December 2007

Authors: Ens. Johnson, Ens. Okawa, Lt Cdr Paulsen & Capt. Chapman
Title: Shoreleave #47 "Sinterklaas" pt2
ON:
=== Swiftsure, O'Malley Tavern ===
<< Following #21 Sinterklaas pt 1 >>

It wasn’t the strange get up that originally attracted Miho’s attention. The security officer was more put off by a site to site transport done aboard the ship. Hopefully this crewmember had cleared it with Ops or a senior officer first.

Watching as the strangely dressed man took a seat, Miho carefully approached him. She wondered if she should call for assistance, but then remembered she was off-duty. So she continued to walk towards the man, undeterred by his unusual attire.

“ Excuse me.” Said Miho, politely, keeping her voice low, “Ensign Okawa, security. Was your site to site transport approved by a senior officer? Or were you just showing off for the crowd!”

"Hahaha." said Martin hiding his mistake. He knew he forgot something, but on the other hand, if he cleared it with a senior the suprise was lost. He hope he could get away with it...this time.

"The last would be the case, my child" Martin said with a low voice.

As he spoke, Miho looked the man up and down. There was something familiar about his outfit, but the young Asian woman couldn’t quite place it. Maybe he was one of the ship’s motley acting company preparing for a play.

"So. Ensign Okawa Security" he said, playing dumb, "come here and sit on my knee. Have you ever heard about Sinterklaas? And more importantly, Have you been a good girl this year?"

"As a matter of fact, I have been very good this year." replied Miho, smiling despite herself, "But I've not heard of Sinter...klaas! And there's no way I'm going to sit on your knee!"

Miho giggled at the young man in his strange outfit. If she could only remember who it was, she might have been more comfortable. But he seemed harmless enough, no need to alert security about the minor transporter activity.

"So, Sinterklaas huh?" said Miho, "what do you do the rest of the year?"

Sinterklaas looked at her, smiling.

"I see you have not heard of me before, Ensign Miho Okawa Security" he started, keeping to his name joke, "My name is Sinterklaas. I am a bishop from Spain, renowned for my generosity. Once a year, on my birthday, I celebrate with every child -or the young of mind-, by giving them candy and presents. Children await my arrival for weeks. Then finally, all those happy faces when I arrive by steamboat, the joyfull singing... I love them all. My helpers are called Zwarte Piet, or "Black Pete" and are on the looked for the children who are naughty, deliver presents through chimney's and make sure I get the wish lists over every child. So what do I do the rest of the year? I make sure all my Zwarte Pieten keep wrapping presents for the next year, train in walking on roofs and take care of my trusty horse. You might mistake me for Santa Claus, but Ican assure you we are not the same... but with the same intentions..."

Miho smiled, Santa Claus she had heard of.

"Ah, well Mister Sinterklaas, I shall allow you to go back to your duties." said Miho, "I wouldn't want all the good boys and girls of the ship to miss out on your gift giving spirit."

"Which reminds me" he said as he looked in his book, with a puzzled expression, "I saw a heavy gift in my bag with your name on it..."

He opened his bag and took out a fairy heavy package and handed it to her.

"Sinterklaas has no idea if you have this, but I hope you put it to good use".

Miho quickly unwrapped the gift and found an old style leather bound book containing a dress makers guide to oriental gowns.

"You like it? It was the only book I could find showing details of ancient Chinese and Japanese gown making."

"I love it, thank you." said Miho hugging the book to her chest, "How can I repay you?"

He smiled "Stay nice the coming year!"

During this conversation, Paulsen entered the bar looking for Peter Jansen. Not that they had a fixed plan to meet, but they often did around this time and place. His eyes went around then just went round.

"Good...." he started and took a few long strides to the table where someone was sitting wearing a costume he knew very well. Peering into Martin Johnson's face, he recognized the man and his face broke into a huge grin. Others had noticed the curious apparition too and he waited a few minutes until he could speak to him.

"I really didn't think I would see this again before ages."

Martin looked at the good doctor staring at him and smiled under his heavy beard.

"Welcome Martin." he spoke, "Sinterklaas had heard something about you this year. Come here."

"Only good things I'm sure," Martin said with a wide grin.

"My Zwarte Pieten have noticed you like...flowers...a lot. Isn't that right?" Sinterklaas said, browsing in his book.

"Nature is plentiful, wouldn't it be a shame not to appreciate her gifts," Martin retorted, wondering where this would lead. "I certainly do."

"I like nature very much too. I remember back in the old days that I had to drop presents for the children down in smokey and filthy chimneys. We still do that sometimes, for old times sake...But more often then not, my Zwarte Pieten transport the presents in the hallways of the houses".

"But you like flowers so much you go around the ships welcoming crewmates with them?" he smiled, looking at the good Doc's expression. "Or is that favour only true for some special crewmates?"

Paulsen laughed openly, putting his hands up. "They don't always reach the intended recipient. But what does it matter if it can bring someone a smile. Do I get a poem for my pains?" he winked. Pakjesavond, presents evening, had been part and parcel of his childhood. It was an unexpected surprise to see a reminder on the ship.

"Ah" said Sinterklaas, "I see we have an expert here."

He thought for a moment and started a poem.

"Martin, you welcome new crewmates on the ship,
for a experience of a lifetime, a long exciting trip.
Giving everyone on the ship the best of your care,
perhaps even some advice what to wear.
You must realise this rhyme is made up this second,
but it was the spirits of Sinterklaas that beckoned.
Your present is a fragile on one side, but strong on the other,
THis poem is at it's end....uhm....so why bother."

He finished this poem, took a look in the bag he transported and gave Martin a long round gift.

"I say" Paulsen uttered, impressed. "Thank you so much."

He actually felt a little excited as he turned the package in his hands and finally went to unwrap it with long careful fingers.

As Martin unwrapped his gift, Johnson looked at his reaction when he found out it was a vase.

"Ha! I'm sure you can collect the flowers you get from new crewmembers in there."

Paulsen laughed good-humouredly. Joke aside, the vase was actually pretty nice. Probably just the touch he needed for some future candlelight dinners... With an impish smile, he tucked the vase under one arm and bowed slightly, bringing a hand to his heart.

"Thank you for bringing the joy of Sinterklaas all the way to Perseus."

More were waiting and he left with a smile on his face, tapping his commbadge to alert Peter Jansen, probably still studying up close some rare variety of... something.

Sinterklaas looked around to see if other crewmembers were watching him. He had a few special gifts he needed to deliver to Lt. Rann and the captain, so if nobody was around, he could perhaps catch them before they got off the ship.

Paula meant to skip directly to the upper level of the tavern once she noticed the attendance, but the small crowd that had formed down there somehow delivered her within sight of the curious apparition.

"Ah" said Sinterklaas as he noticed the captain walking by. He waved at her..."Cap...Paula, come over here a moment. Sinterklaas has got something he wishes to give you. I heard something very exciting about you, child. Come here!"

This was O'Malley's and the man was obviously playing a Christmas related act. Paula relaxed and took a few steps closer, hiding her amusement. The crowd that has gathered made some room for her, watching with a sense of anticipation.

He looked at her, doubting somewhat about how to address her. The gift he had prepared for her was something special...at least to him. The Captain was possible the only one on the entire ship that could know about the value of the gift he had for her. But it was the right thing to do.

He stared at her for a moment and started...

"Well well Paula...Haven't you been a nice girl this year. Sinterklaas heard all the stories, read all the reports and saw all the things you did... You make an old man proud. And to top it....I heard... you have a wedding on your hands?!"

"Arriving on me faster than a tsunami" Paula answered with a minimal bow of her head. Her answer was gratified by a series of chuckles as it got repeated around.

"I have a special gift for you Paula..."

He took the other bag and got out a small, flat present, in golden gift wrapping. It has a large silver ribbon around it with the initials P.C. on it.

"I..."

He was momentarily at a loss for words but tried to regain himself.

"You know that Sinterklaas is a man of traditions, just like his good friend Santa. But I also know there is a tradition when people get married. I know of the rhyme, "Something old, Something new, Something borrowed and Something blue. So...I want you to have this..."

He gave Paula the package and watched as she opened it.

"...it was from somebody I knew very well. " he said.

"I really don't know..." Paula murmured, aware of people watching them but also of something in the man's eyes.

It was a look she had seen all too often. And she had seen these eyes on the Bridge not long ago. There were 800 crewmembers on the Swiftsure but she always made a point to look at the files of the newest arrivals. His was still fresh enough in her memory that she could make a guess. She took a quick breath and her captainish smile was replaced by something warmer and more gentle.

"This will do perfectly. Thank you, Sinterklaas."

"Consider it as 'something new' or 'something borrowed'...I'm sure she wanted you to wear it on your wedding" he said putting up a fake smile.

Paula nodded and put the ribbon back into the box. It was large enough for a bow and made of pure white silk, with a delicately embroidered motive. She had been toying with a few ideas of what a woman can get away with while getting married in a dress uniform. This would do perfectly and more than that, she would make a point of wearing it for the wedding ceremony.

He cleared his throat as he stood up, without awaiting a reply from Paula.

"I need to go on. Many more children wait around warm fires for me...singing, cheering...Until next year! Stay nice! Or Zwarte Piet will have to take you with us to Spain!"

He walked out of the tavern and headed for his own quarters, forgetting completely about his present for Rella.



Ens. Martin Johnson
CONN
&
Ensign Miho Okawa
Security Officer
&
Lt Cdr. Martin Paulsen
Chief Medical Officer
&
Capt. Paula Chapman
CO
USS Swiftsure



November 2007

Authors: Lt JG T'Lailara & Ens. McCloud
Title: Nova #90 "Anti Theft Devices, New and Old!"
On

== Belina IV, Ruins===Outside the sealed room=

T'Lailara regarded her tricorder with interest while the young doctor studied the touch display panel. Already the Vulcan science officer had downloaded the symbols displayed on the panel and was trying to tie into the Swiftsure's library computer to see if she could discover some similar form of these words.

"Ligor," said the Vulcan, turning to the Ktan leader while she continued to work as quickly as possible, "Are there now any air circulating devices for this structure?"

"None that we found." said the felinoid, regarding the two pointy eared humanoids with curiosity of his own.

"Odd." said T'Lailara, as she finally managed to gain access to the computer, "If there was a functional computer system, it would stand to reason that it would require some sort of air circulation to keep down overheating while it worked on its processes. Even a starships main computer requires air to move around it."

"Maybe what ever is in there isn't a computer as we know it, ma`am" said Cevik, looking up from the display, "Perhaps it's some sort of bio-neural interface. Or maybe a box full of old papyrus scrolls."

"That is highly unlikely doctor." said T'Lailara, "A highly advanced civilization would not use papyrus."

"I was just thinking outside the box." replied Cevik, pulling out his own tricorder and beginning to scan the structure, "Maybe it's empty, I don't get any readings beyond the wall, ma`am"

"That is to be expected Doctor." said T'Lailara, "Neutronium is one of the densest alloys know in the universe. It also has the effect of neutralizing some forms of beams and wave lengths, such as those emitted by a handheld sensor unit, such as a tricorder."

"I see my services are not required here." said Cevik hotly, sliding his tricorder back into his belt and starting to turn, "I'm sure I can find someone that needs my help. Ma`am!"

"On the contrary doctor, your presence would be most appreciated here." said T'Lailara, looking up from her tricorder readings, "For I believe we may have need of you momentarily."

Cevik stopped in his tracks and looked back at the science officer. Ligor too, looked inquiringly at the strange humanoid that sounded much like the computer on his ship. Cevik quickly stepped back to T'Lailara's side and looked at the readings she was getting on the tricorder.

"What? What is it? What have you discovered?" asked the eager Ktan leader, stepping to T'Lailara's other side.

"The explanation you gave of the locking mechanism was basically right, but inaccurate in one respect." said T'Lailara, "The codes do vary, but in a logical and repeating manor. Two symbols ask a question and a thirds answers it, but they are both one single pattern."

Stepping up to the touch screen, T'Lailara waited patiently for the proper sequence to appear.

"What are you waiting for?" asked Cevik nervously, hearing a crashing noise in the distance.

"I need to locate the beginning of the sequence and then enter the code in the correct order." said T'Lailara, "Otherwise we may destroy the lock and never open the door."

"So you've translated the language?" asked Ligor, shocked, "That fast!"

"No, I have not translated the language." said T'Lailara, still concentrating on the panel in front of her, "I have broken the code in a rough manner. Through logical processes I have determined the order in which the codes appear and I am about to test the theory."

"So.you're playing a hunch?" asked Cevik in bewilderment.

"No, Ensign." said T'Lailara, "Vulcan's do not play `hunches'. Now if you please, I must concentrate."

"What's a hunch?" asked Ligor, trying not to disturb T'Lailara further.

"In our culture it's another word for a guess, a feeling that one has." said Cevik, "There is no medical reasoning for it, it's just something people have."

"But not.Vulcan's?" asked the Ktan.

"No, Vulcan's function on pure logic. They suppress their emotions and don't let them play a part in any aspect of their lives." replied Cevik.

"You are emotional, is that not against your teachings?" asked the confused Ktan.

"I am only a quarter Vulcan, I was brought up to think like a human." said Cevik, "I, thankfully avoid the mechanization process."

"It is a pity you did so doctor." replied T'Lailara, tapping the panel in a quick, specific pattern, "You man have made a fine Vulcan."

As T'Lailara stepped away from the panel, the door made some clicking and grinding sounds. But it did not move. The Vulcan and the ¼ Vulcan both raised an eyebrow.

"Isn't it suppose to open when you get the code right?" asked Ligor.

"That would have been the desirable effect." said T'Lailara plainly.

Cevik took a step forwards and pushed on the door. It didn't budge. Leaning on it with all his weight, it still didn't move. Finally he stopped moving and continued to stare at the door frame with his head resting against the door.

"Umm, Lieutenant, were these panels here before?" asked the Doctor, lifting his head finally and pointing at the strange symbols carved into the frame.

Both Ligor and T'Lailara approached the door and looked at the frame. There were, indeed, a series of panels with what was clearly Elosian symbols carved in to them. T'Lailara began to study them quickly.

"Good work doctor." said Ligor, as the young man beamed proudly, "Maybe this was the reason for the mechanical noise after the Lieutenant entered the code into the panel."

"Yes." said T'Lailara, standing up and continuing to scan the symbols, "It would seem that this room contains something of great value to have two levels of security places upon it."

"I agree." said Ligor, sniffing the air, "But we must hurry. I believe the Xin are advancing on our position and we cannot hope to beat them if we are outmatched."

"A very logical conclusion." said the Vulcan, turning and looking at the other side of the door, which also had panels containing Elosian symbols.

"So." said Cevik, impatiently, pulling out his tricorder again, "Can you figure them out?"

"One cannot learn a dead language in mere seconds, ensign." said T'Lailara, and there is no point in trying to link my tricorder with the ships computer again. It did not contain any symbols that were similar."

"So how are you going to open it?" asked Ligor.

"Like the touch pad, these simple panels seem to ask a question and provide an answer." said T'Lailara, "Two panels ask the question and a third answers it. If we can figure out the pattern and then press the corresponding panels, we should unlock the second layer of protection."

"Why would the Elosians have something as arcane as this for protection?" asked Ligor, sliding his hand over the panels.

"The old way are the best ways." replied Cevik, smiling.

"A crude euphemism, but essentially correct." stated T'Lailara, "Ensign, please place your hand on this panel."

Cevik moved to comply and depressed the stone panel. The panel slide in easily and make a clicking noise. Upon removing his hand, the panel popped back out again.

"It seems as though the panels have to stay pressed in." Observed Ligor, "Push it in again young man."

Cevik pressed the panel again.

"Now, the one three panels up?' said T'Lailara, eyeing the panels carefully.

Cevik reached up with his spare hand and depressed the second panel.

"Ligor, if you would be so kind as to press this panel." said T'Lailara, pointing to the door frame opposite to Cevik.

The Ktan eagerly did. But the door didn't open. Raising her eyebrow again, T'Lailara began to work out another pattern. Soon all three of them were pressing panels all over the place, like some strange game of twister. All three were standing on one leg, their others legs were pressing in a panel. And still the door wouldn't open.

"I have discovered the last symbol." said T'Lailara, looking under her arm at the other two, "But I am not in a position to reach it."

"And we are?" growled Ligor, as he strained to keep his one legged position.

"Where is it?" Asked Cevik, "Maybe I can get it."

"I doubt it, doctor." said T'Lailara, "The last symbol is at the bottom of Ligor's side of the frame."

Ligor looked down. It all made sense to him now. The symbols had been cut in half and the Lieutenant was simply piecing them back together, just like the touch pad mechanism. The last symbol he touched, the highest one on the frame, matched up perfectly with the lowest panel on the frame.

"I might be able to get it." growled Ligor, his tail moving towards the panel.

"Yes, that's it." said T'Lailara, who was now leaning against Cevik, who was leaning against the door for support.

"Almost have it." said Ligor, also leaning against the door for support, his tail straining to push in the panel enough to make it click into place.

"Hurry up Ligor." groaned Cevik, "My legs giving out.

Ligor grunted as he mentally forced all his strength into a final push with his tail. The last panel clicked into place and the sound of mechanisms moving greeted their ears. Breathing a sigh of relief, Cevik and T'Lailara looked at each other. T'Lailara's eyes widened as the door disappeared behind the unsuspecting doctor and all three of them fell into the nearly impenetrable room.

"Ouch." said Cevik, as he tried to crawl out form under the Lieutenant.

"Ouch indeed." groaned Ligor, as the Ktan picked himself up.

"I do not see why you two are complaining, it was only a short fall." said T'Lailara, pulling out her tricorder and starting to scan the dark room.

"Of course you didn't feel it, you landed on me." growled Cevik, dusting himself off and tipping his now sore neck from side to side.

"Really doctor, you should try being a little more Vulcan. You many find pleasant to complain less." said T'Lailara, squinting through the darkness.

The only light in the large, square room was what little flooded into it from the now open door. But there was clearly some power source in the room; the tricorder was registering a low level energy emissions. She took a second to pin point it and then began to walk. Cevik, who was now behind her, pulled a torch of his belt and flicked it on. The beam from the small device was almost swallowed by the encompassing darkness.

"Can you see anything?" asked Cevik, aiming the light ahead of them.

"I can." gasped Ligor, "And it's beautiful!"

The Ktan rushed past them and the two officers had to jog to keep pace. Soon they reached the far side of the room to find a computer console of some kind, attached to a large cube shaped unit. T'Lailara quickly checked the computer. The monitor was blown out and the panel was missing and its innards were ripped out.

"Someone has done a thorough job of disabling this computer unit." said the Vulcan.

"The cube here seems intact." said Cevik, looking it over with his flashlight, "No external damage anyway."

"It would also seem to be the source of the energy I was reading when we entered." said T'Lailara, closing her tricorder and tucking it back into her belt.

"Would it be safe to move?" asked Ligor, "We cannot stay, if the Xin should find us here."

"I understand Ligor. Mister McCloud, could you please assist me with this." said the Vulcan, starting to unhook the cube from the computer unit.

They were quickly finished and on T'Lailara's orders they easily lifted the 2.5 by 2.5 by 2.5 foot cube, which was much lighter then Cevik would have expected the device like this to be.

"Come, we have to hurry." said Ligor, "the rest of the artefacts should already be loaded."

"Double time, Mister McCloud." said T'Lailara, as the three rushed out of the dark room and then out of the ruins towards the Ktan encampment.

OFF

Lt. (jg) T'Lailara
Asst. Chief Science Officer

&

Ensign Cevik McCloud
Medical Officer
USS Swiftsure

October 2007

Authors: Ens. Okawa & Cdr Mateo
Title: Nova #48 "Confessions"
ON:

==USS Swiftsure, Deck 8==
=Outside the Counsellor's Officer=

Ensign Okawa was nervously pacing outside of Commander Mateo's office. She had an appointment with the Ship's Counsellor, but she was having trouble working up the courage to go in and discuss her personal affairs with a stranger.

After several deep breaths, a few more trips back and forth in front of the door and a few strange looks from other crewmembers, Miho stepped into the office. She could run through a gauntlet of phaser fire, go toe-to-toe with a Klingon, but just stepping through those doors took every ounce of courage the young security officer could muster.

Mateo looked up at the clock on his wall and saw that the ensign was running a little late. It wasn't altogether atypical of someone in her division. Security personnel tended to be very sure of themselves in all facets. A visit such as this appeared to them like a mountain to be climbed. This was a generalization on his part of course. Everyone was different and he would have to wait and see what Okawa was like.The door chimed and he admitted his patient. He stood up as the young woman entered. "Welcome Ensign Okawa. Commander Alejandro Mateo at your service. Please come in."

" Hello sir." said Miho, her nervousness showing, " I just...I wanted to..."

She was lost for words. She didn't know how to explain to the counsellor that she had had dinner with three fellow officers, which turned out to be a set up, but was more attracted to her hostess then to the young man she was being set up with.

He put on his best most comforting smile. "I understand that these first conversations can be a bit unnerving. Please have a seat at least. Remember to breathe and organize your thoughts. Anything said in this room is completely protected by the doctor / patient agreement. Relax and start at the beginning."

Mateo sat down across from her and left the PADD on his desk. Normally he would take a note here or there but instead he had depressed the audio/visual record key for later logging. She had a real dilemma and he could see it was eating at her.

Miho nervously fidgeted in the chair she was sitting in.

" You see sir." said Miho, trying to get out the words that she hadn't even told her family yet, "I'm...I'm...I'm not like other officers...other female officers."

An eyebrow shot up in a very Vulcan-like manner. She wasn't trying to tell him that she wasn't human in some kind of way. He thought it better to allow her to work it out. She was close and anything he might say could cause her to bolt.

" I don't know how to say it." said Miho, pushing a strand of hair off her now sweaty brow and looking down at the floor, " I'm not...interested in...ummm....men!"

Miho closed her eyes wondering if the Commander would understand. Generally she had kept this fact to herself, but being here, seemingly trapped in the Beta Quadrant, meant that she may have to face this situation eventually. She hoped that talking about it would help her deal.

The Counsellor sighed with relief inwardly. Sexuality was something he understood in depth. Humans in particular had difficulty expressing themselves in this area more than most species. Even in the twenty-fourth century the young still grappled with their sexuality like it was a tiger to be wrestled with. He was concerned that Okawa was having this level of difficulty at this stage of her life.

Human sexuality was still as puzzling as the human mind. As little as a few hundred years ago homosexuality and bi-sexuality was treated like a disease. Somewhere along the way it was learned that for some this was a conscious choice while for the majority it was who they were on a genetic level. It wasn't something to be cured.

Looking at the Commander but not raising her head, Miho could tell the man looked a little uncomfortable with where this conversation was leading. She was sure he must have dealt with it before, but she knew too that it was hard to adjust to when sprung upon you went you least expect it. That's the feeling she had through most of her high school and Academy life.

"Miho, my primary concern is your well being and I can tell that this has you deeply troubled. Human sexuality can be far more confusing than say something like, Astrometrics. At least there we're dealing with math and in most instances, absolutes. When it comes to who we are the very first step is being comfortable with ourselves. It has to start with embracing who we are which we hope in turn will allow others to embrace who we are as well."

Mateo stood and walked over to his replicator. He came back with two glasses of water and set one down in front of her.

"So who knows about the real Miho Okawa?"

Miho smiled, the Commander seemed to understand better then she thought.

" Well, my Grandmother." Said Miho, thinking about it, " At least I think she does. I haven't really come out and told anyone."

It did feel like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders just telling the Counsellor. She took a quick drink and wondered what the Commander would suggest her next step to be. She wasn't sure if she was really ready to open up to anyone else, but if Mateo suggested it, Miho knew she could struggle through.

A smile played across his lips as a memory of his own grandparents fleeted through his mind. The wondrous bounty of their time-tested wisdom had been a source of comfort for him in his youth. He took a sip of his water and held the cool glass in his lap as he spoke.

"You're relatively new to the Swiftsure so I doubt you have any diehard friends here yet. You've already told one person and while you might think that I'm only a professional doing his job, it was a huge step for you. It illustrates a desire to no longer hide Miho Okawa from the world. I don't step into a room and say, `Hi I'm Alejandro Mateo and I like brunettes,' upon first meeting people. You shouldn't think that you have to do any such thing either."

Taking another sip of water he placed the glass on the table.

"I was very shy as child. Up until about the age of twelve I would say. I watched more social kids interact and wondered what was wrong with me. Truth was I just wasn't comfortable with who I was. I was chubby and the acne had started to grab hold of me with both hands." Mateo laughed as the image of himself came to mind.

"I saw this girl, Regine Dumont. My goodness she was quite the vision of loveliness. I think meeting her was the best thing that happened to me. She liked me for me. We studied together and went shows together and no one could figure out what this pretty girl was doing with the `fat kid'. She said to me, `Alex, I like you because you don't pretend to be anything else but who you are.' I understood then that this was at the crux of most dilemmas. We have to be who we are whether we want to or not. The alternative is to hide in a shell and live a lie."

Mateo leaned forward to hold Okawa's gaze.

"I have looked at your record and your service to this ship in the short time you've been here. Miho Okawa looks to be a caring, dedicated individual, who has a knack for teaching that she possibly didn't know about. Marines no less. There's nothing to hide yet nothing you need to reveal. When the time is right, you'll tell the people who you care for about this aspect of who you are. If they're any of the people who helped shaped the Miho Okawa I see before me, you'll be fine."

Miho thought about his words for a moment, letting them sink into her mind. It was so obvious to her what he meant and even more obvious was that she should have known he'd understand. He was a very good counsellor!

" Thank you sir." said Miho, smiling and lifting her head a little more proudly, " Your absolutely right."

Standing up, Miho smoothed out her uniform around her hips, mostly to get rid of the wrinkles, but also to wipe off her sweaty palms, before shaking the counsellor's hand.

" I better get going, I have a shift with some of those marines you were speaking off soon." said Miho, giggling a little, " Who knew `I' could teach them anything they didn't know."

With one more appreciative nod, Miho left the counsellor's office and headed for the turbolift. It felt like she could fly without a star ship. She had often wondered what it would feel like to share this secret with someone. And it felt amazing! Maybe she'd schedule another little `chat' session with the Commander to talk about some other things.

OFF

Commander Alejandro Mateo
Ship's Counsellor
U.S.S. Swiftsure

&

Ensign Miho Okawa
Security Officer
USS Swiftsure

September 2007

Authors: Major Star & Captain Chapman
Title: Shoreleave #12 & 13 "Lucky & Hammer"

Authors: Major Stark
Title: The Hand Off #48 "Who's hunting who"
ON:
=== Mining Facility ===
=== following just after "Revelation" ===

The fight had been ugly from the very beginning. Stark realized early on that he would not be able to save his father. Kurg was too big, too strong, and too skilled. He would kill him though. He swore it on his last breath. They feinted and parried blow after blow but the punishment was starting to add up. Stark attacked but Kurg avoided and made him pay for it. The Bat’leth gashed his biceps sending him spinning away. The Klingon pressed his attack realizing too late that Stark had brought him in. The Marine dropped down and tripped the charging Klingon, sending him sprawling.

Stark was on his feet trying to work through the pain. Rage was good for that but it needed to be tempered. Kurg came to his feet.

“You are a better fighter than I would have thought, Hammer. This will make my victory all the sweeter,” he said.

The screen suddenly went dead and Kurg looked puzzled. ‘That wasn’t part of the plan,’ thought Stark.

They clashed again this time Stark had a slight advantage. What he lacked in strength he made up for with speed. He attacked quickly and ferociously until they locked weapons. It was a deadly lock, the kind that spelled doom if you couldn’t break cleanly. There was a sudden burst at the door and he chanced a glance in that direction. What he saw caused him to lose his footing for a moment.
 
 
=== Mining Facility ====
=== Level -2 ===
 
Paula materialized and rolled on the ground immediately while throwing away the ball-shaped device she helf in her hand. Answering the automatic phasers dousing the ground in her wake, a loud BEEP filled the place. Silence ensued. She opened her eyes and rolled again to see the man standing in the cell, raising his hands while looking around him. Her hands went to a pocket in her vest and she opened a protective box with three commbadges in it. The strong EM pulse had deactivated the forcefield and blown the security traps. The box had protected the badges.
 
"I'm Captain Chapman of the USS Swiftsure. Don't move, Mister Stark. I'm going to get you out of here, we don't have much time." Paula was already on her feet. One phaser ray had singed her leg but she ignored it, rushing to the prisoner to slap a commbadge on him. "You'll be fine. I'll see you soon." She tapped his commbadge.
 
"Wait, where is my s...."
 
She stepped back quickly and he dematerialized seconds before an alert sounded through the facility. Blowing the locked door was a matter of seconds. Then she was going at a dead run down a desert corridor, just glad this wasn't a Klingon starship. It had mechanisms destined to protect the facility against depressurization though. The explosive device she had left in the cell went off and fooled internal sensors into triggering a second alert just as she had hoped. The safety door at the end of the hall was half way down as the first sounds of running footsteps and shouts were heard.
 
Paula was already up the wall over the door, holding with hands and feet in the angle with the ceiling, unseen and unheard as two armed guards checked the corridor, a third trying to stop the door, to no avail. Three minutes in total had elapsed since her arrival by the time she let go. Not even Stark knew she had spent several years training in aerobatics.
 
"You really thought you were going to do that one without me, sweetie?" she murmured, opening one more pocket.
 
There wasn't an access to the turbolift shaft running overhead, until ten more seconds had elapsed. Paula stepped among the debris to shoot up a grappling and was tracted up. One turbolift car was stopped but 10 meters away. Down in the corridor, the safe door was beginning to raise again. The turbolift started moving. Still dangling, Paula needed three phaser shots to make it stop. Apparently, Klingons had never heard of fitting turbolift cars with sensors to avoid crushing technicians by mistake...
 
Four minutes.
 
Paula ran along the shaft to the first intersection going up. Using a combination of bold moves and a good guess that traffic was now stopped in this section, she clambered up to the next door at level -1 and emerged in a new corridor just as she was shot at. Surprised faces, non Klingon ones looked at her. Two employees tried to grab her and tumbled together while Paula flew again. This time, she found an access through a ventilation shaft and soon emerged on the next floor up in the wake of a paralyzing grenade.
 
The light show left the reception committee vociferating while she punched through them with the determination of a Parisis Square player. One corridor later, she made sure her commbadge was in place and stopped just a few seconds to check her tricorder. Stark was still in the room with a Klingon. New shouts resounded behind her. So far she'd had the advantage of surprise and speed but they were catching up.
 
She went through the door just in time to see it close again on the first shot, finished her roll and shot at the control panel before registering what was around her. Only two men, which was good news.
 
The bad news was that they were engaged in a deadly lock. If either slipped, he would be dead. Even as she watched, Stark grunted and almost lost his footing as he realized who had entered the arena so brutally.
 
"We have your father, well and alive, Major!" she half shouted, going back to her feet. "It stops here, do you hear me? It stops right here!"
 
He realized that SHE was the cause of the screen going dead. She had rescued his father and come to stop him from killing Kurg. Stark focused what strength he had left and to Kurg's surprised pushed the Klingon off breaking the lock.
 
"You had no right to interfere, woman! It does not matter. Hammer wants to finish this don't you?"
 
Stark was glaring at the Klingon. He did want to finish this. His guard was still up and he looked at Captain Chapman. He was sure she could see it, see the rage that threatened to consume him even now.
 
"Stark! Your father is alive! This targ will be dishonoured when this story reaches the Empire. He's lost everything already. What is the point now?" Paula's strong voice rose even more as she trained her phaser on Kurg. "How far do your friends need to go for you, Major? HOW FAR?"
 
Almost 9 minutes.
 
It was as if a switch flipped in his head. She hadn't come alone. Someone else had risked -- everything to come to aid. He backed away from the Klingon.

"This is done, Kurg. I will not see you again. She's right. You have nothing left and the shame of it all is that your father might be tarnished by this. All I have left for you is pity."

(continued below)
 

<ON>

(Starfleet Encampment, Outer Perimeter)

This had to be some of the thickest meanest terrain he had  encountered yet. Without the abundant life in the form of insects and  small reptiles the plants themselves were just – mean. His guard  patrol had come across a thorny bush with wonderful MEAT EATING  leaves. Very much like the Venus flytrap, it captured its food via a  hinged leaf mechanism. The group of specimens they came across had  traps measuring anywhere from eight to twelve inches in length.

If the plants were something, what Major Stark was after was much  more dangerous. Early in the morning he had found tracks in the  ground of a considerable size. Three-toed with huge claws at each  tip. Then there had been the roaring. As they had moved further  inland they started coming across the cracked and battered shells of  their previous visitors. Something with powerful jaws had snapped the  shells open to get at the meat inside.

Stark was no hunter but he knew something about animals. This animal  had a bite radius that was beyond impressive. It was downright scary.  All of this information had driven him to the decision that they  needed to extend the perimeter. If it came looking for them he didn’t  want the entire mission team caught sitting there like the  centerpiece at a buffet. Lt. Morretti was back there with the other  half of the squad. If it got past them it was up to him to protect  the team.

At this moment Stark was concentrating on the pain in his legs. He  had stretched but it just wasn’t helping at present. It could be the  extra humidity or some other factor of the planet that had him  feeling so stiff. The aches were in his knees and calves with twinges  in his thighs. Against his better judgment, he was considering  speaking with Dr. Paulsen to get something for it if the pain increased.

“Sir, I have movement bearing two-eight-eight degrees relative,” came  the voice of Pvt. Corsi.

They heard it first, the heavy footfalls coming closer.

THOOM

THOOM

THOOM

“Cover now,” called out the Major.

They found cover behind the massive trees. The footsteps were getting  louder. Then it broke through the tree line. The only way to describe  it was massive. Stark took a peek at it and confirmed what he suspected.

It was a dinosaur, or as close to a dinosaur as this world could  produce. He recalled his grammar school teacher Mr. Hodor describing  a Tyrannosaurus Rex. This thing was pretty darn close. It was about  five meters long from snout to tail tip. Two hugely muscled legs  supported a fairly streamlined midsection with two small arms up  front. The head was angular coming to an alligator like snout.  However the two most impressive features of this animal were the  glistening triangular scales on its body and the impressive rows of  sharp conical teeth that ringed its mouth.

The Tricorder told him what he had theorized. Those scales were thick  and made for an excellent suit of armor. Their phasers would have  some difficulty getting through that hide. Stark signaled everyone to  hold their positions.

(The Beast)

It tromped around the area sniffing the air. It knew that something  was in area. It just wasn’t familiar with the smell. Its sense of  smell was very good and it used it to get in the general vicinity of  its intended prey. Once in range it would use its vision to isolate  the target. It didn’t see very well but it could track motion with  high accuracy. There were a number of things at its disposal to flush  out potential prey, primarily its roar. It was of such a pitch and  tone that it impacted the primitive brain centers causing most prey  to flee. Then it could use its considerable leg power to sprint after  the target.

The beast roared.

(Starfleet)

The sound was absolutely terrifying. This close, with the beast’s  steps booming, the impulse to run was almost overpowering. Stark had  to grab the tree to hold his ground. Once the roar ended he looked  over to the other positions and saw thankfully that no one had moved.  Corsi’s eyes were closed and she to gripped her tree for support. She  opened them and looked across to him. He nodded at her signaling that  she remain calm and hold position.

It wasn’t Corsi he should have been worried about.

Pvt. Neale was in a near panic.

The creature roared again and that was it. Neale burst from his cover  screaming and running. The beast’s head whipped around, cocking  sideways as it spotted the movement. A low rumble left its throat as  it suddenly jumped to pursuit.

“Neale! Neeeeeale!” The private would die if they didn’t act.

“Pursue and fire when you have a shot!”

The marines were off after Neale and the dinosaur. Stark tapped his  commbadge. “Private! Keep running! Use the trees! Weave in and out of  the trees!”

He couldn’t see him but he knew weaving was his only chance. The  dinosaur was too big to weave in and out of the dense tree cover. It  would give Neale a chance to put some distance between them. He heard  a phaser shot and a tree branch blew apart. They were losing ground  as the dinosaur was fast for its size. Another phaser shot caused a  roar to go up. The Major stopped as he saw the marines ahead of him  skid to a halt.

Then they were running back towards him.

The dinosaur had turned around.

He headed into the trees only to be struck in the back seconds later.  Stark was tumbling in the air before landing hard. His lungs cried  for the air that had been knocked out of them. He was working on  automatic, dragging himself to the cover of a large tree. The heavy  steps of the dinosaur could be heard receding until they stopped.

Tapping his commbadge he called out to his Marines. They sounded off  in turn and thankfully all were alive. The creature had barreled  through them knocking them in different directions. He checked his  body for broken bones and after finding none, stood up on shaky legs.

He toggled his commbadge to all call.

“Stay where you are. I don’t think it’s gone. I think it’s waiting.”

Stark called Commander Durek to break the bad news.

<OFF>

Major Aloysius Stark
Detachment Commander
U.S.S. Swiftsure
The Klingon looked about to burst with rage. "I do not want your pity. Stand and fight coward!" Stark moved in next to Chapman.
 
"I think it's time we left, ma'am."
 
Paula was vaguely intrigued that nobody was trying to force their way through the door but she was beginning to think that nobody had tried ALL that hard to stop her. Without another look for Kurg, she tapped her commbadge three times and put her arms around a surprised Stark.
 
"I know how to make an exit too, you know" she said with a quick wink.

 
 
=== Shuttle ===

 
"But it's my shuttle?"
 
"Yes, I did a little job of my own while we were tailing you. Never trust a civilian shuttle on a covert op" Paula said briskly while sitting down at Ops. "The facility is on alert and we're still inside the hangar though."
 
Quickly, she opened a comm channel to the Genesee while Stark took the pilot seat.
 
+ Chapman to Mateo. I have Stark and we're about to bid goodbye. Don't send the call. I repeat, don't send the call. +
 
+ Understood Captain +
 
+ We're probably going to fry our systems. Do you feel like picking us up on the way? +
 
+ On our way already Captain Chapman. Genesee out+
 
That wasn't Mateo's voice. Paula blinked but didn't comment, her fingers running on the Ops console.
 
"I'm going to remodulate our shields and overload them as we go for the forcefield," she said calmy. "If this was a Klingon fortress we'd fry and not get through. We have our chances as it is. Care to show me your flying, Major?"
 
His father had answered the Captain. Mateo had relinquished the pilot's seat to him. His heart pounded hard in his chest, full of pride for his father. "Give the word, Captain. Engines are online and standing by."
 
He checked the shuttle's systems and chose an angular exit. It would lessen the damage they would take by not hitting the shield dead on but at angle.
 
At her order he lifted off and headed for the invisible shield that blocked their path the timing would be crucial. Stark gave her a countdown to contact. "Three...two...one..."
 
Paula tapped her keys over the countdown. When they met the forcefield, it was nothing short of spectacular. The shuttle seemed to punch into something elastic while every alert available started to sound and all controls turned to red. The engines were straining audibly while Paula and Stark were tossed this way and that among fountains of sparks.
 
Suddenly the forcefield vanished. The shuttle shot forward in a deadly spin as the Targ's Tooth rose from the surface of the planetoid. On its Bridge, where he had just arrived barking orders to take off and take the shuttle off the sky, Kurg's eyes had been filled with mad rage. They were now filled with incredulity as he watched the last thing he would get to see.
 
They had been slung like a stone from an ancient catapult. The shuttle was out of control with no way to recover it. If he was going to die then he couldn't think of a better person to do it beside. Then he felt the familiar tingle of the transporter. When his vision cleared he and Captain Chapman were aboard the Runabout Genesee.
 
"Hold on," said a voice from the pilot's seat.
 
The Genesee rocked as a shockwave buffeted them but soon they died away as the vessel left the mining station behind. "You okay," he asked her.
 
Paula coughed a couple times in answer and strode forwards to get a view. "What the heck is that?" she asked aloud, watching with a sinking heart at the flaming debris. Now the diplomatic incident would be unavoidable.
 
"Your engines overloaded, Captain. Kurg must have wanted to stop you and his ship was on the way when your shuttle exploded."
 
"We have an incoming transmission from the mining station" Mateo notified her. "And it seems all of their ships are abandoning pursuit."
 
"Let's take the call" Paula said tensely.
 
+ This is mining station Urlo. I believe honor has been served this day. You need not fear any reprisals.+

Stark recognized the voice as that of one of the Klingons that had been in attendance. He stepped to the comm panel and toggled the frequency. "I understand. Qapla."
 
"I always forget that you speak Klingon," said Jeremiah. The older Stark stood up from the pilot's seat and looked at his son. It was somewhat like looking in a mirror. His hair was all white but the features were quite the same. "I knew you would come." The two men hugged then.
 
"Dad, this is Captain Chapman," he said.
 
"We met before if improperly." He came to attention. "Chief Warrant officer Jeremiah Stark, ma'am, retired."
 
Paula made sure with a glance that Mateo had taken over the piloting for now. "They say the best ones never retire, Chief" she said with a sudden smile. "I was told you were one of the best and thanks to you I lived to tell."
 
They shook hands before Paula urged both men to retreat at the back of the runabout. She took the pilot seat but didn't move further than that, sitting with her eyes closed. Now that it was over, her head was spinning a little at the sequence of events. She had a number of bruises and small cuts that she was beginning to feel.
 
"By all rights he'd be justified to press charges," she said slowly. "He was abducted, his wife made to believe she was a widow, his son...."
 
"I have a feeling he won't," Mateo murmured. "Not if it can save his son's career. What was your plan on that one, by the way?"
 
"I was sort of hoping we wouldn't have to tell anyone. It would be... simpler," Paula answered, glancing at him.
 
"Maybe."
 
The two syllables spoke volumes.
 
"But I'm no longer just a squadron leader," she said in a low voice. "I can't simply kick his butt, give him an earful and say we're done."
 
"Nobody will want to start a diplomatic incident where we avoided one. There is his record, yours and remember... Winners are seldom wrong. I'm confident."
 
"Oh. Great."
 
OFF:
 
Major Aloysius Stark
Marine DC
----------------------------
Cdr Alejandro Mateo
Counsellor
&
Capt.Paula Chapman
CO
USS Swiftsure

AUGUST 2007

Author: Lt Cdr Durek
Title: The Hand Off #36 › The Locals
ON:

== N430-Two ==
== The Crash site ==


The foreign object which now occupied a large area of their home wasn't even a passing thought in the tiny brains of the mosquitoes that flew above the swamp water. Their drone was incessant and their business was continuous. Periodically from the swampy water, an aquatic creature would thrust itself out of the water and envelope several of the mosquitoes. The ones near the incident would merely dart out of the way, but continued their business as they knew no fear.

Below the surface of the water the same aquatic creature swam amongst the grass growing in it. It eyed the meals flying above the water and when in the right position and time, would strike again to quell its hunger.

On the dry land, higher above in a tree, the enemy of the aquatic creature kept an eye on his prey and some new creatures to the area. They arrived after the unknown thing had invaded the area. They were much bigger than the usual prey it would take on, but they may be a threat to its area. They would need watching. Suddenly, the usual prey came into the right area.

The avian creature zoomed out of the tree towards the water. In its descent, it passed closely to one of the new tall creatures as a warning then onto its prey. In a flash, extended talons pierced the water and the aquatic creatures skin. The avian flapped its wings pulling the thrashing water creature up towards its perch. The avian noticed the tall new creature had become startled.

In the brush nearby a snake like reptile moved away from the creatures near it, new and otherwise.

Deeper in the brush another pair of eyes from a more predatory shelled reptile watched in silence. Its world was greatly disrupted by something it had never seen or heard. The noise and shaking was enough to cause it to flee, but it returned to investigate. The normal prey seemed to have fled, but a new and larger prey seemed to have taken its place. It could sense the warmth from them and the scent was appealing to it. Hunger was a constant state for the reptile, but new prey needed to be watched to see when they were vulnerable. Patience was a virtue of predators.

Off

Welcome to the neighborhood.


LTC Durek
XO
USS swiftsure

JULY 2007

Authors: multiple
Title: Shoreleave #21 › Junior Officer's Table
ON:

==Carthage Colony, Canyon City==
=One of the Saloon's Back Rooms=

After the speeches, promotions and medals had been given out and recieved, a very happy group of young officers from the Swiftsure
moved to a table and poured themselves some drink from a bottle of whiskey that had been brought over.

" As the senior officer here." said Geoff, smiling happily as he looked around at the other junior officers, "I'd like to propose a
toast."

Geoff, decked out in a simple blue plaid shirt, which he had tucked into his jeans, a pair of dark brown cowboy boots and a brown, ten
gallon hat, raised his glass of whiskey. V'Zara, Rella and Leo did the same while T'Lailara raised a cup of tea after some nudges in the
side from Rella.

" To the Swiftsure and her Captain." said Geoff loud enough for those gathered around them to hear, "May our ladies always be lucky."

There where cheers and yeehaws from the surrounding tables as well as from his own. And Geoff thought he saw the Captain smile and tip her head in his direction.

" As the most senior NCO at the table, I'd also like to propose a toast." said V'Zara, smiling at her gathered friends.

She was the reason they were all here at the table in the first place. She had hauled Geoff and Leo off the ship and made
arrangements to meet T'Lailara and Rella at the station that would take them to Canyon City. Now the Caitian, also dressed for the
occasion in a simple white shirt, the overalls she had gotten from Geoff's mother and a large straw hat with holes in the top to allow
her ears to poke through that she had to replicate especially for this occasion, raised her own glass after barely finishing the last
drink.

" To good friends and good time." said the Caitian, her tail dancing excitedly, " May we continue to enjoy both far into the future."

Their glasses had barely left their lips when Leonidas raised his own glass again.

" As the most senior Marine officer at the table, I'd like to offer my own words." said the young Spartan, grinning.

Leo was dress very similar to Geoff, but his shirt was red and his hat and boots were black. He also sported a fairly sharp looking tan
hide vest. The marine, not much for outings was still having a grand time, though he was very sure he would regret it in the morning.

" To comrades at arms. My your power cells never drain and your aim never be off." said the Marine, quoting a Klingon friend of his
father's.

The other weren't entirely sure about this but they toasted anyway, happy to have another drink. Geoff was trying to take it easy, taking
sips where the other where taking full swigs. He was, after all, the most senior officer at the table, even if it was just by seniority.

" I'd like to give a toast too." said Rella suddenly, reaching to fill up her glass, but finding the bottle empty.

" Allow the most senior officer here." Teased V'Zara, pushing Geoff playfully.

" Fine." said Geoff, polishing off his own glass, " I'll be back. Oh bartender!"

As the other looked at Rella, she scrunched her face up in thought.

" What seems to be troubling you, Lieutenant?" asked T'Lailara, who had been awfully quiet.

" I don't know why I should give a toast. Geoff was the most senior, V'Zara the most senior NCO, Leo the most senior marine officer. What could mine be?" asked the Bolian, almost pleading with the others.

The others looked at her for a moment, then turned to each other. V'Zara smiled but said nothing. It's was T'Lailara, much to
everyone's surprise, that said what they were all thinking.

" How about, the most talkative officer at the table?" the Vulcan said in her own dry tone as she took a sip of her drink.

The other started laughing.

" Or the most likely to get into trouble." put in Leo, with a broad smile on his face.

" The easiest to get drunk." said V'Zara with out a moments thought.

" The latest for her shift." said Geoff, walking back to the table.

" That was one time." Rella pouted, defending herself, " And you guys aren't helping at all."

The junior officers laughed as Geoff opened the second bottle of whiskey, which he had the bartender water down a bit to take some of the edge off it. The other had had enough to drink for one night.

" How about the youngest officer among us?" said T'Lailara, not looking up from her drink.

The Vulcan was the only one among them that hadn't really dressed up. She had put on a simple cotton dress, that she admitted to wearing on Vulcan before she joined Starfleet. Rella, who had gone the distance, wearing everything the guys in the group were wearing, but adding some chaps and a belt with two gun holsters, had given up her hat for the Vulcan to wear.

Rella looked at the others and smiled. She had just realized that she was the youngest among them. Beaming with pride, and a freshly filled glass of whiskey, the Bolian raised her glass.

" To young careers. May we all make admiral!" said Rella, taking a large drink from her cup.

" In your dreams." scoffed Geoff, as the other laughed.

Finally everyone looked a T'Lailara expectantly. The Vulcan gazed at them in return, but made no move to raise her glass.

" It's your turn." said Rella, nudging the Vulcan, " Come on T'Lailara."

" What would you like me to toast?" inquired the Vulcan, with a raised eyebrow.

" I don't know." said Rella, " Anything...just join in.

" Very well." said T'Lailara, standing up and lifting her tea cup.

The others looked at her expectantly. Geoff was even amazed that the Vulcan had stood!

" May you all live long and prosper." said the science officer, before taking a sip of her tea and sitting back down.

After a moments silence from the others, Leo stood up.

" I'll drink to that." said the Marine, tipping his glass back and emptying out its contents.

The other laughed and joined in finishing off the second bottle before Geoff could even suggest they head back to the ship. Before he
left the saloon, Geoff made a special point to find Lt. Cdr. Spencer. Finding the Chief Ops officer sitting with the other senior staff,
Geoff, inched his way over.

" Lt. Ashton, can I help you?" said Ethan, noticing Geoff.

" Sir, I just wanted to say what an honour it was to work with you and I hope you have good luck in the future." said Geoff, smiling, "
I really learned a lot from you sir."

With that, Geoff turned on his heels and made for the door. He had always hated good byes, but seeing his department head go was
especially hard since he had always instilled a sense of confidence in the young Ops officer. Lt. Cdr. Spencer was someone to strive to
be like and he would be greatly missed among those members of the crew that were privileged enough to call him their friend.

OFF

Lt.(jg) Geoff Ashton
Asst. Chief Ops Officer

&

PO1 V'Zara
Captain's Yeoman

&

1st Lt. Leo Moretti
Platoon Leader

&

Lt.(jg) Rella Rann
Acting Chief Conn Officer

&

Lt.(jg) T'Lailara
Asst. Chief Science Officer
USS Swiftsure

JUNE 2007

Author: 2LT Leonidas Moretti
Title: Shoreleave #9 › Blowing Off Steam
ON:

==USS Swiftsure, Recreation Deck==
=Holodeck 8=

Leo had chosen to spend his shoreleave aboard the ship and quickly found out there wasn't much to do and hardly anyone to do it with. The young Spartan had spent hours at O'Malley's looking out the window at theplanetbelow. He had looked through the brochures and nothing caught his interest, it seemed like a typical budding colony.
So, with nothing to do, the young marine had fallen back into his Academy day's habit of holodeck `vacations`. Of course only Leo or another marinewould call what he was currently doing a vacation.

A large hammer like weapon with a large spike on the back, called a crowbill, narrowly missed the Lieutenant's head as he ducked and rolled out of range of his attacker. Leo was currently involved in a battle royal with no less then twenty holographic characters. They were battling in a recreation of the Great Arena in Rome. The air was thick with dust and blood. Battle cries, cries for help and cheers from the crowd seated some fifteen feet above the gladiators mingled in a delightful and intoxicating way.

Leo couldn't get enough of this program, ever since his father had designed it to test his children's skills with a blade. Leo had since added to and expanded the program, even going so far as to limit the safety protocols to fatal or debilitating injuries, but the Swiftsure's computers wouldn't allow him to run it with those changes. Yet one more thing he missed about home.

Leo shook this mind back to the present as a javelin went whistling past his ear. Growling, Leo brought his sword down on an attacker's arm, severing it just below the elbow. As the man cried out, Leo did a spin, blocking another attacker, while wheeling around and slitting
the crying man's throat.

Leo felt little remorse for these holographic recreations of ancient Greek citizens. Most were criminals, thieves and killers, though the computer, adapting to be more realistic, would sometimes throw the odd slave or honest man in to the arena. But today Leo was fighting seasoned Gladiators and they would treat him just as roughly as he treated them.

Seeing an opening, Leo throws his sword, end over end, expertly landing the blade in the back of another attacker. Weapon less forthe moment, Leo dodged another attack from the crowbill wielding hologram, and then a second attack. During the second attack, Leo sidestepped, grabbed the man's wrist and slammed spiked end of it into the man's helmet covered face. There was a sickening cracking noise and the man collapsed.

" Who's next?" Shouted Leo to the holograms, as he now wielded the crowbill.

A shout to his left marked the approach of his next victim. Spinning fast again, Leo sidestepped the lunging attack of a trident wielding man, gripped the crowbill with both hands and brought the hammerhead into the man's nose guard. There was another thwack and the man, who had been charging at him, flipped up into the air and landed with a small skid on his back, his face now indistinguishable from his helmet.

Leo banged and crashed his way back to his sword and now, holding his sword in his right hand and the crowbill in his left, started back towards the centre of the arena. The cheers and jeers of the crowd keeping him going as hologram after hologram fell to his weapons. Finally, Leo though he was victorious, until he felt the thick end of a club strike him across his shoulders and neck.

The young marine fell to the blood soaked ground of the arena, his crowbill dropping out of reach and someone now stood on his right hand, pinning his sword to the ground. This was a big man, what legend called an Ogre, a being from Northern Germany with greenish skin and greasy black hair. He had apparently survived the previous melee by hiding in a corner and cracking anyone who challenged him over the head with a club that looked more like a tree trunk.

Leo groaned as he remembered that he asked the computer to start putting in mythical Greek and Roman creatures into the arena simulation. He had battle a Medusa the other day so this shouldn't have come as a surprise.

The Ogre was now looking up at the Emperor, Caesar something, Leo never could remember his name. But he knew that this Caesar always gave a thumbs down, signalling the demise of who ever was left in the clutches of the victor, in this case Leo himself.

The white haired old man, dressed in fine linens for the time and sporting a crown of crude golden leaves and vines, rose from his chair on a private platform twenty feet above the arena floor. The crowd cheered and started chanting, " Kill!" over and over again. The Caesar smiled malevolently as her regarded the crowd. Finally the old man raised his hand and the crowd went silent.

Here it comes, thought Leo to himself.

The Caesar, right fist in the air, thumb pointing to the left. The crowd was still deathly silent as all eyes were on the old man that held Leo's life in his hand. Finally, the Caesar smiled, turned his hand so that his thumb pointed down and the crowd erupted into deafening cheers of approval.

Leo, luckily, had taken this time to use his free hand and grabbed a nearby spear without the Ogre, who had been waiting for his signal to kill his prisoner, noticing. As the larger humanoid raised his tree trunk sized club over his head preparing to crush Leo with a single blow, Leo gripped the spear tightly and drove it hard into the creature's gut. The Ogre stumbled back, releasing Leo's sword arm and sword.

Jumping to his feet, Leo coldly regarded the easily eight foot tall brute. The crowd's cheers had turned to boos. They didn't like it when the endings changed. Leo didn't care, he waited for the Ogre to regain control of itself and then, as it moved to attack him, Leo rolled to the side and behind him, coming up on his knees to hamstring the poor creature from behind. The Ogre wasn't finished: he turned and charged Leo again, limping this time.

Like the bullfighters of old Spain or Mexico, Leo stood his ground until the last possible second. Only then did he leap aside and attack, cutting the other hamstring. The Ogre, now crippled, toppled forward and banged his head off of his own club.

Leo moved towards it as the creature tried to get up. This was the first time Leo felt pity for a hologram. The Ogre, brute though it was, was in a sad state. Unable to walk, dazed and bloody from his fall, he looked up at Leo from his hands and knees, a blank look on his face.

" This shall end quickly." Said Leo to the Ogre, " I promise."

With that, the marine brought his sword down on the creature's neck, severing his head from his shoulders. As the Ogre's head rolled through the dust, Leo looked at the crowd who was still booing and now throwing old vegetables at him. He then turned and regarded the Caesar, who looked at him with unkind eyes.

" You would try and have me executed." Leo shouted at the holographic monarch, losing himself in his role, " I am the champion here. I bring enjoyment to your barbaric people."

Leo began striding towards the Emperor's dais, a phalanx of centurions poured out of the gate below the dais. Leo didn't wait any longer; he threw his sword again. This time the weapon was off target and only caught the Emperor in the arm, with just enough force to spin the man around and fall back into his elegant, engraved, wooden seat. The program ended as a spear was about to pierce Leo's chest.

Leo looked around, anger still burning in his eyes. It took several minutes of standing there, breathing deeply to regain his composure. This was the part he didn't like; he always got too wrapped up in his role. Now he'd spend two or three days working out in the gym just to get his mind back in the real world.

Maybe I should just stop using this program, the marine thought to himself as he gathered his sword and other things. He knew that he wouldn't do it. This was his outlet, until he found another hobby. Besides, there had been little for a marine to do on this trip. But he was sure that was going to change soon. He had a feeling that beyond Outpost 123 was a multitude of places a marine would be needed.

As he left the holodeck, he remembered reading about the voyages of the first warp five starship, The Enterprise NX-01. The whole NX series of ships had had a great many a run in with hostile alien species but out of their conflict, the United Federation of Planet was born. Perhaps they would encounter new species to join the Federation. That too, was an exciting prospect to Leo, almost as exciting as combat. Almost!

OFF

2nd Lt. Leo Moretti
Platoon Leader
USS Swiftsure

MAY 2007

Author: Major Stark
Title: Shoreleave # 142 › Waking Nightmares
<ON>

(Stark’s Office)

The Major traced a finger across the fighter model on his desk. He had shaken off the dream at this point. There was no point in dwelling on it; this was a part of his life. Stark engaged the terminal and checked the vessel’s position. They were approaching Shengen IV in a standard orbital plot. Even at this distance he could see the atmosphere was thick with pollutants. The sensors were gathering more information as they drew closer. It was a nightmare atmosphere to say the least.

“How are the dreams, Major?”

The lightly accented voice from his doorway was somewhat soothing. It had the unmistakable qualities of a Counselor’s voice.

“The same. They come and go, with no rhyme or reason. Please come in Counselor,” he said politely.

Alejandro Mateo entered the Detachment Commander’s domain and took a seat on the other side of the desk. He had studied Stark’s file and knew his entire history. The man had suffered an incredible trauma that no amount of therapy could ever completely erase. Mateo studied his features as the man worked at his terminal.

“Is this the stare him down until he cracks method or are you looking into my soul, Counselor,” he said without looking at the man.

“I don’t look into people’s souls anymore. What I often found was too disheartening, Major. I just wanted to see how you were after today’s action,” replied Mateo evenly.

He noticed that the Major wasn’t being confrontational or even defensive. His dossier mentioned that he was quite reserved when discussing his past injuries but this was unexpected. It had happened better than a decade ago but in the majority of cases there was still plenty of emotion left behind. Mateo decided on a different tactic.

“What do you do with it, Major? All of the anger I mean.”

Stark stood up and walked over to the large flat display set in the wall. It activated at his approach and he started shuffling people on the duty roster. Half of the screen was displaying the approaching Shengen IV. “That makes you number twelve, Counselor,” he replied.

“Number twelve? I don’t understand, Major.”

“You are the twelfth Counselor to ask me what I do with my anger. I’ll tell you the same thing I told them. I use it to kill people. I think back to the sequence of events, the initial damage to my ship, the failure of both the ejection and fire suppression systems. Then I get angry that all that technology didn’t work. Centuries of technology from the entire Federation, redundant to the point of insanity, and it still failed. I use that anger to accomplish my missions and when that mission is over I put it away until the next time.”

Mateo listened to the even recitation and decided he had all the information he needed on Aloysius Stark. He was more interested in what the man was doing now. Mateo stood up to get a closer look at the board.

“What have they done to this planet,” said Mateo.

With the change in subject Stark decided that the Counselor had ceased his interview. He didn’t know what the Counselor found but whatever it was it seemed to be what he was looking for. His life had not been his own for a long time and that was okay. He would adapt as he had all these years.

“It appears that they went through a period of rapid industrialization without any controls on emissions or a decent recycling program. The atmosphere is full of Greenhouse Gases and there is a rather toxic sludge present along a four-kilometer stretch off the northern coastline. We won’t need breather gear but I wouldn’t be doing any vigorous exercising down there,” stated the Major.

“Perhaps everyone should get a shot of Tri-Ox before we head down. It will compensate for the poor breathing conditions,” suggested Mateo.

Stark made a notation and passed the idea along for the Chief Medical Officer’s approval in Mateo’s name.

“It looks like we’ll be spending a little more time together, Counselor. We’re slated for possible Away Duty to the planet’s surface,” he said checking the PADD in his hand. There was something else there that only concerned the Marines.

“I should get going then. The Captain will expect me to decipher an artifact at first glance,” he said jokingly.

“Thanks for dropping by, Counselor Mateo.”

“Are you joking with me, Major?”

“No. I’ll see you in the transporter room.”

Mateo gave him a little nod and left the office. Stark set to work in earnest on the second part of the Captain’s memo. He put in a priority request with the Cartography Department for all maps of the Central Mountain Range. He couldn’t pronounce the name of it but the translation was easy enough, ‘Shengen’s Roof.’ They would need that if indeed Geiger put down in the region. Next he began selecting the Marines for this operation. Luckily there were two with excellent climbing skills and another two with the right survival training. He put them on alert and sent a message that they were to be ready to go at a moments notice. He left his office headed for the Armory.

<OFF>

Major Aloysius Stark
Detachment Commander
U.S.S. Swiftsure

APRIL 2007

Author: Sergeant Owen Hatch
Title: The Last God #34 "Trigons Attack VII"

Authors: PO2 V'Zara & Lt Cdr Ethan Spencer
Title: The Last God #41
On:

==Corridor, Deck 23==

The four marines acting as intruders quickly made their way towards the Emergency Transporter Room 12. The last one in the group was carrying a satchel that contained four demolition charges, simulated of course, to be used in once they got to the transporter. As they approached, the point man for the team spotted the two Security guards. A quick signal indicated the group to stop.

"Take the shots on my signal," Sgt. Hatch said to the team.

The four positioned themselves to be able to quickly surprise the two guards, take quick shots and secure the area. Hatch looked at the team and once done, gave the signal. The four moved quickly and almost in unison and stunned the guards. It was just like practiced. They moved forward, secured the area and gained quick access to the transporter room.

==Transporter Room 12, Deck 23==

"Okay, put the charges on the pad. We'll prep for an inner ship transport to preselected locations to beam the charges," Hatch ordered.

"Uh, sarge, we've got a problem," the corporal said.

"What?"

"Nobody in our team can run a transporter," the corporal replied.

"You're kidding?" Hatch asked in a disbelieving tone.

"Nope. I was trying to say that when they threw the teams together, but I think it was a mix up on who was being chosen for Intruders and Defenders."

"You think?" Hatch said. "No one can run this thing?" The two other team members shook their heads. Hatch cursed under his breath and thought quickly for an alternative plan.

"Sarge! Company's coming!" one of the team said that was monitoring the door and corridor.

"Okay. Put a charge next to the console here and head for Deck 24. Ladder access only," Hatch said quickly.

== Enlisted Mess, Deck 24==

Most of those in the dining hall were from the Outpost Replacement force and other passengers. Gwen and Sarah Hatch were hold up in the room after the drill began. They had just finished their meals and since they couldn't leave, Sarah had resorted to pulling her stuffed dog in a wagon around the room she was given from a child care center. Gwen watched Sarah and chatted with others in the room as they waited for the drill to conclude.

==Corridor, Deck 24==

"Secondary Computer Core, that way!" hatch yelled.

The team turned and again rapidly moved down the corridor. This time the point man signalled the team and flattened himself against the bulkhead. Using one hand he signalled he'd spotted six personnel. Hatch moved forward next to the point man.

"Security or Marines?" Hatch asked.

"Both. Two Security, four Marines," he answered back.

Hatch grunted disapproval.

"Ok, we hit fast and hard on my order," Hatch said to the team. The members readied themselves. "Three, two, one, go!"

The four marines took positions and fired on the guards who in turn fired back. Firefights in corridors were always trick and dangerous.
The fire from the guards were going to prevent the team from going farther down the corridor.

"We need to pull back!" Hatch yelled.

"Looks like they have friends coming from behind us!" another marine yelled.

"Ok, get to the cross corridor. Head starboard, head to 27 and link up with team 2," Hatch ordered. Right then he took a phaser blast from one of the guards. Although his armor prevented him from being stunned, he was effectivly `down' for the simulation. That meant the corporal was now in charge.

"Sorry, sarge," the corporal said. "Move out!" he yelled. The remaining team members moved out towards the cross corridor.

It wasn't long before they noticed movement to their front.

"Need to get outta' sight," the corporal ordered.

The lead marine activated a remote unlocking mechanism which defeated the ships door locks and he turn to run into the doors near him followed by the others.


==Enlisted Mess, Deck 24==

The doors to the Mess that were supposed to be secured suddenly opened. Through them suddenly appeared three marines in body armor running into the room. Between them and the room was little Sarah and her dog in the wagon.

The first marine immediately spotted the girl and wagon and hesitated in his stride not wanting to crash into the little girl. He couldn't
jump over the two either. The second marine hadn't noticed the girl, but instead crashed into the first. The two tripped over the wagon and sprawled on the floor. Sarah had let go of her wagon and run off away from the men and headed rapidly to her mother, Gwen.

The corporal had his back to the doors as he backed in while checking for pursuers. He hadn't noticed his two down comrades. Some of the Outpost replacements actually rushed forward and secured the two marines on the floor. By the time the corporal turned around three Replacements were seized his arms. In a matter of moments the three were detained.

Sarah, who was holding her mother, broke free and ran over to secure her stuffed dog which had been freed from under the fallen marines. She picked up the dog and hugged it then held it up facing the
detained marine.

"Marrrrine!" Sarah growled imitating her fathers lesson on `r's.

The dejected and detained marine looked at the stuffed dog who was wearing a green shirt with UFPMC and the Marine Corps logo in black then down at the little girl.

"Boy am I gonna catch hell for this," the marine said to his fellow captive.

Off

Sgt. Owen Hatch
1st Squad Leader, 1st Platoon
Marine detachment
USS Swiftsure
ON

==USS Swiftsure, Deck 28==
=Jefferies Tubes around Main Engineering=

V'Zara could feel the static in the air from all the weapon
discharges. Her fur was standing on end and her tail was hanging
limply behind her. It had been hit and was still a bit tingly. Her
ears twitched as she listened to the sound of her crewmates
breathing all around her.

" Sir." She called to Lieutenant Commander Spencer, " I hear two more coming from the starboard side."

The three officer were pinned down in a junction just behind
engineering. Ensign Asquer was holding one jefferies tube, Commander Spencer another and V'Zara a third. The ladder leading up and down from this junction had been sealed. The marines that were playing intruders had them boxed in.

In response to V'Zara's warning, Asquer, who was watching the
starboard facing jefferies tube fired a couple of shots down it.
Suddenly something came clanking down the jefferies tube that V'Zara was watching. She saw the stun grenade rolling towards her. Knowing that the pin had already been pulled, she quickly pulled the switch to seal the bulkhead. There was a loud back just on the other side as the hatch closed and the Caitian had to stop closing the hatch to cover her ears.

" Are you alright, Petty officer?" asked Commander Spencer, keeping an eye on his own jefferies tube.

" Yes sir." Said V'Zara, finishing sealing the bulkhead, " I just…"

The Caitian, looked down at her phaser rifle that she had set down so she could use both hands to close over the hatch. The rifle was slowly lifting off the ground. Then she noticed that she too was starting to float. Running in the air, desperately trying to put her feet back on the ground, the Caitian looked around. Both Commander Spencer and Ensign Asquer were clinging to the hatchways to keep from drifting up to the top of the junction like V'Zara was.

" Sir, what do we do now?" asked the yeoman.

Ethan tried to cling as close to the wall as possible as a marine
fired down the tube once more. The situation was becoming tricky and they had to get out of the tubes soon.

"Commander Spencer to transporter room 2, beam V'Zara, Ensign Asquer and myself to main engineering," Ethan said tapping his comm badge. The three of them dematerialised and reappeared in main engineering where the engineering staff were floating about confused. Before Ethan could reach a console he was too far away from the floor to do anything.

"V'Zara, can you reach a console? You need to simulate a
decompression of Jeffferies tube 72 gamma," Ethan said feeling very ungraceful as he floated about aimlessly.

V'Zara looked around her and noticed she was drifting towards a rail protecting the upper level of engineering. Aiming herself towards a nearby console as directed by Commander Spencer, the Caitian pressed her toes against the rail and launched herself easily down towards the console. Grabbing a handle attached to the wall near the console, she held herself in place, her tail dangling in the air behind her.

" Simulating decompression in jefferies tube 72 gamma." said the
Caitian, before tapping her comm badge, " All occupants of jefferies tube 72 gamma, you have been decompressed."

She grinned over at the Commander who gave her an approving nod. The Caitian the pulled herself to the ground and looked around.

" How do I reinstate the gravity,sir?" asked the V'Zara.

"I'm already on it," yelled Flagg holding onto a console. Ethan
floated up and managed to grab onto a rail. Before long the gravity plating reactivated and Ethan climbed back over the rail and adjusted his jacket with a sigh of relief.

"Good work Flagg, V'Zara..." Spencer said with a nod. This drill
was winding down now, most of the marines had been eliminated and Ethan was looking forward to finshing work for the day.

"Everything ok petty officer?" Ethan asked as he approached.

"Yes sir." said V'Zara, but then stopping, " What would you like us
to do now sir?"

"We'll protect engineering for the meanwhile, I anticipate the
marines will be overwhelmed soon." responded the Commander.

V'Zara nodded, having left her phaser rifle floating in the jefferies tube, the Caitian pulled out her hand phaser and took up a position on the upper level of engineering. She crouched in the
corner ears twitching at ever little sound, tail flicking about
playfully. She was enjoying herself! Drills were becoming more
interesting.

OFF
Joint Post By

Lieutenant Commander Ethan Spencer
2nd XO/Chief Operations Officer
USS Swiftsure

&

PO2 V'Zara
Captain's Yeoman
USS Swiftsure

MARCH 2007

Author: Cdr Alejandro Mateo
Title: Shoreleave # 50 › Under the Ice
Author: PO1 McCartney
Title: Shoreleave # 70 › Rules of Acquisition
<ON>

(Antarctica)


It was considered some of the harshest terrain on all of Earth and now Alejandro Mateo knew why. The short trip to the ice cave had been particularly brutal. It was no wonder Khan chose this inhospitable place to leave his ‘gift’ behind. They had made an aerial rendezvous with the Starfleet Rescue Shuttle Adair. The group now consisted of Mateo, Whitfield, Brookings, and a number of rescue specialists.

They made the journey without incident. When they arrived in the cave they set up their camp just inside the entrance. A portable forcefield generator kept out the worst of the wind. They would have to tunnel through about six meters of ice to reach a passage that up until this time no knew existed. Mateo let the rescue team get to work and stayed out of their way. He was here because he was the senior officer and knew more about Khan Singh than anyone he knew.

He wished he were somewhere else, like Risa. Mateo detested the cold. He was beginning to take this a bit personally. Lana was standing away from the action and he crossed the short distance to stand with her. She gave him a weak smile and he thought she looked so beautiful at that moment. “Bet you didn’t think you would be doing this when you woke up?”

She giggled and some of her tension eased. “How can you make me laugh at a time like this,” she asked.

“Old psychologist trick. Take your mind off of the immediate problem. Ease a little tension. Helps keep you sane during insane situations,” he said smiling.

“And this qualifies as an insane situation?”

“A man that has been dead for over a century is trying to wipe out all life on Earth. If that isn’t insane, I don’t know what is.”

“I think you’re right,” she added.

A loud crash of ice was heard from deeper within the tunnel.

“We’re through, Commander!”

It was the voice of Lt. Brookings. Mateo and Lana walked carefully down the tunnel. The new ice shaft had been cut using precision phaser torches. Brookings and Lt. Hudson of the rescue team stood on the other side. Mateo came through helping Lana traverse the slippery shaft. They were soon standing in another tunnel that had support beams of metal moving deeper into the darkness.

“How do we proceed, sir,” asked Hudson.

Lt. Larry Hudson was a no nonsense officer. He couldn’t afford to have any hang up or any doubt worth mentioning in his line of work. He and his team took the jobs that no one else could do. That’s why they were here.

“Tricorders out and begin with passive scanning. We’re looking for some energy readings and we’ll follow those. It should take us to the device. Be wary of any energy signatures you might come across no matter how small. Stay alert for traps and trip wires. Khan wouldn’t have left this place completely unguarded. It may be over two hundred years old but better safe then sorry.”

Hudson grinned slightly at that before issuing orders to his people. “You should have been on this team, Commander. You sound more like one of us than a shrink,” commented Hudson.

“That’s only my day job,” answered the grinning Counselor.

The group proceeded down the tunnel careful to watch for everything that Mateo had mentioned. They were fortunate that they had done so. They found a number of trip wires, which they defused before moving ahead. A few more meters down the corridor the point man stopped.

“Getting a crude energy wave reading from up ahead. I think they used to call it radar,” said the ensign.

Mateo dove for Lana as he screamed, “Everybody down!”

The group scattered just as gunfire erupted from down the corridor. Bullets bounced off the steel beams and sent ice chips flying in all directions. The Counselor looked at the prone form of Lana next to him.

“This is not exactly how I planned this to happen,” he said with a gleam in his eyes.

“You’re incorrigible, but thanks for saving my life,” she replied.

“What is that,” yelled Brookings.

“An automatic gun of some sort. Throws high velocity metal slugs usually made of lead in that time period. High rate of fire and very deadly,” answered Mateo.

“Oh that is just nasty,” said one of the team.

“We have to take that gun out, Hudson,” yelled Mateo.

Another burst of gunfire sent more ice into the air.

“I’m open to suggestions, Commander. We can’t use any explosives or we risk collapsing the tunnel before we reach the device.”

Mateo was thinking when Lana called out to Hudson. “Didn’t the ensign say that it was using radar to track us? Twenty-first century radar systems could be jammed. Can’t your Tricorders put out a signal of some sort and jam the gun’s radar?”

There was silence for a few seconds. “What about it, ensign? Can you emit a signal pulse that will jam that weapons radar,” asked Hudson.

“I’ll try, sir,” replied the ensign.

They could hear him punching keys on his Tricorder and then the device began emitting an audible signal pulse. The pulse kept changing until it found a particular frequency then began pulsing more rapidly.

“I got it! Just a few seconds more.”

The pulsing ceased.

“The gun is inactive, sir,” reported the ensign.

“Who’s going to test that theory,” said Hudson.

Mateo was up on his feet still concealed by the steel beam. Lana gave him a look like he was crazy just before he stepped out into the gun’s field of fire.

Nothing happened. He moved behind the column again. “We move column to column until we can get close to the gun and mechanically disable it. Let’s move.”

They did just as he had ordered finally reaching the weapon to deactivate it.

“Good call there, Dr. Whitfield,” said Hudson with a nod. “Are you certain you’re a Counselor, sir?”

“That’s what my PhD says. Lets get going,” said Mateo smiling.

Twenty minutes later they came to a large door. It was thoroughly checked for triggers and traps before the rescue team set to cutting through it. Time seemed to be flying by as the minutes ticked away. With a loud clang they were through the obstruction. They brought in their own lights and set them up before taking in the entirety of the room. It was round and had been cut into the ice.

There were banks of ancient computers lining the walls but these were inoperative. What was operating was the structure at the center of the room. There was extensive metal work much like you would find at a construction site surrounding a long cylindrical unit. On the central control panel the countdown clock could be seen running. Mateo stepped closer to the unit to examine it.

“What are we looking at here, Commander,” asked Hudson.

Mateo didn’t immediately answer. He was still checking the Tricorder readings he was getting. Now he understood how Khan intended to deploy the weapon.

“Khan was a devil wearing human skin. This a masterfully horrific weapon he has here.”

“I agree,” said the ensign. “What we have here is a three stage deployment device. It starts out as a torpedo and exits the chamber through this hatch that opens prior to firing. It swims out into the open ocean and then boosts to the surface where it becomes a missile. After a short flight it descends into the water and the bacteria deploys.”

“Why didn’t he just deploy the bacteria in these waters or make it airborne,” asked Brookings.

“Flesh eating bacteria even this one needs a medium for transfer. It isn’t airborne and it needs warmer waters than these to survive. If we could get the canister to open up in these waters it would kill them all. He chose a place where he could destroy these things if he had to but would be difficult for someone else to find. That brilliant bastard,” said Mateo.

“Now we have a decision to make. We have to decide who stays and who goes. If we get this canister to release its contents there’s a chance that some of it gets into this room and anyone in here dies. My team knew the risk coming in and they all volunteered. I don’t expect the same from you folks but your knowledge has been invaluable and we could use your help,” finished Hudson.

“Brookings, get Dr. Whitfield back to the ship. We’ll be in touch,” said Mateo.

“Lieutenant Brookings will be going back alone. I’m staying here,” added Lana.

“If it’s all the same I would like to see this through to the end, sir,” said Brookings.

“All right then. Let’s stop Doomsday,” said Hudson grimly.

<OFF>


Commander Alejandro Mateo
Ship’s Counselor
U.S.S. Swiftsure
OFF: WARNING: the following post contains a FMF Corpsman, Every one needs to watch their backs… especially Ferengi Officers…

ON:

== St. Martin; Marketplace==

-- Late afternoon –

Lueala paused at the window display of a shop, pointing to a wildly patterned Muumuu, “What about that one?” she asked in an unsure tone.

"Well, um... it's nice. But not nearly flattering enough for such beautiful Ferengi woman such as you." Bri answered trying to muffle a giggle. "I'm sure we can find you something that will suit you just fine."

Tilting her head at Brianna, “I apologize if I make bad judgments. Choosing… clothing… is not a skill that I have acquired… yet.” She added with a conspiratorial grin.

That made Bri feel bad, the heart broken look Lueala had in her eyes tore at Bri's heart. "I never said it was a bad judgment, you could make torn rags look wonderful with the beauty you have." Briana placed her arm around the woman's shoulders and gave a light squeeze. "Let’s go shopping shall we!!"

Lueala smiled at the hew-mon’s attempt to placate her. A smile that looked more of a snarl to a couple walking past them, causing them to flinch away. “Be honest, I’m trying to learn. Was that… clothes… nice or a bad choice?” she asked stumbling over the wording, “What was that thing?”

Briana nearly choked at the woman's response. Aching inside as to not offend her with a Truthful answer, "Well, that was called Muumuu, it is commonly worn by older, um how do I say this…” she decided the being forthright was the track to take, as Lueala seemed to be seeking information, not looking to have her ego
stroked, “unattractive women that are trying to hide something. They are really not very flattering."

“Muumuu’s not attractive, right.” The older Ferengi stopped in her tracks, causing the Corpsman to stumble, “you know what I want?”

Briana stopped in her tracks, "What?"

Smiling shyly, “I want every male I see to want me to give them Oo-mox.” She confided quietly to Briana.

This time Bri did choke, after regaining her composer, "Now you’re talking girlfriend, let's go shopping!!" With the blush fading Briana graded the older woman hand and pulled her into the first store.


--A short while later –

Lueala stepped out of the changing room, looked at her self in the mirror uncertainly, then waited for the Hew-mon’s reaction.

“Wow, I don't believe I'm gonna say this but you look great!" Briana couldn't believe what she was seeing. Lueala had on a simple teal tank top, with a pair of khaki really short shorts and a nice pair of sandals. Knowing the Ferengi customs of the woman not wearing clothes, the outfit that she had chosen would
be sure to please her husband. "You are gonna knock them for a loop. I love it, and I know your husband will love it too."

“Really?” The Ferengi female asked shocked at the corpsman’s reaction, she had tried on about a dozen different outfits, with lukewarm responses. “This is an acceptable… Costume?” thinking of these body coverings as costumes made Lueala
less uncomfortable with the whole situation, “So we should start negotiating with the shopkeeper now?”

"Well hang on there, that's good for tonight. But what are you gonna wear tomorrow?”

“Well shouldn’t I?” Lueala asked slightly confused.

“No… no, different clothes for every day…” Briana explained, “sometimes more than one outfit a day, depending on the situation.”

“Different costumes every day?” Lueala mused, “That could be nice… hmmm..”

“You got it.” Briana smiled, “Here you try on these and I'll go talk to the shop keeper." Briana handed the woman a handful of clothes and walked up to the clerk and handed over her credit stud, "Here put what ever she decides on, on my credit stud if you would please." After the clerk had finished the transaction,
Briana walked back to the dressing room to find a very happy Lueala walking out with her choices draped over her arm. "All set?' Briana asked.

“Yes, I believe I have made the right choices.” She smiled a toothy grin, “Now shall we negotiate?”

“Oh that won’t be necessary,” Briana smiled a predatory grin, “Your son arranged to buy those for you.” And thought of Durek’s surprise when he finds out.


OFF

PO1 Briana McCartney
FMF Corpsman
Marine Detachment
USS Swiftsure

FEBRUARY 2007

Author: Lt Cdr Durek
Title: Shoreleave # 45 › The Good, Bad and the Ugly
On

==San Francisco, Earth==
== Law Office of Duey Cheatham==
Durek and Cheatham sat in chairs facing a large wall mounted monitor screen which displayed the panel of judges and to one side, the FCA's lawyer. Durek didn't like going up against the FCA, the Ferengi Commerce Authority, and from his personal experience knew they held all the cards in the game. His initial idea for the back taxes was to pay the fine and be done with it and then deal with the seized investments and hope for the best there. His Hew-mon lawyer, Duey
Cheatham, convinced him there was a better way to handle things.
The hearing was by video conference with the FCA's Region 5 Judicial Panel. Region 5 included the Sol system. The Judicial panel consisted of three judges which heard cases before them and had the authority in their region for deciding business and tax cases. Cases could be taken to a court of appeal, but it cost a lot and in almost every case it
backed the decision of the panel. Since the distance and time available was limited, and the FCA wanted it's cut of the taxes, the conference was arranged on an accelerated time line, made possible by an appropriate bribe.
The opening of the hearing was merely the official introduction of the Judges, lawyers, defendant, reading of the complaint and opening arguments. The Ferengi lawyer representing the interests of the FCA gave a couple of not so subtle smirks towards the camera at Cheatham, the Hew-mon lawyer. Cheatham saw the lawyer's expression, but paid it no mind. Cheatham was up first to present his side of the case to the panel.
"If it pleases the court, I present these documents as evidence that my client does not and has not existed since 2380 after the destruction of the United Fedration of Planets Starship he was serving on was destroyed. You will note that the files include an extensive search was conducted after their reported loss and no remains of the ship or crew were never found. With this I believe that you can only find that my client was not employed by said employer for this time as
he was considered dead. It is not the policy of Starfleet to continue employment of deceased officers or enlisted personnel," Cheatham said to the three older Ferengi that were shown on the screen.
Durek was taken aback by the aurgument, but didn't say anything. It wasn't good to show you disagreed with your lawyer. Cheatham finally wrapped up and was silent.
The FCA lawyer stood. He turned and smirked in the direction of the camera so that Durek and Cheatham could see. Durek thought this wasn't going to be good.
"We submit this report including the recent return of the so called destroyed ship and pay vouchers for back pay, provided by Starfleet, of the United Federation of Planets as proof that the defendant was in fact employed by them for the years covered in the tax documents. Furthermore, the contention that the defendant is still listed as dead in ludicrous. As well all see before us, the defendant is quite alive, unless our esteemed Hew-mon representative has provided us with of a look a like and is attempting to sway this court with knowingly, false information," the FCA lawyer said.
Durek figured this wasn't going to go well and would go fairly quickly. `Maybe I should have gotten a Ferengi lawyer' he thought.
The two lawyers made verbal jabs trying to prove their side of the case until finally the lead judge spoke up.
"I believe we have heard enough. We will consider your arguments and evidence and have a decision for you shortly," the judge announced.
In short order the screen showed the symbol of the FCA as the judges conferred to decide the outcome. Cheatham looked over at Durek whose expression showed everything.
"You seem disheartened," Cheatham said. " Don't worry, I've got a plan."
"A plan? A plan?! Your plan so far is to try and convince them I'm dead, but everyone knows I'm not. Including my parents who are on the way here now!" Durek stated.
Cheatham raised a hand to quiet Durek and nodded, "It's alright, I have a plan."

== 5 minutes later ==
The conference resumed with the Judicial panel making it's ruling. The Judge in the center spoke for the panel. The FCA lawyer seemed content, but this time didn't look toward Durek and Cheatham.
"In the matter of the Back Taxes for Lieutenant Commander Durek the Judicial Panel of Region 5 has reached a decision. Based upon the evidence presented by the Ferengi Commerce Authority and the laughable evidence presneted by the defendent - "
"I object!" Cheatham blurted out. "The evidence is valid reports from-"
"Be quiet, Cheatham!" The Judge yelled back. "You have no authority to object to these findings!"
Cheatham knew the Judge was right, but that didn't phase him. The Judge resumed.
"To continue, the defendant's weak arguments that he is currently dead flies is in direct conflict with the fact that he is alive and currently attending this hearing."
"I've shown that Starfleet has listed this man as lost in action and is considered dead,"
"Your honor, must we listen to these futile arguments?" The FCA lawyer asked.
"Mister Cheatham! You've had your chance to make your case, as weak as it appears to be. You have submitted reports which are obviously wrong! Operating on reports which are wrong does not exclude you or your client from operating within the tax laws of the FCA. And continued outbursts by you and we will fine your so called dead client
more than what we have determined already."
Durek's expression turned to shock on hearing the possibility of the fine and he turned to plead with Cheatham to just shut up.
"Those reports are not wrong, your honor," Cheatham started.
"Enough!!" the Judge yelled. "This is our finding! Your client will pay his back taxes as follows. He will pay 32% of his pay for each year. In addition, for the first year he will pay a penalty of additional 15% for failure to file his taxes, the second year 25% for the same and the third year, he will have an additional penalty of 35%. In regards to the penalty for your outbursts Mr. Cheatham, we are fining him an additional 20% for his last year! Unless you have any additional outbursts," the Judge said.
"No, your honor," Cheatham replied much to Durek's relief.
"Very good then. This hearing is closed and fines will be expected to be paid by the defendant." the Judge announced. The screen reverted back to the logo of the FCA, but not before the FCA lawyer gave a last smirk towards Cheatham and Durek.
"Well that went well," Cheatham said.
"What!! You heard the findings! I have just a little over a years pay out of three! And you call that going well?!" Durek exclaimed.
"Yes. I knew we weren't going to win," Cheatham said.
"So you made them mad too?!" Durek asked.
"It was kind of an extra out of the hearing," Cheatham answered.
Durek looked at the Hew-mon in disbelief.
"You're fired!" Durek said forcefully.
"You don't want to do that if you want your investments back,' Cheatham replied.
"Based on your performance today I think I'll take my chance," Durek said.
"Yes..my performance," Cheatham answered with a sly smile. That caught Durek's attention.
"Performance? Like an act?" Durek asked.
"In two days your hearing is up for your seized investments and assets. It is a bit late to back out now. Figure it's like..."
Cheatham paused for effect, "like the second act of a play."
"Is it a good ending?" Durek asked.
"I'll never know, I've been fired," Cheatham said.
"Okay, okay. You're hired," Durek reluctantly said. "Now, is it a good ending?"
"I think so," Cheatham said with a big smile.

Off
LTC Durek
XO
USS Swiftsure

JANUARY 2007

Author: Lt Steve Brown
Title: A Matter of Time #86 › Lower Echelons Happenings
ON

<<Deck 14, Section 12 Starboard>>
<<USS Swiftsure>>



"How do you figure?"  Johnson asked Ruiz.

"Well, think about it, man, seriously, how often do you see lower enlisted go on Away missions?  It is generally the XO and several of the key officers, dependant on what the mission may or may not entail."  Ru explained.

"Dude, I doubt it seriously.  I heard from a classmate over on the Ozymandias that the skipper is always sending the junior enlisted out on away missions, planetary surveys and the like.  That is how I plan to make it to the top, by kicking ass on away missions all the time."

"Johnson, how long you been aboard?"  Roberts asked, piping up for the first time in the long conversation.

"Almost seven months,"  Johnson said proudly, his chest puffed out.

"And in seven months, have you known anyone at our level to go out on an away mission?"

Johnson thought about it for a moment, Ru looking on expectantly, Roberts still picking at his middle fingernail.  "No, I suppose not,"  he said quietly.

"I didn't think so.  I've been aboard for almost a year and I have yet to do anything other than stand guard either here or at the brig."

This didn't deflate Johnson, though.  "Big deal man.  So what that you cannot get noticed enough to be sent out on any missions."

"Oh that's horse-shit and you know it,"  Roberts said, looking up.  "You know as well as Ru and I know that until you make at least Petty Officer Second Class, you won't be sent anywhere other than here, the Brig or possibly Engineering.  If you are damned lucky, you might, MIGHT," he emphasized, "be sent to the Bridge to watch over things when all the Senior Officers are on a mission or in bed.  That's it." 

"Whatever man.  Just because you haven't set high expectations for yourself doesn't mean you have to keep all of us,"  he motioned to himself and to Ru, "down and out."

"Whatever guys,"  Ruiz interjected, doing his best to break the mounting tension between Roberts and Johnson.  They both didn't exactly like each other, and Ru was trying to make sure they wouldn't end up in a brawl, or worse, a shooting match.  "The thing I'm most curious about is why they made a Lieutenant, and a Ferengi no less, the Acting XO.  What about Commander Jansen?"

"Who?"  Both Roberts and Johnson said at the same time.

"You know, that science officer person."  Ru explained.  Both looked at him like a deer in headlights.  Ru grumbled.  "Nevermind.  But seriously, a Ferengi?"

"What's the problem with a Ferengi Officer, and a Senior Officer no less, being our Exec?"  Johnson asked.

"Well, nothing I don't suppose.  But he is a Ferengi.  Traditionally, Ferengi cannot be trusted.  They are.....greedy, sneaky, untrustworthy and...."

"Hold on a moment, Ru."  Roberts said, sitting up and leaning in towards Ru.  "He holds the rank of Lieutenant.  If he weren't trustworthy, he would never have made it through the Academy, let alone to Lieutenant and Executive Officer.  Besides, I hear this is his second stint as Executive Officer."

Ru laughed.  "Well then, whatever ship he was on last time must have been a garbage tote."  Johnson and Roberts both had to smile, despite themselves.

"Maybe so, but he was still an Executive Officer before.  I've never met the guy, so I really dont have an opinion one way or another."  Roberts said.

"I'm just afraid that if something happens to Captain Chapman, he will try to sell the Swifty and all her crew to the highest bidder, that's all."  Ru said.  Johnson smiled.

"Now I have heard something about that,"  Roberts began.  "I heard on his last ship, his Commanding Officer was taken hostage or got lost on an expedition or something like that, and Lieutenant Durek never left the planet, even after reports of his Captain's death was heard and he was ordered to leave.  As it turns out, his Captain was alive, and Lieutenant Durek was given a super commendation or something."

"Bullshit."  Ru said.

"No really, that's what I heard.  Im not even lying to you."

"Maybe so, but still, a Lieutenant?  In charge of this many people and this large a starship?  Still boggles the mind, thats all."

"Yeah, but since he is the Exec, he must have proved his worth bigtime, so he has earned my respect."  Johnson said.  Roberts nodded.

"Hey, it is almost time for shift-change.  We better clean up and get our gear ready.  Don't want to spend anymore time here than I have to, ya know?"  Ru said.

"Amen to that."  Roberts said, getting up.  Johnson followed suit.



OFF
Crewman Recruit Wally 'Ru' Ruiz
USS Swiftsure



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