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Found 9 results

  1. Nightfall Chirakis Kirel, SI-5 Security Lt Jason Bristow At 1800 hours, station lighting slowly dimmed to evening. It was time to relax, to put aside the daily grind, to rendezvous at Drankum's bar, or to simply melt into oblivion. For Starfleet personnel it was a different matter, especially during times of stress. This was one of those times. Security Squad Leader Lt Jason Bristow and Captain Chirakis rounded the corridor and entered security’s briefing room. Bravo-One stood and came to attention. Bristow strode to the front as he entered. Captain Chirakis entered behind him but stayed behind to observe. “As you were,” Bristow ordered casually as he dropped his pack and slipped his PADD onto the podium before scanning the squad to draw their full attention after they settled down. “So far the station has been fairly quiet,” he began, “but we all know it’s quiet before a storm. And if you’re not ready, that storm won’t just rock the boat, it’ll take you straight to the bottom.” Bristow paused for a moment to let that sink in, engaged the flat panel station display, then adjusted it to focus on decks 31 through 41 and began a slow pace down the aisle. “We got a lot of ground to cover,” he continued as he made a sharp turn, “so listen up.” “It’s late,” he said, crossing his arms to face the screen. “If you think we drew the short straw, you’re wrong. We are Bravo One. Top of the line. Lieutenant Garand chose us for a reason, and that reason has to do with our little friends on deck four-oh.” Bristow continued to pace as the squad studied the screen and its various sections, then take notes. “Too many strange things have happened recently in that area,” Bristow continued. “Command suspects it has something to do with our little friends, even though the little guys probably don’t have a clue. Yeah, they can be cute. ‘Course they love playing games. And above all they love chocolate. “So.” Bristow stopped pacing and turned to face them. “If anyone has had or has passed by chocolate recently, change your uniform, shower off, and come back clean. And I mean clean! Check your equipment for chocolate. If you have any or if you have had anything that is made with chocolate, get rid of it. Anything… and I mean anything even remotely smelling like chocolate is to be removed. Kapisch?” “Yes, sir!” they replied soberly. “Good. Wilson, four-oh will be your responsibility. Your team will not attempt to approach. Understood?” “Aye, sir,” she responded leaning forward to study the screen. “Force field? Containment field, sir?” “Force field Lieutenant. So far containment has not been needed, but press that button if you need it.” “Energy bars, sir?” “None for our little friends. Okay for your team as long as they don’t even remotely resemble chocolate.” “Aye, sir,” she finished with a glance at her team to ensure that they understood. “Sanchez, take your team to three-nine. Same precautions. “Alaveratis, take yours to four-one, science. Announce watch changes to officers and science personnel and give ‘em the low down. Science might be working through the night, so be aware. Stay outside their perimeter so they can work, but be vigilant. “Franklyn, your team will stand by on call. Same protocols. Questions?” After a long pause, a direct, “No, sir,” came in response. Bristow nodded. “Very well. Gear up. Move out. I’ll be walking the passageways and available for any contingency. Any problem, no matter how slight, report immediately. That is all.” As they turned to exit, the squad noticed the captain. Shocked? No. Surprised? Yes. Stopping to salute? Definitely. Bristow had trained them well. Maybe a little too well. “Well done, Lieutenant,” she said as he gathered his things and reset the screen. “Thank you, ma’am. Couldn’t ask for a better crew.” He slung his pack over one shoulder and led her out. “We have numbers yet, Captain?” he asked, referring to casualties. “None on Aegis, Lieutenant. Thirty seven on Missouri. The ship is under quarantine.”
  2. Viral Exhaustion After a grueling 38 hours of dealing with false red alerts and lockdowns, replicators that served coffee without end, false emergency medical calls, and countless other glitches that seemed to multiply exponentially, Captain Chirakis and the crew yielded to the expertise of 30 plus engineers sent from Starfleet to relieve them. After an hour of debriefing, the crew of Aegis dragged themselves to their quarters for a long-awaited rest. At 0500 the next day the captain stepped off the lift and gave her usual pause for assessment. Not surprisingly, a cadre of engineers was checking various areas of Command and Control, and one engineer in particular caught her attention. Commander Eli Drexler, commanding officer of Starfleet Command’s special operations engineers, hovered over a console, tricorder in hand, working with the lieutenant next to him. Captain Chirakis would not have given the engineers a second glance except that their uniforms were a deep blue, their shoulders bore the insignia of Starfleet Command, and clasped on Commander Drexler’s collar was the gold insignia of Starfleet Command. As soon as her presence was noticed, the overzealous Officer of the Watch came to attention with, “Captain on deck!” His call brought CnC to a screeching halt until Kirel casually responded, “As you were.” Drexler turned with the others, stopped working and responded with a crooked grin as the captain approached. “Commander Drexler,” she said, her hand outstretched in greeting. “I knew Starfleet was sending engineers, but I had no idea that Starfleet Command was in the mix.” “Jolan’tru, Riov,” he said, stepping aside to take hold of her forearm as if he were Rihannsu, which he definitely was not. Fair skin, blond hair cropped to regulation, and a sturdy muscular build betrayed his full Terran ancestry. Of course, his crooked smile helped. “Your Rihan is improving, Commander… if only slightly,” she quipped with a glance at the console he had been checking. “Have you found anything new regarding the glitches?” Drexler sighed, shifting his weight to nod toward the console. “Unfortunately, not much more than your officers have found. You wanted to know why they sent Command? Well, there’s more to this situation than meets the eye… but I’m sure you already know that.” “Indeed we do, Commander. If you have a moment, we can discuss this in my office.” “Yes, ma’am. Jim, take over,” he said, passing the tricorder to the lieutenant. “See if you can pinpoint and trace that last red alert.” “Aye, sir,” he responded as the office door closed behind them. “We are still dealing with red alerts?” asked Kirel as she waved him into a chair. “Yes, ma’am,” he replied as his eyes swept the office. “We’ve been able to mute the false klaxons, but the false lights still engage. In a real emergency, the klaxons will sound.” “Excellent, Commander. Coffee?” “Probably a good idea, ma’am. It’s been an… interesting night.” “More interesting than our first 38 hours?” She asked, handing him a cup of coffee then pouring one for herself. “Not sure, ma’am. If you tell me what you’ve experienced so far, maybe we can put two and two together and get more than… one and a half?” The coffee seemed to console him as he settled on the couch. “And it would be helpful if you could toss me what your engineering team suspects... or whatever ideas they have, no matter how bizarre they sound.” “What do they suspect?” Kirel mused as she relaxed in her office chair. “Several things, one of which is that the origin, or the source of the glitches is somewhere on the station. “Commander Coleridge suggested that the virus could be a red herring or a smaller part of a larger offensive such as getting physical access to our systems and bypassing security. “Another? The virus is a programming virus, and someone could have planted a device on an unsuspecting individual and brought it into our systems. Or someone could have used the material as a vector for smuggling the virus into the station to avoid our security checks. “In any event, security is searching for suspicious activity that began in the past few days. They are targeting potentially vulnerable access points. "Should I go on?" "No, ma'am. That's pretty much what we've decided. So far, anyway. Our biggest problem is finding and losing. We start tracking something, almost get it, and bam, it disappears into something else, almost like it has a mind of its own. It moves to some other area or morphs into a different glitch altogether. One minute it targets the replicators, the next minute the replicators are fine and the klaxons start blaring. Like kids playing a game.” Kirel put her coffee aside and relaxed in her chair, mulling that over. “Captain,” Drexel continued thoughtfully, “has anyone outside the station reported glitches like this? Or anything similar?” “Not to my knowledge. However, I will investigate the possibility. USS Calgary has been working with us to rectify the problem on station. However, USS Missouri is due to replace them today. I will certainly ask.” “Good. Good,” he replied wearily, relaxing into the deep leather of the couch. “Is your billeting acceptable?" asked Kirel, noting his weary condition. "Oh, it's fine, ma’am. In fact, it's better than we expected, new station and all. Can't wait to test the bunks. Brand new?" "Indeed they are. And you will be able to make use of them within the next hour. Which reminds me that I am expecting a conference call in a few minutes. However, before you go, pass the word to your crew that all restaurants and bistros on the commerce deck are available and will be expecting them. As you are aware, the replicators are fickle. Among other things, they have a tendency to interpret steak as gagh.”
  3. Conundrum Security's detention area was fairly quiet at 20:00. Only a few officers were on watch, some standing by retaining cells and a few monitoring the corridor. Normally the captain would be in CnC finishing reports and reading dispatches that were required, boring, and had nothing to do with Aegis. This evening she was in the security complex, watching the gremlins play. Since they were docile and inquisitive, all six that had been found on station were in the same holding cell, and all had been given tablets. Extra berthing had been furnished, but apparently a bunk bed was not their style. After extensive pulling and wrapping, they transformed their bunks into nests. Gremlin chatter was a mix of humming, clacking their teeth, moving their lips in various ways, and hand waving. Occasionally, a few examined the force field by touching it—not exactly the best thing to do—or tossing an energy bar at it. One examined it extensively, possibly wondering why he could see through it but could not walk through it. Following Gramil’s directions, they painted pictures of female gremlins, families, homes, night skies, and one starship, which was interesting enough to give Kirel pause. Lt Jeremy Garand, Security’s Interim Chief, walked up next to Kirel. PADD in hand, he waited for her attention. “They're small, Lieutenant,” Kirel began without turning, "like very young children. They're docile. They scramble easily through hidden parts of the station, much like the Ghost Squad. And, like children, they love chocolate.” Garand chuckled. “Can’t blame them, Captain. Chocolate's my favorite too.” “I see,” she replied, lifting a brow as she glanced in his direction. He shrugged. “It's the same with most humans, ma’am. That’s why the energy bars are locked up. They’re too tempting.” “Of course.” She nodded. “However, I can understand enjoying it, but making it their staple could not possibly be healthy… or so I have heard. They have been offered vegetables, fruits, edible plants, and a few other things, but they are not interested. However,” she mused, “energy bars do furnish nutrients essential for survival.” “True, Captain. And the air is clearing. I’ll bet that the chocolate—or whatever else is in the bar—might have something to do with it.” “Hm…. Possible,” she mused. “Or engineering has found a fix.” “Or that, ma’am.” "You have something for me, Lieutenant?" she asked, turning away from the force field. “Yes, ma’am. Word from Starfleet Intelligence.” He handed her the PADD. As she paged through it, her expression changed from relaxed to concerned. “Well, it seems that they will be our guests for a while. Thanks to Gremil’s sketching, we pinpointed their home world. However, it is inside the nebula ring, and very close to Drakel’a. It would be dangerous for them and for us to attempt....” After a long, contemplative pause she glanced at the gremlin that was still painting the one starship it had worked on for a while. The ship was vaguely familiar. After passing the PADD back to Garand, Kirel pulled her tablet from its clip and began to page through it. “Lieutenant, has security discovered how these beings came aboard?” “Not so far, ma’am. The last report said they came aboard somewhere on deck 188.” “On a ship? A shuttle? Another means?” She continued to thumb through the tablet. “None of those, as far as the report indicates, ma’am.” “Isn’t that a little odd, Lieutenant?” Having found what she was looking for, she stopped to wait for his answer. He seemed stymied. “I will take that as a yes, Lieutenant. “To get the beings aboard, they could not have used a transporter beam. Therefore, there must have been something and someone to bring them aboard. The someone is what we are looking for. If the beings respond to any of these images we will have much more information.” Holding up her tablet, Kirel approached the force field. The gremlins were absorbed in their play and didn’t seem to notice her standing there until one looked up. Its eyes widened, it poked the others, and they approached the force field. The image of a Terran woman dressed in leather, a sword at her side, bat’leth in hand, and several other weapons draped across her chest seemed to intrigue them. Her expression was challenging, almost deadly. The gremlins were more interested in her face, hair, and clothes. Their heads tilted, they chattered and pointed for a while then looked up at Kirel. She flipped to the image of a massive, threatening male humanoid of mixed species. He was similarly dressed, held different but antagonizing weapons, and his expression was challenging. Again, the gremlins were interested, tilting their heads, chattering, and pointing to various areas of the image. Nothing more. Excitement grew as they waited for the third image. As soon as it appeared, they gasped, backed off, and went into high-pitched screams. Their screams alerted the officers on watch. Within seconds, a Quick Reaction Force raced down the corridor. By then, the gremlins had huddled together in their nests in silence, some whimpering and shaking, definitely traumatized. Kirel had closed her tablet within seconds of their screams, but it took them a long time to settle down. Garand had backed off and covered his ears. When the noise subsided Kirel turned to the reaction force and ordered them to stand down. The tablet revealed the horrific image of a tall, massive humanoid clad in leather and carrying some of the most deadly weapons in the galaxy, ranging from disruptors and handmade plasma weapons to explosives and assorted caustic acid bombs. Several knives glistened in the ambient light. Kirel sighed and took a deep breath, wishing she had not shown the image, but glad they had furnished the information. Now she had something to go on, as horrendous as it was. “Gentlemen,” she began, flicking open the tablet, “if you are not familiar with this person, you soon will be. His name is Kran Magkor, Ragor Tal’s primary assassin and a master of torture. "According to Starfleet Security, his ship is highly advanced, probably furnished by the Alien Alliance. From the gremlins’ reaction, I would say that they are very familiar with him, which means that these small, innocent beings did not wander here, they were either brought here or sent here. They were used. They were ignorant of their purpose, and they will be given sanctuary. “Lieutenant Garand, security is now at condition yellow. If no one has identified the purpose of the metal stored in the storage room on deck 188, the Ordnance Disposal Unit will examine it immediately. Deck 188 is now off limits. Our cover will be that we are refurbishing the area. Everything will be done quietly so we do not begin a riot on the station. Understood?” “Understood,” he replied. "I will inform Starfleet Intelligence and Aegis Command. Questions?” “No, ma’am.” “Very well. Ensign Schmidt, inform Dr Pavilion that the gremlins have been traumatized and need attention. If she questions the purpose, send her to me. If nothing else, carry on. I will be in my office.”
  4. Interesting Alien Chirakis Kirel 20:00 hours and no word from Aegean. Third watch had commenced. All was quiet in CnC, and if the captain paced on the carpeting one more time her footprints would be permanently embedded not only in the carpet, but on the floor beneath. She sighed. "Captain." Lt Cdr Sherman, Officer of the Watch, had stepped up beside her and she hadn't even noticed. She glanced in his direction. "Yes, Commander?" "Due respect, ma'am, but you need to rest. And I doubt that you have eaten since first watch." She regarded him a moment, then turned back to stare at… nothing, actually… but a minimal smile did appear. She had known him for decades and considered him one of her best officers: strict but understanding and revered by those he supervised. He also reminded her of Cdr Lei'ri, the Qr'var whom d'Ka called "his watchdog",... and a good one he was. "Captain?" he repeated quietly. "Yes, Commander," she replied with yet another sigh as she messaged the back of her neck. "I understand, and you are correct. I leave CnC in good hands, and," she turned and stepped close to him, "no need for 'due respect'. We've known each other long enough." "Yes, ma'am." He chuckled, watching her leave. Before going to her quarters, she entered the security complex. Since she was not expected, the young duty officer almost upended his chair when he snapped to attention. "As you were," she said while the computer recognized her presence. "How is our little gremlin?" "He’s… uh…. still pretty sad, ma'am. Won't eat. Just sits in the corner and fiddles with some of the things Lt Kenyon brought." "Um…" she mused. "I will need an escort and some energy bars, if there are any left from last watch." “Yes, ma’am, there are, but they’re all chocolate if that’s okay.” “That will do.” The security complex was quiet this time of night. Surveillance was on duty, but otherwise the watch was quiet. Her boots made a faint tick on the decking and the corridors sounded hollow—which she found odd. Perhaps the sound was new, or perhaps she was otherwise occupied and never noticed it. She preferred the latter, and continued on with her escort a few paces behind. Why the escort? She was not sure of this alien, and found it discreet to have backup. The alien was definitely an interesting specimen. No more than a meter in height, its exterior was a smooth gray thick skin with occasional tufts of hair. When it turned, it was obviously a male, and Kirel wondered if it longed for its mate. Its eyes were a deep gray, its long fingers ended in impressive musculature, and it stood erect on humanoid legs. It's entire body could slip easily through a 16" pipe, which Kirel surmised was the reason it navigated below decks so easily. Inquisitive in nature and quite docile, its curiosity pushed it toward Kirel as she stood outside the enclosure, so she crouched to its level and watched. It seemed very interested in something as it came closer, its eyes seemed to dance from her to the officer behind her, then it pointed. “Lieutenant Rathers,” Kirel said without losing eye contact with the alien, “are the energy bars visible in your pocket?” “Yes, ma’am. You think it might be hungry?” “Let’s find out,” she said, her hand outstretched over her shoulder to maintain eye contact with the being. The alien seemed excited. “Drop the force field,” she ordered as she peeled off the wrapper. Rathers gasped. “Captain, we have no means to recapture should it escape, and the odor, ma’am… it’s…. it’s….” “Lieutenant?” She said, still smiling and without turning. “Drop the forcefield.” “But… ma’am….” “That is not a request, Lieutenant. That is a direct order.” She heard him swallow hard into, “Yes, ma’am. Dropping the forcefield.” Startled, the alien moved back as the forcefield dropped and Kirel offered it the energy bar. There was a heavy stench for a while, then it seemed to slowly diminish. It took a while, but eventually the alien slowly approached, tilted its head as it regarded her questioningly, then took the energy bar, sniffed it, and took a bite. Then another. And eventually devoured the entire bar. “Another one, Lieutenant.” He passed it over her shoulder, and Kirel offered another one, which it took enthusiastically. “Have you another, Lieutenant?” “Yes, ma’am. One more.” “Pass it to the alien and secure the force field. I will inform Lieutenant Kenyon and Dr Pavilion of what transpired here.”
  5. The Dawn of a New Era Chirakis Kirel, Captain, SI-5 “We might have interesting visitors occasionally. We will ignore them. Security is advised. They know what to do.” ~ Captain Chirakis to Commander Coleridge From her position in Command and Control, Kirel overlooked the commerce deck. Civilians strolled casually through the area, patronizing bistros and restaurants, and browsing through stores. As far as they were concerned, all was well in the universe. Occasionally one of the clandestine surveillance team would pass by, impeccably blending with the others. When she moved from command to Chief of Security, Kirel had essentially turned the department inside out and upside down. During the first two months she assessed the quality of each officer, culled the best from the group and reassigned the others. Though they were not aware of such training, the best began training as if they were candidates for SI-5. From that group she chose a few for training in clandestine operations: how to blend with and monitor their surroundings. From her vantage point, Kirel spotted one of the latter enjoying Drankum’s Bar with a friend. Another strolled past stores, occasionally stopping to admire a dress. Windows do make excellent mirrors. Moving with the afternoon crowd, a tall Vulcan wandered past the stores and restaurants, pausing occasionally at a window to admire the merchandise, then moving on. His finely tailored robes, embroidered with the insignia of a Vulcan house, spoke of a prominent businessman. One sleeve bore the crest of a distant Vulcan colony, and colonial colors draped over his left shoulder. He would be addressed as Ambassador Sejak. In reality, he was EnRiov Keshir tr’Aldani, the highest ranking and most powerful agent of the Tal Shiar, and a master of disguise. His facial prosthetic was impeccable, his manner and accent flawless, and his Vulcan fluency testified to his expertise in deception. Even his daughter would not recognize him. A slight glance toward CnC and a respectful nod to Kirel elicited her nod. They would dine together in the evening if possible and exchange information through a conversational dance while sipping the best Vulcan wines. A few minutes ago, Commander Coleridge had asked, “Based on your own… connections… where do you think this is heading?” She had responded, “I will not speculate on that. It's best to allow things to flow toward you than to expect a certain thing to happen. However, I do have... ‘connections’ that will inform us of progress.” It was good to see a few of her ‘connections’ at work.
  6. Just when you thought it was safe Chirakis Kirel, Captain SI-5 Jon Kelley, Captain, USS Iowa USS Iowa and USS Kole were safely docked. Because of their classified nature, security details were posted in and around docking bays A-23 and A-25, where the ships berthed. Nei’rrh and Argos II were under repair. According to Aegis Medical, no one contracted radiation poisoning from the massive EM waves that passed through the nebula and caused ships to lose power. In general, Aegis was slowly returning to normalcy. Except for command. Their world has a different normal. As soon as one situation ends, another rears its ugly head. Many grapevines exist within command. Kirel's most trusted was Rendezvous October, the covert base of operatives that activated at the dawn of the Argesil Conspiracy. Though she had little contact recently, rumors suggested that there was more to the nebular links than furnishing transportation for the Alien Alliance. If there was more, and that more became a threat, Rendezvous October would be at her door. * * * * * Iowa’s Captain Sean “Jon” Kelley flaked out on the couch in Kirel’s office, nursing a pint mug of vintage Romulan ale. Kirel relaxed in a new leather armchair, courtesy of Starfleet for reasons unknown. Most of the office had been refurbished, though she had no idea why. Captain Ramson was meticulous with everything, including her office. “Hellofa situation, Kir,” Kelley continued in the conversation. “Not sure which is worse—saving the galaxy or trying to pound some sense into command.” He straightened up, facing Kirel straight on. “You ever have trouble with that in your line of work?” “My line of work?” “Yeah. You know. SI-5.” Kelley downed the rest of his ale and went for a refill, grabbing a bowl of mixed nuts on his way back. Kirel chuckled softly, tossing him a slight grin as she studied her glass. “SI-5,” she repeated thoughtfully. “Unfortunately, I belong to Starfleet Command as long as I am here. But to your question, it is the same everywhere, Jon. There is always someone who chooses power over the actual need. Your guard against that would be a mentor. Someone you can trust. You have often mentioned Admiral Slater.” Kelley nodded, handing her the bowl before relaxing on the couch. “He’s more than a mentor, Kir. Much more. If it hadn’t been for Slater, your ships wouldn’t be here now. The crews would be dead, fried in the next wave that was coming at ‘em.” He paused to shake his head. “You know... those waves were only a few minutes apart, Kir. The power that registered on our sensors was almost off the charts. Like I say, it was a hellofa situation. We’re sending you all that information.” Nodding thanks, she gently sipped her ale, savoring its nuances as if it was a fine wine. The bowl of nuts next to her seemed entirely appropriate. She’d known a few in her time. “Status of the planetoid?” “Not sure. But it’s time to put that area off limits.” “We have posted a navigational hazard report,” Kirel replied setting her glass aside. “That won’t work, Kir,” he snapped suddenly. “Put the whole damn nebula off limits. And I mean the whole damn thing. It's....” His deep breath faded into a sigh. “It's important.” Kirel eyed him, somewhat concerned. Kelley put his glass aside, ran a hand through his hair and down the back of his neck, then leaned forward to rest his forearms on his knees. His hands clasped as he stared at the floor for a minute, then looked up. “Can we get some privacy?” “Of course,” Kirel responded, pressing a button next to her. Lighting softened to a blue tinge. Sound in the office muted. Kelley nodded, thought a moment, then began. “You know that the nebula string is a conduit for the Alien Alliance, right?” "I do," she said, nodding minimally. He gestured as he spoke, as many Terrans seemed to do, and Kelley was a master. “I know you’re wondering about how we got so far away from our area of responsibility—besides fighting command for it, that is—and why we ran dark for so long.” Kirel listened, assessing every word. “You know that there’s a cartel in nebula 236A, and we know where they are. There’s a division of that cartel hiding in the nebula that powered down your ships. We were stalking them and were close to finding ‘em when we intercepted your ships’ transmissions.” “Yes. I suspected that there were others within the nebula string,” Kirel mentioned casually. “Cartels seldom work from only one area.” “Umm…” Kelley nodded, lips pursed. “Well, the Alien Alliance is not only establishing themselves throughout the nebula string, they’re taking over planetoids and large asteroids in strategic positions and forming a cordon around the Joint Allied Powers.” He stopped as though waiting for a response. “Go on,” she said, a little less casually. “Iowa and Kole leave tomorrow to join the strike force. Je’rit’s task force, along with DeVoll’s and Kirsch’s groups, are joining with other elements of the Joint Allied Forces to plan strategies that will keep those bastards at bay. Intel on their ships and armaments, most of which were stolen, is unbelievable. If they bring us to war, Kirel? It’ll make every other war look like a party… and Aegis will be in the center.” “Kahless,” she whispered as she stood slowly and moved to the bar, put her glass aside and went for something more potent. “I cannot say that I am surprised, Jon. But it's not exactly what I wanted to hear at the moment.” Turning to lean against the bar, she examined the amber in her glass, swirling it gently. “We were hoping for a respite, but don't we all,” she said wryly. “But tell me, Jon. Why Aegis?” “It has more bells and whistles than any other in the galaxy, Kir. It’s new and it’s in neutral space. Perfect place to establish a command station.” “Which is exactly why we are here,” Kirel added, still leaning against the bar. “Though we appear to be a commerce hub, we are actually a watchtower. What is Starfleet's initial strategy, if it has one?” “Well, here's the deal.” Kelley settled back into the couch, continuing to gesture as he spoke. “The best deterrent is a visible presence, right?” "I believe so." “So far we have Missouri’s task force, Iowa’s strike force, Toronto’s task force, and Calgary’s strike force, along with the Romulan, Klingon, and Ferengi strike forces. Aegis will never be alone.” “You left out Captain Nero.” He snapped his fingers. “Right. We’ll add him to the mix, but he can’t be read in to anything. He’ll be backup.” “I doubt that,” Kirel countered, moving back to her chair. It stopped him cold. “Captain Nero’s family, and the families of the miners, live on this station,” Kirel continued in a direct, serious vein. “In the event of an attack, he will be here before you even know what happened. And….” She held up a hand when he began to protest. “He is aware of our protocol, as well as our emergency transmitting frequencies. His leadership is as good as—or better than—anything you will find in Starfleet. As are his men. And you may quote me if you wish. “Now, please continue.” Her Sindar brandy was tasting better and better. It took him a while to process that, but he finally replied, “Okay. So. Our groups will be making random pass-throughs. They’ll occasionally stop for a while. Sometimes it’ll be the whole force, sometimes only a few ships while the remaining units sit tight within reach. Sometimes cloaked, most of the time not. But, when all hell breaks loose, Aegis strike forces might not be here, but the RSE sure as hell will.” At that, he drained his glass. Half an hour later, Kelley left to board USS Iowa for departure. Kirel remained in her office, staring out the window and mentally formulating an internal strategy. Commander Coleridge would be the first to be advised. Then Security, CFG* Commander Apex, department heads, and possibly a few others would be read into the situation later. The rest might notice a difference, but in essence time would move on as though peace reigned throughout the galaxy. _________________ CFG - Commander Flight Group
  7. The Face of Death Chirakis Kirel, Captain, SI-5 Kirel had been standing amidships in Command and Control, watching every move, listening to every communication, scrutinizing every message… and waiting. Waiting was cruel, ruthless, sadistic, and any number of epithets she could think of. She had faced death many times and counted it as nothing. But knowing that the crews of Argos, Shuttle Warren, and the Nei’rrh had faced death was beyond her ability to cope. She was especially concerned about the children. Her thoughts trailed off, only then realizing the physical and emotional toll the mission had taken on the entire crew. She sighed and checked the chronograph, then began: “Computer, open Commanding Officer’s report, Sky Harbor Aegis, Stardate 2388.127, Chirakis Kirel, Captain, SI-5 in command,” she began aloud. “The time is 1800 hours Aegis local. First rotation Alpha watch has been in Command and Control for 34 hours. First rotation Alpha watch is relieved. Third rotation Bravo watch will replace them in the morning.” She turned to face the crew. “First rotation Alpha watch will not return until they are fully rested. End Commanding Officer’s report.” They moved out in silence—some in relief and some in exhaustion. “Commander Kital,” said Kirel quietly as she passed. “Take all the time you need. Do not return until you are ready.” Jylliene nodded, then moved on. First watch rotation Charlie appeared and took their stations. Kirel remained, still stunned from the last 34 hours. For her, rest was not an option until Captain Kelley of USS Iowa reported all present and accounted for. Knowing that personnel, especially children, had been in danger and possibly close to death was devastating enough. Being unable to help was overwhelming. Facing an indomitable foe, facing death herself, she could handle. Watching children die? That she could not fathom. “Captain?” said a maintenance engineer beside her. “Permission to arrange your office?” “Of course,” she replied. “Take care in packing Captain Ramson’s possessions. I am sure she left forwarding orders.” “No, ma’am. She did not.” “Then secure them in her quarters until further instructions.” With that, she stepped to the command chair, put aside the burden it represents, and settled in. The anxiety remained until several hours later when the engineers pronounced her office ready. Not long after, she was asleep in her chair. In the office. With her back to a wall display of daggers, knives, and assorted other weapons—trophies from those who should not have messed with her. They were gone. They would not mess with her again.
  8. Changing Tide Chirakis Kirel “In about 30 minutes the Admiralty will be reading a letter. You can expect an unhappy call shortly after. Feel free to ignore them as long as you need while you resolve the ongoing search. When you do talk to them they will undoubtedly have orders for you. As of this moment, you take command of this station. I will be departing with a Romulan expedition. The latest Aegean Class ship is ready to launch and I will be on it.” ~Kallah Ramson The silence in Command and Control was palpable, as if the universe stood still. Kirel had rendered Captain Ramson all honors at her departure, but when the command lift doors closed an indescribable sense of finality descended, accompanied by mixed emotions, primarily unbelief. “As you were,” she said, then stepped to her console to reset Aegis’s command codes and suspend all but emergency calls to herself and Commander Coleridge. “Neither you nor I will be bothered by the admiralty,” she said quietly as she passed Commander Coleridge. He seemed relieved, as was Kirel. Their primary focus would be the ongoing situation. Everything else would take second place until Nei’rrh, Shuttle Warren, Argos II, and all hands were safely returned to Aegis. The admiralty would have to wait. Not long ago Kirel had been jerked unceremoniously from her position as an operative in Starfleet Intelligence Section 5 to command Sky Harbor Aegis. Her nomadic existence had come to an abrupt halt. As an operative, she and her team worked on the fringes of galactic society, monitoring various groups and situations under the radar. It was taken for granted that, unless otherwise directed, her contact with headquarters would be minimal. Operating procedure was left to her discretion and oversight by superiors was nominal. Moving to Sky Harbor Aegis put her under the scrutiny of her superiors, the Federation, and the Joint Allied Powers. She did not realize then that Aegis was on the fringe of Joint Allied Space. There would be little difference between SI-5 and Aegis. A quiet ping followed by a low tone drew her attention to an encrypted message, which she promptly ignored. There more pressing things to consider. More important. On second thought, she could stand and stare at a screen that had not changed in the past hour, or she could read the…. There came another ping followed by a low tone. And another. And another. Like a combadge snagged in a uniform, it was persistent and aggravating enough that Kirel decided to answer. SI-5 Director Torak’s message contained one of the most profane examples of Federation Standard that she had ever heard. Some words were indecipherable. Apparently, Starfleet Admiral Korczaq “was not about to release that Bajoran” to SI-5, and Director Torak insisted that “his operative was worth more than any two-bit Starfleet admiral.” The exchange reminded Kirel of Timothy Resplexa and Cibyl Korajon’s Did not! Did too! Did not!!! Did TOO!!! Did NOT, did NOT, DID NOT!!! DID TOO, DID TOO, DID TOO!!! As she blanked her private screen and removed the encryption key, she wondered if they had faced off. Knowing the director and the admiral, she supposed that if they had not already, they would eventually. Leading an SI-5 team had its perks, but commanding a station on the edge of known space, far from admirals and directors, had its own share. On Aegis, she could choose to ignore whomever she wanted to. They put her here. They would have to deal with it. After slipping her encryption key into a secure pocket, she suspended their calls, then stepped away and smiled. Only slightly. But it was, indeed, a smile.
  9. Truth and Danger Captain Chirakis Captain d’Ka According to medical and psychological research, the ordinary human brain is typically able to process and contain 7 bits of information at a time. According to Starfleet Medical, the mental capacity to absorb and process varies with the species. For instance, Vulcans are typically able to absorb and process more, whereas Pakleds typically absorb and process less. These estimates are based on the premise that most humanoid brains have some similarity. Most, but not all. Because of their reclusive nature, only one Sindarin has been examined. At the beginning of the Joint Treaty between Sindar and the United Federation of Planets, the Sindarin Council allowed one of their best and most qualified to join Starfleet. The result of his mandatory physical examination was astonishing, and was instantly classified TS-C, Top Secret, Compartmentalized. To say that the Sindar are highly intelligent would be an understatement. Physicians discovered that his brain capacity was literally incalculable. His thought patterns were so varied they were difficult to track, and his ability to project telepathically was initially cause for alarm. And yet, that one Starfleet officer, Je’rit d'Ka, Captain of USS Missouri, hardly compared to the beings presently in Aegis space. Captain d’Ka sat at the desk in security’s main office, his eyes closed and his hands relaxed on her desk. Kirel sat on the opposite side, keeping a close watch on her bondmate. As soon as the alien left, d’Ka allowed the flow of information to take semi-control of his thoughts. The amount of dumped information was unbelievably beyond the norm, so he allowed a few segments at a time to emerge and process. Occasionally, he spoke, giving Kirel snippets of information—for what reason, he did not know. “They call themselves ‘Dahlem’ in Federation standard,” he said eventually, and opened his eyes, now a deep blue, his interest shifting to her. “The transfer of information had several components, one of which was the triangle. The being was male. He needed telepaths to communicate, and decided to use Dr. Sandero and me. Why a triangle? I do not know, and he was not forthcoming. And….” His voice trailed off. He leaned back, brows slightly furrowed. “Kh’éile, he needed me to keep Dr. Sandero at a discreet distance. If she had been alone, or with another telepath with similar ability, those two could have created the triangle. However, at least one of them, if not both, would have died under the strain.” “And you furnished the proper receptacle,” she replied flatly. “Thankfully, yes.” They sat in a moment of silence before he glanced toward her private bar. “Enl’licdh ‘a, Kirel?” “I do,” she said simply as she stood to approach the bar. “How much?” “Enough to get through the next few hours,” he sighed, “and to formulate a report.” After tossing a look over her shoulder, she resealed the half-empty bottle and opened a larger one, retrieved two glasses, and set them on her desk, next to him. Enl’licdh ‘a, a Sindar brandy, is a derivative of a powerful aphrodisiac. It triggers the opposite of its original purpose, furnishing focus and clear thinking. D’Ka would need it for the next few hours, and possibly more.