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Cptn Swain

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About Cptn Swain

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  1. As the sun went down behind Mars, the track lighting along the metal cage that surrounded the Pei Xiu flickered to life. A small shuttle dipped just below the horizon. “Big ship,” the pilot said, glancing over to his passenger. Asher Swain glanced over. He hadn’t been paying attention, and only just realized they were alone in the shuttle. “Mm, yeah. Big ship.” he said turning to look as the Nebula-class starship filled the window. The pilot laughed. “Where did you say you were stationed before, Lieutenant?” Fairly sure he hadn’t said anything about where he’d been assigned, or even what his name was, Asher exhaled and leaned back into his chair. “Transerfing from the George Washington.” “Ah,” the pilot said, making a small maneuver to bring the shuttle behind the drydock. “Don’t know anything about her, but the PX isn’t too bad.” “I am pretty excited about the opportunity to run my own department.” “You’re science, right?” Asher nodded. “The new chief of Stellar Cartography.” “Mmm,” the pilot said. “I’m just a security grunt and occasional taxi driver.” “I appreciate the lift.” “No problem. So, what’s your name -- Lieutenant?” “Asher Swain.” “Kai Emaril -- I’d shake your hand, but we’re coming around to land and the autopilot is a bit finicky today. So, that guy with you at spacedock? Friend, boyfriend...” “Friend,” Asher said a bit too quickly, before smiling. “Just a friend.” “I see.” After he’d disembarked, Asher found Kai waiting for him just outside the shuttle bay. “So, Lieutenant Swain -- big plans for your first night on the P-X?” “Not really, no.” “Well, they’re showing a holovid in the rec lounge at 1900 if you want to come. Maybe we can get drinks before or after. No pressure though.” “Maybe, I don’t know. I have a lot of unpacking to do and I should read over the brief for our mission...” Kai smiled. “Well, if you change your mind -- my quarters are on Deck 5, Section 12. Here --” He tapped the exact berth number into Asher’s datapadd before heading off in the opposite direction, leaving Asher to find his quarters alone. Sifting through a duffle, Asher stopped at a slender, translucent rectangle -- a picture. He ran his hands over Arden’s face. “Just a friend,” Asher said, tucking the photo back into his duffle and turning to pick up the PADD with Kai’s address.
  2. Snow fell, swirling and tumbling through the sky. Snow country in Japan was harsh, unforgiving and yet spectacularly breathtaking all at once. Asher smiled, tugging his blanket tighter around his neck. Behind him, the maid had brought up his breakfast and left it on the table, along with fresh linens for the baths. From the window, he could see the steam rising from the bathhouse. It was eight or nearly passed it, Asher decided. He arrived by tram earlier in the week and had mostly kept to himself. The inn was quiet, tidy and well-kept. The innkeeper had told him that it had been in her family since the Edo period. After nearly three months with Arden as a constant companion, it was a strange feeling to be suddenly alone; but in the desperate quiet of the snow country it was oddly comforting. Sapporo had been the perfect closing to their time together, but it had been time for Arden to leave for his new position at Starbase 39 Tango. Asher’s thoughts returned to the snow covered peaks in the far distance. In the winter, cold Siberian air flowed down along the ocean currents and filled the western slopes that formed the backbone of the Japanese home islands with some of the heaviest snow falls on Earth -- several meters at once was not uncommon. This year had been no different. Snow country always reminded him of the mountain ranges on Kynareth where he’d grown up, and as an academy student, had served as a retreat when the pressures of school and life had swallowed him and he needed to find himself. Now, as he had then, he hoped he might find himself among the snow and hills; nut in the swirling winter storms, one could become lost too. Ghosts -- yuki-ona -- could also find their way into your heart and lead you further from your path and into the nothingness of the beyond. Cold, alone. His leave would be expiring soon -- had it really been three months since they’d returned from the Gamma Quadrant? -- and he would need to make a decision he’d been avoiding. He wondered, as he took up a cup of tea from the breakfast tray, how the refit was coming. He’d made a point, at Arden’s urging, to stay disconnected from all of that. It had been difficult at first, but after the second week, all thoughts of his career had faded into the background. Commanding the Excalibur had never been his choice of assignments, and in reflection, his reluctance to accept the position had certainly colored his view of the last two years. Brass had been exceptionally understanding of his desire to spend time away. They had also made it clear that should he wish to have a command more suited to his interests, that they would accommodate him as best they could, though they were of course careful to make no promises. He took a sip of tea, staring into the cold, winterscape and the mountains once more before heading to the bathhouse. Steam rose into the cold air, a gentle mist floating above the snow-covered roof of the hotel. Like most of the ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) in the area, the bathhouse was fed from a nearby hot spring. He slipped effortlessly into the water, his mind wandering. The Cassini had been his home for almost a decade and her mission had been almost exclusively one of pure exploration. After the Dominion War that sort of escape had been the only thing keeping him in Starfleet. Though he had served during the war, and understood his role in protecting innocents, he had never been comfortable with the idea of being a soldier-soldier. Perhaps that’s why he’d been so uncomfortable with the assignment to Excalibur. Starfleet could say the Akira-class was a multi-use ship all they wanted, and even though it did have suitable enough laboratory and exploration equipment, it was still a warship. A warship assigned to a warzone. He closed his eyes and sunk below the surface. His thoughts drifted, but continued to return to one subject. Surfacing, he ran a hand through his hair and stroked an absent beard. Arden disliked both. He wondered if he should regrow them. He didn’t know when he’d see Arden again; unless of course he chose to leave Starfleet. That was the option he’d uncomfortably been mulling since the end of the war. In truth, the Cassini had only ever been a distraction from that question. A happy distraction, perhaps, but a distraction. When he returned to his room, the sun had already risen above the mountain, sparkling in the distance. He dressed quickly before leaving for a walk along a narrow winding path that twisted and snaked between the ryokan. Children played in the fields, building snowmen and riding on sleighs. The skiing crowd had left early in the morning and would soon return for lunch. Asher smiled. He had never skied, he considered. In all of the many trips he’d made to the snow country, and even on his homeworld, he’d never bothered. He doubted he’d be any good at it. Perhaps he’d take it up. Maybe he would join them for the afternoon, just to watch. By the time he’d returned from his walk, they’d already returned. He’d missed them by only a few minutes, one of the staff said as they brought him lunch. He had been late, so the meal was far simpler than was normal -- only a bowl of steamed rice, miso, fish, and of course, tea. He had nearly finished when the innkeeper -- a tidy, middle-aged woman with a round face and full, pink cheeks -- approached him. She bowed respectfully and greeted him in Japanese. “Your guest,” she continued, “can we prepare anything special for him?” Asher smiled. He’d almost forgotten. “No, nothing out of the ordinary, but we will take dinner in my room.” “Kekko,” she said bowing again, before disappearing back into the kitchen. He spent the rest of the afternoon napping and reading a book the previous patron had left. It was rather poorly written, but it passed the time as he waited for a man he hadn’t seen in over a decade. Asher hadn’t really known what to expect when the doors finally slid open.He found his eyes lingering on the sharp features of his one time lover. There was something haunting and fleeting there he hadn’t noticed all those years ago. He wondered if perhaps it was just the cold, clearness of the night. “This is a wonderful little place,” Kai said as they sat down for sake. “You look well, Asher. It’s been a long time.”
  3. Rain fell on the small collection of buildings that passed as a spaceport on Kaira IV. Inside one of the industrial structures, a rowdy chorus of an Irish drinking song drowned out the sound of rain pinging against the roof. “He said he’d meet us here?” “Yes. I am sure he’ll be along. He’s never been late before -- “ “What if he was caught?” “You worry too much.” “Aren’t those basically famous last words?” Kai Emaril glanced disapprovingly towards the other young man seated next to him in the corner table of the Rusty Stembolt. Maybe he had made a mistake in bringing him. He sighed inwardly -- there was little use in self-doubt. “Look,” he finally said. “We’ll give him another ten minutes and then we’ll go back to the shuttle.” “What did you tell Horran we were using the shuttle for anyway?” “I told him we were going to get a little fresh air and get a drink. I didn’t lie to him.” “Good,” the young man said, crossing his arms. “Why are you so uptight? People take shuttles for trips like this all the time.” “I‘m a Lieutenant, Kai, it’s different.” “You never you used to worry this much about stupid stuff -- Asher, besides here’s our man now.” Their “man” was really a tall, slender Bajoran female. She looked them over for a long moment before taking a seat opposite them, waving off the waiter as he approached. “Sorry to keep you waiting -- the spoonheads have made getting through the checkpoints more difficult the last few weeks. Something about the murder of some high ranking Gul.” “I am sure you’re torn up about that.” “Absolutely in mourning,” she said with a wry grin. “Though I understand your friend here might be able to help us out with all these -- traffic difficulties?” Kai looked to Asher, who was trying to hide his apprehension. “If you have the data, Asher can make it work.” “Good. People’s lives depend on this. If we can’t navigate the nebula, people are going to die. The spoonies are trying to starve us out.” “Don’t worry,” Asher said finding his voice. “I can do it. Just -- give me the data.” She looked him over again before producing a small data-rod. “This is everything we’ve been able to get on their detection net. When you’re ready, Kai knows how to transmit the data back to us.” Asher nodded, palming the data rod and slipping it into his coat pocket. “Like I said, we’re counting on you. Don’t screw it up kid.” -- Morning light snuck through cheap blinds, striking out towards the small bed in the corner. “Uggg.” “What is it?” “You need to go.” “Go where. It’s...” “It’s already morning -- you’re on duty in like half-an-hour and it will take you at least that to get across town.” “Screw that.” “No,” Asher said sitting up in bed with a tired yawn. “You can’t miss another duty shift this week. N’awel will have you up on report and then you’ll be in the brig and then I’ll be alone...” “Screw N’awel. My head hurts,” Kai buried deeper into the covers. “Go for me. It’s not like you can’t walk around with a phaser for a couple of hours looking tough.” “I have my own crap to do today. I have to meet that horrible Doctor ... what was his name? Ornn --- whatever -- I have to meet him at the ruins.” “Oh right; you’re mister important scientist guy and I am just the grunt.” “Basically. Now, get up and get a shower. We both smell like too much booze and I think I got a new tattoo last night.” “You did,” Kai said, finally emerging from the covers. -- It had been nearly three weeks since they’d met with the Bajoran female -- who Asher had learned was named Maier. Sitting alone at the bar of Starbase 63’s Pipyard bar, he frowned at the nearly empty glass of whiskey. “Another?” “Please.” The Pei Xiu had been laid over at the aging space station along the Federation-Cardassian border for nearly a week after their navigational array had been damaged in an ion storm. “How much longer do you guys expect to be here,” the bartender -- a scruffy, three-eyed Albertian simply named Golic said as he filled Asher’s glass. Asher shrugged. “Engineering says they need another couple days to calibrate something or the other. You know how it is.” “Ah,” Golic said, “Not that I mind. It’s been nice to have your people here -- good for business. With this on again off again war, it’s pretty variable. I remember when this place first opened -- before the fighting with the Spoonheads started --” Just as Asher feared he was going to be drawn into a long conversation with the racist bartender, he felt a hand on his waist and shoulder and soft lips on his neck. “Hey there,” Kai’s smooth voice followed the kiss. “I’ve been looking for you.” “Mmm,” Asher mumbled as he finished off the whiskey. “Where else did you think I’d be.” Kai slid to the stool next to Asher and motioned to Golic for a drink. “Knowing you? Working. I looked all over after my shift.” “You could have just asked the computer,” Asher said dryly. “That ruins the fun. Anyway, Mjar wants to see us tonight.” Asher’s eyes widened a bit. “Tonight? We can’t --” he stopped and looked around to make sure the bar was still empty. “We can’t get a shuttle to Kaira in three hours. That’s assuming we could even talk Horran into letting us take it out again.” Throwing back the whiskey, Kai turned to Asher and kissed him again. “You’re thinking too much again.” “One of us has to.” “I know that -- which is why I do it. Mjar is here and I made reservations for us at that Bolian place you like.” “It was okay.” “Whatever -- this whiskey is pretty good, Golic -- we’ll meet her there. You should wear that outfit you wore to Lexa’s reception it makes your ass look good.” “My ass always looks good,” Asher said getting up from his stool. “Where are you going -- “ Asher kept walking. Frowning at the freshly poured glass of whiskey, Kai exhaled and ran after him. “What wrong?” Pushing away, Asher kept walking. “It’s nothing. I have work to do. Go back to the bar or whatever.” “Don’t be like that.” “Like what?” “Like that!” Asher stopped. He bit his lip. Son of a ... “Is this about tonight?” “What gives you that idea? Of course it's about tonight. How could it not be about what you just told me!” “Why are you being so moody. You’re going to make a scene.” Turning, Asher brought himself within a few inches of his lover, pressing himself close. “Oh and meeting with your Bajoran terrorist on a Starbase is conspicuous as hell,” he kissed Kai for a long moment before releasing. “How stupid are you?” “You’re worrying again -- “ “One of us needs to worry I know you don’t give a damn about....” He paused and started kissing him again as someone walked by the airlock. “What don’t I care about?” “It doesn’t matter. I’ll see you tonight.” -- The brig cell was cold. Cold and smelled like booze. Booze and maybe blood. No it wasn’t blood, well human blood anyway. Too coppery -- Vulcan blood? Asher blinked open his eyes and stretched. “I see you’re awake.” Definitely Vulcan blood. “Oh -- Taven. Uh... what...?” Sitting in the corner, a tall, lanky Vulcan male sat cross-legged in what Asher only could assume was a meditation pose with a trail of dried green blood from his bulging lip. His right eye had also swollen. “You and Ensign Emaril required my, assistance.” Blinking again, Asher felt his head throbbing with every pulse of the electromagnetic field that cordoned off their cell. “Oh -- right. Thanks for that. Where is Kai anyway.” “I was simply doing what a... friend... does for another friend.” Tevan said closing his eyes. “As for Ensign Emaril -- “ “Kai’s being held by the planetary authorities.” N’awel’s nasal intonation didn’t help Asher’s hangover and what he thought might be a broken rib. Asher glanced over, feeling a whinge of pain as he took a deeper breath. Yeah, broken rib. “.” “Yeah, that’s a good word for it. Captain’s none too happy.” Asher started to protest, but between the headache and the rib, he just nodded. “Of course, sir.” “Turns out the dude you two started---” “We didn’t start...” “Got into a fight with,” N’awel corrected himself, with a roll of all four of his eyes. “He was some sort of courtesan or something and a personal friend --” Asher snorted, but N’awel continued. “A personal friend of the Regent. You two really couldn’t have picked a worse time for this either. Negotiations were already delicate... and now you get into a bar fight with the Regent’s...” “I know -- I know.” N’awel rolled only his upper set of eyes. “Fine I’ll spare you the speech, but only because Captain’s going to dress you down when she gets done getting Kai out of their clink.” “Why is Taven still here. He was only...” “He should have shot you both and drug you out of there....” -- The pneumatic doors to his quarters had barely swished open when Asher felt a heavy, unfamiliar hand on his shoulder. “Lieutenant Swain” came a commanding voice. “We need to talk,” “It’s okay Asher. “ Commander Roberta Seclair followed up. “But we should go inside.” Compliant, Asher nodded and stepped slowly into his quarters, his heart fluttering faster than a Mabrizi Hummingbird’s wings. Inside, he found himself opposite of tall, blonde-haired man in a dark suit and the stoic Seclair. “Sorry for the theatrics Lieutenant, but we’ve been waiting for you sometime now.” He should have been anxious, frightened or scared, but instead his first thought had been to the state of his quarters. Still, Asher swallowed. “Can I -- I am not sure what this is all about?” Secliar nodded to the tall blond, crossing her arms. “No reason to screw around with him, John. I told you, he’s a good kid.” ‘John’ nodded. “I suppose a more formal introduction is in order.. My name is John Lendover, Starfleet Intelligence and I need to talk you about your friend... Mister Emaril and your mutual associate you’re supposed to meet tonight.”
  4. The lift carrying Issaha and Asher passed through long, glassed section giving the riders an expansive view of the docking area where a number of ships, including the Excalibur, were moored. Holding back an urge to press his face to the turbolift wall, Issaha peered as the lift carried them upwards towards the station’s command zone. For Asher’s part he had to admit he was unsure if he wanted the arrangement that kept the Romulan office aboard much longer. It wasn’t anything personal; he actually found Issaha to be far more charming and amiable than any Romulan he’d ever interacted with -- certainly more so than his brooding older brother -- and Hakran had spoke positively about his merits as a science officer. Still, Asher couldn’t escape the worry that his continued presence aboard the Excalibur would draw unwanted attention to the ship and if there was anything the Excalibur and her crew didn’t need help with, it was with trouble. The lift disappeared into the upper workings of the station, leaving the panorama behind. Issaha sighed and turned back to Asher. “I never did get a chance to properly thank you, sir.” Asher looked up. “For?” “Accepting me as part of your crew ... via the exchange.” Smiling, Asher resisted an urge to tossel Issaha’s hair. “I'd be lying if I said it was entirely my decision, but for what it's worth -- you're welcome. Just next time let's try not to get you in even more trouble with your people? It's nice having you and all, but I assume you want to go home at some point, eh?” He blushed a light shade of green. “Yes, sir. Of course, sir. Less trouble.” The lift came to a halt, depositing them on the wide concourse of the administrative offices for the station, which served as the homebase for starships assigned to the sector. “It’s big.” Asher grinned at Issaha. “Ie,” he said. “That is the Rihan word for yes, right?” Issha nodded. “Ie.” They made their way to the suite cordoned off for the sector commander, Vice-Admiral Agruela Tersan. Asher saluted crisply once he and his Romulan charge were ushered into her office. “As you were,” she said, pouring a glass of water. “Welcome to 39-Tango, gentlemen. Please, have a seat.” The admiral was short, slender but with a certain regal bearing that demanded attention. She glanced them both over briefly as they took their seats opposite her desk. “I won’t keep you long, I am sure you both have things you’d rather do than listen to some admiral drone on, yes?” Asher smirked, “I can think of worse things, Admiral.” “Your husband mentioned you to be quite the charmer, Mister Swain.” Issaha suppressed a smirk as it was now Asher’s turn to blush. “Anyway, as I said I won’t keep either of you long. As you know, El’Arrain N’Dak -- did I get that right? I’ve never been very good with spoken Romulan.” Issaha nodded. Her pronunciation of his name had been a little off, but for an Lloann’na, not all that bad. “Mmm--” she continued. “As you know, the officer exchange program between our two governments has not typically been used as a long-term arrangement. Frankly, since the end of the war, we’ve barely had any requests from your government for a placement aboard a Federation vessel. “And given the recent incident, and even though I am personally confident based on the reports from your superiors, that your involvement was incidental; it’s somewhat natural for the folks at intelligence to be concerned about having someone with so many complications with their opposite number aboard one of our leading ships in along the border.” She stopped to take a drink before continuing. “However, after a thorough review I have been authorized to continue your placement aboard the Excalibur.” “Thank you, ma’am.” “You’re dismissed, but one more thing. If, at anytime, Captain Swain believes the safety of his ship is being compromised....” She left it there as Issaha stood and saluted neatly. Asher started to follow, but Agruela stopped him. “One moment Captain.” When they were alone, she continued. “I am serious about that last part. If you’re uncomfortable with this arrangement at any time let me know, is that clear?” “Yes.” “Good. This is a delicate situation. Being honest, if the Romulan ambassador hadn’t interceded on his behalf, there’s no way we would have let him be on a starship this close to the Romulan border.” “The ambassador?” “Apparently some friend of the family or something. His mother was part of their diplomatic corps for years.” Asher nodded. He knew Issaha’s family was influential. “Right. Well, I’ll do my best to make sure he doesn’t get into too much trouble.” “Aboard your ship?” Swain blushed again, but smiled. “We’re doing our best on that front.” “See that you do.”
  5. Asher frowned at the results. There was simply no scientific explanation for the readings on his PADD. Stars did not simply speed up. Their rotational delay was fixed along a mathematical timeline. He sighed and took a drink of tea. He was alone in the Excalibur’s stellar cartography lab, having let the junior officers take a break while they waited on a data upload from Starfleet to complete. Glancing to another PADD he looked over the reports from the surface. His brows furrowed. “The fauna was not that aggressive when we were here twenty years ago,” he said to himself. “Computer, display all logs from previous Starfleet surveys of the Irassa biome.” “There have been three previous surveys of Irassa completed by Starfleet,” the computer replied demurely. “Surveys were completed by the USS...” “Display all data from all surveys, specifically any data on the local plants and cross-reference with the samples Beta 002 and Beta 009-2 from the Excalibur logs.” “Working.” After a few moments the information began scrolling across the display. “What the...”
  6. Name: Philippe Augustin Age: 38 (Born 2350) Sex: Male POB: Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France, Earth Ht: 6'1" Wt: 215 lbs Eyes: Green Hair: Brown Race: Human Rank: Lt. Commander Assignment Chief of Security, USS Excalibur-C Call Sign: Father: Jean Augustin (65), retired, Starfleet Mother: Julia Martell-Augustin (64), active duty, Starfleet Science Siblings: Henri Augustin (35) Background: The son of career Starfleet officers, Phillippe grew up on Earth in the south of France, before attending Starfleet Academy, graduating with honors just at the outbreak of the Dominion War. Service Record: -Graduated Starfleet Academy rank of Ensign (2372) -Assigned to USS Idrisi, Assistant Security Officer (2372) -Assigned to 49thStarfleet Ground Force, Charlie Company XO (2372) -Assigned to 49thStarfleet Ground Force, Charlie Company CO (2372) -Promoted to Lieutenant, Junior Grade (2373) -Assigned to 49thStarfleet Ground Force, Battalion HQ (2373) -Promoted to Lieutenant (2376) -Assigned to Starbase 105, Chief of Diplomatic Security (2376) -Assigned to USS Calais, Chief of Security (2379) -Promoted to Lieutenant Commander (2383) -Assigned to USS Excalibur-C, Chief of Security (2388) Service Medals:, Distinguished Service Cluster( w/2 flourishes), Silver Palm, Crimson Shield. Bronze Star, Purple heart, Starfleet Infantry Medal, Cardassia Prime Campaign Medal, Dominion Campaign Medal
  7. Commander Korin Hazlet frowned deeply. It had been just over two months since he’d taken over the orbital shipyards on Cait, following a rather sordid affair involving the former chief foreman. His predecessor -- Captain Cierra Cohen -- had been relieved of duty following the incident and put on leave. The last he’d heard she’d been cleared of any wrong doing, but it certainly wasn’t a good look for anyone involved. His first task had been to clean house. It wasn’t something he liked doing, but it was needed. Cohen ran an okay operation, but the fact that a terrorist had so easily ingratiated himself meant he had few choices. The bright spot, however, had been the Excalibur. Hazlet had at first been hesitant to turn over the management of refit to her XO, and even more so when he’d learned she was also an engineer, but he’d found her an excellent project manager and even better at keeping their hare-brained chief engineer in check. So of course, some lame-brain moron at Command had to ruin all that, didn’t they? He frowned again, looking at his watch. It was almost 0700. The newly refurbished messhall of the Excalibur gleamed with a fresh polish on the flooring, and the sun was beginning to rise over Cait through the floor-to-ceiling windows. He looked back down to the PADD on the table and took a deep breath as he heard the doors open. Miranda strode in, admiring the shiny new repairs. “I’ve not seen this room look so nice in… well… ever.” Joining Hazlet, she smiled. “They’ve done a nice job, haven’t they? Repairs, refits, even an upgrade or two. We’re just about ready to shove off, pending a final inspection.” Hazlet forced a smile on his oblong face. “Yes, I think all things considered it’s gone pretty well. I have to say that I was nervous, really, taking over with everything going on, but you guys really made it work.” He paused looking back to the PADD. “Unfortunately,” he said after a moment. “I am afraid you’ll be here a bit longer than just an inspection.” Miranda’s smile faded to something most would consider neutral, though it was really just one small step above scorn. Her ‘Commander’ face. Most on the Excalibur had seen it at least once and all had been happy to slip away without witnessing anything harsher. As an engineer, she expected perfection of all her crew. Those that missed the mark once, didn’t usually miss it a second time. It was far easier (for everyone) to remain in her good graces. “I don’t like the sound of that, Commander. It sounds as though you’re about to spring some bad news on me, and I very much dislike bad news.” “I am afraid so,” Hazlet said, putting on a good front. He wasn’t thrilled about the situation and he totally understood her perspective. “Normally this would go to the CO first, but since Captain Swain is still on leave, I thought it’d be best to bring you and your Chief in on it instead.” “Well, my Chief of Engineering isn’t here, obviously. He’s busy getting ready for our final inspection so we can get underway and on to our next assignment. Or at least, that was the plan. So, out with it. What did Central Command decide this time without consulting any of us?” “How familiar are you with Quantum Slipstream Drives?” he said, ignoring her entirely understandable gruffness. She stared at him. “You’ve got to be joking. They’re incredibly dangerous, for all the benefits they provide in propulsion. Incredibly dangerous. Not to mention difficult to properly regulate.” “Yes,” Hazlet said matter-of-factly, “However R&D back home has spent the last several years working on making it work and are, apparently, ready for a live field trial. Why they chose Excalibur, I am not clear, though it could be because of the upgrades fitted to your deflector array -- apparently that’s a key component.” “Quantum slipstream requires an enormous amount of energy to be funneled into the deflector array in order to create a quantum field. It’s a delicate balance. If the field collapses while the ship is in transit, the ship would be thrown violently out of quantum space. There’s no controlling where you’d land. The ship could, very literally, break apart in piec…” She stopped, staring even harder, which quickly turned into a glower. “Wait a minute, why they chose Excalibur? CHOSE? What in seven hells are you trying to say, Commander?” Tense and rigid, she was bristling with anger. Hazlet didn’t react to the sudden flare other than to force a smile again. “I only know what the project leader told me,” he said flatly. “They apparently had planned to do it on another ship at Utopia Planitia but a complication with that ship’s navigational deflector meant they had to find another ship. Normally this kind of thing is done on an older ship, but given the stresses of slipstream and the updates required to the power generation and distribution systems, they needed a newer ship -- apparently Excalibur fit the bill.” “No. Absolutely not.” She shook her head. “I don’t care who this comes from, or who I have to talk to in order to have the decision reversed, but it’s not happening. Not on my ship. Not to my crew.” The back of one hand smacked against the palm of her other. “Do you even realize what we’ve just been through? How we barely escaped the GQ? The state of this ship before we started repairs? We’ve been sent on one insane mission after another! And now, when we have the chance for some normalcy, they want to outfit our ship with what is, effectively, a ticking bomb that could destroy the entire ship and everyone with it!” “I understand your concerns, I really do,” Hazlet said, putting a hand on her shoulder. “If it were upto me -- well I think it’s a terrible idea -- but it’s not. You’re obviously free to lodge a complaint with Command, I won’t begrudge you for it. “That said, I doubt it will do much good. The orders came directly from Starfleet Research and Development and were countersigned by Fleet HQ. The project team is already en route from Mars and should arrive later this week.” Miranda glowered. “No, it won’t do much good, will it? But that doesn’t mean I won’t yell at them at the top of my lungs. Just see if don’t. You think Captain Swain will be willing to go along with this?” She snapped her fingers. “Oh, I see. He’s on leave and can’t do anything about it. So you sneak in here with the project team, install this blasted thing while he’s away, and scurry back to the hole from which you crawled. A low blow, even for HQ.” “Who is your project leader? I want his or her name and location. We’re going to have a chat, the two of us.” It was now Hazlet’s turn to put a stern, withering look on his face. “Commander,” he said firmly. “She is not my project leader. I had nothing to do with this, other than being given orders that the installation was going to happen. Now I could have simply ordered it done and not brought you in on it, given that this is my facility and that for the duration of her refit, the Excalibur is nominally under my authority, but I didn’t so let’s just get that cleared up right now. If you want to blow your stack on Dr. Ilyan, that’s perfectly fine with me -- hell in your position I’d do the same -- but keep me well clear of your fury.” “You’re riding thin on technicalities, especially considering what happened to our ship while docked at this station. Granted, that wasn’t under your command, but I had more faith in Captain Cohen to stand up for what is right. I finished the repairs to our ship because I didn’t trust anyone from the station to complete them properly. My team made them happen. So don’t go spouting regulation at me. Excalibur is no more under your command than I’m the Empress of the Romulan Empire.” “Commander,” he said raising his voice only slightly above normal. “I understand you’re upset, really I do, and I do and did appreciate the assistance you and your teams provided. I did explain to Command that I didn’t think this was a good idea, but hell if you care about details. Now if you want to keep insulting me because you’re mad keep it up. Fortunately for you, I am not one to hold grudges because trust me, Commander, if I wanted to be an ass I could have your whole team pulled off this project and sent down to Cait to twiddle your damned thumbs. I know you’re mad, I know you’re upset but good lord, pick the right damn target. I guess someone never learned not to shoot the messenger.” “Rest assured that when I do find the appropriate target, they’ll get a lot more than a dressing down. I might be upset, but this isn’t even a fraction of what’s going to happen when my Chief Engineer hears about this.” She sighed, rubbing the back of her neck. Moving away from his table, she stared out at the station, her brow still creased with irritation. “You’d better go and finish doing whatever it is that you’ve been tasked to do. As you have the misfortune of being the messenger, and the only target we currently have, you’re not going to want to be here when the news hits the rest of the ship.” Softening, he nodded before standing. “Yes, I do have a lot of work to do. I have three inspections this afternoon. I’ll have all the technical details forwarded to you, as well the contact details for the project team.” “Very well,” she said, a tad calmer than before. “I’ll be sure to mention your reservations when I file my formal complaint.” She glanced over her shoulder at him briefly, then turned back to the star field. Miranda waited patiently until she heard the doors swish closed behind her to punch the transparent aluminum. “Ow.” Hand throbbing and most likely fractured, she ignored the pain and turned sharply on her heel, heading for engineering. The shiny new panels in engineering were going to have several dents in them once she gave Admiran the news.
  8. Excalibur, Season 7 | The Proud Tower A tenuous truce has been reached in the Gamma Quadrant resulting in an end to major operations by the Alpha Quadrant powers. Excalibur has been re-assigned to the Paimpont where they will be the lead ship of a new task force. Paimpont, a large swathe of territory on the edge of Federation space, is a politically important region bordering Xindi, Breen and Romulan space. This precarious alchemy has prevented either of the major powers from laying claim to the space leaving two smaller, yet important, races to rise as local hegemons competing for power and influence. For much of the last century, the Federation and Romulan governments have maintained a careful detente, with neither side committing military forces to the region. Both have extensive trading agreements with the two primary powers -- the Romulans with the Kaedwan Confederation, and the Federation with the Tamarn Empire -- however, owing to pressures from the ascendant, right-wing Sihhus Lakhraem (Preserve, Defend) party, the Romulan government has recently established a permanent military presence in the region, assigning a new task force based in Kaedawn space. Additionally, they have made new overtures to the Tamarn, who exclusively supply the Federation with biomimetic gel. Domestically, both the Federation and Romulan Empire are themselves in moments of transition: President Nanietta Bacco has announced she will not seek a third-term, opening the way for a contested, open election in 2388. Though Bacco has remained generally popular, tensions between interventionist and isolationist factions have continued to flare amid the withdrawal from the Gamma Quadrant and the slow, turbulent recovery efforts on Cardassia. Her vice-president has also declined to run for office, leaving the field even more open. On Romulus, the rapid liberalization in the post-year wars under the Enuar (Forward) government have been met with an equally passionate push back from the more conservative elements of their society. Following the death of the Enuar leader, Praetor Kohlav Avfad in 2384, the last three years have seen the steady rise of the nationalist Sihhus Lakhraem. Both of these transitions are occurring as the Breen, after nearly a decade of isolation following their defeat in the Dominion War, begin to reassert themselves abroad. Meanwhile, the enigmatic and fractious Xindi have also taken a renewed interest in the affairs of Paimpont, ever cautious of Federation and Romulan influence on their neighbors and rivals. As we begin not only a new season, but for the first time in over a decade in the real world, a new meta-arc, Commander Hawthorne and I hope to engage you with plots that involve both new and familiar foes across a broad spectrum of themes.
  9. Sim Guidelines and Policy Packet Current: January 22, 2018 Version 4.5 Welcome to the world of play-by-chat simming! You might know the basics, but there are five items of which you'll need to be aware. These items apply specifically to the Excalibur sim; other advanced sims may follow different guidelines. These guidelines supplement the STSF rules, so make sure you are familiar with those as well. Attendance Real life happens. No one can be expected to attend 52 sims a year. All your fellow crewmates ask is that you send an e-mail out if you know you aren't going to be able to attend an upcoming sim. This way, any plans that involve you and your character can be postponed or changed. If you are, for whatever reason, incapable of sending out advance notice, don't sweat it; send an e-mail afterwards explaining your absence so we know that you didn't simply miss the sim because of lack of interest. Absences should not be frequent. If you find that you're missing many sims because of real-life distractions, you may want to question whether you are able to commit to the sim; even with plenty of advance notice, inconsistency on a player's part can be detrimental to the game. If you're not interested enough in the game to attend, either start attending to allow it to grow on you (it eventually will) or leave--a player with no desire to sim is simply taking up roster space. If you have to take some time away from the sim, you can request a Leave of Absence. Generally, a LOA should not last longer than three months. Beyond that time, the command team reserves the right to relinquish your position to another player, reduce your rank, or remove you from the roster entirely. Players who will be gone longer than three months and who plan to return may request an XLOA, however they should not extend beyond 6-months. Note that attending, for example, only three sims over a three month period could be treated as a three month LOA. If you miss four sims in a row, you are automatically placed on LOA. ALL ATTENDANCE matters shall be the purview of the First Officer. The XO is the assistant simulation host and is to be accorded all due privileges. Rank and Promotions All new players shall assume their positions at the rank of Ensign. Promotions to the next available rank will be assigned as the Commanding and Executive Officers warrant. Sim attendance, involvement, and logs are all points considered when deciding promotions. The rank structure allows us to maintain a clear chain of command. Players who demonstrate a solid command of the Problem Solving guidelines below make more effective senior officers, while junior officers are expected to input more of the ideas that the senior officers work with. In addition to this, solid attendance, consistent log writing, and good sim etiquette are all considered before a player is promoted. The Excalibur rank structure follows. Note the abbreviations in parenthesis. - Ensign (Ens) - The rank you start with. Many players enjoy playing Ensigns most and actually ask to not be promoted. Ensigns have few responsibilities and are allowed a lot of creativity. - Lieutenant, Junior Grade (LtJg) - The easiest promotion to receive. To reach this rank, you need only attend a few sims, be on your best behavior, and write a few logs. - Lieutenant (Lt) - The top of the junior officer ladder. To reach this rank, you should demonstrate a solid grasp of the Problem Solving guidelines. Input ideas, preferably ones that allow a lot of room for other players to contribute. Develop those ideas with logs as well as simming. - Lieutenant Commander (LtCdr) – A Lt is likely to become a department head (aka chief). A department head receives ideas offered by the assistants and coordinates both with the command staff and with other department heads to translate ideas into action. This is the life of the senior officer, and it carries heavy responsibility. If a player handles that responsibility well, he will be promoted to this rank. The LtCdr's (referred to as "Commander" for short) are leaders even among the senior officers. Within the Excalibur rank structure, this rank is reserved almost exclusively to those in the Senior Officer positions of Department Head. The rank may, however, be given to any non-department head at the discretion of the command team. NOTE: As ascension to this rank is a requirement for GM recruitment, it will be the policy of the command team to consider this when promoting non-department heads. - Second Officer - Under certain conditions, a Second Officer can be officially appointed by the command team. This player's role will be defined by the command team and the player. The player holding this position will not have the full authority vested in gamemasters, however they will be given limited ACTION authority based on need. In normal simming conventions, even if this position remains unofficially filled, there would be a second officer aboard the ship, regardless of OOC structure. - Command Staff - The CO and XO are GM's assigned to the sim. A player can not be promoted to the command staff without becoming a GM and applying for an open command staff slot. The command staff ranks are usually Commander, Captain, Commodore, or Admiral. The following is a Marine rank equivalency chart for reference. Fleet Rank - Marine Rank Ensign (Ens.) - Second Lieutenant (2Lt.) Lieutenant, junior grade (Lt.,j.g.) - First Lieutenant (1Lt.) Lieutenant (Lt.) - Marine Captain (M.Cap.) Lieutenant Commander (Lt.Cmdr.) - Major (Maj.) Commander (Cmdr.) - Lieutenant Colonel (Lt.Col.) Captain (Cptn.) - Colonel (Col.) ALL PERSONNEL matters shall be forwarded to the ship's XO for resolution (CC all ship's business to the CO), pending the Commanding Officer's final approval. This includes division and ship-to-ship transfers. A roster shall be posted to all crew members and the director of STSF personnel and periodically updated. Exceptions: On accepted transfer, and with the Commanding Officer's consent, a new member may be allowed to retain his/her former rank. The same may be accorded to any veteran STSF officer depending on the circumstance. Simply because a member creates a screen name with a specific rank DOES NOT imply that this rank shall be accepted on assignment to a simulation. On many ships there is often a member who serves in a different rank or capacity on a different ship/sim. That rank is NOT carried over to the Excalibur except when specified as above. Therefore, the Captain on another sim may not necessarily be allowed that rank or those privileges on a second simulation. On Excalibur we are fortunate to have several seasoned veterans who participate in other capacities because they enjoy this venue of entertainment Logs It's easy to assume that any given Advanced sim, just like any given Academy, is a 1 hour per week activity. This is not the case. The advanced sims introduce logs, and both writing logs and reading logs written by others could make a sim a 5 hour per week activity. You should allot enough of your free time every week to read your crewmates' logs and write one or two of your own. You could just ignore the log-writing aspect of the sim altogether, but this would hurt your ability to both understand and enjoy the sims. Why are logs so important? There are a number of reasons. The most basic log is the duty log. Despite its simplicity, it's also the most important type. The shortest duty log (a single paragraph) can be nothing more than a summary of the last sim from your character's point of view. A more complex log could include analysis of events that occurred, speculation as to why they occurred, suggestions as to how the crew could react to them, and plans for the next sim. Such a log accomplishes quite a bit. By reading it, your crewmates can enjoy an extensive recap of everything that happened during the last sim, especially events that they weren't paying direct attention to. In a busy sim, there can be over five separate events occurring around the ship and possibly off of it, all at the same time, from the integral events that drive the mission to the subplots that occupy the departments; even an experienced player can have difficulty keeping track of all those plot threads. Without duty logs, the only recap available is the recording of the chat session, but reading this is boring and still requires separation of the plot threads, though many players find reading the chatlog (which is posted weekly) helpful. A duty log also sets the stage for the next sim. By recapping a previous sim and indicating what your plans are for the next sim, you won't be lost when the sim starts. Additionally, your crewmates will be aware what you plan to do and make their own plans accordingly. Keep your eyes open for the mission briefing, usually written by the CO; while other logs may set the stage for various plot threads, the briefing sets the stage for the central plot thread. You were encouraged to make a "stock" character in the Academy--less personality, more attention to duty. In the Advanced sim, where you're simming with the same group every week, creating and developing a unique character and his/her relationships makes for a much more vibrant game. To start, you should write a character bio. Your bio can be as simple as a short list of attributes (name, age, gender, etc) or it can include more detailed background information--childhood history, education, personality, medical records, or anything else you can think of. It doesn't need to be this detailed at first since your bio can be updated as you sim. Whichever your preference, your character can be developed further in the sims and through use of personal logs. You are asked to create a biography within a month of being posted to the simulation. All Biographies should be sent to the CO and the XO for approval before being posted into the Bio's folder on the Excalibur boards. The host team reserves the right to modify all biographies to fit the simulation regulations, and will be subject to the "magic bullet" rule. Personal logs usually have very little to do with the mission, instead focusing on your character. You can define your character's feelings for another player's character, detail an important lesson your character recently learned, recount moments from the character's past, describe strange hobbies, habbits, personality quirks, emotional struggles, mood swings, or anything else you can think of to give your character extra dimensions. But be careful--don't get so wrapped up in your personal logs that you disconnect your character from ship business. If you plan to write a lot of personal logs, mix in enough duty logs to create a healthy balance. Sometimes, logs are made for two... or three, or four, or five, etc.. This is where joint logs come in. Joint logs are a collaborative effort by one more than one log writer. They can be duty logs featuring several officers discussing and brainstorming a plot thread (same as a standard duty log, only with several people offering input). Or they can be personal logs, recounting an off-duty hangout such as a poker game, movie night, a friendly stroll through the arboretum, or even something a bit more intimate. If you have an idea for a log, and you think it would involve some of your crewmates, send them a PM or E-mail to arrange a joint log. Joint logs are usually simmed out in a PM or chat room and converted to a more log friendly format afterwards, but a few are exchanged by e-mail with each writer contributing a piece in turn. Check out the Advanced sim forums on the STSF message board to get ideas of what sorts of logs are written and how they are written. Logs also let the command staff know you're following along with the storyline and enjoying it. It also helps you focus on the events of the last sim and how to prepare for the next one. It doesn't need to be a novel, just however much you want to put down to express your thoughts at the moment. All logs should be sent to the entire crew as E-Mail and posted to the Excalibur boards. This ensures that everyone aboard receives the mail and allows everyone in STSF the ability to see what is happening aboard our vessel. This is often helpful for newly assigned crew members who can read the boards to get up to speed on the current mission. One more reminder on logs: Please, make your logs readable. In other words, try and use standard grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. Read a few of the other crewmember's logs. You'll get the idea. DO NOT POST LOGS WHICH WILL AFFECT THE SHIP WITHOUT THE CO OR AND XO'S APPROVAL. DO NOT POST LOGS WHICH WILL AFFECT ANOTHER CREW MEMBER WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION. Etiquette For most people, this is not a major issue. We can all respect each other as gamers and enjoy the sims together. But a reminder of the various points here can be helpful in avoiding problems between players. These are simply basic rules of conduct. You'll see the term PM (Private Message) used a lot. PM's are the "magic lamp" of player etiquette, useful for both resolving disputes and for getting to know your fellow players better. Don't take your rank too seriously. Rank is only a convenience that allows for a more smoothly run sim. A Lieutenant does not have a right to "talk down" to an Ensign, unless they've both agreed by PM that it's appropriate (see OOC and IC below), and junior officers are just as important to a sim as senior officers. Our characters may outrank one another, but as players we're all on a level playing field and we can all at least role-play seniority in a respectful manner. Keep in mind that a fine line exists between what goes on out of character (OOC) and what goes on in character (IC), and that that line can sometimes become blurred, leading to confusion and conflicts. Sometimes a character can be *very* different from the player behind it--rude, bitter, and ill-tempered, for instance, whereas the player is far more amiable. And sometimes arguments and fights can take place between characters whose players are actually very good friends OOC. If you see something like this in a sim, assume that it's exactly what it is... a staged performance by online actors. If you think you'd like to sim a little tension or even hostility between your character and another player's character, first be sure to let that player know what you want to do and make sure it's alright. Any physical violence between characters, no matter the circumstances, should be cleared by PM. PM's are useful for many other reasons. Sometimes, a character speaks to another character in sim but isn't answered. Don't assume you're being ignored if this happens. Sims can be busy, and chat lines can be missed. Simply send a PM to the player pointing out that you're trying to get his/her attention. If you're confused about something (you've lost track of a plot thread, you're not sure why someone's doing something, you've forgotten how a certain technology works) PMing the appropriate person can help. PM's are exchanged regularly during a sim to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Avoid clogging the chat room with excessive << OOC statements like this >>. A few such statements are ok, but back and forth discussions should be moved to PM. If you write a log that involves another player's character extensively, send the log to the player for approval first. No one wants a character misrepresented in someone else's log. If you're planning a log that involves another player's character extensively, you may want to consider contacting the player for a joint log. Finally, if you have a dispute with another player, take a simple two-step approach. Politely contact the player by PM and try to resolve the dispute yourselves; if this doesn't help the situation, notify the command staff. The best way to avoid disputes is to get to know your crewmates. How can you do this? Simple... send them PM's. But please, please be aware that each of us has "feelings." Out-of-character attacks upon another crew member will not be tolerated. There is absolutely nothing wrong with two "characters" arguing, but make sure that each person understands it is a "character" interaction. If the hosts feel the interaction is disrupting the simulation, we will warn you via IM or email. Continued disruption will be dealt with under the Terms of Service. In addition to your play on Excalibur, we expect you to maintain your behavior across the board at STSF. This includes any other games you may participate on, Academies and the general boards. If you are reprimanded by another GM, or caught behaving poorly, this is not only a reflection of yourself, but also the entire Excalibur simulation and the GM-team. Any incidents reported to the command team will be dealt with under the terms of service and may result in the player(s) being demoted, held back from promotion, removal of the game or any other methods deemed appropriate by the command team. Excalibur's command team takes great pride in the simulation and we would ask that you would show this same pride by abiding by standard behavioral conventions. Problem Solving and Game Play In the Academy, you weren't expected to do much--follow the chain of command, watch out for and react to ACTIONs, don't lose focus of the mission, keep busy, and interact with others. You graduated past all of that. In the Advanced sims, with missions continuing from week to week, problems will tend to be a bit more complex, but this will offer you the opportunity to be more creative. You're now expected (rather than encouraged) to chip in with observations and ideas about a mission. But you also have to be mindful of the limitations... Excalibur's missions are generally series of problems to be solved. You have the one central problem (first contact with a new species, exploring a new system, investigating an anomaly, etc) that must be ultimately solved, and several smaller problems that crop up along the way (not all of them related to the central problem). A common misconception by an inexperienced simmer is that the goal of simming is to solve these problems. Actually, the goal is to have fun role-playing the effort to solve the problems... possibly failing miserably along the way. In fact, not all missions end with a positive result, but as long as the players had fun, the game was a success. Sometimes a player will try to be a superhero, coming up with and executing the one action that quickly solves everything (usually involving the character performing a feat well beyond his/her capability or the use of some technobabbical innovation that no one understands). The problem with such a solution (aside from possibly not making sense) is that it will cut any given mission down to one or two sims, which means no one will have any opportunity to enjoy pitching in. You want to contribute ideas, but how can you do it without going overboard? Here are some suggestions: -Practical solutions - If you go before your chief or the CO suggesting that we escape the nebula with a baryon/tetryon deflector pulse combined with a phaser beam modulated to an alpha wave frequency, you're going to get some glazed expressions... at best. At worst, your idea will actually be used, the problem will be solved, and there will be no room to come up with anything more creative. Use of technobabble is appropriate to fit the Trek setting, but it should not be the sole solution to any problem. Rather, it should be used to embellish a more practical solution to a problem. Ask yourself... what, exactly, does the baryon/tetryon pulse do? Or the modulated phaser beam? Would they push the ship, create a protective bubble around the ship, open a rift that the ship could use as an anchor? Outline what they do, and your superior officers will be able to figure out what sorts of consequences would arise (more of those "smaller problems") and how those consequences could be addressed. If you're not sure yourself what they would do... you might not have the best solution. It's often best to start by putting the problem in practical terms. If the ship is trapped in a nebula... what exactly does this mean? What smaller problems are posed? Can you draw analogies between the problem and real-life scenarios (maybe a car being stuck in mud during a hurricane)? When you have the problem in practical terms, come up with practical solutions, then put the solutions into a Trek context. - Imperfect solutions - Should your solution be the immediate answer to everything? Of course not. If it is, you have something to learn about teamwork. Simming is a team game, and the best players are the ones who find ways to involve others. When coming up with a solution, don't say "I think it will work." Instead, say "it could work, but there are a lot of elements that need to be addressed." Maybe the baryon/tetryon pulse would create radiation harmful to the crew. Maybe the phaser modulations would require direct modification of the phaser arrays. Maybe the nebula would have to be monitored for dangerous particle concentrations. Make your solution full of even more smaller problems, and the rest of the crew will have ways to become involved. If another player is presenting a solution that isn't full of holes, put some holes in it yourself (especially if you're a department head). The solution wasn't your idea, but your character is an expert in areas that the other player's character is not, so you might know more about some of the problems that would be posed. On the other hand, don't simply say "no, that won't work." That's just negativity. Indicate that the solution could work but that there are a lot of gaps to fill first. - Believable solutions - Obvious enough and something that any Academy graduate should understand. You're not going to move the comet off its collision course by detonating the system's star, and you're not going to send a command that makes the consoles in Engineering come alive and fight off the intruders as if Excalibur has become Fantasia. Some solutions are not quite that exaggerated but are still outside the realm of possibility. But don't even respond to a solution like this with "no, that won't work." Take the solution presented, acknowledge that the idea has merit even if the method does not, and offer alternatives. You're not going to blow up the star... but maybe you can create a smaller shockwave significant enough to push the comet. You can't make the Engineering consoles pop up and fight... but you might find a way to surround them with electricity fields. - One tree, many branches - If a solution to a problem is being worked on, do you... a) lend a hand and/or your brain to help develop the solution or come up with a completely different solution? Saying "I've got a better idea" is a signal that you're ignoring your teammates and trying to become the focus of attention. Contribute to solutions that have already been presented. If you're a department head, develop the solution by presenting problems that need to be addressed (as indicated above). If you're an assistant, and you're not sure how you could pitch in to the problem solving effort, ask your superior officer what you can do to help. Don't scrap your "better idea" entirely--maybe it can somehow be integrated into the solution already being developed, or maybe it can be saved for a similar problem further down the road. - Imperfect characters - You're sitting in the holding cell in the middle of the mysterious alien lab... but you're not about to stand for this! You bust open a wall panel with your bare hands and disconnect the circuits inside, shutting down the force field. Out of your cell, you overpower the four guards, managing to dodge all of their pulse rifle blasts. You move over to the nearby computer terminal and start accessing all of the lab's systems, even though this terminal is only meant to access the brig. You seal off all the doors, lock the aliens out of the computer, and send out a distress signal for Excalibur to pick up. After a few seconds, you remember to release your crewmates from their cells. By the way, did I mention you're a medical officer? This is called "god moding" and it's inappropriate because if one character can do everything you don't need any other characters. This was an exaggerated example, the kind of thing that would hold you back about 10 sims in the Academy (not to mention invoking a swift GM ACTION killing your character off). But god moding can always creep up in more subtle ways. Try to remember... you're not here to solve problems, you're here to have fun making the effort. Avoid the mindset that the sim is a challenge to be overcome and put more emphasis on what you're *not* capable of doing. Flaws encourage teamwork and are a lot more fun to role-play. - In-Character Romantic Relationships - While the Excalibur Command staff does not discourage romantic relationships "in-character;" we strongly advise against jumping into them the first week you're on a game. And while they can certainly add depth to a character, and realistically romance would be a normal part of any fleet officer's life, we advise extreme caution. Some pointers: Don't turn it in to "Days of Our Lives: Excalibur," a little drama now and then is okay, but melodrama isn't a way to win points with anyone. And besides, most people really don't want to read it, if they did, they'd check out a copy of Twilight. Take care to make sure that both parties are aware that relationship is IN CHARACTER ONLY. When OOC becomes involved, things tend to get messy Please keep the in-sim relationship to a minimum. After all, in-game is usually while characters are on duty, and this a military ship where flirtations would not be looked upon kindly. - Gamemasters Actions - It was once said that if everyone had a perfect life, it would be boring. Occasionally, the command team might decide… at random… to throw a huge monkey wrench in your characters plans. If this happens, don't panic! Just like real life, not everything should work out the way we plan it. In fact, it usually doesn't. If a GM decides (or their dice decide) that something is going to go wrong, just go with the flow. If you have a problem with something, talk to the GM in private and ask them about the situation. Generally a GM isn't going to turn your character's life upside down without asking you about it first, but even if they do… go with it. You might find that a little bit of strife once in a while can be far more fun than being June Cleaver. Also keep in mind that you can, and most likely will at some point, die. - Telepath Players - In regard to telepaths, please note that as with logs, permission MUST be obtained from other players before your character can sense any particular thought or emotion that is not explicitly spelled out on screen. For example, without permission, the following is NOT acceptable Swain> ::throws chair across the room:: Telepath> ::senses Swain's anger:: Since Captain Swain simply may like throwing chairs, the following IS acceptable: Swain> ::is extremely angry:: Telepath> ::senses Swain's anger:: - A Final Reminder on Role Playing - This is a game, played for enjoyment; it is natural to assume that a variety of circumstances will occur. However, please understand that while this simulation is not real we still expect an atmosphere of realism. Thus, it is expected that your character will not engage in actions that exceed the bounds of what can be called realistic. There are no "super heroes," just a team of dedicated officers. Likewise, the ship does not heal herself. Any damage the ship receives must be repaired. Please note, repairs take time, they are not instantaneous: no "magic bullets." Finally, while 24th century technology is quite advanced, Star Trek has its limits, and we work within them. ---- The USS Excalibur is a sim of Star Fleet Simulation Forum. This document is an internal policy packet intended only for the USS Excalibur simulation. The command staff of the Excalibur reserves the right to modify this document at any time without notification.
  10. Several hours later and several thousand light years away, Asher Swain stood quietly near a window on the promenade of Deep Space 9, watching as wounded ships returned from battle through the wormhole. Victory had come at a steep price. Nearly 70 ships had been lost in the battle, and many more -- including his own command -- had been severely damaged. He exhaled as his thoughts wandered briefly to the wounded Excalibur, docked a few decks above him on Pylon 2. The ship itself had taken heavy damage to a number of key systems. A review was already underway to determine if she was salvageable or not, though Tandaris and Miranda seemed positive -- despite themselves -- about the situation. That, unfortunately, reminded him that Arden was still being operated on aboard the Medical ship Ruby Bradley. The Cheron had taken a considerable amount of damage and Arden had been injured when a bulkhead collapsed on the bridge, shattering his humerus and collapsing his left lung. The doctors were confident that, like Excalibur, he would make a full recovery and were set to send for him when the operation was over. He stood a while longer, watching as the wormhole opened and another ship emerged. Nearly the entire fleet had transitioned back to the Alpha Quadrant. A few were staying behind to assist in cleanup and to secure the still-unfinished Starbase Lyonnese. Abronvonvich -- who’d made it a point of thanking Swain personally after the battle -- had told him that the President would be addressing the Federation soon to inform them of the outcome of the battle and the he had suggested the Excalibur receive mention, by name, for the heroism of her crew. “Imagine that,” Swain had said with a chuckle, “command being happy about one Excalibur’s hair brained schemes.” They’d both laughed and Misha had, for the first time, embraced Asher. It was strange, he thought, that now at the end of their road together, that they shared such a moment. “I really did mean what I said when you returned with Aleksandr,” Misha said, clearing his throat. “It meant more to me than I think you can know that you put everyone -- yourself included -- on the line to save him. “I realize now that I haven’t always been very respectful to you. I thought,” he said looking away, “I thought you weren’t the right man for this position; that you let your ideals guide you too much -- but I was wrong.” Swain smiled, thinking back to the moment as he stood on the promenade. “There will be a ceremony this evening, after the President speaks,” Misha had said. “I want to make sure your crew -- the whole fleet -- that they know how valued they are and how their courage and bravery have not gone unnoticed. I know you’re waiting on Arden’s surgery -- God be good he’ll be fine -- but I hope you can come. If not, I just wanted you to know that. You’re a good man, a fine officer, and a hell of a captain. Starfleet needs more of you and less of me.” The words echoed in his head as another convoy of ships exited the wormhole. Swain wondered if that was really true. Anyone would have done what he did in that position -- trusted his crew and made the decision that their lives were ultimately less important than the mission. He sighed and looked back to the window. Beyond his worries about Arden, about all of the injured and wounded, about Excalibur -- he couldn’t help but also think about the future. The world around him was shifting, changing. Even if Excalibur was salvageable, the Federation’s mission in the Gamma Quadrant was effectively over and a reforged Excalibur would be given a new assignment, perhaps once again on the edges of the frontier. For Asher, that meant a decision about a great many relationships.
  11. Having been modified to function as a command and control ship, the USS Constantine boasted a large war room complete with holographic displays of the battlefield. Standing a few feet away from it, Vice-Admiral Misha Abronvonvich frowned at what the technological wonder displayed. The rogue fleet -- numbering nearly three-hundred ships -- had taken up position just outside weapons range. Attempts to open a dialog had so far been unsuccessful. Glancing to a junior officer to his left, he motioned for her to activate the communications array that would broadcast his image to every commander in the fleet. “Good afternoon,” he said flatly. “By now you have all received your assignments and should have reported to your various group commanders. I want to briefly review the broad assignments so that everyone is on the same page. “The Romulan and Klingon forces will form the extreme right flank of our formation, under the command of Enarrain N’Dak aboard the Iron Reaver. Should hostilities begin, they will be tasked with engaging the cruiser and battleships in the enemy formation. Opposite of them on the extreme left flank, Captain Corizon of the Cheron will command a mixed fleet of Federation, Bajoran and Al-Ucard ships. They will run interference and prevent the Dominion from flanking us.” Misha paused, tapping a series of commands into the display to show it on the broadcast instead of him. “ The bulk of our forces will be split into four additional groups. Taskforce 1, led by Vice Admiral Hayden and the Iowa will have the right flank of the center and support the Klingon-Romulan forces. Captain Varen and the Vatican will command the center-left and will focus on intercepting Jem’Hadar forces. Captain Swain and the Excalibur will command the carrier group in a goalkeeper formation near the wormhole. From the Constantine, I will command our reserve forces. For now we will hold at Lyonesse Station. “I will not lie to you,” he said, his voice steady. “Our chances of success are not high. If this were just a fight of fleet versus fleet, I would be more optimistic but as you know the rogue Jem’Hadar possess a weapon of terrible destructive power. Our mission -- our only mission -- is to prevent them from using that weapon, all other concerns are secondary.” -- “Report,” Destorie N’Dak said as the viewer on the oira of the Iron Reaver flickered from a starfield and mutated into a tactical display of the formation. “Movement in the Jem’Hadar fleet,” the tactical officer -- Erein Jaelk tr’Kaen -- said after a brief moment of hesitation. “They appear to be shifting their formation, but have not moved towards us.” “Interesting,” N’Dak said, thoughtfully strumming his fingers. “Trying to unnerve us na doubt.” “Fleet command is signaling to move into position Alpha 5,” Arrhne tr’Khev said from the operations console that he’d been all but press ganged into operating. “Signal tactical group to follow...” “Sir,” Kaen said, his voice notably more alarmed than it had been only a few moments before. “ Al-Ucard forces are breaking formation. They’ve opened fire on the Jem’Hadar.” N’Dak lifted a brow, but remained otherwise unmoved. “Well then, signal the fleet to engage the Jem’Hadar cruisers. Our best bet will be to engage them at close range. Tactical formation Helan F’tah Eren.” On command, the Romulan and Klingon forces shifted quickly as the Jem’Hadar forces began scattering, clearly thrown off guard by the sudden attack by the Al-Ucard. Flanked by three Klingon Birds of Prey -- itself a sight to behold -- the hulking D’Deridex Iron Reaver lunged forward towards a line of sleek, purple Jem’Hadar forces . Likewise, three Vor’cha-class Klingon attack cruisers sped towards the same formation, disruptors ablaze. “Hold our fire until we are within optimum range,” Destorie said, an edge to his voice. “Then target the biggest ship in the formation.” Though they’d been caught off guard initially, the Jem’Hadar were trained for only one thing: battle. With alarming quickness their forces had regrouped and began engaging. “Damage to the Ja’Qaj,” Arrhne strained as the Iron Reaver rocked under a volley of torpedo fire. “Heavy damage to the Fury and the Revenge.” “Elements,” Destorie said, “tell the Ja’Qaj to fall back. Tactical bring forward weapons to bear on the lead cruiser. Helm, get us in as close as au can.” - On the bridge of the Cheron, Ah-Windu Corizon growled, smacking his fist on the console. “Get the shields back online,” he said. “Helm, evasive maneuvers.” The sleek Luna-class starship broke off an attack run, though not without taking a pot shot from an midsized cruiser. The impact sent a shudder through the bridge and Corizon growled even louder. “Report!” “Shields down to 43%,” Arden Cormoran said, his face smudged with graphite from an explosion to another console. “Phasers at 76%, forward torpedo launchers are off-line. That last hit damaged the EPS grid. Engineering reports they can get it back online, but we need to duck out of this fight long enough for them to do that.” “Do it,” Corizon managed to get out before another shot from a Dominion cruiser struck them, sending him scrambling from his chair. “Main power offline,” Cormoran croaked as he pulled himself to the console. “Shields offline. We’re a sitting duck.” “Incoming torpedo,” the tactical officer sounded. - The Iowa was one of a handful of modified Sovereign-class starships that had been uprated to “dreadnaught” following a program to improve Starfleet’s defensive capabilities. Excalibur, in a previous iteration, had undergone the refit to similar specifications. As such, Iowa was one of the most heavily armed vessels in the entire fleet. Still, Vice-Admiral Jonelle Hayden felt a pit in her stomach as the Al-Ucard jump started the battle. “Tactical, bring weapons online,” she said calmly. “Helm, pattern Sierra Tango.” Flanked by two Norway-class ships, the Iowa moved towards the Jem’Hadar battle lines, her heavy armament unleashing volley on volley of torpedo fire. “Romulans are engaging at near point-blank range,” someone said behind her. “Then we’re going to have to get a little closer ourselves. Signal cruiser wings 1 and 3 to follow us and the Missouri. Cruiser wings 2 and 4 fill the gaps.” -- “Report,” Abronvonich barked as he entered the bridge of the Constantine. “What the hell is going on.” “The Al-Ucard broke formation,” Alexander Calypsos said with a frown. “All units are now engaged along the front lines. Corizon’s flank is taking a beating, but holding. Tactical Group 1 and 2 are moving into position now. The Romulan and Klingon group are engaging at extremely close range -- which seems to be working, but they’re taking heavy fire. Iowa, Missouri, Gage, London, Hood and Potomac are moving to assist them.” Abronvonvich nodded as he took his seat in the command chair of the Excelsior-class bridge. “Send Fighter Wing,” he paused looking at the tactical read out, “seven and nine to assist Corizon’s group. Everyone else remain at stand by...” “Sir!” Calypsos said more alarmed than usual. “Incoming additional Jem’Hadar forces on long range sensors, and four smaller groups have broken through -- heading for the wormhole. Should we move to intercept or move to support the fleet?”
  12. Author's Note: This log occurs shortly before last Sunday's sim. Outside of the wormhole, a collection of Starfleet, Romulan, Klingon and Bajoran vessels had begun to form a defensive perimeter around the wormhole and the still-yet-unfinished husk of Lyonesse Station. Leading the fleet, the sleek lines of the Sovereign-class USS Iowa cut a sharp contrast to her flanking Miranda-class escorts Bounty and Aix. In the conference room, Vice Admiral Jonella Hayden pressed her uniform, before turning to face the hologram of her fellow Vice Admiral Misha Abronvonvich. She knew the man by reputation more than anything else, and though there had been some natural tension between the two flag officers regarding the operational chain of command -- those tensions had seemed to fade as both clearly respected the other. “Jonnelle,” Misha said, his voice more tired than she’d ever remembered him sounding. “I’ve been notified the President will be going live in a few hours; then we’ll be getting underway. I am transferring my flag to to the Constantine. As we discussed Corizon has managed to convinced the Al-Ucard to send a fleet to aid our efforts but...” “But you’re still not sure if we can do anything,” she said with a nod. “I don’t disagree, but I don’t see any better options. The plans presented for intercepting the device seemed... risky at best.” “I don’t see many better options, either. I am going to give Swain to go ahead on the least risky of the two. Have you been able to get anything more from the long range sensors on those movements?” She shook her head, turning away from a moment. “No,” she said. “The Romulans are dispatching a scout to see what they can find. I understand Enarrain N’Dak will be arriving soon to take command of the Romulan forces?” “Yes, his warbird left a few hours ago. They should reach the system tomorrow. How many ships as the empire sent?” “Two squadrons,” she said. “That was the most they were willing to part with for now. The Klingons have been more generous.” Misha’s hologram flickered a moment and his face grew dark. “Oh for god sake.” Jonelle’s own expression darkened. “What is it?” “Unless I am seeing things,” he said, his voice strained. “A Scorpiad warship just entered the system.” “The Scorpiad?” -- Corizon would be lying to himself he said he was unmoved by Victria’s return to his orbit. He thought that he’d gotten the messy goodbye out of the way the last time they’d seen each other, but the prospect of the wormhole being closed forever had reminded him of how much of his life had revolved around the relationships he’d made during his time aboard the station and the Excalibur. While he was also more than a little interested in what Sorehl was doing arriving aboard an Al-Ucard vessel for a moment had managed to forget the looming crisis that had just unphased outside of the station. That moment was ruined by his combadge chirping, followed by a kurt summons to the command deck to meet with Abronvonvich and Varen. Leaving K’Vorlag to “entertain” their guests, he quicked headed to back up the ramp into the commanding officer’s office. “What in the hell is that thing doing out there?” Corizon lifted an ear. “I assume you’re referring to the Scorpiad vessel?” Abronvonvich’s cold glare might have caused a lesser officer to buckle into prostration on site, but Corizon remained collected -- almost as if he’d been through this particular round of questioning more than once. “Yes.” “Well,” Corizon drew in a breath for dramatic flair. “With any luck, the same thing the Al-Ucard are doing -- preparing to aid us in our effort to stop the destruction of the wormhole.” Varen glowered almost as severely as the Russian flag officer. “With any luck? You mean not only did you not bother to tell any of us that you were inviting them to the party, but you didn’t even bother to secure their cooperation before doing so? What in the...” “I think I am more than capable of carrying out this inquisition, Captain.” “Of course, apologies, sir.” “You know Corizon, this is why you got your marching orders? This kind of stunt is exactly why no one in Command came to your rescue and why no one will be sorry...” Corizon was actually grinning at the verbal assault. “Wipe that damn smile off your face, Captain or I swear to god I will put you in the brig and leave you here when we evacuate...” “Admiral,” he said cooly. “First let me correct the record. I didn’t call anyone other than the Al-Ucard, which I informed you that I would be doing. Why is every time something happens on this station it has to be my fault?” “Because it usually is your fault,” Abronvonvich hissed. “So you didn’t contact them, then why are they here?” “Based on the conversation the Excalibur was having with their commander -- who I believe you might remember, a G’jjjak -- it would appear that Commander Tandaris Admiran called him.” “The Trill?” Varen said before Abronvonvich cut him off. “Wait... they called him? Oh for godsakes.” “See it’s not always my fault.” “Oh don’t try and play innocent. There’s no way he would have done this without talking to you first.” “Or his commanding officer,” Varen offered, leveling a glance towards the general direction of the Excalibur. “Surely he wouldn’t take such an action without Swain’s approval.” “You don’t know Admiran,” Corizon said with a chuckle. “But, yes, he did bring it to me before doing it.” “And you thought this was something I didn’t need to know about, Ah-Windu?” Corizon nodded. “I didn’t think it would work, to be honest. Our attempts to contact them through official channels had failed and, well I couldn’t imagine the Scorpiad actually coming here just because Tandaris beckoned him; but you have my apologies for not informing you, Admiral.” Misha took a very deep breath. “If we weren’t on the edge of oblivion and we both weren’t on the verge of retirement, I would kick your ass for this little stunt, but for now I am going to pretend that you had told me about this ahead of time and that its going to work out fine.” “I’ve always found positive thinking to be one of the best weapons, sir.” “Oh it's going to work out because you’re going to make it work. I want you head over to Excalibur and take over negotiating with the Scorpaid commander.” “Yes, sir.” Corizon left without further bandying or posturing, leaving Abronvonvich and Varen alone. “Should I press the matter with Swain?” Varen said when they were alone. “Even if Corizon says Swain didn’t know...” “No,” Abronvonvich said with heavy sigh. “I owe Swain and the Excalibur for rescuing my boy.” -- The Excalibur’s bridge was still a twitter with activity with Corizon arrived, though he had little time to take it in before he was ushered in Swain’s office. “Well,” Corizon said as the door slid closed behind him. “It looks as if Tandaris is more persuasive than I would have imagined, Tandaris. Though I have to say,” he paused making a chiding gesture, “starting a civil war is a little extreme. Even I’ve never done that.” Swain lifted a brow, skeptically. “I find that hard to believe, Ah-Windu.” “There’s no proof of it.” “Mmmhmm.” “Anyway,” the Dameon moved towards the cabinet in the corner to make a drink. “As I told you before I beamed over, Misha has decided to punish me for this by making me work out a deal with Greg.” “Better you than me,” Swain said, frowning deeply. “And perhaps it would be best if Tandaris wasn’t involved further. Greg didn’t sound too thrilled with him.” “I can imagine so,” Corizon said, taking a seat with a drink in hand. “I mean, he’ll have to wait a hole moulting cycle for that arm to grow back.” Asher rolled his eyes though Corizon wasn’t sure if it was at the comment or the drink. “Well,” he said after a moment, “let’s go ahead and get him on the line. I am sure you won’t mind if I observe?” “Sure.” Though clearly it wasn’t a question and Asher sat about having Rhan connect them through to the Scorpiad. Part of Corizon had rather hoped he’d just not answer and go home, or at least wait till Corizon had finished his drink -- but as usual the galaxy was never so kind. After a few moments, the viewer flickered to life with Greg’s ugly ‘mug.’ The Scorpiad clicked away, annoyed to be bothered again so soon and even more annoyed that he was being faced with the strange creature he’d heard was called Corizon. “Make this quick,” he almost hissed. “I have no time for games.” Corizon smiled, baring his fangs. Swain wondered if that was intentional. Men. “Good afternoon, I am Captain Ah-Windu Corizon of the Federation of Planets. I’ve been asked to open a dialog with you. I understand that you’re here to settle some sort of score with Commander Admiran.” “Settle a score?” the Scorpiad’s chelicerae worked furiously, “is that some human expression for killing?” “After a fashion, I suppose.” “Then yes. I am here to ‘settle a score’ with the perfidious Trill.” “Well,” Corizon said, taking a sip of what Swain now saw more clearly to be the 2336 Andorian whiskey he’d been saving, “I am afraid that for now, you’ll have to hold off on your quest to kill him. We’re a bit busy and we need him.” “And? I don’t care.” Greg was clearly disinterested in Tandaris’ work schedule. “I could just destroy his ship... and you along with it.” “You could,” Corizon replied, again baring his fangs. “But then you’d be shot out of the stars; which I suppose would mean you at least died for something, but is killing a Trill really what you’d like to go out on?” “As if your pathetic vessels could strike me down...” “In case you missed it,” Corizon said flatly. “We did defeat your people in battle multiple times already and at the moment, Camelot has every weapon on the station trained on your already damaged vessel.” Greg ‘frowned’ -- in so much as an arachnid could frown. “You will give me Tandaris and I will leave you be.” “No.” “Then we have nothing more to discuss, prepare yourself.” “Really,” Corizon said, “that’s the best you can do? Listen, Greg, I understand you’re upset about losing your arm...” “It’s not just my arm!” Greg’s cadua suddenly flashed into view and the hiss of his body chamber decompressing caused the hair on Swain’s neck to prickle. “He ruined everything! Now the Royal Court has labeled me a traitor!” “Yes, yes,” the Dameon said a little more laissez-faire than Swain expected, “and I am sure that’s very inconvenient for you, but I need Admiran alive and besides if you kill him, then we won’t be able to stop some rogue Jem’Hadar from blowing up the wormhole, and then just think how angry the Royal Court would be with you. I am sure -- despite their prostration -- they’re still intent on getting their hands on it as an energy source for the nursery. I mean it’s not like they’ve found a suitable replacement.” Greg glowered, as Corizon made his way to the cabinet and refilled his glass. “At any rate,” Corizon said, before Greg could respond. “I can’t give you Tandaris now, maybe later.” Later? Asher flashed a concerned glance to Dameon -- who shrugged it off with long sip of whiskey. “Later,” Greg said, incredulously. “How much later?” “Well, I mean after we’ve saved the day at the earliest.” “Hmm,” Greg was clearly considering this, and his chelicerae were working back and forth, back and forth. “Perhaps.” “Oh, it’s the only way you’re getting him. And don’t think,” Corizon tossed back another sip, refilling the glass afterwards and returning to the desk, bottle in hand. “And don’t think you’re just going to get to sit here either.” “What do you mean.” “I mean you’re going to have to work for your pay.” “My pay? I am owed vengeance. This is not a negotiation!” Asher had decided this had gone on long enough. “Listen, Greg,” he said to Corizon’s surprise. “What Captain Corizon is saying is that you can’t expect us to just turn him over without some sort of assistance. Besides, if you help us, the chances of us actually living -- thus you having the pleasure of killing Tandaris yourself go up.” What the hell was he saying? Corizon took another drink and smiled, fangily towards Swain, then to Greg. “Exactly. Look, you help us with this little matter of the wormhole and a subpace weapon and we’ll see what we can do about Tandaris. I am not going to promise you can kill him. But, eh, maybe you settle the score in some other -- less fatal way.” Greg didn’t respond right away, but after a moment, his mouth pieces began moving again. “I will think about you offer. Send me the details on your situation and the weapon.” Corizon nodded and the communication cut off. Swain immediately reached for the bottle.
  13. Excalibur sailed through the remains of the Ianlia Expanse and into open space. In the Ready Room, Asher Swain and Ah-Windu Corizon waited patiently as the operations staff completed an uplink to Camelot Station. “You sure you don’t want Aleksandr here,” Corizon said as Camelot insignia appeared on the screen, indicating the connection had been made. “No,” Asher said, glancing away for a moment. “We’ll transfer him down to talk after we’re done.” Corizon nodded, though Asher wondered when Corizon had become the more empathic Captain. A few moments later Misha Abronvoncih filled the screen, a tired, worried look on his face. “Captain Swain,” he said, then moving his head towards Corizon, “Ah-Windu. I assume you have a report?” “Yes, sir.” “Is he alive?” “Yes,” Asher said after a moment. “He’s alive and well. A little shaken up, but all things considered he’s fine. He’s waiting for you on the other line once we’re done.” Abronvonvich closed his eyes, muttering something even Corizon couldn’t make out, but that he thought might have been a prayer of thanks. “Thank God,” the admiral finally said. “Thank God, and thank both of you -- but especially you Asher. I don’t -- I don’t know what I would have done if something had happened to him. I... thank you.” Asher nodded. “It was a team effort, sir. My whole crew is really to thank. Especially the team who rescued him and Arrain N’Dak from the Jem’Hadar base.” “The Romulan survived as well?” “Yes,” Corizon interjected. “Enarrain N’Dak is most grateful for our assistance, as you can imagine.” “I can most certainly imagine,” Abronvich said, his voice crackly. “How he feels.” For a moment all three men let the conversation lapse, before the Admiral started again. “I get the feeling though, and maybe it’s because I’ve just sort of come to expect these sort of things, that not all your news is good news. How did the raid go?” And now comes the hard part. Asher looked to Corizon, letting him take the lead. “From talking to both your son and Arrain N’Dak, it appears that after Excalibur dispatched two of their vessels, the Jem’Hadar leader -- I’ll have more about him in a written report for you, shortly -- decided to take the weapon and leave. He left them ‘as a show of mercy...’” “Mercy?” the Admiral said incredulously, his usual crusty-tone returning. “That’s not exactly a Jem’Hadar trait...” “I agree,” Corizon continued with Asher’s blessing of a nod. “It seems likely he wished to slow us down, knowing we’d attempt to rescue the hostages instead of pursuing them.” “I see. So what’s the status of their weapon?” “Unknown, but nearing completion. My people are going over the reports from your son and the Romulan officer now, as well as scans of the lab where the device was being worked on -- their initial findings will be included in Captain Corizon’s report.” “Good,” Misha said, “Good. The sooner I can get that report -- the better. I have call planned with Starfleet Command in an hour -- they want to brief the president as soon as possible.” “You’ll have it as soon as we can get it compiled,” Asher said with a nod. “We’re also attempting to track ion trails that could belong to the rogue Jem’hadar, but as you can imagine that’s not an easy task.” “No, I can’t imagine it is.” Misha glanced towards someone offscreen handing him a PADD. “Captain, I want to thank you again, personally, for rescuing Aleksandr. I also want to thank you for your level head during all this -- both of you -- have done tremendously under the circumstances. Whatever happens after this, I want you to know that. “For now, Excalibur should break off its pursuit of the rogue Jem'Hadar. Even if you could find them -- there’s a good chance you’d be in over your head alone. Report back to Camelot as quickly as possible. “ Swain nodded. “Of course, sir. Is there anything else I should brief my staff on?” “Not as of yet, but if that changes I’ll let you know. Again thank you both, but if you don’t mind -- I’d like to speak to my son now.” “Of course...”
  14. These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. First Romat’la restrained himself from the reflexive instinct to look as heard the door to the sanctum open. “Yes?” he remained focused on his mediation “Why do you disturb me, second?” “The Alpha Quadrant ship has entered the spatial disturbances,” Second Etherin’Ka said flatly. “I have dispatched two fighters to deal with them.” “Very well,” Romat’la said, his attention still focused on the shrine before him. “Was there anything else?” “Yes,” the second said. “We have secured additional ketracel supplies with the raid on Nepon-J4. Would you like to distribute them or...” “See to it yourself.” “Of course, First.” “Then go with the blessing of the Founders. Victory is life.” “Life is victory.” The doors slid shut behind the second, leaving Romat’la alone again in the dimly lit sanctum that had once belonged to his Vorta overlord. A frown creeped across the stony features of the Jem’hadar. Vorta he nearly spit the word. They had lost their way. They had led the Dominion astray, forsaken the will of the Founders. They had allowed the infection of the Alpha Quadrant races to spread to the Dominion. They had retreated in the face of the mortal enemies of the Founders and made deals with them. In time, he said to himself, the Vorta apostates would be dealt with but first we must rid ourselves of the infections. He paused, considering something that had not occurred to him until now. “Second,” Romat’la rose, tapping the communicator on his wrist. “Withold the White from the Alphas. They too are afflicted and we must purge them from our ranks.” “Yes, First Romat’la,” came his second without hesitation. “As you will it.” “It is the will of the Founders.”
  15. Issaha ran his hands through his hair, wiping the sweat off his brow. Elements he muttered to himself. What have I gotten myself into this time. Glowering he looked back at the console and returned to work. “You should rest,” Aleksandr Abronvonvich said putting a hand on his shoulder. “Besides, we don’t want to work too efficiently.” The Romulan smirked despite himself. “I suppose not,” he said, pushing away from the console, wishing for a chair more than he realized. “But we do have to keep up appearances, least they decide we’re being ‘uncooperative.’” “Again,” Aleksandr said, rubbing his bruised jaw. “I never thanked you, by the way.” “For?” “Telling them you needed me to finish the weapon...” Issaha lifted a brow, “You would do the same in my position.” “Yes but...” “But you’re not a Romulan?” Aleksandr blushed. He supposed that sounded less than couth. Sensing that, Issaha smiled again disarmingly -- an expression his elder brother often found vexing. “Don’t worry,” he said. “It’s understandable. Our people have spent the majority the last -- what -- two hundred years convincing ourselves not to trust each other and my people have done little to discourage your preconceptions.” “We’re not exactly blameless...” “So what’s the plan. We can’t actually complete the weapon and we can’t rig it incorrectly.” “We could...” “They’d know....” The Starfleet officer nodded. “Our first duty,” he said, careful of his voice. “Is to escape, but where would we even escape to?” “My brother will come for us... but he needs to be able to locate us.” “I had an idea about that.” “Oh?” -- Starbase Camelot “Admiral,” Corris Sprint’s voice belayed the unusual nervousness that had taken him since the communique had passed over his desk several hours before. “They should be entering the spatial phenomena now.” Misha grunted his acknowledgement. He was clearly on edge too. “Good, put me through to Starfleet Command.” Sprint nodded. “If I may sir,” he didn’t wait for the permission. “Is there a reason we waited until now to contact Starfleet Command?” The burly Russian grinned, despite the dour mood. “I didn’t want to be able to call them back. You understand, I hope. I am sure that someone will report me for it...” “Sir,” Corris interrupted. “I don’t think anyone could blame you. I will make sure the station’s logs reflect that we received the communication, after some delay.” “You’re not so bad afterall, Mister Sprint.” “Thank you. Is there anything else I can do?” “Yes,” he said, “send for Varen, K’Vorlag, and Calypsos... and if you can, see about finding Captain Sorehl. I get the sneaking suspicion he might be of use.” Sprint nodded and headed out of Abronvonvich’s office. Later, he’d decide if had made the right choice in taking the message directly to the Admiral before running it by his XO and CO or not, but for now he was focused on the moment. He also wondered, in the back of his mind, if Corizon had known that Sprint would follow his ‘instructions’ so carefully. -- Lake Como, Italy, Earth. Even in the summer, Lake Como had a pleasant climate that reminded Nan Bacco of her home on Cestus III, that had no doubt greatly contributed to why she favored it as a retreat location when she felt the need to escape Paris. Night had unfurled itself about the Villa d’Torini and Nan found herself perched on the balcony outside her bedroom, sipping at a nightcap. Below her, gentle waves broke against the docks and shore. The sky was clear and filled with stars. For a moment, she’d managed to forget all the things that kept her up at night Then, as always, she was dragged back down. “Nan,” Kale Yarborough said from just behind her. “I hate to interrupt so late...” “It’s okay,” she said turning to her old friend and chief of staff. “I know you wouldn’t be here unless it was important.” He nodded and motioned for her to come inside. “I don’t want to alarm you, but I think it would be best if we didn’t talk here. J’Lerk is getting your transport ready and they’ll be waiting for you in the situation room in San Francisco.” Nan went pale and she gripped her cup tightly. “San Francisco,” she repeated. “That bad, huh?” Kale nodded as he headed to the wardrobe and returned with clothing. Under other circumstances, she might have chided him for being presumptuous, but instead she thanked him and slipped behind a folding screen to change. “Tell Horoshi to cancel everything tomorrow -- I am sure she’ll think of something...” “Already ahead of you,” Kale said. “She’s got a release ready and is at the shuttlepad waiting for you.” “God’s bless all of you,” Nan emerged from behind the screen, dressed and pulling her hair back into a ponytail. “Are you at least going to give me a heads up before I walk into a room full of Admirals and bad news?” Kale frowned as they left her room and headed down the marble stairs towards the shuttlepad, “not till we’re on the shuttle.” Nan felt her stomach tighten again. It was unusual for Kale to be so tight-lipped, and even more unusual that she was being whisked off to the situation room at Starfleet Command, instead of vid-conferencing on a secure line. Mentally, she made yet another note for her memoirs about how silly the decision to have the UFP government in one place, and the headquarters for Starfleet in another had been. Once they board the shuttle and had safely entered the upper atmosphere, Kale finally spoke. “Roughly an hour ago, we received a communication from Vice-Admiral Abronvonvich in the Gamma Quadrant.” If her stomach could get tighter, she wasn’t aware of how. “Oh for godsake,” she was exasperated. Everytime she turned around, there was somehow more trouble. “Have they been attacked?” “No,” Kale said, much to her relief. “But I am afraid that is where any semblance of good news, ends. “Five weeks ago, he was approached by the Romulan military liaison officer, requesting assistance in recovering a Romulan science team that had gone missing.” “But the Romulans have their own ship...” Kale held up a hand. “It’s a little more complicated than that.” She frowned, sensing it was a lot more complicated, and nodded for him to continue. “For a change, Abronvonvich actually bothered running this by Command -- so we do know more than we’d normally know about the situation or at least than we have about past situations with regards to Camelot. “Anyway, apparently there were complications that made it untenable for a Romulan vessel to be involved in the recovery. After being given permission, Abronvonvich assigned a ship under the command of Captain Ah-Windu Corizon to assi...” “What.” It wasn’t a question. The Chief-of-Staff exhaled, deeply. “Corizon had been reactivated as part of the deal with the Scorpiads for us to... “Yes,” she said sharply. “I remember being briefed about that detail. I also remember being assured, by no less than three different people, that as soon as that mission was over, that he’d be back in retirement.” “Well, given the nature of the situation in the quadrant and at the request of the Vice-Admiral...” Nan took a very, very deep breath and looked away. “We’ll talk about that later. Go on.” Thankful that Nan knew when to pick her battles, Kale nodded and continued to give her the basics of the situation, including Excalibur’s mission to recover a Starfleet team working with the Hundred to create clones capable of reproducing naturally. He also brought her current on their status, running through the details Corizon had given Abronvonvich about the attack on the base and the capture of a Romulan and Starfleet officer. Rubbing at the bridge of her nose, the President leaned back into her chair. “So, that’s all lovely, terrible news that I’m sure I was going to be told about eventually, but why all of this,” she motioned to the shuttle, which was now beginning it’s descent. “What happened?” “As it turns out,” Kale timidly eked out. “The Romulan ‘science’ team was working with the Hundred to modify a subspace weapon that...” Nan barked an obscenity before regaining her composure. “Now you tell me that? Why not just lead off it!” Grimacing, “it gets worse.” “How! How can it possibly get worse than a bunch of rogue Jem’Hadar having captured a subspace weapon that one of our quote unquote allies has been working on in secret? Please tell me how it gets worse than that!” “Because the weapon’s origin is Starfleet, and it’s not just any subspace weapon. Do you remember being brief about Project: Merlin?”