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Thread: Star Trek RPG - Mission #1: "On the Brink"

  1. #551
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    Collins has a good swim and a good bake in the sauna, but doesn't see Ens. Cooper.

    Fujishiro looks over the sensor data again very thoroughly, and makes this entry:

    Sciences Log, supplemental, Ens. Fujishiro recording. I have found no more Zheng rays in the sensor records since the incident of which Science Officer Roble spoke yesterday to the Captain. I remain puzzled. In my best judgment, there is probably at least one, maybe two, other ships in orbit over Banij Prime, using an unusual form of cloaking device and maintaining very good, although not perfect, emissions control. Whoever it is has not made the same mistake twice about being spotted either by occultations of stars or leaks of telltale radiation while the Yorktown is in a position to locate them.

    She forwards her findings to the comm accounts of Roble and Hayes, and goes to bed.

    Hayes has a relatively good night's sleep before descending into a vivid nightmare about being chased by a threatening figure, the details of which she can't quite remember when she awakes in a cold sweat. The chrono by her bedside says it's 0316 hours. It is more than an hour before she can fall back asleep. In the morning she is still vaguely troubled.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 07 Jan 2011 at 10:39 PM.

  2. #552
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    Delaney says out loud, "I wonder if we will be relieved by security soon? I would like to at least help analyze that device."

  3. #553
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    All of you had been relieved by Security and joined the Captain for debriefing at the conclusion of the second day's negotiations, and then been dismissed for the night. (See the end of post 547).

    The next morning at 0602, Thalen contacts each of you and asks you to report on the double to Conference Room 1. You find the Captain and First Officer already there, looking grim. Vargas says, "There was an attempted military coup about five hours ago in the Soj-Banij capital. Mr. Thalen has analyzed broadcasts over the state broadcasting nets, as well as military communications, and it appears that First Citizen Treggint is still in control, at least for the moment. It looks like he's facing considerable resistance from some in his government to his peace policy."

    Singh says, "Old habits of militarism can be hard to break, and I suspect there are powerful vested interests who don't want to end the low-level hostilities that have persisted so long with the Na. I spoke with Treggint a few minutes ago and he wants today's session to proceed as planned, but his Foreign Minister, Gregel, will lead the Soj delegation instead. I have the impression that the First Citizen needs to remain in the capital to ensure his hold on power. Recommendations...?"

    After the discussion, the Captain grants permission for Delaney to be excused from the day's diplomatic session to conduct his analysis. "I suppose you don't all need to be there again today, although I hope it's been a useful experience for you all to see how slow and tedious the diplomatic grind can sometimes be," she says. "But if anyone else would like to be excused, speak up."
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 09 Jan 2011 at 12:26 AM.

  4. #554
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    Ens. Hayes reads Fujishiro's log entry with great interest. Once again, she is reminded of Romulans and Klingons and their cloaking technology. Or there could be an as yet unknown entity in their midst.

    While others might find the "diplomatic grind" slow and tedious, Hayes finds all aspects of it fascinating and can't wait for the next session to begin. She tries -- and fails -- to forget about last night's nightmare.

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    Collins frowns internally - she thought she was due for two days off; but the Banij negotiations are important, so she keeps her mouth shut.

  6. #556
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    Given the deadend she's apparently stuck in with Zheng radiation, Fujishiro will be fine working the diplomacy.

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    The delegates are beamed back up to the Yorktown and the negotiations resume on schedule that day, still under tight security.

    Soj Foreign Minister Gregel, an older and rather haggard-looking Banij, apologizes to the other delegates for his leader's absence, saying, "Recent events have shown that the First Citizen's commitment to peace is obviously not without risks, but he is certain that it is worth the effort, and wishes to proceed with our meeting today. I agree with him that we should let no one stop us in our determination to build a better world for all of our peoples, now and for all time." Singh, Ged and the other Banij welcome him warmly, and soon the VIPs and diplomats are getting down to the nitty-gritty of walking back both the Na and Soj nations from the brink of war.

    With the Captain's permission, Delaney beams aboard the gas bomb - for that is what he determines it to be - to a secure Engineering lab, and safely disables it. He locks the gas cylinder in an airtight storage box. He has no more success than Fujishiro in determining who might have made the device.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 10 Jan 2011 at 11:34 PM.

  8. #558
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    Brownlock goes back to the MedLab to further study the toxin. He realizes Fujishiro raised an excellent point - was the DNA engineered by the Na, or by someone else who wants to target them?

  9. #559
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    Dr. Brownlock believes that the gaseous neurotoxin is probably, although not necessarily, too sophisticated to have been bioengineered by the Banij themselves, but he has to admit he doesn't know everything about their sciences. He and Dr. Villa discuss his findings at length.

    Delaney is asked by Chief Engineer Cheverez to take a look at the latest deuterium fuel-consumption reports to suggest possible emergency conservation measures.

    With the Captain's permission, Pourtash also excuses himself from the negotiations, and instead stands a watch on the Bridge. Lt. JG Bennett is in the big chair. Thalen, at the Communications post, is still monitoring Banij military and civilian comm traffic, as earlier ordered.

    By late afternoon the alien leaders and diplomats have made considerable progress, and take a break for refreshments. Singh is talking to Fujishiro, Hayes and Brownlock about how things are going when the intercom's bosuns's whistle sounds. "Bridge to Captain."

    She strides over to a bulkhead comm panel and hits the white button. "Singh here."

    "Thalen here, Captain. There is an unconfirmed report on Na-Banij state media that the Soj leader, Treggint, has been deposed in a coup. His whereabouts are currently unknown. The Soj military has gone to a high state of alert and martial law has been declared."

    Singh sighs and rubs her eyes. "Damn it. Any response from the Na yet?"

    "No, Captain."

    Moments later, there is an outbreak of quiet chirps and other tones from around the negotiating table, and virtually every Banij leader pulls out his or her personal communications device. Soon there is a cacophony of discussion as everyone reacts to the news from the surface. Singh huddles with Ged, the Na national leader, and Gregel, the top Soj diplomat present.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 13 Jan 2011 at 11:26 PM.

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    Delaney happily throws himself into the deuterium fuel-consumption reports and starts by doing a search of Engineering Journals for deuterium fuel-consumption articles. He then begins a full analysis, planning a fun night of running stats and possibly writing algorithms to find some suggestions from past usage and trends.

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    Since he's on watch Pourtash will scan for any further detail on the Soj military response in addition to the communications Thalen is monitoring, just in case there are further details to corroborate the reports.
    So now they are just dirt-covered English people in fur pelts with credit cards.

  12. #562
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    Ens. Hayes lets out a sigh of frustration. Though not entirely unexpected, this turn of events is a real let down after the negotiations had been going so well. Rachel does not envy the captain right now. Peace is never easy, she thinks to herself. Nothing worthwhile ever is.

  13. #563
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    Delaney finds his work quite engrossing. The Starfleet Engineering Journal and the civilian Warp Drive Sciences Digest both have articles which might prove useful.

    Pourtash is in the thick of things on the Bridge; Thalen is glad to have your input. It is becoming clear that things are going from bad to worse on the Banij homeworld.

    Down in the meeting room, the diplomats chatter away. After ten minutes or so it becomes clear that most of the Banij want to be returned to their respective capitals as soon as possible, although several seem a little reluctant to leave (Hayes suspects it's because they realize they're safer aboard the Yorktown than they will be down on the planet). Singh stands and says, "Anyone who wishes to return to the surface is free to do so, of course; we won't hold you here against your will. But I hope some of you, at least, will choose to...."

    The bosun's whistle sounds, and she goes to the intercom again. "Singh here. Report."

    From the Bridge, Lt. JG Bennett says, "Mr. Thalen has news from the Soj capital, ma'am. It's a speech on all channels by the new First Citizen, whose name is Velgeb; we just recorded it. I'll put it through...."

    There is a crackle of static, and you hear a harsh voice saying, "People of Soj-Banij, and of the world! The military and security forces of our great nation, refusing to throw away the honor of Soj, and sworn to be forever hostile to the aggression and perfidy of the cloners of Na, have risen up and forced the traitor Treggint from power. The High Command has appointed me as your new First Citizen, and I now stand ready to face and overcome the challenges of a global emergency. A new day has dawned for our great people, a day of pride, of national purpose, of unity in the face of presumptuous offworlders, their cloner allies and other weak-willed Banij who would dictate terms to us. Of course we will not let them! Never, no, never will we yield! We will reclaim our place as the preeminent nation of this world, and...."

    Bennett cuts in and says, "It goes on like that for awhile, Captain. Treggint has apparently been killed in the coup. Most of his top advisors have been arrested or gone into hiding. There have been anti-government riots in several Soj cities, and a crackdown is underway. Soj forces are now at highest alert, and Foreign Minister Gregel and his aides been recalled to the capital."

    All eyes turn to the diplomat, who seems to have aged years just in the time it took Bennett to report.

    "Captain," he says, his voice cracking, "I request asylum aboard your ship." His two aides quickly echo him.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 14 Jan 2011 at 10:25 PM.

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    Collins is not surprised by the news, given the combative nature of the Soj. She suggests to the Captain that the Banij who wish to remain aboard be assigned bodyguards.
    Last edited by anyrose; 14 Jan 2011 at 11:51 PM.

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    Singh says to Gregel, "Subject to the approval of the Federation, which I expect will be forthcoming, I hereby grant you and your aides asylum."

    Upon hearing Collins's suggestion, she nods. "See to it, Mr. Collins. Assign them non-adjoining quarters and post guards outside each. They're not restricted to quarters, but should remain under guard wherever they go. Escort those who wish to beam down to the Transporter Room at once." To Hayes she says, "Liaise with Mr. Thalen, and see that Gregel and his aides have full communications access to their friends and allies in the Soj government. If they can help restore the lawful government, or slow down this rush to war, so much the better."

    Ged, the Na leader, and her aides are particularly eager to return to the surface. "I must be with my people, Captain," she says. "The new self-styled First Citizen, Velgeb, is no friend to Na-Banij, and some of his cronies in the High Command are even worse. I fear that war may soon be upon us."

    "If it comes, ma'am, I hope you will do your best to limit its scope," the Captain says earnestly. "You must not allow a fusion war that would knock your world back to the stone age at the very time it's poised to reach the stars."

    The Banij woman looks shaken by recent events. "I fully understand, and I agree with your sentiments, but I can make no promises, Captain. I must and will defend my people, whatever the cost." Collins sees to it that her party is the first to beam down.

    Of the eleven Banij delegations, seven beam down, and four remain aboard: the Soj; the Dunas- and Yemi-Banij, both of which were aligned with the Na; and the resolutely neutral Yed-Banij, who had little to say during the previous negotiations.

    After the Yorktown changes its orbit to beam down the seven delegations, Science Officer Roble notifies Fujishiro that Zheng rays have again been detected by the ship's sensors. He has begun an analysis of the readings.

    The Captain asks you all to join her on the Bridge, and asks for recommendations.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 15 Jun 2011 at 02:59 PM.

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    Fujishiro will help Roble analysis the newest Zheng data. She will focus finding an orbit that matches the locations. Would deploying more sensor probes be helpful?

    She advises Singh, "Captain, I don't know how many resources we wish to commit or how long we plan to remain here, but we may want to deploy satellites to give us early warning of missile launches. Both for our own protection, but also to give us a good opportunity to neutralize attacks among the Banij factions."

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    Collins has a very bad feeling about recent developments. Her gut has been churning since the Yorktown learned of the coup. "Captain," Collins chooses her words carefully, "while no one wants war, could it not be viewed as the natural course of events on Banij, and therefore against the Prime Directive for us to actively prevent any attacks?"

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    "Captain, with your permission, I'd like to assist the Banij who remain on board -- make them as comfortable as possible under the circumstances and keep things as stress free as possible." She pauses a moment, then continues. "After helping Lt. Thalen with communications, of course."

    Hayes has been thinking about Pev and how he's doing right now. Clone or not, she feels a connection to Pev and is worried about him.

  19. #569
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    Fujishiro realizes that the multipurpose satellites already deployed, added to the Yorktown's own sensors, are sufficient to keep an eye on every square kilometer of Banij Prime. After an intensive analysis, she and Roble conclude that there is most likely a single cloaked or otherwise concealed ship in orbit, within approximately 200 kilometers. It is almost certainly less than a fourth the Yorktown's size. The readings seem to indicate that its orbital pattern, including altitude and velocity, has changed at least eight times since your ship arrived in orbit itself.

    The Captain says to Hayes, "Yes, you may remain with the Banij belowdecks. Keep in touch with Mr. Thalen, and let me know if the Banij wish to speak to me further."

    After Hayes leaves, Singh leans back in her command chair, looking pensive. "Mr. Collins is entirely correct to raise the issue of the Prime Directive. I must admit, it's been on my mind for the past several days. The Banij are a less-advanced society, true, but they've also achieved warp drive, or we wouldn't have made first contact in the first place. And if this cloaked ship weren't here, I wonder if events would be unfolding as they are."

    Vargas nods. "I've asked myself if they're just passive observers, or somehow mixed up or even intervening in what's going on below."

    Singh asks, "Any other thoughts on our options, or responsibilities, given the requirements of the Prime Directive, gentlemen?"
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 18 Jan 2011 at 01:14 AM.

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    Fujishiro addresses Singh, "Captain, given that the Banij are now aware of interstellar civilization, and that there appears to be another advanced ship in this system, I think it is too late to decide not to interact with them. It is our duty to promote the ideals of the Federation."

    "Also, Captain, although we have not definitively detected it, the bulk of evidence indicates there is a cloaked ship of unknown intent and capabilities near the Yorktown. Data also indicates the device planted on board is possibly beyond the capabilities of any Banij faction. I think we should be taking stringent security precautions against covert actions against us or our guests."

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    Delaney, "I concur Captain, we appear to be past the prime directive and into the realm of diplomacy with another interstellar people. I am very nervous about the unknown ship and fear that some of the Banij have already had contact with a more advance group of people on the sly."

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    "There is some other factor here besides Banij civil war," Brownlock observes. "Zheng rays, a possible cloaked ship, and the bioengineering of a toxin that is beyond their level of sophistication. Someone or something else has to be affecting this situation."

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    The Captain thanks you for your suggestions. She orders Vargas to double the guard on the Banij who remained aboard.

    An hour passes, and then two. Late in the watch, Thalen reports to the Captain, "Soj-Banij propaganda is becoming increasingly hostile towards the Na, sir, and it was pretty bad before. The new regime seems to have consolidated its grip on power. There've been no other references to civil unrest in the Soj cities, or resistance within the military, security or intelligence services to Velgeb's and his colleagues' orders."

    Then the sensor alert light on the console between Pourtash and Bennett begins to blink.

    Fujishiro, at the Sciences I station, sees new data - appalling in its implications - pour across the display screens. She says, "Captain, ship's sensors are detecting a massive launch of missiles from Soj territory and also, apparently, from at least ten oceanic warships as well. There are 130... 150... almost 200 missiles now in boost phase."

    "Targets?" Singh asks, already knowing the answer.

    Collins is closely studying the data at the Security station. She's eerily reminded of books she's read about the early hours of Earth's World War III. She says, "All targets are within Na borders, or those of its closest allies. Each missiles is bearing between one and eight high-yield fusion warheads."

    Singh asks calmly, "Projected casualties?"

    Collins had run a simulation several days earlier, and this is about as bad as she'd expected. "For a fullscale attack like this, ma'am... between 150 and 200 million Banij."

    Dr. Brownlock says, "There would be severe ecological damage, as well, Captain. Radiation poisoning and subsequent famine would kill many more." He is horrified by what he sees. Such a waste... such insanity....

    Delaney quietly adds, "And if the Na reply in kind, it could be far worse."

    "Damn it," the Captain says with feeling. "Mr. Thalen, hail the Soj government."

    "Aye, sir... no response."

    "Keep trying on all channels. Set up a repeating signal. Also, hail the Na chief of state."

    "Aye, sir. Contact established... um... it's an aide. He says Chairwoman Ged is unavailable. She's on her way to a secure command center and is out of contact at the moment."

    "Let's hope she remembers what we talked about," Singh mutters just loud enough for Pourtash and Bennett to hear. She gently pounds her clenched fist on the arm of her chair. "How long until missile apogee, Mr. Collins?"

    The Security officer checks a readout. "For the earliest-launched of them, 9 minutes, 39 seconds, Captain. Mark."

    The Captain is silent for a moment. The Bridge is quiet except for the sound of the control panels and the soft murmuring of reports from belowdecks. She stands. "Red Alert, Mr. Thalen." The klaxon begins to sound. "Advise Mr. Hayes of the situation. Raise shields, Mr. Pourtash."

    "Aye, sir," the helmsman replies, moving to comply.

    Singh raises her voice. "Gentlemen, I refuse to concede that the Prime Directive requires me to stand idly by and permit a sentient race to virtually annihilate itself. I'm going to do my best to stop this... monstrosity. Anyone who, in good conscience, believes my decision to be illegal or wrong should leave the Bridge at once. You will not be disciplined for doing so."

    She looks around....
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 19 Jan 2011 at 11:55 PM.

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    Delaney shouts, "Hell No Ma'am, lets blast those missiles and stop this immediately." He starts procedures to be ready to divert extra power to phasers, shields and tractor beams. When completed, "Captain, The Yorktown is ready power is amped up for phasers, shields and tractor beams."

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    Leaving the offensive and defensive procedures to those most skilled in implementing them, Fujishiro closely monitors all available sensors and sensor probes for Zheng rays and other indications of a cloaked ship. "On station, Captain."

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    "My calling is to preserve life," Brownlock says. "I'm with you all the way, Captain."

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    The thought of leaving the bridge doesn't cross his mind. Instead, Pourtash only breathes in relief to hear Captain Singh is taking action.

    "Shields up and weapons ready, Captain."

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    Science Officer Roble looks stricken. "Captain, I fully understand your decision, and I appreciate the gravity of the situation, but... I cannot participate in this. I believe your plan violates the Prime Directive, which I swore an oath to uphold, as you did."

    Command Subsystems Crewman Nahida Farunia, a Kuwaiti woman, is near tears. She says with obvious reluctance, "I agree with Lt. Cmdr. Roble. I'm sorry, Captain."

    Singh says quietly, "I understand. It's all right. You're both relieved of duty for... one hour. Confine yourselves to quarters for that time. Dismissed."

    They leave the Bridge at once, and the Captain snaps off a rapid-fire series of orders: "Mr. Bennett, Mr. Pourtash, take us directly over Na territory; move the ship as may be most advantageous to stop the missile barrage. Mr. Collins, lock phasers on the earliest-launched missiles when they're at or near their apogee points, and fire at will; use photon torpedoes on any particular dense groupings, as you see fit. Mr. Delaney, see if you can use the tractor beam to make any missiles not currently under fire collide with each other, and maintain full power to the shields. Mr. Fujishiro, try to foul their guidance systems with electronic countermeasures, if possible. Dr. Brownlock, run continuous scans for radiation exposure, either from the detonated warheads, or on the Zheng emission wavelengths."

    Vargas adds, "Mr. Thalen, keep trying to get through to the Na and Soj leadership."

    You each waste no time in carrying your orders.

    Belowdecks, Ens. Hayes asks the Banij who are still aboard to reassemble in the meeting room, and explains what's going on. The diplomats and dignitaries have about a million questions, and she answers them as best she can.

    Soon the orbital space outside the Yorktown is ablaze with detonating missiles, and the viewports automatically dim. For Hayes it is a dazzling but terrible sight to behold.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 21 Jan 2011 at 12:15 AM.

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    Collins is enjoying the target shoot. She is reminded of the late 20th Century video games she'd read about and wonders if they offered the same thrill she is feeling now.

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    Delaney enjoys the task at hand. Nudging missiles off course and into each other is a unique opportunity to test the capabilities of the system and reviewing the job later should reveal some useful information.

    "Captain, I suggest transporter crews standby to try and lock onto any missiles that make it past the phasers, once back in atmosphere, even phasering them is likely to lead to some radioactive fallout." He keeps an eye out for the same to assist with tractors.

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    The Banij on board are quite upset with what's happening. Hayes listens to many strident vocalizations from them -- a few of which she's never heard before. She tells them, "I'm heading to the Bridge now. I'll return shortly with more information for you."

    Upon reaching the Bridge, Ens. Hayes gives the Captain a brief report. "I'd like to stay with our Banij guests, Captain, if not needed here." She looks about her. "I agree with your decision one hundred percent, Captain. What are your orders?"

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    There is a satisfaction for Pourtash in using all of his training to keep the ship maneuvered for maximum strategic advantage. The destruction of the missiles and the death they could cause is rather chilling, however.

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    Fujishiro concentrates ECM efforts at the missiles still in boost phase since active guidance is minimal once they've gone ballistic. She'll use electromagnetic pulses to try to overload electronics, gravimetric pulses to try to confuse inertial navigation, and x-rays beams to disable solid-state devices. She'll try to keep intensities low and sweep angles small to minimize collateral damage to the surface, but won't hesitate to ask Singh's permission if she thinks the current effectiveness is hampered too much.

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    Pourtash and Bennett have to move the Yorktown just three times; in its current synchronous orbit over Na territory the ship is well-positioned to block the incoming missiles. The helmsman keys the Tactical display on the Bridge main viewscreen. The cool blue Mercator projection of the Banij homeworld is now overlaid with a spiderweb of ominous trajectory lines.

    Collins's hands are practically a blur over the phaser ops console as she targets the missiles, fires, confirms kills and repeats the process, over and over again. She soon loses count and finds herself acting on instinct; her aim is true again and again. Cmdr. Vargas is at her elbow, and now and then quietly points out a missile that seems to be slipping past.

    Delaney does well with the tractor beam, as well. Some of the apparently older, one-warhead missiles actually come apart as the beam takes hold of them, and he decides to leave them alone so as not to spill any more fissile material in low orbit than is necessary. He advises his colleagues of this, and they acknowledge. Singh agrees with his proposal about using the transporters, and orders Chief Harrison and the other transporter specialists to stand by.

    Capt. Singh thanks Hayes for her expression of support and says, "By all means, stay with our guests, Ensign. Mr. Thalen, set up a data relay to the meeting room so that she and the Banij diplomats can keep posted on what's going on."

    "Aye, sir," says the Andorian.

    Fujishiro has mixed results with X-ray beams, but EM and gravimetric pulses seem to be more effective, especially with the larger, eight-warhead missiles. The oceanic-launched missiles prove to be especially robust, however, and she brings this to the attention of Delaney, who's only too happy to knock them into each other with the tractor beam.

    Dr. Brownlock notes relatively high and still-rising levels of gamma, theta and M-radiation in the planetary exosphere and in low orbit. He knows that blindness is a real risk for any Banij or animals who are watching from below; radiation burns are less likely but possible, depending on sensitivity and proximity.

    Vargas says to Singh, "The Na have been showing commendable restraint. There've been no missile launches from any Na base or ship yet."

    She nods. "The Chairwoman knows we're up to the task, I hope. Any luck contacting her yet, Mr. Thalen?"

    "No, sir, nor for the Soj leadership. Still trying. There's significant signal degradation for all planetary radio sources due to missile detonations, and that's not helping, either."

    When almost three-quarters of the missiles have been destroyed or disabled, Collins and Fujishiro both simultaneously see a second Soj salvo rising from the planet's oceans. Collins is feeling very tired by now, and her heart sinks. Still, she reports, "Sensors indicate another... 83, no, 84 missiles, apparently all submarine-launched, now inbound on Na targets."

    Someone on the Bridge gasps, and Fujishiro forces herself to focus. She says, "Most have much lower and shorter trajectories than the first wave."

    "This is not going to be easy," Vargas says to the Captain, in what everyone knows is a very grim understatement. "Those are city-killers, not strategic weapons."

    Singh leans forward in her seat, her fist clenched. "You know what to do, gentlemen. Carry on."
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 22 Jan 2011 at 12:37 AM.

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    While continuing to destroy as many missiles as she can, Collins says, over her shoulder, to Cptn. Singh "Sir, I recommend someone from Sickbay give us each a shot of B-12, since we'll obviously be at this for a while."

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    Delaney, "Captain, we may need to demand their immediate cease fire and be prepared to demonstrate our ire on some of their military targets. Also we could threaten to deposit a few of these latest missiles into government offices potentially though that seems extreme, they might not choose to play chicken with us. I strongly recommend we at least disable their sub fleet."

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    "Thank you, Captain," says Hayes. She leaves the Bridge quickly and returns to the meeting room. She will do what she can to keep the Banij on board informed and calm. Not easy under the circumstances, but she feels up to the task at hand.

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    The Banij in the meeting room are soon glued to the display screen, watching everything that’s going on below. Hayes still has her hands full, but not quite as much as before.

    On the Bridge, the Captain says firmly, "I will neither threaten nor authorize attacks on hard targets, Mr. Delaney. I'm afraid I've bent the Prime Directive almost to the breaking point as it is."

    "For what it's worth," Vargas says, "judging by Mr. Collins's earlier military analysis, the Soj have now fired everything they've got. I don't think they've got any more missiles left."

    Singh just nods as she stares at the Tactical display.

    Collins continues to find and target the Soj weapons as quickly as she can, but it now is much harder - and the margin of error is significantly smaller - for these submarine-launched missiles. Chief Harrison and his counterparts in the other transporter rooms implement Delaney's recommendation at once, dematerializing any missiles that make it past Collins's sharp eyes and adept hands. Photon torpedoes cannot be used so low in the Banij atmosphere without endangering those on the surface. Delaney finds the tractor beam's effectiveness has been badly degraded by high-altitude ionization, and Fujishiro realizes the same is true of ECM. Time crawls by as the Yorktown's Bridge crew strives to destroy, divert or dematerialize all of the missiles, but real fatigue is now setting in. Dr. Brownlock reluctantly administers small hypospray doses of Cortropine, a stimulant, to any who request it.

    At the Helm, Pourtash finds himself holding his breath as the tally of remaining Soj missiles drops to 30, then 20, then 10, 9, 8… and in moments there are just five missiles left.

    "Tracking target S207," comes Chief Harrison's strained voice from belowdecks. Delaney knows it’s fiendishly difficult to establish a transporter lock on something as large, and moving as fast, as a missile. "Stand by, Bridge. Tracking... locking on... got it... energizing... it's gone!"

    Collins wipes a sweaty strand of hair from her forehead and nails another missile with the forward phasers, then turns her attention to those which remain.

    But at that moment there is a bright flash of light far below, then two more, washing out the Tactical display.

    "Visual," the Captain orders in a whisper.

    Thalen presses a switch, and you all see three mushroom clouds blooming skyward with a terrible, roiling fury.

    Fujishiro looks dumbstruck at her instruments, and directs a scan of the surface. "Three thermonuclear detonations, Captain, all of which are over or near Na territory. One 20km offshore; nothing in its path, I think. Another over farmland; probably minimal casualties." She falls silent.

    "And the third?" the First Officer finally prompts her.

    "Over an inhabited area, sir. Tydelnn, a port city. Population...." She checks the cartographic database, and stares at the Captain, hating what she must now report. "Population 1.3 million."

    Again a hush falls over the Bridge.

    Singh says, “Scan for survivors. And damn it, Mr. Thalen, get me someone in the Na leadership!”

    “Aye, sir. Still trying….”

    Collins is shaken from her silence by a new reading. She says, “Captain, sensors show three missiles now rising from a Na border base. Target… the Soj capital. Impact… eight minutes.”
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 24 Jan 2011 at 12:50 AM.

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    With current tactical situation preventing effective ECM, Fujishiro goes back to double-checking all sensors for any sign of Zheng radiation or a cloaked ship. She intends to stay at her post until Singh explicitly relieves her.

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    Brownlock grabs his hypospray and waits for any break in the action to administer the B-12 and a small stimulant.

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    Collins realizes there is very little time to act; no time to lock on the biosignals of the Na and Soj leaders and beam them to each other's capitol, but she remembers something from her Enterprise days. "Captain!" Collins exclaims, "Corbomite!"

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    The Captain looks a little startled as she asks Collins, "What's that, Ensign?"

    Fujishiro notices that there have been four very short additional bursts of Zheng radiation in the past half-hour. She begins triangulating using the Yorktown's earlier-placed satellites, but finds that the readings shift location each time, indicating that whatever it is, it's moving.

    Dr. Brownlock asks around, but no one on the Bridge wants an additional hypo injection at this time.

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    "A bluff, Captain" Collins speaks excitedly "Captain Kirk did it on the Enterprise, and it worked. We broadcast a message back to Starfleet, on an open frequency, saying that we've determined this culture is dangerous to the Federation, and to themselves, and since they can't reach a truce, we're going to follow standard procedure and set off a Corbomite device to destroy the entire planet." Collins takes a quick breath "Starfleet knows about Corbomite. It's in the history files."
    Last edited by anyrose; 24 Jan 2011 at 08:46 PM.

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    Hayes remains calm and professional while watching the display screen. She thinks of Pev. She thinks of the Banij she has met. She can only hope the situation going on below ends and ends soon. The Banij with her in the meeting room are silent as they watch events unfold.

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    Pourtash frowns at Collins's suggestion before turning to the Captain. "It's a clever plan, but it's operating on the assumption that their chief concern is survival. In some cases hate between cultures is strong enough that suicide missions and self-destruction in order to destroy an enemy are glorious and noble ends. If our bluff is called and we don't do something drastic, we may be seen as cowards and liars and only escalate the situation. Delaney's more direct approach may be preferable."

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    "I've never heard of Corbomite," the Captain says, almost bemused, "but I don't think I'll take that approach either, for the reasons Mr. Pourtash states. Thank you, though, Mr. Collins."

    Thalen says suddenly, "I have a link to Chairwoman Ged now, sir. Audio only." Pourtash notices less than five minutes remain until the Na missiles' impact.

    Singh dives for the comm button on her chair arm. She says, "Chairwoman, you have my deepest sympathies for your losses. I am so very sorry. We did our best, but we could not stop every missile. Please let us know how we may assist you in rescue and recovery operations for Tydelnn."

    The Na leader's voice is scratchy over the speaker. "I understand, Captain. We would surely have suffered much worse losses had it not been for your ship's defense of our homeland. But now we must retaliate for the three missiles which struck us. Every Na demands revenge for this outrage."

    Singh purses her lips. "You know I can't let you do that, Chairwoman. This war must stop now. No purpose would be served by a continuation of hostilities."

    "No purpose! No purpose? Tens of thousands of my countrymen are now dead, Captain Singh, maybe even more, thanks to this monstrous and unprovoked Soj aggression. If we don't strike back they will never learn."

    "With respect, I think the lesson for all Banij today, ma'am, is that no one will win this kind of war. No one can. You'll only kill even more of your species and lay the groundwork for the next war, when the Soj have rearmed and this ship won't be here. Consider carefully what might happen then."

    "But...."

    Singh cuts her off. "I did my very best to stop the Soj attack on you, and now I'll do the same for your attack on them. You've seen the capabilities of this ship, Chairwoman. I know that your arsenal is not as large as that of the Soj. I urge you as seriously as I possibly can: stop this war now, and know that history will remember you as a peacemaker."

    There is no reply. Thalen says, "Signal broken at the source, Captain."

    She sighs and nods. "Mr. Collins, lock phasers on the Na missiles, and fire at will."

    Collins turns back to the console and does as the Captain orders. It's easy, compared to what she had just gone through with wave upon wave of Soj missiles. In moments the three weapons are no more, utterly destroyed by the pale blue lances of the Yorktown's forward phaser bank.

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    With the destruction of the Na missiles, the meeting room erupts with loud chitters from the Banij. They don't understand why the captain would follow the same path with the Na as she has with the Soj. Hayes patiently does her best to explain that this ship, Starfleet and the Federation will not take sides here and want only to stop this war and bring peace to all Banij. The Banij around Hayes grow silent once again.

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    Brownlock sends a message to Hayes: call me if you feel any of the Banij might need medical attention based on the current circumstances...

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    Ten minutes pass, then half an hour, and the Na launch no more missiles. Ged and her advisors refuse to reply to any other messages from the Yorktown.

    An hour later, Thalen reports that Soj state media are broadcasting solemn music but no news; there are scattered reports of weapons fire on or near some Soj military bases. Neither the Na, the Soj nor their allies have crossed into the territory of their respective enemies. The Na are rushing emergency aid into Tydelnn; early casualty projections are for more than 700,000 dead or wounded.

    After another hour, Singh orders the ship to Yellow Alert, and goes to meet with the Banij leaders and diplomats belowdecks, leaving Vargas in command on the Bridge. Hayes is relieved to see the Captain arrive. The aliens immediately barrage Singh with questions, which she calmly answers. There is considerable distress at what has happened to Tydelnn, and not everyone agrees with the Captain's decisions, but they seem to understand how she arrived at them. Gregel, the Soj-Banij Foreign Minister, is particularly grateful to Singh for "having prevented a much bigger war." One of his aides looks near tears (or its equivalent among the Banij), but none of the Banij need medical attention.

    On the Bridge, Fujishiro suddenly has an idea: if the ship's deflector dish were reconfigured to emit a phased muon pulse, it might briefly reveal the cloaked ship or ships. She mentions this to Delaney, who thinks the concept has potential, although it's never been done, to his knowledge. Vargas gives his approval for them to begin working on it.

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    Fujishiro, despite growing fatigue, eagerly works on the new idea.

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