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Crucible 3 [PLOT]

Posted on Mon Feb 19th, 2018 @ 3:42pm by Lieutenant Laree Desai & Lieutenant Savin Psy.D & Captain Malcom Llwyedd & Lieutenant JG Soto Gantt & Lieutenant JG Luka Stern & Lieutenant JG Jackson Smith & Petty Officer 3rd Class Gianna Djokovic & Lieutenant Commander Jörgen Leed & Petty Officer 1st Class Kipp Lak
Edited on on Mon Mar 12th, 2018 @ 5:47pm

Mission: Mission 2: Echoes of the Dominion
Location: Suylea System
Timeline: 2 June, 2394 - 2230 Hours

Continued from "Crucible 2"

[ON]

[Suylea Control Station]

Arba held her gaze on the Starfleet diplomat, considering his words.

Behind her, on the viewscreen, the Creedaccelerated.

"Founder!" One of the Jem'Hadar yelled and Arba turned in time to watch the collision of the patrol craft and the Starfleet carrier. The explosion filled the screen, washed over the Firebird, and dissipated, leaving behind an impressive debris cloud. The Monterey oblivious of its near destruction, continued on its way. The remaining two Jem'Hadar patrol craft were withdrawing, being harried by one of the remaining flights of fighters.

Arba turned back around. "You have hidden depths, Mr. Leed. I will agree to let your ships withdraw and not pursue them with my remaining patrol ships in return for the Federation agreeing to not enter our space here again. It is a simple offer and I make it once."

Tearing his gaze from the stricken Creed and it's Jem'Hadar-infected hull took a great deal of emotional effort. Jörgen would remember this one too well. One more horrible moment indelibly recorded in memory. He faced the Founder. "Our ships, crew and property will leave without interference. Our property, too, including the medical records of Starfleet personnel. They can be loaded onto the shuttle. Then I agree that the Federation will not return to this system."

The founder's face shimmered for a moment. "Very well. Your terms are acceptable. You will return to your shuttle and wait for the records to be loaded. Then you will leave. And you should hope that you never see my face again or for you it will be the end of all things, Commander Leed."

She turned her back on them, watching the last gasp of the battle unfold. "Kelbon, have all forces withdraw to a safe distance. Tell Gul Riyat to meet me in my chambers immediately. We have things to discuss."

[USS Creed- Bridge]

Commander Korrd blinked smoke from his eyes. The bridge was thick with it--Asha coughed over her console, her left arm folded close to her chest as though she were protecting a broken bone. With her right, she worked the tactics console. He shook his head to clear it--he was on his knees, and his mustache dripped purple blood to the deck-plates below. A pair of black boots appeared, then a hand on his shoulder, pulling him to his feet.

"Can you stand? I need you at Ops."

Korrd focused on Vikk Stern's face as he rose to his own feet with a growl. Could he, a Klingon warrior, stand? By the Victorious Dead he would stand! He took a step, wobbled... then another, and was at Ops, as his captain slid into the vacant seat at Helm.

The central viewscreen was cracked, a black rectangle giving them nothing.

"Status." Stern coughed. Korrd saw the Helm had power but no data--Stern was firing maneuvering thrusters opposite the crash vector, to prevent the Jem'Hadar cruiser from doing more damage. The science officer was using a dermal regenerator on the navigator, whose uniform was a mass of green blood as the Vulcan gasped around a throat wound.

"The final turrets have been eliminated, sir." Asha's voice strained and cracked. "Medical teams are reporting in. Twelve casualties. Fifteen..."

As Asha went on, Korrd knew the litany of their wounds was not what Vikk most wanted to know. He transferred Sensors to Ops. The Firebird was listing--buffeted in the explosion--but her running lights were on. The Monterrey seemed intact. As Asha finished her report of how many marines joined the Victorious Dead in this battle, Korrd opened a channel.

"Firebird. Status," he growled.

Savin, viewscreen... Jerant switched to telepathy as that was much quicker and his friend wouldn't need line of sight.

"tennuS!," Luka gasped in Klingon as Commander Korrd's bloody face filled the screen.

The Romulan turned to face the screen. He sighed, breath escaping in a hiss as he acknowledged the call. "I cannot hear you," he told the older man, then waved over to someone near by. "Ensign Stern, please update the captain...you are better suited than I to give this information."

"Sir," Luka acknowledged. Her voice shook as she read the information from the panel before her, fighting to do her duty, though she desperately wanted to ask about the crew of the Creed. "Multiple hull breaches. Multiple injuries. Main power has fallen to 32%. Weapons offline. Life support at 65%." They had been buffeted ferociously by the impact of the Jem'Hadar patrol ship into the side of the super carrier, but how much worse would the damage have been had the Creed not been there to take the blow? She wouldn't be sitting here right now giving the report. Luka started shaking and couldn't stop. Bappu...

"It is good to hear your voice, my little targ," Korrd said. "We cannot see you. Are you all right?"

Who did he mean by 'we'? Luka wondered. Was everyone alright? She looked to her commanding officer, as if asking permission to answer, then said, "Yes. I'm okay. Is--?"

Rough Klingon laughter, tinged with relief, filled the bridge. It was not entirely unlike Luka's startlingly loud laugh, and led one to wonder if it wasn't Korrd from whom she'd learned it. "Vikk Stern is tougher than a Fek'lhr. The bridge crew is--" he looked around the bridge, as if taking careful stock of the condition of the personnel. "--bloodied, but ready for battle, if needed."

Luka hoped that readiness wasn't called for.

"This is Stern." Her father's voice came from somewhere behind Korrd. It was a relief to hear him. She wished she could see him. "We have lost visual data--link your sensors to ours so we can take stock."

A heartbeat, then Luka remembered she was at the science station and could follow her father's command. She looked again to Savin for confirmation, then allowed the Creed to patch into the Firebird's array. It was strange to know that she and Bappu were tethered like this, as though each of them held a paper cup attached by a string. That was a strange thought, Luka realized. She felt her head. She wasn't bleeding, but there was a lump above her right temple. She must have hit it in the turbulence. No matter. Others had it much worse. Unbidden, her eyes sought Gantt's.

Those three words, "This is Stern," broke Gantt's concentration from the console where he had been playing a frenetic game of patch-the-critical-failure-before-it-blows. He looked at the viewscreen even though it had no picture. In many ways the captain was the ship. This gave proof the Creed had survived a blow that would surely have killed the Firebird. Gantt looked at Luka. Their eyes locked. He heaved a deep breath of relief, and smiled, then he put his hands together, pressing the palms as in prayer and nodded to her.

Savin simply nodded, feeling completely out of his element here. "Captain Stern, I am Lieutenant Savin. Captain Llwyedd has been injured. As senior officer, I defer to you, what are your orders?"

"Our sickbay was damaged in the attack. If the Firebird has any personnel or equipment to spare, we could use your assistance," replied Captain Stern's cultured, British accent.

Luka reviewed over the Firebird's capability to assist the Creed. "Yes, sir," she replied, not quite certain, but reasonably so. She looked at Gia hopefully. "Give us coordinates of your wounded and we will beam over who can be moved, and send who we have to spare to help with whomever can't be moved." Luka felt odd and brave and uncertain if she was breaking a chain of command. She looked at Savin, then Nurse Beddite for approval.

"I will take Captain Llwyedd to sickbay and then arrange for the EMH program to return to the Firebird to assist with the incoming casualties," Nurse Beddite said. "And I will draft members of the crew who have medical training to beam over to the Creed. Come on, sir," she said and helped the captain to his feet.

"Why is everything so spinny," Malcom said in a thick voice.

Nurse Beddite patted him on the arm as she helped him to sickbay. "Never fear, sir. You'll be right as rain soon. Oh," she said to Lieutenant Savin. "I'll send Commander Han up to take charge here. She's already starting to crawl up the walls." The two disappeared into the turbolift, leaving the remainder of the bridge crew behind.

Savin breathed a sigh of relief as he allowed himself to sink down in the captain's chair. "Thank you...and I have some medical training, if you need assistance." He felt so out of place, he just wanted to go back to where he belonged: his office.

[USS Monterey, Cargo Bay 1]

In the end, a spaceship is nothing more than a bubble in the void. The skin of that spaceship as fragile as the bilayer membrane of soap surrounding the warm air. People make spaceships on a scale that makes sense to people--the strength of the skin made to withstand the strength of the weapons. Or not. But all made by people.

In the end, a stasis pod is nothing more than a bubble in time. The instruments of the stasis pod as complex as the lattus of atoms in a crystal of silicon dioxide. People make stasis pods for reasons that make sense to people--and then people use those pods in circumstances the designers perhaps never imagined. But all by, and for, people.

Desai sat cross-legged on the metal plates on the floor of Cargo Bay One, on the USS Starship the Monterey. She sat within one bubble and outside another. The skin of the bubble she was in--she didn't know how strong it was. She didn't know how long that thin membrane of soap would hold together in the lurching and the pounding and the groaning. She tried hard not to imagine the bubble popping.

Instead, she manipulated the instruments that maintained the bubble in front of her, resting on the metal plates on the floor of Cargo Bay One. Inside a person floated, time parting like water in a stream and flowing around the sanctuary of the stasis pod. Sanctuary. Prison. From the Latin and Old French, respectively. A holy laying on of hands.

Outside in space, people were working to destroy the integrity of the spaceship bubble. If those people succeeded, she would die. Here in Cargo Bay One, she was working to destroy the integrity of the stasis pod bubble. If she succeeded, the person floating inside would die, too. He was already dead--the complex network of connections between him and his family, his work, his place--everything that made a life more than just complex chemical reactions--all of that, destroyed by the time that flowed around his prisonsancutary. Time was like water: nothing was more pliable, but for attacking the solid and strong, it had no equal.

A holy laying on of hands. Could she resurrect this man who was already dead? Would he thank her for trying? Her spaceship, a tiny bubble floating among galactic monsters, fields of energy against which she and her spaceship and the entire battle raging outside wouldn't show up as even a blip. And yet, they fought so hard. She, Desai, was fighting a raging battle against the fear that she would die. The internal battle consumed her, and it was in the fight itself where the answer lay.

The will to live. She would measure that against the energy of the galactic core, and the Milky Way would throw its arms wide in submission.

The man inside the bubble was dead, but he wanted to be alive. And Desai was bound by laws as unbreakable as the laws of thermodynamics. She had to try. To restore him to life--she had to try.

And so she laid her hands upon the soap-thin surface of the stasis pod, and worked the instruments to bring him to life. It was the only thing holy that she believed in.

[USS Monterey- Bridge]

=^=All Dominion vessels. This is Chief Administrator Kelbon. By order of the Founders, you are to cease all hostilities and fall back. This conflict has been resolved=^=

Karen sagged back into the captain's chair, completely exhausted. Lieutenant t'Aegis had been keeping her apprised of the battle as it unfolded in their wake. She'd watched on the viewscreen as the Creed had been savaged by the Jem'Hadar patrol ship. She knew that the Firebird had also suffered but now all three ships were limping towards the edge of the Suylea system. It's over she thought.

On the main viewscreen the tumble of asteroids glittered one last time and then only the blackness of space lay in front of them.

"Max, can we make warp speed?" Karen asked. She felt like she could sleep for days.

Could they? That was a good question, Max thought. Honestly, he was surprised full impulse hadn't caused the Monterey to shake apart. He turned the question over in his mind carefully while examining the incoming data from engineering and the computers he'd recently erased and reloaded. By some sort of miracle, everything checked out. What he was reading told him yes. "Yes, ma'am," he said, hoping the order would not come. He did not want to end his first flight as a pilot by exploding.

Karen hauled herself to her feet. She ran her hands through her hair, smoothing it. "Mr. Tragar, warp one if you please. Let's get these people home. Engage."

The impulse engines cut out and the Monterey floated free for a moment. Behind it, the Firebird and Creed were lined up in a neat line, leaving the cluttered Suylea system behind them, glimmering in yellow light. Then, as if shaking off a long winter's sleep, the Nebula class ship pivoted and jumped to warp. Towards home.

[OFF]

[END OF MISSION 2]

Captain Malcom Llwyedd
Commanding Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Crewman Gianna Djokovic
Security Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Lieutenant Kedra Nema
Chief Engineering Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Lieutenant Junior Grade Gantt Soto
Structural/Environmental Specialist
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Lieutenant Laree Desai
Chief Science Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Lieutenant Junior Grade Luka Stern
Alien Archaeologist/Anthropologist
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Lieutenant Savin Psy.D
Chief Counselor
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Lieutenant Commander Jörgen Leed
Chief Diplomatic Officer
NPC (by Soto Gantt)

Petty Officer 1st Class Kipp Lak
Yeoman
NPC (by Captain Llwyedd)

 

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Comments (4)

By Lieutenant JG Soto Gantt on Wed Feb 28th, 2018 @ 5:50am

And so it ends. A wild, crazy post with so many people involved it almost should not have worked. And yet it did.

By Lieutenant Laree Desai on Thu Mar 1st, 2018 @ 1:23am

This entire series of JPs is extraordinary. A cast of, what, 17 writers?, all working together to create a story that I will come back to, again and again, to revel in and celebrate. I think all of us are different writers - better writers - now than we were before this series of JPs. I know I certainly am. The crew has bonded no more than we have bonded as writers. Captain, you are a maestro, directing a huge orchestra through a complex symphony - allowing for just the right amount of improvisation within the structure. And you pulled it off. We all pulled it off. It's chilling and thrilling and smart and funny and complex and heroic and... Unique. *This* is why we write together. Because it's better than any of us could have done on our own. Thank you all for allowing me to be part of something big and beautiful and brilliant.

By Lieutenant Commander Yumi Han on Sat Mar 10th, 2018 @ 11:07pm

Woo! Diplomacy wins the day. :D

This was such a Klingon moment, it made me LOL: "Could he, a Klingon warrior, stand? By the Victorious Dead he would stand!" And I loved this description from Luka, too: "tethered like this, as though each of them held a paper cup attached by a string."

I felt for Savin, thrown into a situation he never wanted. It makes his character unique in wanting to stick to what he does best.

The whole passage by Desai is poetic and beautiful. I love the analogy of bubbles in time and space, and I admire how tightly those themes are used and reused in that section. "Inside a person floated, time parting like water in a stream and flowing around the sanctuary of the stasis pod." -- a vivid description that made the idea of a person frozen in the passage of time pop in my head.

Mission 2 took many interesting twists and turns, and its a story I will always remember. As I will always remember the diverse and interesting characters and writers involved in shaping it for so long. Thank you all!

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Max Tragar on Mon Apr 16th, 2018 @ 8:29pm

Wonderful job, everyone. Loved this series of posts so much--everyone writing their fingers off and really trying to show the dramatic tension and action. Nice work!