*NEW* Redemption Preludes

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*NEW* Redemption Preludes

Post  Admiralwood on Tue Feb 04, 2014 5:33 pm

The Redemption Preludes
“Promises”


2369

Starfleet Headquarters was designed to hide a complex warren of offices, facilities and conference halls within a simple, plain yet appealing structure that matched the natural beauty of the San Francisco bay. The complexity was a necessity, allowing for Starfleet's many branches to operate and communicate as efficiently as possible. For the inexperienced, it was an easy place to get lost in.
A Starfleet Captain marched confidently within those halls, weaving expertly between the busy crowds going about their daily grind, ignoring the scathing looks from much older Officers who saw the pips on her collar and took note of her age. Petty office jealousy wasn't worth the time of day. She marched straight into the 'spook nook' – the nickname for Starfleet Intelligence – and blanked out every muttered greeting she received until she had stepped unannounced into Admiral Christoper's office.
“This came in an hour ago,” The hard-faced old Admiral pointed to a PADD that was left on the guest side of the desk, facing toward the door.
She sat down and picked up the device, silently reading through its contents. When she was done, the PADD was placed carefully back the way it was found.
“The Gul will be operating under the protection of an official diplomatic mission by invitation of the Colony Administration,” Christopher held her gaze, “He cannot be allowed to succeed.”
The Captain glanced at the PADD, “If they're on one of our colonies by invitation, is there realistically anything we can do about it?”  
“Any such action would be taken as an act of war.”
“Giving away colonies like they're playground trading cards and saying it's okay,” The Captain grimaced, “Strange times we're living in.”
“Beats another fight with Cardassia.”
She conceded the point and shrugged, “I'll see what I can do then.”
Admiral Christopher held up a hand to stop the Captain from getting back to her feet, “Just be sure you find the right screw-ups. We can't let anyone think The Federation thought of this. I can't stress that enough, Richards.”
“Sir,” Captain Janice Richards got to her feet, “I'm thinking someone with a grudge – an easy one to pin as gone Maquis. I know the perfect guy too.”
“Then get lost.”
Contrary to her bluster Janice, who walked quickly away from the Admiral's office, may have known the perfect guy for the profile they both had in mind – but she was dreading getting in touch with him. Starfleet Intelligence wanted someone they could self-destruct.
Her guy had already done that a long time ago.

* * *

Lieutenant Commander Matt Wood sat face to face with a pretty girl, fresh from the Academy by the looks of her. She had been staring at him for most of the last mission, walking uncomfortably close and making it clear she was interested. Now they were on shore leave, she'd tracked him down to the bar in Starbase 234's civilian section.
“Hi,” She said with an outstretched hand, “Haley Parr.”
Girl had a sweet enough smile he noted, “Matt Wood.”
“It's nice here,” She sat down and ordered an Alderbarian Sunrise, “My brother told me all about the dates he'd have here with his girlfriend.”
Wood smiled, “I used to go on dates with my girlfriend here,” He took a sip of his drink, “Back when the Nagura was operating here.”
“Oh? Still with her?” Parr seemed very interested in the answer to this question.
“No,” Wood failed to notice Parr slide her chair ever so closer to his own, “She was taken and assimilated by the Borg at Wolf 359, right in front of my eyes. My surviving crewmates had to drag me away from her because they needed me to pilot a shuttle and escape. It broke my heart, never really got over that. We were going to get married, you see? One week to the day of the battle...”
Parr's eyes glazed over as Wood continued talking about how wonderful his former fiancee was, his voice distant and wan, forcing her to take increasingly long sips of her drink while looking nervously about the room.
“...sometimes I see her in my dreams too, accusing me of leaving her when she needed me the most -”
A hand clapped down on his shoulder, interrupting his flow much to his annoyance, “It's okay. What he's saying is this; wounded, no interested so move along. Bye.”
Wood saw Parr mouth the words 'thank you' at her rescuer as she hastily took her leave, leaving him even more upset. He knew who had done that to him, which only incensed him more – enough to try and simply ignore his old friend's jovial greeting.
“Hey – you blocked yourself long before I told that bimbo to take a hike,” Janice ordered herself a beer, “Does she really work Science?”
Wood gave a stony faced shrug.
“Maybe she's smarter than she looks and sounds,” Janice took a large swig of her drink and grasped Wood's shoulder to spin him on his seat around to face her, “You really need to get over Grace already. It's been two years already and you've ground yourself to a halt – not just in your love life.”
“You know why I chose to move to Security.”
Janice nodded with a sigh, “Yeah. It worried me then, it worries me now.”
“Why?” Wood turned back to the bar, “My career is doing just fine, how does it really affect you?”
You're kidding, right? She bit back the temptation to say that aloud and took another long swig of beer, she was starting to feel the need for it, “You're my friend. I care about you. Simple math. Why do you think I dragged @ss halfway across the quadrant to listen to you whining like a spoiled kid?”
“You what?” That got his attention.
“Well look at you.” Janice looked him over, “So the big, evil and – I admit – damned powerful Borg took away your wife-to-be and you got to watch. It sucks and you are not alone in that. But you decided that in the name of revenge you'd throw a huge pity party and dead-end yourself? Really? Think that's gonna help you get back at them?”
“Im out-” Wood's attempted walk-out was brought to a screeching halt as Richards forcibly pushed him back down into his chair.
“Nope. You're gonna sit here and listen to this,” She snapped, “Because I can't watch you descend into some pathetic shell of who you once were. I just can't. I'm going to make you sit here and I'm going to tell you how you can make those cyber-jerks hurt the next time they show up.”
“This'll be good...” Wood muttered, much to Janice's annoyance.
“Become a Captain. Hell, become a freakin' Admiral – better still! You wanna know why?”
“Because you're crazy?”
Janice had to put her bottle down to beat the temptation to smash it over his stubborn head, “Because I know you. I know what you can do – the whole damned Academy did. You're good in a fight, yes and maybe in Security you could find a way to kill a handful of 'em next time – but you really know how to use a Starship and Starships to lay down hurt. Remember the Judgment Day simulation?”


2363, Starfleet Academy Simulation Suite 1 Alpha

A squad of Cadets sat upon the bridge of the new Galaxy Class starship, each one manning auxiliary consoles as the regular bridge crew nervously set about preparing the ship for the task ahead. For the simulated mission, the ship's Captain found himself relegated to the XO's chair, while the XO himself sat on the far right. In the centre chair sat a Cadet Commander, staring intently at the viewscreen ahead. A vast fleet of Federation ships moved in formation through the void, taking positions in front of a vast blood red Nebula from which constant flickers of bright white light could be seen.
“Capital Ships are in position, sir.” Janice reported from her station at the back of the Bridge – which served as the Fleet Operations console for this exercise.
“Thank you. Fleet all stop.” Wood said, his voice cool and composed. He was already having the time of his life. After a long discussion with his Professor, he'd managed to have some additions made to the final stage of the Judgment Day simulation – allowing him to do something that simply was not done any more.
Command the fleet from the front.
It had taken a great deal of arranging from the Academy staff's point of view, something none of them – Professor included – had wanted to do until Admiral JP Hansen sent them all a very strongly worded memo encouraging 'academic innovation'. With that stimulus a team of holo-programmers worked through the night to create protocols that allowed for the 'last stand' leg of the simulation to be done from the bridge of a command ship in the thick of the action. Setting up the various fleet operation consoles had been the biggest challenge of all, leading them to use the spacious and multi-role systems of a Galaxy Class bridge for the job. It also lent a certain prestige to the whole thing.
So that morning the Cadets were shown to their seats, sharing space with a regular bridge crew which was a new distraction for them. Richards and Collins used the large bank of consoles behind Tactical, while T'mora used the second Tactical console. Simbala took over the regular Operations console, while Edwards and Veeno were forced to operate in a different room and communicate with com-badges.
“The Romulans have arrived on the other side of the nebula.” Veeno's throaty Andorian dialect was enhanced by the aural effects of the com-badge's small speaker, “Nearly a thousand warships, just like Intel said.”
“Good fishies.” Wood muttered, privately glad the simulated bad guys had taken his bait, drawing them to this massive nebula which formed a wonderful bottleneck for the Romulans to come through. His entire campaign had been fought to bring the Romulans to a battlefield of his choosing, a place where he could use his ship's strengths to the greatest advantage – and force a wily enemy to fight as he dictated. Now his fleet lay in the path to Vulcan, a target the Romulans seemed anxious to reach.
“Sir?” T'mora cooly inquired from her Tactical position, “Shall we send in the Attack ships?”
That was the draw – small, fast ships sent to cause the Romulans to move into the central 'pass' running through the centre of the Nebula. With the amount of sensor interference the nebula caused -which his forces overcame by using tiny booster probes located just on the edges of the gaseous mass – they could not properly see the true scope of the fleet he'd positioned here. The chance to destroy a Federation fleet in an ambush was too great to resist.
“Send them in.”
As three squadrons of small attack craft sped off into the pass Richards watched them on her strategic display, giving a God's eye view of both side's positions and movements. The Romulans seemed to move impassively toward their side of the pass, not even bothering to cloak. They most likely figured the nebula masked their numbers too.
“The attack ships have engaged,” Simbala was handling the fleet's communications, “Romulans are returning fire.”
“They're on the move!” Richards announced, “Headed straight for the pass!”
All eyes turned to the Cadet Commander. For a heartbeat it looked like he had frozen up, until his voice cut through the silence like a hot knife through butter, “Tell the Attack ships to withdraw and well done.”
“Aye aye,” Simbala set to work.
“Open a channel to the fleet,” Wood commanded, slowly standing up and positioning himself in the centre space between the command chairs and the helm and ops consoles. His hands came together behind his back and his gaze settled almost warmly upon the fleet on the viewscreen.
“Channel open.”
“You have all worked hard, sacrificed and suffered to reach this day. Before you is the final stroke to the masterpiece you have all laboured to produce. The Backbone of the Romulan invasion force is coming through that pass, disadvantaged and blind. Today we have a chance to not only send them packing, but teach them that our love of peace is not to be mistaken as weakness. We are united in bonds that no amount of conquest could ever produce. As we finish this journey today, I have faith that the tenacity and dedication you have shown so far will bring us to victory. Together let's make it happen!”
As the crew set about final preparations for combat, Richards held her gaze upon her friend, “Nice catchphrase. You should keep it.”
Wood turned back to face the viewscreen, but not before giving her a smile and wink, “All ships – load torpedoes and prepare to fire into the pass, full spread, on my mark!”
“All ships report loaded and ready,” Simbala said.
On screen the first romulan ships started to materialise out of the black void, “Wait for it,” Wood said, “Not yet...”
More Romulans came through, soon turning into a dense cloud of alien ships all loaded to bear. He could almost imagine the enemy commander, for the first time laying eyes on the real fleet before him, starting to feel that dreadful conviction that a mistake had been made. Janice took that moment to watch him at work, so confidently ready to tear apart nearly a thousand ships and swore she could see framed pips in place of Cadet's rank on his collar.
“MARK!”



2369

“Matt,” Janice placed a hand upon his, “Why can't you be that guy again?”
Wood swallowed hard, not wanting the tears he could feel welling up in his eyes to become visible to the world. It had been a long time since he thought about those days and the things his squad had accomplished. Now that he did, he missed them painfully as nothing seemed to be working out the way he'd been told it would. Even his biggest supporter – JP Hansen – had been taken from him. Despite the desire he could feel re-igniting, Wood was unsure he could follow through.
“I've got an offer for you. One that could put things to right again for you.”
That got his attention, “What?”
“One job. Complete it and there's a ship with a First Officer's chair waiting for you when you get back –  one of those new-fangled Akira Class ships coming into service, so it's right up your alley.”
He sighed, “I'm listening. What's the job?”
Janice took a pause, giving herself that time to steel her nerves against the reaction she was sure to get from her old friend. Though he didn't know it yet, she would be asking him to stretch far beyond his limits – both morally and psychologically. The impatience written across his face finally made her relent and say, “You're to stop a colony from selling its soul.”

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Admiralwood
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