Twelve to Perfection - A Collaborative Story

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The First Drone

Postby daBelgrave » October 4th, 2013, 12:07 pm

One standard nanoprobe. That was all One of Twelve needed if they were to reverse engineer the technology so she and her clones could overcome the limitations caused by having nanoprobes incompatible with those of the standard drone, and once again assimilate others. The plan was to use a microtransporter to steal a nanoprobe from one of the Liberated Borg crewmembers aboard the first Federation vessel they encountered. Implementing the plan, however, was proving difficult.

The first attempt at using the microtransporter when they intercepted the U.S.S. Huia near the Koolhaas System confirmed the technology was faulty. Rather than beaming aboard a nanoprobe, all they managed to obtain was an unrecognizable mass of biological matter containing no nanoprobes. The ship also fired upon them several moments later despite the holo emitter disguising them as an innocuous freighter.

It was then that they learned that the microtransporter, which originally came from a Research Science Vessel that disappeared a few months before, was calibrated to only beam aboard microorganisms. It would not work on technology. The only other option was to capture the actual Liberated Borg and forcefully extract the nanoprobes she needed.

That led to intercepting a second Federation vessel near the Ayala System, the U.S.S. Zircon, where they managed to escape unscathed after capturing two Liberated Borg. Drone specimens one and two now sat sedated behind a containment field while nine of the clones worked to reprogram the nanoprobes of the first specimen to redirect implants to connect once again to a collective, but at the neural interlink frequency used by One of Twelve and her clones instead of the empire-sized Borg Collective spread throughout the galaxy. Once reprogrammed, the two captive drones would either acclimate well to joining the small collective, or suffer irreparable harm to their implants, possibly leading to death.

When the reassimilation process started, One of Twelve was standing in her command center plotting a course that avoided approaching heavily-traveled space lanes as they headed to the Trimble System. She was not overtly aware of everything happening in the laboratory, but had a slight awareness in the back of her mind as the nanoprobes moved through the body of the first drone, reprogramming the implants. One by one the implants converted and initialized, increasing One of Twelve’s awareness of the new drone. It was not a new sensation, but after four years of liberation, it was new enough that One of Twelve’s cranial processor initially struggled to filter out the unnecessary information she was receiving.

The reassimilation eventually completed, and the new drone emerged from its sedated state. The drone’s thoughts seemed alone in the sub-frequency that separated standard drones from potentially conflicting thoughts of the twelve clones. One of Twelve directly picked up on one of the first thoughts: What is my designation?

“One of Two,” she answered, making sure her response went to the correct sub-frequency. “Test the nanoprobe alterations,” she ordered. “Assimilate your colleague. There is work to do.”

She slightly frowned. Unlike the first reassimilation using the laboratory equipment to hasten the process, the second drone would undergo a lengthy, violent attack on his being. The new nanoprobes would wage war against the old, and although the future drone was sedated, she worried he might maintain some awareness of the abusive process. She personally wished the reassimilation did not need tested in this manner, but with as many Liberated Borg as there were in the Alpha Quadrant, she needed to know if an encounter with such a person would result in a successful assimilation. If everything went well as expected, the drone would awake as a new component of the collective. If not, he would die. It was a risk she had to take.

She sensed hesitation from One of Two for a brief moment, but soon the drone did as ordered. She ignored the hesitation as an issue caused by the lack of other thoughts in the new collective. There were no reassuring or calming thoughts. She knew the issue would pass after assimilating more drones, but the hesitation alerted her to another problem. There was one system on the Borg ship that needed an update to prevent the collective thoughts from leaking out, and to keep anyone with salvaged Borg technology from listening. She would have one of the clones fix the component. “Ten of Twelve, replace the vinculum and give the new one an updated transneural matrix with the correct neural interlink frequency. I should not be processing these thoughts directly. Eleven and Twelve, make sure the rest of the systems on this ship are compatible.”

We will lose communication with our allies, Ten of Twelve replied. They do not yet know the new interlink frequency.

“They will learn it soon enough,” One of Twelve told her. “We will rendezvous with them at the Trimble System in just under a week, and add their distinctiveness to our own.”

As work on the ship commenced, One of Twelve tried to return her attention to her navigational planning, but found it difficult. She felt distracted and conflicted, saddened by the pain and loss of identity she was forcibly causing to the individuals assimilated into her small collective, but elated by her success thus far. A small part of her wondered if the galaxy could support two Borg collectives, or if someone would manage to prevent her small collective from ever expanding into a formidable size. Foremost on her mind, however, was her conflicting loyalty. She wished she was still on the Lachesis surrounded by familiar people with their varied individualities. She missed her closest acquaintances in Starfleet, knowing they would stop at nothing to get her back, but was agitated that certain others in Starfleet were trying to use her for their own agendas. She even missed the Borg Collective with its billions of drones and the calming effect of the many thoughts. She felt alone, more so than during her time in Starfleet or the Borg Collective before her liberation. She longed to return to Starfleet if possible, or even reintegration into the Borg Collective if only they were willing to provide their failed experiment with a second chance. But things were different now. She had clones and now a drone under her command. “My loyalty is to my collective, whomever that may be,” she uttered audibly to herself.

She dismissed her thoughts, and returned her full focus to her work. The long-range sensors showed a solitary Orion vessel moving slowly through deep space to avoid Federation patrols. She altered course to intercept. Once within range, she would scan the ship to learn its crew and manifest. If everything worked out, her collective would grow. If not, she would continue on her way toward the Trimble System, all the while seeking another target.
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First and Last Duty

Postby Lizzy » November 10th, 2013, 1:15 pm

Commander Shelana could feel the leather beneath her fingernails as she gripped the armrests. As ship's first officer she enjoyed a good relationship with its captain. It was often remarked that the captain's chair was occupied equally between the two of them, and that they enjoyed yielding the officiation to each other with an every spiralling sense of pleasing apathy.

They had met one another for the first time after when Fitzwiliam had commanded a ship patrolling the core worlds of the Federation. Shelana had sought transfer to the then Commander Fitwiliam's ship for the position of senior tactical officer from an Andorian Escort. When the captain had asked why she had made such a request, she replied she was old enough to remember the Federation as it was before the Dominion war, remembered the old Betazed, and knew exactly how to get the captain through the enormity her command responsibility, without dying.

That promise she had thus far kept. It was some time before Shelana further confessed that she had often thought of leaving Starfleet. Now in her late forties, she had been in service a long time, without a partner. Though the academy had gone to great pains to reassure cadets at the time, there had been many younger officers who had been too afraid to think of starting family during the war. She would sometimes feel like she had been born at the wrong time in the Federation's history, at a time when 'career officer' had become almost an insult. A truly dreadful first assignment aboard a patrol cruiser in the Kerrat Sector had taken her good nature and abused it. They were far from Federation influence with intermittent communications. There would later be an inquiry and the first officer ultimately dismissed from service, but not before much damage had been done. Her captain aboard her last assignment had noted a withdrawn attitude, but a willingness to lead by example in command grade situations.

Thus Fitzwiliam was quiet unlike any other captain Shelana had yet served with. She did not need to posses the chair; she would take gamma shift, and would often man the science stations during planetary system surveys. She was kind and conscientious, enjoyed wondrous variety and engaging in societal displays, but had an aversion to dealing with prolonged or complex tactical situations.

This was a Starship captain?

When the position of first officer had become vacant, not yet two years after her arrival, she was more surprised than anyone to find herself considered for the position. Right now she had the bridge, but the bridge was filled with other voices, their owners in groups of two or more, dropping PADDs and following orders.

"Shuttle Psammead, you are clear to enter shuttle bay three."

"Malfunction of... . Oh no, it's cleared."

"I need an update on those seismic stabilizers, twelve-through-twenty four."

"No more nurses on deck six."

"No, that one there. Look, it's right under your nose."

Fitzwiliam's entrance onto the bridge was noticed by precisely no one. She'd managed to navigate her way up the slope and around the back to one of the unused science stations before the lieutenant sitting to her right spoke.

"Captain, I was correct. It may be possible to beam the methane out of the ice mass altogether. The facilities at the second city are more than large enough to process the gas and use as a viable fuel source." He stopped to look away from his own screen, and noticed the captain looking at the Risa sector charts.

"Computer, estimated time of arrival at Risa from current position, warp eight?" The question directed at the image before her, all fell silent and turned their attention to the captain. Shelana's eyes remained on the screen that dominated the front of the bridge.

"Two hours, forty three minutes."

"As you were", said the first officer. Activity resumed as normal.

Privately, the captain said, "Lieutenant, I'll need you in on this one". She met his smile, then standing up, said, "Commander, be so good as to arrange a meeting of all senior staff in the briefing room. Kindly advise Doctor Cantrell I will require her attendance."


The light from the Dostoydian star was a bright purple that infected every surface. It played tricks on the mind, forcing you to fill green shadows where it was dark - behind the ears and above the eyes - to make faces seem right. You could keep your vision, but not your depth of field. Subtler changes in colour and texture around the room were lost under the reduced spectrum, but the glass opposite the window was the worst offender, throwing it back at you. Behind it sat gilded facsimiles of two other science vessels, now long since decommissioned; they looked quite comedic in purple haze.

Fitzwiliam pressed a button at the head of the desk, and the window changed it's polarisation. As the room returned to normal, the officers found their seats. They watched their captain through the final course of silent mental digestion: whatever it was in her mind was in that communiqué that had taken her from the shuttle-bay. She seemed still unfinished when she sat down and said, "The ship has been ordered to Risa, to leave as soon as possible. Mister Grax, how do we stand with the transporter relay?"

All eyes in the room turned to the ships' payload and platform specialist. Perhaps they were looking for him to provide a reason for the captains' orders and destination? In truth, they knew him to be just as ignorant as they were. None the less, the Ferengi stirred uncomfortably.

"I've been working with Lieutenant Vacno to create a sympathetic harmonic that will reduce further damage to the area. Adapting out subspace transponder satellites to act as transporter pattern enhancers, however, will take time. Then we'll need to sync with the controllers both at sea and in the second city processing plant. It's still another hour before we're ready to activate the network. In real terms Captain, with proper checks, you're looking at an hour and a half."

He ended with his palms open in surrender; negotiating for more time. She explained that the Lieutenant from earlier had some interesting theories he might put into practice, then asked the Trill sitting next to him how soon the weapons-coil diagnostic would be completed.

"Under an hour".

As he made to continue, a woman entered, her manner consistent with one who knows their absence would be excused. She was quite short with an overall light frame, and look of wisdom beyond her years. Though she spoke without looking at the others or seeking their permission, with the confidence and purpose of one whose time is precious, she was none the less pleasantly received.

Finding her seat she said, "Three-hundred and two wounded, thirty-seven remain in critical care. If we're evacuating them, our CC patients must go by shuttle or else remain onboard. In consideration of their injuries Captain, I wouldn't see them moved at all." Her hands remained in her pockets, thrust in deep for the sake of feeling something. When she did make contact, her eyes meet yours just beyond where they would normally, but her fine porcelain features remained for the most part unblemished.

As the only other Trill in the room, Raifu judged her to be tired, the others agreed. Had she the energy, she would have returned his assessment as unfairly condemning. "It's the crush injuries that worry me. Dostoydian bones release toxic substances when broken that attack the internal organs. And then there's barotraumas..."

The admiral sat up in her chair. "Commander Valilski, I require a complete battle readiness report from all available sections; all tactical, engineering and science sections. Anyone available, anyone not currently engaged in relief efforts is at your disposal. To be completed by oh-six-hundred hours."

Her first officer smiled. You're leaving the youngest behind again, Liz. Yet while the doctor looked affronted, the captain reached her hand across and addressed Valilski directly. "This is your chance to show me", she said.

Appreciating that it was normally her job at these times to pick up the pieces of the captain's broken and separate conversations, uniting them Shelana smiled and said, "We'll lay in a course for Risa."


The captain withdrew her outstretched hand and placed it with the other in her lap. "Computer, estimated time of arrival at planet Risa using current slipstream configuration?"

Before the computer could intone its reply, there was a call from two of the few senior officers not present. On the plains of the city far below there was significant flooding of the archaeological facilities, they said, but an effort was already underway to limit further damage. The antimatter research samples were in final preparation for transportation from the city university to the Solzhenitsyn. No explanation as yet presented itself for the failure of the planets seismic stabilizers, however upon hearing the captain's plans to leave ahead of time, both officers consulted and concurred that a team of speleologists and civic engineers might be left behind to continue the effort.

"Thank you for your report, and your continued hard work. Kindly assemble a personnel an equipment manifest for approval with all expedience. Fitzwiliam out. Gix, you will oversee the finals of the antimatter transportation. Computer?"

"Forty-five minutes, fifty-nine seconds."

"What our computer has no doubt failed to take into account", said Raifu, "is that we must extricate this Nebula class from this nebula cloud at a reduced velocity. At least until we are clear."

"Thank you, engineer." said Shelana.

"And our remaining time?" he continued, his arms folded in front and his sardonic nature as much a part of him as his spots.

Not to falling for the obvious baiting, she said, "I cannot in good conscience do anything other than allow this ship to leave only at the last possible moment. Any other course of action would be unthinkable. Doctor..."

She stopped when she read what was in the doctor's face, "I must return to my staff in sickbay."

And all of a sudden their came over the Admiral, a distressed and bitter look on her face, maybe more common in women than men; a conflict between the desire to avoid sharing the burden of knowledge she carried and the responsibility she had to others to let them know the nature of their adversary. Women like her had a natural desire to carry the burden themselves, indefinitely and to the grave if necessary, but she was dealing with grown, responsible and worth adults. The reality of the truth would be theirs to conduct sooner or later.

"Indeed, make whatever reparations you have in the time available", then addressing all, said, "It is my solemn task to each of you to say that we might be facing a confrontation with the Borg. Dismissed."

If there was panic, it was well hidden behind those faces.
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Building the Team - Part 1

Postby Spomek » December 1st, 2013, 5:44 pm

It had been years since Rig had specifically fought the Borg. But when he did, he was a member of Omega Force, a joint Federation/Klingon defense force, dedicated to stopping the advance of the Borg Collective into the Alpha and Beta quadrants. He had lead a covert assault and recovery team that utilized technology developed at Memory Alpha; much of which had been gleaned from rescued victims that were still in the early stages of assimilation. Many of these individuals would eventually become members of Starfleet, utilizing their special insight into the Collective, to help stop the Borg advance. Today these individuals are referred to collectively as Liberated Borg.

Liberated Borg, thought Rig as he took himself back to those days looking for answers in his mission logs. Shame on those that created that designation. Why should those poor victims of biological rape be for the rest of their lives reminded of it, by being labeled as Liberated Borg? They were not and are not Borg. They are Ferengi, Hu’maan, Klingon, Romulan and many other species of the Alpha and Beta quadrants. Rig just shook his head in disgust.

As he read through his copy of the old mission reports he had submitted to Omega Command, looking for anything that might help in this current situation, he came across one of his early missions to a newly discovered planet to which he was led by a Borg Probe vessel. As he read, the mission flooded back into his memory like it had taken place only yesterday. At that instant Rig hit the comm panel and ordered Commander R’shee to “Make contact with Captain Mineaj of the U.S.S. Cumleaj’Que’Teaj and have her meet us at Risa ASAP.” “Yes Sir, right away” was her response. Rig closed the channel and turned his focus upon the mission report illuminating his PADD.

It all started while on deep patrol in the Gamma quadrant just outside Dominion space. Sensors had picked up the warp signature of a Borg Probe ship, and the chase was on. This region of space, not far from the exit of the “Bajoran” wormhole was virtually unexplored, and new discoveries were being made every day; they were not discovered by a designated science vessel, but by Special Ops teams patrolling the front lines of the war with the Borg.

This particular sector was at the furthest extent from Earth in the region previously known as the Delphic Expanse (some 70 light-years), but which now only exists on star charts from information gathered by sources like: Captain Jonathan Archer, of the USS Enterprise NX-01 back in the 26th Century, the Vulcans, and various species that lived within it like the Xindi. As a matter of fact, it was with the help of the Xindi that Omega Forces were able to travel such long distances in a relatively short time. This travel was facilitated through a network of Xindi subspace vortices which had remained stable even after the destruction of the sphere network constructed by the Trans-dimensional beings.

The warp trail of the Probe ship led us into a large asteroid field which appeared to be the remnants of a destroyed planetoid. As we circumnavigated one of the larger fragments, we lost the Borg warp trail; it just ended. I called for Tactical Alert, and a sensor scan of the immediate area indicated no hostile targets, so we set out to try and solve the mystery. Where had the Probe ship gone?

Ship science teams performed nearly every scan in the book and finally it was located, a cloaked modular warp gate. We had been searching for an answer for a full thirty minutes and our target was, well we didn’t know. So without further ado, and maintaining Tactical Alert status, I ordered my pilot to continue on our previous course which the warp trail had been leading us.

Passing through the gate I immediately ordered a sensor sweep. We found ourselves in the vicinity of a planet with two moons. One of the moons was in a geosynchronous orbit over the planet’s equator at 156,402 kilometers, casting an interesting umbra over a wide swath of the planet, being intermittently plagued by the dance of the lunar light from the second moon 372,296 kilometers distant and in an orbit 36 degrees off the equator.
It was discovered that the planet was inhabited by an as yet unknown species who apparently utilized advanced technology based on the use of electromagnetic signals in an extremely wide spectrum. This frequency manipulation was far broader than anything that has been noted in other species in the Alpha or Beta quadrants.

The sweep also located the Borg Probe ship and fairly large contingent of Borg on the planet surface. This was troubling, but our first action was to engage the Probe ship and destroy it before they could make contact for reinforcements. I am sure they detected our presence as well. To this end, I ordered communications to flood subspace with jamming signals, and proceeded to destroy the Probe ship. This we accomplished in short order, and I and my Omega Force platoons proceeded planet side to investigate, and if necessary (it would be necessary) protect and defend the indigenous life forms before the Borg could assimilate the entire planet.

Once our six Argo type shuttles landed at their pre designated LZs, their orders were to hold positions, fortify, and await further orders from my command team designated “Phoenix One.” As “Phoenix One” advanced toward a fairly large town, it became clear that the Borg were indeed engaging the local population; and, to the credit of the indigenous humanoids, were not having an easy time of it.

Phoenix One landed south of the town where a large open square gave access to its interior. Phoenix Two through Six were spread out around the town at the 8, 10, 12, 2, and 4 points of a clock. We had the town surrounded, and with our six all-terrain vehicles in support, I commanded my Company to move forward and clear the town street by street. Three of the six Argos provided recon and air support during the operation, and the remaining three were set up as med bays to receive the injured and any newly assimilated…Borg.

The recovery of assimilated species was the main goal of our team. We had learned a lot from the experiences of Captain Jean Luc Picard, Annika Hansen, Hugh, and Lt. Commander Data regarding the de assimilation processes. For this reason these three Argos were specially designed and equipped for this purpose.
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Hail to the Chief

Postby daBelgrave » December 4th, 2013, 10:13 am

“Welcome to Risa, Mr. President,” Kutrizian Sodu said tersely. Despite wearing a black robe with decorative yellow trim to enhance the appearance of the dark skin and yellow stripes on his face, he felt underdressed in front of Aennik Okeg, the Saurian President of the Federation, and the two bodyguards flanking him in the lobby. “I did not expect your visit. May I offer you any refreshments?”

“Refreshments can wait, Mr. Sodu. I need to know what is happening,” Aennik Okeg answered. “One of Twelve is potentially a greater threat to the Federation than anything else we currently face, and you know it. You assured us she could not be turned, but it seems you were wrong.”

Kutrizian frowned. “I properly sequenced her genome and provided my analysis of her capabilities,” he said. “As written in my report four years ago, she has none of the serious defects found in the human augments created centuries ago, and has several safeguards built into both her genetic material and her Borg programming. She cannot be bribed. She cannot be coerced. She cannot convince herself to do something she does not want to do. It should be impossible to turn her, as you suggest, but then you also have to wonder how, if that is true, did we managed to liberate her in the first place. What happened, I cannot say, but I do know it happened, and I too want to know how.”

The Federation President considered Kutrizian’s statement for a minute before responding. “If you had to provide an assessment of the threat she poses, what would it be?”

“Medium, Sir,” Kutrizian answered. “She is fully capable of carrying out the threat she made, or at least attempting to, but something about it seemed awkward. From what I read in the reports about her capture four years ago, she was never the type to directly threaten or suggest her plans to her enemy. In fact, the Federation never even knew she existed until after they took her from the Borg and attempted to determine her ancestry and identity. Rather, I believe her threat to be a calculated move to mislead someone or someones about her true motives and plans.”

“Why would you think that?” the President wondered.

“I only know that something went wrong with a mission given to her by Starfleet Intelligence,” Kutrizian said. “She seemed to believe she was on a mission to find and liberate her clones, which we both know plays into her idea of perfection. During that mission, her ship was attacked, and when she contacted me, she seemed to feel as if the admiral in charge of her mission abandoned her. Moments later, she was captured. I do not yet have all the details, but select members of her crew and the other ship in the area at the time are on their way here so we can work out where she is, figure out her plans, and decide how to deal with the situation.”

“The sparse details you provide are troubling, especially the assertion of internal strife within Starfleet,” Aennik Okeg decided. “My staff will enforce a presidential quarantine on your facility until further notice. My ships will greet your coming guests as they warp into the system, and escort them here directly.” He glanced around the luxurious lobby to the resort. “While we wait, I wouldn’t mind a tour. You seem to have quite a facility here.”

“Yes, sir,” Kutrizian replied, motioning for the President to begin walking down a hallway. “This way.”
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Building the Team - Part 2: Battle for Borleaj

Postby Spomek » December 15th, 2013, 2:13 pm

The First Officer of the Moogie’s Revenge, Cmdr R’shee reported back to Captain Rig that she had contacted Captain Mineaj and that they would arrive at Risa in approximately four hours. Rig asked R’shee what their ETA was and she responded “Three hours, seven minutes Sir.” “Contact me when we make orbit Commander.”

The town sat directly below and center of the closest moon which loomed large above our heads. It was a very strange feeling, one of almost claustrophobic proportions. This feeling increased as the planet’s star began to be eclipsed by the giant overhead. We were moving into a near total darkness. Everything around us dimmed down to a brick red color with the sky at the horizon emitting a yellow glow. My science training informed me that this was an L=3 eclipse on the Danjon scale. This was our queue to engage the Borg, and I gave the order.

With only one Borg Probe ship, I thought this was going to be a fairly easy sweep and clean operation. Each squad of the Phoenix Division was equipped with a special transporter tag designed by the researchers on Memory Alpha. Once placed, these tags would automatically transport the subject into one of the specially designed Borg regeneration stations installed in the three Med Argos. Once inhabited, a stasis field automatically initiated which cut off the patient from the Collective, applied the Phoenix protocol which was a surrogate for the hive mind that kept the patients calm and stable until they could be processed aboard our ship. This transport tag technology was also built into the equipment of each member of the Phoenix Division, with one additional modification. This modification was a bio-sensor injected into every soldier that would immediately send a signal to the transport tag if any nanites were injected into the body. We were a limited size unit, and we never knew what size Borg opposition we would encounter.

As we were moving in, Phoenix Four at the northwest of town, reported that a contingent of Borg appeared to be constructing a subspace transmitter. Apparently we had not destroyed the Borg Probe ship before they could beam down components for this device. I ordered Phoenix Four to take out the transmitter. Phoenix Five, in the northeast, reported that they had encountered the assimilation quarter of town and were proceeding to rescue as many of the new drones as possible, but that it was slow going due to Borg adaption to their weapons.

My unit along with Phoenix Three and Six were making contact in the large southern square. The town surrounded the square on three sides in the shape of a horseshoe, with the southern side of the square facing an open landscape. As we arrived at the square and made contact with the Borg, I became amazed at the combat ability of the indigenous people. Where we have had to spend most of our training in hand-to-hand combat due to the Borg’s ability to quickly adapt to our energy weapons, it seemed that the inhabitants of this world did not have the same problem. Borg were falling like leaves in autumn, or rain on Ferenginar. The battle seemed to be going well, so I commanded Phoenix Three and Six to continue to assist here in the square, and that I was moving to what appeared to be the main administrative building.

Phoenix Four reported in that they were meeting stiff resistance. We were not here to destroy these people’s homes, so the support Argos were not using any area of effect weapons. This made them somewhat less effective in the direct attack, so I ordered two of them to contact Phoenix Four and make a strike on the subspace transmitter. This was a priority target, and we did not want any signal going out. I suddenly received a signal from my ship, the U.S.S. Phoenix. “Sir, we have just picked up a subspace signal being transmitted from northwest of your position, and its Borg.” I thought to myself, Damn, too late. I replied that I understood, Phoenix One out. I immediately contacted the Argos and told them to destroy that thing immediately. It was done and the signal cut off. I wonder if it got through?

The medical Argos were filling up fast and as they were they shuttled their holdings to the Phoenix and returned. The battle in the square was over and all five platoons were converging on the northeast assimilation zone for mop up. While my platoon held the square, I and my senior staff entered the administration building looking for someone in charge and initiate first contact.

“Bleep” went Rig’s communications panel startling him out of his reminiscing. “Captain, we are on orbital approach to Risa.”

“Very good Mr. R’Shee, please inform Captain Tdurkan and ask him to come to the bridge.” Commander R’Shee responded in the affirmative and cut out.

Rig closed the document he was reviewing and stepped out onto the bridge. There on the view screen was the beautiful planet Risa. “Captain on the bridge,” called out R’Shee, and moved to her chair beside that of her Captain. Rig moved to the center seat and hearing the hiss and shush of the turbo-lift, turned to see Acting Captain Tdurkan step out onto the bridge.

“Welcome to the bridge Captain. As you can see we have arrived at Risa. Would you be so kind as to make contact with Mr. Kutrizian and let him know we have arrived?”

“Yes sir,” replied Tdurkan as he headed to the comms station.
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Welcome Party

Postby daBelgrave » December 17th, 2013, 11:09 am

Commander Tdurkan stepped up to the comm station. He activated the terminal, but before he could transmit, an incoming message arrived. He thought about redirecting it to one of the bridge crew, but noticed it was showing on several other terminals already.

“Federation starship Moogie’s Revenge, this is Captain Sundaresh of the U.S.S. Ra-ghoratreii. You have entered a Presidential Quarantine Zone, and by the authority delegated by the President of the United Federation of Planets, I order you to keep shields down, and disengage your engines and thrusters. Welcome to Risa, and standby for further instructions.”

While Captain Rig gave the commands for the bridge crew to do as ordered, Tdurkan replied to the message. “Sir, we are here on urgent business. What is the nature of this quarantine?”

“We’re here for the same reason you are, Commander,” the Captain answered warmly. “President Okeg has taken a personal interest in your captain. We will transport you directly to Mr. Sodu’s facility. Is Captain Rig available?”

“He is preoccupied, Sir,” Tdurkan answered. “My team is ready and standing by, but Captain Rig is awaiting the arrival of an acquaintance he believes can provide some valuable assistance in this matter.”

“Is there an ETA?” Captain Sundaresh asked.

“Approximately fifty minutes,” Captain Rig said, startling Tdurkan who hadn’t noticed he was standing right behind him. “Captain Mineaj of the Cumleaj’Que’Teaj is one of the leading experts on overcoming Borg adaptation. I believe her experience will be invaluable to this mission.”

“And what is your opinion?” Captain Sundaresh wondered.

“Another expert can’t hurt,” Tdurkan quickly answered, “but One of Twelve is designed to adapt in ways most Borg cannot. If anyone wants to understand her, they need to know not only how the Borg technology adapts, but how that adaptation might be influenced by the unpredictability of human ingenuity.”

“The inability to technologically quantify her decision-making process might be one of the reasons why the Borg Collective dismissed her and the clones as a failed experiment,” Captain Sundaresh suggested.

“That would be the prevailing theory,” Tdurkan replied.

Captain Sundaresh looked intrigued. “There are other theories?” he wondered.

Tdurkan smiled. “I am sorry, Sir. Even though it is the reason you are here, I cannot discuss that except on a need-to-know basis.”

“Understood,” Captain Sundaresh said. He briefly looked offscreen. “I’ll add Captain Mineaj to the guest list. Signal my ship when you’re ready to beam down.”

“One more thing,” Captain Rig interrupted. “Another ship may be joining us, the Cyzom. They were taking the injured from the Lachesis to a medical ship, and depending on their mission priorities, they might be on their way here. I do not have an ETA for them.”

“We’ll keep watch for them,” Captain Sundaresh said, once again briefly looking offscreen. He looked back at the screen. “We’ll keep this channel open in case there is anything else to discuss. Sundaresh, out.”

The transmission ceased, and the Federation logo replaced the image. “I’ll have my team beamed to the surface in a few minutes, Tdurkan told the Captain. “I guess we’ll see you there later.” He walked to the door, and left the bridge.
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Building the Team - Part 3: First Contact

Postby Spomek » January 12th, 2014, 8:31 pm

Upon the departure of Commander Tdurkan and the crew of the Lachesis Rig returned to his ready room to await the arrival of the U.S.S. Cumleaj’Que’Teaj. As he sat at his desk, he began once again to reminisce.

Having entered the building, I found myself surrounded on three sides by tall, thin, and in their own way, beautiful beings. My lobes told me that these were the females. Those that I had seen in the square, were much bulkier, and could be the males of the species. They must have at one time been split off from another species of the Delphic Expanse, the Illyrians, as they appear to have the same cranial ridge structure but with no visible hair on their body. Yes everyone of this species was bald, female and male alike. Also unlike the Illyrians, they have no visible aural membrane or exterior indication of lobes or ears as humans would understand it. What they do have as we would later find out, is a part of their brain, or a co-located organ, that acts as a biological frequency modulator, allowing them to instantaneously decode any form of modulation across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. This organ, for lack of a better word, works as both a transmitter and a receiver, utilizing their cranial ridges and special temporal membranes for these functions respectively. This ability, incredible as it is, does have its limitations.

As I said, when I entered the room I was surrounded by a group of females, but what I didn’t say was that they all had a weapon trained on me and my staff. I immediately raised my hands into the air, ordered my men to sling their weapons, put the friendliest smile on my face that I could muster, and said “Hello, we come in peace. Take me to your leader." Oh why did I say that, Rig thought to himself. "I've got to stop watching all those old earth science fiction movies." I then waited, knowing that our universal translator would not function unless they spoke; but, to my surprise no one did. All of a sudden, and without a sound, they each glanced momentarily toward the center of their line and lowered their weapons as an even more beautiful being, if that was even possible, stepped forward.

The woman opened her mouth, and in the clearest Ferengi of my own dialect, she said “Welcome, my name is Queaj Suea Mineaj. I am the Prima of the clan Mineaj. I do not know your species, but I see that you are not of those who are attacking us. Why have you come?”

“I am so glad to meet you,” I said, “My name is Rig and I have followed the Borg to your planet, destroyed their ship in orbit, and landed on your soil to save your people from them. However, I see that you did not need our help Prima Queaj Su….” She then interrupted me and said, “Please call me Suea, Queaj is my tribal name.” I acknowledged her clarification and she went on.

“Do you know these…Borg, as you call them? We have never encountered them before, and they have descended upon us in such a rapid fashion that we were taken by surprise and lost many of our people before we were able to engage them. In fact, we were just in the process of engaging these creatures in the other sectors of Borleaj when we detected your arrival. The Teajeans thank you for your assistance.”

“The Borg are not a specific species, but a collective,” I said. “They maintain their identity and population by absorbing, or what they call ‘assimilating,’ other species into their collective in search of their idea of perfection. Your species must have some biological trait that they want to absorb. The Borg have a shield technology that allows them to quickly adapt to weapon frequencies. We noticed that the Borg were not able to do this in their fight with your people. How is this?”

“We are able to sense changes in their frequency modulations and adapt to those changes.”

In astonishment, Rig said, “Your species has this ability?! The Federation has been trying to develop this ability in our weapons for over 40 years.”

At that moment Rig’s communicator chirped and Rig said, “Pardon me Prima Suea my ship is calling.” Rig turned slightly away and tapped his communicator. “Phoenix, Rig here.” “Captain, a Borg cube has just entered the system.” “Acknowledged, prepare to receive the Argos and beam me up on my command.” “Aye sir,” and the communications were severed.

Rig turned back to the Prima and quickly explained the situation, “I am sorry but we will have to postpone our first meeting until we can take care of this ship, I hope to meet you again soon,” said Rig as he slapped his communicator and said “four to beam up. As they vanished before the Teajians eyes, the Prima said, “Now that is a technology WE do not possess; everyone to their ships.”

“Red Alert,” commanded Rig. “What is our status?”

As Rig began to recall this battle, he unconsciously pulled his tooth-sharpener from his desk drawer. He didn’t know why, but for some reason it always calmed him down. As he placed the grinder against his eye tooth, he was startled back to reality by a comm signal and the voice of Commander R’Shee on the bridge. “Sir the U.S.S. Cumleaj’Que’Teaj has just arrived in orbit.”

“Uh, what was that Number One?”

“Sir the U.S.S. Cumleaj’Que’Teaj has just arrived in orbit.”

“Oh thank you Number One. Please have Captain Mineaj beam over to Transporter Room One, we will beam down to Risa together.”

“Yes Sir, right away,” responded Commander R’Shee.
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Risa - Part 1

Postby daBelgrave » January 18th, 2014, 10:33 pm

It was by far the finest private resort Commander Tdurkan had seen in his few visits to Risa. To the southwest of the mainland lay a carpet of sand bleached a brilliant white. For a good two thirds of its length, the beach remained utterly uninterrupted, save for a pier that made it’s way out on staggered pairs of wooden legs to a beach hut. To the north, the otherwise perfect visa was interrupted by great broken boulders, every one of them was placed perfectly - every tree, every rock. A sign this whole island had been painstakingly engineered, it now felt no different to the holodeck recreations. Tdurkan, however, was not there to take in the scenery. His tasks were all indoors.

Four hours after arriving at Kutrizian Sodu’s Risian resort, Tdurkan stood, glass in hand, eyeing the Caitian waitress who had just served him the drink. For the scaled Saurian, fur, especially dyed a dark pink, was about as exotic and intriguing as it could get. She handed out drinks to others in the conference room until her tray was empty, and then approached Tdurkan with an alluring sway to her hips. “You haven’t touched your drink,” she observed. “Do you need something else?”

Tdurkan took a sip of the drink without taking his eyes off the waitress, but didn’t reply.

“Cat got your tongue?” she asked. Her tail wrapped partly around her thigh, and rubbed up and down as if scratching an itch, although much slower.

Tdurkan smirked. “Does the cat want my tongue?”

“We’ll see what happens later,” she said softly, almost purring. “The name’s R’misse.” She slowly ran one of her clawed fingers down the front of his jacket. “Perhaps later you can show me what a man in uniform does in his free time.”

A voice from the front of the conference room interrupted the flirting. “Ladies and gentleman,” a man said from the podium, “the President of the United Federation of Planets, Aennik Okeg.”

The President stepped into the room, and walked up to the podium in front of a large viewscreen. Everyone turned to face the figurehead of the Federation, and those seated stood out of respect. “Please be seated,” the President said calmly. “We have work to do.” He then began sorting through some files on his PADD while everyone went to their seats.

Tdurkan quickly found his seat with the others from the Lachesis. Beside him sat Commander Mandi Pargman, human, with Lieutenant Commander Sururo, Trill, beside her. Sitting directly behind him was Lieutenant Tori Mcmindes, human, and beside her were two Ensigns, Kozslym Jidi, Bajoran, and Rigoberto Clayman, human. Somehow, Tdurkan expected he and the others from the Lachesis would be expected to answer most of the questions that would be asked during the meeting.

Tori leaned forward. “Caitian got your eye?” she whispered.

Tdurkan refused to acknowledge that he heard her.

“Don’t worry,” Tori added. “Even without a degree in xenosexuality, instinct tells me she fancies you too.”

Tdurkan turned his head and gave enough of a glare that she sat back in her seat.

* * *

Not too far away, Captain Rig and Captain Mineaj sat together behind two members of the Federation Security Council, a Bolian and a Tellarite, who accompanied Aennik Okeg. Leaning forward and tapping the Bolian on the shoulder, Rig asked, “How did Kutrizian Sodu come to have such clout among the heads of the Federation?”

The Bolian turned in his seat. “He is the foremost expert on genetic augmentation within Federation borders. Technically, everything he did in that field was and still is illegal. He no longer conducts illegal procedures however, but the knowledge he possesses makes him a valuable expert when the Federation needs to deal with augments and other genetic horrors.”

“I would hardly call an intelligent person not much different from ourselves a horror, no matter what her genetic makeup,” Rig said. He thought back to the subspace communications Commander Tdurkan had arranged, and nothing he recalled seemed nefarious. “If everything Mr. Sodu does is illegal, why are we here?”

“That was his past,” the Bolian answered. “Mr. Sodu already spent some time at a penal settlement for those crimes. When Starfleet captured One of Twelve and her clone, we granted him amnesty in return for his assistance decoding their genetic makeup and determining the full extent of their capabilities. He also proved invaluable in their rehabilitation, helping them adjust to their individuality much faster than the assigned psychologists were managing. Since then, with the fortune acquired during his less than legal earlier years, Kutrizian reorganized his massive network of shady contacts to help the Federation ensure the stability of commerce throughout this region of space, even across borders otherwise closed to us.”

The Tellarite turned his head. “I still cannot understand how the Federation was unable to legally confiscate his ill-gotten fortune.”

The Bolian shrugged. “Who are we to question the laws? We council members only write them. Anyway, the Federation now considers Kutrizian to be an ‘alternative’ to using Starfleet Intelligence or other militarized shadow organizations, especially in cases involving genetics of some sort.”

“Full amnesty and a blind eye from the Federation,” the Tellarite growled.

“It’s more than you’d expect,” The Bolian said, “but he’s proved useful to the Federation several times now. We’ll see how useful he is this time.”

“I don’t like it,” Rig decided. “He has been treated better than the Ferengi who have been allies of the Federation for decades.” He crossed his arms, and ended the conversation.

* * *

The President spoke again, looking around the room at everyone seated. “Mr. Kutrizian Sodu is graciously providing us with the use of his resort to facilitate our need to recover two esteemed Starfleet officers, and to neutralize the threat they and their clones present to the Federation and its neighbors. Due to the classified nature of this mission, some things may seem illegal or questionable, but I assure you that everything we do is necessary for our success. Now, before we continue, does anyone know the current location of Captain One of Twelve?”

“I could guess what sector she’s in,” Kutrizian offered. “I’ve been trying to find any reports of ship encounters that would fit her description, but she’s making it very difficult to follow her movements.”

“Where is that?” the President asked.

Knowing he had the attention of the President and of everyone in the room, Kutrizian entered a command on his PADD with overly flamboyant movements. He knew perfectly well that he was not regarded by the majority of them with any great affection, yet they needed him. He would speak, they would listen, and much to the delight of any man ostracized by his peers, he knew also that they would wait for him.

A map of the stellar region filled the viewscreen. “The first report was from the U.S.S. Nile in the Aokii System. There was nothing more than a brief sensor blip with a Borg signature, but one of their quartermasters later reported some scientific cargo suddenly disappeared. The second encounter was the U.S.S Huia at the Koolhaas System, which reported having to block an invasive microtransporter signal from a strange freighter, and then fired on the freighter until it departed. Then there was the U.S.S. Zircon near the Ayala System, which had two crewmembers taken by a freighter that gave Borg sensor readings.”

Each time, a single movement of his finger across the PADD infront of him placed another dot on the map. In this last one though, there was a note of real smugness to his voice. “Finally, one of my Syndicate contacts overheard some Klingon Commanders joking about the latest Borg Collective recruitment techniques only a few hours ago, and upon investigating, learned that an Orion vessel somewhere in Deep Space between Ker’rat and Drozana had just reported that a small Borg raiding party had taken and assimilated eight of their crew before fleeing the scene. Based on those encounters, I would guess One of Twelve is somewhere in the Donatu Sector on a trajectory taking her toward the outer border of Federation space.”

“Isn’t contact with the Orion Syndicate illegal?” someone in the room interrupted, but a sudden frown from the President silenced the man.

“Why would One of Twelve attempt to leave Federation space?” the President asked.

“She isn’t,” Tdurkan quickly replied. Everyone turned to look at him.

“You all heard her message; where there is war, I bring peace. The latest trajectory might seem to be moving toward the outer limits of the Federation, but it’s also taking her toward our border with the Klingon Empire. She is going toward war.”

“What could one ship and a handful of drones do there?” the Bolian wondered.

“I cannot guess,” Tdurkan answered. “She assimilated more knowledge of strategy in her maturation chamber than we’d have collectively if everyone in this room were the top strategists in all of Starfleet. And not just her, but the clones also. She can keep the clones in check, but there is no one to keep her in check. She will try to bring peace to war as she claims, assuming we are correct even in the idea that it might be our war with the Klingons, but peace with whatever enemy and her methods to obtain it are only small steps in some greater plan that may or may not be to our advantage. Whatever happens, you do not want to get between her and her objective.”

“She hardly seems dangerous,” Commander R’Shee said. She noticed the President had that same habit Tdurkan did of keeping his head still while his reptilian pupils followed each speaker round the room in turn. “Every report has her fleeing the scene after only a short encounter.”

“You should read her personnel file contained in the briefing on your PADD,” Captain Rig told the Commander. “Starfleet lost fourteen ships in just the first encounter with her. The only way we managed to eventually capture and liberate her was some brave captain rammed a captured ship into her cube’s central plexus, disabling the cube, and severing the link to the Collective for every drone on that vessel.”

“We’ll have to assume the border with the Klingons is where we start searching for her,” the President decided. “Once we find her, then we’ll have to determine her plans and how to intervene.” He looked directly at Tdurkan. “Commander, can you tell us the events that led to her capture? What mission took her to the Andoss System in the first place?”

“Our mission is to find and liberate her clones,” Tdurkan answered. “The trail was cold for most of the past year, but Kutrizian recently found us a lead. He noticed that freighters transporting interactive holo-projectors were disappearing from most of the shipping lanes. The Starfleet captain who investigated managed to recover one of the freighters, and intercepted a Cardassian signal with a strange Borg fractal encryption. It was forwarded to Starfleet Intelligence, and eventually we managed to pick up the trail of the ten clones. Since then, we’ve been slowly following them, trying to figure out what they’re doing, and recently moved to attempt thwarting those plans at the Andoss System. Several others, such as Captain Rig, have helped along the way, but through Starfleet Intelligence’s coordination to keep knowledge of the actual mission restricted, not our own.”

“What were the clones doing at the Andoss System?” Captain Rig asked. “Starfleet Intelligence tasked me with delivering a vial of nanoprobes to an anonymous contact in that system, but did not say to who or why.”

“Apparently setting a trap for us,” Tdurkan answered, “but we thought they were planning to use interactive holoprojectors to keep the local mining populace unsuspecting while they were assimilated one by one with aerosol-dispersed nanoprobes.”

“Aerosol-dispersed nanoprobes?” asked the President.

Tdurkan nodded. “One of Twelve claimed it was the type of strategy she prefered and would expect from her clones: to keep her opponent unaware until it was too late.”

“May I point out,” Tori angrily interrupted, “that this is about more than just my Captain and First Officer.” Tdurkan tried to shush her, but she ignored him. “I just spent two hours in a lab sifting through a computer node to isolate and examine an invasive algorithm we only detected late yesterday. Someone with Admiral-level clearance and knowledge of our mission sabotaged my ship.”

Tori stood up. “And not just that, but this algorithm was designed to monitor for a specific coded subspace transmission, and upon receiving that transmission, circumvent all command precautions and initialize the ship’s auto-destruct sequence.” She paused, taking the time to glance at every face in the room, “Someone in Starfleet was planning to kill all of us aboard the Lachesis at some point, and I want to know who they are.” She pounded her fist on the back of Tdurkan’s chair for emphasis.

“That algorithm was loose on my ship!” Rig shouted. “We were all in danger and never knew it.”

The President was surprised. “This is new,” he said. He looked at Kutrizian. “You told me that One of Twelve had sudden misgivings about the admiral in charge of her mission. Was this the cause?”

Kutrizian shook his head, and quickly flipped through some files on his PADD. “No, Sir,” he answered. “All she told me was that he, Admiral Werralk, was not responding to her hails following the attack on her ship, nor did he send a promised strike team to assault her clones’ base on Andoss II, both of which I managed to independently verify. She said nothing about the algorithm.”

“She didn’t know about it,” Tori said. “We discovered it only last night, and learned that it altered sensor data so we saw a facility on Andoss II that wasn’t really there. It wasn’t until I had it in the lab here that I managed to deconstruct its deeper workings and learn the more nefarious actions it could take.”

“Excuse me,” the Tellarite from the Federation Security Council interrupted. “Malicious programs can come from a variety of sources. Why do you blame Starfleet?”

“We believe the original attack vector was an isolinear rod containing a holo-program confiscated from Deep Space Nine,” Tori answered. “We checked that program behind a level-two firewall, so the only way the malicious programming could penetrate our systems would be with ship’s captain or command-level authorization. When the Moogie’s Revenge was infected by our computer dump, that confirmed that it had to be command-level.”

“So we have a rogue Starfleet admiral,” the President decided.

Kutrizian shook his head. “I think it’s worse than that. One of Twelve suggested her clones were interacting with contacts in a variety of factions.”

“It’s much worse,” Tdurkan told everyone. “What most of you do not know is that we have limited communication with One of Twelve through the programming in her nanoprobes.” Mandi handed him one of the nanoprobe control PADDs, which Rig realized must have been among the items salvaged from the Lachesis. Tdurkan configured a few controls, and a list of names surrounded by Borg alphanumeric programming filled the large viewscreen in the front of the room. “The original purpose for these devices was so Starfleet had a means to reprogram and kill One and Two of Twelve if necessary. We, however, used this last night just to say hello. For whatever reason, One of Twelve purposely gave us a list of two hundred twenty-one names, some of which you will recognize.”

Kutrizian copied the image to his PADD, and handed it to an aide. “Search these names,” he ordered. “Quickly!”

“No!” the Tellarite objected as the aide departed the conference room. “It’s a witchhunt. You cannot seriously be planning to take a list of names from a person who openly declared war on the Federation, and conduct a warrantless investigation. Show me probable cause, not just a coincidence.”

“Admiral Werralk, who One of Twelve complained about, is on that list,” Kutrizian said calmly. “Plus, I know he’s been missing ever since the attack on the Lachesis. I think that’s enough probable cause to investigate him, and if there is probable cause to investigate anyone else, we’ll know soon enough.”

“Very well,” the President agreed. “That is an extensive list with enough variety to suggest it’s more than just an interstellar crime ring.” He looked at Tdurkan. “Commander, is there anything else we should know?”

“At the moment, no,” Tdurkan answered. “I think we’re at the stage where we need to decide how to respond based on the information we already have. Once we have that figured out, then we can begin asking more questions.”

“Agreed,” the Bolian from the Federation Security Council said, “but before we take a recess, I have one final question. Based on what we currently know about One of Twelve, how much of a threat does she actually pose to the Federation?”

After a brief moment of silence, Sururo spoke up. “Just stay out of her way, and you’ll be fine.”

While President Aennik Okeg left the room after dismissing them for an hour, the Bolian turned to the Tellarite to discuss some issues. Others throughout the room began conversing amongst themselves, or standing up to stretch. Tdurkan stood up, glanced around, and walked toward the bar at the back of the room, but Kutrizian remained seated, his fingers interlocked in front of him, watching Tdurkan.
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A Detour for Time

Postby daBelgrave » May 25th, 2014, 8:30 pm

You are complicating the plans. Two of Twelve’s voice came strongly into One of Twelve’s thoughts. The plan our allies gave us was to unite enough of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants under our control to bring an end to the many conflicts. We need drones. Why did you put us on a course taking us away from the heart of these conflicts?

“Twelve clones and ten drones in one ship is a start,” One of Twelve replied, “but our numbers are no match against dedicated opponents.” She thought back to a conversation about detecting chroniton emissions on Deep Space Nine. They suggested a temporal incursion, but she never learned who or why. She doubted she ever would learn more about those emissions, but it gave her an idea. “What we need is time. Alter course toward Beta Tauri, and begin collecting chronometric particles.”

What good is a temporal vortex? Twelve of Twelve thought, instantly understanding the intended use for the chronometric particles. We would alter our own timelines, and everything we know would cease to exist.

“I have a plan,” One of Twelve replied. “There are trillions of individuals living in this galaxy at any given time. Send me back one thousand years, and I will return with an army to rival even the Borg Collective just by assimilating only the outcasts, rejects, condemned, and recently deceased of a thousand species, all without altering the timeline.”

Your plan is anachronistic, Four of Twelve thought. You would be discovered.

How could anyone live that long? Six of Twelve wondered.

Reviving a recently deceased person is difficult, even with nanoprobes, Eight of Twelve added.

How do we know you are not plotting against us? Ten of Twelve accused.

There is more to her plan than she is telling us, Two of Twelve decided. She will do as she says, and return to us. One of Twelve has never lied to us before, so I will wait for her return.

One of Twelve inwardly smiled. Two of Twelve’s support had just confirmed that she too hoped to liberate the other ten clones rather than go along with their plans. The others might question One of Twelve’s intentions, but Two of Twelve’s thoughts would convince them to stay in the present to prevent anything from happening that would disrupt their goal to conquer the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. “I must regenerate before I depart,” she told them. “Alert me when we approach Beta Tauri.”
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Because the Lady Captain Says So.

Postby Lizzy » December 29th, 2014, 9:03 pm

The deck beneath her lurched as Valisiki clung on desperately to the chair beneath her console.

"Partial hit on decks eleven through fourteen, forward section...."

She was cut off mid sentence as another wave ripped through the ship. She felt her toes press so hard against the inside of her boots she was sure she'd end up with sprained tendons.

"Report." The voice came from behind her right shoulder. Although its source was a good three meters back, it felt right next to her; flat yet agonising all the same.

"Glancing hit. Decks..."

Another wave. Again her toes, but this time she'd managed to bite the tip of her tongue too as her upper teeth had come down. She looked at the console above her lap as the lights in the ceiling flickered, or was she blinking? She couldn't tell anymore. She guessed it was the ceiling, since the little white spots of reflection had disappeared then reappeared at a different time from the lights flickering on the panel. She hated the shiny surface on every interface panel. Sometimes she just wanted to dig her fingernails round the side and peel it off. She had to smash her fingers so hard against the LCARS interface. Maybe it needed to hurt?


She didn't want to report. I want to sleep, she thought, as her fingers worked furiously over the reaction system controls.

"Report Lieutenant."

"Secondary deflector now offline. Plasma fires . . . plasma fires . . ." - she couldn't get the words out - "Fires on sections . . . "

It came from beneath her this time; a massive fist punching from the below, like some ancient Japanese Kapa they had made angry. Her knees hit the bottom of the console and her ankles knocked together, and she was brought back to that horrible rodeo ride her teacher had made her try when she was six years old. How many years ago was that? Fourteen? She wondered if there was blood in her mouth from her tongue. There was still the child in her that might want to hold out her tongue and say See, it hurts. It really hurts.

"Lieutenant, you have yet to make a satisfactory report."

I'm tired. I want to sleep. We've been doing this for hours.

"Inertial dampeners offline," said a man's voice.

Don't cry. Don't you dare let them see you cry!

"Rerouting auxiliary power to inertial dampeners. Turning us away from the Cube. Increasing forward shield modulation."

"Fire suppression systems engaged on all affected decks."

Better, now check for further incoming fire.
"Three more plasma torpedoes at two-four-two mark one..."

More shaking, but different now. A rhythmic forward and backward accompanied by a sickly green glow that bathed even the best lit areas of the bridge.

She opened her mouth to speak first -
"They've locked on a tractor beam."
- someone had beaten her to it.

She knew what would come next; a cutting beam, intensely fine, of highly focused kinetic energy, able to make quick work of any Starship hull with low structural integrity.

Engage a manoeuvre to reduce gravitational damage caused by the tractor beam, direct the Borg to angle their cutting beam to a less strategically significant area of the ship - baring in mind where the more populated areas were likely to be - whilst optimising elevation for both bridge and keel-side phaser beam arrays -
"Switching from Axial to Broadside attack."
- exposing the aft shield and protecting the secondary deflector without sacrificing the ability or and opportunity to target future plasma torpedoes emanating from the target. Did she have to do all this herself?

"Eighty degrees to Port," came an order from over her shoulder.

Again she worked her fingers over the reaction system controls, this time trying to make the ship respond with greater supplely than an anaesthetised ungulate. A massive lurch forward told her she hadn't been fast enough to redirect the Borg's cutting beam. She struck her forehead against the highest incline of the console in front of her, before being thrown back into her seat.

"Warning. Outer hull breach."

"Target now two points abaft-the-beam, starboard side," she choked.

Don't let them see you cry. "Polarising outer hull to reduce gravimetric stress."

The sickly green that had been a part of her surroundings long enough for her to place it at the back of her mind now muted. She started as six cylinder shapes began to coalesce in the space between her own position and the captain's ready room. She stood up and reached for her sidearm as they corporatized.

"Security to the bridge."

"Lieutenant, man your station," said the woman's voice from behind her, still calm and unaffected by emotion. The mechanical components that accentuated the prostheses of the Borg drones ticked and spun. Foreign eyes in foreign sockets surveyed their surroundings. A thin beam of orange impacted with the closest drone, causing a satisfying shower of sparks and leaving the smell of burnt ozone in the air. Valisiki almost smiled as she spun round momentarily to see the Vulcan woman in the captain's chair had fired. Returning her attention to her own weapon, she aimed it at the floor. A plume of smoke erupted from beneath the Borg's feet adding burnt carpet to ozone. Using her naturally smaller body and lower centre of gravity to her advantage, she marshalled all her pain and frustration and directed a powerful kick square into the second Borg's chest, sending him falling like a mannequin into the others.

"Yes. Hai!", she cried. Feeling tired and wishing she had a some edged blade to use, she used the last of her strength to take her seat and repolarise the hull again to prevent further intruders.

Sure, we've failed this again, she thought, but it's the last one.

"This sucks", came an immature male voice.

Valisiki had time to confirm her action had been successful and there were no reports of further Borg before she was pulled out of her chair and lifted off the ground by a powerful Drone's arm. As she stared exhausted into it's augmented face, she wondered quietly what she'd be having for lunch.

- - - - - -

"Computer, halt simulation."

Lieutenant Commander Soput had become more accustomed than most to the notion of institutionalised human failure. From one glance it was clear that she was not suited for a pastoral role - surely one would think of the job of Chief tactical officer - but then Vulcans were all like that, weren't they? Broad shoulders and a wide pelvic arc gave her body a graceful cello shape, an effect highlighted by her walnut skin. She had a handsome face, looking as all Vulcans did; young for her age - with bronze eyes sitting behind high cheekbones. Her experience with adult humans suggested that this was what was called A waste of good looks. Whether this meant that most humanoid males demonstrated a preference for women who fronted only incompetence with an appealing face was less certain.

Whilst the young Japanese girl at the helm had looked on with an expression that Soput had - over time with other humans - come to recognise as amusement, she turned her attention to the rest of the training crew. Her conclusion seemed to be that they were all expecting some kind of disciplinary action, so there at least was an indication that they had recognised their performance was far below the standard that one should expect from trainee officers and crew.

Indeed it was . . . pleasing.

Technicians were frozen mid-action, hair matted to sweaty faces, bracing for reproach or reprieve from the senior officer present. So far she'd offered neither, but now addressed the owner of the immature male voice. Much to the surprise of everyone, Soput seemed to be showing concern for his health.

"Ensign, are you injured?"

He stuttered with a smile, "No sir."

"Is there a problem with your console?"

"No sir."

Without varying her tone, she pressed, "Then what is your explanation for your performance?"

Too right, Valisiki thought, I was doing half of everyone else's job.

He shifted his weight between his feet and made no reply. Soput silently questioned whether this silence could be taken as a challenge of some sort to her authority, when she noticed his attention was fixed on something behind her. She returned her attention to the young helmsman. Earlier she seemed to be in an emotional compromised state, brought on by some sort of physical distress she'd been experiencing during the exercise, but Soput now observed a real attempt to master those emotions.

Soput tried to reconcile the accounts of the two crew members actions. She had been notionally aware that the Lieutenant had occupied the Ensigns attention for much of the exercise. Not unusual in of itself, but his attention did not always correlate with her piloting manoeuvres, nor was he attentive to the pilots actions in a way when he should have been. Soput noted the outline of Valisiki's supporting undergarments could be inferred through her black uniform.

Resigned to the fact that even if every nuance of human sexuality was known to her, it would create social problems for both crew members to broach the subject in any great detail now, she made a mental note to include this behaviour in her report.

"Computer, end simulation."

In between many breaths, Soput explained every detail of their dissatisfactory performance. Not one individual on the bridge was spared an analysis to the Nth degree of everything Soput deemed it possible they could find room to improve upon. She challenged fire suppression and deck decompression response time, alluded to wilful incompetence and pressed for clear verbal communication between all crew members.

"I want the highest ranking officer present from every department to submit independent exercise reports, then hand them in to me. Fail to use the correct format, and it will be handed back to you."

Finally, she noted Valisiki's problem solving abilities and piloting skills and dismissed her first, a kind of reward that in a strictly Vulcan community would be reserved only for children.
The response from the other simulation crew members was one of resentment toward the young Japanese woman. All save one, who smiled and seemed curiously occupied with staring at her posterior.

She did not seem to notice him.

- - - - - -

"Computer, how far?"

"Seven meters, eighteen centim - "

"I see it!"

Senior Chief Petty Officer Irene Claudette kept her head low and tried to control her breathing, but it was proving difficult.

She was lying flat to the ground, crawling on her hands and knees for the better part of half an hour - in of itself an impressive feat for someone in their fifties - when the creature the computer had told her was no larger ten centimetres darted down the Jefferie's tube ahead of her.


She sprang up from her crouching position and with her head narrowly missing the bulkhead, crawled forward. She had half a mind to use her arms to propel herself feet first, down to the other end of the tunnel. Her heels dug in to the floor, trying to give her legs some purchase to push against. The specimen container she had brought with her had now been abandoned three junctions ago. In between parting strands of her chin-length, honey-blonde hair, she saw the creature pause as it reached the tube's edge, its tail standing high in the air. It flicked from side to side like a needle, taunting her. Then it disappeared with the rest of its body.

Come on you silly cow, move!

She had her suspicions that this creature was an uninvited guest from their last port of call, but Xenobiology had reported an empty specimen container not half an hour ago. Then she remembered.

"Computer, activate force fields on... deck eight, Jeffrie's junction thirty-six-beta."

There was a noise like static ahead. She slowed down now to catch her breath, peeling hair back from her face. When Irene reached the end of the tube she silently rejoiced as she looked down to see the rodent circling the aperture below, challenging the translucent pink shield again and again.

She was waited awhile to catch her breath with her feet dangling. She wanted to knock them against the bulkhead to taunt the creature. Now she had a little time, she wondered whether it was worth summoning an Exocomp, a small artificial life form employed by Starfleet's Corp of Engineers, to retrieve the specimen. She was interrupted by a voice from Main Engineering.

"Chief, report to battle bridge for Sim-cleanup."

Adjusting her bra strap, she gave her acknowledgement to the emptiness around her while she continued to stare at it circling around and around the hole in the floor. Each time it touched the force field it made a warm electrical sound. Never changing, never learning.

Irene took out her phaser, checked the settings, and fired. She had expected at least her first shot to miss and hit the bulkhead. The rodent however, had stopped moving, and the force field was now silent.

- - - - - -

Why is one person followed into battle, then after the deed is named a hero, while another is ignored and labelled a fool? Elizabeth Fitzwiliam had often considered the question during her studies of plays and poetry. She felt she'd miss handled her earlier briefing. Doctor Cantrell had been too tired and Raifu had been, frankly, insubordinate.

In addition to a birthday party, the Captain had heard about an Naussicaan arm wrestling contest on deck ten that had apparently taken weeks to plan ahead. She'd also cancelled three hours rehearsal for the ship's ballet company, but when she felt her heart wouldn't let her go through with it, she'd rescinded and granted one hour of barre work that afternoon.

Elizabeth looked over the PADDS before her; a postponed dinner with the ship's three finalists selected to present papers at the Astrometrics conference at Constontinaple-Argelius, a request for volunteers to take part in a latent ESPer ability experiment, a casualty report from the Dostoydian environmental ministry, a revised Dangerous-cargo manifest and a communiqué from Starbase K-seven reminding all Captain's of the absolute ban on Tribbles.

He couldn't honestly be asking me to take a research ship into battle against the Borg? Stranger requests had been made. To an Admiral, stranger reasons to divert one of the Federation's premier independent research vessels, but not many that would justify abandoning a suffering world.

Who the hell was this Captain Rig anyway!

She set all her PADDs aside. "Computer, search Federation registry for vessel designation U.S.S. Moogie’s Revenge."

"There are no Federation vessels with that designation in service."

Curious. . .

"Computer, access current personnel file on Federation Starship Captain Rig."

"Unable to comply," the machine said in a sultry mechanical voice.


"There is no personnel file for an officer of that rank or position currently on Starfleet active service registries."

Hmm. More curious still. Time for a blind man's approach.

"Computer, search history database for all Captain Rigs currently registered."

Lizzy took a sip of tea as she waited for the computer. There were eight entries for Captain Rig. Four were dead; One in prison, one was missing in action - believed to be working with the True Way counter-revolutionaries, three retired. The rest had been promoted. One of those was apparently related to the current Nagus.

Lizzy conceded the likelihood that this officer would be the same person she was looking for. Apparently, the ship was an Intelligence-service modified Ferengi D'Kora Class, packed with an array of Starfleet's latest tricks, courtesy of her Captain's influence with outside engineering consortiums. She wondered about his past experience with fighting the Borg, if any.

A Ferengi, and an Intelligence Officer? Her mind filled with the image of a merchant-made-good. She agreed, it was clear that Captain . . . Admiral Rig would hardly be forthcoming with her own requests for information. She'd already made the decison to anticipated bargaining for a briefing; Intelligence was a commodity like any other. Please don't let their be some ridiculous task-force with him in command. I wonder how much of this is Federation in-house technology anyway? Not that this advanced research vessel isn't short of a few tricks of her own.

Perhaps she was being unfair.

She spent the next ten minutes studying an impressive service record and a series of combat encounters that would comfortably eclipse her own, before there was a knock at the open door. Commander Shelana entered Fitzwiliam’s ready room, stepping over an invisible threshold.


Fitzwiliam spun the small screen around on its base. “What’s wrong with this face?”

Shelana studied the screen, then looked up quizzically.

“I have no idea?”

Her Captain frowned, then laughed as she turned to look at the screen.

"Sorry, wrong picture."

"One of those mornings, Captain?"

"Oh, is it morning? No one tells me, do they? Okay, try again."

Shelana spun the screen around a second time.

"In my judgement . . .the eyes?"

“The eyes.” Fitzwiliam repeated her words in a whisper. Her soft, melodic Glaswegian accent was sometimes marked with silent 'T's. “No pupils. There’s something not quite . . . there, about them.”

The Admiral spun the screen back to face her, taking one last look at its subject. Shelana gave thought to mentioning the numerous species serving throughout Starfleet that had no visible pupils. Instead she offered her Captain the PADD she had brought with her, but paused as she saw her accessing another file.

"Oh Sh'ziyth, sit down please. You're making the place look untidy."

Shelana smiled at the use of her true last name. "I have long range sensor scans and a diplomatic communiqué from the Dostoyestan Government. They're asking when they might have the best of their people back? And Cadman Titus would like to speak to you about his cargo."

There was another knock on the door. Fitzwiliam looked up. "Com - mander. Can I help you?"

"Captain, I hope I am not interrupting?"

"No, no, come in Soput." She sprung up from behind her desk, which her first officer had sat down at moments before.

"I have the final evaluations from the combat simulations." The Vulcan's tone was brisk and formal, which might have brought a lesser woman up short. Fitzwiliam only let the faintest of smiles break across her lips.

"Thank you. You've been at it for hours. I see it in your eyes. You are not quite sure you're on the real bridge this time." She made for behind her desk again, so her First Officer would be invited to hear the conversation as well. Her tone darkened a fraction. "Anything in particular catch your attention?"

"Yes. All shifts are to time and teamwork standards, save for Gamma-three. There is an insufficient number of experienced officers to guide the rest. The response times for attacks become the cause of cascading errors. They are, to use a word from your own countries maritime history . . ."

"Slovenly, perhaps? Below the standard?", the Captain finished with a smile.

The three women were all seated now. As Elizabeth took another sip of tea, she looked out to the star field behind her, and found herself reminded of spring-break study groups on the lawn during her time at the Academy. She had never studied with friends in such informal undirected lessons before. Lessons at St. Said's School for Girls were intensive and rigorous. She smiled. It was nice that she seemed to have found a way to keep the casual and productive atmosphere of her Academy days.

"They have no confidence in one another. Is it not the sort of thing a first assignment should teach them?"

"Starfleet seems to be of the opinion that this is a suitable place for their first posting."
Shelana stood up and moved to the replicator. Fitzwiliam reached over for the PADD holding the communiqué.

"Captain, do we know the strength and heading of the Borg presence?"

Fitzwiliam shook her head.

Shelana replicated the Lieutenant Commander some water before offering; "You don't want to break up the shift-team and destroy whatever bond the group might have formed already. Between them, they probably already know there's a problem. Who's in charge of Gamma-three?"

"Lieutenant Valisiki."

"Oh, the human girl! She was in the briefing. One of your favourites too, Captain."

Soput continued. "My analysis of her performance, and also verified by her record, suggested that she is unwilling to surrender decisions affecting others. There is also a note on her personal record of a past encounter with Borg."

The first officer sat down, then casually loosed the zip to her boot to rub a sore spot above the arch. "Ask yourself this; Is their knowledge of Borg Countermeasures complete? Do they require additional study of Janeway's tactics?"

"Have you ever heard of the Lachesis Manoeuvre?"

Fitzwiliam stood up and looked out the door-length outer window into the Star field beyond as both woman looked up in puzzlement.

"I hadn't until today", she continued. "It's a method employed by Captains of Prometheus Class ships. A . . . novel use of multi-vector assault mode. Maybe our Gamma-three shift . . ."
She stopped when a silhouette caught her eye.

"Sorry, Captain Sir. We're on final approach to Risa."

- - - - - -

Many space faring beings share a common account, each baring the honour to be the first of their race to step out the confines of their warp-speed craft, past the glistening sun kissed atmosphere, to be the first of their home world to reach out and touch the surface of Risa.

Risa was the brilliant sapphire jewel in the crown of the Federation's planned economy. A surface of over eighty percent water, it functioned as the sector's premier resort world with a successful side industry boasting an array of highly sought after agricultural and fishing specialities. Yet for most of its history it had been quite the reverse.

Not since the bronze skin and chiselled features of Arlo Leyven had come seemingly out of the trees from nowhere to explain the virtues of a united global service sector economy - based on promoting the very kind of indulgent and sensual behaviour the Risians found to be a natural part of their existence - has their world ever been quite the same since. An utter stranger to every man, his origins continue to be the subject of the most fanciful and popular gossip in the planet's higher social circles. Though he was a private man and made connections with care, how he rose to such influence is clear; name dropping and promises to lenders on Risa are known to the indigenous as 'Leyven's Art'. There remain a few clues of course; jewellery, featuring what have since been verified as Naussicaan teeth, tattoos peculiar to those that work in the Syndicates.

In a very short time, Leyven succeeded in marshalling all the planet's finest civilian engineering firms, and in conjunction with a select group of outside contractors, committed them to the common pursuit of the planet's centuries long dream; bringing long lasting seismic activity and the destructive flash-floods of the monsoon season to an end. Still, there were conservative elements of the planet's populace who claimed that it violated the sanctity of the forces; the spirits who governed the lands and the winds. They organised underground meetings and left anonymous pamphlets, as a warning to others telling the dangers of dealing with the Foreign Exiled Pirate King, who would strip the tradition from their world to pay back his lenders!

So when at the turn of the twenty fourth century, the land mass due north of what is now named the Leyven Sea became viable for public transport and recreation for the first time, it's inception was greeted to equal parts global celebration and propitiation to an extreme not held on record since. Baskets of foreign goods made their first appearance on the planet as part of the celebration period, then continued as foreign trade was recognised as a way of bringing foreign wealth to the planet.

Central to the steady flow of imports was Leyven himself.

Arlo showed little interest in being hailed as a national hero. Instead of consolidating his financial position, he began calling for prospective Federation archaeologists and seismologists to survey and chart new found subterranean areas. It was what followed after that would come to play the greatest part in securing Risa's place amongst the Federations.

Starting in 2313, Leyven opened the famous Croesus' Palace. Even today, it is considered essential viewing on any landmark itinerary. Quality consumer goods and a way of producing a trade surplus through specialist foodstuffs, as well as quality relaxation and tourism opportunities all served to make Arlo a rich man.

Or at least it should have.

What ultimately became of Mr Leyven is a fact that runs great risk of being more infamous than the culmination of all his other recorded activities. The body of Arlo Leyven was discovered at oh-three-hundred hours local time, on floor of his private study at his multi-storey penthouse suite, discovered by a Risian parlour maid under his personal employment. He was due to take a meal of local tea and sticky sweet dates whenever working late. It was quite routine for him to be working on business matters until early in the morning. All doors were locked from the inside, as was his usual instructions. Security reported no intruders in the penthouse or around the local area. He was described as having received a single major disruptor wound to his body. There was no signs of forced entry or a struggle of any kind, but his private safe was found empty. A lack of a proper investigation has led to generations since proposing the conspiracy of an Orion transporter trace present. His body lay in state at Croesus's Palace for four days, before it itself was stolen.

Some interesting memories here.

Lizzy was handed a report PADD as a Japanese man old enough to be Valisiki's father spoke from behind the tactical station that sat at the crest of the Bridge's horseshoe feature.

"Commander, something strange. There appears to be a Presidential quarantine zone around the planet. Matching codes to our database. Sir, we are being hailed."

"Federation Starship U.S.S. Solzhenitsyn, this is Captain Sundaresh of the U.S.S. Ra-ghoratreii. You have entered a Presidential Quarantine Zone, and on the authority of the Office of the President of the United Federation of Planets, I order you to keep shields down, and disengage your engines and thrusters. Welcome to Risa, and standby for further instructions.”
The communication ended abruptly and was audio only.

"Standing by on this channel, Ra-ghoratreii."

Fitzwiliam turned to raise her eyebrow's while the officer at Tactical checked the authenticity of the other ship's transponder signal.


"Open channel."

"Channel open."

"Ra-ghoratreii, I have urgent business in this sector that cannot be delayed. My orders are to contact Admiral Rig of the U.S.S. Moogie's Revenge." She felt ridiculous having to use the ship's name over open Comms.

"Solzhenitsyn, switch to channel alpha-slash-risa-seven-zero-zero on my mark - mark."

"Channel closed, Captain."

Oh for goodness sake.

"Ready?", she asked the bridge.

"Captain, we are being scanned."

There was a long period of ambience. Then receiving a nod she raised her head to the ceiling, for lack of any available avatar, and resumed.

"Are you aware of the Admiral's present location?"

No reply. She drew her forefinger across her throat, symbolic of her rapidly decreasing patience with her thus far faceless interlocutor.

When he ultimately replied, it was with a notable difference in his darker tambour and self assurance.

"Stand by to receive coordinates for the planet below. Ra-ghoratreii out."

Fitzwiliam was already mentally plotting the pathway to her quarters to change into something for the warmer weather below when the transmission ended. It was her First officer who spoke.

"Shelana to transporter room three. . ."

"No", she said, "I'll take a shuttle. Lets give some nose-picking flight controller down there something to do. Meet me in shuttle bay two in ten minutes. Soput, bring Anderson, Gilroy and Valisiki." She tapped her breast and resumed, "Fitzwiliam to Lieutenant Gix. Join me in my quarters now. Toll, the bridge is yours."

Having seemingly run out of proper-names, the Captain left the bridge and arrived at her quarters after Gix. She found the Ferengi quartermaster waiting in front of her cabin door in his fatigues. Her discussion about the planet below; their requisitions, about the need for on-shore supplies, where the finest fresh fish traders were to be found, the richest local delicacies obtained and the need to restock commodities after the Dostoydian system would have surely made the late Leyven glow with pride if he weren't already a permanent part of it. She barely had time to grab her away mission jacket and moisturise her skin to brace for the unforgiving heat, change into a regulation black skirt - bringing with her a green party dress to have it repaired planet-side - before making her way to the shuttle bay.

She was further distracted by seeing the now rescheduled children's birthday make it's way out of the Holo-deck to chat with the ship's Children's entertainer after a successful 'bear-hunt'. All told, it was a total of fifteen minutes before the shuttle Badlidreampt left the ship.

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