[USS Vanguard] RPG: The Empty Chair

  • From: Andy Ho <andywoho@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: vanguard <ncv80221@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 01:52:04 -0500

OoC: The following takes place after all recent posts and carries us
to the Old West mission. Thanks.


Commodore Dominic Santos
USS Vanguard
After all recent posts

As was customary, Chief Petty Officer Craig Kavan filed into the
Briefing Chambers behind the last senior officer (in this case, Aliyah
Lopez-Fitzgerald), secured the door, and stood in the back.

[Note to new players: The Vanguard meeting room is a large assembly
room designed to accommodate all senior staff and guests. A podium is
at the front of the room while rows of chairs fill out the rest of the
room, much like a cinema.]

Standing at the podium, Commodore Dominic Santos and First Officer
Zena Quetan prepared the mission briefing.

Santos glanced up, spotted the Chief Petty Officer, and smiled.

"Chief, how many times do I have to remind you?" Santos said,
gesturing at Kavan. "Please sit with us."

Kavan nodded and took a seat in the rear, next to Ceelak Nostrova.
Nostrova was currently his male identity.

In the front row sat Cynan Mandrake, Highwaij, Luke Miller, Kieran
Darkwater and Xristha Droin.

Sam McCaw sat in the third row, happily munching a red apple as he
watched Santos and Quetan. He placed his boot on the back of M.J.
Valentine's chair; the sudden jolt caused Valentine to turn and glare
at McCaw who gave her an innocent look, followed by his devil-may-care

Valentine turned back toward the podium and shook her head. Jazz
Falcon glanced at Valentine, then at McCaw, and turned toward the

Leah smoothed her skirt and folded her hands in her lap, watching the
others. Shar caught her eye, smiled and nodded.

A loud knocking suddenly came at the door.

"Hey!" came a voice. "Let me in this joint!"

Kavan cleared his throat, rose, and unlocked the door.

Desdemona breezed past him and exclaimed: "Whoo! Sorry, sorry! I
didn't mean to be late! But April spilled a keg all over the floor
while she was trying to...Well, anyway. Eep. The meeting's begun,
hasn't it?"

All eyes were turned toward Des.

Des indicated a seat. "I'll just sit down now. Over here, like," then
added, quietly, "and just be quiet."

"Let's begin," Santos said.

Santos pressed a button on his console, bringing up a schematic of a
Taurus-class starship. The Taurus-class is, fundamentally, an
Excelsior-variant, and its elongated nacelles were visible as the
schematic rotated--now fore, now aft, now starboard, now port, now
ventral, now dorsal, then again.

Santos called out a stardate and continued: "The USS Missionary Ridge
was on a routine scouting mission near Echo Apollo 23 when it
encountered the following planet..." Santos pressed a button, and the
image on the viewer behind him switched from the starship (in the
middle of rotating aft to starboard) to a planet, red and brown, with
bands of brown concentrated near the equator.

"Captain Telsa Archer ordered a scan of the system for life signs and
was surprised when she discovered a flourishing industrial

The senior officers shifted in their seats, excited at the prospect.
An undiscovered industrial civilization!

"Commander?" Santos turned the meeting over to the XO and Chief
Science Officer, Zena Quetan.

"Thank you, Commodore," Quetan said. "Chief Science Officer Funicular..."

"Funicular?" McCaw asked, interrupting Quetan.

Quetan smiled at him, as if indulging a younger brother. "The
Missionary Ridge's science officer stems from an aquatic equestrian

"So he's a seahorse?" Darkwater commented.

Quetan kept her smile as she answered. "She, actually. And yes."

McCaw leaned forward and told Valentine, "The Chief Science Officer
aboard Missionary Ridge is a seahorse."

Valentine looked at him pointedly and replied, "Thank you, Sam."
Falcon chuckled.

His job done, McCaw nodded and leaned back in his seat.

"Go ahead, Zena," Sam McCaw said.

"Thank you, Sam," Zena said. "Lieutenant Funicular performed a cursory
survey of the inhabited world...and discovered some interesting facts.
For one, the society is pre-warp industrial."

Cynan Mandrake picked his head up and muttered, "You already mentioned
that, Zena."

Zena looked at Mandrake and frowned. "Yes, Commander, I did. I thought
it was worth repeating."

Mandrake gave a little shrug and went back to bowing his head. Jaav
E'thexx studied him silently, then returned his attention to Zena

Quetan quickly regained her composure. "As I was about to say," she
continued, "this world's inhabitants are currently experiencing an era
very similar to one experienced in Earth's past."

This caused another ripple of excitement among the officers.

"Which era?" This time, the question came from Des.

"The Ancient West," Quetan finally answered.

"Parallel development," Darkwater contributed. Leah looked over at him
and caught his eye.

[Note: If memory serves, "parallel development" was used to explain
how the original Kirk Enterprise discovered a flourishing Roman
civilization on a distant planet. - Andy]

"We are currently en route to the world Carillon," Santos said,
reclaiming control of the meeting. "Once we arrive, Commander Quetan
and I will assign two teams of four to transport down to the planet.
We will approach the survey mission as if this were a pre-first
contact survey."

"First contact?" Shar asked.

"It's not a first contact mission, but we've been ordered to treat the
survey as if it were," Santos said.

"Interesting," Darkwater muttered.

Santos trained his attention on Darkwater. "Did you have anything to
add, Commander?"

Darkwater gave Santos a half-hearted grin. "No, sir. Of course not.
Would you pay any heed even if I did?"

The room grew frosty.

Santos replied, "I value the opinions of all the senior officers,
Kieran. I would have hoped that was clear by this point."

"Are there any other questions?" Santos asked. Santos waited for the
officers to ask any questions they had.

"If there are no other questions, this meeting is adjourned."

Santos watched as all filed out. He turned toward Zena Quetan.

"Commander, will you walk with me?"

"Of course, sir," she said.

She approached Jaav E'thexx and said, "Let me catch up with you later.
Nick needs to speak to me."

"Yes, that's fine," he said.

"Okay, our usual place? Thanks."

Santos turned away politely as they made their goodbyes. The
Vanguard's commander watched as E'thexx left the Briefing Chambers.

Quetan took Santos' arm.

"O captain my captain," she said, "what can I do for you?"

They walked out of the Briefing Chambers and toward the turbolift at
the end of the hallway.

Santos walked in a loose, steady gait, while Quetan clasped her hands
behind her.

"Zena," Santos said, clearing his throat, "I hope this question
doesn't make you uncomfortable..."

Quetan chuckled. "I've lived five lifetimes, Commodore. It would take
a lot to make me uncomfortable."

"Well, you haven't heard the question," Santos said, smiling sadly.

Quetan looked at him. "What is it, Nick? You can ask me anything."

Santos paused, then thought, "To hell with it."

"Zena," he said, "what can you tell me about Kristen Stark? Not the
officer--I served with her, I've studied her records--but the person."

Quetan took so long in answering, Santos didn't think she would.

"Why, Nick?" she asked. "Why now, after all this time?" Her question
wasn't accusatory; rather, like the science officer herself, it was
filled with curiosity.

Santos sighed. "Let's say I have my reasons." He paused again. "I've
been dreaming about her, Zena."

Quetan glanced at him and continued down the hall. "As a science
officer, I might tell you that dreams mean nothing more than active
neurons in your brain during your REM sleep cycle."

Santos smiled.

"As your friend, I would tell you to pay attention to these dreams.
Sometimes, our dreams hold the key to the locked doors that our minds
or hearts don't want opened."

"And as my first officer?" Santos asked, cocking an eyebrow.

"I'd tell you to see Jaav," she replied, stepping into the turbolift.
Santos grinned.

"Computer, pause." The turbolift stopped before its doors closed.

"Nick," Quetan said. "As I just mentioned, I've lived five lifetimes."

Santos nodded.

"I've never quite had a friend like Kristen Stark," Quetan said. "And
not a day goes by that I don't miss her. She was...extraordinary."

Santos nodded and said, "Thank you." Quetan smiled sadly and nodded.

Santos watched the turbolift doors close.

Santos took the next turbolift and arrived on the bridge. He walked
past Quetan at the Science station, standing next to Darkwater.
Mandrake and Valentine, as was customary, were at the navigation and
helm positions. McCaw nodded from Engineering as Santos strolled by.
Kavan handed Santos a PADD as he entered his ready room.

Santos took the PADD and added it to the pile on his desk. He rubbed
his face wearily and toggled on his desktop computer.

"Computer," he ordered. "display all personal messages for Santos,
Dominic Cesar, authorization code five-seven-xray-zulu."

"You have 27 messages," the computer replied.

"Display by priority, then organize by date, oldest to newest," Santos orde=

Santos finished with the correspondence from Starfleet Command and was
reading a personal letter from his sister, Petra, about her schooling
and their mother and father when his chin rested against his chest.

Dominic Santos found himself aboard the bridge of a starship, only
this wasn't just any starship. It was a bridge he could not forget. It
was the bridge of his first command, the USS Gauntlet. It was the
bridge of the ship that was destroyed in a Breen ambush, killing
everyone aboard except for Santos.

In his dream, the bridge of the Gauntlet was abandoned, except for
Santos. All the consoles were still running their output on their
displays. The Gauntlet's bridge was in perfect functioning order. In
fact, it looked as clean as the day her keel was laid--and since she
was a Dominion War "Frankenstein" vessel, maybe even a little better,
Santos hated to admit.

Santos glanced around the bridge, and all the old feelings rushed
back. How he loved this ship! How he loved her crew! ...And how he
went mad when they died.

Santos took it all in.

And then noticed something out of place.

The captain's chair.

The captain's chair was not turned toward the viewscreen the way it
should the day her final durasteel plate was put down.

The captain's chair was turned toward the aft of the bridge.

And, suddenly, without knowing how he knew, Santos knew that someone
occupied the captain's chair.

Santos took a step toward the chair. And then another. His feet
carried him forward.

He placed his hand on the back of the chair and turned it.

Santos rocked. He snapped out of his doze.

The Vanguard rocked again.

Santos shook off the lethargy and headed toward the bridge.

As he emerged on the bridge, the ship rocked again.

Santos peered at the viewscreen in time to see two shuttle-sized
attack craft buzz the Vanguard.

"Report!" he ordered Quetan.

"Sir, we are under attack by three bogeys identified only as
'Dragonfly-class' attack vessels."

"Where did they come from?" Santos asked.

"Unknown, Commodore," Shar replied. "We came out of warp near
Carillon, and it was almost as if they decloaked, like they were lying
in wait for us."

"Fire back," Santos ordered.

"What do you think we've been doing, Commodore?" Darkwater asked.
"Letting them take target practice at us until you emerged from your
ready room?"

"Enough, Mister Darkwater," Santos replied evenly.

Santos studied the Dragonflies as they made another pass. The ship rocked a=

"Shield status?" Santos asked.

"Damage to shields is negligible," Shar reported.

"Hold position," Santos ordered. "Let's try the new disruptor cannon alignm=

Prior to the last stop at Brigadoon, the Vanguard's disruptor cannons
were capable of firing heavy, powerful bursts of Romulan disruptor
rounds, but only at targets aft of the vessel. Advancements in
weaponry allowed for an upgrade that enabled the Vanguard to fire 360
degrees of the vessel, as all Starfleet vessels were capable of.

"Target the lead ship and fire across the bow. Then fire again when she eva=

"That's cold blooded," Shar muttered.

Santos said nothing.

Santos watched passionlessly as the lead vessel swerved to avoid the
heavily-telegraphed first shot. It veered into the path of the
Vanguard's disruptors and was destroyed.

"Lead vessel destroyed," Shar reported. "Two hostile targets remain."

"Shall we give them a chance to surrender, sir?" Quetan asked.

"No," Santos replied. "Their aggression is all the answer I need.
Attacking this vessel is akin to an act of war."

Mandrake turned his head. "I never believed I would catch myself
saying this, sir, but why don't you try hailing them?"

"Carry out my orders," Santos said. His bluntness surprised the bridge
officers, who were accustomed to Santos' easygoing, friendly and
polite nature.

As the second and third Dragonflies buzzed the Vanguard, Santos
ordered: "Ready a full spread of quantum torpedoes and fire at will.
When they attempt to evade, fire disruptors."

On the viewscreen, 16 quantum torpedoes left the Vanguard's torpedo
tubes, aimed in the general direction of the Dragonflies. It was

The Dragonflies scrambled to evade, and found themselves facing the
Vanguard's disruptors. Both ships were destroyed.

Santos sighed and slumped in his chair. Quetan turned to look at him.

Santos looked at her through weary eyes. "What was their origin, Commander?=

"Unknown, sir."

"Launch an investigation based on the visual recordings we have of
those vessels."

Kavan turned toward Santos. "Sir, Dragonflies are used as mercenary
attack vessels throughout the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. Without the
proper markings, we may never know who attacked us. Those ships could
belong to anybody."

"I realize the difficulty, Chief. Work with Aliyah Lopez on
discovering who our aggressors were."

"Aye, sir," Kavan replied.

Santos rose from the command chair. He made his way to his ready room.

"Sir?" Quetan asked. "Are you...okay?"

Santos turned. He saw McCaw looking at him from the corner of his eye.

"I'm fine," Santos said. "Best speed to Carillon. Assume standard
orbit upon our arrival. Inform me after we've established orbit."

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