[USS Vanguard] RPG: The Lone Star

  • From: Andy Ho <andywoho@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: vanguard <ncv80221@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 15 Aug 2005 22:04:48 -0500

Commodore Dominic Santos
After "And So It Begins" and "The Hope of Saddlebrush"


Night fell on Saddlebrush. The remnants of Saddlebrush's townspeople
prepared for the first, hard night.

The survivors organized into two work teams: One group prepared the
town hall as sleeping quarters for the women and children. (The men
would sleep outdoors, ringing the building.) The second group
gathered, cooked and served a food service outside the hall.

The food was meager: a few pots of beans, a few scraps of meat.

Commodore Dominic Santos walked among the survivors as they ate. He
made sure the children ate first, followed by the able-bodied adults.

One of the servers spotted Santos and tried to put a plate in his
hands. For the third time, Santos put his hands out and declined.

Santos saw Nostrova, Kavan and Dr. Droin sitting nearby. The three
were sharing a single plate of food.

They saw Santos approach. Droin moved to make room for Santos on the
log that served as their bench.

Kavan stopped eating and put the plate in front of Santos.

"Commodore...?" he asked.

Santos shook his head.

Droin took a sip of water and studied him.

"Nick, how long has it been since you've eaten?" she asked.

"Let's see," he said, "I vaguely remember having a meal in Event Horizon."

"You need to keep up your strength, Commodore," Nostrova said. "We're
going to need you."

Santos let Kavan pass him the plate. He took it and nodded gratefully
at Kavan. Two bites of beans, one small bite of meat, and the food was

"What's our next step, Commodore?" Nostrova asked.

"I see we have two choices: Either we help these people relocate to
another town...or we organize them into a resistance to fight the
Breen. Thoughts?" Santos looked at them.

"Chances are these attacks will continue until the Breen find what
they want..." Kavan said.

"...or no settlement on this world is left standing," Nostrova said.

"But even a fully-equipped Starfleet security team with modern weapons
would find a Breen strike force formidable," Droin contributed. "What
hope do these people have? With the weapons at our disposal?"

"Duly noted," Santos said. "And, frankly, this is their home. They may
have their own ideas."

"We gonna stay. Stay and fight."

Droin, Santos, Nostrova and Kavan looked up to see Esther and her
Uncle Josiah (Joe) standing nearby.

"I admire your bravery and tenacity," Nostrova said. "But what are you
going to use to fight? Stone knives and bear skins?"

"What?" Josiah asked, frowning.

Santos caught her eye and subtly shook his head.

"I been talkin' to the others. They're scared now, but they're also
angry. Ain't no way we gonna let the raiders drive us from our homes.
We'd rather fight and die than let them hunt us down, burn our homes,
kill us at their whim."

Santos took off his hat and stared into the fire.

"Joe," he said, "there's something you need to know. We're from...far
away. And where we're from, I've fought with these...raiders before."
Santos swallowed hard. "Once, with my old...crew, I fought them, but
they killed every last one of my crew. They are the most vicious, most
ruthless enemies I have ever faced, and I have faced some viciousness
and ruthlessness in my time."

Joe looked at Esther.

"Tell him," she said. "He's some kind of captain. You need to tell
him, Uncle Joe."

Santos asked, "Tell me what?"

Joe looked long and hard at Esther and finally nodded, coming to a decision=

"Come on," Joe said, "there's something you need to see on the Gershom Farm=

The Vanguard officers, Joe and Esther arrived at the Gershom Farm, the
same farm whose silo Santos had spotted from a distance.

"Gershom!" Joe called out. "Hey, Gershom!"

There was no immediate response.

Joe turned to the officers and muttered, "He's not right in the head,
that one. Rarely comes into town, and when he does, he's always asking
for strange stuff. He makes all of us nervous. Always up here on his
farm, doing who-knows-what."

The front door suddenly flew open, and there stood a gaunt man with
long, tangled hair, dressed in thermal pajamas and a robe, but
standing barefoot.

He was also carrying a double-barreled shotgun he trained on them.

Josiah, Kavan, Nostrova and Santos reached for their weapons at the same ti=

Santos' Colt Peacemaker was in his hand. Santos knew that in these
circumstances, the natural instinct was to dive for cover, but he
resisted. They would appear guilty, and they would immediately find
themselves drawing and returning fire as Gershom flew out of his front
door, blasting away with that huge shotgun.

Santos kept his revolver trained on Gershom and started walking toward
him--confidently, purposefully. He knew this stance would catch
Gershom off-guard, and he was right.

"Drop it!" Santos bellowed. "Drop it! Right now! We mean you no harm!"

Droin said: "And our guns are so reassuring."

Santos fought the urge to turn and look at Droin.

After a tense moment when it seemed even the crickets had stopped
chirping, Gershom sighed loudly, lowered the shotgun and said, "Oh,
hell. It's not loaded." His voice was surprisingly deep and melodic.

He sat on the porch, placed the shotgun next to him, produced a
hand-rolled cigarette, stuck it in his mouth, struck a match and lit
the cigarette. He inhaled deeply and blew smoke rings into the humid
night air.

"Well? Don't just stand there, lollygagging. You wake a man in the
middle of the night, you better tell him what you want." Gershom
studied them and took another drag on his cigarette.

They all looked at one another.

"First of all, do you mind pointing that shotgun somewhere else? It's
not that I don't trust you about it being loaded, but...well, okay, I
don't trust you that it's not loaded. A man comes at me with a
firearm, it makes me a little nervous," Kavan said.

Gershom shrugged and turned the shotgun perpendicular to the porch.

"Still haven't answered my question," Gershom said around his cigarette.

Joe stepped forward. "I wanted to show them the Lone Star."

Gershom cocked an eyebrow. "How do you know 'bout her?"

Joe rolled his eyes. "Everyone knows about her. The last time you were
in town, you got up to dickens in the saloon, started shooting your
mouth off. Most everyone thought you were full o' beans, but Tas' boy
and a couple of his friends snuck over here one night and peeked in
your silo."

They were all silent as they let Gershom digest that.

"That so?" Gershom finally said. He flicked the remnants of his
cigarette on the ground.

Gershom sat still so long they all thought he would simply turn and go
back in his house.

"Come on," he said. "I'll show you."

They walked toward the silo without another word.

Gershom opened the entrance in the side of the silo. He stopped and turned.

"I like to go out in the desert sometimes and dig around. I find a lot
of interesting stuff. 'Bout a year ago I started digging around in a
place I rarely dig. I found something I'd never seen before. It was
like a carriage but no carriage I'd ever seen before. I went inside. I
found something."

He threw the door open, and they stepped inside.

Santos was the first through the door, followed by Joe, Kavan,
Nostrova, Droin and Esther. Gershom brought up the rear.

At first, they were all stunned into silence by what they were looking at.

Santos was the first to speak.

"It's a capsule."

It was.

To be precise, it was a capsule that Gershom had carefully, lovingly,
assembled using brass plates and fittings, and steam pipes--steam
pipes! Other than the material from which it had been constructed, it
resembled some of the early space-faring capsules that Santos had seen
on Earth, in the Smithsonian.

Somehow, Gershom had constructed--or was constructing--a spare-faring capsu=

Gershom put his pockets in the hands of his robes and looked up at his
creation, a look of pure love in his eyes.

"I call her Lone Star."

Gershom told his story: He had found, excavated and began exploring a
craft in the desert. After months of study, and the help of the voice
inside the vessel that spoke his language and seemed to respond to his
commands, he found the engine inside the vessel. In the middle of the
night, with the help of a team of horses, he brought the engine back
to his home, where he started working on his ideas of aerodynamic
design. After some study, he learned how the engine would fit best
with his design and incorporated it in his design. He would soon be
ready for the test flight.

Santos caught Kavan's eye. Kavan nodded, turned to Droin and put out
his hand for the tricorder. Surreptitiously, Kavan scanned the Lone

He walked near Santos and whispered in his ear: "It's a Breen warp
signature, very faint. There was no way the Missionary Ridge could
have detected it from orbit."

Santos looked at Kavan and nodded.

They all walked outside the silo.

Gershom closed the door and said, "We must do this again sometime. I
don't get enough company out here, you know."

After they all returned to Saddlebrush, they sat by the campfire.

Joe said: "I wanted y'all to see that. I think that's what the raiders
are after."

"Then why haven't they found it yet?" Santos asked.

Joe shrugged. "Who knows? Maybe they're just like us. Maybe they
overlook Gershom."

Joe stood and Esther followed. "I expect y'all have a lot to talk
about. Have a good night."

Esther followed Joe. She turned once and looked over her shoulder at Santos=

Santos smiled at her briefly. Esther turned toward Joe and followed.

Droin was the first to break the silence. "That's amazing. That man
has built a warp-capable vessel with technology comparably two hundred
years older than what Dr. Zefram Cochrane had at his disposal."

"Not if it's a Breen warp core," Kavan pointed out. "All he did was
take it and throw it in that crazy contraption of his. Who knows if it
would even hold together in orbit?"

Santos said, "It doesn't matter if it does. Just the fact that he
reverse-engineered the damn thing, discovered its purpose and tried to
re-create a warp-capable vessel is impressive, to say the least."

"Where did the Breen vessel come from? Why are they after it now?
Where are the crew?" Nostrova asked.

"My guess is that the warp core came from an uncrewed Breen shuttle.
Somehow, it crashed here, the Breen lost track of it...and now they've
found it again. And they're tearing this world apart to look for it,"
Santos said.

"And it just so happens the Missionary Ridge discovered this world
before the Breen came across it? We just happen to be here at the same
time?" Droin asked.

"It appears so," Santos said. "Hey, coincidences happen."

"That's a hell of a coincidence, wouldn't you say?" Droin asked.

Santos shrugged. "I've been reluctant to bring this up, but let's for
a moment assume the worst."

"Oh, we're stranded on this planet with the Breen, without the
technology or arms to fend off another attack, and it gets worse?"
Droin asked.

Santos said, "It depends on how you look at it. We've been out of
contact with the Vanguard for close to 24 hours, and we have seen no
sign of Away Teams One or Two since we set foot on this planet. The
Vanguard, as far we know, have not dispatched another team to look for
us. If the Breen are here, then we must assume that they may have
cloaked vessels in orbit."

"Vessels that may have detected the Vanguard, and our ship may have
come under attack," Kavan said. "Damn!"

Santos swiped his hand across his mouth. "At worst, the Vanguard came
under attack...and was destroyed by a Breen strike force."

The others quietly mulled that over.

Santos continued: "At best, if Highwaij or Jaav found themselves
outgunned or outmatched, they would retreat, signal Starfleet for
reinforcements. I certainly hope they did, rather than trying to

Kavan spoke up. "What do you think Highwaij or Jaav did?"

Santos shook his head. "Who knows? It's hard to say."

"How long would it take a task force to arrive?" Droin asked.

Santos looked at her. "If the Vanguard came under attack the moment we
transported to this planet, pulled back and was able to contact
Starfleet...? Then you're looking at two or three days."

"And if the Vanguard were destroyed?" Nostrova asked.

Santos shrugged. "After Starfleet realizes they've lost contact with
the Vanguard and dispatch an available ship...Help could be a week
away. At least."

He let them digest that.

"So our only option is to stay and fight," Kavan said.

Santos nodded. "Seems that way."

Santos shifted his legs, continuing: "But let me bring up this: If the
Lone Star were to make a successful warp flight, it would draw the
immediate attention of Starfleet expedition vessels. They'll be here
almost immediately, with security forces and the strength of a
Galaxy-class, Sovereign-class or Intrepid-class vessel behind them."

"...and Carillon would fall under the protection of the Federation,
under the terms of our First Contact agreement with the other powers,"
Droin reminded them.

Santos made a pistol with his hand and pointed it at Droin, dropping his th=

"We have to ensure the Lone Star makes its first flight. We need the
Federation here, making First Contact." Kavan looked at the others.

Santos nodded. "Make it so."

[To be continued]
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