Author: Lt Durek
Title: A Matter of Time #33 > A Christmas Story

== Science Lab, USS Swiftsure ==

Only a few science technicians were in the science department when Lt. Durek entered. He needed to check in on the department and how things were going with the passengers from the SS Empress of Dawn. He stepped over to a monitor on the wall and tapped the controls to display the current reports for the day. He would normally do this in his office, but it was always good for the boss to be seen. It only took a surprisingly short time to read up on the report and he found things were going well, especially since many of the passengers were returning to the cruise liner. He closed the report and was turning to leave when one of the young Human ensigns spoke up.

"Good day, sir. Happy Holidays."

The comment made Durek pull up short before getting to the door.

"Happyá holidays? Is that why there are so few on this shift?" Durek asked.

"I don't think so, sir. I believe they all were following their duty shifts," the ensign replied.

"Okay, but what holidays are you speaking of, Ensign Vobelt?" Durek asked.

"It is a human holiday, sir. It is Christmas and soon New Years," Ensign Vobelt answered.

"I'm familiar with Hew-mons penchant for celebrating the end of the year, but I'm not familiar with this Christmas holiday you speak of."

Ensign Volbelt thought for a minute how to explain it.

"Are you familiar with a human religion called Christianity, sir" Vobelt asked. "Christmas has to do with the birth of its founder." Vobelt did not want to get too much into detail about it.

"Ah, so the holiday is to honor the founder," Durek replied. He understood that because many cultures , if not all, honored either founding members or important members of it. "So that would mean it is was the birth of Kris Kringle," Durek said confidently recalling the name from his time on Earth.

Ensign Vobelt looked a little puzzled at his Chief Science Officer's statement.

"No, sir. The founder's name was Jesus," Vobelt stated to correct Durek. "Kris Kringle is someone else."

"Another one of the founders?" Durek asked.

" sir. Kris Kringle, commonly known as Santa Claus, is the name of a mythical character that was supposed to have given gifts to young children during this time of year," Vobelt tried to clarify, but he had a feeling he was getting into a sticky wicket.

"So the holiday is about the birth of the founder of a religion and from this comes a mythical character that gave gifts to the young," Durek reiterated. "Why does this mythical character give things to the young?"

"I think it's because the founder received gifts when he was born." Vobelt replied.

"And so, this mythical character is supposed to be reenacting the gift giving?" Durek asked, his interest peaked a little.

Vobelt thought he might be home free now.

"Yes, sir. I think so."

"So, this Kris Kringle or Santa Claus, would give a gift to one of the young in a town or village?" Durek asked thinking he had it straight. Vobelts expression showed it wasn't.

`No, sir. He was said to have given all the children of the children gifts." Vobelt replied.

"You mean all of the children in a town?" Durek asked surprised.

Vobelt cleared his thoat slightly as he knew the next answer was only going to confuse things.

"All of the children in the world,"

"What?!" Durek asked. "You mean, he was supposed to have given gifts to children around the Earth even if they weren't of the same religion?"

"Sir, I think if we pull up the files on this, it may explain it better," Vobelt said hoping to get out of a jam.

"It is your holiday, correct?" Durek asked.

"Well yes, sort of sir. I do know that it is celebrated at this time of year, but I do not carry out all of the traditions around it." Vobelt said somewhat embarrassed.

"Well, I'm curious now about this mythical character. How was he supposed to have given all the young in the world gifts?"

"Well, sir," Vobelt started then hesitated. "He did it by flying around the world and stopping at all the children's houses and leaving presents."

"Did he have wings to fly?" Durek asked.

"No, sir. He had a sleigh pulled by magic reindeer that flew. Mind you, sir, this is all about a mythical character."

"Yes, but all myths have roots in truth," Durek stated. "He must have spent all year shopping and flying to supply all these gifts."

"Actually, sir, he was supposed to make the trip in one night. And the gifts were made by Elves at his workshop," Vobelt added, wishing the conversation would end soon.

Durek's expression showed almost disbelief.

"You mean to tell me that this holiday is based on the birth of the founder of a religion and this somehow spurred a myth about a man that had Elves make gifts so he could fly around the planet in one night using magical reindeer and give them away to the young? Doesn't sound too profitable to me. He wouldn't have been a Ferengi myth." Durek stated summing up the information from Ensign Vobelt.

"Well I wouldn't put it exactly like that, sir. I think our files on Human cultures would have a better explanation of this." Vobelt said trying to deflect any criticism of his explanation. "I can pull it up if you want, sir."

"No, that's alright. But, I would like you to put together a better summary of this holiday and send it to my office in two days," Durek said to Vobelt. "But for now, good day and Happy Holidays to you," Durek added on the greeting that Vobelt had used first. He turned and started out the door.

"Happy Holidays to you, sir," Vobelt said slightly dejected.


Lt. Durek
USS Swiftsure


Author: Lt Cdr Ethan Spencer
Title: Shoreleave #10 > Intelligence > Part 3
= USS Silence, Romulan Space ==
The Romulan ships were closing in, their anti-cloaking detection grid was getting smaller, and each second that passed brought the crew of four closer to the fate of every mortal being. Ethan sat in the cockpit looking tired and drained. He'd just finished the modifcations to the deflector to emit a one off pulse that could slip them through the net undetected.
He hadn't slept in so long he couldn't remember what rest felt like. He couldn't really concentrate on anything anymore and everything was done on autopilot, Ethan's years of training and experience carrying him through.
In the dark cockpit, William sat in the chair next to him. He looked scared at the viewscreen which showed a Warbird closing in on them. The marines were powerless and simply sat in the back rubbing their chins probably just hoping their commanding officer could get them out of this one.
"What do you think happens when you die, sir?" William whispered in the darkness.
"We're not going to die crewman," Ethan replied trying to give some confidence to the young boy. The boy looked at him knowingly, after a long pause Ethan finally gave a real answer.
"I don't know what I believe. I'm not a religious man. I've always been a scientist and science tells us we just turn to dust..." Ethan said with a heavy heart, William seemed to sink in his chair.
"...but... there are some things science can't explain. When we die, if everything we are just vanishes... well that seems a terrible waste to me and somehow I can't believe that either," Ethan said with a little smile, William's bright spark almost returned for just that moment.
"If we do get out of this, I want to become a scientist, not a fighter... I don't really want to live this life," William said to Ethan, reminding Spencer that the boy should not have been out here. The console suddenly beeped.
"This is it, the pulse is charged. All hands, now is the time," Ethan said setting a course inbetween two lighter Romulan vessels. Just as the cloaked runabout crossed the line between them, it fired a pulse of W+ bosons, sufficient to break the net but not too strong to be detected. The runabout flew through without the cloak failing and William yelled in joy. They'd done it, they'd slipped past an army. A console beeped urgently just as Ethan almost thought about relaxing.
"We've been detected! Someone onboard is transmitting a message to the Romulan fleet!" Ethan said looking up from his console and back into the cabin where the two marines were. They'd betrayed him.
William and Ethan grabbed their phasers and Ethan ran into the back and opened the hatch door. As the door slid open two marines stood there waiting, no expressions of joy or hate, anger or smugness, just waiting for the inevitable battle. They were not scared and were not really concerned. A operations officer and an 18 year-old kid stood no chance against two trained marines. Ethan tried to fire but he soon realised there was some kind of dampening field erected, which was confirmed by the motions of both marines withdrawing long combat knives. William's breathing suddenly picked up and became almost wheezing as the fear struck him.
The runabout rocked from some phaser fire and Ethan darted forward towards the two armed marines without any kind of game plan. If his mind had not been so tired he would have thought through how stupid what he was doing was. But Ethan's rage and fatigue pushed him over the edge.
O'Leary lunged at Spencer who reached down with his right hand and gripped the marine's knife hand. The other hand swung round to punch the marine round the face, but O'Leary predicted as much as caught the punch in his hand. The two pitted their strength against one another as the runabout shook and sparks skittered across the deck inbetween flashing lights.
In a daring and unforgettable act of courage, William ran to a computer console and terminated the message being sent. The runabout slipped back into cloak and away from Romulan weapons. He tapped in an encryption key, knowing full well he didn't have time to do so. It was at this moment he felt a cold blade slip through his back and appear out of his chest. He looked down with a tear rolling down his cheek.
Ethan watched in horror as Sergeant Banther murdered the young crewman with his knife. Ethan screamed out and in a surge of power overwhelmed O'Leary and headbutted him before stealing the knife and within the same second slitting his throat. Before O'Leary fell to the ground Ethan charged at Banther who turned ready for more. Drawing on his expert knife skills, the marine threw the long knife at Ethan who raised an arm in an reflex motion. The blade spun through the air and hit Ethan's arm through sheer luck on Spencer's part.
Ethan cried out in pain and the marine took advantage of the distraction to finish off his commanding officer. Ethan stuck out his hand holding the knife and the marine gasped as he felt in his chest. Then came silence.
Ethan drew the knife from his arm in a truly painful motion and then stumbled over to William's body. The boy lay on the deck plating, gasping for air in high pitch cries for oxygen.
"I don't want to die! Please, please..." the boy weeped feeling his life slip away. Ethan looked down at the wound helpless, he was no medic and hence there was no way the boy would survive more than a few more minutes.
"I'm so sorry..." Ethan said as tears rolled down his cheek, his arms holding William's broken form.
"Oh god, I don't want to die...I want to be home... I just want to be at home again..." the boy cried out in the most heartbreaking moment of Ethan's life. This boy should be at home but now he was on a runabout dying in Romulan space from a stab wound caused by traitors, worst of all there was nothing Ethan could do except stay by his side as the light forever slipped away from William's eyes.
Lt. Commander Ethan Spencer
Chief of Operations
USS Swiftsure

OCTOBER 2006 >> POTM #1

Author: MCapt Charles Moss
Title: Debacle #86 > Looking for love in all the wrong places

== Southern Hemisphere; Horma II ==
++ 3hours and 18 minutes after post #84 ++

Moss scanned his heads up display on his helmet visor and noted that the bulk of his company were almost in position. He'd had them beamed between the last known position of the "Birdie's" and the search and rescue team, and spread the 3 platoons in an improvised picket line stretching nearly across the island. The 4th platoon of his company
held in reserve in Cargo bay 8, as a reaction force waiting to be beamed, in force, by the cargo transporter.

"Thyme, get your men moving. We're waiting on you!" Moss barked over the unit push, "Sure would've been nice if they could've put us down in position, Iron Molecules in the air. man, if I had a nickel for that one. they just want us to have to hump in this swamp." He muttered to himself, "Christ we've wasted over 3 hours just getting in position."

=/\= Almost there Skipper, this shit is deep in spots.=/\= Jeremy's answered over the Comm, his voice clipped in spots by the frequency modulating to adapt to the environment.

Moss looked left and felt he could make out the outline of the Marine about 15 meters away, glancing to his right and staring at the jungle until finally Sgt. Hatch noticed him looking and slowly waved until
Charley nodded in return.

== 2 Kilometers East ==

Tim Hudson knelt next to a broken tree, hoping it would help break up his outline, and watched intently to his front.

Moving slowly and as quietly as possible, Brianna moved up behind Tim and whispered, "Anything yet?"

"JESU." Tim jumped at the soft voice over his shoulder, "Bri, don't do that!" he whispered, never taking his eyes off the foliage to his front.

"Sorry, I'm gonna hang here for awhile." She said, almost keeping the laughter out of her voice.

== 30 meters to the West ==

Lcpl. Davies cocked his head to the left, thinking that those leaves had no reason to move, turning up the zoom on his visor, he strained to see anything amiss. Nothing stirred, yet the lower edge blurred. As Davies flipped up his visor to look with his Mk-1 eyeball, the blur rose and lurched toward him.

== Hudson's Position ==

In unison Tim & Brianna both looked left at the scream half heard over the platoon push and ambiently.á "What the fu." Tim was interrupted.

=/\= What the? Holy sh*t! Booster! Highest! All hands Infra-red! They're Cold! I say again they're Cold!=/\= Czarnowski's voice was almost covered by the Phaser discharges in the background.

Tim slapped his helmet control to switch to infra-red imaging, as he popped up to move to Flashes aid. He immediately changed his mind and dropped to a knee and began rapid firing at the multiple greenish blue
forms showing on his visor.á

"3rd Squad, No Joke! Infra-red NOW! And start knockin'em down!" he yelled on the Platoon push, feeling the prickle of Phaser splatter on the exposed portions of his neck and wrist, as Brianna was rapid firing so close to him. Thinking that those spots'll hurt like hell in the morning, if he lived through this. He began to edge to the side to clear a lane for Bri's fire, and to clear himself from her splatter.

== Moss's Position ==

Seeing a uniformly orangish red pattern in front, Charley looked to the east and fired three rapid shots dropping the cold spot that was behind Hatch. From the volume of fire, and the traffic on the Platoon channels he realized that he'd only get wiped out if they held here. "All Raider units! Drop back by fire teams! Let's have an orderly withdraw! Keep hurtin'em on the way! Six out!" Moss shook his head, "Swiftsure! Raider six! You need to move those people along we're getting pushed hard!"

== Bridge; USS Swiftsure ==

Paula jumped on her feet as the message came through. "Swiftsure to Moss, how long can you hold your position?"

=/\= I give it 30 to 40 minutes! Unless we get killed first! The Birdies got some sorta personal cloaking devices! They show up cold on Infra-Red!=/\=

"Is there ANY way you can tag them for the shuttles to fire?" Paula moved to the Tact station to consider the situation over Nelson's shoulder.

=/\= Yes Dear, I'll let the Tazmanian Redhead know where to shoot. =/\= Moss's voice came over the Comm dryly.

"Then I'll make sure we bring your backside up here for me to kick, Major" Paula shot back, forgetting her new functions for a moment. "I put you down there so we could get survivors back, Give them as much
time as you can."

=/\= Woo Hoo! The Skipper's gonna kick my @ss! You just gotta buy me dinner first Commander. We'll hold'em, as long as we can. Now if you don't mind Ma'am, I gotta talk to my air cover, Raider six out.=/\= Moss's voice sounded forced as if he were running.

== Hudson's Position ==

=/\= Third Herd, Bravo's fall back 50 meters, sing out when yer set. Three Six out! =/\= Lt. Thyme ordered on the Comm.

Tim sent another of his feathered friends to the big gilded cage in the sky with a couple shots before turning to drop back when O'Donoghue pulled on his vest.

"Davies Ain't movin! Cover me!" Brianna yelled as she cut to the left.

"Shit!" Tim turned to follow her, "Raider three three, out on a pickup with Doc.O," he called on the platoon channel. He caught up to the Diminutive Corpsman, as she dropped to the ground next to the filleted Marine, Tim fired off a couple rounds over her head and smiled at the screech that followed.

"Oh Geez. Oh Geez." Brianna groaned as she knelt over the Marine and tried to figure out where to start. She pushed her fingers into his left Chest and pinched what she hoped was the sub-clavian artery as she dug in her pack with her other hand to find an autosuture.

"Bri! Down!"

Brianna dropped prone without releasing the artery, and waited for Hudson's Phaser to bark again.

=/\= Bri, don't move, play dead, they're rolling right over us. =/\= Tim's muffled voice came over the push.

"Oh sh*t, oh sh*t, oh sh*t," she muttered to herself, and tried to lay as still as possible, "if I don't get his bleeding stopped soon he's gonna die."

=/\= If you move even an inch we'll all die. As much as I liked Rocky, we ain't gonna die for him. Don't even think about it. =/\= The menace in Hudson's voice overpowered Brianna's fear of the Birdmen, to the point that she didn't even peep at the powerful blow to her ribs.

Tim lying a few feet away watching the "cold spots" pass over them, heard the baseball bat into a watermelon sound of an impact and felt the gust of air caused as the Vanderian Warrior landing in front of him with a squeak. Without thinking he leaped onto it, grabbed the birdies beak and drove his ka-bar deep into its chest, hoping that
it's heart would be in the right place. The exquisite pain of the warriors claws scrabbling at his back, strengthened his resolve to not lose this fight. Squeezing the beak closed and searching with his blade in the Vanderians chest, Tim realized he was looking straight into his enemies eyes. Seeing first the rage, then terror, and pain in, the eyes that would eventually haunt his dreams, Tim felt a minor relief when they became dull and lifeless. Glancing over at Brianna Tim nodded and watched as the rest of the Warriors passed.

== Moss's Position ==

"Raider 6 to my little red tailed hawk, how are you reading me?" Charlie puffed as he ran.

=/\= Rai'er 6 thi' I' eagle fligh' go ahea' =/\=

Thinking that O'bannon sounded a little testy, "Aye, tha' pushi' us." he started in a horrible imitation of her brogue, "If you could lay some fire along the south bank of the blue line and angled up to hill number. oh I don't remember, the really big one, we'd be mighty obliged."

=/\= Ri'=/\= was the only response he got, till all hell started breaking loose behind him.


Capt. C.P.Moss SFMC
Company Commander
Echo Co. 3rd Bn. 6th Marines, Detached
USS Swiftsure

With a guest appearance by

Cdr Paula Chapman
Acting CO
USS Swiftsure

"We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then question the manner in which I provide it. I prefer you said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand to post. Either way, I don't give a
damn what you think you are entitled to!"

Col. Nathan Jessup

OCTOBER 2006 >> POTM #2

Author: Lt Cdr Peter Jansen
Title: Debacle #93

<< Horma II >>
== Following Paulsen's post ==
[Beta Team]

Leaving the Texas' massive wreckage behind, Tigert, Devar and Jansen - or `beta team' as they were so affectionately designated - were moving west. Even on the isolated island, moving west was a pretty generic term, as the ground they could, and possibly had to cover was vast.

The thick mud, dense bushes and humidity didn't make their trek any easier than it already was.

Looking to each side, Peter studied the faces of Senior Chief Tigert and Chief Devar. Both had strained expressions, constantly moving their eyes to every possible side, ever on the ready for a possible threat. That was their security training kicking in. Peter was content with keeping an eye on the tricorder.

He was on the lookout as well. Not so much to detect a possible threat; he wasn't na´ve enough to think there wasn't going to be any, but he realized both Tigert and Devar were professional enough to deal with that when it happened. After all, it was their expertise. But the uncharted and unexplored surroundings offered a unique opportunity for someone in his line of work. Imagine the discoveries to be made here.

Then again, he was already stacked with finishing his dissertation, which had officially been labelled a `long-term project' right now. Plus, there was the fact that they weren't on some kind of nature walk, here. They were trying to find survivors, survivors of a terrible and ghastly battle which probably meant the start of an equally terrible new war. Something told him that was perhaps a tad more important then discovering a new type of lizard and getting to
name it.

"Anything on the tricorder, Commander?" Tigert asked. He spoke calmly, to the point. He didn't whisper but he didn't raise his voice either. Smooth, professional. Or simply preoccupied. Peter didn't know, but he guessed the former.

"Nothing," he said with a shake of his head, still gazing down on the device's screen. "Some avian life forms, some smaller animals, probably rodent-like but no humanoid life forms."

Tigert nodded. "Understood."

"I do hope the other teams have more luck than we do," Peter offered.

"Don't be so easily disappointed, Commander," Devar replied. "There is still a lot of ground ahead of us."

Which was exactly Peter's point. If the Texas crew had ventured out into the jungle, they probably wouldn't have done so immediately after the crash. After an assessment of the situation, they might have ventured into the vast jungle, but even so, with the possibility of casualties - which was very likely, despite the favourable odds of surviving a crash-landing - they couldn't have moved fast. Not in this kind of terrain anyway. Plus, heading deeper into the jungle would make things more dangerous, less certain, taking them away from a perfectly good shelter, that the Texas' saucer section provided.

He wasn't aware of their motives so he wasn't going to debate on them, but he did wonder why they would have ventured so deep into unknown territory - if they had, of course. Certainly, judging the terrain, there was a reasonable amount of food and water to be found, and they would probably have some emergency rations with them, but those would only last so long and they still had to discern what they could and could not consume in this jungle.

"There's some unstable terrain coming up," Tigert said. As Peter looked up, he saw the security NCO motioning towards a largely flooded area, about two hundred meters ahead of them.

"If must really rain like crazy here," Peter offered. Perhaps they had arrived in this area's monsoon season. swell.

"We could move around it if crossing it seems too much of a challenge," Devar said with a snide.

She obviously had never been deep into the preserve on Fandre, Peter thought, remembering one of his many tracks into hazardous terrain. As he thought about it, the Fandrean jungle wasn't that much different from this area. although he hadn't experienced a monsoon there.

"I'll be fine," he said, stacking his tricorder back into a small pouch. Some large rocks, broken tree logs and branches were scurried around throughout the body of water.

"Perhaps we can simply wade through it?" Tigert suggested.

"I wouldn't do that," Peter replied. "I scanned it a moment ago. It's about three meters deep. The water's filled with all kind of plant residue. It wouldn't be impossible to get our feet tangled into some of that. wouldn't be pleasant."

In time, provided nature would take its course and there was a good chance this would end up as a swamp.

"Very well. We'll have to make do with what we have," Tigert said. "I'll go first, then you, Commander and Chief Devar will cover our rear."

Peter thought about a lively, amusing remark about covering Devar's rear, but this was neither the time nor place to try to be funny. Not to mention the fact that Devar seemed very much capable of shattering and shredding several crucial bones and ligaments in his body.

Tigert stepped onto one of the large logs, holding his arms wide for balance. After passing the log, he jumped on one of the rocks, after making sure it was stable. Without too much effort, he made it across.

"You're next, Commander."

Peter inclined his head, mentally thanking him for the oh so pleasant reminder. Following Tigert's example, he planted his right foot onto the log, slowly following with his left. He too held his arms wide for balance as he crossed the log. He jumped on to the same boulder Tigert had used, albeit with a bit more effort. He waved his arms around, trying to keep his balance as he jumped from boulder to boulder. With hands and feet - probably a bit too much hands - he crossed the body of mucky water and ended up next to Tigert on the other side.

Without a word, Devar moved up to the edge and stepped onto the log.

"Need a hand, Chief?" Peter said with a sly grin.

Sparing him a single look, Devar refocused on her task at hand. Moving fast, she crossed the log, hopped onto the set of boulders. Using another log, she leapt from its end onto the ground.

"No, thank you, Commander," she said matter-of-factly as she stood next to the other two group members. "I'll be fine."

As she and Tigert passed him, resuming their defensive postures, Peter flipped out his tricorder. As he started scanning the area again, he shook his head.

"So I've noticed," he muttered softly.


Lt.Cmdr. Peter Jansen
USS Swiftsure

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