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USS Magellan: Adventures Behind the Curtain

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Encounters [01 Apr 2012|08:25pm]

The Bazaar was a roiling mass of a million alien species. Donaldson didn't have much to fear about blowing their cover when he wandered out into the chaos. Still, it didn't hurt to take a few precautions. He switched into bulky clothing that concealed his form and wore a few subtle cosmetic prosthetics. He could be any random humanoid, in this getup.

As a blue-shirt, Donaldson couldn't help but marvel at the wealth of information a xenoanthropologist had to explore here. Even without formal training, Donaldson was gradually learning new things. Right now, he was walking through one of the homogeneous areas. Much of the Bazaar was transient and explosive, but there were certain little nooks and crannies where multiple generations of the same community had staked out a bit of territory and had settled in against the influences of the rest of the Bazaar. It was almost confusing to walk into an area where everyone actually was the same species.

He turned off the sidestreet and cut out of the community and back into one of the more chaotic melting-pot thoroughfares. He wasn't here to draw attention to himself, but to blend in. And that was the other element: as an intelligence officer, the Bazaar was a dangerous conundrum. It was easy to blend in and vanish. So easy, in fact, that he had to wonder who else had already done so.
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Reacquaintance [14 Feb 2012|09:55pm]

Many parsecs away, Hyperion was in the midst of her own liberty. While she lingered among the Utopia Planitia orbital fleet yards, high above the rusty Martian landscape, her crew had free reign of the Sol system. Many crewmembers had ties there, or were at least curious to revisit sights they hadn't seen since their Academy days. It wasn't often that Hyperion surfaced for air, in such a conspicuous setting at that, and most sought to capitalize in some fashion.

It was a literal homecoming for Aurek Petroski, who had been born on Mars and spent his summer recesses there between school years on Earth. He'd taken the opportunity to revisit both planets, with his first officer along for the ride, but the majority of their time since had been spent in briefings with shipyard officials. After the USS Taming Sari had limped into dry dock following a pirate ambush, Hyperion's maintenance schedule had been lengthened a few days. The setback wasn't all bad news- it provided ample opportunity to focus on unfinished business in the Beta Quadrant.

With meetings and schedule updates concluded for the day, Captain Petroski made his way back to the orbital dormitory maintained by Utopia Planitia. The Hyperion crew had been assigned their own floor in the multistory structure, though said floor was really more like one big corridor. On either side of the corridor lay room after room, two bunks and one head apiece. One end of the corridor was capped with a gym, the other with a lounge. Anything else one wanted could be found planetside.

With so many crew away upon recreational pursuits, Petroski's footsteps echoed conspicuously through the long hallway. He finally halted before a door to his left, and chimed it.

"Come in," a young voice offered.

Petroski entered, and found Ensign Hadden Frost reclining on his assigned bunk. Frost sat up and threw aside the novel he'd been reading. "Oh, hi sir! I'll be out of your way in a sec."

The captain waved him back with a disarming look. "I promise, Ensign: it may not seem like it, but placing you on pins and needles every time I pass through here was not the purpose of this arrangement. I'll only be a moment."

Petroski and his XO had elected to assign berths for temporary quarters at random, taking only sex into account... and while they were mixing up the entire roster, they saw no reason not to throw their own names in. It fit in with the more relaxed leadership style they'd adopted after nearly losing command of Hyperion many years earlier. It was SI's tendency to cleanse agents of their benevolence; Petroski and Zavvis wanted their crew to be the exception to the rule. They wanted damn good personnel who were still persons, not machines, and were committed to staying that way. It seemed they served to fill a void in SI that had been achingly empty; these days, Hyperion received transfer requests in droves. It didn't hurt that the ship and crew had garnered quite a reputation, with a stunning list of accomplishments that few others could claim to match.

Petroski was true to his word, needing only a few minutes to change out of his uniform and into a civilian suit. "How was your visit home?" he asked Frost as he straightened his cuffs.

"Good, sir. Thanks." Compared to most of the crew, Frost hadn't left home all that long ago. He was a recent graduate, and had only a few months of real cruising under his belt. "How 'bout yours?"

"All too brief." Petroski hefted a pair of satchels beside his bed. "I hear you've a flair for programming holodeck simulations? I may need to commission a few. I'm not likely to be allowed a return trip in this lifetime."

Frost sat up even straighter. "Sure, sir. Anything you want."

"You're also welcome to join any of the scheduled excursions that interest you. We've sport and masquerades running on a regular basis. You can witness just how unkind time is to a man who was semi-decent at quarterback a hundred years ago." Petroski smirked, then angled for the door. "Good day, Ensign. Don't wait up, I don't know when I'll be back."

Petroski stepped through the door that opened for him, and made for the lounge. Both of the satchels he carried were full of things that, in his opinion, could only be made well on Earth: cigars, pinot noir, coffee, and chocolate. When they were allowed back aboard, Hyperion would be stocked similarly, on a much larger scale: a tradition that Donaldson had started, and Petroski and Zavvis had gladly continued.

The lounge was empty. It was trivial to find Zavvis there, dressed in elegant form-fitting robes and poised before a window to stare out at the Martian landscape that reminded her of home. Petroski approached her side, set down his burden, and leaned in to kiss her cheek.

"The next time we find ourselves on an unintentionally long holiday, I promise I'll ask whether Vulcan wouldn't be fair game," he deadpanned.

Zavvis returned his greeting. "I must question where you find such optimism." She glanced toward the satchels. "For Lieutenant Rao?"

"Yes... and, a peace offering." He nudged one of the satchels with a foot. "After the way our last bout of communication went, we might find it expedient."

Zavvis shook her head. "It was a confusing situation at best. I hardly think they hold a grudge. Is Jake meeting us here?"

"That's the plan, unless he got held up somewhere. I hadn't heard anything along those lines." Petroski checked his chronometer. "We've plenty of time yet. We'll track him down if we must, but there's no rush."
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"The High One" [29 Jan 2012|08:18pm]

It had been a long and occasionally colorful survey tour. Magellan was about to embark upon her last survey leg before a well earned furlough in Alpha- but before that, a local respite was in order. The crew had Joint Command's blessing to drop anchor at the Bazaar for a few weeks for resupply, recharge, particle sweeps, and whatever exotic novelties they saw fit to trade for.

Docking proceeded apace. Mayat beamed over to handle paperwork and logistical minutiae: the last lingering details standing between the interstellar marketplace and a furlough-hungry crew, some of whom had yet to experience the Bazaar firsthand. With the exception of confirmed thieves and fraudsters, the Bazaar turned away no one, but just as important as avoiding a bad reputation was playing up a good one. Magellan had done staggering business there several times in the past, and part of Mayat's responsibility was ensuring the locals remembered as much.

He needn't have bothered. The harbormaster nearly bowled him over with his bristly, emphatic embrace. "We're so glad you've returned! Everyone will be thrilled! Are you well, young one? How is the shrewd and lovely wife of yours?"

Mayat was fairly certain he'd never met the harbormaster before, but masked his amusement and confusion as charmingly as he might have done at one of his parents' galas. "Everyone's great. We certainly appreciate the warm welcome."

"Please, come. Let no more formalities bind you."

Surreptitiously, the harbormaster pressed something into Mayat's hand.

"We know you understand. We must go. We'll see you again soon!"

A folded piece of paper, he learned, as the harbormaster vanished to attend to other docking ships. Mayat internalized a frown. After confirming that no one in the bustling harbor paid him any mind, he unfolded the paper to find a note. It was penned mostly in Federation Standard, in a hand so neat that it almost looked computer generated. It consisted of only five lines. The first was a string of symbols that corresponded to a vendor location in the Bazaar. The second was a stardate, about a standard day ahead of the current date. The remaining lines read thus:

φέρει ο ηγέτης σας
Ask for refined plasma regulators
-The High One

Mayat's translator helped with the line of Greek: "Bring your leader."

He was stricken with a mix of curiosity and unease. Someone at the Bazaar had been expecting Magellan, and it was clear that they were from the Alpha Quadrant.

"Probably," Feraan said a few minutes later, once she and Mayat were sequestered in their office. She folded her arms and glanced down warily at the note now resting on the desk between them. A battery of forensic tests had confirmed that the paper and ink matched patterns included with any standard Federation replicator. It contained no biological traces other than the harbormaster's cilia and Mayat's fingerprints. While the analysis had taken place, Mayat had held off on calling up an all-clear to the bridge. The crew's furlough was on hold.

"Someone desperately wants to convince us of it, at least," Feraan continued. "Someone who knows too much about us. Do you know what the last line refers to?"

"Got me," Mayat said. "A monarch? A god? Some megalomaniac who thinks he's one or the other?" He shrugged. "If I were betting man, I'd wager half my savings on the captain knowing right off."

Mayat focused a coaxing look on his partner. He'd wanted to rope in Dekospos from the start, but Feraan had kept delaying. Let's wait for this result. We haven't run that test yet. He supposed the implications worried her, but this was no way to protect him.

"If this is a problem," he spoke gently, "we'll all face it together- just like the hundred zillion other problems we've faced in years past, and stand to face in the next hour."

Feraan admitted a laugh, and Mayat knew he'd succeeded. He tapped his commbadge. "Fenn to Dekospos- could you stop by my office, sir? There's something you need to look at."
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Stellar Union [26 Oct 2011|10:15pm]

Captain's Log
The internal turmoil has been quieting down. Coupled with the complete lack of external sources of turmoil, it's gotten downright quiet around here. The most recent packet from Joint-Command reminds me that our core mission is to find out more information about the Borg and other Beta Quadrant civilizations. Of course, that was the same Joint-Command that plotted a survey route that takes us through a long string of uninhabited systems.

They didn't know- obviously they couldn't. But we've just entered a new star system, and this one shows signs of prior habitation. It's been abandoned for some time, although without a close inspection, it will be impossible to tell. We've entered the region's asteroid belt, and will send an away team to one of the abandoned mining stations to get a better feel for who may have once lived here- and where they went. Right now, all we can tell is that their hulls are based in complex organic molecules. Polymers advanced well beyond anything in the Federation or the Empire. If that's an indication of their technology levels, we may be dealing with a highly advanced culture.

Drorig was used to crash-coursing on things. Today, it was archaeology. With the help of some expert systems whispering in its ear, Drorig was confident that it could keep the away team from contaminating the site, whether or not it was actually part of the away team. Making sense of what they observed was a totally different set of challenges, but analysis could wait.

As interesting as the lost civilization was, they had finally left behind the doldrums of bland G-type stars and uninspiring debris fields and had entered a region with some significantly interesting stellar formations. Long range scans showed a trinary system locked in a rosette pattern- an orbit that rarely happens in nature, as well as a strange red giant that was in a state that indicated a supernova was imminent- yet showed none of the typical eruptive violence of a dying star. There was a lot to see here, and this lost civilization was just the first leg on a series of interesting new discoveries. Drorig could barely wait to get back into some real work.

Korduc had barely noticed the long stretch of relative inactivity. Instead, he kept to his normal routine: helm, train his fellow navigators, and play out adventures with Goren and Nazeh and everyone else. The one feather in his cap for the period was a positive performance evaluation from Hiran, which came as a surprise to no one. The only negative comment Korduc had ever received was about his lack of confidence- something that he no longer really felt. Maybe it was just the work they did out here, or maybe it was all those swashbuckling adventures with the Doctor, but Korduc really did feel like the dashing adventurer he often pretended to be.

As he plotted the course into the asteroid belt so that the away team could investigate, he noticed something unusual. The mass of those asteroids that they assumed were being mined- there was no indication that they had actually been mined significantly. To the contrary, their mass was slightly higher than one would expect. He adjusted the course accordingly, and forwarded that information through Ops to the leaders of the Away Team. That might mean something.
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Resistance [17 Jul 2011|08:59pm]

"Sir, I don't understand why computer resource allocation must go to another department. Traditionally, all resource allocation has fallen under Ops."

Chief Operations Officer Andrew Evanish addressed the captain calmly, but this was something that weighed on his conscientious shoulders.

"I'm just afraid this will add a layer of complexity that could lead to problems later on," he continued, "if Rahimi and I constantly have to look to one another for approval in coordinating our prioritizations. If there's something I'm doing wrong when it comes to core allocation, I can address it. It really doesn't require a new department."

He paused to frown in puzzlement. "If I may, sir, why a new department? Keep Rahimi in charge of IT, that makes perfect sense; but if she couldn't keep up in Science with help, how's she going to define a brand-new department by herself? I've tried talking to her about her intentions, but I don't think she has a clear picture either, aside from being IT with a fancier title."

Trent- hi! Sorry it's been a while, I bet you can imagine exactly how insane it's been for us. After some especially crazy shit went down, I got pulled from Science, and now I'm figuring out a new job: Resident Geek FC essentially, but I also have to tell engineers and scientists what to do once I come up with things that sound good. It's weird, but you already knew that. So far, we're still too busy putting our physical environment together for anyone to really notice how much I'm pulling out of my ass- I think. I've always liked being the sysadmin, but I'm not sure how well I like being the boss. No Vydok really sucks, but I'm glad he finally gets a chance to stand out.

Let me know what you're up to! I hate being so remote sometimes. If I could, I'd burn some accrued leave to come out and visit you. A break would be awesome right about now.

Ripcord is still in good hands, and she says hi. Same with Mayat- I think he wants to send you his own note too, at some point. Feel free to beat him to it.

Take care!
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The Advanced Trait of Mercy, Part Three [24 Apr 2011|10:46am]

(( OOC: Part One
Part Two ))

Still doubled over on the floor, Sulren worked at relating the turbulent history that had eventually led him to this day. Beside him, Nazeh sat and listened without interruption. There was a lot she sympathized with. As for the things she'd heard before, Sulren related them again consistently. The same details were there, in the same places.

Read more...Collapse )
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The Advanced Trait of Mercy, Part Two [23 Mar 2011|08:07pm]

(( OOC: Part one ))

As the cool reprieve of twilight crept upon Yon-Shal, the TARDIS rested between buildings, unnoticed. Having safely regrouped in the main control room, and in need of a break from the harsh climate, the Doctor and his companions traded notes and attempted to glean what they could from the stoic young fugitive who had nearly perished at their doorstep.

The discussion continues…Collapse )
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Awards [26 Jan 2011|09:49pm]

"Very well said," Velles replied. "You are quite judicious with your words."

"Have you read many of our reports?" Dekospos asked.

"Only what I had time to read on my way here," Velles said. "And even then, only what I was cleared for, which isn't as much as you might think. I can speak with you, but anything you write down for me must be passed through Avor, I'm afraid. But I have been an astute follower of what is covered by the popular press- for what that's worth."

"Or myself," Amza said. "After all, I am a diplomatic observer. It's perfectly reasonable that we would exchange written communications."
The meal proceeded without event, and Dekospos rose to present the awards. "I don't wish to bore you all with a long speech," he said. "But I can't proceed without saying that the crew of Magellan has faced all variety of challenges and menaces, and we've always risen to the challenge on our own terms. I've been liberal with commendations and internal awards, but after the recent events, I felt the need to nominate several key personnel for their actions during the most recent battle."

"First, though, it must be recognized that anything we do is an act of teamwork. None of us can succeed without all of us. That statement, more than anything, symbolizes what being a member of Magellan means. And the Admiralty recognizes that strength." Dekospos raised a PADD. "Here I have an official letter from Starfleet Command recognizing our ship with the Bronze Palm for Distinguished Service. 'This award is given,'" he read, "'not simply for brave actions in the face of pirate attackers, but for a consistent record of daring service in the face of unusual dangers, and for emphasizing Starfleet's mission of peaceful exploration.' That is an award for each of us to treasure. This is only the fifth time in Starfleet history that an entire vessel still in service was given that award." It was a common award to give to individuals, but for an entire crew to receive it at once was uncommon- although it had been awarded to an entire vessel more than five times, the other times had all been posthumous. Dekospos didn't feel the need to mention that.

"Now, for individual recognitions. Commander Feraan, please rise. Commander Feraan lead the initial strike team, and operated under many constraints. Her team completed all of their mission objectives, without inflicting or receiving more than minor casualties. In Starfleet naval history, there has never been a case of such a bloodless boarding action.
"For exceptional service in defense of her vessel, Starfleet presents Commander Feraan with the Starfleet Award for Valor. Commander Feraan has the distinction of being the first member of the Romulan Navy to wear this award during their Naval service." He pinned the award on her and gave her a little wink, in lieu of a kiss. There was, after all, a proper image for a captain to maintain during official functions.

"Commander Fenn. It's your turn. Commander Fenn lead the second action to hold the ship that Commander Feraan and her team captured. He was faced with an additional challenge- enemy forces fortified the engine room and worked to destroy the ship. Given the many options open to him, Commander Fenn convinced the pirates to surrender without firing a shot.
"For his peaceful resolution to a lethal situation, Starfleet recognizes Commander Fenn with the Starfleet Award for Gallantry, and a Silver Palm."

He pinned the pair of awards onto Fenn with a word of congratulations. After a round of applause, Velles stood. "Thank you Captain Dekospos," she said. "If I may?" Beside her, Avor reached for a glass of wine and started drinking. "Magellan stands as a symbol that peaceful cooperation works, and that our two civilizations can not only co-exist, but thrive together. The mutineers that you captured represent the worst kind of criminal. In recognition of that, the Empire has empowered me to bestow a handful of awards."

"Commander Feraan. For your actions during the capture of N'Vek, you are inducted into the Order of Vokol. Wear this pin in remembrance of the battle. Captain Dekospos, in recognition of your actions in the service of the Empire, you are hereby awarded the Stone Talon. You are not they only member of Starfleet to wear this award, but you are in good company."
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…and a floor show [17 Jan 2011|08:17pm]

Amza saw an unfamiliar face in the transporter room. Velles smirked. "This is our political officer, Avor. We don't usually let him out of his cage."

"A pleasure. I've been after Commander Velles to introduce us," Avor said. He bowed deeply to Amza. "The Commander and I have reached an understanding about the role of a political officer aboard a Romulan vessel."

"I write his reports, and he doesn't go out an airlock."

"And how, exactly, was this vessel chosen for this mission?" Amza asked. It seemed to fit the tone of the conversation.

"Your Admiral Trius impressed our superiors with the urgency of the situation. From there, it boils down to relative speed and pathing algorithms."

"Commander Velles is having her way with you," Avor said. "My concerns are with the Romulan crew, not with any guests. To expect you to be ideologically sound would be absurd- you don't have the grooming for it. And officers are granted a certain… discretion in their own affairs."

Amza simply raised an eyebrow at the exchange, and then the transporter effects gripped them.
The banquet hall had been laid out to encourage browsing, and to conceal the fact that it usually pulled duty as the shuttlebay. Given the numbers that expressed an interest in attending, it was the only space that could manage it. Freis had taken on the duties of organizing the event, both because she preferred organizing parties versus attending them as well as the fact that everything done here was an act of communication. From the seating arrangements to the catering, everything broadcasted a message. And she wanted it to be the correct message.

As a result, the room was arranged to support mingling. Tables were arranged in a carefully-designed-to-appear-haphazard fashion. Without clear walking lanes, drifting became the main way to navigate the crowds. Similarly, the food was arranged at stations in the room, organized on the buffet table without care to course or cultural origin- instead, individuals would be forced to browse for what interested them or suited their palate.

At the start of the mission, such an arrangement could have been viewed as mere team-building. But this crew was thoroughly integrated. Instead, it was a message: "this is how we live, and it is a good life. Share it with us." Whether or not the visitors would recognize or even care for the message, that was open. But Freis made sure that she controlled the message sent.

Which meant that, by the time the first revelers arrived, she was a bundled mass of frayed nerves that actively avoided anyone that sought her out, unless they were part of the hosting staff.
"This is an interesting arrangement," Velles told Dekospos as he showed them to the long table set at the head of the party. "I'm sure it will be most… entertaining."

Amza glanced around, and the impression intended by Freis was overt to her. But she was trained, both by profession and predilection to notice these things. She said nothing about it, other than to reply, "The Federation lives to entertain."

"Well, Joint Command encourages us to be good hosts, and my wife and I take such things personally." Dekospos slipped an arm around Feraan as he guided her to a chair.

"Ah, yes," Avor said. "I've heard of your arrangement. Congratulations on your nuptials. How long has it been now?"
The captain and his guests had their own table, and while there was room there for them, seating was emphatically not assigned. Which meant everyone had the opportunity to sit with either the highest or lowest ranks.
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Dinner Party [31 Dec 2010|08:46pm]

The captured commander stood when he recognized his captor. "Captain."

"Commander. Romulan authorities will arrive shortly to collect you and your crew. Officially, you'll be charged with mutiny."

The only reply was the hum of the brig force-field.

"Officially, you're Commander Sekken of N'Vek. And there will be a Federation official who will be there to document that when you're taken into custody. An embassy press-release will go through official Imperial news-channels carrying that statement. And you are going to do nothing to gainsay this."

"Sekken" didn't reply.

"Your crew shouldn't have to pay the penalty for your orders. I'm hoping that attention on the affair will give your crew a chance to get reassigned, and not killed. I imagine that you care enough about your crew to ensure that happens."

The Commander stepped forward. "My duty is to the Empire before all else. If I thought that we should fall upon our swords for the benefit of the Empire, I would order it and I would expect my crew to obey. But you have nothing to fear, Captain. No matter what I say, it could be spun as the words of a desperate man. I will let my superiors decide how best to use my death to strike at our enemies."

"And your crew?"

"Also for my superiors to decide."
It was a universal truism: other species couldn't make comfortable furniture. It was one of the many challenges that Amza faced as a Weapons Inspector, and ironically, it was the one that always grated.

Amza spent most of her time standing at the most contentious border between regional governments and the Federation. Sometimes, especially on the edge of the Federation's sphere of influence or in times of unrest, planetary governments would take it upon themselves to stockpile weapons. Up to a point, this wasn't a problem, but when anyone with access to a high school physics laboratory can make a city-leveling bomb, it's easily within the reach of these governments to make planet leveling bombs. And it was always for the best of reasons- Amza had never met a megalomaniacal dictator bent on galactic conquest. Instead, she had met a series of politicians deeply invested in protecting their people from threats both real and imagined.

Touring the Empire, then, had been nearly a vacation. Rarely was she treated as a dignitary, and rarely was she taken, on official vessels, to military sites. That is, until this entire Magellan thing had cropped up. Amza had been working undercover defusing a grey-goo scenario on Vortas when Magellan had become a household name, but she was aware of what it represented in Federation/Empire relations.

The door chimed. An uhlan stood at the door. "The Commander wishes to inform you that we'll be rendezvousing in twenty minutes, and you are invited to the bridge for that time."

Amza eyed the uhlan. This was the sort of thing that chafed her about the Empire. There was no need to send someone to her quarters- she used the same communications network that the rest of them did. It was a display of power; it was a message that said "I can blow manpower on useless errands because I can." Amza was keenly aware of how vital these displays were in militaristic societies. The little things made her wonder if the Empire was truly ready for a detente with the Federation.
The D'Deridex loomed on the Magellan's viewscreen for a long while before communications were established. The Romulan Commander, Velles, greeted them. She then presented Inspector Amza- a gold-skinned Aaamazzarite wearing traditional garb- a robe that matched her skintones which she had secreted.

"We're ready to take control of your prisoners," Velles said.

"You've come a long way to get them," Dekospos replied. "Please, let us give you what hospitality we have, and I can deliver a formal report on the situation to you. I'm very interested in providing a complete report to you, so that these mutineers may be punished in proportion to their crimes."

"We all want justice," Velles replied. "I would be most curious to hear how you captured the vessel relatively intact."

"Well, we will be handing out awards at a formal ceremony to congratulate the people who did this great work. You are, of course, invited. And Inspector Amza, as the leading civilian representative of our government, I would like you to take part in the ceremony."

"I would be honored," Amza said in a carefully measured tone of sincerity.
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Captured [16 Dec 2010|08:37pm]

Dekospos stayed on the captured ship until the resistance was put down. While all the key areas were held, not everyone was interested in surrender. It was likely that such a surrender would be a death sentence, at least for some. He kept the ship's former commander on the bridge, manacled to a sturdy railing.

It was near the end of the combat when the commander regained consciousness. "I accept your surrender," Dekospos said. The commander looked daggers at him. "I must say, you aren't what I expected of Commander Sekken. Your file photo doesn't do you justice."

The daggers got sharper.

"You did a good job anonymizing your ship, but we know that you're N'Vek."

"So, you intend to play this charade out to the end?" 'Sekken' said in Romulan.

Without relying on the translator, Dekospos replied, "We've captured your ship, the entirety of your crew, and thwarted your attempts to disrupt our mission. I'll play whatever charade I like."
Holding a large number of people for any serious period of time is a difficult thing to do. Prisons are expensive because it is so difficult. One would think that holding a crew on a mostly disabled ship would be trivial in comparison. What trouble could they get into, after all? Where could they escape to?

Even the most inexperienced officer knows many ways to get into trouble on a starship, regardless of her current status. And a sufficiently paranoid crew might have stocked away a secret cache of arms, or any number of things. It's impossible to find all the potential threats on a starship.

For the first few hours, Dekospos had Security be very aggressive about cycling prisoners through under the guise of "processing". From staging areas on the "N'Vek" to Magellan's cargo hold; dribs and drabs through Sickbay and then, finally, to "N'Vek"'s cargo hold- after Engineering had time to harden it, install force fields, and position sensors.

By keeping the prisoners moving, by changing the eyes on them, by changing the environments, they didn't have much chance to organize for an escape before a secure holding area could be organized. It would still be a constant challenge to hold them until backup arrived.
Dekospos debriefed each of the key officers individually, and devoted the most time to Feraan and Mayat. He never got a chance to visit Feraan in Sickbay- by the time he had finished stabilizing the situation, Medical had done its magic, healed the "minor" bruises on her brain and observed her for a few hours to make sure the treatment took.

Before running Feraan through the debrief protocol, Dekospos gave her a kiss on the head and asked, "How are you holding up?"
The inevitable senior staff meeting that followed recapped the current disposition of the two ships first. Once that business was out of the way, Dekospos stood. "I have one more key comment to add. Everyone, and I do mean everyone did incredible work. When ships are throwing Titanic forces at each other, it's easy to forget the personal cost of starship combat, a cost driven home most when we do not have to pay it.
"Everyone here played a vital role in making sure that happened. But a few went above and beyond. Feraan, Mr. Fenn- assaulting an enemy stronghold and taking it with no fatalities and light casualties is a feat few strategists ever expect, and few officers ever achieve. To do so without inflicting anything beyond light casualties is a feat beyond the pale.
"A feat, however, that would be impossible without a stellar showing by Mr. Goren's department.
"Our final relief will rendezvous with us in a few more days, and it will be carrying a Federation dignitary as an official observer. At that time, I will hold a proper Ribbon ceremony, complete with pomp and circumstance. For right now, I want you to know how very proud I am of all of you."
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Ambush [06 Dec 2010|10:12pm]

"They know the terrain," Trius said. "But I am not going to order them to engage your band of rogues."

"In the time it takes for reinforcements to arrive, the mutineers could be anywhere," the attaché said. At some point, Trius would have to get around to learning his name, but today was not that day.

"And? This is hardly a Starfleet problem. Magellan has orders to treat N'Vek as a target of opportunity. I see no reason why they should actively engage your dissidents for you. Are we done?"

"I would hope not," the attaché replied. "Smooth diplomatic relations are in both of our interests."

"Then talk to a diplomat. I've met a few excellent ones, and my secretary can provide you with their contact information on your way out. Alternatively, you can give us all the information you have on N'Vek."

"I've given you everything that we're cleared to give. Name, rank, serial number of the senior staff, last known position, and class of the vessel."

"So, nothing of value. Come back when you have something interesting to say. I repeat, are we done?"

"We have a contact," the sensor technician called out from her station. "It's deep in the nebular cloud, but it's got a power signature in line with Magellan."

"Helm, plot an intercept course. Close slowly, and keep the star between us. I fully expect this to be a trap."
The bait orbited close to a protostar. The ball of hydrogen gas had a core temperature of 4000K; hydrogen molecules couldn't hold their bonds together, deuterium fusion stirred deep within it, but it would be another millennia of collapse before it burst into life and begin fusing pure hydrogen.

The high temperatures, gasses, and radiation made it a sensor nightmare. Ironically, the same conditions made a cloaking device less effective- it couldn't disperse the excess energy quickly enough to prevent a shadow from forming.

Magellan wasn't operating in the blind, however. A collection of probes expanded her senses. They operated in a low-power passive mode, rendering them nearly undetectable. When they sensed the Dontara-class vessel, they broadcast a message- straight to the bait. The bait, in turn, acted as a covert relay to Magellan. Even with subspace transmission, there was a significant lag in the system, but if everything went according to plan, it wouldn't be a problem.
"Repelling parties, report status. Boarding parties, report status," Dekospos commed down to the security office and transporter rooms. He had made a controversial- and risky- call. He didn't want the attackers to get the opportunity to escape or self-destruct. Even with a well constructed ambush, the chances of such a thing happening were all too great. It was a significant risk to the boarding party, and it also incurred the added risk of the enemy vessel sending her own party. "We have a confirmed contact. They're closing into our engagement envelope."
"Hold position," the commander ordered. "They've spotted us. Let's see what they do."

"We can't, sir- the star's interference is disrupting our view of the enemy vessel. I would assume they're attempting to make a run for it."

Accursed caution; boldness might have prevented them from making a break. Still, if they acted quickly… "Belay that last. Execute a transverse orbit. Bring us close to the star and use a gravity slingshot. I want to get around the star before they can accelerate away." The manuever would bring the ship around the star with more velocity than Magellan could have. They should be able to get a salvo off before Magellan escaped their engagement envelope. And they were packing a little more firepower than standard Dontara class vessel- it should be a nasty surprise. They would deal with Magellan and then find N'Vek at their own leisure.
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Found You [29 Nov 2010|05:37pm]

"She's searching actively. What should we allow her to find?"

"How long has it been?"

"Ten hours. We can assume that they've been alerted, by now, and have confirmed receipt of the notification."

"Open fire."
Magellan rocked under the initial assault. Cloaking devices are not magic, and they do not render a ship undetectable. It was for that reason only that Magellan wasn't shattered in the first exchange; the attacking ship couldn't deliver its full might and have the element of surprise.

The instant the hostile ship decloaked, Magellan's threat assessment determined it didn't have good intentions and instantly declared a red alert. The attacker's disruptors were faster; they leapt across space and struck hull before the shields had solidified; the follow-up plasma torpedo met the shields.

Dekospos was at the conn so quickly that he might have been there the entire time. "Situation?"

"Dontara class cruiser is attacking. Currently at 135º/45º, ten kilometers, presenting her aft arc to us, but is coming around."

"Helm, bring us perpendicular to their course, maintain current speed and get us some distance. On my mark, reduce to engagement speed and execute pattern Theta. Tactical, you will engage on the same mark. Overcharge the forward phaser batteries- I want to bloody their noses before they get a chance to get tricky."
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Mail Call [27 Nov 2010|05:12pm]

Under Freis's guidance, the computer dug through and did its best job finding important messages. It summarized, expanded, annotated and analyzed. It couldn't fill in all of the holes, but it did its best. In the end, they had a fair amount of useful intelligence to review at the senior staff meeting.

Sallus Octavius didn't leap out significantly in the databanks, although it was near where ONI anticipated the sixth-fleet's maneuvers. There were no reports of unrest or conflict. Admiral Subura, on the other hand, had a well documented career. He was, euphemistically, an internal trouble-shooter, with the emphasis on "shoot". Records showed that he had sterilized at least one planet on the border of Imperial space. The Navy valued him, the Army hated him- on more than one occasion, he had opened fire on enemy positions without consulting the ground forces- which were in the process of staging a ground assault. Unfortunately for them, he got results.

"I've also heard of him," Hiran said. "From what I've heard, the Starfleet report is needlessly kind to him. That border planet was a Romulan colony in Vodan space. They wanted to secede and join the Vodan."

"I've never heard of the Vodan," Dekospos said.

"As far as I know, they've been extinct for a decade."

Sekken was less well documented. A serviceable if undistinguished career, he had languished as a Centurion for twice as long as most officers. He had been in command of N'Vek for five years, and had been her XO for three years before that.

The messages were mostly apologies and notes to loved ones. Because the routing tables were heavily encrypted, it remained impossible to tell exactly where these messages were going. Nothing contained any hint as to the location or disposition of N'Vek. Nothing contradicted the narrative that seemed plausible, but very little corroborated it either. Based on Sekken's writing, and a few other notes from the senior staff, the "maneuvers" at Sallus Octavius were going to be a violent crackdown. Sekken and his crew were tired of fratricide and decided to flee.
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Who's coming to dinner? [22 Nov 2010|09:03pm]

Nazeh wasn't six steps from Hiran's quarters when Alef bleeped at her.

Nazeh and Freis got notified at the same exact time. The entire time the Magellan, both the original and its successor, had been deep in the Beta Quadrant, they had both been ejecting subspace relays. These nodes extended the Federation and Romulan communications networks deep into the Beta Quadrant, and both of those networks were very concerned with protecting the computers at the other end. No one wanted an undocumented Beta Quadrant mutagenic computer virus slipping into Starfleet or Imperial Naval systems.

Given the number of undiscovered security vulnerabilities in any system, the network took a measured approach: strong IDS and segmented facilities- any unusual behavior took a node off the network.

That was SOP- but Magellan was far from standard. While both the Federation and the Empire would allow any system into the network that had the appropriate security code, the network Magellan left in its wake was very different- only one vessel should ever communicate with that network- Magellan.

When an unauthorized access occurred, the communication and IT specialists were alerted. When that unauthorized access involved a valid Imperial encryption key, it got an extra special red flag. An Imperial vessel was in the Beta Quadrant, and it wasn't cleared to be there.
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Friendship! [20 Nov 2010|10:15pm]

Drorig slammed the butt of the practice lirpa into Hiran's face. He stumbled back and nearly lost his balance. Drorig retreated a step instead of pressing its attack. The blade of Hiran's lirpa sailed through the space Drorig's head would have been if it had followed up; Hiran had faked his imbalance.

They both returned to guard positions and eyed each other. "You have improved greatly," Hiran said.

Drorig didn't say anything, and instead swept the blade of its weapon out at Hiran. He parried, but Drorig deftly let the weapon slide in its grip until momentum turned the blade back toward it- and the weighted butt beat through Hiran's guard. Step, knee, elbow, trip, and Hiran was on his back.

"No, you've just gotten worse," Drorig said. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," Hiran said. He started to pull himself up, but Drorig beat him back down with the butt.

"'Combat is always true; feints and misdirection are the most honest statements individuals can make,'" Drorig quoted. "You're lying."

"I don't know," Hiran admitted.

Drorig reached down and helped him up. "That's a good start."

"You want to talk about it?"

"Not particularly," Hiran said and took a fighting stance.

"Do I have to beat it out of you?" Drorig asked. "Because the way you've been fighting, I can."

"You're welcome to try." Read more...Collapse )
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The Advanced Trait of Mercy [26 Oct 2010|05:31pm]

"Oh!" In response to Korduc's warning, Nazeh started, backing away from the TARDIS console. "I've been thinking about hacking together an interface that would let us control the ship remotely through Alef, if we had to. Is it just the physical bits that are harmful, or is it the software, too?"

"Damned if I know, child," Goren replied, even as he tore along the console to issue tangible commands- buttons smashed, levers raised. "I can find you another of those toys to experiment on first?"

"They're called PADDs, joon-am-eh-doktor," Nazeh replied while watching Goren work from a safe distance. "I brought a few with me. Besides, you probably want to avoid my time from now on, if you can help it."

"Quite." The doctor paused to adjust the cuffs of his sleeves, his expression disdainful. "We learned the hard way that your Federation frowns upon persons of my persuasion gallivanting to and fro in a living, breathing, unfettered state. Their loss. The only proper response was to steal my daughter away from those cretins, so that she might travel with me and the inestimable Mr. Korduc. Doubly their loss."

Goren had debated his fictional persona's tie to Nazeh's, and had decided to allow their honorary distinctions to bleed over into this space. Why not? The Doctor traveled with family before, or at least those he described as family. It wasn't unprecedented. Besides, in all likelihood, Goren would never have the privilege of claiming Nazeh as kin before new, real-life acquaintances. He returned to his labors at the TARDIS console.

"You didn't really steal me," Nazeh replied with a smirk. "I came along willingly."

"Perhaps," Goren conceded, "but you don't get far in these endeavors without a flair for the dramatic. Ask Mr. Korduc about the time I was forced to shoot that hapless android point-blank in a bid to 'prove' we were all robots... ah, but have we arrived already? That seemed awfully short, and free of the usual violence."

Read more...Collapse )
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Branching Out [08 Oct 2010|08:14pm]

Nazeh's altered orders and schedule remained in effect, affording her unmatched flexibility in what she did from one day to the next. She played coy with most of the people who tried to gauge what she did and did not recall at this point. As time went on, she spent increasingly little time on-duty, attending to only the most pressing IT tasks before heading to Sickbay. There was much to be done- worthwhile things.

Read more...Collapse )

During his off-hours, Dr. Webb received an unusual communicator page- Feraan. "Sir?"

"This planet is the polar opposite of relaxation- or fun," she said matter-of-factly. "I hate to resort to the holodeck, but I don't have much choice. Care to join?"

He tried to ignore how high his heart leaped. "What'd you have in mind?"

"Something more like that jungle we explored on Kleptes. We should be able to simulate it directly. Game?"

"Dunno. How many bones you plan on fracturing this time?" Webb asked.

"As many as I can," she replied. Over the communicator, it was impossible to tell whether she was joking or not.
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Fishing [15 Aug 2010|02:39pm]

Faldals's boat was the largest and nicest structure in the village. There were several other boats, slightly smaller than Faldals's. There were no large trees, so the boat was more like a raft, woven from plant fibers and sealed with a tar made from the peat bogs south of the village.

"Large" was relative. Most of the fishing boats could carry two or three people. Faldals could hold six, if they were all working nets, or ten if they were just sitting and relaxing. The raft was broad enough that it was stable enough to stand up on, although if one were incautious, it could prove treacherous.

For today, the nets were stowed. Instead, Faldals had a set of fishing poles- manufactured fishing poles, with monomolecule line. "Have either of you fished before?" Faldals asked Dekospos and Feraan as he poled the raft away from the shore.

"I have," Dekospos said, examining the rods and reels. "These are excellent."

"They've been in my family for generations." Faldals rolled his shoulders. "Actually doing things with ones hands runs in my family. Speaking of family, there's an invitation from Trast to visit the creche after lunch."

"What's for lunch?" Dekospos asked.

"We'll know after we catch it," Faldals replied. A few hard jabs from him with the pole got the raft's momentum up, headed for the middle of the lake. The lake was finger-shaped, about a kilometer wide, and nearly six long. It was shallow and clear.
It wasn't only the captain and Feraan that beamed down. Hiran and a small squad of security officers beamed down along with books. Prosost greeted them. "Welcome, much thanks." A few strapping locals relieved them of their burdens and carried it off towards the shipwreck.

"Now, I've heard talk that you are interested in enlisting," Hiran said. His tone was derisive and mistrustful.

"I… I would be. Planet-bound living is not for me. And without naval discipline… I won't judge, but I'll just say that for my own preferences, the society here is too lawless. Most everyone likes it, but I was career navy."

"What about that navy?" Hiran asked.

"What about it? My term was up five years ago, and I was AWOL for half of it. We're well outside the Confederacy's territory, unless something has changed."

"And your loyalties?"

Prosost wobbled on its long legs for a moment while it considered. "Would I like to serve my homeland? Absolutely. But practically, I know I can't. Starfleet seems like a good organization."

"We aren't only Starfleet," Hiran said. He handed Prosost another book. The creature took it awkwardly in his forelimbs. "This book contains a brief history of the Federation and the Empire, as well as information about Starfleet's behavior and actions. And finally, some information about our mission. I've tried to make it as balanced as possible. We'll be in orbit for a few more days as our crew takes their liberty. Before we proceed with anything, read this. Think on it."

"Oh, I will!" Prosost's leg reached up to take the book from its hands, and then place it on its back. For a brief moment, it balanced on a single leg. Once it settled the book, coarse hairs between its thighs gripped into it, like velcro, or an insect's limbs. "Much thanks. Again, even just the opportunity makes me happy."

"Yes, well it is hardly a foregone conclusion. There will be a test." As Prosost galloped off, Hiran shook his head. This was a terrible idea.
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Vacation… [30 Jul 2010|08:44pm]

Despite the dire predictions, nothing untoward happened to Nazeh, Mayat, or their quarters. After the initial grumbling subsided, no one complained about the new time tracking application. No one seemed particularly pleased about it, but with senior staff backing, no one was going to say terribly much against the subject. The closest to an honest complaint was from Engineering's middle-management, who were concerned that it provided too much data.

The next stop on their survey mission was the aforementioned class M planet. The system itself was quiet, with no signs of recent warp trails, mysteriously dead Borg cubes, or anything else untoward. The planet itself was only recently class M; plants were just starting to climb out of the ocean onto the land; the only local vertebrates were still in the oceans, which themselves were so full of CO2 that they were not only acidic, but could make a fairly decent soda. The atmosphere was dense and warm, but the planet was far enough from the local primary that even at the equator the summer temperatures rarely peaked over 80º, and the thick atmosphere meant that the arctic circle rarely drifted below 40º. All in all, it was a temperate, unexciting planet, with large oceans, long beaches, an no native predators.

It was only after Magellan entered a high orbit that any potential problems reared their heads: an obvious shipwreck at around 40º latitude, solidly in the temprate zone. It was "recent", in the sense that it occurred in the past ten years. The ship, which seemed to have survived its impact surprisingly well, as if its beaching were intentional, was in remarkably good condition, and seemed to be surrounded by a modest settlement- perhaps 200 individuals, based on the size and shape. There was no distress signal, nor did was there any response to attempts at communication. There was evidence of farming; the settlement itself was composed of small huts. Until a vessel entered orbit, it was small enough to be invisible.

That was the only hazard on the planet's surface. There were no other signs of technology, and no sign that the settlement ever strayed terribly far from the large freshwater lake that they surrounded.

"Given what we can see," Dekospos said during the requisite briefing, "I suggest that we start cycling crew out for leave on the opposite side of the planet from the ship-wreck, while a security detachment investigates the settlement. They appear to be marooned, but I have no intention of kicking over a hornet's nest if it's avoidable. The goal is to confirm that they are no sort of threat, and see if they need any sort of aid. Questions? Suggestions? With any luck, this will be a bit of a much-needed vacation for everyone."
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