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Ori Paiga
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Re: Mission Five: "Unto the Breach"

Wed Sep 09, 2015 4:12 pm

Last Meal Before Battle
Mess Hall - Deck 6
Prior to Arrival at Nebula
Authors: Sera Williams and Marcus Kallan

Sera sat at her table, spoon in hand. She ignored the sneers from those crewmen who were pointing at her uniform, why couldn't they understand that she was doing all she could to keep the ship safe? Before her laid a spread of food consisting of a clam chowder breadbowl to remind her of her home in San Francisco, an ice cream sundae with all of the toppings, a loaded cheeseburger with fries, and a cup of whatever a soft drink alternative that had been programmed into the replicator. Normally, she wouldn't have eaten half of what was before her, but she had never been aboard a starship on its way to almost certain doom. Instead of eating, she could only peer through the transparent aluminum window, into the blackness of space. She watched the warp lines appear then fade, drawing the Portland ever closer to the Borg infested nebula.

At some point, an overtired Marcus toddled into the mess, looking as if he'd been up for hours. He looked a similar pallid complexion, dark circles under his eyes, and mild disarray to his hair much like how he looked when he was first analyzing the Meru hologram on assignment by Admiral Washington. Now, he wore Operations gold instead of Sciences blue, but the look was the same. He ordered his usual from the replicator: an assortment of food cubes and a nutrient drink. As he was about to find a place to sit, he stopped, regarding a pair of gossiping officers.

"Do you see that uniform? She looks like some kind of self-important jerk from Intelligence," one officer said.

"I know!" Exclaimed the other. "I hear Commander Shras dresses up all of his female subordinates that way."

"Hey. You two morons," Marcus called out, getting the two officers' attention, and the attention of a few others by the serving area. "It's probably not smart to disrespect your chief engineer. You know, the person who makes sure a seven billion gigawatt warp core doesn't cook off and fry us. And ensures that inertial stabilizers don't turn us into a thick goop plastered against a bulkhead during a sudden deceleration. Shut your pie hole."

This just precipitated eye rolling, and the gossip continued, albeit far more hushed than before. And Marcus got a few nods of appreciation from the crowd. Glaring after the aforementioned jerks, Marcus headed over to where Sera was having her feast. "What a bunch of jerks," he said, sitting across from her.

Sera shrugged off the comments as she said, "Thanks for shutting them up." She smiled, or was it smirked, a bit as she moved her head to the side, letting Marcus get a better look at the bruise on her forehead just under the hairline. "Words may never hurt, but flying PADDs do," she half joked, refering to the brawl in Engineering a couple of days ago.

"I can't believe the tension on this ship," Marcus sighed, pushing his colorful food cubes around. "No excuse for barbaric behavior like that."

She looked down at Marcus' plate, then continued, "On the Eve of battle, still sticking to your protein cubes?"

"I can't eat anything flavorful, so I stick to nutrition. It was good enough for last century Starfleet, so it's good enough for me," he explained. mirroring her smirk. He regarded her meal. "And what's your excuse? You're eating for two, or you're being executed tomorrow, I can't tell which. For your sake, I hope it's the latter, because the only person you've been hanging around with lately is that blue buffoon."

"Wouldn't that get the rumor mill going?" Sera said with a cringe. She looked down at her spread of food, then answered, "Could be both, we will see if all of the work on the Dark Energy Reactor was worth it when it goes live, and it's going to be a good day or..." Sera let the last part of the sentence left unspoken.

She sat back in her chair and yawned, she must no have known how tiredshe really was. She had worked almost non-stop ever since the crew came aboard. She had been putting all of her energy into the new experiment, keeping two departments from going to war, and teaching as many of the ship's crew as possible about the new reactor. Who knew life on an 80 year old starship could be so... busy?

Marcus shrugged. "No point being fearful about something you can't control," he said, although it didn't sound too convincing. "Feh," he uttered, nudging his plate away. "I'm pretty sure I'd be retching in Sickbay if I ate, anyway. Can't be puking your guts out when you have a ship to hold together."

He looked up at Sera, noting her exhaustion. He suddenly felt his own coming crashing down on him, or maybe it was sympathy for the stress his shipmate was going through. He rolled his lanky shoulders back and winced.

Sera responded while using her hands as a mock scale, "Retching in Sickbay, paying a visit to the Borg, comfortable biobed, keeping the crews from tearing each other apart."

"You're right, this will be the first time I've been in ship-to-ship battle if things go bad," she added. She pushed her own meal to the side, no longer very hungry.

"I'm not helping, am I," Marcus observed with a sigh. Instead, he turned to look out the window, warp field streaks trailing behind the Portland.

"It's alright," Sera said as she forced a bit of a smile. She took a look at the starlines outside, then closed her eyes a bit to listen to the ship's hum. She had almost gotten to the point where she could hear various misalignments through the sounds coming from the hull. She turned back to Marcus' food as she tried to joke, "At least your diet won't change much if we get assimilated."

"Synthesizing my nutrients instead of eating? Sounds like heaven," Marcus responded, finding himself smirking at the shared joke.

"The entire crew acting as one, a full eight-hour sleep cycle, now that you mention it, it doesn't sound half bad," Sera morbidly joked, her mood slowly beginning to improve. With a shrug, she asked, "What is it about first missions? My first mission saw the Captain shot, then come back. Yours involves a visit with the Borg."

"This is actually fascinating for me," Marcus replied matter-of-factly. "I've never been close to a species I've spent a considerable amount of my adult life studying from afar. It's too bad we still don't have the ability to study them closely." His left hand began to fidget, left thumb rubbing underneath the fingers of that hand in a subconscious, irritable way. Almost like a tic.

Sera nodded towards Marcus' left hand. With a look of concern, she asked, "Everything ok?"

"Huh?" Marcus looked at his own hand, and then hid it beneath the table as if that made everything go away. "Yeah, why?"

Prefering not to create more conflict, Sera decided to let it go. It was probably just a nervous tick or something that he was sensitive about. Instead, she tried for a save, "Just asking. Everyone seems to be doing better than I would've expected."

"Starfleet. We're tough stuff." Probably the most positive or optimistic thing to come out of Marcus' mouth in a long time. He regarded his food, popped a cube into his mouth, and gathered his tray. "There. That's enough food for 24 hours. Going to occupy my brainmeats and go tinker down in Engineering... any objections?"

Sera playfully replied, "Just don't mess anything up down there. Think you can find your way?"

"Get some rest, Lieutenant," came Marcus' noncommittal answer. As he left, he spared one quick look back at Sera, before giving a quick shake of his head and heading out of the mess.
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Re: Mission Five: "Unto the Breach"

Fri Sep 11, 2015 2:12 am

Back to school
Holodeck 1, USS Portland
A few hours after the briefing
Authors: Sera Williams, Marcus Kallan, Kahnr Dai, Shras th'Karath (played by Alenis Meru)


Sera stepped into Holodeck 1. The black floor with the yellow lines that created a square pattern also reminded her the the Miranda-class was an old ship, all ships made in the last 20 years had an upgraded holomatrix. "Computer, activate program Shras-Williams-Alpha," she said. The computer gave the affirmative tone.

The square pattern quickly distorted and was replaced with a simulation of the bridge. Sera had to admit that she preferred the sterile and bright environment of the 2280s to the dark layouts of the present. She ran a finger over the display on the engineering console as she sat at the station awaiting Marcus and Kahnr. She hoped that this would be less confrontational than this experiemnt has shown to be.

Marcus showed up on time, although when he entered, his first words were, "Program Shras-Williams-Alpha is in progress. Do you wish to enter? No, not really. Had you said, 'Williams-Risa-Alpha', then I'd be quite happy to enter." His sarcasm having no limits, Marcus looked around. "So what's this about?"

"This," said Shras, raising a finger in the air as he walked through the doors, "is our crash course on the dark energy reactor, since apparently in her infinite wisdom, your captain has decided to put Starfleet officers unfamiliar with the advanced theoretical physics of the dark energy reactor in charge, and abandon a controlled test for a romp into a Borg-infested nebula." He looked over at Sera, who had almost earned his grudging respect with the speed at which she got caught up on the dark energy systems. "Lieutenant Williams, are we ready to start, or do we have any more guests?"

"Oh, this should be good," Marcus said with a smirk, folding his arms across his chest and leaning against a holographic console.

"We can go ahead and start. Ensign Dai was scheduled to be here, but most of the beginning won't pertain to his duties," Sera replied to Shras. She had wanted to welcome Marcus, but knew Shras would have some kind of comment about this not being a social occasion. "Lt. Kallan, take your station."

As she waited on Marcus to walk to the Operation console, Sera entered a few commands into the console that would have activated the Dark Energy reactor. The readings on her console began to react to the new energy as she created a Warp Bubble, per Marcus' advice in their meeting on the holodeck.

Marcus headed over to the operations position at the fore of the bridge well and sat, logging in and setting up his display in a way he preferred. "May I ask what are objectives are, sir?" Clearly meaning Sera, but ambiguous enough such that any senior officer could jump in and answer.

"Not to blow up the ship," Sera quipped. She was sure Shras would take the joke to be a serious answer, as it would be a real answer that he might have given. To clarify, Sera turned to Marcus and added, "You'll notice that a few of the ship's systems have added stress. The Dark Energy Reactor is a heavy power drain, but if notice what happens when you polarize the EPS conduits."

"Reactor, heavy power drain, things you shouldn't hear in the same sentence when sitting at an operations console. Right." Marcus began familiarizing himself with the baseline readings from the simulation.

The holodeck doors opened once again, and one could only say that Kahnr sauntered in. He look completely untroubled, not in a hurry. His face lit up with a smile as he saw the others, perhaps just a little maliciously at seeing Shras there. Oh, how he would look forward to flinging little barbs the Andorian's way, even better should they be taken the wrong way as it had during the briefing. This one was far too full of himself.

"Hellooo," Kahnr drawled as he sauntered over to the helm and took a seat. Somehow, he even made sitting look as lazy as his walk had been. "Nice to see you, sirs."

"Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to join us," replied Shras, his tone dripping with sarcasm and disdain. "You must be Ensign Dai. Funny, I would have suspected a department head entrusted with flying a ship outfitted with the most advanced technology in the fleet into a Borg-infested nebula to be a little more... mature." He sighed deeply and shook his head. Thoughts of making peace with his impending death came to mind. He would make a point of updating his will after this little course. "But I suppose this is par for the course on this flying asylum."

"Oh, it's my pleasure, sir," Kahnr said, looking back over his shoulder to give the Andorian a big grin. "The chance to work with you especially is an honour." It sounded perfectly honest, though to the others in the room who did not have egos the size of the rings of Saturn, it was likely quite obvious what the pilot was up to. He seemed to preen under the rest of what had been said. "Youth is good for the crazy task we have in front of us. And thanks for noticing. Wouldn't want to have your mature pilot have a heart attack out of sudden fear. I'm sure you could agree that would be a bad idea, sir?"

Sera turned back to her display to hide her smile. Kahnr had been on her Rigel Cup winning team from about a year ago, so she already knew a bit of what to expect. Turning back to the group gathered in the holo-bridge, Sera said, "The controls will handle a bit differently with the new reactor activated. It won't be as forgiving as the Valkyries we flew at the Academy."

"Actually, if the stabilizers don't explode and turn us all into a barrel of Sir Isaac Newton's snot," Marcus opines while fiddling with his console. "The ride ought to be pretty smooth, if we actually generate a successful quantum subspace manifold..." He glanced at Shras.

Shras glared back at Marcus. "Are you questioning my ability to generate a quantum subspace manifold?" he asked, chortling at the absurdity of some junior officer whose main experience was with fiddling with holograms daring to question his abilities. "That is child's play," he replied with a wave of the hand.

"Until solanogen-based life forms, or worse, detect our incursion into their tertiary band of subspace and try to abduct us," Marcus comments offhand, tapping at his console. "Systems show green, Captain," he finished with, clearly meaning he was deferring to "Captain" Williams.

Kahnr had finished toying with his controls and spoke up, "My that's a whole lot of power. How are the EPS relays holding so much without blowing out and burning us all to a cinder with lovely hot plasma?" He blinked a few times at Shras and Sera, glancing back over his shoulder again. "Oh, right, helm is ready to respond, though I have to say I'm afraid to push the 'go' button with this much juice."

"We've built some redundancies in the system to compensate. The extra energy will be routed back through the generators so they don't run on the warp core. What's left over will be divided into the integrity field, deflector array, and other systems." She stopped short of Shras' usual condesencion of a ship built last century, though even Sera worried about the ship. All simulations ended with almost perfect results, she had to hand it to Shras. He did know what he was talking about.

"I have supervised Lieutenant Williams' work on the systems integration," chimed in Shras. "I must admit, she is... competent." The word came out of his mouth slowly and grudginly; it was not a compliment that he gave out often. Especially not while he was in the spacefaring hell known as the USS Portland. "I have no doubts that the systems will function without overloading; Ms. Williams here made sure of that. So long as this bucket of bolts doesn't fly apart from the g-forces..."

"Like I said," Marcus quipped. "Sir Isaac Newton is a bitch."

"Quite..." agreed Shras.

"I swear, no sudden turns," Kahnr promised. "We'll just let the inertial dampeners deal with only our forward momentum. Until you say we're ready for more, sir. We'll follow your lead, of course. I hope to earn the competent title as well!" There seemed to be genuine enthusiasm in his voice. The Betazoid was certainly smiling at his controls broadly enough.

Shras simply harumphed at Kahnr's excitement. "Perhaps if you can manage to keep the Portland out of trouble," he replied in a dismissive tone.
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Re: Mission Five: "Unto the Breach"

Sun Sep 20, 2015 12:39 pm

Tinkering in Crawlspaces
When: MD2, in the wee hours before the Nebula
Where: Somewhere between decks near Engineering
Who: Lt JG Marcus Kallan and Ens Kahnr Dai

In the hours before a battle, a ship's Captain often takes a tour of all decks to bolster morale and ensure the ship is in top fighting condition.

And in the case of not-Captain Lieutenant Marcus Kallan, one tours the Jeffries' tubes and crawlspaces and service walkways between decks, tweaking this system and tinkering with that. Anything to get a fraction of a percent boost on the conventional hardware installed in the Portland, Marcus has touched in the past ten hours. Mildly grimy, the ship's new chief operations officer moved through the ship's systems like a Cardassian vole sniffing out a piece of cheese.

"Ow!" There was a pained shout from further along the tube, and then a clatter of metal on metal. "Aw, come on. I thought I had you. I'm not going to let you go back that easily." Was it a horrible abduction taking place in the bowels of the ship? Or some secret tryst between two lovers before a battle in an interesting place for such things? Nothing quite so exciting. Kahnr's large frame looked like it almost wouldn't fit inside the cramped space and he had his arms up to his elbows in circuitry at the moment, aiming a hyperspanner at a specific spot. "Oh yeah, I got you now..."

Maybe talking to the wall like that wasn't a good sign.

Marcus peered around the corner. "Dai? Is that you?" He didn't really get a chance to meet or talk with the flight officer yet, so he only really knew his face and the sound of his voice. "I didn't think anyone else was working in this section so late. What are you doing?"

"Ow!" came again as Kahnr jumped and hit his head on the top of the tube. He was wincing as he turned as best he could to see who was approaching. "Oh, uh, Lieutenant. Hi there. How you doin'?" The pilot glanced back at the work he was up to and offered his superior a grin. "Well, you see, the helm is getting so much power now that I wanted to see if I could get the command processors to react a bit more quickly too. You know, to get as much benefit as we can out of it. What are you doing up?" Then belatedly. "Sir?"

Marcus waved off the "sir". "Don't worry about formality, Dai. Not when the rest can't hear us. I'm not a stickler for rank except in front of the command staff, when it matters." He glanced down the space where Kahnr was working. "Secondary processors won't get you anything except backup processing." He indicated with the calibrator wand he was holding, towards another tight crawlspace. "They moved the primaries over there during the last refit. This ship's guts are strung every which way... it's a marvel Sera hasn't lost her mind yet." Meaning the ship's chief engineer, of course.

The pilot grinned when Marcus said he could drop the formalities; sometimes Kahnr had a little bit of difficulty with remembering that. Then his eyes tracked to where the Ops officer was pointing. The smile slid from his face. "Novas," he said a bit like a curse. "I spent so much time studying a Miranda Class' specs. I guess I didn't think to see if there was anything different about the Portland." Kahnr double checked to make sure he hadn't ruined anything - he could handle the systems for the helm but outside of that he was no engineer - then put the covering panel back in place. "Maybe I should have asked first," and the smile was back. "Am I in your way, Kallan?"

"No," came Marcus' simple reply, as he finished what he was doing at the particular junction and covered up, too. He simply rested his back against the crawlspace wall and let Dai snake by to where he had to be. Not apparently one for words, Marcus examined his hands, and then wiped them on his uniform pant leg.

It took a bit of doing, to make sure he didn't flatten Lieutenant Kallan to one side of the tube. The Betazoid seemed to find it rather amusing by the expression on his face as he wormed his way through the tight squeeze to get both himself and his toolkit situated. "Thanks. So you never answered my question." Kahnr pulled off the panel in front of him and peered inside at the processors. "Hmm," came a rather doubtful noise. A moment later Kahnr had a tricorder out and was scanning. "Why are you up so late yourself?"

"Can't sleep, going to die tomorrow... you know, the usual stuff," Marcus replied, pulling his uniform jacket flat with a hint of irritation. Although his body language told everything, Kahnr could easily sense Marcus' discomfort when it came to physical contact in general. And his overwhelming combined giddiness and anxiety of the potential to come face-to-face with the Borg is as telepathically clear as day. He peered at Kahnr. "Are you actually rated to work in this section, Ensign? I don't recall seeing an engineering certification attached to your billet."

"Certification seemed like such a bother while at the Academy," Kahnr said as he folded up his tricorder and to work. It was plain to see that he was making very minute alterations. "But I did pay attention in Basic Engineering." That likely wouldn't do much for putting minds at ease but so far Kahnr hadn't done anything bad; he might actually be getting just a few milliseconds of increase out of the controls. "You're pretty noisy, you know?" Kahnr asked as he directed a hyperspanner into the systems he'd revealed. "I'm usually pretty good at ignoring everyone, Kallan, but that's a little hard right now."

"Noisy?" Marcus' peer turned into a glare. "No offense, Ensign, but I was here first." He accidentally bumped his engineering tool against some housing which caused a harmless, albeit loud, spark. "Damn!" He gave three hard whacks against the housing with said tool, tossed it at his feet in frustration, and then gave an exasperated and tired sigh, wiping his face with both hands.

Black eyes turned to look over his shoulder at the other man. "Are you okay?" It was asked with typical Betazoid compassion, obviously caring deeply about another without reservation but with a politeness to it as well that seemed to say that the offer could be taken or not without insult.

"No," Marcus suddenly pointed at Kahnr. "No, I know that question and I know that look. Don't go all Betazoid on me." Kahnr could easily sense how frayed Marcus was. And how he desperately needed to open up to someone.

"Gonna have to disappoint, Lieutenant, can't change my race just 'cause you ordered it." Kahnr said as he set down his tool and shifted around once more till he was leaning a bit more comfortably; the pilot ignored the work he'd set out to do for now. This way he could look at Marcus Kallan easier, and unwittingly turn the full weight of his black-eyed, sympathetic gaze on the other man. Kallan would realize just how damned persistent this young man could be.

"This is about the Borg. I can sense that and you already know it. What is it about them that's doing this to you?" Now it wasn't just his eyes that expressed a tender willingness to help but even his voice and somehow his large frame that was folded up so awkwardly in the Jeffries tube.

Marcus fumed quietly, glaring at Kahnr for what seemed like ten seconds. "Yes, it's the Borg," he breathed. "I've spent my adult life studying every scrap of data available about them. I wrote my thesis on Borg command pathways and access levels and how their data structures can be used to improve modern neuro-gel LCARS efficiency by over 200%. I am a subject matter expert." He swallowed, hard. "They also killed my family at Wolf 359."

Kahnr's insides twisted. It was no wonder that the man was so conflicted. This had been going on for years, all the way back to that horrible battle. Kahnr hadn't even been born yet, but of course he'd heard the stories. The Betazoid didn't probe into the other's mind as he could sense enough. He knew that there must be such a wellspring of pain and obsession that had built up over the past twenty-five years. "So what are you going to do about it?" Kahnr asked, sounding blunt.

"Do my duty. There's nothing else to do," Marcus replied, looking for the dropped hyperspanner. "No amount of heroism or shed tears will make the Borg care about how I feel." He dragged the tool out from an awkward position with the tip of his boot. "It's just like... well, I don't know if it's just like... but confronting a murderer of a loved one for the first time."

"That sounds about right to me. They took your family from you, and now here you are twenty-five years later and after all this time not only do you have to face them but they are just as dangerous as ever." Kahnr continued to stare but somehow his look had turned even more compassionate now. "And it's not about how the Borg feel, but how you feel. That's what I meant when I asked: Are you okay?"

"I'll be fine. Don't worry, I'm not about to crack or anything." Picking up the offending hyperspanner, Marcus looked back towards Kahnr. "What did old Earth call it? 'Go postal?'" He waved the hyperspanner dismissively. "I'm just overtired, my guts hate me, and we're facing certain doom. I'll be fine. Although there's some appeal to having my nutritional needs replaced by a Borg nutrient synthesizer..."

"Not funny, sir," Kahnr said with a frown. "Are you joking about all this because you have to laugh at it to deal with it, or are you doing it because you don't want to face up to what this really means for you? This is it, your big moment, you're about to face the Borg. All those years studying them and hating them..." The Betazoid was staying out of Kellan's head so he was taking a shot in the dark as much as anyone else might, but he wondered how he'd feel in the other man's boots. "Are you afraid of things changing Marcus?"

"You can't hate a species for the actions of a few," Marcus explained, shaking his head. "At least, that's what I've worked out with my therapists over the years. I could. I really could. Especially when you understand them on a fundamental level like I do. Their thoughts are one. Their actions are one." He regarded the hyperspanner, and began putting away his tools.

"But I don't hate the Borg, Ensign. I hate what they made me into."

Kahnr brightened, his frown turning into a smile, "Well, that's easy then!" The young man shifted again, trying to get comfortable as he talked. An odd place to have such a conversation, he thought. And an odd response probably. "I mean this all seems...poetic? I guess, yeah. You're about to come full circle and what you learned and experienced is going to come into play. When this is all over, have you given a thought to learning something else? Being someone new?"

"Evolve towards perfection," Marcus muttered, standing up after closing his toolkit. "Try not to work too late. We've a big mission tomorrow." And he turned halfway so that he could navigate down the crawlspace without bumping into any protruding electronics.

"That's the spirit!" Kahnr called out at Kellan's retreating form, sounding far too chipper for the late hour. He turned once more to his task but his smile slid from his face after a moment. They were going up against the Borg tomorrow! "Hey, Lieutenant, we're going to be okay right?" Kahnr glanced down the tube again but by then Marcus was gone.
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Re: Mission Five: "Unto the Breach"

Tue Sep 22, 2015 11:23 pm

Class is in session...
Holodeck 1
Prior to Arrival at Nebula
Authors: Sera Williams, Brad Silverton, Jason Beauvoir, and Nikki Barclay (played by Alenis Meru)


Sera sat in the familiar chair next to the Engineering console on the bridge. She had taught more of these classes than she could count. While she waited on the latest batch of crewmen, she took a moment to relax. Sera had been pushed and pulled in every direction, it had been a few days since her last decent night's rest.

The Captain was right, this class was very important. If the crew knew how to handle the new system, the mission would be rather easy. If not, things were going to get bad rather quickly. Sera rubbed her face, trying to get the tiredness out of her eyes.

Nikki was the first to arrive. "Sera!" she exclaimed, bursting through the door. "Omigod, you look exhausted! Here, let me get you a coffee!" Before Sera could even say a word, Nikki was at the replicator. "Computer, two large caffe mochas. With whipped toppings. And caramel syrup. And cookie crumble."

As soon as the two overly sweet, highly caffeinated beverages appeared, Nikki quickly grabbed them and plopped one right in front of Sera. "You look tired. Is that jerkbag Shras driving you crazy yet?"

"He's driving me crazy and I don't even have to work with him." Jason said as he entered the room.

Dr Silverton was right behind Jason and added in, "Can we be more specific on who we are talking about because there are a couple people driving me crazy."

"Doctor!" exclaimed Nikki. "Thank god you're here! I had the most terrible headache this morning, and decided to consult the medical database. And you would be shocked -- SHOCKED -- at what I found. I don't know how it happened, but I think we have a ceti eel infestation on the ship! One of them must have crawled into my ear when I was sleeping! You have to find some way to get it out before it eats my brain! Please, Dr. Silverton, you're my only hope!"

Brad wasn't sure what to make of what was just said. "Um. Ah. I'm not sure its possible for an eel to hop out of its aquatic environment, wiggle down the hallway, access the door control and enter into your room. Let's not assume the worst at this point until we get you checked out but I promise you we'll do it right after this. Most brain parasites have to go through a growth and build up phase before reproducing into multiple...". It was at about that time Brad realized he probably shouldn't have said the last part.

"mm... mmmm... multiple?"

Sera took a sip of her overly caffeinated sugar coffee, debating letting Nikki continue her long list of perceived medical issues to the doctor. Deciding that the impending Borg encounter was only slightly more important that Nikki giving the the doctor a migraine, Sera said, "With that, I think it's time to get to work. Ensign Barclay, I've programmed an Engineering console for you, and I've set up a secondary Science station for the Doctor. Lt. Beauvoir, take your Science station."

Sera tapped a few commands on her display. The holographic bridge began grew a bit darker and the hum of the ambient ship noises changed slightly, only perceivable to those with incredible hearing or engineers. "I've engaged the Dark Energy Reactor. Each of you should see an increase in power at your stations."

"I'm reading a steady increase in power, Lieutenant. Let's hope it remains steady." Jason reported. Then to Nikki he said. "Ensign Barclay, the Doctor is correct, conditions on board this ship are inhospitable to ceti eels, it's more likely to be a Zarhn borrowing beetle." He teased.

Nikki let out a nervous squeal. "We have a massive increase in power in engineering; it's almost too much. I don't think we can divert it all to our systems without blowing out half the EPS relays on the ship." She reached over and grabbing Brad's hand tightly, while looking up at Sera. "Please hurry," she mouthed a look of dread on her face.

"Maybe the Borg have some sort of cure? Maybe we can ask them," Sera joked, not able to resist.

"No!" exclaimed Nikki. "I'm not letting them put nanoprobes in my head! Doctor, please tell me there is some other way to get them out!"

Brad liked Sera's style and where this was going. "Well there are other ways yes but you have to admit that the Borg have some advanced medical method's beyond Starfleet. Just think of what a body filled with nanotechnology could do to combat viruses and parasites."

Getting back to business, Sera said, "Ok, I think it's time to ruin the fun with what we're here to do." She tapped a few more commands on her console. "The new reactor will not only increase our power output, it will make us virtually invisible to sensors."

"Omigod, this is so awesome!" exclaimed Nikki as she stared down in amazement at her console. The power readings were off the charts, and in spite of all of that, they were surrounded by some sort of field rendering them practically undetectable. Seeing everyone glaring at her for seemingly siding with Shras, she continued nervously. "But... our warp core is pretty cool too," she added in a meek voice.
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Re: Mission Five: "Unto the Breach"

Wed Sep 23, 2015 8:22 pm

Curious Children...
Classroom, USS Portland
MD -04
Authors: Eilis Ross, Novia Yenn (played by Tyrlai Zade), Shras th'Zarath (played by Alenis Meru)


Once more, Shras th'Zarath found himself storming through the corridors of the USS Portland, this time on Deck Ten, and this time, clutching a little Trill girl by the ear. He kept up a quick pace, as he found that doing so prevented the little girl from resisting. Those tiny fists of fury started to hurt after being pummeled with them for minutes on end.

Storming into the classroom without so much as ringing the chime, he pulled Novia into the room and stared at the visibly shocked teacher and her pupils. "Ms. Ross!" he called out, interrupting her lesson, "is this one of your little brats?"

Novia yelped as she was dragged into the room. Her cat monkeys, previously enraptured by a shiny object in the back of the room scampered independently and very swiftly to high points, glaring at the man and hissing, claws extending as they readied to fight.

Novia glared and kicked him in the shin as hard as she could before Miss Ellis could see. "I was just walking by this mean mans collection of tubes and he lost his mind." Her eyes widened as she continued. "I think he's probably mentally unstable and we should call the talking doctor before he develops too many disorders of the brain."

"Mentally unstable? Why you little--"

Eilis was still trying to process and understanding what she was seeing, her hand had moved to the communication panel on her desk as she moved to her feet with anger flaring in her eyes. "Let go of her now or I will have you arrested for man handling a minor."

"Fine," replied Shras in his usual sneering tone, releasing his grip on Novia's ear. He didn't see what the big deal was; the little brat was lucky she wasn't an Andorian. When he misbehaved as a child, Shras' mother would grab him by the antenna, which was of course incredibly painful. "But it is her who should be arrested. Trespassing, espionage, attempted sabotage, high treason... these are all very serious crimes, little girl, ones which can get you locked up for a long time."

Eilis easily moved to step between the Andorian and her student as she sheltered the young girl from this new presence. "I'm not quite certain what it is that you are rambling about but your words are very dangerous...accusations such as those you speak of should not just be flung around the way you are doing so now. I will ask you to remove yourself from my classroom A-SAP."

Shras glared up at the teacher. How dare she get defensive? It was no wonder that Novia was such a brat if this was the sort of role model she had. Novia. Why, his mother, god rest her soul, would have slapped the blue off of him for sneaking around and playing with things that are clearly not toys. "I suppose my work is too important to be interrupted by this... child's play," he said in a dismissive tone. "However, if I am to have to deal with the inconvenience of sharing a ship with a preschool, I'm going to have to insist that you have a conversation with these children and make sure something like this doesn't happen again. My experiments are not toys."

"Perhaps it would be a better idea to check your security? If your experiments are that important than surely a child shouldn't be able to slip into the area in which they are contained so easily?" Eilis couldn't explain it but there was something about this male which she didn't like; something which was setting off her defense instinct. She wasn't about to allow him to blame everything which went on on her children.

"Oh, I will be visiting security shortly, and will be having a word with them about the lax performance of their duties. Of course, the incompetence of the security department is par for the course on this ship; the only halfway competent person I've met so far is Lieutenant Williams." Shras paused and returned to the point he was making. "But until then, you will control these little brats and keep them from running amok on this ship."

That was the last straw for Eilis. "I will do no such thing!" she shouted. Given how well-developed Shras' social skills were, she decided to try using a technique that she had used on unruly children from time to time. "This is my classroom and I've already asked you to leave, so technically, you're trespassing right now. I'm going to start counting, and if you're still here by the time I get to five, I'm calling security to have you removed and thrown in the brig. One..."

"Well, I never--"

"Two..."

"This is--"

"Three..." Eilis glared into Shras' eyes.

It was at that moment that Shras realized that being thrown in the brig would seriously affect his research, and chasing little girls around the ship wasn't a productive use of his time or his genius. "Fine," he said as he pivoted towards the door and left in a harumph.

Eilis looked down at Novia and patted the little girl on the shoulder. "It's okay, Novia, the bad man is gone."
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Re: Mission Five: "Unto the Breach"

Wed Sep 23, 2015 8:24 pm

Left Behind...
Shuttle Bay 1, USS Portland
After the briefing
Authors: Eilis Ross, Tyrlai Zade & Novia Yenn (played by Tyrlai Zade)


"Life support systems... check. Cabin pressure... check. Auxiliary power unit... check." As Petty Officer Marek Brzowski ran over the checklist, he wondered if he drew the short straw or not with this assignment. On the one hand, he was going to be safe and sound at the starbase when the Portland flew into a Borg-infested nebula. While he would miss out on all the action, being assigned to this mission instead had no doubt greatly increased his life expectancy. On the other hand, he was not looking forward to being trapped in a shuttle with a bunch of precocious little children.

He wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead and refocused on his checklist trying as best he could to block out the annoyance that was the gaggle of children. "Yaw controls, check... pitch controls, check..." But as he ran through the list, he was interrupted by a tug on his sleeve.

"Sir, I'm afraid we must wait. I was not permitted to return for the monkeys and they are too valuable to be left behind." Novia looked at him as sternly as she could muster.

"What!?" Merek looked over his shoulder for a moment. "No! No, no, no. Strap yourself in, we do not have time for monkeys." He shook his head and went back to the preflight displays. Borg filled nebula or Monkeys, the girl clearly needed a lesson or five on priorities. He finished the clear and began lift odd sequence as the exterior bay began opening for the shuttle, the soft glow of the atmospheric force field beyond shimmering into view. He took a look behind him to make sure everyone was in a seat and strapping in and gently rotated the shuttle towards the door.

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

Novia hurried through the corridor towards the turbolift. The shuttle was heading out but she was sure there would probably be another and once she got the cat-monkeys situated they would inquire as to how to go about securing seats. The lift doors opened and the tall, mean Trill lady stepped out. Novia knew the lady was certain to yell and scowl and summon the shuttle back and pack her up without the monkeys. She leaned against the wall and tried to be invisibileish.

Tyrlai, lost in her datapadd, glanced over at the child trying not to be noticed. "Hey kid, whatever you are doing, knock it off. I'm sure you have some place to be, so get to it."

Novia panicked for a second but managed to squeak out a perfectly serviceable lie. "I have to prepare my monkeys for the trip, miss."

Tyrlai motioned with her hand. "Well get to it."

Novia nodded and darted into the turbolift as quickly as she could.

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

Scouring the halls of the USS Portland, Eilis was tracking down her missing student. Just before takeoff she had done a quick head count and came up one short. How Novia managed to sneak off the shuttle undetected she didn't know, but she knew that it was up to her to find her quickly before the shuttle left.

Seeing a pair of furry little creatures darting around a corner, Eilis knew she was hot on the tail of the cat-monkeys and thus, more than likely, Novia. As she rounded the corner she came face to face with the little girl. "Novia!" she exclaimed. "What are you doing? We have to get back to the shuttle!"

"We can't leave them here, the Borg will eat them." Novia glared at the possibilities. She then glanced to her left where the monkeys were scampering about looking for an exit. Novia snapped instructions to her charges. "You two, here, now."

The two monkeys glared back at her, oddly enough slightly before the girl had spoken. and then scampered forward and up the Trill girl perching one on each shoulder.

"Okay, we're ready now."


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

Hurrying back to the shuttlebay with Novia and two cat-monkeys in tow, Eilis was almost dragging the little girl back to the corridor. But as she barged through the door into the shuttlebay, she froze in shock. The transport, the one that was supposed to take her, the children, and all the non-essential personnel to safety, was gone. She paused and took a deep breath as the reality sunk in. They had missed the transport, and now were flying straight into a Borg-infested nebula.

She turned towards the little girl. "Well, Novia, I guess we had better talk to the captain."

Novia frowned, the Captain was only recently returned from the dead and even though Novia was a scientist that was still creepy. The cat-monkeys chittered in alarm. "No, I don't think so." Novia whispered and followed the teacher.
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Re: Mission Five: "Unto the Breach"

Thu Oct 15, 2015 2:30 am

Enter Ron and Jessica...
USS Portland
En route to the nebula
Authors: Captain Alenis Meru, Lieutenant Brad Silverton, Ensign Ronald Roberts, Ensign Jessica White (played by Ronald Roberts), Nurse Maria Hill (played by Alenis Meru)


En route to the nebula, Captain Alenis was on the bridge, dividing her attention between status reports and the PADD she was reading. She wanted to know everything she could about the dark energy reactor, and giving the senior staff some time to rest and study, she had brought the B-team aboard -- junior officers and enlisted crewmen -- to run the ship while en route.

"Captain, I'm detecting a faint distress signal, two six three mark seventeen," called out one of the operations crewmen. "Federation in origin, looks to be from a shuttlecraft."

"Let's hear it," replied Alenis, putting down her PADD.

The signal was automated, the broadcasters having given up days ago on actually having interaction with any other vessel. With the odds calculated at millions to one of ever hailing another ship they had put together a quick recording and left it to broadcast on it's own. They certainly had more important matters to attend to on the shuttle than running a radio station. A female voice spoke as follows: “This is ensigns Jessica White and Ronald Roberts of the USS Forefront. Our ship was attacked along with the Nova Europa colony by the Borg. We are all that is left of the crew. If you find us dead, get those bastards.” A quick blip of the screen and then: “This is ensigns...” The signal repeated itself.

Ensign Sulek, who was manning the Tactical Station, took a look at the readings of the domm signal, "Captain, it is an automated distress beacon. It is strongly advised that if we must approach, we raise our shields and prepare for a trap," he said with the famous Vulcan charm.

"It's not like the Borg to engage in that sort of trickery," replied Alenis. "But those are appropriate precautions regardless. How long will it take to divert course and pick them up?" asked Alenis. Their mission was important, but she also couldn't leave a ship in distress floating around in space.

The Vulcan tactical officer took a look at the signal and mentally calculated a course. "Captain, it would take ten minutes at maximum warp to reach the distress beacon from our current location."

"Alter course," replied Alenis.

"Aye, ma'am, altering course to intercept." Ensign Holloway replied from the helm station in her rich Yorkshire accent.

*******************************
Meanwhile, on a shuttle adrift in space with no hope whatsoever of ever being found...

“Ow,” Ron shouted as he grasped his shoulder tightly, nursing it after the surprisingly powerful punch he had just received from Jessica.

“Don't you ever say something like that again, Ron. Ever.” Jess glared at Ron in a way she had never done before. He could tell she was genuinely hurt.

He sighed as he peered out of the shuttle's viewport towards no particular point. “Sorry, deah.” It certainly may not have been the best of timing but Ron had thought it to be a moment of honesty when he said that the Borg where rather beautiful to him. It was his first time they had actually encountered them, and though they had barely escaped with their lives, losing the rest of the crew and the ship as they escaped, Ron couldn't help but comment on the conjured emotions he felt when he first laid eyes on the Borg sphere that had no doubt come to have them join the collective.

After a few minutes of uncomfortable silence Jessica broke it with a humorous comment, trying to lighten up what could be there last moments together. “Should have grabbed the beers,” she said with a playful grin.

“Dead and gone,” he said about their precious beverages. “Just like everyone else,” Ron replied before turning his sights back to Jess. “Just like us.”

“Don't make me hit you again, Ron,” she continued in her upbeat tone. “We're going to be fine.”

“I don't know what you mean by 'fine' but life support is sputtering out and most of our systems are non-functional. We'll be lucky if our distress beacon even reaches anyone's ears and the dilithium reserve is just about gone. No, Jess. We're screwed.”

Jess's face saddened a bit. She knew he was right. “Dying cold and stranded in the darkness of space. Just like the song,” she said with a half-hearted smirk. “I always thought we'd go out with a bang,” she spoke, trailing off towards the end as a mischievous grin crossed her face. “Maybe we can, though. You know. Go out with a bang?”

“What do you mean,” Ron questioned as he tried to read her expression. “Go out with a,” he grinned widely at her with sudden realization. “Bang.”

They were the best of buds and where they to describe it in an honest (and obviously cheesy) way 'love' would be one of the first words to come to mind. They were practically inseparable as friends but had never been able to synch up emotionally beyond that, at least not in Ron's eyes. Their physical interfaces, however, were very compatible.

“Well, it has been a while. I suppose if we've got the time,” Ron spoke in jest as he pretended to look around for more pressing matters. “I don't suppose there'll be any interruptions...”


*******************************
A private and exhilarating ten minutes later...

As the Portland dropped out of warp, a severely damaged shuttle appeared on screen. Alenis stared at it for a second, examining the damage. Plasma beam burns, gashes in the external plating, and a sputtering plasma leak made her wonder if anyone could have survived in the tumbling shuttlecraft for so long. "Hail them," she called out.

The Vulcan at Tactical attempted to hail the damaged shuttles, to no response. "Captain, there is no response. I have been broadcasting in all known languages."

"Scan for lifesigns," added Alenis, hoping that there was someone still alive. She didn't want to have diverted course for a simple repeating distress beacon.

Sulek activated the sensors from his tactical console and scanned the ship. "Captain, I am reading two lifeforms aboard the shuttle."

"Signal the good doctor; prepare to bring them aboard." Alenis paused for a moment. "Beam them directly to sickbay and then resume our previous course. Ensign Sulek, you have the conn. I'm going down to sickbay to welcome our guests aboard."

The Vulcan nodded as another junior officer replaced him at tactical. Sulek calmly sat in the Captain's chair, then pressed the comm button on the armrest. In a voice that was meant to be matter-of-fact but came out more condescending, Sulek said, "Bridge to Sickbay, make preparations for two sentients who will be arriving soon."

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

Sickbay, USS Portland

Brad responded to the bridge's hail. "Understood captain. We're ready."

As the two castaways began to materialize in the sickbay of the USS Portland their caught-off-guard conversation began to form along with their bodies. “Well that feels different... Wait! What's?”

“Shit! Transporter!”

...

Two bare bodies laying on the pristine floor of a ship's sickbay. It was certainly not an unheard of event, but these two were laid out in a way that would make a Deltan blush. They both quickly scrambled to their feet and spared no time in an attempting modesty, covering the questionable portions of their bodies as these new onlookers stood before them.

Surprise and excitement quickly formed on their faces as Starfleet attire and equipment filled their eyes. Ron wasted no time in addressing the most important request that had instantly come to his mind. “I'm gonna need my arm, if that's not too much trouble!” It was immediately obvious what he meant. Where a right appendage would have been there was a large section of the shoulder missing with an implanted apparatus to attach his mechanical arm.

Brad was trying to balance patience with understanding and urgency with the surprised patients in his sickbay. "We'll get your prosthesis back in place once we've examined you. You two have been on minimal failing life support and we need to make sure there is no damage." Brad was attempting to attend to Ron while Nurse Maria Hill was attending to Jess.

“Right, probably not a bad idea,” Ron answered with a nod. “Just make sure your transporter operator grabs that arm. The rest of the ship may be junked, but that thing is gold.” It would have seemed strange, but the arm in question seemed more important to Ron than the more immediate issues he was facing; Spending multiple days with a puncture wound to the chest and a failed lung. And those damn rations! Those where probably the worst thing of all for his and Jessica's well being.

Jessica, on the other hand, was being more than cooperative and obviously understood that their health should be their primary concern. Most of all she was relieved to finally have another person to talk to after all the death they had just experienced and the frustrations to follow with Ron. “You don't know how glad I am to see you,” she said to the nurse tending to her as if she had known the woman for years.

"I can imagine," replied Maria as she scanned Jessica, making sure there was nothing more serious than a few scrapes and bruises. "Whatever you went through, you're safe now, in the sickbay of the USS Portland."

Brad motioned Ron over to the emergency biobed centered in the room. "It doesn't look critical but I don't want to take chances. Tell me what happened."

“I'm not sure you'd believe me if I told you,” Ron spoke with a subdued tone as he sat on the biobed, thinking about the particular necessities of his method of escape. “But here it goes anyway. Long and the short of it is we were attacked by the Borg and they were going to make quick work of us, so I decided to do my best to convince them that their job had been done in record time. I busted my one flesh and blood lung and made myself unconscious for long enough to hopefully get the Borg off our backs. It seemed to work rather well. I,” he interrupted himself, a sullen look forming on his face. He'd let Jessica explain how he had helped her feign death. “We're just glad to be alive right now, I think.”

"Clever," replied Maria as she grabbed a vascular regenerator to take care of Jessica's bruises. "Faking death so the Borg wouldn't bother trying to assimilate your shuttle. But how did you stop them from detecting Jessica's lifesigns?"

“I... Well... You see, there wasn't much of a-”

“Ronnie aided me in a precisely timed constriction of my airwaves,” Jessica interrupted, her tone calm as though to defend his actions as she spoke them. It was still a sore subject, literally and figuratively for her, but she did not want to see her friend in any trouble. Not for saving their lives. “After that he resuscitated me and was sure to confirm I was in perfect working order. He didn't even check his wound until after I was revived,” she finished with a small smile of gratitude in Ron's direction.

The face that stared back at her did not respond in kind. It was sullen and quiet, as though to attempt to say 'sorry' in every way but verbally. Ron quietly awaited the verdict from the medical staff around him. He was certain his actions would be seen as brash and dangerous.

The room went quiet as Maria held a medical tricorder up to Jessica's neck for a moment. "There's no lasting damage to her airways, doctor."

"Everything I am seeing here isn't critical either." Brad looked up from his medical scanner and cleared his throat loudly. "Perhaps its best to let our patients get dressed. There is a replicator in the back room over there. Come out when you are ready and we'll do a more thorough exam."

“Where are our manners, Jessica,” Ron all but blurted out at the chance to change the subject. He hopped up off the biobed and made his way to the replicator. “I suppose now that our future is more certain we can make ourselves comfortable.”

“Right,” Jess exclaimed as she too jumped up with a bounce and headed straight for the replicator. It wasn't odd to be naked in a sickbay. In fact, the staff probably found it to be quite convenient that the disrobing had been done pre-arrival. However, it was probably best that the two of them redress themselves for modesty's sake if the examinations were to continue.

A few moments of shuffling and bumbling later and the two of them returned with fresh-pressed uniforms. “How do we look,” they questioned in unison. Even the pitch was perfect. It just had to be rehearsed.

"You look official." Brad said matter-of-factly. "You two seem to be in good shape all things considered. What with facing what you had to believe was the final hours of your lives." Brad spoke to them as he motioned his hand for them to return to the biobeds. "That sort of situation causes very understandable... choices to make that wouldn't normally be made. I don't think there is anything wrong with that at all. You'd be amazed at what people do when they believe their lives are about to end." It seemed rather obvious to Brad why they had been found naked and he attempted to put them at ease. He could just imagine what it would be like if he was in their situation.

The two caught-in-the-act ensigns sat back down on their assigned biobeds with a renewed vigor reserved for freshly replicated uniforms. It was certainly awkward, but the continuation of their lives had made the circumstances of their rescue seem less important. Drawing direct attention to the matter did seem to make Jess a bit bashful, however. “Well, ya know, friends do have different ways of comforting each other in their final hours I suppose,” she stated quietly making eye contact with no one.

“So what use would you have for two budding officers such as ourselves,” Ron questioned moments after Jess's response. The two had certainly given off awkward vibes but each of a different sort. Ron seemed somewhat more hurried to change the conversation as he asked for his new duties almost too eagerly.

"I'm sure the Captain will be able to find something for you to do," replied Maria as she handed Ron his arm, which had been recovered from the wrecked shuttle. "I hear Engineering could use a few hands..."

“Ha!” Ron snatched his arm eagerly and hastily attached it to the large empty portion where a shoulder would normally be. “I'd be more than happy to help. And thank goodness you got me my arm back or it would have been an odd number of hands in engineering. Not much good that would have done! Consider these hands lent!”
Capt. Alenis Meru
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Re: Mission Five: "Unto the Breach"

Thu Oct 15, 2015 2:32 am

Assimilation
Shortly after "Enter Ron and Jessica"
Captain's Office, USS Portland
Authors: Captain Alenis Meru, Ensign Ronald Roberts, Ensign Jessica White (played by Ronald Roberts), Acting Ensign Ko-ko


The halls of the USS Portland where overflowing with the feelings of contentment and satisfaction, filling the air like a most welcome contagion. The carriers seemed to spread it to everyone they passed. All the fright and frustration had left the minds of Ron and Jessica as they made their way to meet the captain of the most lovely vessel they had set foot on and they where more than eager to make their place on this new ship, no matter how temporary or permanent it may have been. They were out of their coffin and given a second chance at life.

Given a clean(ish) bill of health (and some clothes), they were now ready to meet the boss. It hadn't taken long for the turbolift to bring them to their destination: Deck 1. The bridge. Jessica instantly fell in love. She never thought she would be smitten by one so much older than herself, but she was beautiful. Like love at first sight. Ron didn't quite feel the same, but he was certainly happy to be in a stable relationship with a ship once more.

They acknowledged all the new faces with a happy nod before making their way to the ready room. Ron and Jess both reached out their hands at the same moment to activate the chime for the occupant on the other end. A stupid smirk crossed both their faces as they pressed the button in unison.

"Come in," shouted Alenis, furiously working away at her terminal, preparing one last report for Admiral Washington to be transmitted before going in. It was somber in tone, containing posthumous commendations, conditional field promotions, and other final preparations in case the Portland didn't come back. Through all of this, Ko-ko was occupying her favourite perch on top of Alenis' monitor and cooing gently.

The two ensigns looked at each other in uncertainty. A shout was a most unexpected reply, though its solemn tone certainly took the edge off. Jessica began to picture an intimidating and overbearing shrew of a captain... perhaps with claws. Ron began to picture an in-charge and no B.S. captain... who happened to be quite attractive. Only one of the two of them was enjoying the image they had conjured. Not wanting to keep the captain waiting, Ron signaled the door to open and a moment later the two of them stepped into the room.

"Ensign Roberts, Ensign White," said Alenis, nodding to acknowledge their presence as she stood up from her desk. Glancing at her empty tea mug, she made a beeline for her kettle. "My condolences on the colony. I hear the Endeavour rescued a few dozen survivors." Alenis winced slightly; saying there were a few dozen survivors seemed to erase the hundreds who didn't make it off that rock. "Can I get you some tea?"

“A rum and coke would be nice,” Ron replied with dull sarcasm. Mentions of the colony had certainly taken the edge off his wit.

“Tea will be fine, sir” interrupted Jess before an answer to Ron's request could be given as she nudged him gently with her elbow. She wanted to make a good first impression for her rescuers and it was evident that now was not the time for jokes. They were already standing at attention just as a green cadet aboard a new ship would do in front of a superior and she didn't want to ruin their air of respectability (though for some reason the live bird on the monitor made it difficult to keep things too serious).

"Three mugs of tea then," replied Alenis as the water began to boil. As she prepared the tea, Ko-ko tilted her head at the new officers, examining them closely. Alarmed by Ron's cybernetic implants, she began ruffling her feathers and taking a defensive stance atop the monitor. "Easy, Ko-ko," called out Alenis, her back still to the bird as she poured the tea. She could hear that he was agitated, and she didn't blame him. There had been a lot of stress and discomfort on the ship over the past couple days since they got word of the Borg attacks, and with her empathic abilities, Ko-ko was definitely picking up on it.

With tea just moments away from being served Ron and Jessica sat down on the guests' side of the captain's desk. Their glances shifted between her and her feathered friend.

A moment later, Alenis turned around, two cups of tea in her hands. "Pyrellian ginger tea with mint leaves" she said. "Fresh, not replicated." She placed the two glasses on her desk in front of Ron and Jessica and then handed Ron a couple mint leaves. "Here, it's her favourite."

"Thank you," Jess said in a voice as warm as the tea in front of them as she slid Ron's cup closer to him. He seemed a bit distracted by the bird and she knew what could happen when Ron was distracted. She just hoped the tea would distract him from his distraction.

Hmm, Ron thought to himself. What a strange little bird, but he knew what birds liked. Back in school he had a girlfriend who would occasionally feed her pet bird with her mouth. Bits of sandwich and whatnot. It seemed repulsive at the time, but what better way to get on the Captain's good side than making friends with her pet? It was practically an invitation with its favorite food, after all. He proceeded to plop the leaves onto his tongue and stick it out at the bird with a come-hither look in his eyes.

Ko-ko was not interested. At all. She let out an all too familiar hiss at Ron, signaling its displeasure in the act. It was just like whenever he tried to perch his former lover's bird on his finger. What a dumb bird, Ron thought at no bird in particular. “Your loss,” he said to Ko-ko as he chewed on the leaves, the cooling sensation rushing through his sinuses in no time at all.

Jess just sat and stared without speaking one word, a dumbfounded look in her eyes with the teacup pressed gently against her lips the entire time, her glance shifting between the dolt with the fresh breath and the captain who probably had no patience for fun and games.

Alenis shook her head at Ron and then looked over sympathetically at Jessica. "Now that you've met Ko-ko, we can begin," she said. "I'm Captain Alenis Meru of the USS Portland, and I'm afraid I'm going to have to press the two of you into service. I could always use another shuttle pilot, and with these dark energy experiments going on, I need all the help I can get in engineering. Though I'm afraid that it might be out of the frying and and into the fire for you, given our current mission."

“That doesn't sound good,” Ron replied while chewing on the leaves. “Not the impressment. Anything's better than being lost in space. But what sort of mission are we on?” It was a reluctant question that he hoped would be answered with something pertaining to the dark energy experiments and not something far darker than that that had begun to creep back up into the back of his mind.

Alenis whistled at Ko-ko, who as if on command, fluttered her wings and perched herself upon the captain's shoulder. Then, with Ko-ko's favourite perch vacated, she spun the monitor around to Ron and Jessica could see. "NGC-3814," she replied. "We've traced the Borg activity to this nebula. Our job is to go in and see what they're up to."

“Wait. You want to go in there? No offense captain, it's a nice ship, but,” Ron stopped himself mid-sentence. Don't insult the captain's ship. Don't insult the captain's ship! Great. It just seemed so obvious to him that the Miranda class was not equipped to handle the Borg, installed experimental and unstable technologies aside. Why where they even going anywhere close to the Borg?

"Don't worry, Ensign, this old girl has some tricks up her sleeve," replied Alenis, not making it clear whether she was talking about the ship or herself. "I'm sure Lieutenant Williams will brief you on these -- at the very least, those which aren't classified and on a need to know basis." She slid a PADD across her desk towards Ron. "As for you, Ensign White, you'll be working with our new Chief Flight Control Officer, Ensign Kahnr Dai."

Ron quickly grabbed the PADD and started his own little briefing in the process. He started to poke around at the accessible files within, looking for anything he could read that was unclassified or anything that could give him hints as to what was classified. Secrets. Those were the worst. Especially between the perpetual tinkerers that most engineers were. He'd be getting nosey in no time, finding out just what tricks where up who's sleeves, but first he had to meet his direct boss and get situated.

Jess was less enthused and she didn't even have the luxury of hiding the obviously dissatisfied look on her face behind a PADD. It was obvious. The Borg? Not again. She looked over at Ron who was, in her mind, probably all giddy at the prospect of getting plugged into the hive mind and then looked back to the captain. “I'm sure we'll make fine editions to your crew, sir. And speaking of: If I may ask, what quarters will we be assigned,” she asked in a sheepish voice. She wasn't sure if it was the right time to ask but she was exhausted. She just wanted somewhere to crash and it showed through her azure oculars just how tired she was.

"You can stay in the guest quarters for tonight; Commander Rouse will find you something more permanent tomorrow. That is, if we survive our little jaunt into the nebula." At the mention of danger, Ko-ko buried her face in her wings and nuzzled herself against Alenis' head. "Awww, Ko-ko," said Alenis, reaching up to pet her bird. "I'm sure we'll be all right." Alenis looked back towards Ron and Jessica, realizing that perhaps she looked a little less than professional at the moment. "If there's nothing else, you are dismissed."

The captain certainly wasn't so reassuring to the two young ensigns. But the guest quarters did sound lovely. At least they'd get some much needed rest in some comfortable quarters and a brief reprieve before they marched back into the jaws of death or worse. Ron thought of a quip about needing a tall glass of Romulan ale and an equally tall woman to accompany him, but he just wasn't into it. The only thing he wanted into at the moment was a comfortable bed and eight hours of undisturbed sleep.

“No, sir. That'll be all.” He stood up along with Jess and they gave the customary first salute to their new captain. It was just like any other salute, but inside Ron and Jess's minds it was also saying 'good luck' to accepting the normally quite quirky duo. After the salute was unknowingly returned they returned their arms to their sides and bid themselves adieu of the captain and her strange bird.
Capt. Alenis Meru
Commanding Officer
USS Portland

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

Thu Oct 15, 2015 2:39 am

Into the Nebula, Part I
Bridge, USS Portland
MD02, 1900 hours
Authors: Captain Alenis Meru, Shras th'Karath (played by Alenis Meru), Cmdr. Timothy Rouse, Lieutenant (JG) Sera Williams, Lieutenant (JG) Tolaran Kian, Lieutenant (JG) Marcus Kallan, Lieutenant Jason Beauvoir, Lieutenant (JG) Arthur Reynolds


Step, step, step, step. Sigh.

Turn. Step, step, step, step. Sigh.

Turn. Step, step--

"Don't you have some systems to monitor or something?" Seated in the center chair, Alenis glared up at Shras. As they got closer and closer to the nebula, the man had become more and more restless, and for the past ten minutes had been pacing the bridge, loudly sighing in frustration, and clenching his fists. It was starting to get on her nerves, and was no doubt a distraction to the bridge crew while the ship was supposed to be on high alert.

"What, is my pacing annoying you?" asked Shras in his usual sneering tone.

"Yes," replied Alenis. "And I don't have time to argue with you about it, so sit down and make yourself useful."

With a harumph, Shras returned to his seat. He didn't see what the big deal was; they were all going to die soon anyways, and it seemed petty to him to stop a doomed man from pacing to and fro. It also seemed hypocritical that the captain told him to stop pacing while she let that demon bird of hers perch upon her shoulder, but he figured it was best not to press the issue at this time. He had already put it in his report, and had sent a preliminary version to Admiral Washington, just in case he died before he could finish the whole thing.

As Shras sat down, Alenis' eyes returned to the main viewscreen. The nebula was up ahead, slowly getting bigger on the screen as the ship approached. Were it not crawling with Borg, she might find the swirling gases and plasma streams to be beautiful. But, this wasn't a sightseeing tour; this was a mission whose consequences would be severe for the entire quadrant.

Her mind was going a mile a minute. Soon, she would be face to face with the Borg again. The last time was years ago, at New Algiers. She was the Chief Tactical Officer of the USS Gol, assigned to the left flank of Starfleet's counterattacking forces. The Gol put up a good fight, but once the old Ambassador class vessel was caught in a Borg tractor beam, it was all over. Alenis was the highest ranking officer to get off the ship; only a few dozen of the crew of 500 made it.

She was nervous. Her palms were sweaty, and as she looked up at the glowing nebula, she could see visions from the last moments of the USS Gol. The glowing green tractor beam that they were caught in. The plasma torpedo, the one she stared at as it closed in on the helpless vessel, unable to stop. The flying debris from the explosion, and the flames which engulfed the bridge as she crawled towards the escape pods.

A soft touch on the hand brought her back to reality. She glanced over for a second at Tim, whose subtle pat on her hand helped her retain her focus. His comforting smile... it was all she needed to get her head back in the game.

"Status report," she called out, not taking her eyes off the screen.

Shras had 'urged' Sera to view this 'monumental achievement' from the Bridge of the first ship to harness Dark Energy. Sera had never engaged the Borg, though she had heard virtually every horror story associated with them. It took almost all of her self-control to not stand up to watch the approaching nebula. One of the bonuses of being an engineer was that you rarely ever made it to the Bridge, and you'd never see the danger approaching.

She peered at the readings from the console that she had set up to control Engineering, then turned to Meru. "Captain, Dark Energy reactors are going live. All departments should be reading an increase in power with minimal emissions."

Tolaran stood at a station reviewing the security details throughout the ship, this was a nervous situation and he'd been drilling his teams hard the past few days, all non essential personal were in the mess hall or other safe locations throughout the ship with a security detail, and all major areas of the ship were protected... as best they could be anyway, one team was stationed all around the bridge right now standing ready... "Security teams are reporting ready throughout the ship Captain, if the Borg do get on board we'll give them one hell of a fight."

Marcus sat at Operations, entering a tense situation as the Portland's chief operations officer for the first time. "Ship's systems nominal, Captain," he read out from his LCARS display, keeping an eye peeled on the dark energy readings that Sera was already monitoring.

Jason sat at the Science station analysing sensor data from the nebula, or he would be, if they could pick up anything at this distance. Like the rest of the senior Bridge crew, he had received training in the new Dark Energy systems, and though he'd managed to grasp some of the concepts, advanced physics was beyond his understanding. Even so he trusted it work as planed, about as far as he could throw its arrogant inventor on Jupiter. Like everyone onboard, Jason wasn't looking forward to encountering the Borg, he saw them as a twisted version of his own profession, scientists and explorers who had lost their way.

From his slouched position at the helm, long legs stretched out in front of him and booted ankles crossed, Kahnr gave his report, "ETA to the nebula is ten minutes, Captain. With all the juice available to the engines I could get us there faster if you like. We'd probably even have time to stop off for some Cardassian Sunrises. If you like Sunrises that is. Sir." He paused, appeared to consider what he had just said for a moment, then nodded and apparently seemed satisfied with his metaphor. The helmsman was rather impressed with how much energy they had pulsing through the propulsion systems.

"Negative on the sunrises," replied Meru in a firm tone, a hint of disapproval in her voice at the young ensign's cavalier attitude. "And steady as she goes, Ensign. Tactical, report? Any Borg activity on the sensors?"

Arthur had his eyes locked on the console during their approach. His attention was rather split at first, however. He wasn't sure whether or not this Dark Energy would cause any serious issues with the tactical systems, but so far, everything appeared to be in working order. But just before he could report that his scans showed no serious activity around the nebula, something blinked to life on the outer edge. "I've got something. Hard to make out at this range... but whatever it is, it's big." A few moments of observation, and Arthur exclaimed, "It could be a patrol ship of some kind. It's moving along the perimeter of the nebula."

"On screen, maximum magnification."

Alenis stared up at the Borg cube for a moment. A chill went down her spine; it looked just like the one she had faced at New Algiers. For a moment she was frozen, but feeling Tim's hand upon hers brought her back. "You know the plan. Prepare the trans-dimensional warp jump; lets get on their tail."
Capt. Alenis Meru
Commanding Officer
USS Portland

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

Thu Oct 15, 2015 2:41 am

Into the Nebula, Part II
Bridge, USS Portland
MD02, 1900 hours
Authors: Captain Alenis Meru, Lieutenant (JG) Sera Williams, Lieutenant (JG) Tolaran Kian, Lieutenant (JG) Marcus Kallan, Ensign Kahnr Dai


Sera pressed a few commands on the Engineering console. An extra hum seemed to be added to the ambient ship noise as the Dark Energy reactor began to takeover for the Matter/Anti-Matter Warp Core.

Sera looked back toward the rest of the Bridge, "Trans-dimensional warp is ready. We are unable to be detected by sensors." Sera wanted to add that she hoped the Borg Cube didn't have a viewport, but decided against vocalizing the last part.

"Tachyon emissions are within norms. Transfer conduits are holding at 125% efficiency. Any hotter and we'll start glowing," Marcus reported as he actively monitored the affected systems, as well as the rest of the ship. "Avoid the cube's ion trail and any particles from the nebula and we should be in absolute stealth."

"Excellent," replied Alenis, taking one last moment to stare up at the cube. "Engage"

"Don't make it difficult or anything," Kahnr said, though this time he had the presence of mind to mutter it under his breath. He called out an, "Aye, sir," a moment later. His fingers flew across the control panel as he stared into the sensor readings, trying not to think about just what they were about to follow. Of course, trying not to think about it made him think about it. A Borg cube! Another few moments passed and he said, "Confirmed, we are maintaining a y-axis difference to avoid detection, Captain, and are keeping up."

Sera double checked her display. All readouts suggested the new Dark Energy Reactor was performing better than expected. The link between the Matter/Anti-matter Warp Core and the new reactor was running a bit hot, but it was still within tolerance. She put in a command to have someone investigate the issue, better safe than sorry. Sera turned her head to the Bridge to say, "Dark Energy Reactor at full power, everything is within tolerance." She also gave Shras a nod toward the display, telling him to take a look.

"Just keep us out of trouble for now," replied Alenis, staring up at the screen at the Borg cube. "Are we picking up anything on the sensors?"

"The navigational sensors are registering a much denser mass ahead than should be present in the nebula, Captain," Kahnr said without looking up from the helm controls. He made very careful, minute adjustments to their course as needed; a heavy hand would be a very bad idea given how much energy the engines had. "I can't get anything more specific than that at the moment out of my systems."

Sera tapped the display a bit, hoping the readings were just a hiccup in the late-2200's era technology in the console. With some growing concern, Sera announced, "Captain, whatever is in the nebula is creating an extremely large electro-magnetic field. I'm also reading tachyon emission on a large scale. Whatever it is, it isn't natural to the nebula. It is also beginning slightly affect the Dark Energy Reactor. I wouldn't recommend flying straight into the middle of it."

"Duly noted," replied the captain. She glanced over at Tim for a moment and gave him a subtle nod, reassuring her executive officer that she was in control here. "But we need to take a look at whatever this thing is. Take us in closer, and watch out for Borg scanning beams."

"Aye, Captain, answering closer," Kahnr said softly. So far, so good, but the nonchalant pilot's brow began to bead with anxious sweat as he carefully adjusted their course. The Portland banked slowly away from the patrol ship, leaving only the faintest disturbance in the gases of the nebula as she went, a swirl that was no different from any of the other eddies that ebbed and flowed throughout.

He remained silent for a long moment until he let out a soft grunt. The visual on the screen tilted sharply as he swung the ship low from her current course. "There's a lot of polaron scanning beams the further we go, Captain. Whatever it is is just coming into range now and-" The young man choked off whatever he'd been about to say and looked up as the wispy clouds parted.

Sera tried to say something about the Borg transwarp gate that was coming into view on the screen and how that explained the readings that she was getting, however what came out of her mouth was a stammered curse.

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

"Transwarp conduit aperture," Marcus breathed, looking a mixture of horrified and mesmerized. "Captain, just a ballpark guess here without active scans, but that's a fledgling unimatrix complex. No telling if it's fully operational or not." He glanced over his shoulder at Sera, to Shras, and back to Sera again. "Lieutenant, did your simulations ever take into consideration a shuttle departing while the Portland was in stealth mode?" Whatever Marcus was thinking, it was clearly not part of the original plan.

"Wouldn't launching a shuttle, give away our position?" Jason asked from the Science station.

"The Borg would in theory ignore a shuttle, past history shows it wouldn't be a big enough threat for them to even consider... a small team..." Tolaran never finished his sentence, his brain began to runaway with itself partly trying to work out what Marcus was thinking but also he began running plans through his mind to destroy the complex.

Marcus probably had no thoughts of destruction, only science. "Exactly," he said in agreement with Tolaran. He turned to face Alenis. "Captain, we're here to investigate what the Borg are up to. There it is," he said, gesturing at the screen. "If there is any data to be gathered regarding the Borg's activity or why they assimilated Captain Banninga, it will be there. And the Portland can't do any meaningful scans while cloaked."

"Captain, Marcus is on to something here, we could take a small team and investigate the complex from inside. It would be safer than risking the whole ship and unless we start prying too much they shouldn't acknowledge us. We could even lay charges to damage some of it too..."

"We have two Type 7 shuttlecraft ready to go," Kahnr said, turning around in his chair to look at the others. "They've been stripped down till they're nothing but sublight engines running so smooth they hardly leave an ion trail, basic sensors, a transporter system, and made up to look and scan just like asteroids. They aren't pretty, but my flying bricks should be able to get you where you need to go. I figure it's better that the Borg don't even know you're there than them just ignoring you till they wanna assimilate you."

Alenis paused to consider the plan. It was risky, but as the Ferengi say, the riskier the road, the greater the profit. They needed as much data as they could in order to devise a plan with Starfleet to stop the Borg from completing the transwarp gate before they take over the entire quadrant. And if they could delay the construction, even better. "Let's do it."
Capt. Alenis Meru
Commanding Officer
USS Portland

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