Kaitlyn from moving her rook again. "Guess it goes with the job."

T'prin inclined her head but didn't speak.

"Knock knock!" They heard Johan call from down below.

Timothy pushed his wicker seat back, grumbling as the legs hooked up on the rough floorboards. He walked to the side of the rough hewn tree house and looked down at the ground ten meters below. "I wouldn't do that." He saw Johan and Bella both standing there.

From the ground Johan looked up the massive tree to where Timothy was leaning over the bamboo and thatch railing. "Why?"

Timothy pointed in the distance, to where a massive two legged monster had turned to look their way. "My baby's hungry today."

"Oh shit!" Johan grabbed Bella's hand and both of them quickly started to run up the stairs that spiraled around the tree up to the house. When they got to the top they found Timothy already returned to his game. "You knew we were coming and you didn't feed her."

"Her?" Bella asked as she gasped for breath after the rapid four story climb.

"His pet T-Rex."

Bella looked confused. "T-Rex?"

"Late Cretaceous predator, about the size of a runabout. Can eat you in one gulp."

"It happened one time and the safety protocols were on. Get over it already, and her name is Sue," Timothy remarked off handedly. "Oh come on!" he yelped as Bella moved her bishop.

"Check," she said merrily.

"Obviously you taught her how to play chess," Timothy growled.

"How's that?" Johan asked.

"She cheats."

"Do not!" Kaitlyn protested.

Timothy sighed as he moved his king back a square, it was the only move he had left.

"Check," Kaitlyn drew out as she moved her rook. "Mate!" She pronounced proudly as she set it down, trapping his king.

Timothy tipped over his king in resignation. "Like I said, cheats."

"Not to break up this rather surreal moment but what's going on," Bella asked.

Timothy got up and walked to the railing of the house to look out at the jungle and plains that surrounded it. For just relaxing he liked this simulation a lot. Johan had once called it the Swiss family Robinson does the Jurassic. Not quite right on the time period but the spirit was right. "I needed to clear my head and think. We've had a lot dumped on us in the last twelve hours. I needed to calm my thoughts and look at this logically. I asked the Senator, and Commander Luhrner here in order to discuss this with them, and you here to observe."

In the jungle below Sue roared. Timothy shook his head. "Computer, add a wounded Maiasaur to the plains environment two kilometers north of here." The computer beeped it's ascent and in the distance the plaintive cries of another dinosaur echo'd out. The whole tree house shook as the giant carnivore stalked away.

"Anyways," Timothy said. "The Senator has informed me that she can offer no official advice on this subject and that the decision rests solely with me. However I want to hear what you're thinking."

Johan stood still, breathing deeply as he collected his thoughts. "Honestly?"

"Always," Timothy replied.

"Let them swing. They tied themselves this noose now they want us to bail them out after they stuck their heads in it. It sounds to me like they just want us to cover their asses and they don't intend to stay with the Federation."

Timothy rubbed his chin. "What if they're telling the truth though? What if they actually mean every thing they've said?"

"So what?" Johan said. "Even if they're telling the truth what's going to happen? Do you really think the Romulans will just let this pass? We take them in, we start a war, it's that simple."

"Even then can we turn our backs on them? Just let twelve billion people who took a swing at freedom get swallowed up?"

Johan shook his head emphatically. "How many trillions of citizens are there in the Federation? Hundreds of billions in the Romulan Empire? Twelve billion people is a lot, so is three trillion. Do we put trillions in jeopardy to save twelve billion? We just got out of a war Timothy, how many billions died in it? Do we plunge headlong back into that insanity over three planets?"

To their side T'prin nodded. "There is logic in his words captain. In a war between the Empire and the Federation many millions, even billions, could die. The needs of the many do outweigh the needs of the few."

"Tim, I know we're the ship on the scene and you're the Captain. You have the authority to do it but do you want to be the man who starts the second Federation/Romulan war?" Johan asked. "I mean, we were talking about peace with these people four years ago!"

"If we turn our backs on them then what good are we? What's the point of the Federation if we only help those in trouble when it's convenient? Yes we'll be happy to help, just so long as we're not a little put out. If we tell people who are trying to throw off oppression and make a bid for freedom, 'Sorry, its just not a good time for us,' then this Federation needs to die because it's heart is already gone!"

"This won't end here Tim, we'll be writing a blank check to every world that gets sick of its dictators and decides they want to be rid of them."

"So? Why shouldn't we be helping them? Freedom's a bitch, she demands sacrifice and struggle. Like it or not we're the free ones in this part of the galaxy, anyone around us who wants to be free is going to look to us. Should we just spit in their faces because it might be tough? Look at what we had to do to get here, we fought wars with the Xindi, Klingons, Romulans, Dominion, Breen, Cardassians, Tholians, and a hundred other border wars. It's not like its been smooth sailing, its not like it was just given to us. What would have happened if the Vulcan's had left us to our own devices? When we ran into the Romulans the first time we'd have been screwed. They would have steamrolled our asses and we wouldn't be having this conversation. The whole history of this Federation is about helping people, often with no tangible reward, often with struggle, and all for the promise that freedom is worth fighting for and we're stronger together than apart. We tell these people they're on their own and we're pissing on every ship, every crew, every man and woman who's ever died defending this Federation and what it stands for."

Johan waited but Timothy's tirade had run out and left his captain breathing hard. "If they're legit," he said gently.

"Yeah, if they're legit," Timothy admitted pushing away from the railing to pace slowly in the middle of the room.

"And sometimes the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many," T'prin added.

"We're going to start a war," Johan said calmly. "I just want to be clear on that, this WILL start a war."

Timothy stopped and looked at his first officer and friend. "Yeah, it's gonna start a war."

T'prin rose from her own wicker seat and walked towards them, her long robe and measured gait making it look like the Vulcan woman was gliding. "While it may start a war, the possibility exists that it will be limited."

"How's that," Johan asked.

Behind them Bella was furiously scribbling notes. Her normally head mounted camera was floating in the air above her, its own repulsors letting it track the action even as she wrote.

"While the delegates may be honest in their request, we cannot deny the possibility that the Romulans may still see this as an opportunity rather than a problem."

"How so?" Timothy prodded. At times T'prin's slow methodical explanations drove him mad. He preferred direct and to the point. T'prin preferred to build her case analytically leaving nothing out and to the imagination.

"Commander Luhrner, you yourself spoke of the possibility that the Romulans are looking for a short, limited war in order to solidify the Empire."

"Yes," he said. "That's why we're out here, to prevent it."

"Be that as it may," she said. "The Empire might see this as our providing them with the perfect opportunity to have a limited war."

"And they'd be able to twist things to make it appear that we'd stirred up trouble on these worlds then used that as a pretext to invade the Empire!" Kaitlyn said as she hopped out of her chair and bounced towards them. "A lack of solidarity with the Senate on Romulus led to these worlds being lost and the deaths of thousands of good Romulan men and women during an already stressed time in the Empire! I mean... umm...," she said sheepishly as the captain, commander, and senator all looked right at her. "Sir."

"Your holographic aide is correct," T'prin said.

Bella's head snapped up at that to look right at Kaitlyn.

"You could have a career in propaganda," Johan said to Kaitlyn.

"We could be playing into the Empire's hands even," T'prin said.

"You think these guys are plants?" Timothy asked.

T'prin inclined her head slowly. "Perhaps not knowingly. However these planets have rebelled before, and they are of minimal use to the Empire as anything but breeding grounds for more troops. It's possible that Romulus knew about their plot and allowed it to continue, even encouraged it, hoping that they would do something like this."

"So the Romulans could still be getting what they want, rid of three seditious useless worlds and we start their war for them. Wonderful."

Timothy shook his head. "Immaterial. We don't know what Romulus has planned, what they did plan, what they might have planned. We can run ourselves ragged on that sort of thing and get no where. With no facts one way or another on that sort of thing we have to go with what we've got. Since so far Taliren and his buddies seem to be telling the truth we're going to work from that assumption."

"We're going to Jaisalmer," Johan said.

"That obvious?" Timothy asked.

"I knew it the moment they started talking boss. You bleed blue. Just had to play devil's advocate for you."

"Anything to add Senator?" Timothy asked.

"I believe traveling to their new capital to try an ascertain the truthfulness of their claims is an appropriate and logical course of action."

"Well, so long as we're being logical about it," Timothy said with a smile. "Kaitlyn, contact Governor Taliren and let him know we'll meet him at twenty three thirty hours. That'll give the staff half an hour to go over their findings before we render judgment."

"Aye sir," Kaitlyn said as her PADD materialized in her hands.

"Ms. Mavil," Timothy said as he looked at her. "I trust we can count on you to not breath a word of this until after the staff meeting."

Bella nodded silently, still trying to process everything that she had heard.

"Alright then, Johan we're going to have to redeploy the task force and call in every Explorer Corps ship in the quadrant. Senator, Ms. Mavil, if you'll excuse us, we'll meet with you in the conference room at twenty three hundred."

In the distance the wounded animal bellowed. They could just make out the dust cloud kicked up as two multi-ton animals fought for survival. Seconds later a strangled cry from the prey was cut off by a bellowing roar as Sue won her meal. "Good girl," Timothy said with a smile. "Computer, save and end program."

As they left the small holosuite Bella walked close to the Senator. "You knew she was a hologram?"

"You did not?"

============================================================

Timothy waited patiently as his officers began to file in to the conference room. He glanced at the chronometer on his PADD, it was still a few minutes before the scheduled time. He had to stifle a small yawn, it had been a long day and he was eager to be done with it. He was pleased when Lieutenant Fealst'rak lumbered in and took his seat a full two minutes before the scheduled time. "Well, since we're all here lets get going. Commander Seven?"

"I have reviewed the data supplied to us by the Romulans. We examined all records for evidence of tampering or alteration. We found none. As best we can determine all records we have received are authentic," Seven said.

"Any irregularities," Johan asked.

Seven shook her head. "No sir, all the records were in perfect order."

"Commander Kim?"

"We've worked through the mountain of data that was sent to us. Voting records from both the previous rebellion and this one. They aren't complete but they show extensive support for the rebellion."

"They're incomplete?" Timothy asked.

"Yes sir, the most recent voting records only encompass Jaisalmer. I requested clarification from the Governor and he said that they didn't have time to collect the tabulations from Yecheny or Sarab. Based off the date stamps of the records and recent events I'm inclined to believe them."

"Anything else?" Johan asked.

"Yes sir, we've also received extensive visual records of demonstrations of support for the rebellion as well as minutes of meetings of the rebellion's leadership."

Timothy raised an eyebrow, "They kept minutes?"

"Apparently sir. If the records are to be believed they kept them as proof of their intentions for us."

"Seems risky," Johan said.

"The minutes don't specifically name any specific conspirators but from the records we can confirm that both Governor Taliren and Cossick were both present. In fact based off the records Cossick has a rather prominent role as their director of intelligence."

"Tal'shiar," Johan hissed.

"It would explain how they managed to keep this quiet. If someone in the Tal'shiar was actively interfering with their investigations it might have passed unnoticed," T'prin said.

"She is correct," Seven replied.

"I don't suppose we have any information on who the resident Tal'shiar director is of any of these planets?" Timothy asked.

Johan shook his head. "Nothing."

"Make note of it as something to keep an eye on. It could provide us with some insight into this."

"Aye sir," both Johan and Harry said.

"Terzi, any luck," Timothy asked.

The little Elaysian shrugged. "The data Sesk brought back confirmed what we thought, this thing is random. We've run dozens of analyses of the background fluctuations and there's no discernable pattern. We've got the computer still running it but I don't have a lot of hope to find anything."

"So no joy on the comms or engines?" Timothy clarified.

"None sir, no long range comms or high warp for us. Message torps and warp seven is the best we can do until this thing is over."

"Speaking of which, Lieutenant?"

Fealst'rak's long climbing claws shifted around. "I... have analyzed... the data... with Sesk... and confirmed... his analysis. This anomaly... is a natural phenomenon... and will dissipate in approximately... sixty four hours..."

"Do they know anything we don't?" Johan asked.

"A significant... amount Commander... His... theories... on the anomaly's... formation... and causation... are very intriguing... Particularly in the area... of the anomaly's... relation to the triple star system in which it... formed."

"Anything useful?" Johan prodded.

Fealst'rak shifted, coming partially out of his crouching posture before sinking back down again. His science's blue carapace darkened slightly giving he impression of being agitated. "I... do not understand... Commander... such information... is always... pertinent."

"Thank you Lieutenant," Timothy interjected. "Continue working with Sesk to see what you can learn."

"Yes Captain..." Fealst'rak said.

Timothy let out a deep breath and got started. "Given that all of the information we have points to Governor Taliren speaking the truth we have to give his request the appropriate consideration. Given the evidence we have that their succession from the Romulan Empire is legitimate and enjoys popular support of the people of these planets their request for status as a Federation protectorate is valid. After careful consideration and due to our isolation from Starfleet it is my decision that we will provisionally accept their petition."

In an instant the tension in the room was released in a collective rush, but just as quickly new tension and anxiousness took over.

Timothy ignored the nervous chatter and pressed on. "As you are all obviously aware the Romulans will not take kindly to this. While we will do everything within our power to resolve this situation peacefully we cannot ignore the possibility, the likelihood that we will come into direct armed confrontation with Romulan forces."

"We're gonna start a war," Harry groaned.

"Maybe," Johan said.

"Not if we can help it," Timothy interjected.

"Captain, do we have the authority?" Cesina asked.

"To paraphrase general order thirty three section eight, in absence of direct contact with Starfleet command the captain on scene has authority to speak for the Federation," Timothy replied. He'd double checked that regulation three times. "We don't have the time to exit the anomaly and make contact with Starfleet Command and still arrive at Jaisalmer, Yecheng, and Sarab in time to fulfill our commitments to them as a Federation protectorate. We have to assume that the Empire has taken note of this anomaly and will react to it the way we have. If this anomaly does dissipate in the time the lieutenant is indicating we won't be able to make it even back to the Neutral Zone before that happens. That would leave whatever forces the Romulans have dispatched between us and the triumvirate worlds and give them a head start to them."

Terzi piped up, "Sir, shouldn't we notify the Romulans of this first?"

"While I would prefer to do things that way the comm blackout makes it impossible to contact Romulus right now. Additionally we'd be remiss in our duties towards a Federation protectorate to wait until Romulus has been notified before we move. If we do the triumvirate could come under attack long before we arrive."

"A tactically unsound course of action," Deekan said.

"Correct," Timothy agreed. "I'd like to pretend there's not some self serving rationalization going on here there is. I won't start this with one hand tied behind our back by sitting on this side of Neutral Zone while we warn the Empire. The situation is complicated and I'm making a judgment call."

"What about the rest of the Task Force and the fleet?" Cesina asked as her antennae leaned forward.

Timothy picked up his PADD to make sure he got the names right. "We're redeploying along the Neutral Zone. The Templar, Cavalier, Pike, Dragoon, Grenadier, Relentless, and Resolute will make best speed for Jaisalmer with us," he said rattling off the names of two destroyers, a frigate, and four corvettes. "The Narendra, Paladin, Garret, Archer, Fusilier, Indomitable, and Courageous will head for Yecheng. The Khitomer, Knight, Kirk, Reed, Jannisary, Triarii, Adamant, and Implacable will head for Sarab. The Wolf, Cleric, Hoplite, Bowman, Audacious and Inexorable, will head for Kimbesh. The Cataphract, Sulu, Hussar, Musketeer, and Legionaire will back up DS3." He paused. "That leaves the border thin rimward but the closest worlds to the border in that direction are Al Bawiji and Qina, neither of which is much of a target having only mid sized colonies. Never the less we've asked for what of the Explorer Corps they can spare to make best speed here. When they arrive they'll take over the line rimward. We're calling in every ship task force 2 has space worthy and they'll form a ready reserve where we need it. By the time they show up the anomaly should have cleared and they'll be able to transit quickly. Questions?" No one said anything. "Alright then, bring the Governor in."

A moment later the conference room doors slid open and the Governor came in. Timothy rose from his seat and his staff followed his lead. Bella Mavil scurried around to get a clear view of Timothy and Taliren. Cossik and Sesk both took up position behind Taliren.

"Good news I trust captain," Taliren said as he smoothly took Timothy's offered hand.

"Good enough," Timothy said with a smile before his face grew serious. "Governor Taliren, on behalf of the United Federation of Planets I provisionally accept the request for protectorate status for the worlds of Jaisalmer, Sarab, and Yecheng. As of twenty four hundred hours this evening your worlds will officially fall under our protection. We will make best speed for Jaisalmer. Provided that your claims prove true the provisional designation shall be removed."

Taliren's smile had grown broader with every word. He enthusiastically pumped Timothy's hand up and down. "You will find we have dealt with you honestly captain. On behalf of my people I thank you."

Timothy nodded and pulled his hand free of the Governor's grasp. "I'm sure we will. Now, if you'll excuse me we're all about to become quite busy." With firm slap on Taliren's shoulder Timothy headed for the bridge, nodding to Cossick and Sesk as he passed.

The doors onto the bridge opened and Timothy stepped down to his chair, sliding into it. The leather and padding were still new, it would be a while before it molded itself to him properly. The rest of Alpha shift took their stations around the bridge having served two full shifts by now. Senator T'prin took Cesina's normal seat beside him and he caught Ms. Mavil moving into position behind them. He suspected that T'prin was just here for the inevitable photo op. The Romulans had stayed behind in the conference room. They might be a Federation protectorate now but he'd be damned if they got onto his bridge.

"Lieutenant Boritsolav, launch all message torpedos," he said "Ms. Tuul, lay in a course for Jaisalmer, best possible speed."

"Torpedoes away Captain," Yumiko said.

"Aye sir, course laid in," Milana replied.

Timothy rose to his fee. He tugged his uniform into position and took a deep breath.

"Engage."

============================================================

Dramatis Personae

Crew, U.S.S. Typhoon NCC-79853

Timothy Hayes, Fleet Captain, Commander 1st Task Force of the 17th Fleet, Male Human
Commanded the U.S.S. Atlas during the Dominion War, transferred into the Federation Defense Force immediately after its establishment, given command of the Typhoon and the 1st TF soon after.

Johan Luhrner, Commander, Male Human
1st Officer of the Atlas during the Dominion War, 1st officer of the Typhoon

Cesina Bul'ra, Lt. Commander, Female Andorian
Lieutenant aboard the U.S.S Galaxy, 2nd Officer of the Typhoon

Terzi Del, Commander, Female Elaysian
Chief Engineer of the Atlas during the Dominion War, Chief Engineer of the Typhoon

Deekan Braal, Commander, Male Capellan
Security Officer then Tactical Officer of the Atlas during the Dominion War, Chief Tactical Officer of the Typhoon

Peili, Lt. Commander, Female Orion
Lieutenant in charge of the defense of a border station during the Dominion War, Chief Security Officer of the Typhoon

Harry Kim, Commander, Male Human
Operations Officer of the U.S.S. Voyager, Operations Officer of the Typhoon

EMH (Joe), Commander, Hologram
Chief Medical Officer of the Voyager, Chief Medical Officer of the Typhoon

7 of 9, Lt. Commander, Human/Borg Female
Served on U.S.S. Voyager, Chief Sensors Officer of the Typhoon

Riway daughter of Jaheel, Lt. Commander, Female Si'rak
Ensign on the Atlas, 1st Operations Officer of the Typhoon

Binni Ulin, Lt. Commander, Female Human
Lieutenant on the U.S.S. Lelander, Defense Officer of the Typhoon

Villec Bisaan, Lieutenant, Male Nileen
Starfleet Academy Cadet, Helmsman of the Typhoon

Milana Tuul, Lieutenant, Cardassian Female
Starfleet Academy Cadet, Navigator of the Typhoon

Saral, Lt. Commander, Female Vulcan
Asst. Chief Engineer of the Typhoon

Fealst'rak, Lieutenant, Rurutic Male
Headed a research project using a space telescope to study the galactic core, Chief Science Officer of the Typhoon

Marcos Hernandez, Lieutenant, Male Human
Combat shuttle pilot during the Dominion war, Alpha Squadron leader of the Typhoon

Rilo Gulia, Lieutenant, Male un-Joined Trill
Combat shuttle pilot during the Dominion war, Beta Squadron leader of the Typhoon

Tycho Danor, Lt. Commander, Yvethan Male
Airgroup leader of Akira class U.S.S. Jonestown during the Dominion War, Airgroup commander of the Typhoon

Yumiko Boritsolav, Lieutenant, Female Human/Gor'sic
Graduated from Starfleet academy, familiarization deployment on the U.S.S. Carthage, communications officer of the Typhoon

Others

T'prin, Senator, Vulcan Female
Federation senator and chief opponent of the FDF

Solin, Aide, Vulcan Male
Senator T'prin's personal assistant

Bella Mavil, Reporter, Human Female
United News reporter on assignment aboard the Typhoon

Romulans

Taliren, Governor, Romulan Male
Governor of the Triumvarite of Jaisalmer, Sarab, and Yecheng

Cossick, Romulan Male
Chief of Intelligence for the Triumvarite

Sesk, Romulan Male
Head scientist researching the anomaly for the Triumvarite

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Author's Notes

1) Do Romulan's have last names? Do Vulcans? All we ever hear from either group is the old single name bit. Is that the way it really is?
2) Meetings, meetings, discussions, conferences talking talking TALKING! Wow, it's just like a normal day at work.
3) Visit the DITL.org forum, I've got a thread with a lot of suplimentary material for the story at: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=3674
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Tyyr
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Re: Proud Legion-Story

Postby Tyyr » Wed Feb 13, 2013 1:59 pm

Chapter 6: Wilderness

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"Bandits eleven o'clock high! Engaging!" Marcos barked as he snapped the fighter into a sharp roll to port.

"Got your wing boss," his wingman replied.

Inertial compensators or not Bella's stomach threatened to empty its contents into her helmet as the star field whirled and Marcos threw the starfighter into a tighter turn. She was looking for his wingman as Marcos fired their pulse phasers right in front of her eyes. She was momentarily flash blinded until her helmet's faceplate polarized. She followed the rapidly retreating bolts of energy until they found a small black attack craft in the distance. The Scorpion exploded, the tiny two man shuttlepod like craft utterly unable to cope with the destructive energies turned its way.. Marcos let go of the trigger just long enough to bring another one in line and fired again, then kept firing, dragging the stream of bolts from the disintegrating wreckage of the second Scorpion and into a third, blowing off a huge chunk of its starboard side and sending it tumbling away. The doomed craft collided with the expanding debris of one of the Scorpions killed by their wingman and detonated in a bright flash.

"Got three!" Marcos whooped.

"Same!" Their wingman called.

Marcos pulled their ship into a long turn arcing up high above Jaisalmer's orbital plane. She could just make out the jade green dot that was their target. "The Destroyer's clear, lets get her. All flights on me." He keyed in his comms for their ship only. "Alright Bubbles, get'em hot."

"On it," she replied. Marcos' weapon system officer, or "wizzo," as he'd referred to her sat right in front of Bella's jump seat and right behind Marcos'. "Good to go, all four torps spun up and hot."

Bella twisted in her seat looking for the other fighters in the squadron. Their dark gray paint jobs made them difficult to pick out unaided but her helmet happily enhanced the image and flagged each one with a bright tag. It didn't look like they'd lost anyone but they hadn't expected to. In the mission briefing Lieutenant Guila had spoken disparagingly of the Scorpions and the cover they might give the Romulan ships. Turning back around the green dot was now a faintly bird like sliver of emerald in the distance and closing fast. Marcos had explained to her that they had to close the distance to use their torpedoes. With no launch tube to give them a push all the torpedoes had was their sustainer engines to move them and those wouldn't accelerate them much at all. In order to make sure an enemy ship didn't just move a little and escape the torpedoes they had to get close before they fired.

The destroyer seemed to know it as well, and the ship was maneuvering to complicate their shot, breaking hard to starboard to force them to take a broadside shot instead of a stern chase. Green bursts of disruptor fire started to whip through their formation as the bird like shape of the destroyer resolved itself. Marcos kept the ship bobbing in a constant motion of weaves and slides to keep the Romulans from getting a good shot. The laws of probability were unforgiving though and Bella winced as one of the starfighters disintegrated in blast when it ran headlong into a disruptor beam. The short scream over the comms was broken up as the ship was.

"They got Preacher and Saint!" Bubbles reported.

"I see it," Marcos said. "Stay on target people, stay on target."

Bella had little to do as her fingers dug into the armrests of her jumpseat. The Romulan ship just kept getting closer, beginning to fill the sky in front of them. She could make out individual portholes in the ship's side. She could see the ports of the disruptors and how they'd change as the weapons got ready to fire. Marcos' maneuvers grew increasingly erratic and violent as they closed but Bella's stomach no longer cared as each time a disruptor fired she was sure it was aimed directly at them. She could tell by the way they were drifting towards the ship's rear and she thought they might miss it.

"Hard lock!" Bubbles chirped. "We're good!"

"Torp's away!" he said a split second later. The ship immediately dropped and rolled as four blue streaks roared away from the fighter. In that instant the scale of the destroyer snapped into focus and Bella shrieked, sure they were going to plow into it as Marcos sent the fighter spinning away from the monster. She was sure they were going to slam into the destroyers flank until its keel whipped by a few meters from her canopy. "HOOAH!" Marcos whooped as they broke free. Both he and Bubbles craned their necks around to look back at the destroyer and Bella followed suit just in time to watch the squadron's run complete.

The first dozen or two torpedoes came up short, slapping into the destroyer's shields and surrounding it in a corona of their discharges. Somewhere around the sixth or seventh wave the shields gave out and the next four volleys streaked in. Over a dozen torpedoes hammered the Destroyer's drive section ripping out huge flaming chunks of the ship. The final few blasts even had enough energy left to tear right out the other side of the vessel. In an instant the ship went dark and its drive flare died just as the final volley of torpedoes tore into the ship and ripped the crippled destroyer in half.

"Got her!" another pilot cheered over the comms as the forward section of the ship tumbled away from the crumbling and burning aft half.

"Can it Snips," Marcos barked. He pulled the starfighter into a lazy turn to let them observe the destroyer's death throes. "Good kill everyone," he said as the drive section began to go dark, the few fires finally starved of oxygen. "Back to the barn."

Bella breathed a sigh of relief as the fighters joined up and headed back for Jaisalmer. Her helmet chirped as the gigantic form of the Typhoon lept into the system a few hundred kilometers in front of them. "The lady's back," Bubbles said.

"Starpalace this is Galahad Six, requesting permission to dock."

"Galahad Six, Starpalace," Came the voice of Lieutenant Danor. "You are clear to dock, good hunting."

"Thank you sir," Marcos said as he led his squadron back to the ship. Bella's heart was still pounding in her chest as he sat the fighter down on the deck. He quickly popped the canopy on the fighter and all three of them clambered out onto the rolling staircase the flight crew rolled up. Bella popped off her helmet and shook out her hair as Marcos and Bubbles did the same. The Kriosian woman's temple spots were flushed a dark brown and she gave Bella a triumphant slap on the shoulder.

"You didn't puke, not many people ride with the Boss and don't hurl."

Bella gave a little nod, she wasn't out of the woods just yet.

Marcos shook his head. "I left the IDF up to ninety nine percent instead of ninety five. We almost traded paint with that destroyer because of it. Computer, end program."

The desire to vomit came back full force as the landing bay dissolved around them into the gridded room of the holodeck. Fellow pilots that had been dozens of meters away moments ago suddenly seemed to rush right up next to them as the holodeck stopped distorting reality. Her helmet and chest pack dissolved away but not her flight suit, that was real enough. She gulped down a deep lungful of air and thought happy thoughts until the room stopped trying to dump her on her butt. "That was a lot more realistic than I thought it would be," Bella said.

Marcos nodded. "They put a lot of time and effort into making the training simulations as realistic as possible. Doesn't do any good if it doesn't feel real."

Bella offered him her hand. "Thank you for the ride Lieutenant."

Marcos shook it. "No problem ma'am, just let me know if you have any questions."

Bella shook Bubble's hand then waved to the rest of the squadron before she left the holodeck. She was surprised to find Peili leaning against the bulkhead outside.

"I was wondering when you'd be done," she said.

Peili laughed as Bella pulled up short and after a short little gasp her eyes went wide as she realized she'd breathed deeply in through her nose.

The Orion woman chuckled softly, "I'm not doing it right now sweetie, you're safe."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Bella spat out.

"For a reporter you're a terrible liar hun," Peili said.

"I have to go change," Bella said. Somehow Peili managed to make even a Starfleet duty uniform look enticing and she was painfully aware of her own less than appealing appearance in the baggy flight suit.

"Sure," the green skinned woman replied as she fell into step with Bella, making the human woman sigh. They went to the turbolift and waited uncomfortably for it to arrive. When it did they piled in and Bella said, "Deck five, guest quarters," and the turbolift was off.

"I'm sorry I hit you with my pheromones," Peili said a moment later. "I wasn't trying to drug you, just give you a feel of them."

Bella pursed her lips. "Well you did drug me," she snapped. She latched onto her anger about the episode, that seemed the safest.

"No I didn't," Peili said softly but firmly. "I can't make anyone do anything they don't want to. All they can do is give you a nudge..."

Bella glared at her and frowned.

"...ok a shove, in a direction they were already leaning in. Seriously, when I told you you got up and stormed out. If they worked the way you seem to think they do I'd have just had my way with you right there."

"You would have?!" Bella yelped.

Before Peili could reply the turbolift arrived and Bella stormed out with Peili following close behind. The guest quarters section was nearly empty. The starboard side where they were was only occupied by Bella and T'prin and while no one had told her to do it Peili had made sure that the Romulans were kept on the port side guest quarters isolated from everyone. Peili quickly followed after Bella and slid into her cabin behind her before the door closed.

"I didn't tell you you could come in," Bella snarked.

Peili stood in the small sitting area at the back of the cabin and didn't try to advance further in. Bella headed on in to where her bed was. The cabin wasn't large, the Typhoon was a warship after all, and even as she went through one of the cabinets forming the small wall that gave her bed a little privacy she was still in full view of Peili, framed by the large porthole that opened out into space. "I don't hear you telling me to leave," Peili shot back.

Bella tossed some clothes on the bed and slammed the cabinet door but said nothing. She started to unzip her flight suit. "Do you mind turning around?"

Peili let Bella's bad mood roll off her, some of her early training letting her just ignore it. "Don't have anything I haven't seen before."

"Well you haven't seen mine so turn around or get out," Bella snapped.

"Fine, fine," Peili said turning around. For a short while on the rustle of fabric and the metallic whiz of a zipper could be heard and Peili had to content herself with what she could imagine was under the flight suit.

"Would you have?" Bella asked a few minutes later.

"Would I have what?" Peili replied.

"Had your way with me right there on the couch?"

"I prefer the bed but whatever works for you darlin," Peili said with a grin.

"Ugh! Be serious."

"Fine, yes, I would have."

"While I was under the influence?" Bella asked incredulously.

"Like I said, nothing you didn't want to do already," Peili said as she rolled her eyes.

Bella slammed a cabinet closed with a loud bang and Peili turned around in surprise. The reporter woman was wearing a simple pair of brown pants and had a long sleeved white blouse on only partially buttoned up. Her hair was still undone and she had no shoes on and she was livid. "I am not that kind of girl! I don't just give it up on the first date!"

"So what?" Peili snapped. "I would. I like you, you seemed to like me and I'm pretty sure not just as a friend. What's the problem?"

"I just met you!" Bella said.

Peili looked at her like she was speaking in gibberish. "What the hell is your species' hang up? It's not like we could procreate or something."

Bella snatched a pair of shoes of her bed. "You're missing the point."

"Obviously," Peili replied as Bella sat down and started to put them on. "What's the real problem? I proved you wrong? That I could do that to you?"

Bella shook her head vehemently. "No no... I just... UGH!" she exclaimed before storming back towards her bed and ducking into the bathroom.

Peili followed her and watched as Bella started to fight with her hair, aggravated enough to frustrate her own efforts. Again Peili calmed herself down, if they both got into a shouting match it could ruin things, and if she could remain calm while Bella was flustered she could direct the human where she wanted her to go. "What's the problem honey, tell me. I can't fix it if you won't talk about it."

Bella kept trying to fix her hair but finally gave up in frustration, pulling it back and putting it in a ponytail. She turned and pushed past Peili as she left the bathroom. The Orion woman took a deep breath in through her nose and savored the mixture of smells the other woman gave off. She said nothing though, letting Bella vent her frustration. "I just... I don't like being out of control."

"You know you weren't out of control. As soon as you knew what was happening you got up and stormed out. If they really took you out of control and I'm as bad as you seem to think would we be standing here or would you be loopy on my pheromones again?"

Bella huffed. "It was still a major influence. I wouldn't have done... that..."

Peili interrupted. "Nuzzle my belly button, sniff me, check out my tits, then try and kiss me?"

"I didn't nuzzle! I didn't touch you... but yeah, that."

"Well, no argument there," Peili said. "Look, I was just teasing you. I told you before you even so much as kissed me remember?"

"Yeah, but you just said you would have had your way with me on the couch!"

Peili rolled her eyes. "So? I was being honest, and honestly I'd love to get in your panties. What? Is that a surprise? I told you about the pheromones because I didn't want you regretting it after the fact. I wouldn't get you loopy without telling you or you asking for it."

Bella was blushing slightly. "Alright then, where does that leave us?"

"That's up to you," Peili said as she moved to stand in front of Bella. "Personally I'm hoping second date."

"Alright, but this time I pick," Bella said.

Peili smiled back. "So long as there's a couch."

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"Well, how is it?"

Seven poked at the eggs and pancakes on her tray with disdain. The corner of her mouth was pulled up in a grimace as she pushed her bacon away from everything else. "By my analysis the nutritional content of this food is not as balanced as my nutrient paste and I believe the fats, sugars, cholesterol, and carcinogens in it are more damaging than the nutrition is beneficial."

The Doctor's shoulders sagged even as his excited smile dissolved. "Remind me not to let you speak to the cook. It's one meal Seven, it's not going to kill you. The replicated fare is as pristine as your nutrient paste. This is real food though, and Neelix didn't make it. Enjoy."

"Since you will not let me speak to the cook I suppose I should not point out the irony of a hologram instructing me on the finer points of dining."

The Doctor glared at her. Anyone who claimed Seven was humorless didn't know her. Her wit was biting and her delivery was matter of fact. He'd seen more than a few people get offended by one of her jokes that someone didn't realize was a joke. "Just because I'm a hologram doesn't mean I haven't partaken of food... just none recently."

"Why not? Did the subroutines not prove satisfactory?" Seven asked after she took a sip of milk.

"No, they proved a little too adept unfortunately. The first thing I tasted was some abomination Neelix created. I haven't felt the urge to try again since."

"Well then," Seven stabbed a few bits of syrup soaked pancake and offered them to the Doctor.

"I don't need to eat Seven," the Doctor protested. "You do."

"Is the Doctor scared of his own medicine?" she asked flatly but with the barest hint of a smile.

"One minute you're pointing out I'm a hologram and the next you're force feeding me griddle cakes," the Doctor complained. "Make up your mind."

Seven only nudged the fork his way, pulling it back when he tried to take it.

"Oh come on, I'm a grown man!"

"You're fourteen," Seven said matter of factly.

"I matured quickly."

Seven pointed the fork at him again and this time he grumpily let her feed him. His diagnostic subroutines broke the pancakes and syrup down into its constituent parts, analyzing them for nutritional value, constituent parts, molecular structure, any and every way the food could be broken down in a medically relevant way. The taste subroutines quickly turned that information back into the sugary sweet flavor of the pancakes. Unlike the last things he'd tasted these were actually good, a bit on the syrupy side he quickly thought, he'd love more pancake flavor, but not bad. "That's... good," he said.

Seven took another bite of her food before offering him some eggs. "Perhaps we can acquire some Romulan ale during this situation and sample it?"

"I think you should get used to regular food before starting the hard stuff. In case you've forgotten when it comes to real alcohol you're a light weight. Even synth-ale causes problems with your implants."

"Then perhaps it would be best to sample it in the company of someone who can be trusted not to take advantage of the situation?"

"Are you asking me out on a date?" The Doctor asked incredulously.

"I am asking you to hypothetically sample a beverage with me that we may or may not acquire during this endeavour," Seven said simply before taking another bite.

"Something bothering you?" The Doctor asked. Just like her humor Seven's emotions were hidden behind the steely facade of a drone. The slightly clipped way she spoken said volumes.

Seven poked at her eggs again. "We're taking unnecessary risks, endangering many for only a few. It's an illogical course of action."

"What would you have us do though," the Doctor asked. "Politely sit on this side of the border and hope the Romulans don't brutally suppress the rebellion?"

"Their rebellion Doctor, they chose to do it. We can chose not to commit the whole of the Federation to the salvation of only three worlds."

"Triage?"

"In a way," Seven replied. "Protecting these worlds could cause far more damage to the Federation that they are worth."

The Doctor shook his head. "I wouldn't expect someone who joined this service to have that kind of heartless attitude."

"I joined to help defend the Federation, not create crises to defend it from. Besides, does it not seem unwise to allow a single individual to commit the Federation to such a reckless course of action?"

"As the highest ranking member of the Federation present he has the authority," the Doctor stated without much enthusiasm.

"But should he have that authority?" Seven pressed.

The Doctor shrugged, "It's a human tradition."

"When they prove to be no longer be useful they should be discarded."

The Doctor sighed.

"Do you disagree?" Seven asked.

"After dealing with Admiral Janeway's habits for seven years I find myself nervous about any major decision rushed into." The problem with Seven's line of reasoning was that it was entirely logical. His triage subroutines were designed for just that reason. If it would take three times as long to save a seriously injured person as it would to save three less injured people you allowed the one to die and save the three. It was only logical. Yet even as those ideas came into his consciousness his personality subroutines voiced the concept that occasionally the many have to accept hardship for the good of the few. It was a ridiculous and illogical concept yet it resonated with him. Where would he be if the crew of Voyager hadn't put themselves at risk for his sake. Even after returning from the Delta quadrant the entire command crew had stood before Starfleet's review board and declared their opinions that he be given all the rights of a sentient being. "It's not always as simple as it sounds Seven. What if the crew of Voyager had decided you were too dangerous to keep around, or go after when your implants malfunctioned?"

Seven jumped as if shocked. For an instant her own shock at having it pointed out to her breaking through the frail mask of Borg disinterest she normally wore. She composed herself and went back to eating her breakfast.

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"Hi Harry," Terzi said he walked into main engineering, "What's up?"

Harry gave her one of his boyish smiles. "Got a question."

"And I've got an answer, but no guarantee you'll like it," replied the sprite of an engineer. She lead him to the master systems display table, or the pool table as her crew called it. "Ok, spit it out."

Harry tapped his PADD and downloaded it's contents into the MSD table, one of it's monitors coming to life with diagrams of the communications array. "Having to relay all information by message torpedo is killing us. The delay leaves us all on our own out here." He pointed to the schematics of the communications array he'd been carrying with him. "Is there anyway we can boost the power to strengthen the signal to get more range out of it?"

Terzi glanced that the schematics but she already knew them by heart. She'd learned long ago that even though she knew the systems better than anyone on the ship along with how they operated and what they were capable of people still got bent out of shape when she'd flatly declare something impossible without even looking at their visual aides. After a sufficent pause she shrugged. "Sure, we can boost it another fifty percent easy before the main signal amplifier burns out," she said tapping the appropriate piece of equipment on the display. "Problem is that it's not going to matter."

"Why not?" Harry asked.

Terzi sighed, she hated knocking his smile off him, it was cute. "Trade offs Harry. We bump up the amplitude and we can make the signal clearer but we lose range. We strengthen the warp pulse and we get more range but we lose clarity. There's a finite amount of power you can put behind the signal. We can do high amplitude at short range to preserve the fidelity of high speed data communications or we can boost the carrier pulse for range but it'll be useless for anything besides voice coms."

"Well we can make do on voice communications alone if we have to," he said. "We can use the torpedoes for the detailed info. How much more range can we get?"

"A couple of light months at best."

"That's it? Half again the power and we'll get a few more light months of voice only communications?"

Terzi nodded. "Harry, subspace itself is going haywire. We're like an old wooden sailing ship caught in a storm, we don't have a whole lot of options besides riding it out."

Harry pounded his fist on the table in frustration. "There has to be something we can do."

Terzi leaned back on the lip of the pool table and crossed her arms. "Like what Harry? We're light years away from the source, it's totally random in its effects, and even then we have no idea what caused it, why it's happened, how to fix it, or even if fixing it is a good idea. We've had the entire science staff and most of the engineering staff trying to figure this out using everything from Yam'lin's Fundamentals of Subspace Communications to Tucker's Multivariate Field Equations and we've got nothing."

"I've run into spatial distortions before, we've fixed them, or made it through."

"All of them," Terzi asked skeptically as she opened her arms up.

"Well... no," Harry admitted.

"Look Harry, we're doing everything possible. We'll give you the extra power to the comms you want but unless we have a breakthrough of epic proportions we're doing the best we can."

Harry tossed his PADD down on the table and wiped his hands across his face in frustration.

"Come on Harry, what's the matter?" Terzi prodded. She reached out and patted his arm in what she hoped was a friendly gesture. Humans were distressingly non-homogenous in their reactions.

"I wanted to try and get something for the Captain, anything," Harry said.

"Trying to impress him?" Terzi asked with an impish grin.

Harry's shoulders bobbed in a silent personal laugh. "Yeah, a little."

"Timothy's not a bad guy, he's just," Terzi paused, searching for the right phrase. She'd served under the Captain and with the old Atlas crew for so long that everyone was used to the way everyone else was. There was no need to really explain how they'd act or why, they just did. Nothing she could come up with seemed to work which left only one way to put it. "...an old man already." Terzi grimaced. "Wow that sounds bad but I guess it fits. He's already pretty set in his ways. We're all used to it and work with it but you new guys are throwing a wrench into things and that can get him cranky."

"How can he be set in his ways already, he's not that old," Harry said. "That just doesn't make any sense."

"You weren't here for the war," Terzi said matter-of-factly. Harry winced but didn't correct her. "We spent three years fighting. Three years of doing whatever we had to in order to get by. There were no real crew changes during that time, Starfleet didn't have replacements, they could barely crew the new ships being sent out and couldn't keep up with the casualty replacements. We were together for a year before the war and a few more after it. The war itself turned us into a family. We spent a long, long time together and everyone's gotten used to one another. Especially Timothy. He can't put off a promotion much longer and he knows it. Hell none of us can. This is likely our last cruise together and that's got him on edge too. Cut him some slack ok?"

Harry nodded. "I guess I know what you mean. Voyager was in the Delta quadrant for seven years. It was odd the first time I took orders from someone who wasn't captain Janeway. I wish I could find a way to impress him, maybe get him to cut me a little slack."

Terzi smiled and shook her head. "You already did Harry. That little stunt with the using the holocrew to speed up cargo loading, that got his attention and impressed him."

"It didn't seem like it," Harry said, leaning over on the table.

Terzi patted Harry's upper arm, offering some comfort to the man whose chest she barely came up to. "Trust me, if he doesn't like you he'll just start ignoring you. If the man doesn't even acknowledge your existence that's when you've got a problem."

"Did you hear about how he talked to Cesina? Or Lt. Tull?"

"Oh that? Well yeah, sometimes he's just an asshole."

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"Captain?"

"Yes, Kaitlyn," Timothy replied not bothering to look up from his PADD. He'd been distracted twice already this morning by other tasks but he was determined to finish the latest report on the post-Shinzon political history of the Romulan Empire. Unfortunately the best way to describe it was a complete and total clusterfuck so obviously anything trying to explain it was pretty much just the same.

"Sir, why do you have a fish tank in your quarters?"

Timothy closed his eyes and tilted his head, opening them again to look at Kaitlyn. "What?"

"Your fish tank sir, it seems like an odd thing to keep aboard a warship."

Timothy stared at her, trying to make sense of what she'd just asked. It wasn't the question perplexing him, but the questioner. Holographic characters were usually single minded in their approach to subjects. Anything outside the norm was ignored as they had no programming on how to handle such things. His fish were certainly outside Kaitlyn's purview as his aide. Simulating anything resembling random human conversation, and doing it convincingly, was not something most holograms were capable of, ones created by amateurs at least. He wouldn't be surprised if Johan had bought a high class AI for Kaitlyn but he wasn't expecting it. "They've been with me for a long time," he said. "They made it through the Dominion War just fine."

"Yes sir, but why?" She asked again.

"They keep me company. I enjoy watching them," Timothy paused to consider his answer. "I suppose the interior of a starship is a bit antiseptic, I like seeing a bit of life around here."

"Ah, so that's why you've got the plants too."

Timothy nodded slowly.

"Do you want me to water them?" she asked as she lowered her oversized PADD to her lap.

Timothy raised an eyebrow at that.

"The plants I mean, not the fish, the fish are already in water after all," and she giggled nervously.

"I can take care of it myself," he said slowly.

"Well maybe you can show me the fish sometime."

Timothy just stared at her.

She winced. "Oh, sir. Sorry sir."

"Sure," he replied. "I can show you them."

Kaitlyn's PADD beeped, saving them both from having to continue the awkwardness. "Oh, Ms. Mavil and the Romulan ambassador are waiting in the turbolift for their interview."

Timothy grimaced. "Alright, bring them in."

"Yes sir," Kaitlyn said, hopping to her feet and bouncing out of the ready room.

Timothy put his unease with Kaitlyn to the back of his mind. He still needed to talk to Johan about it but he kept forgetting. Taking the opportunity he fetched a glass of water from the replicator before Kaitlyn returned. When Kaitlyn entered with Bella and Taliren Timothy did as he had to, standing and greeting them graciously. He noticed that Bella had straightened her hair out and had pulled it back into a tight braid. Her dress was rather conservative with a high color and aside from some eyeliner and lipstick she was unadorned. He had to give it to her, she knew how to work people.

Kaitlyn pulled out one of the chairs in front of his desk and sat down as Bella and Taliren took the couch across the way. He was only present to observe and he let them know that. He was pleased when both seemed to ignore him and focus on each other. While he wanted to be present to oversee the reporter and make sure she didn't get out of line he was not interested in the minutae of her interview. Most reporters he knew would spend a great deal of time on pointless crap to create filler for their interviews and build some kind of repore with the mark while learning how to get to them.

Those preconceptions were what nearly caused him to choke on his water when Bella started the interview with a calm, "So governor, what made you decide to betray the Romulan Star Empire?"

To his credit Taliren took it in stride, his genial smile never leaving his face. "I wouldn't say that we have betrayed the Empire at all. In fact I strongly believe we are doing what is most beneficial for the Romulan people under our jurisdiction and isn't that what a government is supposed to do?"

============================================================

Cossick stood in his cabin, looking out on the blackness of space. The ship's first officer as well as several others had been questioning him relentlessly all morning but had taken a break for lunch and to collect their thoughts.

It's certainly not how he'd have conducted an interrogation. If they needed a break he'd bring in another batch of interrogators and keep things moving. Keep the momentum up, the source talking, and most of all don't let him think about things too much. Giving your source a chance to think about what was being asked could give them a chance to deduce what you were after and tailor his answers to that. Like he was.

While their naivety made his life easier for the moment in the long term it worried him. Their fates would soon be intertwined with these Federations and if this was how they ran their intelligence gathering it did not bode well. How such trusting fools managed to become the dominant power in local space was beyond him. Then again when their only other competition in the intelligence arena was the Klingons perhaps it wasn't such a mystery.

His ruminations were interrupted when the cabin's door slid open and Taliren stormed in. As he walked in the governor reached out and slapped a cup off the table smashing the ceramic container against the bulkhead.

"Difficult interview?" Cossick asked nonchalantly.

"Impertinent wretch!" he raged. When Cossick didn't respond he continued. "She attacked me! We're offering them three worlds and she acted like I'm a traitor!"

"Aren't we?"

"Not to them!"

"And yet we've already proven that when the government doesn't do as we please we're willing to leave. They've got a reason not to trust us."

Taliren threw up his hands and huffed. "Spies and reporters, you can find the downside in anything and then hound it until even the good seems evil."

"It's our job," Cossick said.

"Well she's as good at her's as you are at your's."

"Then she must have been quite formidable," Cossick said with a wan smile.

"No, she was just annoying," Taliren replied.

Cossick tipped his head.

"Have you heard back from Sesk?" the governor asked as she took a seat.

Cossick sat down across from him. "No I haven't. He's been with the Federation scientists in their lab."

"He's already back there?"

"He never left."

"Well if their propaganda is to be believed then he's probably in ecstasy from having access to their sensors and computers." Taliren looked back and forth on the table before his eyes went to the stain on the wall where he'd smashed the cup in his aggravation. With an annoyed sigh he looked about and took another cup to fill it up with tea. "So we know how Sesk's and I's days have been going. How's your's?"

"The same."

============================================================

Binni picked at her food as she sat at the table in the officer's mess. She knew she needed to eat something but since the decision had been made to cross the Neutral Zone she had been too keyed up to eat anything. Still, she needed her energy and she wouldn't have any by starving herself. It was that moment that Deekan walked into the mess. He picked up a try of food from the replicator and looked out on the mess. Binni put her head down, hopeful that her superior officer wouldn't spot her. Her hopes were dashed when a huge pair of boots stopped right beside her.

"Is this seat taken?"

Binni looked up quickly. "No sir," she said as she pushed out a chair.

Deekan sat down and the ruddy man began to eat his lunch in silence, putting away more food in a few bites than Binni would eat all day. Binni didn't say anything, letting him eat in peace with the hopes that he'd return the favor. He didn't.

"Have you spoken with Lieutenant Fealst’rak yet?"

"No sir, not yet," Binni replied.

Deekan ate another bite of his sandwich, chewing silently. Binni was caught off guard, mid bite, when he began to speak again. "When I received my first assignment I was a security officer aboard Starbase forty seven. As per my commanding officers standard procedure I was assigned a partner for my duties."

Binni was thoroughly confused and decided that silence was the preferable course of action.

Deekan finished a bit more of his sandwich, a bit for him being nearly half of it. "My partner was a Xindi."

"Which kind," Binni asked.

"Insectoid," Deekan replied. He sat what little was left of his sandwich on his try and chewed, seemingly considering his words. "On Capella we have no insects. We have some small mammals and reptiles but no insects. The academy on Andoria where I was trained had none either. They was the first insectoid life form I'd ever seen. My reactions were...," he frowned. "Unbecoming a Starfleet officer."

"You couldn't have been that bad sir," Binni said.

Deekan looked at her quizzically. "Are you sure," he asked his raven haired subordinate. "My actions towards them were far worse than your simple avoidance of the lieutenant."

He paused again as he tried to gather his emotions. Binni could tell this was not a pleasant memory for her commander. His normally stoic countenance was broken by the faintest of frowns but for him it was a tremendous display of emotion. "I found every reason to avoid them. I refused to sit near them when I couldn't avoid them. I was rude, dismissive and went out of my way to make it clear I wanted nothing to do with them. In the end they requested a transfer."

Binni cringed. She wasn't that bad to Fealst’rak at least she didn't think she was but having the commander lump her behavior in with his wasn't easy. "Did they get it?"

Deekan picked up his napkin and wiped his mouth before tossing the used paper on his try and steepling his hands over it. "No, I got it. My commanding officer refused to remove my partner from their position. They were accustomed to it, performing well, and doing nothing wrong. In his opinion, and mine now, I was the one in the wrong and the one who should be inconvenienced."

Binni poked a bit of the food on her plate and didn't comment. It wouldn't do her career any good to agree with her commanding officer at the moment.

"So he transferred me, but not before sitting me down in his office," Deekan explained as he wiped his face with a napkin. "He understood my situation but told me that would only go so far. The Federation was founded upon the idea that no matter how alien we are to one another common ground can be found and we can work together for everyone's good. As a Starfleet officer I was expected to exemplify this. He told me that I was young and everyone deserved at least one chance to make things right. He transferred me out citing an abundance of security officers and a dearth of security issues needing to be dealt with. He made no mention of why he was really transferring me and for that I am thankful."

"So, you're transferring me?" Binni asked uncertainly.

Deekan sighed and shook his head. "No, I am giving you the chance I was given without the transfer. The lieutenant is a fearsome looking lifeform. That cannot be denied. However it can neither be denied that he is a member of this crew and the Federation and deserves the respect inherent in that."

"Aye sir," Binni said. "I'll do my best."

Deekan nodded slowly. "See that you do, immediately."

============================================================
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Re: Proud Legion-Story

Postby Tyyr » Wed Feb 13, 2013 2:02 pm

Chapter 6, Cont.

============================================================

Yumiko sighed as she flitted through the subspace channels. Nothing but harsh grating static greeted her. She could allow the computer to just automatically scan and notify her when something came up, and it was set to do that, but she had too much pride to just let the computer do everything.

Not that there was anything to listen to at the moment. There hadn't been since the anomaly had engulfed the ship. No signal was getting very far through all the interference which meant she had nothing to recieve or send. It was a strange feeling to be sitting at her station with nothing buzzing in her ear. She reached up and plucked the ear piece from her ear, setting it down and looking at it. It just wasn't natural. With the volume of communications a ship like the Typhoon sent and received her station was never unoccupied. Even with the computer handling and routing most of the conventional transmissions the ones needing her attention almost never left her with a free moment.

So instead of bothering with communications she opened up one of the Romulan recordings. Commander Kim had her give the recordings a look at to determine their veracity and on the surface everything seemed legitimate. Still, with the volume of data she'd had to sift through she'd only been able to give it the briefest surface look. With some time on her hands she'd decided to give them a closer look. The last thing she wanted to do was just glance at the material, authenticate it for Commander Kim and then have it turn out false. That would make the Commander look bad and even worse it'd make her look bad in front of him.

She was just getting the short video she'd chosen at random open when a hand fell on her shoulder and the Commander asked, "What are you up to?" right next to her ear.

"Ah!" Yumiko squeaked in alarm.

"Whoa, calm down lieutenant," Harry said. "Didn't mean to startle you. Guilty conscience?"

"No sir, I mean... sort of sir. I'm not used to having free time on duty sir. I'm usually busy my entire duty shift."

"I understand," Hary said. "Moving from operations on Voyager to Jupiter station was an adjustment. Though in your case not a permanent one. So long as you're making good use of your time I don't see the problem."

"Right sir, I was actually going to start going through some of the video recordings that the Romulans brought with them. You know, keep looking for irregularities, that sort of thing."

"How are you planning on going about that?" Harry prompted. "The computer's had a good run through most of them and pronounced them clean."

"No offense to the computer," Yumiko said with a smirk, " but the kind of routines that are used to determine if something was faked can be spoofed if you know what you're doing."

Harry raised an eyebrow. "And you know some tricks the computer doesn't?"

"I might know a few," she responded with a smile. She felt her neck tendrils rippling and quickly ran her fingers through her hair trying to calm them without being obvious about it.

"Well show me, maybe we can update the computer's routines so you don't have to do it by hand next time."

"And give up all my secrets sir?" Yumiko giggled. "Then you might replace me."

Harry grinned. "Or maybe promote you."

"Oh, well in that case," Yumiko said before starting to show him what she knew. “You see, most routines look for the edges where things are added to or taken away from an image. The people who forge the images know this and know the tricks to disguising those edges. I just assume that whoever might have forged these is going to be top notch and probably knows more about hiding their fakes than we do about finding them.” She called up a video of a large crowd demonstrating in the street. “So what we do is not bother with that. Faking a scene like this is hard because there’s so many people. So what we look for is,” she worked her controls and soon every face in the crowd was highlighted and tagged, “evidence that the forger got lazy. Making a crowd of thousands is easy, you just copy and paste people right?”

“Right,” Harry replied. “Like in a holo program.”

“Exactly! Only you can’t do that for something like this. A smart forger,” Yumiko leaned in close to Harry and whispered, “and a smart holo programmer,” before sitting back up, “will randomize the faces somewhat and randomize the animation.”

“So if it’s randomized how is that helping us?”

“Well, we can’t get a one hundred percent proof positive confirmation something was faked, but if we analyze all the video we can see if some patterns start to emerge either in faces or animations. We find out if the forger had any looks or loops they liked to use and might have stuck with them a bit too much.”

“These are political demonstrations, a lot of what’s said and done is going to be the same,” Harry pointed out.

“That’s why we need a very large sample, and a baseline legit romulan rally baseline to compare it to.”

“Analyzing thousands of people at dozens...”

“...hundreds actually.”

“Ok, hundreds of rallys is gonna take a while, even with our computer.”

Yumiko nodded as she queued up the work she wanted done. “According to this it’s gonna take about forty two hours.”

“So right about the same time we get to Jaisalmer, perfect.”

“We could allocate more computer resources to it but it’s only going to cut a few hours off. It’s just a very time consuming way to analyse the data. That’s why it’s not usually done.”

Harry nodded, “I can see why.”

Yumiko’s neck tentacles flattened out. “Sorry sir.”

“Nothing to apologize for,” Harry said with his best smile. “If we can put the validity of this to bed it’s worth doing it right. Good job.”

“Thank you sir,” Yumiko chirped as Harry patted her on the back and went back to his station. She could feel her tentacles quivering but she didn’t bother trying to calm them down this time.

============================================================

Cesina fidgeted in the command chair. The latest fleet disposition reports for the romulan military weren’t good. At least thirty Norexans were within a week of the triumvirate worlds and they could bring two hundred D’Deridexes with them. The unfortunate part about a mostly political civil war was that it left the military mostly intact. They’d be bringing at least another two hundred escorts with them, mostly Mogami class destroyers but a few R’tran class light cruisers as well. It was more than enough to overwhelm them. They could make the romulans pay but at the end of the day if they were willing to suffer the casualties there was nothing the Typhoon and it’s task force could do to stop them.

She had cobbled together a few more training scenarios but she was wondering if they’d be applicable at all. She’d been sure to leave ways for the Typhoon to win but she was beginning to think she might be doing them all a service if she started to make things a bit more like the Kobyashi Maru.

A notification popped up on the console informing her that gamma shift was about to end and she flicked it away before closing out the tactical briefings. Her latest training sim sat on the screen and she frowned at it before saving it and closing it out. After weeks of practice it was becoming obvious that her simulations were too limited. Trying to challenge the Typhoon was getting harder and harder. In spite of all she’d learned about the Romulans it was getting harder and harder to provide a real challenge to the ship without just overwhelming it.

The first elements of alpha shift started to leave the turbolift and she listened as hand over started, each officer talking to their replacement about what had happened in the previous shift and what needed to happen in the upcoming one. It was all so disturbingly normal given that they’d crossed over the neutral zone border eight hours ago and had entered romulan space two hours ago. She supposed that technically it wasn’t romulan space anymore or at least that’s what they’d claim but there were over four hundred warships within a week of them that would likely dispute that claim.

“Why so glum LC?”

Cesina shot up out of the captain’s chair and spun to face Commander Luhrner, saluting him quickly. “Sorry sir, I didn’t hear you come in.”

Johan returned her salute in his usual sloppy manner. “I doubt you heard anyone Cesina, you looked like you were off in your own little world there. Again.”

“I was just pondering our situation sir, and how to improve my tactical readiness programs.”

“Well, at least it wasn’t holo-decorating this time,” Johan said with a grin. “Anything to report?”

“No sir, it’s been quiet sir. We’ve been monitoring the disturbance and it’s been holding steady. Speed is still limited to warp seven. We’re running continuous level three diagnostics and everything is checking out.”

“Good, you haven’t run over any romulans have you?”

“Sir?”

“A joke, lighten up LC,” Johan said. “It’ll be a good two days yet before the shit really hits the fan. You need to stay loose until then.”

“Aye sir.”

“Alright, tell you what. I’ll get things settled in up here and I’ll meet you down in my office at oh nine hundred. Give you an hour to get breakfast. Then we’ll talk about your sims. Alright?”

“Yes sir, very good sir.”

“Dismissed LC.”

============================================================

Milana stepped to the side as the andorian second officer passed her going into the turbolift. She got held up as Villec unfolded himself out of the turbolift car. The saurian Nileen’s long tails having had to wrap themselves up at an angle around the circumference of the car for him to fit in. He might have been less than two meters tall but he was four meters long.

He managed to uncoil himself and get out of the lieutenant commander’s way though and followed Milana down towards their stations at the front of the ship. Other navigator’s or helmsmen may have been bothered by being stationed at the front of the bridge with almost thirty people behind them, possibly watching them but they were both used to it. Non-humanoids in Starfleet were a relative rarity since they had to be able to work in and with a starship designed with humanoids in mind so they were always a curiosity. Milana just had to deal with being a Cardassian in Starfleet only a few years after Starfleet and Cardassia had been at war. It made Milana wonder if lieutenant commander Nine had to deal with the same thing and how she handled it.

Milana slipped into her seat after relieving the gamma shift navigator. No course changes, not even one. It was unusual for starships to travel in straight lines. Subspace was not a perfectly uniform medium and a good navigator could follow the ebb and flow of the immaterium, finding ways to pick up a bit more speed or reduce power consumption. It was more art than science but the disturbance had rendered it all moot. Subspace’s skin was crawling and so long it was in an uproar there was no way to follow it’s flow, only plow on straight ahead. Even the cetaceans who were usually such a help in fine tuning a course were out of commission, sedated for the time being to keep them from injuring themselves.

“Full speed ahead, as usual,” Milana complained.

Villec cocked his head to one side as the previous helmsman’s chair dissolved away and the holo-emitters crafted his prefered type of seat, more akin to a long low bench. His head twitched, looking her over with his infra-red eye and then his visible light one. She knew he did that to try and get a read on her emotions. His own people had quite a few thermal clues as to their emotions so her nearly room temperature body had caused him no end of consternation. “What other velocity would be used Milana Tuul?”

Milana waved him off as she quickly filled in her navigator’s log finishing it with a flourish she’d learned at the academy.

“What does SNAFU mean?” Villec asked.

“Are you spying on me?” Milana snapped.

“Navigation logs are considered ship’s records and available for viewing,” he explained.

“Ok so you’re a bad spy, are you checking up on me?”

Villec’s jaw worked up and down, clicking his teeth together in Nileen confusion. “I consider it part of my daily duties to review navigation logs as they may contain information relevant to the piloting of the ship.”

“It’s an acronym. It means the situation is how it always is, completely messed up.”

“The ship is operating per normal parameters,” Villec stated, bringing up a list of alerts with one of his lower arms and checking it with his other eyes just to be sure.

“No, I mean when I need to be impressing the captain the only thing the ship is doing is just boring a hole straight ahead no matter what comes at it and it’s not even doing it that fast. Kinda hard to impress the captain with my navigating when we’ve been on the same exact bearing for hours with no deviation.”

“The Captain Timothy Hayes is aware of the conditions we’re being subjected to. It should not reflect poorly on your service record.”

“There’s your service record and then there’s what your CO really thinks of you. He doesn’t have to say a single bad thing on your record to doom you. I couldn’t get the cetaceans calmed down much less get them back to work. They’re all sedated down in the pool right now after he ordered me to find a way to help them.”
“These are situations out of your control Milana Tuul. You cannot be blamed for them.”

“Yeah, sure, the cardassian is a total screw up but it’s really not her fault.”

Villec didn’t respond, turning back to his console. Wars had been uncommon amongst his people as they almost always resulted in the total destruction of the vanquished. Tribes would be broken up, contentious males outcast or just outright killed, females and young redistributed among their conqueror’s tribes and resettled in new places. Those not killed would be expected to adopt the victor’s culture and way of life. If you lost a war the very essence of your people was eradicated. On the other claw, those who were conquered and integrated as they should were accepted as new members of the tribe and nothing was held against them. His companion’s state just proved how bizarre the Federation’s way of doing things was. Milana was doing all she could to integrate into their culture and doing a fine job of it but the continued existence of her former tribe only led to a continuation of the strife between the cardassians and the Federation. It was all very... messy. Tribes needed to stick together to ensure success, to think that part of their tribe was actively hoping for Milana’s failure was something Villec still could not wrap his arms around.

“Captain Timothy Hayes has assured you that your evaluation will be based on your performance. You need not be concerned Milana Tuul.”

“He’s a Dominion War vet, he’s where he is today because he spent more than a year killing cardassians on an industrial scale. He’s not going to be sympathetic to me.”

“Captain Timothy Hayes is of your tribe and he has given his word.”

“Yeah well, we’ll see.

Villec shook his head and brought up the specs on romulan warships and started to review their maneuverability.

Milana watched her saurian compatriot turn his attention back to his console and she went back to her own. She pulled up long range scans of the worlds they were headed for and checked out the subspace gradient maps. At least she could take a look at them and start planning out some rough navigation routes before they got there.

============================================================

“Reporting as ordered sir.”

Johan looked up at Cesina where she stood in his doorway. “Come in, come in,” he said quickly. “I know the FDF is supposed to like all that stand at attention and snap to it bullshit but you’re the second officer and I’m the first, no need to stand there like a statue.”

“Uh, yes sir,” Cesina said a bit nervously as she came into Johan’s office. One deck below the bridge you could either get to it by taking a ramp down from the bridge behind the main viewer or use the turbolift. Either way it was as close as it could be to the nerve center of the ship though you wouldn’t know it by the condition it was in. Whereas the Captain’s ready room was kept tight and in order, with only a few small touches out of place to indicate it was even an inhabited space the Commander’s was almost solid mess. Every horizontal or nearly horizontal surface in the office had something on it, PADDs, isolinear chips, hard copy drawings, pictures, knick nacks, memento’s, it was as if some kind of mess monster had started growing on his desk, spilled off the sides, and colonized the rest of the room, even crawling up the walls where between the usual pictures picked up in an officer’s tour there were hard copy diagrams, reports, and anything else that had caught the Commander’s eye. It was all very disconcerting, but at least he prefered it cold. The oppressive heat of the rest of the ship wasn’t quite so bad here, it was the six degrees celsius of her own quarters but she doubted anyone but an andorian would really appreciate that.

“Just move that stuff out of the chair and have a seat Cesina,” he said indicating one of the chairs across from his desk. One had some kind of small plant in it and the other had a pile of some sort of sport’s equipment. She picked the chair with the plant and relocated it to a small empty bit of Johan’s desk behind his monitor that had not yet been cluttered up.

Johan watched out of the corner of his eye as Cesina moved the plant. He kept meaning to give the fern to Timothy but he kept forgetting to and it was starting to look a bit brown to boot. “What’s on your mind?”

“Sir, I’m not sure my I know how to program the training simulations to reflect the situation we’re getting into.”

Johan nodded as he leaned back in his chair and put his feet up on his desk. “Specifically?”

“I’ve been going over the reports on romulan naval activity in this area and if the romulans decide to start shooting I don’t think there’s any way we can win.”

“Already counting us out Cesina? That’s awful pessimistic don’t you think?”

Cesina’s antennae stiffened. “Sir, I don’t mean it like that...”

“Yes you did,” Johan said as he picked up a coffee mug from his desk and took a sip. “It’s not terribly becoming of a Starfleet officer to just give up is it?”

“Sir I just, we’re outnumbered badly in the local area alone, I mean...”

Johan held up a hand to stop her. “Let me let you in on a little secret, you’re right.”

“Sir?”

He tried not to smile when one of her antennae twitched. “You’re absolutely right. Even with the quality of our ships once this anomaly subsides,” the ship quivered. “...if it subsides, we’re going to be left sitting there way out on a limb with our asses swinging in the breeze for a while. If the romulans decide to come stomp us, they could probably pull it off.”

“So what am I supposed to do?”

“Think about it Cesina, what have we said about the romulans?” Johan asked as he sipped his coffee.

Cesina sat back in the chair, putting her arms on the rests. “They unstable.”

“Like a house of cards.”

“The need to establish political power and assert control over the military,” she replied as she tapped the smooth cloth covering of the chair.

“Correct, they need a mandate to rule. They need the people behind them. What they don’t need right now is to get into a full on war with the Federation. What would happen if the Romulans just casually rolled in and obliterated the Task Force in its entirety?”

Cesina pondered it “There would be a war, it would force the Federation’s hand.”

“Exactly, thirty four ships, over ten thousand Starfleet personnel? You can’t ignore that. Regardless of the why you’d be talking about a Wolf three five nine level of disaster for the fleet and that demands a response. Even in our current state Starfleet has more than enough ships to do to the romulans what happened to the cardassians and they know it.” Johan set his coffee mug down and started to gesture with his hands. “So they have to keep it limited. They have to have a response, but not start a full on war.”

“That sounds dangerously complicated.”

Johan shrugged and picked up a PADD. “We’re talking about the romulans. This is what they do, and after their civil war the only ones who are left are the really smart ones, or the really lucky ones.”

“I don’t believe in luck sir,” Cesina said confidently.

“That’s alright, you’re a junior officer, it’s your job to be wrong,” before Cesina could respond Johan turned the PADD around and offered it to her. “I’ve been going over the historical records, trying to get a feel for how these kind of situations can pan out. Earth history pre-world war three has actually been rather illuminating. The period from seventeen fifty A.C.E. to about nineteen ninty A.C.E. particularly. Admittedly the brinksmanship failed and we got world war three but prior to that it we spent about two hundred and fifty years finding ways to almost wipe ourselves out. There’s a few andorian examples as well but I’m not as versed in your history to know where to start looking.”

“This is... comprehensive sir,” Cesina said deferentially as she looked over the contents of the PADD which were extensive.

“Something I learned from the Captain, history is cyclic. If you need help to figure out how something is likely to pan out, check how it’s panned out before.”

“My simulations though sir,” Cesina said as she tucked the PADD into one of her thigh pockets.

“Right, well first of all Cesina, don’t be afraid to beat us. You’re doing a good job utilizing the hardware in a romulan manner but don’t be afraid to get creative, set traps, bluff, lie, and once in awhile just flat out overwhelm us. A few simulations that are just harder while you digest your history lessons will be a good start. Once you get into the historical accounts I think it’ll become obvious how you need to handle the situation.”

“I was hoping for something a bit more direct sir,” Cesina said cautiously but Johan was already rising out of his chair so she had to as well.

“Cesina, if you were just another officer I would do just that. The problem is that you’re not. You’re a second officer, on the fast track to becoming a first officer and you’re very good at your job.” Johan walked around the edge of his desk and led Cesina towards his office door. “Good enough that I know with a nudge in the right direction you’ll get where you need to go. Just laying it out for you wouldn’t help you learn, not like this. Sorry.”

“Understood sir,” Cesina followed Johan, getting close enough to the door for it to open. “And thank you sir, I think,” she said as she stepped out.

Johan grinned, “Don’t thank me yet lieutenant commander, thank me after you’re done cursing my name.”
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