[USS Vanguard] RPG: It's been a long road, getting there from here (Post 2 of 2, cont from my "Prologue")

  • From: "Andy W. Ho" <andywoho@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: USS-Vanguard <ncv80221@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 16 Feb 2002 09:30:19 -0800 (PST)

OoC: With such a large post, obviously, I'm trying to get everyone
moving in the right direction. I only hope that I've preserved the feel
for your characters, the sense of urgency, and also their activities
and behavior before this post.

Those who may have been omitted, please don't feel left out--I tried to
include as many characters who are engaged in something as much as
possible. Please feel free to play off this however you like. And

The Present

Capt. Dominic Santos
U.S.S. Vanguard - Captain's Dining Room
Following the events of Highwaij's post

LT. HIGHWAIJ snapped his fingers as he waited for Soman Drath to appear
on the bridge. Like the characters from the 20th Century novels he
favored, he "had a bad feeling." He sensed Sam McCaw's slight
irritation at his finger calisthenics and a growing sense of dread from
Challis. From Tails, he sensed a calm, almost lazy alertness. He
couldn't explain the apparent contradiction from the Chief Security
Officer, but it was what he would have expected. His telepathy was not
as developed as some of the other "sensitives" on board--it was how he
justified an ill state-of-mind without something more concrete to back
it up.

LT. SAM MCCAW shifted in his seat. How could anyone stand it? No one
told him that Operations required a great deal of, well, waiting
around. Waiting for reports from the other departments, coordinating
their efforts, liaisoning to Engineering. One could list many traits
for Sam McCaw. Patience, however, was not in his list of virtues.
Operations was, however, one of the fast-tracks to command. And that
was worth most any price, even if he had to do some waiting. After all,
didn't all starship commanders pay their dues? Even the captain had
been an operations officer. Yeah, back during the Cardassian Wars,
maybe, McCaw chuckled. Still, it had been the captain who had given him
the new opportunity. That had to indicate a great deal of faith in his

To engage his mind, he backtracked to the first buoy that Vanguard had
deployed. The buoy had been engineered to receive and route weak,
complex data streams--data streams that contained the code for unique,
individual living organisms. Somehow, someone, somewhere had studied
the device and used it for his/her/their purposes. Who could be capable
of that sort of split-decision timing to take advantage of the buoys'
deployment? Unless, of course, the perpetrator had been waiting for
this type of opportunity and exploited it gleefully. The Vorgon? No,
that line of reasoning was due to his preoccupation with Qbed. Qbed.
How was she?

LT. DENVILLE D'ANGELO called up a holographic schematic of the
disruptor cannons. Due to the way they fired and the use of Romulan
power systems intermixed with Federation pulse cannons, the disruptor
cannons were always a bit of a trick to negotiate. If they were
misaligned even two centimeters, the results could be disastrous,
especially as distance between Vanguard and its target(s) increased,
inaccuracy increased exponentially. If graphed out, the alignment/error
ratio looked like Mt. Everest. This time, they were off by 2 microns.
Better to catch it before it turned into something out of control,
d'Angelo thought.

LT. TAILS TO ENNIEN readied herself for battle. Her senses were
hyper-heightened, each strand of fur standing on end, detecting the air
around her. Her body seemed relaxed. Millennia of evolution had
produced in her an innate sense of drawing in her prey by appearing
unaware. Nothing could be further from the truth.

ENS. ALVON STRATFORD felt a slight...buzzing around his head, as if an
insect were pestering him. Passing crewmen would have seen him swat
absent-mindedly at the back of his neck. They would have thought he was
scratching an itch, and mostly, they would be correct. But no crewmen
saw him: the former Borg preferred mostly privacy, even on duty.

LT. KIERAN DARKWATER found an interesting intellectual puzzle--had
Surak of Vulcan possessed two mates? And if he had, should be publish
the results? Frankly, it wasn't because he was concerned with ruffling
feathers among the Vulcans. He wouldn't publish his results until he
had concrete proof, but that proof might have belonged in the archives
of the Vulcan Science Academy. And if they had known all along, he
would make himself an excellent target of the Vulcan Intelligence. Most
of the galaxy believed that the Vulcans were pacifist scientists who
spent their long, long days lounging in their planet's too-hot sun,
debating endlessly over abstract concepts. Unfortunately, he had heard
rumors--nothing substantiated--that Vulcan Intelligence hired and
trained a lethal band of assassins: the Children of Surak. Would the
Vulcans assassinate a scientist who threatened the foundations of their
belief? Anything in the name of logic, unfortunately. It was a benefit
of his own Vulcan heritage--however slight--that he could contemplate
his chief pursuits even as he performed his duties. The only thing the
others would notice was an air of detached indifference while he pushed
buttons. And that could easily be attributed to a trace of intellectual
arrogance. It was an excellent arragement. Surak later, buoys now. What
was going on...?

Not quite asleep at the dining room table, CAPT. DOMINIC CESAR SANTOS
opened his eyes to see the others rising from their chairs and leaving
the table. The Trill ceremony had obviously been interrupted, but why?
The near-sleep state Dr. E'thexx had helped them achieve had had a
lasting impact on Santos. He found it easy to achieve. Shaking off the
slumber, he looked to his executive officer.

"What's going on?" he asked.

"The Vanguard's at yellow alert," Soman answered. "Highwaij's asked me
to come to the bridge."

"We'll save this for later," Santos addressed the others. "You better
get to your stations."

There was a smattering of "Aye, sir" as half the group were already out
of the dining room and on their way to the turbolift. As the doors
shushed open and shut, Santos could see Desdemona's curious glance into
the dining room as she craned for a better look from her stool behind
the bar.

ENS. SHE'RA KHAN twirled her hair absent-mindedly as she reviewed
messages on the sickbay computer. A checkup for Lt. Tobar, Ens. Wilson
suffered a toothache, and crewmen Sandovar and Potts both reported a
shortness of breath after a game of squash in the holodeck. Otherwise,
all was usually quiet when Dr. Xristha Droin left her in charge of
sickbay. As a surgeon and researcher, she could usually deal with the
day-to-day of sickbay in Droin's absence. She thought about Cynan
Mandrake, the Vanguard's helm officer. Her human emotions suggested
mildly that it was so soon, she had just boarded the ship. Her Klingon
emotions told her the sooner, the better, and that if he had shown
interest, if he had any honor as a male, he should declare his
intentions. Otherwise, she might be forced to kill him to preserve her
honor. The sickbay doors shushed open behind her, and Khan toggled off
the computer. DR. XRISTHA DROIN appeared, out of breath.

"What is it?" Khan asked her new supervisor.

"Trouble," Droin replied, heading for her small office and slipping on
her physician's coat. "Help me get sickbay ready."

DESDEMONA BARRETT-BROWN watched as the officers left the dining room.
As one from the race of "Listeners," she didn't know how the other
sentients could have missed one another's verbal and non-verbal cues.
She would have to be deaf and blind--not to mention dead--to miss the
whisperings of officers as they rushed to and fro from the last ten
minutes. Borg. Having been off-planet when the Borg assimilated her
world, her feelings toward the Borg could best be described as a quiet
sort of anger. She had ill feelings toward them, of course, as the
perpetrators of what was basically genocide on her homeworld. But she
silently cursed the handful of El-Aurian she had encountered over the
years--bemoaning their existence, mourning the loss of their world. Why
didn't they simply find and colonize a new world, she wondered, rather
than wander the galaxy like ageless nomad? Until they got their act
together, she had concluded a long time ago, she would have to make her
own way, the hard choices she had made...well, all the better, wasn't

QBED stopped in the corridor. "Hello, you lot," she thought. As a
(former) Q, she and her "people" had had a "special" relationship with
the Borg. She had watched the Federation and the Borg battle for
supremacy since Q's introduction of the Borg to the Federation. To her
kind, it was a lot like lying on one's stomach and watching two
colonies of ants battle for the same sandlot. One would win, the other
would not, and the galaxy would progress as it should.

In the office of the JAG officer, Dellan Kye read his messages from
Vanier Lee with some amusement. Although he had served with Lee only
once on the same starship, and then under less than auspicious
circumstances when Lee had discovered he was a Starfleet "plant," the
two had continued their dialogue. Over time, Kye had thought that it
was because of their year together at Starbase 218. Lee had ignored Kye
at first, but then gradually warmed to him. Kye thought with some
empathy that Lee must have missed his former crew terribly. How ironic
it was, therefore, that the only one of his former officers he saw on a
day-in, day-out basis was the one who had served the least with him.

An LCARS window appeared on his screen, and Kye was taken aback. Tails
to Ennien had overridden his access with a message of her own: "Yellow
alert--prepare security for possible intruders." Brief, to the point.
How like Tails. Kye sat, redirecting his energies. He got up, left his
quarters, and made his way toward the armory in case he needed to issue
phaser rifles and photon grenades.

SUB-LIEUTENANT CHEN'KI had reduced his temper like Desdemona had
treated his favorite Terran soup (some fowl, tomatoes and noodles)--a
slow simmer. He grinned wolfishly as he finished his communique to the
Romulan command. He had detailed, almost lovingly, his dissatisfaction
with his current posting--how he should have been allowed more complete
access to the ship, how he should have been kept among senior officers
during briefings and internal operations. That was the agreement the
Star Empire had with the damn Federation when they surrendered their
share of the Vanguard Project. But no, Santos had stealthily reduced
his access, cut back his privileges, and kept him out of the "loop," as
these damn Terrans liked to say. The letter was  exaggeration, in part,
and some outright fabrication, but it certainly sounded credible.
Besides, he should have been a sub-commander, for Remus's sake. All
over that indiscretion with the Bolian girl. How could he know she was
the favorite niece of the Bolian ambassador? Those Bolian girls...the
few on Romulus were always after members of the militia. Santos,
Mandrake, McCaw, Kye--it was the sort of thing they were always getting
away with; why shouldn't he?

He finished putting his thoughts to screen, and his finger hovered over
the "Send message" button. As he was about to push it, the yellow alert
lights raced from over his door to behind the  soft Terran bed. Yellow
alert. His life suddenly became more interesting.

LT. CYNAN MANDRAKE put the Vanguard on auto-pilot as he composed his
thoughts. He had locked helm controls but had them ready for the
instant he may need to regain control. (She'ra.) That was life on the
Vanguard. One moment, routine, the next, they were in for the fight of
their lives. He grinned. That was probably what made the post so
exciting. So much better than his last one. And certainly better than
the penal colony. (She'ra.) Where was Soman Drath? Or the Captain? They
were involved with something in the dining room having to do with Zena
Quetan and Jaav E'thexx, but Highwaij had paged for them almost five
minutes ago. (She'ra.)

Just as he finished that thought, the rear turbolift opened on the
bridge, and Soman Drath, Dominic Santos, and Zena Quetan appeared.

"Hip, hip, the cavalry's here," he said.

Santos shot him a look and headed for Highwaij.

"Report," he told Highwaij.

"Sir, we were in the process of deploying the buoys when a strange
feedback came back over the first buoy."

"What was it?"

"We don't know. It appeared to be a data stream, but it could have been

"Intruders?" Santos snapped, turning toward Ennien.

"None, sir."

"Would you stake a claim on it?" Santos asked.

"If you're asking me if I'm sure, yes, as far as I can tell."

"Good enough."

Santos stood still for a moment, digesting this input.

"Ennien, you and Kye ready the ship in case we're boarded. McCaw, have
Engineering and Tactical ready. Zena, I need an answer to what came
through that buoy. I need it fast. Highwaij, have all senior staff
convene in the briefing chambers in one hour. In the meantime, they
need to be ready at their posts."

"I have it," Zena said quietly.

"What?" Santos asked.

"I have the piggyback from the buoy. It's a message."

"Play it. Bridge audio only."

A long, shrill shriek issued from the audio system, and the officers
shut their eyes and clamped their hands over their ears.

Santos made his way over to Science station and shut it off manually.

"What was that?!" Soman demanded.

"It was black noise," Highwaij said. "Used in many cases to confuse and
demoralize an opposing force."

"Who would send it to us?"

Before Santos could postulate, proximity sensors rang out on the

"I have a bogey on an intercept course, headed directly for us,"
Mandrake said. He turned to Santos. "Sir, it carries Borg markings.
Pyramid in configuration!"

Santos whirled toward the viewscreen. "Red alert! Raise shields! Power
weapons to maximum! On screen."

The senior officers watched as a grey pyramid, almost impossibly, raced
toward them from the dead of space.

"They're stopping, 5000 kilometers directly away," Mandrake said.

"They're hailing us," Highwaij said.

"Let's have it," Santos said.

"Hello, Dominic. I'm so glad we could meet at last."

It was the one voice Dominic Santos never thought he would hear again.
It was the voice of his former executive officer, Kristen Stark.

[To be continued]

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