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Alenis Meru
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Re: Mission Five: "Unto the Breach"

Sun Aug 30, 2015 7:28 pm

Engineering Fight!
Engineering, USS Portland
MD -02, afternoon
Authors: Alenis Meru, Sera Williams, Nikki Barclay, and Tolaran Kian


Petty Officer Heinrich Hildebrand was not in a good mood. With over twenty years experience as a warp field technician, mostly on Miranda class vessels, he was always irritated when he would have some young officer fresh out of the academy appointed as his Chief Engineer. And Miranda classes had more than most, as they would attract only two types of officers: grizzled old engineers who actually like tinkering with old systems, and fresh young graduates who don’t exactly have the choice of serving on something newer or more prestigious. He was the former, and most of the officers above him were the latter.

It sometimes took him months, even years, to break in his inexperienced superiors. And he would have to start all over every time someone would come fresh out of the academy to take over. It was bad enough when Lieutenant Williams was appointed, though over the last few months he had taught her a thing or two, mostly about respect for the enlisted crew who actually do the work. But Ensign Barclay… she was another story altogether. Nikki was intelligent, there was no doubt about that, but she was a nervous wreck and the idea of her being in charge of engineering for any length of time scared him.

And on top of all that, there was Shras. The mad scientist had taken over half of engineering, and had even had the gall to erect a wall around half of engineering to allow him to do whatever it was they were doing in secret. His staff were rude, condescending, and arrogant, almost as bad as the man himself, but the wall was what really set Heinrich off. To not know what sort of unholy contraption they were working on, or how they were messing around with his precious power transfer systems, was just infuriating.

As he was ruminating on his frustrations, he felt a sharp pain in his elbow. “Hey, watch where you’re going!” he shouted in his thick German accent at one of Shras’ black-suited crew members walked by, pushing the cart which smacked him on the elbow.

“Stay out of my way,” replied the gruff Caitian, releasing his grip on the cart and turning to face Heinrich. The six foot tall Caitian bared his teeth at the shorter human, as he stared him down. But Heinrich was not one to back down.

“You got a problem?” shot back Heinrich as he balled up his hands into fists. “You’re guests on our ship, the least you could do is show some respect to your hosts.” He took a step forward, getting into the Caitian’s personal space.

“Our work is more important than yours; it’s the future of propulsion technology,” snarled the Caitian. As he did so, both Portland engineers and dark energy technicians began forming up behind Heinrich and the Caitian. With all the tension over the past few days, the two tribes in engineering didn’t need much impetus to form up behind their own. “Your job is nothing more than to do what you can with this glorified garbage scow to facilitate our experiments.”

Heinrich was about to explode. “Glorified garbage scow? Don’t you think you should rephrase that a little, furball?”

“Yes,” replied the Caitian with a smirk. “I shouldn’t have referred to the Portland as a garbage scow. It shouldn’t be hauling garbage, it should be hauled away as garbage!”

A roar of laughter emanated from the dark energy technicians behind the Caitian. He turned around for a moment to bask in their cheers, but as he turned back towards Heinrich, he was interrupted by a fist to the face.

Like a spark in a powder keg, Heinrich’s punch set off a conflagration which rapidly consumed sickbay. Portland and dark energy crewmen attacked each other with fists. Hyperspanners flew across engineering, and a Bajoran engineer was thrown through the wall separating the two halves of engineering. And through it all, Nikki panicked and screamed, desperately trying to get her department under control.

Sera had been taking the new Chief of Operations' advice to heart and was working on ways to alter the Warp Bubble without overloading the systems. That is until the wall just beside her console had crumbled as an engineer came crashing through. Sera helped the Bajoran up and brushed a few wall pieces off his uniform.

The new hole in the wall also brought the sound of the brawl into the Dark Energy group's workspace. Sera gave a glance to Petty Officer Kendrickson, who returned with a shrug. Sera sighed, then quickly made her way to Main Engineering. She was furious with what she saw.

She walked near the edge of the frey and shouted, "At ease!" A few of the bystanders began to quiet down and move to the side. The Chief Engineer rushed past a panicking Nikki and threw herself between Heinrich and the Caitian. "What is the problem here? We are on the same team," she ordered angrily. Only after she said it did she remember that she wore the uniform of Shras' team, and that the Portland crew was giving her agitated looks while Shras' team returned smug sneers.

No one knew who threw it, but Sera's angry inquiries were interrupted by a PADD bouncing off her head. And that was all that was needed to send the angry engineers into another rage. Fists flew, hyperspanners sailed across the room, and one unfortunate crewman found himself with his head stuck in a hole in the crumbling partition between the dark energy project crewmen and the engineers.

As Sera rubbed her head in pain, Nikki hurried over to pull her out of the line of fire, grabbing her and dragging her behind a console. "I think we need to call in the cavalry." She tapped her comm badge. "Ensign Barclay to security, I need a team down here pronto!"

"Kian here, on my way."

*** a few minutes later ***

Tolaran joined his team after receiving the message from Barclay, he wasn't quite sure what to expect but engineers could always be a bit feisty. He walked into engineering and found the Portland engineers having what could only be described as a bar brawl minus the alcohol. Indicating to his team to break up the fights he raised his voice and tried talking as the first method...

"What the hell is going on here! You are all wearing the Starfleet uniform, have you all lost your minds?! Ensign Barclay, anyone, an explanation please?!" Yelled Tolaran, hoping for the best.

He then had to duck a punch from one of Shras engineers, and sighed, incapacitating them with a quick blow to the throat which sent them to the floor coughing. "I do hope you will enjoy my brig" Tolaran almost grinned...

Nikki was relieved to see Tolaran show up. "They've been at each other's throats for days, this was only a matter of time!" she shouted, before ducking behind a console again to dodge a flying hyperspanner. "They're out of control!"

Sera rubbed her head a bit. She knew that a trip to Sickbay was in her near future. Sera held her frustration in check. She wanted to point out different engineers and scientists to go to the brig, but she knew that would only worsen the situation. Instead, she looked toward Tolaran, "Ever since the partition went up, it's been a powder keg down here."

"They've been on the ship all of five minutes, how did this start?" Tolaran knelt down to check Sera out, looking into her eyes and feeling around her head.

"I don't know!" exclaimed Nikki. "Just help us end it!"

"Just don't break anything," Sera asked. If anything was broken, it could spell disaster for the experiment... and the ship.

"Don't worry Sera, my team won't damage any of your toys." Tolaran stood up and walked back over to where his team were breaking up fights "LISTEN UP, ANY FURTHER ENGAGEMENT IN THIS SCUFFLE AND YOU WILL SPEND TIME IN MY BRIG, REGARDLESS OF WHO YOU ARE. IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE, STAND DOWN!" he never liked to shout, but this was one of those times where it was needed... lets just hope the others listened.

Some of the engineering crew heeded Tolaran's advice. Realizing that the cavalry was here, they had little choice but to end it. But a few continued to resist, trying to wrest them free of the grip of the guards.

The Caitian who had originally bumped into the Portland Petty Office simply looked down at Tolaran, blood from his nose staining his fur. "He started it," he said in a sneering voice, motioning towards Heinrich.

"Why you feline f--"

While not very imposing herself, Sera had faced down a group of crazed Terrans in the Mirror Universe and a cell of fanatical Wormhole Alien cult in her short Starfleet career. Perhaps it was even the concussion speaking from her hit on the head. Whatever it was, Sera was not going to let this happen. Sera stepped between the two and said in her best commanding voice, "Don't finish that sentence. If either of you so much as look at the other, I will personally thrown you in the brig myself. The security team will be the least of your worries."

The Caitian threw his arms in the air and looked over at Nikki, Tolaran, and Sera. "Fine. Just keep your grunts out of our way," he sneered.

-----------------------------------

Just as some semblance of order was being restored to the divided Engineering department, thanks in large part to the intervention of security, the doors whooshed open again, revealing the captain. With her quick, deliberate stride and the gruff expression on her face, everyone in engineering knew that the proverbial crap was about to hit the fan.

"Captain on deck!" shouted the nearest enlisted crewman, as he went to attention.

Alenis simply ignored him and marched straight on into engineering. "What the hell is going on down here," she angrily demanded, staring down Sera and Nikki in particular. "We need security to stop your departments from killing each other? Really?"

"I... I... We..." Nikki just stammered in response, melting in front of the forceful presence of the captain.

Tolaran looked at Nikki, feeling sorry for her for getting the Captain's wrath "Sir, I believe from what we've discovered the fight broke out between one of our non comms...a...Hildebrand and Caitian. My team have already begun to take a few, shall we say, over excited crew to the brig. I am concerned that if these two codes teams don't learn to co-operate we will see more tension. If I may say so, Shras team are very rude."

"Agreed." Alenis sighed as she looked around engineering. "Unfortunately, I don't have the luxury of being able to throw everyone in the Brig; we'll have barely a skeleton crew left to run the ship. Round up the ringleaders and let them cool off in the brig. Separate cells. As for you two..." added Alenis, looking over at Nikki and Sera, "my office, ten minutes."

"Yes, ma'am," Sera said, upset with herself that she had not been able to get the situation handled.
Capt. Alenis Meru
Commanding Officer
USS Portland

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Alenis Meru
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Re: Mission Five: "Unto the Breach"

Sun Aug 30, 2015 7:29 pm

Engineering fight aftermath...
Captain's Office, USS Portland
MD-02, Afternoon
Authors: Sera Williams, Alenis Meru & Nikki Barclay (played by Alenis Meru)


Sera looked over at her friend. Sera knew that she had put Nikki into a bad situation, one that the Ensign simply had not been suited to handle. "Whatever happens, it's on me," she said, trying to take a bit of pressure off her friend.

"Are you sure?" asked Nikki, her voice about to crack. She might have been a neurotic, nervous wreck, but she didn't want to leave a friend to get wrung out to dry. "Maybe this won't be so bad?"

Sera shrugged. In her head, a million possibilities ran through her head. Would she be demoted? Would she have to degauss the transporter pads manually? Would she be given a shuttle back to the Starbase? "At least a board of Admirals aren't waiting for us on the other side," she tried to joke. Now, she probably would have preferred the Admirals to an angry Captain.

Hearing the chime ring, Alenis stood up and leaned forward, palms on her desk, in a posture which projected power throughout the room. "Come in," she called out, knowing exactly who was on the other side of the door.

Sera made her way through the door first. Since Shras had ordered her to join his experiment, things have spiraled. This was probably the low point in her short career as the Chief Engineer of a starship. If Sera was honest with herself, she had not done a stellar job. She wouldn't be surprised if Captain Alenis demoted her and put her in charge of cleaning the nacelles.

Sera gathered what pride she had left and stood before her Captain's desk just like she was trained at the Academy. "Captain," she said. A nasty bruise where the thrown PADD had hit her head was already forming just under her hairline on her forehead.

"You requested us, ma'am," added Nikki, her eyes wandering to try to avoid the captain's glare and eventually settling on a brightly coloured bird in the corner.

"Yes, I did," replied Alenis, in a stern voice, as though she was talking to two cadets who got caught sneaking a shuttle out for a joyride. But in truth, she was as exasperates as she was furious. The past week, her desk and Tim's had been filled with complaints and reports of minor incidents between Shras' team and just about everyone they had interacted with. Apparently the science labs were a powder keg, with Shras himself taking a page from an Earth sitcom and drawing a line down the middle to separate the Portland and the dark energy crews. She might have found it funny if it weren't for the fact that her desk was covered in complaints. But a fistfight in main engineering was a serious matter. "So, Lieutenant Williams, Ensign Barclay, care to explain what happened down there?"

"I...." Nikki tried to speak, but found herself quickly out of breath, on the verge of a panic attack, and unable to so much as look up at the captain.

"Two crewmen bumped into each other, one from Engineering and the other from the Dark Energy experiment. Frustrations and emotions that had been brewing boiled over. I was alerted when a crewman was thrown through the partition separating Engineering." Sera said, trying to keep Nikki from having a panic attack. "It was on me, Captain. I should have been able to keep the two departments under control."

"That you should have." Alenis let out a sigh. "But Ensign Barclay also bears her share of responsibility for this incident. She was acting as your assistant department head, responsible for managing the engineering staff, was she not?"

"I... I..." Hyperventilating, that was all that Nikki was able to get out.

Sera's eyes shifted momentarily to her friend, "Yes, Captain. On my orders." There was no point in keeping that from the Captain, Sera had already informed Meru about the change in the Engineering chain-of-command. "Ensign Barclay is one of the best engineering talents on the Portland."

Alenis looked down at the two of them in front of her, as she did so, the one corner of her mouth curled slightly. "Duly noted," she said in reply. "Now, as for the current situation, I will talk to Shras, but apart from the few who are cooling off in the brig at the moment, it's up to you to deal with your staff. Team building exercises, discipline, you have the authority as Chief and Assistant Chief to do whatever it takes to get the Engineering and the Dark Energy crews working together. Think of this as a challenge; I know you're both recent graduates of the Academy, so show me what you've learned about leadership and make sure this doesn't happen again. Are we clear?"

"Yes, Captain," Sera replied. Solution after solution ran through her head. Parrises squares? No, too violent for an already on edge crew. Maybe a talent show?

"Good. Ensign Barclay, you're dismissed. Lieutenant Williams, a word in private?"

"Of course, Captain, anything," said Sera, allowing sincerety into her voice. She gave Nikki a reassuring smile as her friend left the ready room.

As soon as Nikki was gone, Alenis's eyes fell on Sera once more. "Ensign Barclay, she's very... nervous, isn't she?"

Sera nodded in agreement as she made sure the door to the Ready Room had shut. "Talented engineer, not so much with people," Sera admitted. She suddenly knew that her friend was part of the problem, and that Sera had placed her in a bad spot.

"Yes..." Alenis paused for a moment. "I appreciate you wanting to defend the crew under you. It's part of what makes a good officer. But are you sure she has the leadership skills to take on such a role in engineering? I mean, being a talented engineer is one, thing, but..."

"But being a leader is something different ," Sera finished for Meru. She didn't want to hurt Nikki, but she had to do what's best for the ship. Looking at the Captain in the eye, Sera said, "No, she was the wrong choice for such a big role. She can keep the ship flying on hope, but she can't patch the two crews."

"I'm glad we see eye to eye," replied Meru. She stood straight up and began pacing her office, glancing out the window as she pondered the situation. "I know Ensign Barclay is your friend, but as you advance in Starfleet, you'll find that sometimes you have to put the needs of the ship ahead of your friends and make difficult decisions." It was part of the loneliness of command that Meru had been feeling ever since her first promotion to an Executive Officer position a few years ago. "Unfortunately, we don't have many officers in Engineering right now. I'm going to recommend that we replace Ensign Barclay at the first opportunity, and have her attend remedial officer training with Commander Rouse. And she should probably make regular appointments with Delainey as well. Do you concur?"

Sera took a moment to answer as she thought about her friend. "Yes, Captain, I agree. She should be replaced and the counseling would help her."

"Great." Alenis took a deep breath. "And Lieutenant, I know the situation is stressful right now, with the presence of Shras' team and the divided loyalties. Just... try to make sure I don't have a mutiny on my hands, okay?"

"Yes, Captain, mutinies are bad," Sera replied. "I'll do what I can to ease tensions."

"Sounds great." Alenis let out a hint of a smile for the first time in this little meeting. "If there's nothing else, you are dismissed."

"Thank you, Captain," Sera said. Already, she looked as though the weight of the Portland had been lifted. Sera turned, then walked out the door.
Capt. Alenis Meru
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USS Portland

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Re: Mission Five: "Unto the Breach"

Sun Aug 30, 2015 7:31 pm

Washington Calling
Bridge, USS Portland
MD01, 1000 hours
Authors: Alenis Meru, Shras & Admiral Washington (played by Alenis Meru)


“Captain Alenis!”

Shras’ shrill, irritating Andorian voice echoed throughout the bridge as he stepped off the turbolift. “My experiments were supposed to start ten minutes ago! What is the meaning of this? This delay is unacceptable!”

Alenis sighed as Ko-ko nuzzled against her head and covered her eyes with her wing. “I’m sorry, Ko-ko,” replied Alenis as she petted her bird. “I promise you, the bad man will be gone in a few days.”

After comforting her bird, Alenis swiveled in her seat to face Shras. “First off, take a look at my collar. These four pips mean that you are to treat me with respect, Commander. Second… I assure you that this is simply a routine delay while we realign the sensors, and your experiments will proceed within the hour.

“Within the hour!” Shras tried to contain his anger for a moment, but it simply made his face look like a bright balloon filled with blueberry jelly, about to burst and spill its contents everywhere. His efforts only managed to last a few seconds though, before he launched into another outburst. “Do you realize the importance of this project? My work is the future of Starfleet! Our dark energy systems are the most advanced pieces of technology in the entire fleet! And you dare to delay--”

“Captain, we’re receiving a hail from--” interrupted a junior officer at the Ops console.

“I’ll take it in my office!” exclaimed Alenis, thanking the prophets for an excuse to get away from Shras. “Commander Rouse, you have the conn,” she added, walking swiftly towards her office with Ko-ko on her shoulder.

********************************
Alenis sat down at her desk and sighed. These dark energy experiments were going to be the death of her, and it wasn’t just Shras. Since they started playing around with this technology, she’d been having strange dreams, and on a few occasions, she thought she saw out of the corner of her eyes shadowy, ghoulish figures. Of course, she chalked it up to simply the additional stress of having Shras on board, but now she wasn’t so sure.

Taking a deep breath, she pressed a button on her console to bring up the transmission, and found herself face to face with Admiral Washington. “Admiral,” said Alenis, offering him a respectful nod. “You don’t know how much of a pleasure it is to get a call from you.”

“Shras is that bad?” replied Washington. There was no denying that Shras was a brilliant scientist, but even Washington knew that he was not one to easily get along with people.

“Yes. He is.” Alenis exhaled deeply as she placed a hand on her forehead. “So, Admiral, is this a social call, or do we have new orders? Perhaps rendezvousing with someone to take Shras off our hands?”

“You should be so lucky,” replied Washington with a smirk. “No, you have new orders. Your dark energy systems may be getting a more robust trial than planned.”

“Oh?” asked Alenis. “I can’t wait to inform Shras. Where are we off to now?”

“Nebula NGC-3814,” replied Washington in a serious tone. “At 1800 hours yesterday, the USS Endeavour responded to a distress call from the Nova Europa colony. Upon arrival, they engaged the Borg.”

“The Borg?” Alenis’ face turned white. Of all the dangers in the galaxy, it was the Borg which inspired the most fear in her heart. While most Starfleet officers understood the serious nature of the Borg threat, for Alenis, it was personal. Since the destruction of the Gol at the battle of New Algiers years ago, the Borg had been a consistent feature in her nightmares.

“Yes, the Borg.” Washington pressed a couple buttons on his console and sent Alenis a star chart. “This time, however, it is not just one ship. We’ve traced the Borg activity to NGC-3814. And we’d like the Portland to investigate.

“The Portland?!” exclaimed Alenis. “Shouldn’t we send a Defiant or a Prometheus or something?”

“No time. You’re the closest ship with the capabilities to explore the nebula. And…” Washington paused for effect, “you’ll have Shras’ experimental technology to help you.”

Alenis gasped. “The dark energy… but that hasn’t even been tested yet!”

“In that case, you’ll be testing it in the field,” replied Washington. “Captain, I don’t need to tell you how important this mission is. The fate of the Federation could hang in the balance. Good luck… and god speed.”

********************************

Stepping back out onto the bridge, Alenis looked over her assembled crew. “All right everyone, we have new orders, straight from Admiral Washington. Flight control, set course for NGC-3814, maximum warp. Ops, cancel the dark energy experiments. Senior staff meeting in ten minutes.”

As the crew got to work, one person raised his voice in protest. “Captain--”

“Shut up, Shras!”
Capt. Alenis Meru
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USS Portland

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Re: Mission Five: "Unto the Breach"

Sun Aug 30, 2015 7:34 pm

Obligatory Briefing Scene
Ready Room, USS Portland
MD01, 1010 hours
Authors: Alenis Meru, Shras (played by Alenis Meru), Timothy Rouse, Sera Williams, Marcus Kallan, Jason Beauvoir, Tyrlai Zade, Brad Silverton, Arthur Reynolds, Kahnr Dai, Delainey Carlisle


Standing over the heavy ready room table, Alenis looked over the crew assembled before her. In the ten minutes since her conversation with Admiral Washington, she hadn't told anyone about the nature of this meeting, and could see the curiosity on some of their faces. Even the freshest recruit would have known that a sudden change of course and staff meeting meant that something was going on, and chances are it was serious. But what it was...

She looked down at Tim for a moment. She hadn't even told him, but he could tell by her eyes and her body language that whatever this was, it was serious.

"Thank you all for joining me," started Alenis. "I called this meeting because--"

Alenis froze, her eyes falling on Shras. "You're not one of my senior staff," she said, glaring at him.

"No, but if this meeting -- whatever it is about -- is going to affect my project, then I should be here," shot back Shras.

Alenis sighed. Part of her training as a tactical officer was knowing to pick her battles, and she had more important thing to do than fight with Shras over ejecting him from her ready room. "Fine. So long as you behave yourself."

"I'm always at my best behaviour," countered Shras.

"Whatever." Alenis rolled her eyes then glanced over at Tim; he simply shrugged his shoulders and looked back up at her. Taking one last look over her crew, Alenis tapped a button in front of her to activate the holographic display. A three dimensional star chart showing the position of Nova Europa, the nebula, and the Portland, among a few other things, appeared in front of everyone. "The Borg are back," she said in a firm tone, pausing for a moment to allow that to sink in.

Sera shifted uncomfortably in her seat, her eyes trying to read the reactions of those gathered. The Borg had been more than a match for an entire fleet of Starfleet starships on more than one occasion. They were on a ship built decades before first contact with the Borg, which wasn't very promising. She didn't even know if she'd feel good aboard the likes of an Akira, Sovereign, or even a Prometheus.

Marcus sat across from Sera, tugging at the turtleneck to his new uniform in Operations gold. It wasn't rational that the uniform itched or chafed, as it was made of the same synthetic, hypoallergenic material that all Starfleet uniforms were made of. Still, the circumstances leading up to his inclusion in the Portland's bridge staff still did not sit well with him. But, he had his former commanding officer's blessing and encouragement, with an open pipeline to Daystrom. For that, and for that reason alone, he convinced himself to put up with it.

"Was Nova Europa attacked by the Borg? Were there any survivors?" Jason asked fearing for his sister Yvette's life, she'd recently taking a position as Chief Intelligence Officer. Although the Science Officer had never encountered the Borg, he remembered his mother telling him of her encounter with them during the Battle of Sector 001 almost 20 years ago. He'd always dreaded coming across those cybernetic zombies.

"Yes," replied Alenis in a firm tone. Wearing a dataglove connected to the holo-projector on the briefing table, she pointed towards Nova Europa, highlighting it in red. "XX hours ago, Nova Europa sent out a distress call, reporting that they were being attacked by the Borg. Four hours ago, the USS Endeavour engaged a sphere in orbit of Nova Europa, destroying it and rescuing a few dozen survivors before being engaged by a tactical cube."

"Impressive that a Nebula was able to destroy a Sphere and hold off a Cube," Marcus observed. "Probably some grade-A officers aboard using some zany tactics." He looked across the table at Jason, noting the subdued concern on his friend's face.

"The Endeavour escaped destruction when the tactical cube withdrew," continued Alenis, using her dataglove to control the zoom on the display, "albeit not without some damage and the loss of her captain. Long range sensors have tracked the tactical cube's warp trail back to NGC-3814, a nebula in sector 112. Unfortunately, our long range sensor system can't penetrate the nebula, which Starfleet Intelligence suspects contains some sort of hub for Borg activity in the Alpha Quadrant." Alenis took a deep breath and then pointed to the position of the Portland, highlighting it on the display. "Which... is where we come in."

Sera pulled at the collar of her new uniform, it was the same style as Shras as she had been transferred to his command while retaining her Chief Engineer position. She had yet to really feel comfortable in it, especially when in the same room as the Portland's senior staff. "Was the Captain captured? If so, could this be another Captain Picard situation where her experience and knowledge could create another Wolf 359?" There was the slightest bit of fear in her voice. That battle had destroyed 39 starships and had been as devastating as any of the battles against the Dominion, and that had been against one tactical cube with the knowledge of one Starfleet Captain.

Alenis paused for a moment. "Yes, she was," she replied. "We don't know what they've done with her. All we know is that the Borg broke off their attack and retreated as soon as they captured her, almost as if Captain Banninga was their sole objective." Alenis paused for effect. The Borg were as mysterious as they were dangerous. Their motivations, their strategies... it was still an enigma, something completely alien to individual beings. "We can only speculate as to what was done with her. Unfortunately," said Alenis in a heavy tone, "this is not a rescue mission. Our objective is to perform reconnaissance inside the nebula in order to gather information on whatever the Borg are doing in there so we can stop them."

"Finding a Nebula in a nebula," Marcus observed, his dry wit ever-so. "Captain, I happen to be intimately familiar with all of the data on Wolf 359 and the Borg's first attempt to assimilate a mouthpiece. The Borg don't assimilate individuals unless it suits a greater purpose. What they can't assimilate, they destroy. So it might be worth it from a scientific and cultural standpoint to understand why their behavior so closely matches what happened at Wolf 359. Maybe a secondary objective?"

The doors whooshed open and Tyrlai Zade walked in, dressed in a mostly black stealth field uniform with very shiny deep purple hair, one long strand tied in a braid at her right temple. She looked back over her shoulder speaking to someone in the hallway as she strode into the briefing room. "You did good today, Jena. That stuffy--" she paused as she spotted Shras seated prominently at the briefing table. "Commander, how nice of you to join us so inappropriately like this. Reminds me a bit of myself." The doors whooshed shut on her previous conversation and she sat down at the table and looked at all of the tense faces. "Sorry, I've been preoccupied a bit lately, what did I miss?"

Despite his concern for Yvette, Jason couldn't help but smile at Tyrlai's entrance. He liked the woman for befriending Jena and for the flare with which she approached life.

Tyrlai smiled back at Jason, hopefully he wouldn't be too mad when Commodore Stuffypants found all of that Gelatin in his temporary quarters. For a moment she thought she should probably be teaching Jenna more responsible activities. But those didn't generally make such cool looking swirling patterns of color. She discarded the notion and tried to pay closer attention.

Strangely enough, Arthur didn't seem to give the late entree a second thought. Instead, he appeared preoccupied by the news. Earlier in the meeting, he found the brief banter between the captain and the scientist strange, if not alarming. But nothing could have prepared him for the possibility of renewed Borg activity in the Alpha quadrant. He'd only heard stories of them in the Academy, but while they didn't exactly strike fear in him, they did fascinate him enough to consider joining the Circle Fleet in the Delta quadrant. Unfortunately, those plans were dashed the moment those Yridians got away from him on Starbase Montgomery. "Is there any tactical significance to the nebula? Where's it located?"

Alenis brought up the star chart again and zoomed out so the assembled crew could contextualize everything on the star charts. "It's not too far from Cardassian space, but there is little tactical significance to the nebula, apart from the fact that the nebula's interference means it can't be pierced by long range sensors, so it's a perfect place for doing something without any prying eyes." Alenis turned towards Tyrlai and said in a serious tone, "the Borg are back, and we're being sent alone into a nebula which is probably crawling with them."

"Starleet is sending the very oldest and smallest ship in the fleet into a Nebula full of Borg?" Oddly enough facing deadly and insane odds was not her first thought, it was how many Gaskets Thosk would lose when he found out about this. "If we were the fastest ship that might be something, why would we even be considered for such a,..." She trailed off remembering who's office she and Jena had just filled with translucent lubricating foam. "The Commodore brought something clever and untested along with him again, is that it? I didn't bring you back from the dead so you could just rush headlong back towards it!!"

"The prophets brought me back." She reminded the Trill.

"Technically." Tyrlai scowled, brightening only slightly as she remembered. "I haven't met the Borg before. They can only be bargained with from a position of strength, the Diplomatic corps doesn't really even have a specialist for them."

"If we do our recon well enough, we shouldn't need one," Delainey replied quietly. It pained her they weren't ordered to attempt a rescue, but she knew better than to voice that sentiment here. They had their orders and no amount of wishing they were different would change things.

Brad had sat silent during the briefing and watched Tyrlai come in late. No doubt she was up to something as usual, but his thoughts returned to the meeting. There really wasn't much for him to contribute towards at the moment. Any medical needs that would arise from a Borg mission would most likely mean a tactical engagement with matching one of the Federations most dangerous enemies with... the might of a Miranda class starship. If it came to combat the Portland would most likely be destroyed. Still, the medical department would be ready when called upon. Brad just spent the meeting nodding to other department heads discussing tactics.

"Yes," called out Alenis, looking over at Sera and Shras in their matching uniforms. Shras was as calm and collected as he usually was, seated with a smug smile upon his face, though Alenis knew that just about anything could set off his hair-trigger temper and turn him from a minor nuisance into a serious problem. Sera, on the other hand, was visibly uncomfortable in her new digs, not the least reason being because of the association with Shras. "Commander Shras, Lieutenant Williams, I trust that these dark energy systems you are testing out include something which will enable us to slip in and out of a nebula teeming with Borg cubes without being detected?"

"Captain, in theory, we could come out of warp just beside a Cube without them noticing," Sera said with as much confidence as she could muster. The team had worked very hard and around the clock to integrate the Dark Energy systems into the Portland, which had not always cooperated. With much less confidence, she added, "However, nothing has been tested outside of the holodecks."

After being on his best behaviour for almost ten whole minutes, the mention of his reactor was the straw that broke the camel's back for Shras. "Captain, I protest -- the dark energy reactor is only just progressing out of the theoretical stages. It is too unpredictable for us to use in a combat situation without being properly tested. And these tests could take weeks!"

Alenis glared at Shras. "What are you saying, Commander, that your amazing new invention is a lemon? That we can't trust your new systems?"

"No, I--" Shras paused and gritted his teeth, realizing he was outmaneuvered. "I suppose in theory, if we were to flood the outer hull with tetryon radiation, we could use the dark energy generator to effect a trans-dimensional warp jump, and by keeping us just slightly out of phase, we could conceal ourselves in the plasma trail of a passing cube with only an approximately..." he paused for a moment to do some mental calculations. "three point seven percent chance of being detected." He looked across the table at the rest of the officers, wondering if their inferior intellects managed to grasp the genius of his plan. "At least, in theory."

Until that moment, Kahnr had been sitting quite peacefully down at the far end of the briefing table. With eyes heavy-lidded and a slouched posture, one might have thought him asleep except for the glitter behind them that had moved towards each person who spoke in turn. He hadn't even moved when the Borg had first been mentioned though that was mainly because he had been busy erecting greater mental shields before any brief surge in fear overwhelmed him. Now he had to speak up, and his eyes opened wider so he could stare at Shras, "You think we can ride the wake of a cube?" It was delivered with such a disbelieving deadpan that it might make blue antennae stick straight up. "And without getting detected, as the ship bounces around - presumably without us shaking apart - causing all sorts of energetic fields to fluctuate as well. Wow, this dark energy is some impressive stuff." Kahnr didn't sound very impressed, he sounded almost impudent as he gazed at the Andorian.

"Impressive is an understatement, Ensign," shot back Shras in a dismissive tone. While he was undoubtedly arrogant, he did not take compliments well. After all, a compliment does not mean much if it comes from someone so far beneath you, as Shras considered nearly everyone he met to be. "This dark energy reactor is the way of the future."

Sera's face went a bit pale at the exchange between both of her superiors. She had needed to keep the Portland-only crew in the dark about the vast majority of the dark energy work that was occurring in and on the ship. It had not earned her very much favor and had certainly gone a long way to distance her from her friends and crewmates. It was extremely dangerous work, and she honestly had her doubts if a ship that had been around during the "Kirk years" would even survive the experiment.

"Dark energy?" Marcus parroted in surprise, turning to regard Shras, then Alenis, and then Shras again. "You're telling me that you have a subspace manifold generator on board? Is that why engineering is upside down?" Despite the awkwardness of his transition to chief of operations, Marcus made sure qualified operations staff helped with the personnel reorganization. He even put in some extra hours, himself. "I mean, you might as well strap a Romulan singularity drive to the secondary hull. It'll be just as safe..."

Jason agreed completely with the Chief Operations Officers sentiments, but said. "Don't worry Marcus, the Commander's prototypes always work, just like his stasis field, that not only succeeded in immobilizing it's target, it also nearly immobilized us, for good, due to its massive energy drain. So I have every confidence that this dark energy field will work fine, I just don't think well still be alive to celebrate. Perhaps we should have the champagne now."

Pondering the situation, Alenis looked over the assembled officers before her. "Unfortunately, unless we have any better ideas on how to fly into a Borg-infested nebula and live to tell the tale, we'll have to entrust our lives to Shras' little gadgets."

Silence.

"Then it's settled," added Alenis, exasperation beginning to show in her voice. Looking over at Shras, she could see a look of smug indignation on his face. Alenis looked at Shras and Sera. She knew this order would be painful for everyone around the room, but she had no choice. "Commander Shras, Lieutenant Williams, your job will be to train everyone on the dark energy systems, their properties and uses, as well as proper safety protocols."

"Captain, I protest!" shouted Shras, standing up from his seat. "This project is confidential and knowledge of my experiments is on a strict need to know basis, authorized by Admiral Washington himself!"

"Washington," cursed Alenis under her breath. For a split second, she wondered if this was all simply the Admiral's revenge for what happened between his daughter and Timothy. "Commander Shras, this may be your project but it's my ship. And in my judgement, knowledge of the dark energy systems is critical for the success of our priority one mission and the survival of the ship. Besides, the project won't be very confidential if the Borg assimilate you and half the quadrant." Alenis stood up, placing herself at eye level with Shras. "You will train my entire senior staff, and if you have a problem with that, I'm sure Washington would love to hear it -- after we complete this recon mission.

Marcus added nothing more, simply watching the exchange between his captain and the Andorian. He sniffed and rubbed his nose at Alenis' smackdown, no doubt desperate not to snicker.

Sera sat awkwardly as her superiors argued. She made no effort to defend either of them, she was already viewed upon with distrust by many and didn't feel like adding any weight to the rumors.

Shras was boiling with rage. "This is going to go--"

"Yes, I know, in your report," replied Alenis with a wave of her hand. She knew from her last encounter with Shras several months ago that he was extremely meticulous in his reporting, documenting every slight against him, real and perceived. "You have work to do. Get to it."

Shras stared into Alenis' eyes, fuming mad. Then, he placed a hand on Sera's shoulder. "Come on, Lieutenant, you heard the captain. We have work to do." With that, he turned and started to storm out.

With a slight, apologetic smile to the rest of the crew gathered, Sera replied, "Yes, sir." She then turned and followed her commanding officer. She felt a small sense of relief that she would finally be able to let the crew in on what the dark matter experiment actually did.

Marcus' eyes narrowed at Shras putting his hand on Sera's shoulder, and there was a certain rigidity to his spine and shoulders all of a sudden. He watched the two leave, and then sat back in his chair, brooding.

"Everyone else," called out Alenis as the two black-shirted officers left, "prepare your sections for contact with the Borg."

Jason felt for Sera, it wasn't her fault that Shras had recruited her. Not everyone was willing to accept the consequences for disobeying orders they don't agree with.

Arthur pursed his lips as he watched Shras leave, glancing back at the captain with an eyebrow perked. This ship resembled his first assignment on the Warren more and more every day, and that worried him considerably. Crew interactions and relationships were complicated, and the whole mess back on the Warren reminded him of those 20th century soap operas... or certain life experiences of his own. But as anyone who read his Starfleet record would know, his only concern was efficiency - and the lack on the Warren led him, in part, to join the Tactical department. So when he spoke again, his mind called up whatever information he could remember about Borg tactical systems - and especially their regeneration technologies. "Right away, captain."

Marcus didn't need to be told twice. Once his fellow officers started to move, he headed towards the exit for the bridge.

Tolaran had remained silent through the briefing, absorbing all the new information, he wouldn't question the Captain but he did not like the Andorian, something about him irked him far more than he'd liked. He watched the other officers file out as the briefing ended and knew he'd have to put in extra training for his team, extra security points through the ship in preparation for any Borg that might infiltrate the ship, he had spent a lot of time during his time at the Academy studying the Federation's enemies and had hoped to never meet the Borg. He saw Meru giving him a questioning look and he simply nodded, stood up and began to leave the room.

Kahnr slid his long body out of his chair and stretched, big arms overhead, and bit back a yawn. It probably would be pushing proper decorum a bit too far to yawn. He wasn't sure. The Betazoid had some plans in mind for his team. The Portland had two Type 7 shuttles and three Type 8 on board. The 8's were too big and too powerful for what he had in mind, but the low-powered 7's might do the trick. He headed through the Bridge and to a turbolift heading for Deck 6 to see just how low they could get the energy signatures of the shuttles and to make them appear to be tiny asteroids to sensors, as it could be very handy to have a ride or two ready to go to sneak up on the Borg. Kahnr wasn't going to only rely on Shras' miracle machine, just as he assumed none of the other officers were going to either.

As the crew filed out of the room, Alenis stood and turned towards the window, gazing out at the stars. But when all her other officers left, one man remained.

"Captain," said Timothy in a soft voice, "we need to talk."
Capt. Alenis Meru
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Re: Mission Five: "Unto the Breach"

Mon Aug 31, 2015 3:38 am

Post-Briefing
Ready Room, USS Portland
After the briefing...
Authors: Alenis Meru, Timothy Rouse

Last time, on Star Trek: Portland...


As the crew filed out of the room, Alenis stood and turned towards the window, gazing out at the stars. But when all her other officers left, one man remained.

"Captain," said Timothy in a soft voice, "we need to talk."


And now, the continuation...

“Talk?” asked Alenis as she removed the dataglove she had been using to control the holo-display in the briefing room. There was something about the way he said it that indicated to her that this was not going to be an easy conversation. “About what?”

“Are you sure we are the right ship to take this assignment? With your history with the borg?” Tim asked.

“My history?” Alenis’ expression instantly turned severe. “Actually, I think having a commanding officer who has experience in tactical and experience fighting the Borg is an advantage. Besides,” she added, in an attempt to change the subject, “we’re the only ship with the dark energy reactor.”

“The Endeavour also had a Commanding Officer with experience in tactical and in the Borg. You think they benefitted from that fact?” he asked sarcastically. He had read the other CO’s service record and noticed the similarities between the two woman.

“They managed to save the last of the colonists and escape,” replied Alenis. “Though there were some casualties, they accomplished their mission and saved dozens of lives.”

Alenis sighed deeply. “What are you implying, Tim? Are you saying that you don’t trust me to not allow any residual feelings from New Algiers to get in the way of making the right decision as a captain?”

”What I’m saying, or more asking. Are you up for the task? I’m not in the mood to lose you again.”

Turning towards the stars, Alenis stared out at the window for a moment as she considered the question. “I don’t know how this mission will end. None of us know.” She sighed as she turned back to Tim. “We’re Starfleet officers. Sometimes that means we have to go on dangerous missions and make the ultimate sacrifice. It’s what we signed up for. If I have to make that sacrifice to save the ship or to stop the Borg from rampaging throughout the quadrant, I’ll do it without a moment’s hesitation.” In her eyes was a passion that burned with the intensity of a blue giant star. With any other invader, Klingon, Breen, Orion, it would have been duty. But with the Borg, it was personal. “I did it before, and I would do it again.”

Tim sighed. He knew when Meru got like this, there was no stopping her. “Meru,” he said, “I’m your friend, and your executive officer. It’s my responsibility to make sure you’re all right, not just for your sake but for the ship as well.”

“I’m fine!” she exclaimed, growing frustrated.

“The fact you’re being that defensive tells me you’re not,” countered Tim. In truth, he had been worried about his friend for some time, but had always pushed those concerns to the back of his mind. “Along with the fact that you’re still taking sleep aids, and haven’t seen a counselor in months. Not to mention the empty wine bottles I saw in your quarters last week. What are you up to now, a bottle a night? Two?”

Alenis sighed deeply. Tim seemed to know her better than she knew herself. “So, what are you going to do?” she asked, defeated.

Tim stared into Alenis’ eyes. “I’m not going to remove you from command,” he said. “You’re too good of a captain; too good of a tactician. But as soon as this mission is over, I want you to go see Dr. Carlisle. And I’m going to confiscate every drop of wine in your quarters. And the bottle of Romulan Ale hidden in that sculpture of yours.

“Fine,” replied Alenis in an exasperated tone. “Is that all?”

“Just one more thing,” replied Tim as he stepped towards the door. “Get some sleep, okay?”
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Re: Mission Five: "Unto the Breach"

Mon Aug 31, 2015 10:24 am

Who: Lt. JG Marcus Kallan and Holo-Meru
Where: Jeffries Tube between Holodeck One and Two
When: After the movie, before the nebula

Not technically a tube, the crawlspace between Holodeck One and Two was the home for the memory matrix that Marcus crafted to house the emergent sentient hologram. Having done most of his monitoring and research remotely, he hadn't really communicated with holo-Meru except through diagnostic read-outs and minute adjustments to the memory allocation her program was allowed. But with a potential conflict with the Borg looming, he took the opportunity to gather some materials to perform some hands-on maintenance.

Parking the hoverlift outside in the hallway and moving the various stabilizers and plasteel housing into the crawlspace, he knelt beside the module and cracked open his engineering kit and started to go down his mental checklist. "Computer, activate the holographic copy of Alenis Meru," he said, pulling out a plasma torch.

Appearing in the middle of the room was the holographic Alenis Meru, still wearing the same red leather jacket she wore to the movies. "Marcus," she exclaimed, a smile appearing on her face, "what brings you down to the holodeck; I presume you're not down here for a movie or something fun."

"Well, If figured I would let you know that I'm working on your chicken hut, Baba Yaga," Marcus quipped, flashing the plasma torch. "Don't worry, it's just some hardening in case this deck takes any catastrophic damage."

"Catastrophic damage?" The starfleet captain in Holo-Meru immediately bubbled up to the surface. "What's going on, and why did no one tell me about this?"

Marcus sighed. "We've been over this. You're not the Captain Alenis any more. You realize this, don't you?" He started welding together some support struts to the memory module's housing. "You aren't on active Starfleet duty and I don't think that'll change in the near future. Admiral Washington needs a more thorough report on your progress as an emergent sentience before he'll even consider putting it before a judicial review. Besides, I can't tell you. And don't bother trying to search the ship's memory, it's classified to command staff and your... Captain Alenis' codes have been changed."

"Well, you can't just expect me to sit down here and wait for the ship to blow up and take my program with it," replied the hologram in an indignant tone, her hands on her hips. "It has been a couple years, but I still know my way around a tactical console. Besides, it could be useful to have an emergency command hologram, just in case the entire command staff gets sucked out a hull breach or assimilated by the Borg."

The chief operations officer snorted in amusement as he worked. "Wouldn't that just tickle Washington. I'll keep that in mind," he said, finishing the tripod configuration frame for her memory module. "There. Now some inertial stabilizers." He started assembling parts. "So, I've been following your program. The good news is that your fragmentation is starting to distribute evenly throughout your program. The bad news is, there's still significant fragmentation and cross-linking. Self-repair routines should take care of them, though, at this point." He glanced up at her. "Do you know what that means?"

"It means that I won't need you to fiddle around with my program anymore?" asked the hologram. "That's a shame, I was just starting to get used to your company."

"On the contrary," Marcus said, turning a stabilizer online. "Tell me if that disrupts your program at all. Running a diagnostic on the memory module." He tapped at the module's side, queueing up a self-diagnostic. "Uh, where was I... oh, fragmentation. Right. No, your program could still cascade into a pile of garbage... just now it would be an evenly-distributed pile of garbage. But what I was getting at is that all of these bit-errors are starting to incorporate into your personality. You are becoming distinct from the original templates you were created from. Given enough time, your simulated alpha patterns will be wholly distinct from the real Alenis Meru. Your own person. Exciting, isn't it?"

"Fascinating," replied Meru, in a slightly droll tone, her eyes slightly glazed over at Marcus' technical explanations. "I suppose that does explain my sudden taste for horror movies, but with all these fragmentations in my personality subroutines, how do I know I won't end up turning into a stuck-up bimbo or a Jekyll and Hyde type serial killer?"

"Welcome to being a sentient being," Marcus quipped, fastening the remaining stabilizer in place. "You are now a product of your upbringing, environment, culture, and circumstance. Keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times. Enjoy your ride." Grinning up at Meru, he said, "In all seriousness, we ought to have you meet Dr. Carlisle. I may know how to stabilize a holo-matrix, but I don't know anything about psychology. And it would be fascinating to compare her findings with my own."

"Ugh, shrinks..." Meru let out a hint of a smile; there was something a little comforting about being more than just a copy of the "real" Alenis Meru. "I suppose I can't use executive privilege as commanding officer of the Portland to get out of this anymore, can I?"

"Nope," Marcus said, as he packed up his gear. "In fact, you should probably go about thinking about a new designation for yourself. From what I hear, 'Alenis Meru' is taken." He shrugged. "Bajoran surname is first, right? So 'Alenis Somethingelse', maybe?" He frowned in consideration. "Have you, uh, met the Captain?"

"We... don't really talk much," admitted the hologram, a little sheepishly. "She does her thing and I do mine. I suppose it would be awkward, you know, kind of like hanging out with yourself, if you know what I mean."

"All the more reason to continue to distinguish yourself as a separate entity," Marcus explained. He finished packing up his tools, and looked as if he was about to go.

"Oh, I have one more request," said the hologram, blushing sheepishly as she stopped Marcus from leaving. There was no delicate way to put this. "I don't really have a place right now, and I've been discussing this with Lieutenant Beauvoir... if you don't get assimilated, would you mind installing some holo-emitters in his quarters for me?"

A slow smile spread across Marcus' face. "Oh, but of course. Anything for Beauvy." The two officers having a shared history, as well as a posting on ship together again, has rekindled their friendship. And no doubt, Jason won't hear the end of this one. "I'll toss a couple of emitters together. Might be a little while, as I'll probably need to run conduit myself, what with Engineering so busy." He let out a small chuckle. "Bye, Meru."
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Re: Mission Five: "Unto the Breach"

Tue Sep 01, 2015 1:56 pm

More than Photons
Where: Holodeck 1, Deck 5
Who: Sera and Marcus
When: Some hours after briefing

Sera slammed her fist onto the holographic control console that she had been using. She had just destroyed the Portland for the fourth time in a row. The console had a crack on the display, which wouldn't do. The Chief Engineer rubbed her face in frustration as she took a sip of her Raktajino. "Computer, note in the log that fluctuations in the tetyron field caused a cascade systems failure in the dark energy reactor, cause a loss of containment which ended in a catastrophic failure. The tetryon fluctuation was .025% out of acceptable range."

"Also, reset program and repair control console." The now empty room seemed to shimmer as the Portland's Main Engineering was created and the control console's crack seemed to seal itself. That was the good thing about holograms, they always came back. It was the real test that was coming that really worried Sera.

The doors to the holodeck closing behind him, Marcus made the observation, "You ought to not beat up on the equipment, even the holographic replicas. It's bad for your blood pressure." Carrying an engineering kit, he strolled up beside Sera to peer at her simulation, albeit a reset simulation. "There is a reason why I spent my career... on a starbase, in a lab, surrounded by algorithms and data banks. There are no admirals there sending you off on fool-hardy missions dealing with wildly unpredictable technologies."

"Computer, pause program and secure classified information, Authorization Williams Lieutenant Alpha-Zero-Alpha." With a beeping confirmation, the holodeck paused as the consoles containing experimental data became unreadable and portions of Engineering became too blurry to see. She knew that would seem rude, but Shras would see to a court martial if any of this data got out to the crew of the Portland. "Sorry, orders," she replied.

"Don't worry, I didn't see anything that a Freshman engineering student didn't already know about the dangers of subspace," Marcus said, wriggling the fingers of his free hand as dramatic emphasis.

Hoping for a bit of damage control, she asked, "How are things going aboard the Portland? Finding your way around?"

Marcus shrugged. "It's got twelve decks. It's not difficult to find things. Although it certainly has 'last century' written all over it." Remembering he was talking to the ship's chief engineer, he added, "Uh, it's, um, sturdy. Yeah. Well-maintained."

With a smile, Sera returned in mock offense, "Isn't the maintenance of the ship your department now? Nothing about being a smooth ride, running quiet?"

"That's all you," Marcus retorted. "You fix them and keep them running to specification. We field-test specification and break limits and create new specifications for you to build towards." He smirked. "Hey, this isn't so bad. I'm like your therapist, or something."

"Better than arguing and insubordination," Sera said. She had not meant to let on that things weren't going well in Engineering, but ships were known for spreading gossip at Warp 10. The biggest mark was the fact that her uniform matched the very unpopular Shras and the fact the Sera was no longer required to report to the Captain. Sera had obliged Shras on that request, only because the work was too important to be held back by Shras and his feud with the Captain.

"You won't get any of that from me," Marcus stated. "I don't like what came out of that meeting any more than you or anyone else did. But orders are orders. And then to have an arrogant 'specialist' foisted upon us like glorified babysitters..."

She tried to hide her now flushed face, by turning her face to the PADD in her hand. She agreed wholeheartedly with his statement, but couldn't openly say it. "Did you need something?" Sera asked, trying to change the subject.

Registering her visible discomfort, Marcus tugged at his uniform turtleneck. "Uh, no. I was just going to fiddle with my holo-memory apparatus. For the not-Meru hologram. But this clearly takes precedence, so..." His lips drew taught together in a forced and nervous smile, and slowly turned to go.

"Before you go..." Sera knew Shras would have her head if he knew she asked anything, but she felt she had to. "What kind of energy output would a 1% increase in the integrity field and .25% to the tetryon emissions do the ship and the available power resources?"

"Tetryon emissions disrupt space-time and blur the delineation between our space and subspace," Marcus explained, giving the textbook answer. "However, an undirected field, like a warp bubble..." He cleared his throat, making a presumption based on what he has heard and seen to date. "There'd be little to no effect as far as the ship's crew or systems, although tertyon emissions are typically handled only by the ship's main deflector as it requires a tremendous amount of power to be focused. You're looking at diverting warp power for that kind of increase." Looking towards the holographic console and shutdown simulation, he said, "Assuming Shras' little toy has adequate shielding, try rerouting warp plasma to secondary integrity emitters. It may help your simulation, but it'll burn out the emitters very quickly."

"I'll... take that into consideration," Sera replied, giving no indication of how thankful she was.

Marcus regarded Sera quietly for a moment, and then turned to go.

As the doors to the holodeck whooshed closed, Sera turned back to the console, "Computer, resume program and remove blocks. Authorization, Williams-Alpha-Zero-Alpha."

The computer buzzed it's affirmation and the program and console began as they had been before Marcus arrived. She implemented Marcus' suggestions and let the program go. She had an uneasy feeling, but there was no turning back.
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Re: Mission Five: "Unto the Breach"

Wed Sep 02, 2015 2:50 am

Sirens
Nova Europa Colony; Orbit
MD -03


“So anyway, I'm sitting in the cafeteria at the academy and some person, he must have majored in comedy, comes up to me and punches me on the shoulder and asks me 'what is the difference between a bucket of shit and people from Boston?'”

Jessica bit her lip hard in anticipation. Their patrol was almost over and the whole time Ron had made her cry. The bastard. He may have seemed mechanical on the outside and to almost anyone who talked to him, but to Jess he was just amazing, especially once you got him going. It was a laugh-a-minute ride. “Do tell,” she said, taking her view off the console. They'd drop out of warp just as scheduled with or without her gestures.

“The buck-”

Jessica burst out laughing before he could even finish. “What'd you do?”

“Well, I almost slapped him with this hand,” he said as he raised up The Arm. “But,” he continued with a sigh. “I just wasn't in the mood for it. You know? I just faked a laugh and sent him on his way.”

“Well, that's a bit disappointing,” Jess replied, calming herself in the process.

“Is it? I was sick of it. I can take a joke, but damn. Every day? It's why I learned to talk like this. A bit of fun at my own expense. You know I'd never want to actually kill my accent. It just seemed easier this way.”

She didn't even notice. Jess was so into what Ron was saying that she had never even noticed the universal translator kick in when he started speaking Latin. The translator never did do accents well. She shook her head. Engineers. Easier to learn Latin? She almost chuckled at the thought. “Well,” she said as she gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. “You know I don't mind one bit,” she said through a warming smile.

“Thanks, deah.”

“Well, it looks like we're home, Ron.” Jess brought the shuttle out of warp. Almost immediately something seemed wrong. Scans where nowhere near what they should be and the beacon seemed to be offline. Where was the Forefront? The colony... everything was... “Ron. What's going on,” she asked in an uncertain tone.

As he looked over the readings with a look just as confused as his partner's there was a sudden spike and a strange yet familiar sound. It was broadcast on all channels. Instinct kicked in and before anything else could happen Ron shouted “shields” as he brought them online.

The ominous tone that was received suddenly came into focus. “We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrend...”

Ron quickly shut down the comm. He had familiarized himself with the Borg during his studies and it was their siren's call that he had hoped he'd never hear. He had wrestled with his reasoning on if there would ever be reason to accept their invitation, but with Jessica, or any other unwilling participant for that matter, in the balance it wasn't even a question. No.

“We need to get out of h-” Ron spoke hurriedly, interrupted by a blast of phaser fire from the Borg sphere that had quickly come into range to dispose of or collect any remaining life. One hit and the shields had almost broken in half. “Diverting all power to engines and shields,” Ron said as everything almost went dark around them where it not for their augmented vision.

“Not the,” Jess started.

“Everything! Now get us out of here! Shields are now at sixty-five percent and that's the best I can do,” Ron shouted back at her.

Jessica frantically brought the ship about, aiming for the closest safe path away. As the shuttle was just about to enter warp once more, dragging itself forward at a quickened pace, there was a double-tap of phaser fire. A rending shudder later and they where careening out of control at a dangerous rate. Alarms and sirens where blaring all around. It didn't take much for the large sphere to pulverize the small shuttle they where in.

Maybe this is a blessing, Ron thought to himself, trying to control his panic as shuttle parts began falling everywhere. Maybe they'd seem dead. The ship was drifting away from the Borg fast but he had to be sure. They were already probably in pursuit. He knew that for them all life was either an asset or a threat, neither of which would just be let to get away. At this speed all they'd need was a minute. Two, tops.

He leaped out of his seat, taking action before anything else could happen. Shields where gone and systems where damaged. In a minute they'd either be beamed up or destroyed. He got up and quickly looked around. There! A protruding piece of debris. He ran over to it and without concern for his own safety he thrust himself upon it. He had only hoped his aim was true.

It was with a hastiness bordering on desire that he had punctured his one organic lung damaging it beyond use. With that part of the equation out of the way there was only one part left to take care of. He did not hesitate as he moved behind Jessica, but there was an expression of absolute pain on his face and it was not from the fresh wound he had received. He could say no more than “forgive me,” before acting as fast as he could. He wrapped his robotic arm tight around Jessica's neck as he shut down his artificial lung and with a few seconds' thought set it all to lock for two minutes. He had to be sure.

!!! Suddenly Jessica could feel her consciousness slipping from her and she knew not why, tears streaming down her face as she frantically fought the overbearing pressure of the machine wrapped around her neck.

Ron squeezed his eyes shut, crushing the feeling of sorrow under necessity, himself also losing his grasp on reality. In the seconds before he had become unconscious Ron's eyed welled up as he felt her struggle. His brush with death couldn't come soon enough. Seconds later and Jessica, too, became unconscious.

Two minutes later...

With the sudden realization of programmed awareness Ron's one functioning lung shot back to life, reviving him as his re-oxygenated blood quickly returned to his brain. Before even checking the scans for wherever the hell they or the Borg where or seeing the status of his wound he quickly removed his arm from and stood in front of Jessica's motionless body. He set to reviving her. He couldn't even cry. He was beyond it, as though all he wanted was to die. Again. Not like this, he thought to himself. Please...

With a gasp for life Jessica awoke from her near death. She looked around frantically as though she didn't even know where she was. “Ron...! Capta....!” She blinked rapidly as she looked about, reorienting herself. Suddenly it hit her. Fear. Uncertainty. Betrayal. They where all conveyed behind those robotic blue eyes. “Ron,” she shouted as she recoiled from his sight.

“I... I had to,” Ron said in a trembling voice as he stumbled over to the rear storage cabinet of the shuttle. He quickly tore off his shirt, exposing the bloody wound in his chest and grabbing a large bandage from inside the cabinet. He hastily applied the pad and quickly wrapped the bandaging tight around his body, closing the wound.

“Why?!” She could still feel the marks on her neck. She rubbed at them, trying to sooth the soreness that had persisted since she awoke. “Why would you...”

“I,” he practically sputtered out as he glanced over to the horrified look on his only friend's face. He shook his head and squeezed his hands tight as he turned away and looked at the rear station console. He had to. There was no other choice. “Because we needed to die,” he shouted at her, not turning his head to look at her. “Look.” He pointed an arm at the short-range scanners. “The Borg are gone.”

She was bewildered. What in the name of everything had happened. She quickly looked at her console. They where gone. Everything was gone. Their shuttle was adrift with no orientation to any point in the galaxy. She blinked a few times in confusion before resituating herself in the helm's chair, trying her best to straighten out the ship with what little power it had. A couple moments and a few well timed bursts of the few undamaged RCS thrusters remaining later and the shuttle had found itself on a steady course to infinity. The spinning was gone.

Fifteen minutes of silence later...

“Ron?”

The seat that Ron was occupying turned swiftly in Jessica's direction. He felt a sense of relief almost overload his senses. She was talking to him! For a moment he even forgot the aching pain within him. “Yeah,” he questioned.



“Was there any other way?” There was an emotional pain in her voice as well as a slight physical strain from the attack. That's what it felt like to her at least, an attack, but she decided she would ask him why once more. She was sure Ron would never actually attack her. Right?

“No,” Ron said reassuringly. He pointed at the wound on his chest. “Do you think I wanted to do this?” He did. But of course he would never admit that. “It was the only way. The Borg are gone and now weah safe.” He then let out a dull, labored sigh, the sole augmented lung he had left not as well suited at conveying such emotion. “But for how long I don't know. Everything's shot. I don't even know what's functioning and what's not. I'll need to check everything manually.”

“Just... let me know if there's any way I can help,” she said quietly as she turned herself back towards the forward viewport. She didn't say another word as she stared out at the stars in front of her. It didn't take long for her thoughts to turn to the worst. Lost in space...
Ensign Ronald Roberts
Assistant Chief Engineering Officer
USS Portland

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Kahnr Dai
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Re: Mission Five: "Unto the Breach"

Wed Sep 02, 2015 5:01 am

Flying Bricks
Shuttlebay, USS Portland
After the briefing
Authors: Kahnr Dai

"There, that ought to do it," Kahnr said as he finished putting on the last piece. The big rock sitting on the deck of the shuttlebay didn't look a thing like the shuttle it had been a couple of hours ago. The pilot stood back with a proud grin on his face while other standing nearby had various looks of disbelief on their faces. A lot of them were thinking the same thing all at once, which was pretty easy for Kahnr to pick up on even without rooting around in their heads. Can this thing even fly?

"You've got to be kidding me," Ensign Jackson Mallory said. There was a hint of scorn in his tone and he turned a hard-eyed gaze on his new superior. That was where a lot of the tension was coming from, and the human pilot had plenty of that. He'd been placed into the ACFCO position while this upstart right of the Academy was given the command of his department.

"Naw, no joke, but I know some good ones if you like," Kahnr said with a quick wink. He ignored the scorn, the tension. It was understandable that Mallory might be upset, that any of the other pilots standing there would be as well. To have to address it over and over again each time it came up would get Kahnr nowhere. Instead he had to show this team, his team, that not only did he know what he was doing but that he'd be a good leader to them. That would only come in time. "I know what you're thinking. Hmm, bad choice of words maybe. I'm not in your head. But trust me, this is going to work."

They'd spent the better part of two hours turning the shuttle into what could only be described as a small asteroid. That was after they rooted around in her guts and pulled out a lot of 'unnecessary' systems. Lowered emissions made the shuttle hard to detect, and the replicated rocks that had been attached all over the hull would make it register just like any other asteroid that had somewhat high levels of sensor reflecting ore. The plan was to have the shuttles available for any sort of stealth mission that Captain Alenis might need. Why it hadn't actually been ordered for their department, Kahnr figured he...how did the humans put it back at the Academy? Kill two birds with one stone. Such a violent metaphor.

Having the shuttle available would give the captain more options to her as they went up against the greatest threat the Federation had ever faced. It might just sit here this whole mission, looking funny, but then again maybe not. The shuttle was basically a pair of engines, life support, passive scanners, and a transporter now. And ugly. The other reason he'd done this was to get him and the other pilots working directly with each other. Ensign Bott had the helm right now on the bridge, which left Kahnr with Mallory, Steel, and the shuttlebay operations team. They had to start somewhere.

"Its enough that it just might," Steel agreed slowly, obviously not liking agreeing with Kahnr very much. She had her arms crossed over her chest as she looked at their handiwork. "The Borg aren't going to look twice at an asteroid, or so we hope. They have navigational shields, same as us, that would bounce this thing away from them if it got too close. But it can get within transporter range, I was able to boost the targeting scanner efficiency."

"That's great, Steel," Kahnr said, and turned his head to her as he gave out the compliment. The Betazoid could see her trying to decide whether to be pleased by it, or offended. He hurried on. "Alright, so now that we have one more Type 7 shuttle. Things should go a lot quicker, now that we know what we're doing."

"Wait, what?" Mallory asked, sounding stunned and angry. "You want us to make another of these death traps?"

"Well, yeah," Kahnr said, giving Mallory a look like he didn't understand why they wouldn't. "If one of these shuttles comes in handy, let's say for sneaking a team onto a Borg ship, or for pulling people out. Two of the shuttles would be even better." Without explaining himself further, knowing that Mallory would obey for the sake of regulations, Kahnr walked easily over towards the poor, hapless shuttlecraft. The dear thing was about to get her innards pulled out and made to be just about the ugliest shuttle in the history of shuttles.

Mallory stood there and watched, incredulous, as Steel and the others went right behind the green ensign. Then with a rueful shake of his head, he went to join them. "These things are going to fly like bricks," Mallory muttered under his breath.
Ensign Kahnr Dai
Chief Flight Control Officer
USS Portland

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Alenis Meru
Commanding Officer
Commanding Officer
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Re: Mission Five: "Unto the Breach"

Wed Sep 02, 2015 5:05 am

Holo-Meru at the Holo-Movies
Holodeck Two, USS Portland
MD -02
Authors: Holo-Meru (played by Alenis Meru), Jason Beauvoir, Coln Jena (played by Jason Beauvoir)


In a steamy room made of wood from the Bajoran Karal tree, the hologram known as Alenis Meru sat there, meditating as sweat began to form on her holographic skin. She had been doing a lot of meditating lately, but a traditional Bajoran sauna was a welcome change from her usual surroundings. Being cooped up in just the few rooms on the ship with holo-emitters, she treasured whatever holodeck time she could get, if only because it provided her with a rare change of scenery.

But, she had evidently been enjoying it a little too much, as she had been interrupted by the whoosh of the holodeck door opening, signifying that it was someone else's turn. Quickly covering herself with a towel, she peered through the steam to see two familiar faces.

"Jason?" she asked. "Jena? I'm sorry, did I go over my allotted time?"

Seeing Holo-Meru dressed in only a towel, Jason averted his eyes and blushed. "Yes, but we can give you a little time to get dressed and such." He said as he and Jena headed for the door.

"Thank you," replied the hologram, offering Jason a little smile. "Computer, change attire, Meru Hotel Seven." With a flash of light, she instantaneously changed her clothes, trading the towel for a sophisticated ensemble featuring a maroon leather jacket and a black beret. "I've had a lot of time on my hands, so I've been playing around with my fashion choices," she admitted a little sheepishly.

Turning back Jena said. "We were just going to see a movie, you can join us if you want, can't she Dad?"

"I have no objections." Jason replied.

The hologram blushed slightly. "Are you sure? I don't want to be a third wheel..."

"Of course we're sure, ain't we Dad?" Jena said noticing her father had become a shy teenager.

"Yes, the more the merrier." Jason said rather lamely.

The hologram paused for a moment to consider the offer. She wasn't sure whether Jason's claimed lack of objections was genuine, but she couldn't say no to Jena. "What are we watching?" she asked, before offering Jason a slightly nervous smile.

"Gulliver's Travels, my father read the story to me when I was a child, it made me want to be a scientist and explorer." Jason told her joyfully.

"I haven't seen or read it, but I checked the description in the database, and it says that it is an amusing satire of 18th European satire." Jena said.

"Fascinating," mused Meru. Growing up on Earth, she was vaguely familiar with human culture, and while she hadn't read it before, she was vaguely familiar with the story. It seemed to parallel a lot of Bajoran folk tales involving long journeys and fantastical lands. She looked down at Jena. "Shall I replicate some popcorn?"

Jena smiled "Of course, you can't watch a movie without popcorn." Then a realisation hit her. "But what about you, Meru, you don't eat?"

"Only holographic food, unfortunately," replied Meru, blushing slightly. Her program was based on one of the most advanced holo-matrices of its time. It was Zimmerman's labour of love, and as such, and subroutines for all give senses. "Though, I think Lieutenant Kallan needs to recalibrate my taste subroutines. For some reason, everything seems to have a strange fishy taste. Except for fish."

"That's odd." Jena said with a quizzical raised eye brow. "But I'm sure Marcus would help."

"Marcus, is it, now, what happened to Lieutenant Kallan?" Jason teased.

"Well, Marcus is his name." Jena said a little embarrassed.

"I hear Nikki calls him Protein Cube..." replied the hologram. She had to admit, even though Marcus was kind of difficult to get along with when she was first activated, he had grown on her a bit, and the sardonic barbs which they would shoot at each other had grown to be based on a grudging affection rather than disdain. "...among other things. Anyways, if you get the theater ready, I'll replicate some popcorn." A wicked grin appeared on the hologram's face. "What would you like for toppings, butter, or Ashalla-style Bajoran hot sauce?"

"Umm hot sauce for me, please." Jena said.

"Computer create a picture theatre, USA, Earth, Circa late 20th century." Jason ordered.

The room around them changed and they found themselves in the lobby of a theatre with a refreshment bar in one corner and the double doors to the theatre proper in front of them.

Leaving the two of them to their own devices, Meru walked over to the refreshment bar for some snacks...

"Dad, I'm glad you invited Meru, I really like her." Jena said.

"Me too, Jena." Jason said with a smile.

"All right, three bags of popcorn -- with Ashalla style hot sauce flavouring -- three large sodas, and some jumja candies," called out holo-Meru as she returned, delicately balancing the snacks in her outstretched arms. Two of the orders were replicated, while the third was holographic, a subtle difference, but one which allowed Meru to at least enjoy the taste and texture of the popcorn, so long as her taste subroutines weren't too far out of wack. "Let's take our seats."

"After you." Jason said holding the door open for Meru and Jena.

As they made their way to the seat, carrying their popcorn and drinks, the lights of the theatre began to dim. Meru and Jena took their seats besides each other. After getting set up with her snacks on her lap and drink in the cupholder, Alenis looked up at the holographic stage, only to realize that they had made the mistake of sitting behind a couple of Andorians. "Computer," she whispered, "reduce the height of the audience members in seats 9F and 9G by thirty centimeters. And remove their antennae."

Jason joined the others, took his seat and said."Computer play Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift." The theatre darkened and the movie started.

While the hologram was enthralled with the movie and the fascinating story in front of her, her eyes glanced over for a moment towards Jason and found themselves lost there. Though they had not necessarily started on the best of terms, he was a handsome man, and the way he took care of Jena showed that he was a man of integrity.

Jason sensed Meru's eyes on him and turned to give her what he hoped was a reassuring smile, but probably came off as nervous.

Jena seeing what was going on, just rolled her eyes. Adults she thought.

Once the movie was over, Jena sighed. "Meru, Jason stop 'making eyes' at each other. It's obvious you like each other, why don't you just tell each other how you feel and then you can progress from there?"

The hologram blushed. Jena was nothing if not observant. Was it really that obvious? "Ummmm... Jason, you go first," she said quickly, pushing the ball into his court.

"I care about you, Meru, I also find you physically attractive and wish to spend time with you." Jason said. He knew quite a few languages, but now he was having trouble even forming coherent sentences.

"Even though I'm..." Meru paused for a moment, also having difficulty expressing herself. "You know, a hologram?"

"Yes," Jason said. "I like you for you, Meru, the fact that you're not flesh and blood is of little concern to me."

A tear of joy came to Meru's eye. After the limbo she had gone through -- the tests on her program, the endless discussions with Marcus and others, and the uncertainty about whether or not she was even a real person -- just being told that was all she wanted to hear. She stepped forward and took him by the hand, staring into his eyes. "I... I really like you too, Jason."

Jason smiled and squeezed her hand gently.

"Kiss her already." Jena said.

Meru glanced over at Jena and then back towards Jason. "You heard your daughter..." she said, before closing her eyes and puckering her lips slightly.

Not waiting to be asked twice, Jason placed a supporting hand in the small of her back and then leaned in. As their lips touched the Science Officer felt a charge of electricity run through his body.

Wrapping her arms around Jason, Meru simply savoured the moment. After they broke apart, she opened her eyes and smiled at Jason and then looked over at his daughter, staring up at them with her hands on her hips. "Jena," said the hologram, "why don't you run on down to the mess hall and get yourself a jumja stick?"

"Yes, ma'am." Jena said with smile. Happy for both them as she left the holodeck.
Capt. Alenis Meru
Commanding Officer
USS Portland

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