Topic: Kusanagi #3  (Read 4386 times)

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Offline Scottish Andy

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Kusanagi #3
« on: May 08, 2013, 03:56:17 pm »
Hello all,

Just an announcement, to give you notice. I have a more typical story completed, back with my original dysfunctional crew. It's a short story, and taking a leaf from the Guv's book I'm already writing the next short.

Look for Chapter One tomorrow evening.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2013, 03:29:54 pm by Scottish Andy »
Come visit me at:  www.Starbase23.net

The Senior Service rocks! Rule, Britannia!

The Doctor: "Must be a spatio-temporal hyperlink."
Mickey: "Wot's that?"
The Doctor: "No idea. Just made it up. Didn't want to say 'Magic Door'."
- Doctor Who: The Woman in the Fireplace (S02E04)

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Offline Captain Sharp

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Re: Kusanagi 3
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2013, 07:41:02 pm »
Waiting patiently.

--me
"Jayne?"

"Yeah?"

"You wanna tell me why there's a statue of you here lookin' like I owe him something?"

"Wishin' I could, Captain. "

Offline Scottish Andy

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Re: Kusanagi #3
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2013, 03:49:40 pm »
Oopsie... tonight for sure. I promise.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2013, 03:30:10 pm by Scottish Andy »
Come visit me at:  www.Starbase23.net

The Senior Service rocks! Rule, Britannia!

The Doctor: "Must be a spatio-temporal hyperlink."
Mickey: "Wot's that?"
The Doctor: "No idea. Just made it up. Didn't want to say 'Magic Door'."
- Doctor Who: The Woman in the Fireplace (S02E04)

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Offline KBF-Frank

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Re: Kusanagi 3
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2013, 10:43:49 am »

Offline Czar Mohab

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Re: Kusanagi 3
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2013, 11:49:38 am »
Oopsie... tonight for sure. I promise.

Hello pot, this is kettle speaking...  :smitten:

Its no longer tonight, but it is now tomorrow mid morning...

The Czar
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Offline Scottish Andy

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Kusanagi #3 - Chapter One
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2013, 03:28:42 pm »
Hello all, apologies for forgetting about doing this, but asking for it is one sure way of getting it, so here you go.

You may want to re-read the first two stories to get the full effect here as I start up directly from them. Also, since that was so long ago, I've come up with a Guv-inspired serial format for my stories.

Instead of constantly coming up with epic-length stories of 50,000 words to detail a major event in the lives of our characters, which is a huge undertaking and slow in production, why not have a serial? A series of short stories of some 10,000 words that add up to a single large volume of stories? Instead of constructing an in-depth two-hour movie, put together a tight series of 30-minute episodes.

The specific concept that came to me was ‘A Day In The Life’. This would be a typical patrol for a typical crew, and the individual stories would have titles like ‘Good Day’, ‘Bad Day’, ‘Hard Day’, ‘Easy Day’, Interesting Day’, ‘Boring Day’, etc. This way, a rapid series production can be put out, with minimal exposition because the characters and events are familiar from one story to the next and don’t need reintroducing each time. Also, far-reaching planning need not apply, as the focus is on character development and events that can become ‘historical fact’ for the series, without being of world-shattering importance.

As always, please let me know what you think, or I suppose, even saying just that you read it would be nice too.



Chapter One


First Officer’s Personal Log, Stardate 3609.8.

It’s been half a month since our dressing-down from Commodore Tandara. Having reviewed the few personal logs I’ve made since then, it seems that this is now how I am marking time these days. Stardates are superfluous at this point.

Anyway…

In those couple of weeks we seem to have settled down into our pre-war routine, with the exception of Captain McCafferty still harbouring considerable anger towards me. It is not often directed at me but it is still there, visible for all to see in the moments – now fortunately much more infrequent – that I genuinely rile her up in some form or another. Before, I would see it every day. Now, I don’t see it for days on end, even stretching past a week, but then I’ll again touch that raw nerve she has and the next day or so will be uncomfortable.

But still, calmer heads are prevailing, albeit more slowly than I’d like. The remainder of our relations are cordial, but I’ve never gotten as close as that evening before our interviews with the commodore to finding out what I did that has unhinged – no, scratch that – that has upset her so much.

Urrih continues to play peacemaker – and on more than one occasion referee – when we hang out together. That in itself is a very weird experience. It feels more like a therapy session than three friends having an off-duty moment, but hell, who knows? Maybe this is exactly what we need, if not what we want.


11th January 2268
1004 hours
Stardate 3612.1
En-Route to Cygnia Minor


Another quiet morning on the bridge is unexpectedly disrupted by a message coming in through Communications. Our lovely Communications Chief Lathena leans over her board and rapidly deciphers the flickering lights and turns to face me, allowing a breathtaking view of her equally lovely legs.

“Lieutenant, incoming hail from Starbase Two. Their fleet operations officer wants to speak to the captain.”

“Go ahead and page her, Lieutenant.”

Lathena nods and does so. I’m grateful she’s given me the notice, as I can emotionally brace myself if need be. It’s not necessary in this case, but I’m touched by Lathena’s consideration. Now I’m expecting McCafferty, and forewarned is forearmed.

Lieutenant Commander Karen McCafferty appears on the bridge less than a minute later. I swivel the command chair around just enough to see her and verbally acknowledge her presence with a polite, “Captain.”

She returns a brief nod and equally brief “Mr. Brown,” not pausing on her way to “her” seat. “I have the conn,” she adds brusquely.

“Captain has the conn, aye Sir,” I reply formally as I vacate the centre of the bridge.

Once comfortable, Karen tells Lathena, “Let the starbase know I’m available, Lieutenant.”

“Aye Sir.” Some soft murmuring later she announces, “Captain Ella Corcia on screen now.”

The image of a tall woman in her forties appears on the main viewer, highlights visible in her strawberry-blonde hair. A personal touch in her otherwise professional bob-cut.

“Commander McCafferty, I’m Captain Corcia, Fleet Operations Officer for Starbase Two,” she offers by way of a greeting.

“Captain,” Karen returns respectfully. “What can we do for you?”

“Straight to the point. I like that,” Corcia smiles. “What Kusanagi can do for us is check out our Gamma Ten station and assess its current status. We’ve received your flight plan from Starbase Twenty-Two and you’ll be passing fairly close to Gamma Ten’s system. All our ships are busy with other assignments but this is a problem we want addressed so it’s lucky for us that you happened to be passing through.”

“Captain, you are aware of our current task and expected deadline?”

“We are, and the relevant parties have cleared it. We expect the delay in your schedule to be minimal, and then you can continue on your merry way in short order.” She looked off-screen for a moment before adding, “I’ve sent your amended mission orders so you should have them by now.”

Karen gives a quick look to Lathena, who nods.

“We have them, Ma’am. Is there anything about this task we should be aware of?”

“Everything you need is in the briefing.”

“Then we’ll review it and get underway momentarily, Captain.”

“Very good. Starbase Two, out.” The viewscreen reverted to the starfield ahead.

Maknal observed, “Overflowing with information, that one.”

“Quite,” Karen commented. “Mr. Brown, with me. Lathena, forward Captain Corcia’s data packet to the terminal in Briefing Room One.”

“Aye, Sir,” Lathena acknowledges as I nod and fall in step behind Karen as she heads for the turbolift.

No small talk passes between us, but the silence is not an uncomfortable one, merely contemplation. Once in the briefing room I operate the library terminal to bring up our mission orders.

“Gamma Ten, site of an automated astrogation and communications station,” I read aloud while displaying the file on the tri-screen. “It went dark on the first day of the war with the Klingons and was presumed destroyed. With all the urgent work and regular duties resurfacing in the aftermath, no ship has been available to check out its final disposition. Exactly as Captain Corcia stated.”

“It’s been three months,” McCafferty notes. “If we’ve done without it for this long, do we even need it at all?”

Wondering that myself, I scan the documentation in the briefing. “These stations are backups and redundancies for the primary systems. They provide added capacity and local coverage in case of high volume demand, interference – or jamming.”

“Which explains why the Klingons targeted such an insignificant station in the first place.” Her voice has taken on the hard, dangerous edge I’ve noticed when she talks about Klingons and their motivations.

Hoping to head off the captain’s impending bad mood, I read on. “We are to assess the station and report its repair needs to Starbase Two for future repair. While not expected to repair it ourselves, if it does turn out to be within our capabilities we’re to fix it while we’re there.”

“Regional history?”

“No one is interested in it. It’s well inside Federation space, a fair distance from our side of the disputed–uh, neutral zone. The system doesn’t even have habitable planets. Gamma Ten is a planetoid with no atmosphere. The installation itself is an enclosed structure that gets its power from solar cells charging battery arrays from the white dwarf it orbits. Its prior sensor logs showed no contacts within the system for years, except for the yearly Starfleet maintenance checks.”

“So, a milk-run by all appearances.”

“Yes, Captain.”

“Very well. Alter course and let me know when we arrive.”

“Aye Sir.”

*****

“Captain to the bridge. We are approaching the Gamma Ten system.”

“On my way.”

“Maximum magnification on main viewer. Show me the Gamma Ten planetoid, Mr. Salok.”

“It will not be visible at this distance, Lieutenant,” our Vulcan navigator comments. “Shall I display the star instead?”

“That’ll be fine, Ensign.”

Karen arrives on the bridge. “Status report, please,” she asks me.

“Passing through the Oort cloud now, Captain. Sensors are clear; no contacts and no stellar phenomena of any kind. We’re proceeding into the system at full impulse.” At her raised eyebrows I elaborate. “The system is full of rubble. Lots of asteroids and planetoids as if they tried to form into planets but couldn’t really get it together.”

Out of the corner of my eye I see Urrih smile briefly at my weak humour. I send him a mental thanks.

“Any contact with the station, or signals indicating its presence now we are closer?”

“None yet, Sir. No artificial signals at all.”

“Very well. I have the conn.”

“Captain has the conn, aye Sir.”

“E.T.A. to Gamma Ten itself?”

“Ten minutes, Captain,” Urrih responds easily.

“I forgot to ask,” Karen suddenly speaks up again. “How did our agri-experts take news of our delay?”

I stifle a groan but Karen sees my pained expression.

“That well, hmm?”

“Yes Sir. They really are champing at the bit to get to K-7. They see themselves as the champions of the new front in the Great Game against the Klingons, and any delay is met with shocked disbelief that anything can override the importance of getting them there as quickly as our engines will take us.”

“So, worse than when we told them we were only going to take them as far as Cygnia Minor?”

“Oh yes. There at least the Commodore had told them it was likely that would happen. They were still hoping we’d take them there, but at least they were prepared for the ‘disappointment’.” I manage a wry smile.

Karen doesn’t smile but her features soften slightly. Which, at this stage and talking to me, is pretty much equivalent.

“Why is it,” I add long-sufferingly, “that mission specialists cannot see past their own mission? It’s like it’s the only thing that exists to them and everything else is just something to help them do it, or something to hinder them from doing it.”

“Focus is everything, Mr. Brown,” Karen comments lightly. “Without the proper focus, you might not be as capable as you could be.”

My mood darkens slightly. Is she having a go at me?

I’ve been hypersensitive to anything that could be offered as an oblique criticism of how I do things. I may just be paranoid, but then I wouldn’t know, would I?

Striving to keep it light and not fall into such paranoia, I offer grumblingly, “There’s such a thing as being too focussed, to the exclusion of all else.”

The softness disappears from McCafferty’s face and I note a slight tension begin to gather on the bridge.

The crew sense it too. I’m not being paranoid.

I feel us balancing on the knife edge of simmering hostility again.

I don’t want this. It’s a stupid thing to set the whole damn crew on edge for. I need to back away and redirect.

I wrack my brains for a subject change or something to say to defuse the growing tension as the seconds stretch out.

“Oh well. Let’s focus on getting this little task done so we can be on our way again.”

It’s a partial concession and full olive branch to her. Hopefully, she’s not so out of sorts that she doesn’t recognise it.

“Indeed, Mr. Brown,” she replies evenly, and I feel myself – and the bridge crew – relax.

I spare her a glance to find her looking up at me. Understanding passes between us.

She too felt the sudden tension all around us, and was perhaps also looking for a way to step back, I realise. We’re like bickering parents putting aside our arguments for the sake of the children.

I find myself grateful to her for sharing my mindset. And our continuing analogy now has progressed to the point where we’re no longer the children, I realise in surprise and some relief. We’ve come that far, at least.

“What’s our E.T.A. at the planetoid now, Mr. Maknal?” McCafferty asks again.

“One minute at present speed, Captain,” he replies crisply. “but it’s getting pretty soupy this deep into the system. Recommend we reduce speed, Sir.”

His usual playful tone is in abeyance but he’s also still relaxed, so mission accomplished for me and the captain. Urrih has been our barometer for the crew’s morale and opinions for as long as we’ve served together, beginning on the Jugurtha three years ago.

“Reduce to one third impulse,” McCafferty immediately orders, accepting her specialist at his word.

“One third impulse, aye. New E.T.A. is two-minutes-thirty.”

“Very good.”

As we close on the Gamma Ten planetoid a more relaxed silence covers the bridge over the background pings and chirps of equipment.

“Scan the vicinity, Enax. Can we hold position over the station or is there too much debris?” I ask our science officer.

“Scanning… no sir. The volume reads clear enough,” the triped Edoan responds confidently.

Then all hell breaks loose as the deck heaves beneath me, throwing me over the command chair to the sounds of sirens blaring to life and a massive explosion BOOM!!!s through the ship’s hull.
Come visit me at:  www.Starbase23.net

The Senior Service rocks! Rule, Britannia!

The Doctor: "Must be a spatio-temporal hyperlink."
Mickey: "Wot's that?"
The Doctor: "No idea. Just made it up. Didn't want to say 'Magic Door'."
- Doctor Who: The Woman in the Fireplace (S02E04)

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Offline Captain Sharp

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Re: Kusanagi #3
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2013, 12:47:26 am »
...and the teaser ends with pre-opening sequence music and the scene fades to black! Very nice, TOS-episode-like beginning.

Also like the writing style you affected here. You can tell a lot with dialogue. Every sentence need not always be a chapter unto itself. Very fast paced.

Finally catching up on some of my net-chores, visiting this site being one of said. Keep it up, Andy! I look forward to more!

--rog
"Jayne?"

"Yeah?"

"You wanna tell me why there's a statue of you here lookin' like I owe him something?"

"Wishin' I could, Captain. "

Offline Scottish Andy

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Re: Kusanagi #3
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2013, 07:43:25 pm »
Thanks Guv! Glad you like it, and the writing style. I am trying to pare down my usual exposition (just call me Basil) but sometimes I do want to explain my characters' thoughts or convey their tone. Striking the balance is difficult for me.

Time's short now, but I'll put the next one up tonight or tomorrow.
Come visit me at:  www.Starbase23.net

The Senior Service rocks! Rule, Britannia!

The Doctor: "Must be a spatio-temporal hyperlink."
Mickey: "Wot's that?"
The Doctor: "No idea. Just made it up. Didn't want to say 'Magic Door'."
- Doctor Who: The Woman in the Fireplace (S02E04)

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Offline Scottish Andy

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Kusanagi #3 - Chapter Two
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2013, 01:19:31 pm »
Chapter Two


Shields up! Red Alert! Brown, get me a damage report!” Karen bellows across the quaking deck. I cannot see her through the smoke from shorted-out control panels obscuring the flickering lights. “Salok, tactical scan and find out who or what hit us!”

I painfully pick myself up off the deck on the opposite side of the command chair, having been thrown bodily over it. It feels like nothing’s been broken and I don’t know how I’ve been that lucky. Through the strobing of the Red Alert lights I see several others righting themselves at their consoles or hauling themselves up off the deck, though the flashing red panels merely light the inside of the smoke and makes it perversely harder to see. The deck seems tilted off-true as I start to move to the communications station—

—BOOM!!—

—another explosion pushes at the ship from a different direction, though this time it feels more like someone struck the hull with a sledgehammer rather than gripping the edge of the saucer and trying to flip us over like last time.

“Emergency stop! Brace yourselves!” Karen roars over the continuing sound of the Red Alert klaxon as the bridge crew again hold on for dear life.

Urrih complies immediately and I’ve barely enough time to snag a tentative hold of the bridge rail before the lagging inertial dampeners throw me against the back of Urrih’s fortunately secured helm chair.

“Captain, tactical scans are disrupted.” The calm and uninflected – if elevated – tones of our Vulcan navigator and weapons officer seem insanely out of place amongst the bedlam. “Diagnostics indicate heavy damage to the sensory.”

“Damage reports coming in from all decks, along with casualty reports!” Lathena bolts out next.

“Mr. Brown, if you are finished rolling around on the floor, we could use some damage assessment and control,” Karen snaps.

I bite back a retort as I again pull myself to my feet and head to the auxiliary engineering console beside Lathena. No time for bitching, I acknowledge grimly, wincing at my new bangs and bruises, and along with Lathena begin building up a comprehensive picture of how badly we’ve been smacked around.

The news is not good.

Lathena does an excellent job of coordinating and sorting through all the scores of incoming calls for help, reports of damage or injuries, and requests for information, fielding each one in rapid succession and maintaining her calm and her professionalism.

“Captain, preliminary internal sensor and diagnostic readouts indicate we’ve lost long-range sensors and short-range are heavily impaired,” I hear Enax report as I continue to build up our more in-depth picture. My dismay is growing in time with the data shunted to my station from each call fielded by Lathena.

“Lathena, contact Starbase Two and inform them of our location and preliminary ship’s status, and also inform them that we may be caught in a minefield and may require the services of a minesweeper to extricate ourselves from it.”

Intakes of breath from around the bridge indicate the crew’s surprise, but having a spare moment to think about it now, it is a logical conclusion.

“Lathena, Enax, report any electronic warfare effects your equipment detects. Both of you are to look for any further signs of attack on whatever sensors we have left.”

“Aye-aye, Captain,” they acknowledge together.

‘Now, Mr. Brown, if you please.” Karen’s voice is cold and angry, but I don’t think it is directed at me; my standing is merely collateral damage.

I half-turn towards her, keeping both my screens and her in view. “Captain, our initial analysis indicates we triggered a small mine and took the blast unshielded under our starboard beam.” The gasps and hardening of expressions speak eloquently of the bridge crew’s feelings on this.

“We have several crew and officers’ quarters opened to space, as are the cargo bay and emergency transporter two. Sickbay reports twenty-three serious injuries and thirteen crew have been reported as missing or unaccounted for.”

The shocked, disbelieving silence that greets my pronouncement is accompanied by ashen or hardened expressions as everyone turns to face me.

“Do we have a list?” Karen asks, her tone subdued but still firm.

“Yes.”

“Get Search and Rescue parties into their last known locations and do it now, Lieutenant!” McCafferty snaps. “They’re not dead until we have remains or all hope is lost.”

“Aye-aye, Sir!” I bark, immediately setting to it. “Ensign Delaney, direct all teams to hull-breach areas in E.V.A. suits with portable airlock equipment. Get inside the areas vented to space and perform search and rescue. All other repairs can wait.”

“Aye-aye, X.O.,” our Damage Control Officer responds, her voice trembling.

Hold it together, Janice, I mentally encourage her as I switch channels. “Security.”

“Shex here.”

“Shex, we’re missing some people in the explosions. Sickbay has their hands full. I need your field medics to accompany our damage control teams on their SAR missions. Some more people also wouldn’t hurt for searching. Suit up for vacuum work and coordinate with Ensign Delaney for search assignments.”

Understood, Shex out.”

“Mr. Enax, direct what sensors we have to a volumetric scan of space around our location from the first explosion. You’re looking for lifesigns or organic remains. Quickly,” McCafferty orders at the same time.

“Aye, Captain,” the Edoan responds and begins punching buttons on his console. “Mr. Maknal, Ensign Salok. I need your help to re-route circuitry.”

“Where do you need us?” Urrih responds for them both.

I tune them out as I finish my task and start getting damage control and search progress reports directly via a spare Feinberg from Lathena.

“The starboard warp engine and the sensory took the brunt of the blast but it also damaged much of the ventral saucer to starboard.

“We’ve lost twenty-five percent of our warp capacity and the sensor disc has been immolated, with heavy damage to the sensory at the centre of deck six. We still have warp capability, but the Bussard ramscoop and field matrix sensors on the starboard nacelle are wrecked. Long range comms are fortunately unharmed but long range sensors are gone with the disc. Tactical and short-range sensor bays took extensive blast damage, with computer control systems being badly scrambled.”

The atmosphere on the bridge is darkening along with Karen’s face as I grimly plough on.

“The hull was breached in many other places. We’ve lost the emergency bridge, one tractor emitter, the forward ventral and port dorsal main phasers, half our battery capacity, and 50% of our Number Six shield.”

“Mr. Brown, a word,” McCafferty snaps.

“Chief Price, monitor the damage control board and let me know if any of our other damage gets bad enough to warrant attention.”

“Aye, Lieutenant,” our competent environmental engineer responds briefly. No doubt she’s already doing it, but I’m not sparing any attention from what I’m doing to check.

“Lathena, keep us updated on the search progress. I’ll be back.”

“Aye, Lieutenant.” She bobs her fine white eyebrows at me, no doubt a show of support for whatever I’ve done to raise the captain’s ire.

I quirk a smile at her and nod briefly, then step over to the centre seat. Karen is preoccupied; I doubt she is mad at me, she’s just mad. Blazing mad at whomever wounded her ship and killed her crew.

“Captain,” I announce myself quietly, breaking in on her thoughts.

“Lieutenant, are you familiar with mine-sweeping procedures?” she asks bluntly, her eyes snapping up to meet mine.

I should have expected this. It was again the next logical step, but Karen has already taken it while I’ve been busy. “I’m familiar with them, Sir, but I’ll need a refresher to brush up on the precise—”

She scowls at me and breaks in. “Then I suggest you ‘brush up’ right now, Lieutenant. Our chances of getting out of here on our own are already poor enough with all our sensor damage without your lack of intimate familiarity with our only way of doing so!”

The lash in her voice is all the more striking for her quiet delivery into the noisy bridge.

Looks like Lathena was right.

I growl back, “Well, excuse me Captain for not knowing every command option from the history of Starfleet!”

“Isn’t that your job?” she bites back.

“In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m still a junior lieutenant with little real experience—”

“And you’re likely to remain one forever unless you get your sh*t together, Brown!” she hisses.

I go bright red at that, anger and no little embarrassment roaring in my ears, but her next words floor me and blow all my rage into space.

“Gods-damnit, man, I need you to know this! I need an X.O. who I don’t need to ride herd on, who can anticipate me and where my thoughts are going and immediately jump on what needs done, without needing a bloody refresher course!” She glares balefully at me. “If you’re going to be of any use to me on this tour then you need to get your sh*t together,” she repeats, “and if you want your career to go anywhere, you cannot rely on looking stuff up on the damn computer before feeling confident enough to say you know it!”

“Sensors online, but still at reduced capacity, Captain,” Enax breaks into our – amazingly – still private chewing out session.

“Assessment of operational effectiveness?” she barks at him.

“We’re blind on the forward starboard quarter and beam. The hardware itself is destroyed and needs to be physically replaced. Unknown at this time if we can do it ourselves,” the Edoan scientist reports in clipped tones, obviously affected by his captain’s demeanour. “With what has not been destroyed we have regained the use of to 100,000km at about sixty percent capability.”

“Understood. Scan results?”

“Underway now, Captain.”

“Not quick enough, Mr. Enax!” she barks angrily. “Our people—”

Karen quickly chops off what she was going to say and passes a hand over her face. “I know you did that as quickly as you could. Anyone you find, immediately forward to the transporter rooms to beam aboard,” she orders more evenly. “Mr. Maknal, thrusters only, turn in place, one-eighty degrees port.”

“Aye Sir!” Urrih throws over his shoulder as he leaps for the helm console.

“Aye Captain,” Enax responds after him, understanding in his tone.

As this byplay goes on, I struggle past my chewing out – my shock at the suddenness of its arising, the potential consequences thereof, and at the shiny new skin I have – and regain my voice. “Lieutenant Lathena, progress report on the search and rescue efforts?”

“Five emergency airlocks have been completed and SAR teams are already searching crew quarters and hulled areas on decks four and five. So far, no one found. Engineering teams are having trouble setting up airlocks on deck six; most of the deck has been depressurised. They’re setting up an airlock in vacuum outside of the turbolift itself. They expect to be done in a few more minutes.”

So much time has passed already, I think dejectedly, taking in Karen’s thunderous expression. But it is not futile. They could have shut themselves in lockers, closets, found breather masks. We must search every nook and cranny and not write them off.

An explosion of activity from the science station. For once I anticipate and bark, “Thrusters to station-keeping, shields down!”

“Transporter rooms, beaming coordinates sent, shields going down. Lock on and energise!” Enax calls down his own intercom.

“Sickbay, explosive decompression and vacuum exposure casualties incoming to the transporter rooms! Get medical teams there now!” Karen barks down her own com channel.

“Maknal, resume rotation, thrusters to full power!” I order in rapid fire.

“Aye!”

“How many and in what condition?” Karen then demands of Enax.

“Sir… we have no lifesigns, but enough organic mass at discreet points for five or six people,” he calls back, still working his board. “They were in our blind spot and were detected as soon as we—got more!” he shouts as an alarm goes off on his board. Slapping a toggle, he calls urgently, “Transporter rooms, more coordinates incoming!”

“Captain! SAR Team Two has found a survivor! Deck five, section ten! Preparing to get them out of their quarters’ closet and a breather unit on them! It’s Lieutenant M’Gora!”

A cheer erupts on the bridge, and Karen does nothing to discourage it.

“SAR Team Six have their airlock operational and are beginning to explore deck six.” Lathena adds once the cheer subsides. “Transporter Room One reports five crewmembers beamed aboard, and med team attending. SAR Team Three reporting another air-filled closet; no lifesigns but organic readings. They’re going to force it.”

“Scan complete, Captain,” Enax reports. “No further results. We’re repeating the scan.”

Karen’s mouth closes on her presumably redundant order and she offers a grim but approving nod.

“Team Three’s recovered two crewmen from enlisted quarters; they’re rushing them to Sickbay,” Lathena updates crisply, neatly re-inserting herself into the bridge conversation. Her voice takes on a more sombre note as she adds, “They found Frederico Tavares and Ahmedou Abdallah.”

We all know they may be beyond saving, but she retains her professionalism despite this.

She really is doing a superb job today, I note admiringly to myself. She’ll be getting a commendation for keeping it together.

“SAR Team Six reporting no one found yet but encountering massive hull breaches in almost every compartment. Visual confirmation that the sensor disc has been destroyed and the Sensory wrecked and vented to space.”

This really is Lathena’s show now. She’s our source of information from all over the ship and we’ve done pretty much all we can for the moment; it’s all up to the people doing the work now. Never is a communications officer more important than at times like these.

I suddenly realise all I’m doing is waiting on the next update from her. I shake it off and settle in at the navigation databanks and tie in the library computer. Not wanting to speak to both not interrupt Lathena and to not draw attention to myself, I manually key in my request and authorisation.

The screen blinks at me. Mine Warfare Procedures: Mine Sweeping.
Come visit me at:  www.Starbase23.net

The Senior Service rocks! Rule, Britannia!

The Doctor: "Must be a spatio-temporal hyperlink."
Mickey: "Wot's that?"
The Doctor: "No idea. Just made it up. Didn't want to say 'Magic Door'."
- Doctor Who: The Woman in the Fireplace (S02E04)

2288

Offline Captain Sharp

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Re: Kusanagi #3
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2013, 02:58:43 pm »
"Well, excuse me, Captain, for driving us into a mine field," Brown retorted, "No, wait! That was you, CAPTAIN! You wanna more experienced XO, you should have got one! I'm what you got, so get off your ass and captain your ship back out of the mess you put her in!"

Sorry...Had to get that out of my head. Totally can't take folk bitching about situations they, in fact, are ultimately responsible for.

In case you can't tell, am reading, and am quite engrossed.

--rog
"Jayne?"

"Yeah?"

"You wanna tell me why there's a statue of you here lookin' like I owe him something?"

"Wishin' I could, Captain. "

Offline Scottish Andy

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Kusanagi #3 - Chapter Three
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2013, 05:02:55 pm »
Thanks for the feedback Guv; I'm very pleased you're enjoying it!

Any comments on Brown not knowing mine sweeping practices of the top of his head? Is that reasonable or plausible? Would and should he be expected to know these things, or is McCafferty being unreasonable? Does he come off badly for not knowing, does she come off as a harpy for railing on him for not knowing, or both, neither, something else?
I believe this was one of the weaker parts of this chapter and I'd like your opinions (not just the Guv, if anyone else is reading this) on how it struck you.

That said, on with the show.



Chapter Three


“What’s the final report?” Karen asks some minutes later.

Lathena turns to face her captain. “We’ve recovered everyone, Sir, both on board and from space. Sickbay is not reporting fatalities but so far we have forty casualties.”

“Oh, my Goddess,” someone utters in shock. I can’t quite process it myself; that’s a quarter of our crew.

“Mr. Brown, continue to coordinate damage control now we have everyone accounted for. I’m going to Sickbay,” McCafferty orders, her face grim and eyes brooding. “Lathena, let me know when we hear back from Starbase Two. I want to talk t o someone face-to-face, so arrange it and pipe it through to my quarters then page me.”

“Aye Captain,” is her brisk response, which I echo.

I don’t bother getting up for the centre seat as I’m busy re-learning my trade; I decide to delegate the coordination duties to someone I can trust to get their priorities straight and ride herd on whatever needs a heavy touch.

“Chief Price,” I state as I move over to the Engineering station, “get a hold of Ensign Delaney.”

“I’m talking with her now, Lieutenant,” the woman eight years my senior responds crisply.

“Excellent. Ensign, Chief Price has my authority for assessing damage control priorities,” I state with a nod at the chief. “Focus on repairing the short-range tactical sensors and sealing our hull breaches. Everything else is secondary, but if you have the personnel, phasers have third priority, then see if you can pull back some warp capacity.”

“Aye, Lieutenant. I’ll get my teams on it now,” Janice replies, sounding harried.

“Chief, monitor their progress and keep me informed. Rearrange the lesser priorities if you feel the need, but check with me before bumping the big items.”

“What about warp and phasers first, X.O.?” Theresa asks seriously.

“I don’t believe anyone is here to attack us, Chief. We need to see better and not fall apart when we move to get us out of the minefield more than we need to fight a battle.”

“And if we’ve set off a sensor alarm somewhere and someone is now on their way, Sir?” the more experienced N.C.O. asks pointedly, though quietly. “Or there are captor mines in here ready to shoot at us if we move?”

Damn, didn’t think of that! I castigate myself and furiously think about her very salient objections, trying not to let it reach my face.

“I’ve thought about that, Chief. I believe they’re less likely to happen. Which is why they’re second-line priorities.”

“Understood, Lieutenant,” she answers, ending her objection but having done her duty in raising them.

“Carry on, Chief,” I nod at her, then step away to return to my studies.

She gave me some good information I can use to direct my self-education, I acknowledge. Thinking over her scenarios as I key in my searches, I realise I still believe I’m right and it wasn’t just some face-saving B.S. I gave her. Well, it was at the time but as luck and coincidence would have it, I still believe I’m right.

We’re not moving until we’ve repaired our sensors as much as possible anyway, so setting off another mine won’t happen, I reason. Plus, I think it’s a safe assumption that this minefield was laid by the Klingons when they destroyed Gamma Ten, and they’ll not be coming after us now.

As the data on the captor and sensor mines scroll over my screens, I give it further thought. Maybe pirates could take advantage of this, but the tactical situation favours us; we’re in a minefield so they cannot close or get behind us, and we have photons to stand them off until phasers are repaired, or reinforcements arrive from Starbase Two. We’ll only be in trouble if they can launch drone swarms at us.

Satisfied with my analysis and more confident in my decisions, I apply my full attention to the data.

*****

Karen returns to the bridge almost half-an-hour later, her face thunderous. It’s clear for all to see that she’s only gotten angrier.

“Report,” she snaps out.

I rise to give it, walking over to the command chair as she settles into it. “Engineering has started patching and sealing the hull breaches, starting in the worst areas of Deck Seven. They estimate another ninety minutes until all the hull plates are welded into place and a further two hours for temporary S.I.F. architecture to be emplaced, at current staffing levels,” I begin with the brightest news we have, even though Karen looks unimpressed with it.

“The forward-starboard sensors are back online, using up most of our spares, and sensor effectiveness is up to 83% for short range and tactical in those sectors, thanks to the stabilisation of computer control routines. However, we remain totally blind on the starboard beam. The housings there are wrecked along with the equipment.”

“That’s unacceptable,” McCafferty retorts. “We need to be able to see in all directions, Mr. Brown. What about swapping components from the unaffected sensor bays?”

“Chief Price floated that idea, Sir, but we determined that while we could jury-rig sensor capability in that direction, it would not top 40% effectiveness and that would be out to only 60,000km. Furthermore, it would reduce sensor effectiveness to 50% in the bay we cannibalise the needed components from. Not to mention that it would take around four hours to complete. I decided it was not worth the trade, and we need other systems seen to first.”

McCafferty pierces me with a glare, as if it’s my fault she cannot have what she wants.

Who knows? Maybe she thinks I’m being obstructionist.

“Chief Price and Mr. Enax agree with this assessment?” she asks, seemingly confirming my thoughts.

“They do, Captain,” I reply evenly.

“Damnit, this means that for complete 720-degree sensor coverage we’ll have to rotate the ship on her x-axis constantly.”

“Mr. Maknal is now programming the new helm routines to cover what scenarios we’ve already sketched out.”

Karen’s eyes snap back up to lock with mine, narrowing minutely, before softening slightly and widening. She offers a nod of approval. “Very good, Mr. Brown,” she says, managing to keep almost all of her patronisingly surprised tone out of her voice.  “That’s what I like to hear. Now, other repairs?”

“A more thorough damage assessment was made on the phasers and warp nacelle. Phasers can be back online in an hour from repairs beginning, but repairing the field sensors on the warp nacelle will take upwards of three hours. The warp coils themselves are cracked and need to be either repaired or replaced in a space dock.”

Karen manages not to swear at this, but I can tell she wants to.

“We can re-balance the nacelles for warp speed, though we’ll have to take it easier on the way to base. Trey’gar estimates we’ll manage warp four maximum, warp three-point-two for cruise.”

“And we obviously cannot make these repairs to the warp nacelle if we’re spinning like a top for complete sensor coverage,” she comments with an angry sigh. Looking at me again, she asks, “Phasers can be back online Mr. Brown? Am I to assume that they’re currently not being repaired?”

Hearing the warning in her tone, I respond evenly, “Yes, Captain. I deemed sensors and hull integrity to be top priority. With what repairs that can be done on the sensors now almost complete and tested, repair teams can be assigned to the phasers.” I pause for a moment before adding, “Unless you want further work done on the sensors?”

She responds irritably, “No, Mr. Brown, I concur with you on them. But I don’t want to hang around for three hours either. Have all damage control and engineering teams immediately re-tasked to work on our hull integrity.”

“Aye, Captain,” I respond, gratified to have my deductions validated, though a bit put out to have her disregard everything else I’d set up for other repairs.

“Anything else?”

“No Sir. The other damage is being left until we’ve got the resources to assign to it.”

“Which won’t be for a good three hours no matter what we do first, it seems.”

“We’re not a heavy cruiser, Sir. We don’t have a hundreds of damage control and repair staff.”

She snaps me a glare which clearly says “I know that! I’m just bitching!”

“How are our casualties?” I ask.

Her demeanour sobers but her anger grows – albeit at a different target.

“I have to make an announcement. Ship-wide.” Her anger is heavily shadowed by grief.

I understand instantly but don’t press her for details.

She takes a breath and elaborates. “Three critical cases. Six moderate cases who’ll be released within a day. Twenty-one with minor injuries who’ve either already returned to duty or been released to quarters to recover.”

“And ten fatalities.”

It’s like a gut-punch; my insides suddenly feel hollow and my mind reels with shock. I can’t quite process it. The sheer suddenness of it all…

Ten people. Ten people I know and have worked alongside for over a year are now dead.

“Who?” I push out.

She shakes her head and says, “I’ll make the announcement next.”

I quash a surge of anger at not being told right away, trying to smother it with understanding for her own loss.
They’re her crew. She’s responsible for their lives. It’s a crushing burden at times like these.

“Your talk with Starbase Two?” I ask next, after a silent, introspective pause.

“They’re sending their minesweeper. We’re lucky; it’s not out on assignment. Or rather, it’s just back from its last one. It’ll be here in about seven hours.”

“Plenty of time to complete what repairs we can, then. We’ll be able to leave as soon as they get us out of here.”

“I’m not just going to sit here and wait to be rescued, Mr. Brown,” she replies sharply. “The minesweeper will still be needed to clear these mines, so it’ll not be a wasted trip for them even after we get ourselves out of this mess.”

“Captain, we are not the best equipped to feel our way out of here even when we’re at full strength,” I counter evenly, eager to show my new-found familiarity with what we have to do to get out of here. “The sensor situation—”

“—will not stop us from trying. By the time we’re ready to move, we’ll have full shields again and can weather hits from mines on all sides—”

“—of small mines only, Captain!” I break in urgently. “What of large mines, captors firing drones or close-range disruptors?”

Her glare finds me again. “We’ll not be trying to trigger these mines, Lieutenant. We are going to retrace our steps precisely and creep out of here.”

I note the furnace-tempered steel in her eyes, voice, her whole bearing. I stifle a sigh and the urge to rub my temples. “You’re not going to back down, are you? Is there nothing I can say to dissuade you from this?” 

McCafferty’s glare loses its edge, reflecting her surprise. Keeping her own tone even, she replies, “No, and no. Forget the warp drive repairs, as soon as we have structural integrity as high as we can get it, we’re moving out. As soon as sensor repairs are complete we’re beginning scans to detect what we can. Are you onboard for this?”

Still trying to prove myself in her eyes – and honestly, mine too – I set my concerns aside and square my shoulders.

“Aye, Captain.”

Karen says nothing but gives me a long, appraising look. She nods and states, “Then let’s be about it.”

I nod again.

Tensing in her chair, she murmurs, “There’s just something I need to do first…”

So saying, she gets up and stands, legs spread and feet planted firmly on the deck, hands clasped behind her back.

“Lathena, please put me on ship-wide intercom.”

Her antennae subliminally attuned to the different timbre of emotional states, the Andorian comms officer offers a subdued, “You’re on, Sir.” The rest of the bridge crew halt their current activities and turn to face their C.O.

“Attention, crew of the Kusanagi, this is the Captain. Just over half-an-hour ago we entered a minefield no one knew or suspected existed. We triggered two mines. The first exploded against our unshielded, unprepared ship; the second against our hurriedly raised shields.

“We suffered heavy damage but repairs are proceeding well. We will be mobile in approximately three hours, maybe less. Starfleet has been informed of our situation and has dispatched a minesweeper to assist us and begin clearing the minefield. We will retrace our steps out of this minefield, complete our repairs, then set course for the nearest repair base.”

Karen pauses there, an obvious indicator for a change in topic.

“I also have tragic news. Thirty of our crew were hurt in these explosions, though only three of them are still in critical condition in Sickbay. The remainder have been released to duty or enforced rest.

“However, ten of our valued crewmates were killed. Every effort was made by valiant crew all over the ship to locate, recover, and heal them, but ultimately ten of our crewmates lost their lives to this… wasteful incident. A leftover of hate from an aborted war against us.”

Karen struggles to keep her emotions in check as she speaks, but she can’t – and probably doesn’t want to – remove the grief from her voice.

She’s taking this very hard, I realise, though on second thought I’m not really surprised.

“The names of everyone hurt and who’ve lost their lives in this tragedy are in the computer, but to honour our new dead, I give you their names now.

“Lieutenant Thema Akuba Mansa Arkaah of Ship's Services.

“Specialist 1st-Class Chen Shui-bien of Communications.

“Petty Officer 1st-Class Jean-Phillipe Ganascia of Security.

“Specialist 1st-Class Granox of Ship's Services.

“Technician 3rd-Class Diogenes Marañon of Engineering.

“Chief Petty Officer Erdal Senel of Operations.

“Specialist 2nd-Class Solan of Communications.

“Petty Officer 3rd-Class Mrinal Suman of Engineering.

“Petty Officer 1st-Class Theran of Operations.

“Ensign Daniel Wasserbly of Sciences.”

During this recitation I hear gasps and some stifled sobs from the bridge crew on hearing the name of a close friend among the dead. I don't – didn't – know any of them very well, only as names in the crew roster and a face to nod to in the corridors.

Her voice now choked with emotion, Karen adds, “We've all lost friends, comrades, colleagues, and shipmates today. The Vulcans have a phrase I find appropriate to this moment, and all the more potent for its archaic form.

“‘I grieve with thee.’”

She pauses for a long moment, then adds softly, “Captain, out.”
Come visit me at:  www.Starbase23.net

The Senior Service rocks! Rule, Britannia!

The Doctor: "Must be a spatio-temporal hyperlink."
Mickey: "Wot's that?"
The Doctor: "No idea. Just made it up. Didn't want to say 'Magic Door'."
- Doctor Who: The Woman in the Fireplace (S02E04)

2288

Offline Lieutenant_Q

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Re: Kusanagi #3
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2013, 02:55:10 am »
In my opinion in the Star Trek Universe, Mines have very limited (Meaning almost no) strategic value.  There are certain exceptions, but the biggest one is because the Bajoran Wormhole is a different beast in terms of FTL travel.  Tactically, they can be used around a location of tactical or even strategic importance, but even then, their usefulness is limited.  Minefields are far more useful on a 2 dimensional battlefield, where terrain can force a battleforce into a certain area (chokepoints).  On the 3d battlefield, there are no choke points.

The form of FTL technology matters a great deal in determining the usefulness of minefields.  Wormhole or Stargate type technology is where Minefields become the most useful, because you can mine the known exit points.  Hyperspace travel is next, because the technology there requires null-g points to transit from one system to another, there are more exit points, but they are still known.  Warp Drive makes minefields next to useless, except for mining planetary orbits, or installations.

Anyways, no I don't think that the kid not knowing Minesweeping procedures is out of the norm.  I think she's just pissed that she got her ship beaten up, and was looking for someone to take it out on.
"Your mighty GDI forces have been emasculated, and you yourself are a killer of children.  Now of course it's not true.  But the world only believes what the media tells them to believe.  And I tell the media what to believe, its really quite simple." - Kane (Joe Kucan) Command & Conquer Tiberium Dawn (1995)

Offline Captain Sharp

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Re: Kusanagi #3 - Chapter Three
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2013, 05:45:33 pm »


Any comments on Brown not knowing mine sweeping practices of the top of his head? Is that reasonable or plausible? Would and should he be expected to know these things, or is McCafferty being unreasonable? Does he come off badly for not knowing, does she come off as a harpy for railing on him for not knowing, or both, neither, something else?

Not weak at all. For a Star Trek officer to not know something is sometimes implausible depending on the episode and writer. I imagine that most existing Navy officers would at the least have to brush up on it to perform the minesweeping task, if they knew a damn thing about it to begin with. Sometimes its what they don't know/do that surprises you most...

-guv
"Jayne?"

"Yeah?"

"You wanna tell me why there's a statue of you here lookin' like I owe him something?"

"Wishin' I could, Captain. "

Offline Scottish Andy

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Kusanagi #3 - Chapter Four
« Reply #13 on: July 10, 2013, 10:00:03 pm »
Thank you very kindly for the feedback, guys. I really appreciate it! :)

Quote
On the 3d battlefield, there are no choke points.
Q: I disagree with your PoV here. Obviously, or I'd not have a minefield in my story. There are choke points caused by circumstance and design. I agree, a minefield along a border is as ludicrous an idea as borders in space; your territory is defined by how far you can see and how much you can patrol. Even then, there are gaps and blind spots in your sensor coverage. Basically, your territory ends at the max range of your guns.
But getting back to minefields, you say it yourself. Strategic locations such as bases, in planetary orbits, known space lanes, and even expected avenues of approach to a destination. But I think I say something more about this in the story, so I'll stop there. :)

Guv & Q: I only today watched 'TOS: Dagger of the Mind' and in it a lieutenant transporter operator and his crewman assistant tried to beam cargo down to the penal rehabilitation colony. He failed twice and said to Kirk walking in, "I don't understand it, Sir." Kirk has to remind the numbskull that penal colonies have shields up. Seems the computer is smarter than the operator, as it wouldn't even let him dematerialise the cargo even though he went through the motions. It is entirely dependent on the plot (in this case, used for exposition and foreshadowing) but it made the lieutenant look like a an incompetent tit. So, while I have precedence in Trek for this, I wasn't sure how it made "me" look. I'm glad to see the answer is "not too bad", and that Karen got you mad enough that you sided with "me" anyway. :D (That was my intent.)

No one has comments on our handling of the repairs, or her handling of the casualties announcement?

Please, please, keep commenting! :) That said, on with the show.



Chapter Four


“Captain, Damage Control reports that the S.I.F. equipment has been installed, tested, and certified,” Chief Price announces from the Engineering station.

Karen looks around approvingly. “Just over an hour. Pass on a ‘very well done’ from me; that was fast work.”

From their original estimate of three and a half, I’d say so, I note admiringly. Looks like putting everyone on it got it done.

“Aye Captain,” Price replies, but her usual grin at such praise for her department is very much in abeyance. The whole bridge feels like that: shrouded under a suffocating, life-draining air of gloom underpinned by unfocussed anger.

“Mr. Enax, what have our scans of the last hour revealed to us?” McCafferty asks next, as if she hadn’t been asking him every ten minutes during that time.

“Captain, we’ve located nothing within 60,000km of our current position.”

“Very good. Lathena, put me on all-call.”

“You’re on, Captain.”

“Attention, crew of the Kusanagi. We are about to get underway to exit the minefield. Maintain Yellow Alert and General Quarters Two. All hands to damage control stations and stand ready. Captain, out.”

“Mr. Maknal, ahead, eighty k.p.s.,” she orders next. “Take us back along our course in.”

“Aye.”

Both Enax and Maknal are sweating. The rest of the bridge crew look very tense, and McCafferty very determined.

All I can think about is the large mine out there with our name on it and an explosive yield over half again stronger than our full shields.

Enax calls out in a firm tone, “First sweep negative.”

“Roll us now, Mr. Maknal.”

“Aye.”

Maknal taps his controls very delicately, acting like he’s piloting the ship on a tightrope between six black holes, so exaggerated is the care he us taking.

“Second sweep negative,” Enax reports.

“Roll us again, Urrih.”

This time our helmsman merely nods. Sweat begins to bead on his forehead.

“Mr. Salok, call out every thousand kilometres and inform us when we reach the vicinity of the first mine we set off,” I order, to give us a more descriptive count down.

“Acknowledged.”

“Third sweep negative.”

“Rolling,” Maknal pipes up on his own.

“Two thousand kilometres,” Salok announces as if he’s ordering a plomeek soup.

I spare glances for the graphic of our progress and to take a poll of our bridge crew’s emotional states.

Everyone’s shoulders are tight with the nerve-shredding tension. Theresa Price and Lathena, standing and sitting respectively, have their leg muscles tightly tensed; braced to prevent them jittering, I suppose. I realise I’m doing it too, and now aware of my own body, also note the sweat trickling down my back though the bridge is in fact feeling chilled. Continuing my poll, Salok with his Vulcan calm seems unaffected and McCafferty herself looks tense but not strung out – her leg muscles are relaxed – and determined as all hell to get out of the minefield despite our less-than-impressive sensor capability. Enax’ third hand is unconsciously clenching and unclenching while his other two operate the sensor controls. The back of Urrih’s gold uniform top is becoming damp.

That said, everyone is diligently performing their duties. No one is wound up so tightly that they’re unfocussed or distressed.

We’ve got a good crew, I praise them. Battle-hardened, but this is different. A nerve-shredding tension with nothing to do but wait for something to not happen.

“Three thousand kilometres.”

“Fifth sweep negative.”

“Rolling.”

It’s almost become routine already. The tension has plateaued.

“Eighth sweep negative.”

“Rolling.”

“Five thousand kilometres.”

Only another five thousand to go until we pass the first detonation point, but that’s not necessarily the edge of the minefield.

I cast my mind back to the conversation I had with McCafferty as the repairs to the hull and S.I.F. architecture neared completion.

*****

Safely ensconced in Briefing Room One, I confront Karen again on her decided course of action.

“Captain, I ask you to reconsider one last time. Please. The risk to our ship is too great. Minefields like this are lain to destroy or cripple cruisers, not dinky little frigates like us. All it takes is one large mine above or below our bow and we lose our bow! Half our ship, and half our crew!”

My voice has become more shrill and strident as I lay it out for her, and it annoys me. I hate the way I sound when I’m worked up! Rationally, I know she probably knows – had better know, after the reaming she gave me – this already, has already considered this all and rejected it as a reason to stay put and await rescue, but irrational hope reigns supreme right now. Hope that she’ll just wait the additional six hours and let the minesweeper dig us out.

“Even with full sensor capability this is a – a very dangerous gamble!” I stumble over my words, not wanting to alienate or anger her by calling her idiotic or reckless to her face. “Our sensors – where we have them! – are only at 83% reliability. We’re blind on the starboard side. And scanning for mines… even if a mine is within range and our sensors can pick it up, unless we scan on just the right frequency range to detect its automatic detonator, we’ll still not detect it!”

Karen sits at the head of the briefing table, eyes narrowed at me but saying nothing.

I push up out of my chair and start pacing. Her lack of shutting me down is hopeful, but her closed expression is not. I push on regardless.

“That’s not to mention the mines we simply cannot detect until they fire at us, and with our sensor damage we’ve only a fifty percent chance of retaining a lock on it to take it out with our weapons. Two-thirds of which are also still down since we concentrated repairs on the hull.

“Which leads us to possibly tripping a sensor mine and having it unleash a swarm of drones against us, or a disruptor or phaser barrage, that’ll reduce us to a shattered wreck!”

I shake my head, staggered at the magnitude of the potential, unknowable odds stacked against us.

“Are you finished, Mr. Brown?” Karen asks with light sarcasm, and I know I’ve made no impression on her.

“Not quite, Captain,” I sigh. “I’d really like to know why. Why you are so hell-bent on not waiting a measly six hours to increase our odds of survival immeasurably.”

“I’ll tell you why,” she responds evenly, surprising me with her tone. “Because despite your impressively quick re-education on the subject matter, you are failing to consider the realities and probabilities.”

Said in her usual tone when talking to me of late that would have gotten me up in arms. As it was, her current bearing made it seem more like further education for me. I push away my errant thoughts to focus on her words.

“Yes, standard doctrine on mine use and minefield layout is a horror story to read, and quite likely cramming all this at once has left you seeing us in the middle of said minefield with all these nasty ‘could be’s’ and ‘what if’s’ and such pointed right at our ‘dinky little frigate’.

“However, consider that we entered the very edge of a minefield and set off the first two we came into range of. Consider that we were speeding along at half-impulse for almost half-an-hour before dropping to less than half that, and that we slowed down because of the asteroidal rubble and dust cloud we were entering. Consider also that this minefield was most likely laid by the Klingons after they destroyed Gamma Ten, and that the ships that did so were very likely not minelayers but standard warships en route to bigger and juicier targets.”

Her pointed look and her obviously deeply considered points rapidly defuse my own concerns; her logic is sound even if she has assumption stacked on assumption. Though, considering my standpoint, I’m going on nothing more than standard mine-laying doctrine and, as Karen is successfully pointing out, this seems like a non-standard situation.

Well, likely non-standard.

“Consider also the merits of my own plan to get out of the minefield,” she continues, unable to prevent a slight edge to her voice at my presumption of her acting without thinking. “We’ll move tortoise-like back along our exact path in to this point, which has already been partially ‘cleared’ by our own good selves.” Karen gets up and strides over to me, looking up from her diminutive five-foot-nothing height to lock gazes with me. “I do not believe we are in the middle of a minefield. I do not believe there are any other mines along that exact path out. But I am taking all the precautions I can to ensure that if my belief is wrong, we’re as alert and prepared for it as we can be.”

Surprisingly, I find myself reassured. The captain is not being reckless or impatient. She’s merely exercising command judgement.

Perhaps she sees this in my eyes, as she nods. “Good. Now, shall we return to the bridge and get ready to leave?”

“One more thing, Captain,” I tell her without heat. “Why did you let me reel off all my nightmare scenarios first? Why not just tell me what you did straight off?”

She stared at me with calculating eyes. “You looked like you needed to get something off your chest, Mr. Brown,” she replied, surprising the hell out of me with the sentiment. “We had the time, so I thought I’d let you do it. Plus, you got to ‘impress’ me with your new-found knowledge. Do you feel better now?”

Had we still been good friends, her slightly mocking tone would have been uproariously funny and her expression impudent. As we are now, though, the mocking – however slight – felt real and the expression pitying.

Before stupid and misplaced – and unwarranted – pride could force the issue and make it painful for us all over again, cold hard rationality and objectivity crash over me.

You brought this on yourself, Brown. Man up and accept the responsibility and learn your lesson for the next time.

Surprisingly, my twisted mind delivers this sergeant-major’s pep talk in Karen’s voice.

Great. Even my own subconscious is siding with her.

After a moment of silence to have these thoughts, I finally respond to her words.

“Yes, Sir. I feel much better.”

“Good,” she repeated. “Let’s get back to the bridge, then.”

I nod and fall in step behind her on our way to the briefing room doors. Before they open I surprise myself by actually being amused at being so mocked, and at wanting to invite more.

“So, you really were impressed?” I ask, tone obviously fake-hopeful.

She takes the opportunity with relish as we enter the turbolift. With an exaggerated pause and not even a sideward glance, she delivers a perfectly deadpan response.

“No.”

The doors close on my snort of laughter.

*****

Recalling that conversation now, and her reasoning behind this move, I feel my apprehension begin to rise again nonetheless.

What if she’s wrong? What if her assumptions are wrong? Even just one? What if a minelayer did lay this field and was brought along for just this purpose; to seed minefields in our territory to hinder us in during the expected war? What if there are more mines out there along this path, and we only detonated one in the same spot because of their networked, one-at-a-time programming? What if there’s another one within 10,000km of the first one, and it’s a large one and we don’t detect it before we set it off?

I curse myself for this train of thought, as useless as it is obvious what the ultimate answer will be if all the doomsaying comes to pass: We’re going to lose a lot more crewmates. If any of us survive at all.

“Eight thousand kilometres.” 

“Thirteenth sweep negative,” Enax announces, voice still tight.

“Rolling,” Maknal updates, sounding more like his normal self as the magical “sixteenth sweep” approaches.

There, we’ll be at the point of first detonation and purportedly the edge of the minefield, and thus home free.

Allegedly.

“Fourteenth sweep neg— wait, I’m getting something!”

“All stop,” Karen orders calmly.

“All stop, aye!” Maknal responds with alacrity, his tone relieved, and immediately zeros his controls.

“Any details, Mr. Enax?” the captain asks next. She remains in her chair, merely pivoting it to face the science console.

“Data is coming in slowly, Captain,” Enax responds over his shoulder, focussing on his instruments. “Initial range and bearing is approximately 37,500km at three-four-nine mark three-two-three.”

Karen relaxes. “It’s not in our way and won’t get close enough to detect us as we pass by. Maintain course and bring us back up to eighty k.p.s., Mr. Maknal.”

“Aye, Sir,” Urrih responds, tense once again.

“Enax, continue to refine your positional data on that object, and have the labs attempt to identify it.”

“Aye-aye, Captain.” The tripod science officer uses his third hand to send the information to the labs on the deck below us, not taking his attention from his primary task of looking for mines ahead of us.

“Nine thousand kilometres.”

“Thank you, Mr. Salok.”

“Eighty k.p.s., Captain, and continuing on our course with rolling.” Urrih really doesn’t sound happy.

“Very good, Mr. Maknal.”

“Fifteenth sweep negative for new contacts,” Enax reports.

“Rolling.”

“Nearly there…” someone murmurs.

The fifteen seconds between our sensor sweeps drags past like the hot season on Vulcan. What the Vulcans call their hot season, at any rate. Goddess knows it seems hot there even in what they laughingly call their mid-winter—

“Contact, close ab—!”

BOOM!!
« Last Edit: August 14, 2013, 01:46:43 pm by Scottish Andy »
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The Senior Service rocks! Rule, Britannia!

The Doctor: "Must be a spatio-temporal hyperlink."
Mickey: "Wot's that?"
The Doctor: "No idea. Just made it up. Didn't want to say 'Magic Door'."
- Doctor Who: The Woman in the Fireplace (S02E04)

2288

Offline Scottish Andy

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Re: Kusanagi #3
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2013, 01:45:59 pm »
*SIGH*
Come visit me at:  www.Starbase23.net

The Senior Service rocks! Rule, Britannia!

The Doctor: "Must be a spatio-temporal hyperlink."
Mickey: "Wot's that?"
The Doctor: "No idea. Just made it up. Didn't want to say 'Magic Door'."
- Doctor Who: The Woman in the Fireplace (S02E04)

2288

Offline Scottish Andy

  • First Officer of the Good Ship Kusanagi
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Re: Kusanagi #3
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2013, 03:03:30 pm »
As the Guv has oft commented 'pon, this place isn't very active these days; seen more lively cemeteries. Anyhoo, the show must go on.



Chapter Five


“Damage report!” I bellow before the deck stops trembling.

Salok reports calmly. “Dorsal shield down to fifty percent. Preliminary assessment has no internal damage. I have no indicators.”

“Lathena, confirm with all damage control stations,” I order, stepping down towards McCafferty, who I’ve noted has still not ordered a halt.

“Captain,” I murmur at her, “should we not stop and allow our shields to regenerate before proceeding? It’ll allow a proper damage control assessment as well.”

She opens her mouth with a hard look in her eye, but surprises me when she orders, “All stop and hold position, Mr. Maknal.”

“Aye Sir!” Urrih responds and quickly zeroes his controls, his relief controlled but visible.

Karen’s expression sours a little more on hearing it in his voice. “I want a thorough damage assessment, especially of our previously completed repairs,” she orders next. “We have twenty minutes until the shields are back at full strength, so let’s make good use of them.”

“Lathena, if you please,” I prompt, indicating that she relay the captain’s orders, then return to Karen and state, sotto voce, “Thank you, Captain.”

Her sour expression remains but softens in intensity. “I hate the idea that we’re already clear and don’t know it, and we’ll sit here for so long because of it, but… you’re right. It’s an unwarranted risk.”

“On the plus side, it’s another small mine, and again it’s close around Gamma Ten,” I offer. “Judging by the pattern so far, they’ve been dropped between the larger rocks orbiting our planetoid, avoiding the dust cloud. It looks like your assessment of the minefield is being borne out.”

“A minefield of opportunity dropped in the most likely avenues of approach by a flotilla of Klingons, yes.” She rubs her chin thoughtfully, looking at Enax’ screen displaying the plotted positions of the rocks, dust clouds, and mines detected so far. “Four mines covering the approach vector, all small ones. Well, the one we missed still has to be classified, but I’m betting it’s a standard mine.”

“Agreed.”

“I really do think we’re out of it, but pushing now is not the time to have it blow up in our faces.”

I nod again. “Let’s just wait it out. Keep scanning, then get back to the point where we dropped from full impulse. I’m sure we’ll be clear there.”

“It’ll take a while getting that far at eighty k.p.s.,” Karen sighs, “but at least we’ll have gotten out on her own, taking all precautions.”

This seems to sit better with her and her sour mood dissipates. That she’s mentioned this again proves it’s important to her.

It’s a command thing. She needs to show our superiors that she can get her ship and crew out of a dangerous situation by our own initiative and abilities. That if this happens where no help is available, she has the judgement and backbone to bring us all home again. Sitting still and waiting for someone else to dig us out of trouble is not a good attitude for a commander, I realise.

“Captain,” I nod respectfully. “I’m off to monitor Lathena’s damage reports.”

“Carry on, Mr. Brown,” she replies distractedly.

I leave her to her thoughts.

*****

First Officer’s Log, Stardate 3649.0.

It been an hour since damage control was finalised, and we’re now well clear of the minefield. Or rather, where our best estimates place the edge of the minefield.

The captain dismissed the bridge crew to relax and recover after the extreme stress and tension of the morning so far. We’re holding position 350,000km from Gamma Ten while the re-balancing of the warp engines is underway, and awaiting the arrival of the minesweeper to fill them in on all the recent details. Then we’ll be heading to Starbase Two for full repairs.

*****

Urrih, Enax, Lathena, Salok, and Tess Price all join me for a quick meal to recharge our batteries and de-stress. Now that the immediate threat to life and limb has receded, perhaps even disappeared, the consequences of the day once again return to mind.

The nervous, release-of-tension babbling in the turbolift has long since died down and all we can think about now are our losses.

I notice that I’m not the only one pushing their food around their plate in a half-hearted attempt to eat. The entire mess-hall is like that. All these crewmates stood down from damage control stations to rest up, and all of them – all of us – are sombre, reflective, subdued in our manner.

It feels like a funeral home.

Lathena finally breaks the silence. “I’m glad the captain got us out of there. The thought of us still being inside the minefield with all these megatons of explosives arrayed invisibly around us, for hours on end, even after the minesweeper's arrival… it would have been too much to bear.”

“Agreed,” Urrih speaks up next. “Even though I was terrified of running us into more mines, just doing something, taking control of our own lives, made it worth doing.”

He notices my surprise and gives me a wintry smile. “Yes, Andrew. Even though it was a terrible wear on my nerves, we can be proud of having gotten ourselves out of our mess, and we’ve – or at least I’ve – discovered something new about myself. I ran up against some of my limits – and found that I can push them further out.”

“Trial by fire,” I comment quietly.

“Yeah.”

“Random chance operated in our favour,” Salok contributes.

“Yes, we were lucky,” Tess translates, “but we are also good. Captain made a judgement call and it was good. I trust her judgement.”

“I agree with that,” Enax finally speaks up, albeit quietly.

“Me too,” Urrih chips in.

“X.O.?” Tess asks, surprised.

“Hmmm?” I reply, pretending to be lost in thought.

“You’ve known the captain longer than any of us, excepting Lieutenant Maknal. You trust her judgement, don’t you?”

“Oh, yes. Of course. She’s been proven right again in our ordeal here, which only reinforces that. It’s still my job to keep her honest, though.”

My answer is wordy and I deliberately don’t look at Urrih, though I see a momentary frown from the corner of my eye.

The others seem happy with my answer, but truth be told I’m still regaining my balance with trusting McCafferty. I think we’re both still recovering our balance with each other and while I’m not distrustful of her any more, I still feel I need to ride herd on her to make her consider options she’d rather not.

In short, I trust her more now, but I still don’t trust her all the way.

On the flip side of that, however, today’s trials have shown me both her increased trustworthiness of judgement and my own shortcomings still needing addressed.

Maybe you should still trust her more than you trust yourself. The thought is as unwelcome as it is obviously valid, based on my recent performance. At least she’s proven she was on top of this situation, my objective side continues. Sure, you still need to be an effective X.O. and make her think things through, but I think she’s earned more trust from you.

I consider it.

Grudgingly.

I refocus my attention on the group as Tess raises her cup in salute. “To the captain,” she toasts.

Everyone’s cup joins hers up in the air.

Even mine.

“The captain,” we all chorus seriously and gently touch our plastifoam cups together before taking a sip in her honour.

Our little moment and mood of bonhomie lasts for a whole minute of reflective silence, until Urrih finally addresses the issue we’ve probably all been shying away from.

“I can’t believe Jean-Phillipe is gone,” he sighs sadly, and again lapses into silence.

So true to form, Urrih.

Lathena immediately gets up, shoving her chair back in distress. “I’m sorry… I can’t…”

She falters there, tears welling in her eyes, and takes off towards the exit.

“Lathena! Sorry…” Urrih begins, looking miserable, but our comms officer pays him no heed and flees the room.

“Lathena is taking this very hard,” I say quietly. “Of our ten dead crewmates, two were from her department. Having only six people to begin with including herself, the communications group has just had a massive hole torn in it. Her crew were very close knit. They’ve known each other from years before I came aboard.”

“They were her friends,” Salok states more concisely. “It is understandable that Zha Aetheris would be distressed by their deaths.”

You know you’re long-winded when a Vulcan explanation is shorter than yours.

Enax spoke up quietly. “Daniel was my friend too. And he was off-duty in the Sensory. I sent him there to check out the sensor artefact clean-up algorithms. If I hadn’t—”

“Enax, don’t go down that path,” I break in gently but firmly. “If you hadn’t sent him, he’d have been in his quarters, or perhaps visiting a friend in Security, and been killed there too.”

“And he could just as easily have been in the Rec Room, in the science labs, or working on the bridge,” the Edoan retorts angrily, “where he’d have survived! Your words are of no comfort, Andrew. Words cannot help me feel better about the friend I sent to his death!”

“Enax…” Tess utters, placing a hand on his bony shoulder.

“Theresa— Look, I am sorry Andrew but… I cannot help the way I feel about this. I… I’d better go.”

He pushes up from the table but I offer him a parting thought.

“You sent Daniel there as part of routine duty. No one could know this would happen. Had we come in on a different approach vector we could have missed all the mines, or have had that same mine shear the bridge and science labs off.

“You sent no one to their death,” I bolt out at his half-turned back. “Like the captain said, this is a travesty caused by left-over aggression. Don’t blame yourself. Believe me, it’s the worst thing you can do.”

Enax turns and faces me fully at that, to find my eyes locked on his. He looks back for a moment. No one else speaks.

Finally he nods.

I’m remembering Ensign Susanna Saiz Medinger, one of my crewmates from my time on the Jugurtha, so perhaps it is showing on my face.

“I need some time alone,” he says anyway. Offering a nod to us all, he walks towards the exit, retracing Lathena’s steps.

Our table is getting more subdued and gloomy with each person leaving.

“Urrih, I don’t think bringing this up was a good idea,” Tess states quietly.

I have to agree with her.

Urrih shakes his head sadly. “People have to talk about this, get it out in the open. It can act like poison to your soul if you don’t.”

“Now that I agree with 100%,” I reply with deep feeling, “but it’s too soon, Urrih. It only just happened. People also need time to come to terms with their losses before they can start to deal with the aftermath.”

Urrih looks at the empty chairs around our table and his expression crumples further. “Perhaps you’re right. I just… need to talk about it myself right now.”

“I too regret the wasteful loss of our valued crewmates. I will regret being unable to share their company. Our time together was often mentally stimulating and entertaining.”

I stare at Salok in surprise close to shock. Perhaps I am misunderstanding what Vulcans actually are while people call them emotionless, but to me it sounds like our navigator is being unabashedly sentimental – if still outwardly in a Vulcan manner.

“I miss them too, Salok,” Tess says quietly. “Mrinal and Diogenes were good shipmates, good workers. Good men.” She stares at her food, half-eaten and now congealing on her plate.

“Jean-Phillipe went out a hero. Died the way he’d always wanted to,” Urrih states with a sad smile of his own.

I nod in agreement. “I hope I’m half as heroic when my time comes.”

Theresa looks at us both, puzzled. “I’ve not heard this. How did he die?”

Urrih answers as if he’s reading J.P.’s official Starfleet obituary. “Petty Officer 1st-Class Jean-Phillipe Ganascia, Security Division, U.S.S. Kusanagi, died heroically in the line of duty, saving three of his junior crewmates from horrible deaths in the explosive decompression of the Security section of his ship.”

“What?!” Tess exclaims, shocked. “What happened? Who did he save? Why didn’t he survive?”

“Our three critical patients in Sickbay are who he saved,” I fill her in on that score. “Bernt Brovold, Dora Bakoyannis, and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo—”

“Oh my God, Gloria?! She would have died?!” Tess breaks in, obviously shaken to her core.

“You hadn’t heard?” Urrih asks, surprised by the strength of her reaction.

She shakes her head, bewildered. “I… no. I was too busy with damage control. All I know is from the captain’s announcement. I’ve not had time to check the computer.”

Urrih and I exchange a look. “Tess, I’m – we’re – so sorry. We didn’t know. Gloria, Bernt, and Dora are critical yes, but they’re also stable. They’re in no immediate danger, and just need time to recover. They’ll all be okay.”

“I… I’d better go,” she says, nodding distractedly and getting up. “I need to see her. She’ll be wondering where I am…” She hurries off without a backward glance.

I pull a hand down over my face and rub my temples with the heels of my hands. Some particularly vile swear words echo around in my head, but I don’t let them out. I spear Urrih with a mild glare instead.

“Far too bloody soon.”

Maknal acknowledges the hit and looks away, chagrined.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2013, 08:57:25 am by Scottish Andy »
Come visit me at:  www.Starbase23.net

The Senior Service rocks! Rule, Britannia!

The Doctor: "Must be a spatio-temporal hyperlink."
Mickey: "Wot's that?"
The Doctor: "No idea. Just made it up. Didn't want to say 'Magic Door'."
- Doctor Who: The Woman in the Fireplace (S02E04)

2288

Offline Captain Sharp

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Re: Kusanagi #3
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2013, 09:49:57 pm »
As the Guv has oft commented 'pon, this place isn't very active these days; seem more lively cemeteries. Anyhoo, the show must go on. -per Andy

Indeed. Happens, sir. I have returned and am catching up. Had a funeral, wife lost a job and went ghost hunting in Kentucky to contend with. And no, the funeral was unrelated to the last item. Will comment when I have read what you've posted in entirety.

--guv

And hang in there, sir  :knuppel2:
"Jayne?"

"Yeah?"

"You wanna tell me why there's a statue of you here lookin' like I owe him something?"

"Wishin' I could, Captain. "

Offline Captain Sharp

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Re: Kusanagi #3
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2013, 10:31:13 pm »
Two very good chapters. Mr. Brown was quite easily comforted by the fact that the captain 'had a plan' about leaving the minefield, but I would not have been. Story makes me wanna borrow a bit from you to see how my Mirror characters would deal with such, but I'm currently busy ripping off another plotline, lol.

Still enjoying this one, and am assuming it isn't over.

Wanting more!

--guv
"Jayne?"

"Yeah?"

"You wanna tell me why there's a statue of you here lookin' like I owe him something?"

"Wishin' I could, Captain. "