January 2008

Star Fleet Fiction Continued


"Stand easy, Korgan. You are looking ... well, like T'arg ktung but I'll forgive you this once. The battle went well, but not as well as the Admiral had intended. I must admit, I too was a bit surprised when they raced in to close range so quickly. Between you and me, it is my opinion that Admiral Kird was not prepared for such an occurrence. We took too much damage to continue on to Luminan, but we wrecked the Kzinti Duke's fleet despite that; destroying a third of their ships and crippling another third. They probably believe it is they who have won, having turned us back, but when we return in a few weeks, they will still be greatly weakened and we will be even stronger. That next battle will see the capture of the Luminan system."

"You fought gloriously, Commodore" Korgan said.

"Bahh, I tell you my boy, the C9 is a majestic weapon worthy of respect, but its maneuverability is ... frustrating to say the least. I find it uncomfortable to be constrained by large fleet tactics. Free maneuver fits my style much better. When the Admiral released us from formation after the fleets clashed ... Well, I found it easier to sit," Korath said with a shrug.

The doctor told Korgan he would be feeling better today but obviously that was a relative term. Yes, he did feel better, but still everything hurt and it hurt just a bit more now that he was laughing.

"Sir, I am ready for your orders. Command me, and it will be done."

Ah, that I shall do Commander. I have a very interesting assignment for you. Do you remember this?" Korath said as he turned his computer monitor around so Korgan could see the image on the screen.

"The D5, yes, I've studied all the technical reports."

"So have we all. You will leave my ship at Zursk and await the arrival of a squadron of these new cruisers. You will then serve aboard the lead ship Renegade as the ship's XO. The captain of the Renegade is an old friend of mine. His aunt is married to one of my cousins. He knows little about you except what your record states, and that I have asked him to choose you to fill a vacancy. He is Movek Kivv, from a good family, including Emperor Koran Kivv six generations ago, and Admiral Tavak Kivv who commands the Southwest Fleet. He was hand picked to command the first D5 due to his own record. He will treat you right."

"Thank you, Sir," Korgan replied. He had been concerned that the destruction of his ship would ruin his career, or that his injuries would mean a long trip away from the fighting.

"This will be good for your career, Korgan," Korath added. "You will gain experience in a new class of ships that will become a mainstay of the fleet. Plans call for the D5s to be produced in record numbers, and even counting the activation of reserve ships, most of the new cruiser captaincies will be on D5s. Serve your new captain well and, without any help from me, you will in good time get a cruiser of your own, probably before you are ready for it." Korath laughed, but Korgan held his tongue.

"You can do one more thing for me. I want you to learn everything you can about this new design. I want reports on every tactical implication this ship possibly brings to me. I have been assigning my D5s to missions and they have done well, but I am to receive additional units soon and I have a feeling I've not been using these new ships to their full potential. Much is happening very quickly, Korgan, and while we are experiencing much success now, this war will become more difficult very soon and every asset we possess must be used to its full potential. I regret that I cannot attend to this matter myself and gain first hand experience on the new design, but I have far too much to do; too many other responsibilities. You will do this for me."

This time the laughing didn't hurt at all because he was laughing inside. Through his aches and pains, Korgan drew a proud smile. "It will be my honor to do this duty for you, and it will be done!"

"One last thing, Korgan," Korath warned. "You are not there as my spy. It is not your job to second guess your captain and report his foibles to me, and if he comes to think that this is why you are there, your career will be over. Advise him that I have asked for your observations on the new ships, and ask him to review your reports. Include the observations of other officers and captains. They should see you as a means to get their ideas to the highest level, not a means for me to wreck their careers. Do you understand this?"

"Yes, Sir!" Korgan replied.

"All right, get out. Get rested. We will be at Zursk in two days, and I don't want your new Captain seeing you like this. I'll have your transfer orders and the files on Captain Kivv and the D5 class sent to your quarters. Study Kivv, he is an interesting officer. And finish your battle reports, I want them tomorrow." With, that Korath returned to his desk.

"Aye, Sir!" Korgan saluted and Korath returned it while getting back to his files.

Korgan's step was just a little livelier exiting the office than it had been when he had entered.

Korath had another reason for sending this young officer on an assignment away from his command. When Luminan is eventually taken, it will be taken on the ground. Leading those ground troops would be none other than Korgan's father, the Legendary Colonel Kall Marset. Some of Korgan's brothers, cousins, and uncles might also be present. Korath would not risk having Korgan's judgment affected by this in battle, so he would send him away for a tour on a D5. Command of such a ship was a career objective of the young warrior. Survive and Succeed, Korgan Marset. I know you will, Korath thought.

D7C 8-Direslayer

Officer's Common Room, the next day

Korgan was hungry, really hungry for the first time since waking up in the Sick Bay two days ago. Maybe it was the medicine he was pumped full of, or just having looked death square in the eye and awakened still alive, but his stomach had been in knots until this morning. Yesterday, all he could stand was a little Tuka Fruit and Remin broth. But now he was ready for some meat, and the Kreel leg and mashed guwcan root on his plate smelled very good indeed. Korgan carried his tray from the food dispenser to a table off to the side of the room. There were at least two dozen officers milling about and socializing, drinking blood wine and discussing the previous battle. Direslayer would be at base by morning, and everyone would be busy again. Temporary repairs had been finished and there was little that was not routine left to do at the moment so it was time for a little Gra'Koros.

Technically, Gra'Koros was a minor Klingon religion observed by a few hundred thousand people. For the military, most of whom subscribed to the philosophy of all-seeing stars rather than to a formal religion, Gra'Koros was the ritualized release of tension, stress, and shock. Humans might have thought it a party, but it was more than that. Alcohol, stories of battle, revelry, bonding, and harmless but manly contests of strength served as the Klingon version of group therapy to prevent Combat Stress Disorder. For a caste that was almost always at war, Gra'Koros was needed, even if few of them actually knew the underlying religious concepts and many did not even use the term.

Korgan, at the moment, was more interested in having some real food. Perhaps he would join in later. Just as he was about to sit down he heard a familiar voice from behind.

"Commander Korgan ... sir?"

Korgan turned his head to see who it was. It was Lieutenant Kerdak.

"Kerdak!" said Korgan and he quickly set his tray down on the table and turned to meet his comrade, grasping his wrist in a double hand shake.

"Commander, I am glad to see you are well! I was concerned for you," replied Kerdak with a hearty grin.

"Yes, and you look ... completely unharmed. Why is that?"

"Because you took the brunt of the explosion just before Direslayer beamed us out. Don't you remember, Sir?"

"No," answered Korgan, looking down and confused. His memory had no record of that moment. In an academic sense, Korgan knew that the humanoid brain did not record events to permanent memory for several minutes after they happened, and that it was not at all unusual to come through some catastrophic event without any memory of the moments before it. Even knowing how his brain worked, it was disconcerting to Korgan to feel this effect.

"No? Well, there was a huge explosion right before we were beamed out. You were facing me and shielded me from the entire blast for the half second we were still there. You've saved me twice, Commander."

"Twice, what do you mean?"

"They're promoting me to Senior Lieutenant for braving it out with you!"

"Hmmm, you more likely should have died with me."

Kerdak reached over and grabbed Korgan by the shoulders and said through a very large grin, "but we didn't! And now I am to be promoted and you ... you my friend ... have a story to tell ... and a medal. Come, I have friends who want to hear the story behind that medal. This is Gra'Koros Commander; let us celebrate with blood wine and tales of our victories!"

Korgan looked back longingly at his lunch sitting there getting cold as he was pulled into a crowd of his fellow officers; a large goblet of blood wine thrust into his hand. A slightly drunk captain from the flag staff thrust a finger onto the new warrior's star on Korgan's tunic. "Now, there is a story we haven't heard! Drink, Korgan, and tell us your story!"

IKV Direslayer

Docked to Zursk Station, the following morning

Korgan's stomach was twisted again. Blood wine on an empty stomach made for a difficult morning. Breakfast was light, and it felt like lunch would be too. But Gra'Koros had actually been fun, and he had not realized how much he needed to put his recent battle experiences into the proper context, to know he was only one of thousands of warriors who shared that battle. But it was more than that. The other warriors, naval officers all, had treated him as no different from anyone else in the room. He had not experienced such acceptance from his peers since the Academy. Korgan felt good, if a little sick too.

He walked the long halls of the Direslayer to the forward docking port where he would leave the ship. His thoughts dwelled on the many years he had served with his mentor ... and friend, Commodore Korath. On the way, he passed a sorrowful sight of a battered young Klingon in restraints being escorted by two marines. The Klingon looked up; it was Lieutenant Commander Vedek.

Korgan looked away sharply (as he must) as he passed. Vedek might get lucky and be allowed to serve on a penal ship. Korgan expressed in his report that he felt this was reasonable. Such a simple error of misunderstanding due to inexperience, but that error led to the death of his Captain and the destruction of his ship. Korgan had once made an error due to inexperience, not too long ago, but his mistake didn't get warriors killed. Still, he hoped the young man could eventually redeem himself. If Korath was right, this could be a lengthy war, and the Emperor would need capable officers to man his ships against the enemies of the Empire.

Korgan entered the air lock and the door closed behind him. Survive and Succeed, Commodore Korath, he thought to himself as he stepped through the Direslayer's outer airlock door and entered the base. Now to go find temporary quarters and await the Renegade.

Briefing room, D5 War Cruiser IKV Renegade

Orbiting Zursk IV, one week later

"Commander Korgan Marset, reporting for duty, Sir," Korgan said after entering the room and coming to attention.
Captain Movek Kivv looked up from his monitor and looked Korgan over for a moment. "Very well, you may sit. You have had a most unusual career, Commander. It appears I am to be your tutor on this new class of cruiser. I would never have imagined myself a teacher, but my previous XO was just pulled off the ship to take command of a new D5 undergoing her space trials, the second time that has happened. Those of us who were picked to command first handful of D5s were, I'm told, supposed to train the captains of future D5s. I've commanded an F5 and a D7 and was due for retirement when this new class appeared, and experienced captains were picked for those jobs. With the expanded construction rate, and the reactivation of the reserve ships, the DSF is going to be reaching down into the ranks of Lieutenant Commanders to find enough cruiser captains.

"I'll tell you up front. Commander, I have respect for the Commodore and for some reason he has respect for you, the son of a Marine. I can only assume you have earned it as I know Korath is not one to give it away easily. I have read your file, and your record speaks well enough, but files often give an intended impression rather than the real one." Korgan ignored the reference to his family. Such complaints were so old now he did not wish to waste any time on the matter. Kivv's mention of the Marines did not appear to be negative, in any case.

"I have taken you as my Executive Officer as a favor to him. I have heard of you, but I do not know you, Korgan Marset. I usually prefer to know my XO and for him to know me. This is my third command, and you are my seventh XO and the first one I did not select myself. So before there are any problems, I want you to understand something, I have hand-picked my staff and bridge crew to be a team. My last XO understood this and did things my way as a matter of course because he was part of that team. You will have to learn very quickly how my team operates, and become part of that team. It doesn't matter how you did things on your previous ships, under your previous captains. On this ship, you will do things my way. Is this clear?"

"Completely," said Korgan. "I will restrain my initiative and assumptions until I understand your methods. Doubtless, your department heads can help me fit in. I will succeed in joining your team, Captain."

"Very well, Korgan," Kivv answered. "The senior watch officer has cleared his schedule to help you get up to speed. I will withhold criticism for a few days while you find out where things are. We can make this work, Korgan, but the effort to do so will be mostly yours. Is there anything else?"

Yes, Sir. As you know. I am to report to the Commodore all that I can learn about this class of ship. If at some point you and I can have some discussion on this matter it would no doubt be helpful. My duties as XO will of course see me spending time in all of the departments, learning their methods and technologies. I'll need to speak with all of the officers, and many of the technicians.

"With the Cromargs and Dunkars?" Kivv said with a surprised look.

"And with the Vudar and Slirdarians as well. Sir, to learn my job, I must experience every aspect of this class as is possible. I've been the XO of a D6, so all I need to learn is where things are different, and why they're different, and what that difference implies. I was proficient on every system on the Atropos and mean to do the same here. I have no fear of manual labor, stained uniforms, or soiled hands. I'll align fuel conduits if I can learn something from it."

"Very well, I have never seen a regulation prohibiting a senior officer from doing the work of the lowest crewman, although I have met some junior officers who apparently have seen this regulation." Both of them shared a laugh. "The Senior Watch Officer is waiting in the wardroom to introduce you to some others and take you on a tour of the ship. As I said, his schedule has been cleared for a few days and he will show you everything. I think you will find this ship to be one of the finest you've ever served on, dismissed."

Kivv then returned to his work.