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Rhan K'hal

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About Rhan K'hal

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    U.S.S. Excalibur

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  1. TO: Commanding Officer – Captain Asher Swain TO: Executive Officer – Commander Jalen Stanton CC: Chief Medical Officer – Lieutenant Commander Maryse Dubois CC: Chief Engineer – Lieutenant William Chocox It is unfortunate that so soon after launch that I must formally file a deficiency report regarding multiple design aspects of the bridge; especially since so many other aspects of the vessel are up to date and are considerable improvements on earlier classes. However, the concerns are urgent and/or major enough that a delay would be unacceptable. I have identified three major deficiency categories in the bridge design, mostly due to the fact that the layout and console design was contemporary with primary operations of the Galaxy-Class starships and design phase of intermediary starships like the Intrepid. Unfortunately this was not updated even though the underlying technology was, due to a waiver issued by Starfleet Command. I still suspect similar reports have and will be filed by other ships in the Block II construction of Luna-Class vessels while this bridge module is actively installed. Deficiencies Standing Stations Pursuant to findings in Starfleet Medical Report 1087 § 12, full duty-shift assignments at standing consoles present high risk of upper spine and neck injuries over time with standard use. The findings additionally list generic impact injuries as a likely occurrence due to lack of support during inertial disruption events. The study also finds fatigue to be an issue for full duty shifts assignments. The official recommendation of this report is to phase out standing stations as soon as possible in new designs, refits and upgrades. This recommendation was accepted and folded into Starfleet Design Guideline 337β. Pursuant to findings in Starfleet Operational Research 783 § 1, standing consoles present an unacceptable risk to ship operations in emergency situations due to the likelihood of crew-members being unable to remain on station due to inertial disruptions causing loss of balance, or complete dislocation of personnel from the station. The remedy to this finding was folded into Starfleet Design Guideline 337β. Station Designations & Locations The inclusion of the Navigation designation at the port fore console is antithetical to the last 30 years of Starfleet bridge operations and designs, as computer improvements and helm officer training has eliminated the need for this position. Its place in “prime real estate” for receiving commands during emergency operations makes it far too valuable to be an auxiliary station. The tactical station’s placement aft of the command seating bank has been proven (Starfleet Operational Research 791 § 1) detrimental to crew-members comprehension of orders during high volume events in comparison to fore stations. With recent trials of split bridge operations rated positive (Starfleet Operational Research 833 § 12), as well as the experience in those trials of most of the current bridge personnel, reverting to a consolidated operations station is not recommended, though no official guideline has been passed. In Starfleet Design Guideline 362λ, it was decided that lighting should be increased to assist with multiple aspects of service on the bridge: alertness, awareness of surroundings, and communications between personnel. This guideline was followed in this bridge module, however the material guidelines remained from the original design specifications which relied on a considerably lower brightness level. The result is higher specular lighting, with increased reflectivity on metal or glossy surfaces. This distracts personnel as well as providing issues with eye strain and headaches. Recommendations Installing suitably tall chairs (with folding arms to act as restraints & using adjustable but secure mag-lock bases to account for crew physical statures) at all standing stations would be sufficient short-term until such time as they can be replaced with permanent seated consoles. Additionally, configurable holo-emitters can be installed to provide extra eye-height information to the standing consoles that lack displays without permanently blocking visibility. Operations should be split between ship and mission profiles. The replication and installation of new light fixtures and/or light covers to diffuse the light sources to levels sufficient to meet medical recommendations while maintain brightness levels mandated by Starfleet Design Guideline 362λ. Station layout improvements based on most recent Starfleet Design Guideline 388α, Starfleet Operations Efficiency Recommendations, and limitations of current console designs (attached file: 8W8AXSUW9DGI). Switching now before officers become “entrenched” would make the transitions easier. All listed recommendations (other than full replacement consoles) can be implemented while the ship is in space, with materials on hand, with minimal disruption if the work is completed during “low-activity” shifts. Senior Operations Officer Lieutenant J.G. Rhan K’hal
  2. Earlier forum uploaded file got corrupted, now hosting the files on clyp.it
  3. Moving On, & Staying In Place A Rhan K’hal Log So much for getting away from the station. After browsing the offerings of assignments, he found that there were no new launches scheduled for a while, and most of the holes to fill on ships under way were for lower decks personnel. So in the end Rhan stayed on 39 Tango. After waiting for a few more days, the position opened up: the beta shift operations officer had been waiting (impatiently) to give birth, and was now on maternity leave. Since he’d wormed his way into the station’s operation staff after the Excalibur had been assigned here (networking, networking, networking!), he was able to slide right in with only a few introductions needed. One of the immediate perks of working, instead of being an Excalibur refugee, was that he’d been moved to larger, nicer, and most importantly single-occupancy quarters. Brotherly love was nice, but he and Hak could not share quarters for very long without getting under each other’s fur. The elder K’hal was taking his usual methodical approach to deciding his future, and was still on Station. They would grab dinner together usually, often with a useful buffer of additional Excalibur crew that hadn’t moved on yet. While he had no particular emotions regarding the crumpled mess that was the Excalibur (as an operations officer he knew very well how much a ship was just a system of parts, and of little use without its people), he had found it odd and somehow fascinating watching the ship slowly being picked apart by the vultures. He even directed them where to store the meaty bits once he’d begun his new assignment. He could look at the transfer docket and think “ah yes, I remember giving that system a kick in the ODN relay” or “wasn’t that the one that Commander Hawthorne had beaten with a hammer after everyone else had given up on it?” He did feel quite a bit different altogether about the break-up of the Excalibur crew. Most of them had taken the first ships available to head off on leave, having had their own fill of the station’s hospitality, there were others that were lollygagging (like Hakran), while deciding on what course to take next. He’d even helped break through the bureaucratic red tape for a few of his own people so they wouldn’t have to slide down rungs on the professional ladder. Seeing them drift apart like a cloud entering into wind shear, never knowing if he’d see any of them again, left Rhan with a lingering sadness that manifested with him being quite a bit quieter and more plodding than his normal self. This was of course the first time since leaving the Academy where he’d had what looked to be a permanent parting from his long-term colleagues and friends. Though growing up in San Francisco he was quite used to people coming and going, so that dichotomy was understandably pulling his psyche in two different directions. He really didn’t like it at all, but he was far too much of a fatalist to dwell on it for long. He had three months in a familiar if not all that glamorous location, doing a job he could do in his sleep. He’d be able to adjust to moving on in relative comfort. Hopefully.
  4. A Rhan & Hakran K’hal Log The door to their shared quarters swished open, and as Rhan stepped through he saw his elder brother Hakran, legs outstretched, propped up against the integrated headboard with a pillow behind his head. In his paw-like hands was a standard ‘Fleet PADD, and the pointy-bearded Cait thumb-tapped to the next page in the scientific paper he was reading. “Aren’t you all comfy and cozy,” remarked Rhan, who had been worried about his brother’s recent detached demeanor. “Hmm,” Hakran murmured, finishing the paragraph he was on and marking his place before looking up. “I guess I am,” he added. “I spent a good deal of the day walking, my legs are due for a rest.” “Yeah, I saw you wearing a trench in the promenade flooring,” Rhan said. “The way you looked, I kept expecting someone to yell ‘Zombie!’ and charge at you with a cricket bat.” Rhan plunked himself down on his bed, kicked off his civilian shoes, and leaned back comfortably. With a snort of amusement, Hakran rolled his eyes. He put down the PADD, as he knew Rhan wouldn’t end the conversation here. Especially the “new and improved” Rhan, which had inherited top-tier nagging. “I was thinking,” Hakran said, “and you know very well about what. So excuse me if I was a little wrapped up in the matter.” “Okay, okay,” Rhan replied, holding his hands up in a gesture of surrender. “’Was’ seems to be the operative word. You haven’t looked this relaxed in almost a month. So spill.” As Hakran had just picked up his tea, he smiled. “Spilling would be a very bad idea right now. This tea is still hot.” As Rhan harrumphed in exasperation, Hakran continued. “Fine. You’re almost worse than Mother, you know that? She could nag a thorn off a rose, but she’d do it methodically over a period of time. You nag with your usual hyperactivity.” “Yes, I do. So get on with it,” Rhan said, with an accompanying hand motion. “I’m staying,” Hakran said. He tilted his own head at the sound of the words, as it was the first time he’d said them aloud since making the decision. “At least if there’s something to stay for, which is still in doubt.” “Yes!” Rhan exclaimed with a pump of his fist. “So… what prompted the decision. I doubt you’ve suddenly realized how much you love the paperwork.” “Ugh, you would mention that. But no,” Hakran said firmly. “It came down to science, in the end. I just don’t have enough data yet. Every mission I’ve been on so far has been crazy. I don’t know what it’s like to just be a normal department administrator. To oversee run-of-the-mill science. I can’t formulate an analysis on such a small, skewed sample size.” “Assuming we end up with a ship that has Excalibur stamped on it, I don’t think the sampling was that skewed, to be honest, bro.” Rhan’s lopsided grin turned more pensive. “Not that I’m trying to make you change your mind, but I’m pretty sure the ship runs on crazy as much as it does on deuterium.” “Well,” Hakran began. “Even if that’s the case I still don’t have the sample size to prove it. Or to know whether I can adjust to it even if crazy is the status quo.” He sighed, looked up at the ceiling. “Plus, I’ve started making friends here. I never really managed that on the Copernicus.” “I don’t doubt it,” Rhan commented dryly. “Your personnel file used the terms ‘aloof’ and ‘isolated’ so often I almost thought there was a computer error saving the file. But then you’ve always lost yourself in your work. All the way from Calculus and Political Science back in high school.” “It’s just how I operate, and how the hell did you… Oh forget it, you always stick your muzzle where it doesn’t belong, and somehow it never gets punched.” “Heh heh” Rhan chuckled. “Never mind my muzzle. You are finally learning to let your tail sway freely. Besides the fact that I think you’ll be awesome at your job, I think the job will be awesome for you. I’m glad you’re giving it a second chance.” “Gee thanks, portable Mom simulator,” Hakran said, receiving an eye-roll in response. “Anyway, none of this matters if Starfleet scraps the ship and starts shipping us off piecemeal to far-flung assignments.” “True, but you made the decision without waiting for that,” Rhan said, his voice singing with pride. “I’m glad you did.” Rhan smiled mischievously. “It gives me someone to poke at. I don’t think I could get away doing it with the new helm officer. One, she outranks me, and two she’s sorta scary.” Hakran made a guttural sound of annoyance. “I’m going back to my journal, it’s far more interesting than you.” “Sure bro, if it makes you happy.” Rhan said, bouncing back off the bed and slipping back into his shoes. He was going to have to share the good news. Knowing the ship’s gossip channels as well as he does Starfleet communications channels, he should be able to disseminate it through the whole crew, even scattered all over the station, within a day.
  5. Consequences & Considerations A Rhan & Hakran K’hal Log The K’hal brothers were together in their guest quarters on the Mont Blanc. Rhan reclined, stretched to felinoid maximum, on a lounger; a fruit smoothie clutched in one hand and a look of concern on his young leonine face. Hakran sat hunched, his head down, on one of the armchairs. “You need to stop taking this so hard,” Rhan admonished his brother. “You had a hard choice to make, and even though it turned out FUBAR you were still making the decision that was best for the crew and the timeline. In case you forgot, the Captain is as much scientist as you are and agreed to the plan.” “I nearly got us all killed,” Hakran grumbled miserably. “I may have killed an Irene from a completely different timeline, I nearly destroyed a planet, and the Excalibur is so damaged it may end up used for scrap.” “S**t happens,” Rhan snapped back. “In the end, it’s only a ship. If you didn’t notice, we didn’t lose a single crew member, or guest, in that whole escapade, and that’s what really matters, that’s what makes a ship.” Sucking down a good muzzle-full of his smoothie, he set it down with a thud on the table before swinging his legs off so that he could sit up and face his brother directly. “As for the misplaced Irene, we don’t know what happened to her. No she didn’t ask to get yanked into this timeline, but you know that quantum particles aren’t the only things that can get entangled in the multiverse. Starfleet wouldn’t have a division explicitly assigned to these incidents if there weren’t temporal, multiphasic and multiversal entanglements popping up all the time.” “Wha…” Hakran looked up in surprised. “You think I daydreamed through dad’s mini-lectures at dinner for all those years?” Rhan asked, referring to their enthusiastic scientist father, a professor of astrophysics at Starfleet Academy. “I guess I thought you did,” Hakran replied. “I should have known better.” “Yes, you should have. You should know better now that being a department head isn’t all power trips and paperwork,” Rhan scolded. “If you’re having second thoughts about being a Chief, you need to make up your mind about it soon. We may get leave when we get back, we may not, so Captain Swain and Starfleet deserve to know while they have time to find a replacement, if that’s what’s needed.” Rhan stared boldly at his older brother with that challenge hanging in the air. “I don’t know,” Hakran said miserably. “I don’t know. I sure as hell didn’t plan on getting a Mother-style tongue lashing from you about it.” He sighed, shook his head slowly. “I suppose I should have known better about that too. You’ve really grown up on me,” declared the elder K’hal. “This ship…” Rhan started, then jerked a thumb toward the aft part of the ship “well, that ship really forces you to ‘shape up or ship out’ as the saying goes.” He snorted. “All those stories Mreh told us in the communiques, I always thought it was bulls**t. My first Excalibur mission made me change my mind fast enough.” “Yeah, and then my first mission was arranged by you, and almost got us all killed” Hakran needlessly reminded him. “As I said at the time, they needed you more than they needed me with that intellectual harpy in command.” He rolled his eyes in remembrance. “Anyway, I was right. I usually am,” Rhan said with a roguish grin. “Gods,” Hakran said, rolling his eyes. “You’ve never been short of confidence.” “No, I haven’t. Looks like I need to share some with you.” Rhan left the lounger to squat in front of Hakran, his hands on his brother’s shoulders. “If I thought a different scientist would’ve been what the Excalibur had needed, I would’ve arranged it that way. I chose you because I knew what you were capable of even if you didn’t. Captain Swain did the same when he kept you on as cee-sci.” Rhan gave Hakran’s shoulders a squeeze before rising, and then cufed his older brother upside the head. “Now you find out what you’re capable of, and do it fast.” “Ouch!” Hakran exclaimed. “You really have turned into Mom,” he grumbled with the tone of it not being a compliment. “Why, thank you!” Rhan replied, very much in the tone of it being a compliment. “Now I’ll leave you to think. I’m going to hunt up Maryse, see what sort of trouble we can get into.” Hakran seemed to remember here that he was the elder of the two and gave Rhan a sharp look. “Not that kind of trouble,” Rhan said in exasperation. “Geez. Even if it was, it’s none of your business.” With his tail haughtily raised, he swept out of the room. Hakran sat back in the chair, expelling air in one long, steady whoosh. Besides having an existential crisis about his role in the Excalibur’s predicament and his role as a Starfleet officer, he now had to mentally process that his little brother wasn’t so little anymore, and clearly owed as much to his personality from their mother as their father. With a little shudder, he swapped position into the lounger and began a good, hard think.
  6. Multi-Tasking A Rhan K’hal Log Rhan was doing what he was the best at, multi-tasking. With a ship-wide catastrophe on their hands, Engineering was up to its exhaust ports in repairs. Medical was patching up the latest round of “crew thrown hither and yon.” Science was napping and not causing any more problems. Security was largely providing pack-mule services or holding toolboxes for the engineers. Operations, of course, was assisting all of this while trying to re-stack the cargo crates. Again. So, as he conducted the frenetic opera, he turned his mental “we have not experienced a major incident in XX hours” back to zero. This whole ordeal, debacle, crap-fest (see thesaurus for more options), was, in his mind, becoming rather routine. The Excalibur seemed to be a magnet for mania, and while that annoyed him considerably the first two missions, now he simply thrived on it. The command staff seems to have learned that the more they stayed out of his fur, the faster things got done. Captain Swain was off, hopefully sleeping. Augustin was in the center seat. The Security Chief puzzled him, as he almost seemed a non-entity aboard. Even when he made an appearance for briefings or for the rare duty-officer shift he seemed to exist almost in another quantum phase; passing through but causing no ripples in the air. Though, thinking it through, he rather liked that; remembering the usual chest-thumping, I am Thor, God of Thunder, kind of personalities he remembered from security cadets back at the Academy. Commander Hawthorne was, of course, riding herd on Engineering. He wondered what had prompted her elevation to the Executive Officer’s position when she so clearly hadn’t let Engineering go, and by the looks of things wouldn’t before the 25th Century arrived. Any time the ship got dinged up (or more often, beat to within a few centimeters of collapse) she would spring into Chief Engineer mode. Not that she ever approached a dereliction of duty in regards to the XO position (a multi-tasking feat he could appreciate), but he still couldn’t figure out why she’d let go of something she loved doing so passionately. All for what was, in effect, a paperwork job. Whether he ever found out he knew one thing: when she was in this mode, stay out of the way. As he continued to work mostly on his extra-large PADD (he’d nearly had to steal it back from Swain earlier, but was saved by the Captain’s manners breaking through the fatigue), he allowed his mind to continue to roam on the personalities around him, how he’d improve bridge design if he ever got the chance, and Excalibur Bad Luck™. Considering EBL™ and the current condition of the ship, he wondered if repair was even possible, or desired. The Akira Class, even now with the Excalibur variant, was a good one, but Starfleet was pumping out new classes as fast as they could build them. A few invasions back-to-back will do that, he supposed. Most of the new offerings sported new technologies created in response to the Dominion War. Some other technologies were even attained by the Excalibur-B's time in the Gamma Quadrant. He’d gotten a peek at one of the new Luna Class ships, the Ganymede, back at the station before they’d left for this cluster-bang of a mission. From everything he’d seen and heard about the class, Starfleet had learned its lesson in streamlining, and the Ganymede showed it. He wouldn’t mind one of those at all. Oh well, they had to get their current collection of spare parts back to Federation space first, not necessarily an easy feat. He was sure that Commander Hawthorne & Co. would make sure the interior didn’t turn into the exterior, and he’d do his best to make sure everything in the interior kept moving toward order from chaos.
  7. Saving Tail(s) A K'hal(s) Log Rhan couldn't say he was happy about the fact he was sitting in a spartan apartment in the capital city of Sahrimet on Cait. It did however beat sitting in a brig, which is precisely where he knew he'd be sooner rather than later dealing with Captain Illyan. He was sure his friends on the Excalibur had felt he'd abandoned them, likely to a horrible fate, and the fact that he had to grab his already packed bags and hurry off the Excalibur without further explanation hadn't helped. The fact that he'd felt it necessary to arrange the transfer, with a computer-activated protocol to activate it, was a sad commentary on the state of affairs aboard the Excalibur and the disposition of Captain Illyan. Not to mention Starfleet Command's penchant for using the ship as a punching bag. He'd known though through his "research" that Illyan had the command transfer pre-approved should she so wish to use it, and based on her history he figured she very much would wish to use it. So with less than a day before she wanted to leave the Aje'li Fleet Yards, he'd managed to get her to dismiss him, kitten's play really, so that she'd be less likely to fight his transfer. She could be stubborn and try, but he was extremely doubtful she'd delay leaving to do so, as her schedule was much more important than a JG. He wasn't really abandoning his friends, though. He would continue to dig on Illyan and pass on info through the anonymous account, though damned if the Excalibur crew were too clever for his own good. Practically everyone he'd sent info to had given him the wink, wink, nod, nod afterwards. What'd been the point of all the effort? Anyway, he figured Commander Hawthorne was entirely too stand up an individual to use the declassified tidbits about Illyan until the excrement really started hitting the air accelerator, so he needed someone who could do more good on the Excalibur in the meanwhile. He'd meant it when he'd said his replacement would be just as good and that they wouldn't miss him. His mother might not appreciate it, but sometimes a Cait's gotta do what a Cait's gotta do. *** On board the long-range shuttle Tarsus as it flew through space about six hours out from Cait, Lt Hakran K'hal was grumbling. Why Starfleet would so suddenly yank him off the Copernicus while it was passing through to its next mission was beyond him. Ordering him to take a cramped shuttle to Cait to rendezvous with the Excalibur before it left the shipyards, when they hardly ever allowed siblings to serve on the same starship, seemed extremely odd. Before he could ponder on it any further once again, a recorded message popped up, and his brother's face appeared, so similar to his own but a bit younger and with gold eyes instead of green. "Hey bro, you're probably wondering what this is all about. I can't go over too many details, but the wrong K'hal is on the Excalibur right now. I've transferred down to the planet for a position in the Sahrimet facility to keep myself... unincarcerated. I'm sorry that you're being dragged into this, especially as this isn't a cakewalk mission, but you're the quantum mechanics scientist, and as the ship is going to be testing an experimental slipstream drive, you'll be able to keep the ship from becoming disassociated particles better than I. And what's one more K'hal on the Excalibur's service record, anyway? Stay safe, brother, and keep my friends alive along with yourself if you can manage it." Hakran blinked at the screen for a full minute before his face screwed up in rage. "Rhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!"
  8. A Leg Up A Rhan K'hal Log (Note on log timing: if any of the involved parties want to use this for their own log, the timing would be soon after the last sim; if not, it would be shortly before the next sim.) Quantum Slipstream Drive. While Rhan may love gadgets and cutting-edge tech, QSD exploded well past his tolerance. To anyone who has followed the technology's "progress," Rhan amongst them, it was not a three word phrase that excited him. To discover that Command had unilaterally decided that the Excalibur was the vessel to try out the latest incarnation on put a bushel of butterflies in his stomach. Not to mention pissing him off. Did Command think that the Excalibur's crew was so used to being pissed on that they'd just shrug this latest slap in the face right off and merrily risk being ripped into elementary particles? Rhan wasn't going to take it lying down, sitting up, standing or even doing cartwheels for that matter. While his family connections gave him a lot of options, reversing Command's cockamamie decision wasn't one of the options. Anything short of an invasion probably wouldn't make that happen, and that would hardly be an improvement in the overall situation. That did not mean the sneaky Cait was entirely out of options, however. After a great deal of entirely unauthorized fiddling with the shipyard's computer system, he managed to tunnel a hole through their communications and database systems that would go unnoticed except under a full level one computer diagnostic, and that's if someone was paying really close attention. Even then they'd have a hard time figuring out how it got there, let alone who did it. After slipping a PADD out of the station's supply, stripping the safeguards out of it and creating a hidden account aptly named "Anonymous," he then used this new untraceable route to access the Starfleet R&D's computer. Managing to make a hole in that was considerably more difficult, as a number of foreign powers would certainly like to and likely had already tried to do the same, but then they didn't know Starfleet's computer systems and encryption as well as Rhan did. Nor did they have an Academy friend working there to, entirely unbeknownst to them, give the Cait a small window ledge to hang on to during a seemingly normal but out of the blue "hey, how's it going" communique. Slipping off to the shipyard during his off-duty hours, it took days of careful work to finally open a usable access point for him to have free reign within the R&D system. While he certainly could have had a great deal of fun downloading the whole shebang and reading through it at his leisure, he was on a mission; even if it was an illegal one. Command should be used to that though, as he'd basically been doing one damned illegal thing after another at their behest since he left the Academy, thanks primarily to Admiral A-Hole. First, Rhan downloaded the entire specifications of the current incarnation of the QSD. From what he'd heard from grumblings down in engineering, the installation team wasn't being terribly forthcoming with the Excalibur engineers, and he was sure they'd appreciate the leg up. As for himself, they hadn't shared a single bit of information on the command and control computer programs that went along with the unit, and he'd be damned if he was going to let Hunter press "Go" if he didn't think the computer could properly calculate the enormous amount of data required to keep the QSD running. Also he figured Ithene, who wasn't too picky about rules and regulations at times either, could review the scientific aspects to see if there were any glaring holes that needed to be plugged. His second task was to pull data on the entire team responsible for the QSD: those that remained behind at R&D, the Daystrom Institute, and the Utopia Planitia Shipyards, as well as those that came along and were working on the project on the Excalibur directly. R&D personnel were some of the most highly vetted people in Starfleet, and the portions of their files that were hidden under normal circumstances showed it. If someone got detention in 2nd grade for chewing gum during class, the dossier would have it down. While R&D personnel may be highly vetted, they're also forgiven a lot of indiscretions if they're good enough. One need look no farther than the legendary Reginald Barclay's involvement in the Pathfinder Project. Rhan suspected some individuals involved with the install team might have some embarassing blotches, and after a look, he found he was right. How useful that information would be, well only time would tell. After packaging up all of his ill-begotten data, lamenting the fact that it was all digital so he couldn't add a real bow, he sent the various data packages around. Commander Hawthorne received the whole deal; Commander Admiran received all of the engineering and computer data, as did Lieutenant Commander Vallorn; Hunter received the necessary flight control subroutines and procedures; and Rhan sent himself the computer data (while creating a highly encrypted portable memory module with everything that no one need know about). While Rhan had been tempted when creating the "Anonymous" account to take a page out of Earth history and use a shadowy figure in a Guy Fawkes mask as a profile photo, he'd instead used the Starfleet Delta with a question mark engraved into it instead. That should create enough mystery regarding the sender. Especially as even any in depth investigation wouldn't even be able to tell that the messages were sent from the station, it would only look like the station forwarded it on to the Excalibur. As to where it would look like they originated, Rhan managed to tailor the data to make it appear it popped into existence in one of the communications relays outside the Badlands. As to anyone's intuition that a certain furry felinoid may have been involved... Rhan was a pretty damned good liar. Just because he normally wore his feelings as openly as an overcoat didn't mean that he wasn't willing and able to prevaricate when necessary. He'd be just as surprised as anyone. That is if any of the copied parties weren't content to act as if the data had conveniently fell out of a spatial anomaly into their laps.
  9. (A Rhan K'hal Log) Mren had finished her post-doctoral vacation a few weeks ago, heading off to a dig on Garrison IV to begin her career in earnest. Rhan was sad to see her go, as his favorite sibling had provided a great deal of entertainment, as well as reminding him of his childhood where they would get into various hijinks together. Her absence left him feeling slightly hollow, as he didn't have many other people to enjoy his free time with as most of the crew that remained in the Cait system were up at the Aje'li Fleet Yards. He had a lot of free time these days, as the delays caused by the sabotage of the ship meant that his temporary job was over well before the ship was ready, the new mother now happily returning to her station. Raising a kitten was a pain in the tail, as any Caitian mother would gladly tell you; for as long as you let them or until your ears fell off, whichever happened first. It did however leave him excited to return to the Excalibur, though even that was tempered by a bit of trepidation. His own skill at ferreting out data and his family's numerous contacts had been unable to suss out with any certainty whether Captain Swain would be returning, and Rhan had no desire to have a new CO. He doubted if there were that many other captains in the fleet that would tolerate his often flippant behavior. Rhan could dial it back and hold it in, but it would take the fun out of the job, especially as often as the Excalibur seemed to get thrown into the flames. Some amount of stress relief was essential, especially with his high-energy work ethic. He had been putting his free time to good use though. Hunched over the dining room table in his apartment in Rahj'ret, with extra lighting and a variety of tools spread out, he continued to fiddle with a portable sensor unit. His old unit had been fried by the defenses where they had successfully rescued Admiral Abronvonvich's son and the younger N'Dak brother. Since they were no longer going to be in the Gamma Quadrant in any case, it was time to return to an Alpha Quadrant look and feel. Caitians loved their gadgets, and the Earth-born Rhan was no exception. He'd been constantly upgrading and experimenting with tricorders since his Academy days, and never stopped. Even during his relatively short time in the Gamma Quadrant he'd managed to purchase a civilian unit and upgrade it, which turned out especially useful during the covert missions where having a Starfleet designed and built unit was rather inappropriate. He'd even managed to incorporate some pilfered Scorpiad biotech in the form of very efficient batteries. A detail he'd conveniently left out of any reports. In the present, the exterior housing of the new unit was a bog standard Caitian portable scanner, a civilian issue device that was as good as a Starfleet tricorder. The innards of the unit however were taking shape as some sort of Frankenstein's electronic monster. Using some Starfleet parts he'd requisitioned from the Rahj'ret base, the GQ parts that Tandaris had given him, as well as some specially-designed components of his own design, he was nearly finished putting it all together. It would be his best unit yet, assuming it worked and didn't just blow up when he pressed the ON button. With a final snap the last part was pressed into place. Fitting a pair of magnifying goggles over his gold eyes, he took up a micro-laser and secured the part into place. Swapping out now for a voltmeter, a device whose function and design had not changed in centuries, he checked the current running from the sadly normal small Starfleet power cell before he went back to the micro-laser and erased the safety lock in the circuit leading away from the battery. He then closed up the device and sealed it (it was designed to be water-tight). He stood, letting out a long breath. Rhan then took a gulp of the now room-temperature xica juice from the bottle on the counter. Taking a moment to ease the kinks out of his back from the less-than-ideal work table, he looked over the final result of his work. Other than a few added sensor cover bubbles on the sides of the unit, it looked to be your everyday Caitian paw-held scanner. He'd have to add a custom graphic sleeve to it to identify it as his own personal unit, and made a mental note to order one later. For now though, it was time to power up. Using the tip of a claw, he found the tiny power button and held it, along with his breath. After a few seconds, the screen lit up and he watched the diagnostic pop up. After looking it all over, he gave one of those Caitian grins that usually scare the hell out of other species on a visceral level. "Excellent!" Rhan exclaimed as he grabbed his PADD from the counter, along with a cable. Due to the completely proprietary nature of the operating system he was to install, he didn't want to trust transferring it to the sensor wirelessly, even if the unit's firmware could work with an encrypted data stream. Plugging the cable into the PADD and then into the sensor, he began the process of uploading the OS, along with the necessary programs and subroutines it would need. Even with the ridiculously fast transfer rate it would still take some time, so he left it to do its thing. An hour later, after a nice lunch consisting of a fish sandwich and pickled h'ssha eyes, he returned to the dining room. He tapped the PADD's screen, waking the display. The transfer had been successfully completed, and the verification of the integrity of the data files had also been successfully completed. Rhan tapped in the command to begin the installation, which began quickly. In a departure from tradition, he'd designed the progress indicator to fill inward from both ends, in the design of whiskers. He considered the standard progress bar to be an affront to all that's good in the universe, and he'd be damned if he was going to use a spinning circle. After a few minutes, the installation was completed and the unit rebooted. The initial load was frustratingly long, but then it wasn't designed to boot at all again unless the unit needed maintenance. Eventually the main screen came up, and Rhan grinned again. There wasn't a single element of the LCARS interface on it, even though he'd had to incorporate a number of elements of the system into the OS for it to work properly and safely with the Starfleet system. He knew, from reading through internal Starfleet dialogues in the computing subforums, that there was great interest in significantly updating or replacing LCARS, but the vast amount of Starfleet's technology spread throughout the galaxy made any such attempt very difficult. Any replacement system would have to be LCARS compatible to work with equipment that was yet to receive the new system (if even possible). Add in the time it would take to install it through all of that vast array, and the concept couldn't get anywhere near an Admiral intact. For Rhan however, that kind of challenge was like waving a red flag in front of a bull (or perhaps more appropriately a dangling feather on a string in front of a cat). His PADD was the first thing he'd managed to successfully use his attempt at such an OS on, and he'd field-tested it during his time at Rahj'ret. His new m-sensor would be the second device to use it. However, like any complicated piece of equipment, it would need a field trial before going out on its own. With that in mind, he'd scheduled a three-day guided expedition through the Duraht mountains, starting in the wee hours of the next morning. While he was Cait enough not to hate such communing with nature, the fact that he was such a complete computer geek obviously pointed to his preference between indoors and out. The fact that he'd have his nose in the sensor's display screen for a good portion of the time helped. It also explained why he'd hired a guide: it wouldn't do him much good if he was eaten by a nu'khaja because he was concentrating on how good the geological sensors and analysis apps worked. ### It was a crisp and cool morning at the Ferline campground nestled in the foothills; Mt. Duraht itself loomed in the distance, backlit by the dawn light as it slowly grew higher into the heavens. With a heavy pack hanging from his back, a walking stick in one paw and his m-sensor in the other, Rhan waited somewhat impatiently for his guide to join him as the cool air teased his hair into motion. Eventually the door opened and the guide emerged, barely visible in the low light. "Zher K'hal, I apologize for the delay. I had a last minute call. We will have some extra company on our journey," said Grath Mrkath. The guide's fur was a dark charcoal that blended almost seamlessly with the low light, a rare genetic combination that arose from a tribe of Caits from the far northern reaches of the Erahni continent. For long stretches of Caitian history they remained a nearly impenetrable group as they isolated themselves away from the rest of the world. Only since Cait had joined the Federation had some chosen to break this old tradition, often getting disowned by their families in the process. One of Grath's ancestors, Thau'Shir Mrkath, had been the first of the tribe to join Starfleet. "I see," Rhan replied in a monotone, his scowl held in check by sheer will. "They just transported in," Grath continued. "They are packing up the few remaining supplies they need and will join us shortly." With a grunt, Rhan tapped a thumb on his m-sensor to awaken it and scanned the camp's lodge. He saw they were Caitian, one male and one female, and the bio-profile app estimated them to be somewhere in their 50's or 60's and in good overall health. He counted that as a bonus, as they were less likely to slow them down once they got underway. Whenever that happened. Thankfully the wait was short, only a few minutes, before the pair of interlopers emerged from the cabin and walked over to join Rhan and Grath. "Sorry to keep you waiting, son." Said the male. "You know how thorough your mother is." "Dad?" Rhan asked incredulously, flipping on the light on his m-sensor. Illuminated before him was indeed his parents. His father JoLan looking amused if somewhat uncomfortable thanks to the heavy pack; his mother Kharril dressed smartly and standing straight as a pole, as if she were dressing down her subordinates for some nit-picky infraction and not carrying supplies for a three day hike through rugged terrain. "Yes, it's your father," Kharril said in her imperious voice. "Surprise!" JoLan said with a smirk. "We planned on dropping in before you end up back on the Excalibur, but by the time we got here we found out you were doing this. I was in favor of contacting you and trying to get you to cancel your plans. Your mother on the other hand..." "It's about time you get some exercise, JoLan. You're beginning to become a stale and pudgy academic," interrupted Kharril. "I am a stale and pudgy academic," retorted JoLan, rolling his eyes as he gave Rhan an awkward shoulder squeeze in lieu of a difficult to pull off hug. "So anyway, here we are. You're looking well," he said as he looked Rhan over in the dim light. "He should be," Kharril said as she too looked over her son. "He's had it easy the last few months. You're welcome, by the way." "Thank you mother," Rhan said in exasperation. "I'd say it's good to see you, but I know it won't be until after you get all of your various gripes, complaints and suggestions out of the way. Though at least you'll scare off any of the nu'khaja." "Impertinent!" Kharril exclaimed, reaching over and cuffing the back of Rhan's head. She then turned her head to glare at her husband. "Stop laughing, JoLan." "Yes, dear," JoLan said, rolling his own eyes as he looked over at Rhan. "Are we leaving or what?" She asked Grath suddenly. "As soon you like, Zhera K'hal," the guide replied, his eyes twinkling with amusement. "Then what are we waiting for?" Kharril asked, and set off, leaving Grath to spring forward so he could actually guide them instead of following Rhan's mother to The Heavens know where. ### Throughout the morning as the group of four wound their way up into the mountains proper, Rhan did in fact receive a good deal of gripes, complaints and suggestions from his mother. His father wisely split off with Grath and discussed the planet's coreball leagues, and lamented the fact that the homeworld's team lost the championship match to one of the smaller colonies. Eventually Kharril got everything out of her system as they arrived at one of the small sites where they stopped to rest and take their lunch. "How goes the task of enlightening the minds of the non-scientists to the vast wonders of astrophysics, Dad?" Rhan asked. JoLan taught the basics to the non-science track cadets at Starfleet Academy. "Oh, the usual. Many a glazed eye, lots of poorly concealed napping," JoLan said. "None of the other professors want the job for some reason." "Baffling," Rhan replied, laughing. "How about the rest of your work? I've been waiting for your name to pop up in one of the journals." "Ah, well," JoLan replied wistfully. "I've been working with a lot of the graduate students recently, the various hostilities have kept a lot of the survey work away from the more interesting phenomena. Though there's been a large data dump now that Starfleet has pulled out of the GQ. I'm hoping some of the data will get me over the hump." "Hopefully. I wish I could share data on some of the stuff I've seen, but you know how the big C word works," said Rhan. "Ugh," harrumphed JoLan. "I think Starfleet has forgotten how to explore without wrapping up everything in a big classified bow. Everything goes to military research first, and they only release it if it's not worth anything." "That's the price of security," Kharril interjected, patting her husband on the knee. "Maybe things will settle down a bit now." "We can hope, dear." "Speaking of settling down, you haven't told me anything about this Doctor Dubois," Kharril said to Rhan. "Mother," Rhan said with a loud sigh. "Do I grill you for details about your associates at Medical?" "I imagine you would if you heard I was dating one of them," Kharril replied. "I sure as hell would," JoLan said under his breath, causing Rhan to snort. "We're not dating mother," began Rhan. "She's a good friend, and someone I enjoy spending time with. Especially since we've been through the classified blender together ever since I was assigned on the Excalibur." "Leave it," JoLan said as Kharril's mouth open to respond. "If Rhan is now or comes to be at some point in the future involved with someone, it's his business. He's not a kitten anymore, love." "Fine, fine," Kharril said and then gave a deep sigh. "He'll always be my kitten, though." She said, reaching out a paw to squeeze one of Rhan's. "Just my luck," Rhan said with a smile. "I know, I should start bugging Mreh to get married and have kittens like you do. It'll take some of the heat off me if he does." ### The quartet was on their way again, now traveling through a dense forest on a well-maintained track that worked its way uphill to reach the first mountain pass. Grath continued to lead the way; followed by the elder K'hals who stood side-by-side, holding paws and having their own quiet conversation; Rhan trailed the group, his m-sensor in paw, tracking back and forth, up and down. Rhan was giving it a thorough run through: evaluating the local flora, scanning the hidden fauna, analyzing the ground beneath their boots and the sky above them all at once. Thus far everything was working quite well, and faster than he'd even hoped. He did make an occasional note or two about some elements of the UI not being quite up to par or lagging behind the rest. As they worked their way higher, the trees began to shift from the widespread broad-leafed deciduous varieties to more of the sharp, spiny coniferous types. This allowed more light through and their path was less gloomy. Before they could reach the pass, a trilling alert sound grabbed Rhan's attention, and after reviewing it he called for the group to stop. "What is it, Zher K'hal?" Grath asked, an ear cocked. "The m-sensor is picking up six adult nu'khaja up ahead," Rhan announced. "Really?" Grath said, surprised, pulling out his own sensor, one of the same model that Rhan had gutted to make his own. "Mine isn't showing any." "There's a large lead and bismuth deposit up ahead that would be shielding them from the bioscanner component in your sensor," Rhan informed him. "I don't see them either," Kharril said, holding out her standard Starfleet tricorder. Rhan tapped on the screen a few times and brought up a holographic map. "The deposits are here in this ridge, and the nu'khaja are behind it. Once we get to this point on the trail," he said, pointing, "your scanners would detect them. Though you'll probably smell them first." "One of Rhan's upgraded gadgets again," JoLan said, smiling. "Well." Grath said with a frown. "I'm more interested in why there would be six adult nu'khaja together, they only work in pairs and usually chase off anyone else from their territory." "Hmm... if we go off the path another hundred meters ahead, we could make our way up the ridge to see them," Rhan said, pointing out the route on the map hologram. "All right," Garth agreed. "If I'm going to have a pack of nu'khaja camping right off the main path through the pass I need to record it and notify the Park Authority." "Mom, Dad, you can both stay here..." Rhan offered. While he had no doubts his military fit mother could handle going off the path and up the ridge, he wasn't sure about his dad. He was a pudgy academic after all. "That's a good idea," JoLan said before his wife could speak up. "That looks a little too rugged for my legs." Kharril looked mutinous for a moment, but relented. "Be careful, Rhan," she said soberly. "Believe it or not, I've been through worse," Rhan replied with a wicked grin. "Turn off the audio on your mobile, Grath." Rhan did so for his own, as well as on his m-sensor. "Ready? Good, let's do this. The trip literally off the beaten path was difficult as the incline steepened the closer they came to the high ridge. Rhan was forced to pocket his sensor a number of times so he could use both paws for the tricky ascent. Whenever he could though he pulled it back off to make sure of the whereabouts of the nu'khaja, who continued to mull around the open area on the other side of the ridge. Garth climbed like the old pro he was, barely making a sound and breathing evenly. Rhan managed with less panache, but walking up and down the steep slopes of San Fransicso for years had conditioned his legs for such extreme grades. It took them about twenty minutes all together to reach the top of the ridge, where they very quietly came to look over the assembled pack. Nu'khaja are part of the same branch of the family tree that produced the Caits. Still primarily quadrupeds, the intelligent felinoid species were very similar to Proto-Caits, but instead of continuing down the same evolutionary road the Caits had, these dangerous predators instead had adapted well to be wild apex predators. They had very short childhoods, and even before becoming completely sexually active would leave their parents and seek out mates, who would become their hunting partner. Jealously territorial, it was very uncommon for a bonded pair to mingle with other adults. Seeing three such pair below without there being vicious snarling and attacks was nothing short of breath-taking. Rhan activated the 3D holographic camera in his m-sensor and watched through the screen as he recorded, with Grath kneeling nearby almost silently, but with awe etched on his features. The nu-khaja were feasting on a gigantic corpse that stretched almost 10 meters long. It was a jila'raith, or as it has been uncreatively pegged in Federation Standard, a cow-blimp. The huge species, long endangered, was a spotted rarity that lived amongst the mountain peaks. It was a photosynthetic animal that used its immense surface area to generate energy, which was used in part to lift them above the clouds to generate more. Once they were hungry for nutrients they would waft down to mountain valleys and drink from lakes and ponds and nibble at grasses. They would then fire up their internal hot-air balloons to ascend high in the skies once again. From what Rhan knew of the jila'raith, it appeared to be quite old, the spotted hide faded and almost translucent... where it hadn't been ripped apart by the nu'khaja anyway. Even though its interior was mostly empty, the outer flesh on one this big was more than enough to feed the six nu'khaja, who were willing to share the same space for a while to partake of this rare and tasty treat. He and Grath continued to watch while he recorded for nearly another hour, by which time the now super-stuffed nu'khaja tottered away, their stomachs nearly dragging the ground. The bonded pairs all left in peace, as they all sought some place safe to go take a nap and digest their feast. There was nearly nothing left of the jila'raith except some cartilage and a large puddle of goo. Rhan stopped the recording, took a final in-depth scan of the remains before looking over to Garth, who continued to sit in awed silence. "We can head back now," Rhan said. ### The three day hike was over and the K'hals were lounging about in the Rahj'ret apartment, relaxing. Later that afternoon JoLan and Kharril would be beaming back up to the orbital station where they would board the passenger liner taking them back to Earth. "I hope you enjoyed your extended weekend," Rhan said to them. "Hah! I need a vacation from my vacation," JoLan grumped. He was shot full of anti-inflammatory analgesics yet still tiredly limping about. "I think it was quite fun, it's been ages since we went on a nature expedition," Kharril countered. "That's because the last time we went, Mreh broke an arm, Hakran got sprayed by a skunk, Mren was vomiting every other hour, and my tent broke during a thunderstorm and I was soaked from ear to tail," Rhan recited. Kharril harrumphed while JoLan chuckled. "Your mother got some leeches too, but I won't tell you where some of them were." "That trip was an anomaly!" Kharril interjected forcefully. "Mmhmm," Rhan murmured, rolling his eyes. "Like the time before that when I fell out of the sky-wheel in Firlakht, and the time Mren nearly fell down a shaft in the Great Pyramid, and when Mreh..." "All right!" Kharril interrupted, scowling. "So our family vacations are a bit exciting." "I'll put that one down for the understatement of 2387," JoLan said, literally pulling out his PADD. "And my shipmates wonder why I am as I am," Rhan murmured.
  10. The Dominator A Rhan K'hal Log (Takes place the morning after the night with the Captain at Quarks) After a much needed shower to clear the alcohol-coated cobwebs from his brain, Rhan greeted the morning with the slightest touch of a hangover. Considering his libations had taken on more than the Captain's proffered "drink or two," he was thankful his head wasn't worse. It had been a fun evening, especially seeing the usually staid Asher Swain letting his proverbial hair down for a while. Today's activities however offered him less joy, as the tow-ship Tortuga would arrive and he would have to coordinate activities between them and the maimed Excalibur. That was thankfully more than an hour away, and while he sipped a warm glass of g'ehli (a Caitian dairy-based stimulant beverage) he would go through his morning routine. First, and by far the most annoying of his morning ablutions, was to re-tame his mane into order. Rhan wasn't especially vain, so he sported a style that would "wash & wear" as easily as possible, but Caitian male manes had a tendency to get rather scraggly without routine maintenance. Thankfully there was an entire line of manecare products available to assist with that. Next, Rhan sat down near the room screen and called for his messages. "You have 11 communiques," the computer voice intoned in its impersonal way. "Play first message," Rhan ordered. "Hello, Rhan, it's your mother," the message began, with the gruff-looking female Cait popping up on screen in her security gold uniform, a spartan office wall her backdrop. Her voice was low and a bit gravelly from years of barking at junior officers in training drills. "I heard that the Excalibur is going to be at the Aje'li Fleet Yards for repair." "I knew it!" Rhan exclaimed. "It hasn't even been twelve hours since I found out, and she already knows." "I called a friend over in Personnel," Kharill continued. "There will be an opening soon at the Rahj'ret training base for a temporary communications officer while the regular officer is on maternity leave. If you want it, all you have to do is ask. Just don't take too long, she'll start her leave in two weeks." Without any further ado the message popped off. "Ugh," sighed Rhan. "You'd think I'd get a chance to at least look at the postings myself before she interfered. Computer, play next message." "Rhan, it's your mother. While you're on Cait, you should drop in on the extended family so they don't forget we exist." "They might want to forget us," Rhan muttered. "I put together a list, it's attached to the message." Again the message ended abruptly. "Computer, display attachment," Rhan said apprehensively. As he feared, the list was a long one. "Saggy primate testicles, that's going to be like one a night all during the Excalibur's repairs!" Rhan complained. With a frustrated growl, he ordered the computer to move on to the next message. "While you're there," his mother began without bothering with any greeting or identification, "there are some products that the Caitian markets here in San Francisco just don't supply or they're too low in quality. The list is attached, grab what's on there and send it home." The message ended. "Why me?" Rhan asked the Universe. He didn't get a reply, but then he figured if there was someone that answered those types of questions they were probably as frightened of his mother as he was. He downed the rest of his g'ehli, ordered another from the replicator and sat back down. Pensively, he ordered the playback on the next message." "I just got word, your sister got her Ph.D. You should pick something nice out for her while you're on Cait," she announced in the briefest message yet. Rhan smiled at the news about his sister, yet simultaneously tugged at his freshly coiffed mane as the frustration of his mother began to mount. "Oh, let's just get this over with so I can jump out of the airlock. Next message." "Rhan!" Exclaimed a pretty, petite, cream-furred Cait; an ebullient grin shining on her fine-boned features. The background was clearly the K'hal family room back in San Francisco rather than the austere office belonging to his mother. "I got my doctorate! I just got word. Oh my gosh, I'm so excited! Wee!" Mren, Rhan's next oldest sibling, danced around the room going in and out of sight of the camera, squeeing all the while. Finally she settled back squarely into view and continued, still bouncing. "Mother says you're going to be working on Cait for a while. I think I might hop over there myself, I'm sure she's got half the population of the planet down for you to visit and I can help. I could use the vacation time anyway, and it's been forever since I've been to the homeworld. Anyway, let me know after you get settled. I got my doctorate, wee!" She squeed again, dancing out of sight as the message ended. Rhan's frustration with his mother disappeared for a bit as he grinned at his sister's antics. While she was very sober and serious when she was in school, studying or anything remotely professional, her "off-duty" personality was bubblier than a bath on Risa. While it irked that his mother had apparently decided his next few months for him, it would be great to see Mren. With her studies at Oxford she'd been nearly as difficult to see as his two brothers in Starfleet. While close to all of his siblings, he was closest in age to Mren and was much less reserved overall, so they had always been close. "Computer, compose reply." "I'm so glad for you, Sis! I know you've been working your tail off for that. As for being on Cait, it hasn't even been a full day since I got word about the repairs taking place at Aje'li, so I haven't even contacted Personnel yet. But you know how mother is. I'll send you a note when I do get things done officially and figure out what I'm doing where. Don't party too hard while you wait. "End message and play next," Rhan said. The next message, in fact the next three were reports from the skeleton operations crew that were offloading supplies to DS9 before the Excalibur leaves. Rhan signed off on them and forwarded them to Commander Hawthorne before moving on to number 9. "Rhan, it's your mother." "Of course it is," Rhan said to the room wearily. "I found this wonderful little apartment you can share with Mren outside of Rahj'ret. It's all furnished and much nicer than those plascrete cubes they call housing at the base. I've attached the details. You should contact them right away, I'm sure someone else would love to steal it," she opined gruffly before cutting off the message. Rhan had so much growl in his voice that he had to repeat his order to the computer to move to the next to last message. "Based on the activity on our comm log, I'm sure your head is about ready to blow by now," came the amused and melodious voice belonging to his father. The view was the same as the message from Mren, in the K'hal family room. "I hope you're coping with everything that happened, I know you were fine when we talked a few days ago but it can kick in later. In any case I'm very happy to hear that you at least won't be heading back to the Gamma Quadrant. Though I won't follow your mother's lead and assume you'll be going to Cait." The handsome older Cait, his fur a much darker and earthy hue shining in the room's mood lighting, smiled in an engaging, lop-sided manner. His demeanor was always a hit with the undergrads taking his astrophysics courses at the Academy. He was no stuffy academic, and minus the whole felinoid thing, would have fit in well in San Francisco back in the 1960's. "If you do end up serving on Cait in the interim while your ship is in Aje'li, I do hope you and Mren can enjoy some time there. It's a lot different visiting it as an adult without your parents... well, parent, setting a rigid agenda," JoLan said before chuckling. Rhan chuckled too, remembering the last visit to Cait while he was still in high school in San Fran. His mother practically slept with the PADD outlining their schedule. "In any case, I hope you're well, and can enjoy a little bit of downtime. I heard the battle was quite a nasty affair, and rumor has it you and your shipmates had a much more interesting time before that. Take care of yourself, Rhan. Love you." "Love you too, Dad," Rhan replied to the image of his father before it blinked off screen. "Computer, play last message." "What's this I hear about you stepping out with some doctor from the Excalibur?" His mother asked, causing Rhan's jaw to drop to his knees. "You know I'm supportive of you and I'm sure she's a very nice woman, but you do remember how difficult it can be for Caits and Humans to interbreed, I hope." The message again ended abruptly. After hauling his jaw back into position, Rhan emitted a string of expletives that would've landed him locked in his room for a month if his mother were to hear them. Indignant, he ordered the computer to start recording a message. "For the love of... Mother. First of all, I'm not 'stepping out' with anyone. Yet. Dr. Dubois and I are just friends at the moment. We may or may not be moving our way to something more, but it's a little damned early for you to be calling me reminding me of genetic compatibility. And how do you even find out these things? I understand that you have your whiskers embedded all over the place at home, but this... Argh." Rhan took a few seconds to just breathe. "As far as my next assignment and living arrangements, I appreciate you looking out for me. I do. But please for the love of all that's alive give me a chance to do things on my own. You raised me to be self-sufficient, so give me a chance to try it. "I very likely will put in for the communications officer position at Rahj'ret. If so, I will look into the apartment. If so, I will try to visit all the family but I may try grouping them together in bunches so I don't spend every night of my time there going to someone else's house and ringing the bell. If so, and Mren is coming for a vacation, she can deal with your shopping list and bring things back home, because unlike me, she likes to shop. "There," Rhan said, before letting out a long sigh. "I think that covers everything. Now stop shooting off messages at me like I'm a training target, or I'll have to hire people to break into 'Authorized Personnel Only' doors at Medical to keep you busy. You know I'd do it. Love you, Mum." Rhan finished, blowing her a kiss via the camera. "Man, it's not even 0800 and I need a drink."
  11. After walking through all of the public areas of DS9 at least ten times since their arrival, Rhan was getting restless. Engineers were still poking at the Excalibur's wounds to see if there was any point in salvaging the ship, so he could do nothing there. He'd offered to help out the DS9 staff, but was politely refused; apparently being one of the saviors of the wormhole did have some downsides, as the Bajorans wouldn't hear of putting him to work. Therefore he now had nothing to do but prowl the Promenade and corridors of the station, and contemplate. The honorary reception, besides the speech from his "favorite" admiral, had been enjoyable enough. Getting borderline drunk on amazing ale and spending time with Maryse was quite enjoyable. Watching Ithene throw the kitchen (not to mention the sink) at Commander Admiran was amusing, especially as the Trill seemed more interested in the buffet. He had of course been in touch with his parents in San Fransisco. Both were naturally quite happy he survived and proud of the honors he'd received. They also lent a sympathetic ear while he blasted abuse about Admiral Abronvonvich. Due to classification he couldn't give them many specifics about why he was so riled up (nevermind the fact that the mission had led to the discovery of the subspace bomb threat, it still didn't cancel out the fact that Abronvonvich had risked an entire starship and her crew for a personal rescue mission). In any case, Abronvonvich would not be getting any Christmas cards from the K'hals, nor any favors. Not yet knowing what the future would bring, he'd packed up his shiny new hardware and sent it along to his parents for safekeeping via a courier vessel that was heading back to the Sol system. Rhan also had a chance to speak with his sister, who had just submitted her doctoral thesis to her mentor at Oxford and was pensively awaiting word whether she'd be getting her Ph.D. in archaeology. They traded stories (on Rhan's side at least the ones he could tell), caught up on more personal affairs and shared news of the latest scientific discoveries from each quadrant. Unfortunately he had been unable to secure a live transmission to either Hakran or Mreh, as both were on missions on their respective ships. Mreh's ship, the Hippocrates, was one of the few hospital ships that hadn't been pulled to DS9 or Camelot for the refugee crisis, and was handling an outbreak of some new Tarkellian flu strain on the Gregarin Colony. Hakran's ship, the Copernicus, was well out on the frontier. Rhan therefore had composed messages to both. Otherwise he had spent some time socializing, managing a couple of dinners with Maryse in DS9's crowded facilities, a rather hilarious run-through of a holo-novel with Ithene, and some general passing of time with his other friends. He made sure of doing that because he didn't know what the future would bring. Even if they declared the Excalibur salvageable, it was no guarantee that the crew would stay together due to the amount of time it would take to get the ship ready for action. The senior staff especially might end up going their separate ways as Starfleet absolutely hated leaving good officers on the shelf for too long. The possibility made Rhan rather sad, as even as much as he'd hated the time in the Gamma Quadrant, he'd made good friends amongst the crew and came to trust them. Though he still got nervous any time Ithene was above him. Tomorrow would be the big day, and while his itch to get back to work applauded it, the rest of him dreaded it. What would the verdict on the Excalibur be? What orders would Starfleet drop from on high? Even the lauded K'hal family network hadn't been able to shine any light on it, so Rhan was as much in the dark as the rest of his crewmates. The question marks pushed K'hal to stalk through DS9 on yet another circuit of the station's corridors.
  12. Welcome back! The Academy structure has changed since you've been here. This post (http://www.stsf.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=25772), which is a bit out of date (there's nothing at all on Tuesday now), outlines the new methodology. I'm sure some GMs will drop by this topic to welcome you back and can clarify further.
  13. Ops Hops Rhan had no more than passed through the security at the Excalibur airlock and stepped aboard before he was wearing the coating off his communicator, checking in with the various section chiefs within the purview of Operations. His omnipresent oversized PADD was out and a furry finger was swiping through pages rapidly as he checked off a good number of the things they needed to do before… whatever came next. The various sections that comprised Operations, itself an arm of the Command department, were quite diverse. One of the reasons Rhan had landed this job on the Excalibur was his acumen in most of them, as well as his ability to juggle multiple tasks with aplomb, not to mention enjoying the eradication of the chaos. Making sure all the various areas were working in top form together, as well as with the rest of the ship, was a challenge he pounced on with almost maniacal determination. He also imagined that Cdr Hawthorne didn’t mind his picking up a good deal of the slack under this arm so she could concentrate on her other administrative duties and be able to poke her nose back into Engineering when she had a mind to. First order of business, the shuttle bay, of which there was only one on the Excalibur Class variant of the Akira. This was used as a take-off and landing area only, with only the minimum standby vessels (shuttle and fighter) parked inside for quick launches. The remainder of the vessels were stored in specialized hangars where maintenance could take place. Shuttles on deck 7, fighters on deck 8, and any overflow on deck 13. Both types of vessels were moved via elevator from their storage areas to the pre-flight preparation bay on deck 10 before being moved to the shuttle bay itself on deck 11. Depending on the size of the vessel, up to 12 could launch simultaneously. Turnaround from emptying the deck to having another group of vessels in place and ready to launch was ideally 90 seconds during emergencies. While the 310th managed their own ships and personnel, including their own flight operations, the rest of the shuttle bay and craft were managed by ship operations personnel. This included basic maintenance (extensive repairs or other work would be handled by engineering), handling of the elevator systems, safety inspections, and traffic management. This area was currently in heavy use even while docked, ferrying people and things around the highly congested traffic area around Camelot to assist with the evacuations. Next was the cargo handling. This included the staffing and maintenance of the cargo bays, the cargo transporters, major supply distribution, and the quartermaster and associated personnel for minor supply distribution, facility management, crew accommodations and other similar tasks. With two smaller cargo bays on deck 5, and the large primary cargo bay 3 on deck 6, and smaller part storage areas in multiple areas of the ship, it took a hard-working set of people to keep everything organized and distributed. Personnel transporters also run under this category, with two rooms on deck 10 and two more on deck 15. The transporter operators run the units and do standard maintenance on these, and they have very specialized training for this task. All of this too was still humming with activity, but not as heavily as it was right after they docked. Then there is the computer system. Engineering handles all the hardware and maintenance; on the cores, nodes and networking connections and access points. However the actual computer operating system, LCARS and the various associated software, had a small group of highly trained officers and crew to ensure that the operation of the system was always in top working order. They also work with the shuttle operations and 310 to ensure the other vessels’ systems are in good working order. This was Rhan’s primary training back in the Academy and could be considered his specialty. They were currently using the relative down-time for the ship to re-optimize the data storage as well as performing a back-up of critical data, and there had been no snafus even with their previous difficult mission and bumpy ride. Finally there is the bridge and mission operations, which is staffed by the most talented and cross-trained personnel available. Besides having to monitor all of the other aspects, they must also be on top of whatever the bridge personnel, command staff, and mission-related personnel are working on; and additionally coordinating with the other department heads to ensure maximum efficiency. Ensign Daniels and Ensign Phuti had been exchanging shifts here while he’d been on Camelot, and directing the work load like a pair of tag-team conductors. Knowing he had competent backup in this area allowed him to slide over and handle other mission related work without having to worry about the system breaking down. It was the latter that Rhan so excelled at, even if he was somewhat forceful about its implementation at times. With that said, he’d earned the respect of the other people working in Operations for putting his latinum where is mouth is; even as hard as he drove them, they know he’d be working harder, and after the job was done well he would supply what rewards a junior officer could manage and push those that could give more to do so. Such was the case now. After putting in a solid 10 over at Camelot so that the rest of the staff on Excalibur could concentrate on the re-supply and distribution, and hopefully the overall workload should taper off well before the ship had to leave. He’d make sure his people got a little down time even if he had to sleep on the helm to keep the ship from going anywhere. As for himself, he would have to sign off on the final reports soon and hand them off to Cdr Hawthorne. He’d skip the literal bow, though. He’d also have to send off info down to engineering; these re-supply and personnel movement times were hard on the transporters and shuttles, so they might need extra maintenance or at least a thorough diagnostic. Otherwise though, he could give all the other department heads a green light. The ship would be ready for whatever got thrown at it when this little interlude at Camelot came to its conclusion. Then it was up to the rest of the crew to do their part, knowing at least that they had at their disposal every possible tool or supply for the job.
  14. I've been trying to go back in time and look through chat logs in the File Library>Advanced Sims forum but when I attempt to use the advanced search so I don't have to visually filter through other sims I get "No results found for 'excalibur'." I've tried proper caps, no caps, all caps. Even when I've tried just a simple and obvious search from both the search bar at the top and the advanced search page I get no results for items that obviously exist in the forums. It seems as if it's turned off more than broken.
  15. After Rhan handed off Ambassador T’Salik to Commander Admiran, the blond-furred Cait made his way back to the console he’d appropriated in Camelot’s Command Center. It seemed that no matter where he ended up working, multitasking was the order of the day. With Swain’s rather vague order to “assist with the evacuation,” Rhan chose to pack up his figurative bags and assist Lieutenant Commander Sprint over on the station rather that subject himself to working remote from the Excalibur. The Cait was more than ready for a change of scenery after the last hectic mission. Not that the evacuation was a calm, controlled affair. Yet. His short conversation with station XO had been interesting, and informative. Part of what Rhan brings “extra” to his position at operations is being able to take a small data point and extrapolate from it. The Commander’s slips of calling Swain “Asher,” with a clear familiarity that indicated much more than just officer camaraderie, and the fact that the Captain would have talked to him at all about a certain Caitian officer when Swain wasn’t known for a wagging tongue all made Rhan think with a high certainty that those two were intimate. Not that it meant much in the overall scheme of things, but Rhan collected levers for possible “in case of emergency break glass” scenarios. As far as his current assignment… every time he thought he was narrowing down on an official count and timeline more evacuees arrived in the system, forcing him to re-work the data. It wasn’t a simple case of one ship equals Y time, count the ships and then do some multiplication. If a ship was carrying wounded and needed medical assistance, that added an almost incalculable variable because there was no way to say how long it would take to treat a patient. The station’s medical bay, and every Starfleet ship in orbit of the station was taking on injured; the few hospital ships that had been able to make it to the Gamma Quadrant were piling in the longer term cases that would require facilities back in the Alpha Quadrant; the Klingons and the Romulans were only taking select cases from select species, and their turnaround time was any time from now to the galactic merger with Andromeda. If a ship required maintenance or a quick refit to be able to make it through the wormhole, that added another nearly incalculable variable. Depending on the availability of an engineering crew, the parts required, and the scale of the work the time could also be any time from now to the galactic merger with Andromeda. Then add supply cost and time for food, a substance in shorter and shorter supply, and the calculations turned into a hot mess. With all this in mind, Rhan was forced to take a rather circuitous route and try to fit a best case through worst case timeline, and then automate the calculations depending on what was where, who was where, and why who was at what and assign a competence multiplier depending on reports of previous performance and the reported supply availability. Then the computer had to take all of this and pick a time in between the best and worst case timelines. In the end, it usually ended up between sometime next week through to the galactic merger with Andromeda.