[USS Vanguard] RPG: The Last Temptation of Nick, or, Wheel Keep on Turnin'

  • From: "andywoho@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx" <andywoho@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: ncv80221@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 7 Sep 2004 14:10:01 -0500

Capt. Dominic Santos
New Vanguard
After "Doppelgangers"

Valentine: "Ten seconds."

"I can see the exit now, Captain," Kavan said.

"Three seconds..."

Ensign Barber (NPC): "Engineering to bridge! We've just lost power to the warp 

The Vanguard emerged from the Borg conduit.

"That was close," Santos said. 

Suddenly, a panel exploded behind the captain, sending him across the bridge.

"Nick!" yelled Zena Quetan.

Kavan rushed to Santos's side, as Valentine said, "I've lost power to 
navigational controls, thanks to that last power spike."

Quetan looked at the viewscreen. A blue-green planet looked impossibly huge and 
seemed to grow as the Vanguard plummeted toward it.

"Fire forward thrusters, slow our descent," Quetan ordered.

She turned toward the turbolift as Cynan Mandrake, Kieran Darkwater and Sam 
McCaw emerged, fighting to keep their balance.

"What the hell is going on!" Mandrake shouted above the din.

"Cynan, get navigational controls back online. Now!" Quetan ordered.

Mandrake leapt over the command area as Valentine smoothly slid out of his way 
into the next seat.

"Re-routing all emergency power to navigation," McCaw said, examining his board.

"Temporal systems are all over the place," Darkwater said, studying the Science 

"Helm control is back online."

Zena studied the viewscreen. The planetoid had now become a blue-green canvass 
in place of the sphere. The Vanguard continued diving toward it.

"Get us out of here, Cynan," Quetan said.

"I...can't!" Mandrake replied. "We're caught in the planet's gravity!"

"More power to thrusters, try and slow our descent," Quetan said.

"Impact in 30 seconds," Valentine said.
Kavan tilted his head toward the comm. "All hands! Repeat: all hands! To 
emergency stations and brace for impact! Repeat: brace for impact!"

"We're going to slam into that planet," McCaw said. "We'll never make it."

"Yes, we will," Quetan said. "Sam, when we approach the surface, I want you to 
lock onto the first major geologic feature you see with the tractor beam--use 
it to tether us and break our fall. I'd prefer a mountain or large cliff."

"Has anything like this ever been tried?" McCaw asked, agape.

"Who knows? We'll be the first," Quetan said.

"And hopefully live to tell about it," Mandrake said.

"Ten seconds," Valentine said.

As the surface grew impossibly closer at an astonishing rate, the bridge crew 
watched as the Vanguard fell toward a plain, then trees, a lake, and finally, a 
mountain range.

"I see it! Deploying tractor beam," McCaw said.

The blue-green energy beam shot out from the Vanguard, widely dispersed for the 
best chance at grabbing something stable. McCaw's shot was solid, managing to 
snag a medium hillock. A moment later, the tractor slipped free as the side of 
the mountain gave way in a spectacular explosion.

It was, however, what saved the Vanguard from complete catastrophe. As it was, 
Vanguard came slamming into the planet's surface, in an incredible shower of 
debris as it annihilated the land around the crash-landing. Vanguard bounced 
once, as if attempting to regain the sky, hit the surface again, and ground to 
a halt.

On the bridge, the viewscreen flickered, dead at last. Power and data cables 
were strewn about, never to be used again. Smoke rose from the panels, the 
remnants of small fires the suppression system managed to deal with.

Quetan rose to her feet, shakily, brushing her hair out of her face. She was 
smudged with dirt and soot from the fire suppression systems. Her uniform was 
tattered around her shoulder, where she had hit a bulkhead. She bled in three 
places and would have sworn she twisted her ankle.

She coughed. "Everyone okay?" she asked. She received a few encouraging grunts 
of reply. She tapped her comm badge to ask Dr. Droin to scramble a triage unit. 
She hit it again when her comm badge failed to issue an acknowledgement chirp. 
Still nothing. Quetan snatched the comm badge off her uniform and threw it on a 
pile of smoking rubble. She suspected--and would have been right--that Dr. 
Droin was already tending to the critically wounded.

"Captain?" she asked. "Nick?" Kavan turned and looked up at her from where he 
had fallen next to Captain Dominic Santos.

"He's gone," Kavan said.

Quetan buried her face in her hand.
"...And so that's how it happened?" Santos asked his guide/companion. Her 
resemblance to Vanguard's stellar cartographer M.J. Valentine was so uncanny 
that he couldn't help but steal a look at her whenever he could.

She laughed brightly. "Do I need to repeat-tell it again, Captain Nick? Was it 
not what I have just said-explained?"

Santos looked at the small lake on the shore of which they were sitting, the 
only ones, it seemed, for miles. The falls feeding the lake were spectacular. 
His new friend, Kenesha, explained the "Ruby Falls" derived their colors from 
the crystalline structures lining the ledge. By serendipity, if there was even 
a hint of sunlight, they caught it and reflected the light into the falls.

Santos put his hands behind his head and leaned into the soft grass, chuckling.

Kenesha rolled over on her stomach, next to Santos. It was an usually intimate 
thing to do, but Santos didn't think much of it.

"What is so funny-amusing, Captain Nick? Do I amuse you? Do I make you laugh?"

Santos frowned. "No, it's just, well, your way of speaking. I noticed that you 
all seem to slip in and out of it. It's not consistent. Moira, for example, 
sometimes does it, sometimes doesn't."

"Tis not the proper way to speak, but it's our slang-informal. We're 
encouraged-taught not to use it by our elders. Of course, we do, anyway." She 
giggled, picking a large flower that looked like a daisy.
She gave it to Santos.

"Oh, thank you," Santos said. He took the flower with one hand and looked at it.

Kenesha leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. Santos chuckled.

Suddenly, Kenesha leaned in and kissed Santos on the lips. Stunned, Santos said 

Kenesha continued to kiss Santos, more forcefully.

Santos sat up and took her by the shoulders. "Hold on, Kenesha," Santos said, 
looking into her face.

"Do I not please you, Nick?" Kenesha asked from under heavy eyelids, her face 
turned down. The eyes looking up at him seemed older, more knowing, than 
her...what? 18- or 19-year-old self?

Santos got to his feet and began walking away. "I think I better go." He almost 
added "I'll see you at the banquet," but thought better of it. 

There was no need whatsoever to send the wrong message.
Santos's next encounter was more pleasant (and more innocent, he thought). He 
was on the periphery of the settlement when a young girl playing what appeared 
to be the old North American playground game "Four-Square" (here played with 
six squares and the objective seemed to be not letting the ball touch the 
ground) spotted him and ran up to him.

"Captain Nick! Captain Nick! I have something to show-share with you!" She took 
his hand and led him off to a communal garden, where he was shown various 
native plants and allowed to taste many until Sam McCaw appeared.

[From Alex/McCaw: "The plot thickens"]

Sam followed Lizzy McCaw to a small garden where Capatin Santos was being 
offered various local herbs and fruits to sample by a young girl. Lizzy stopped 
and the entrance and as Sam approached the little girl told the captain ratehr 
firmly to "Sit there and wait while I get juice" to Sam's amusement Santos did 
exactly as he was told.

[End excerpt]

After Sam left, Santos yawned. His new friend, Aliyah, noticed and said, "You 
must be tired-sleepy."

"A little," Santos said. "Was it something in the juice?"

"Yes! It relax-eases you," Aliyah said.
Santos nodded. He sensed no ill will behind his "drugging" and considered that 
maybe the strange day combined with the strange food contributed to his fatigue.

Without a word Aliyah led him to a shelter. He hardly noticed the surroundings 
as he lay on a mat stuffed with feathers, pulled a soft blanket over him, and 

In this way, Shar (and older Shar) did not locate Santos when they looked for 

Santos woke hours later. He noticed it was completely dark and wondered what 
had happened to the daylight. He grabbed his PADD and glanced at the chrono. 
Santos was surprised that he had slept a few hours. Napping wasn't like him.

He wandered out of the dwelling and heard the sound of laughter and music. 
Santos followed the sound until he reached a clearing ringed by taller, more 
formal structures. He assumed this makeshift "town square" was where they held 
their celebrations.

A large bonfire was in the middle of the proceedings, surrounded by table after 
table of food and drink. Children, couples and single people danced around the 
fire. The dance appeared to be some sort of cross between formal dancing/old 
Earth square dancing/and a do-what-you-like series of steps. People laughed and 
clapped, drank and ate.

He spotted a few crew members mingling with the crowd--some were dancing with 
the people of New Vanguard. Zena Quetan and Xristha Droin stood near one of the 
head banquet tables, talking among themselves and with the "New Vanguardians."

Santos approached them, and Droin smiled. "Good morning, sleepy head."

Santos grinned as he was handed a cup. He sniffed the concoction. It smelled 
like some sort of mint he had tasted that afternoon mixed with homemade liquor. 
Santos sipped it. Not bad.

"This is all so strange, isn't it?" Quetan remarked to no one in particular.

"One of my long-distant relatives tried to seduce me today," Droin said.

"Are you joking?" Quetan asked.

"Wish I were," Droin replied.

"What do you make of it?" Quetan asked.

"Don't know. I didn't sense any malice on his part," she said.

Santos looked around, puzzled. "Hate to interrupt, but where are the others?"

"Oh, they're around," Quetan said. "I haven't seen Shar, Kieran or Cynan 
lately, though."

"Don't worry, Nick," Droin said, somewhat annoyed at being interrupted. "They 
can handle themselves."

Just then, a loud scream from the distance pierced the sound of party-making. 
Santos, Quetan and Droin looked at one another and took off toward the sound of 
the scream.

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