[USS Vanguard] RPG: Neutral Zone

  • From: Kent Kavan <tonykavan@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: ncv80221@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 21 May 2007 14:28:29 -0700 (PDT)

  USS Thespiae
  On patrol near the Dominion Neutral Zone, Delta Quadrant
  1 week before ?Call me Ishmael?
  Craig made his way to the bridge by way of the galley for a cup of coffee as 
had become his morning routine these last six months.  He nodded a greeting and 
a quiet ?good morning? to the crewman manning the chow line.  The Thespiae 
didn?t offer much in the way of amenities for the crew so Craig had instituted 
a morning breakfast tradition.  Not replicated, real breakfast; bacon and eggs, 
sausage and pancakes, and real, black coffee.  It had been an instant hit with 
the crew and officers and it had the added benefit of getting a new crew to 
spend time together to ?break bread? in the mornings.
  Normally Craig would grab a seat and eat with some of his crewmen to get to 
know them.  The Thespiae was a small ship but he still felt like he didn?t know 
everyone as well as he should.  Duty called this morning however and so he 
returned to his quarters and changed out of his sweatpants and shirt and pulled 
on a fresh jumpsuit.  
  Craig headed out the door and after looking around to make sure there was 
nobody looking; he put his hand on the bulkhead and just touched the ship.  It 
was the first time Craig had been posted on such a new vessel.  This was the 
Thespiae?s first crew and he was proud to be on it.  Four decks tall and 
equipped with the latest technology, the newest Defiant class destroyer was 
also the most powerful.  Designed to patrol the Dominion border and also to 
provide a defense against the Borg if necessary, the Thespiae was built for 
war, but not for the type of war Craig had become accustomed to.  This ship was 
designed to sneak up on the enemy and punch them in the mouth when they weren?t 
looking.  Thespiae represented a fundamental change in the philosophy of the 
fleet?s high command and a decision not to wait until another threat posed 
itself before designing new systems.  
  In the weeks prior to commissioning, the Thespiae and her crew trained for 
what was being termed ?Destroyer Warfare.?  The idea being that instead of 
large fleets of heavy ships like the Galaxy and Sovereign class, fleets of 
destroyers like the Defiant class would harass the enemy, eliminate her smaller 
ships and cause enough havoc allowing the larger, more expensive cruisers to 
come in and mop up.  
  Craig thought it would work but didn?t know until two weeks out of dry-dock 
the Thespiae and three other Defiant class destroyers wiped out a battle fleet 
of two Galaxy and one Sovereign class heavy cruisers and assorted escorts; in a 
simulation anyway.  The captain of the USS Magellan had been so furious that he 
accused them of cheating.  It didn?t help when Craig compared the exercise to 
the airplane obsolescing the battleship on Earth centuries earlier.
  Of course, what really made the plan feasible had been the New Romulan Empire 
offering more cloaking devices.  It was really quite funny to watch ships 
de-cloaking, firing a barrage into one of the ships and then cloaking again.  
Four ships coming in and out of cloak, firing, wheeling, diving, spinning in 
various stages of cloak was amazing.  
  The turbolift doors opened to admit Craig onto the Thespiae?s bridge.
  ?Captain on the bridge,? the tactical officer shouted.
  Craig smiled, ?As you were,? he said to his bridge crew as he took his seat.
  It seemed that Craig had impressed an Admiral or two while working on the 
?Destroyer War? concept.  He?d help write the textbook and had trained endless 
hours to develop the tactics that the new fleet of destroyers would use if 
needed.  One of the Admiral?s had remarked that it would only make sense for 
the man who helped write the rulebook to command one of the newest Destroyers, 
so Craig had found himself with a meritorious promotion to Lieutenant Commander 
and command of the Thespiae.  It would likely be Craig?s last promotion unless 
he decided to attend the academy.  The upshot was that for a few more years at 
least he?d outrank his daughter who?d graduated from the academy the year 
previously shortly after the Vanguard had been decommissioned. 
  Setting his coffee cup down Craig asked for a status report from his XO, 
Lieutenant Fell.  
  ?We are green across the board, cloaking device is functioning normally.  
There has been no activity on the border.?
  ?Sounds good, let?s send the status report and then set a course for the 
other end of our patrol route.?  
  Communications from the cloaked destroyers along the border were sent in a 
burst across subspace.  The files were recorded and compressed to provide for 
the shortest transmission time so that if anyone was watching there would be as 
little as possible energy expended that could provide an enemy with a way to 
track the cloaked ships.  The transmission times and locations were different 
and generated randomly by a computer program at the Starfleet Intelligence 
Office and decoded by a program on the Thespiae and her sister ships out on the 
border.   Having only cloaked ships on the border gave the illusion of trust 
without actually having to put it to the test.
  ?Transmission complete sir.  We have also received today?s package,? Ensign 
Val said from his tactical console.  ?There appears to be an eyes only 
transmission for you.?
  Val handed the PADD to Craig who accessed it with his thumbprint.  Two lines 
into it, Craig?s blood froze and his palms began to sweat.  Lt. Fell knew 
instantly that something was wrong and the concern was obvious in his voice 
when he asked, ?what is it sir??
  Craig held a hand up to silence him for a moment and then re-read the message 
before responding, ?We?re going to kill a friend of mine.?
  USS Thespiae
  En route to Adram Prime, Delta Quadrant
  One week later, same timeframe as ?Call me Ishmael.?
  The Thespiae, still operating under cloak was dark with minimum lighting as 
was customary on a cloaked ship.  It not only gave less energy to possibly be 
detected, it also seemed to remind the crew that when the lights were dark, 
they were on war footing.  Today they were also on red alert.
  Craig?s message had been from Admiral Roth by way of Zena Quetan.  She 
detailed Commodore Santos? rescue and that she and Dr. E?thexx were going to 
speak to him as soon as he woke up.  It also included orders from Admiral Roth. 
 It seemed that the changeling that had taken Santos? place had been reassigned 
to the colony base on Adram Prime as an assistant to the Federation Ambassador. 
 Adram Prime was as close to the Dominion Neutral Zone that the Federation 
dared to put a colony.  It was also the future home of Starbase 340, the future 
home of Starfleet Destroyer Squadron 69, which the newest batch of Defiant 
class ships were being assigned to along with Craig?s Thespiae.  In another six 
months give or take, the starbase would be done and ?Nicky? as Craig had come 
to refer to the Changeling that took Santos? place would be in a perfect 
position to gather information on the new ships of the ?Destroyer War? concept. 
 Craig figured ?Nicky? would probably contact Craig and
 ask for a damn tour!  Craig would give it and ?Nicky? would have information 
that could possibly lead the Dominion to develop technologies to detect the 
patrol ships, negating their new advantage.  
  Instead, Craig was being sent to arrest the Changeling and return it to 
Starfleet Intelligence.  Craig had been the only ship tasked with this mission 
and no other traffic was sent in regards to his mission to avoid the 
possibility of someone tipping off the imposter.  The idea was that Craig could 
lure ?Nicky? aboard under the guise of old friend?s and crewmates catching up 
about old times. 
  Craig?s helmsman turned over her shoulder and seemed about to say something?  
Craig knew something was wrong.  ?What is it Drea??
  The young lady took a deep breath? ?It?s the colony sir?  I?m not receiving a 
response to our hails.?
  Craig frowned, could be a coincidence but he doubted it.  ?On screen,? he 
ordered hoping he sounded calmer than he felt.
  At the maximum range of the Thespiae?s sensors, Adram Prime seemed pristine.  
Beautiful Earth-like clouds wafted above the bright blue oceans and green land 
masses?  But as they drew closer it became obvious that something horrible had 
happened.  The new starbase that had been nearing completion was shattered and 
drifting.  The small flotilla of ships, mostly civilian, that would have been 
in the local area were similarly pulverized and destroyed.  The closer they got 
the better they could see.  There had been a battle resulting in the 
destruction of every ship in the star system, it had also happened fast!  
Otherwise there should have been some message sent.
  Craig?s gut, twisted in a knot since the message a week ago, seemed to turn 
inside out.  Craig felt the blood drain out of his face.  ?Are there any 
contacts out there other than us??
  Ensign Val at tactical responded in a voice that sounded dead.  ?No sir.  
We?re the only living things in the entire solar system.?

Boardwalk for $500? In 2007? Ha! 
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