Strange New Worlds (Excalibur-A)
Having set out from Starbase 118, the crew of USS Excalibur-A set a course for an empty asteroid field that was to become a training grounds for the crew. Before setting out upon their true mission of exploration, Fleet Captain Kalianna Nicholotti has ordered a simulation to test the capabilities of the ship and crew, as well as give them a chance to learn to work together. The senior officers of ‘’Excalibur’’ nominated her to be their adversary in the mock-combat. Nicholotti agreed to the plan and secretly selected two officers – Lt. Commander Katy Orman and Ensign Azin – to assist her as shipboard accomplices. Lt. Commander Brek was appointed Second Officer, acting as temporary First Officer to Lt. Commander Ben Livingston for the duration of the simulation.
As the simulation began, a strange radiation signature caught the attention of the bridge crew, who believed it to be a sensor ghost planted there by the captain. Meanwhile, Nicholotti launched and set out for the asteroid field as her accomplices began a sabotage of the ship’s communication systems. As the simulation progressed, a series of weapons platforms opened fire upon Excalibur. Though the ship was undamaged by the initial barrage, it took precious seconds of their attention and cost them the initiative on which they’d planned.
The crew of USS Excalibur fought off a deadly barrage of fire from weapons platforms littered throughout the asteroid field. Much of the fighting was done blind, as saboteurs knocked took out communications and sensors; runabouts were launched to use as spotters, but the fighting remained difficult. Within the ship, saboteurs managed to take out many of the internal systems, including turbolifts, communications, and basic functions. As the rest of the crew scrambled to identify their opponents and restore systems, the worst of the damage was about to occur.
Just as Excalibur headed into the asteroid field to get cover from some of the weapons platforms, the saboteurs managed to pull off their greatest victory – one that nearly spelled doom for the ship and its crew. Shields faltered, then fell. Simultaneously, the deflector lit up, funneling the ship’s power out into the black in the form of a tremendous beam. The resultant damaged deflector left them in the middle of the asteroids with no protection whatsoever from the hurling rocks. Calling an emergency stop to the engagement, the ship carefully worked its way out of the field as Captain Nicholotti rejoined the ship.
The crew spent the evening afterward preparing reports, repairing damage, patching up emotional wounds, and welcoming aboard a few new members of the crew: Marine Officer First Lieutenant Debra Cross and Ensign Daniel Underwood, their newest Helm Officer.
The morning following the live test, the crew of the USS Excalibur-A, NCC-41903, prepared for a mission of pure exploration. With the directive to test the slipstream drive and explore beyond charted space, excitement traveled quickly. Some chose to join the occasion on the bridge, while others buried themselves in work. Whatever they were doing, it didn't last long. Not long after the drive was engaged, the ship was ripped from the slipstream and thrown through 'normal' space.
Soon, everyone began experiencing mental illusions and hallucinations around them. Ranging from seeing passed loved ones to fears brought to life, the stability of everyone was questioned. While the medical staff and science officers worked on a solution, a distress call came in. A ship nearby was being swallowed by some unknown force. With seconds to act, the Captain orders the occupant transported aboard allowing everyone to learn a little about the area of space they've stumbled into.
Not far from their position in space was a station made of biotechnical material. The occupant that had been saved seemed leery of the crew, yet was diplomatic enough until she was returned to her station upon an ultimatum issued by the station's commander. Since her return, nothing had been received from the station, even in return to a request to come aboard in peace. There was an eerie silence between the two, broken only when a massive energy wave sweeps through the sector hitting both station and ship like an invisible brick wall.
The crew of USS Excalibur NCC-41903-A, has made tremendous discoveries as well as experienced setbacks in their goal of understanding the anomaly that stranded them in the Afehirr Sector.
The being transported aboard Excalibur was revealed to be the High Chief Merchant of the Erscyne Trade Allianace. After a first-contact scenario, the guarded dignitary was beamed back to the station. However, the crew also discovered life-signs of beings inhabiting the same space as Excalibur, but trapped in “pocket” universes. After a successful attempt to retrieve the individual, the crew discovered a young, helpless Azeyka child that was swiftly taken under the care of the medical department. The rescue drained the ship’s power, leaving the Engineering department to restore power so that additional “rescues” of thirty missing crew members can be attempted.
Meanwhile, LtCmdr. Katy Orman was transported not only through space but through time into the station’s recent past, where she spent a month “catching up” in time to Excalibur. Though initially rendered invisible to the aliens aboard the station, she eventually made contact with the creatures and was put in contact with Excalibur. She also discovered a black, possibly parasitic creature that appears to be linked to the spatial “void.” Theories abound as to the nature of the void, and the crew continued to work on identifying its nature and determine a way of ceasing its expansion.
Theories are tossed back and forth regarding the station, it's involvement, and the aptly named 'Nothing' outside. It appears that the phenomenon is growing and it appears that it may even be intelligent. When a plan to look inside backfires in a chaotic power overflow to the conduit leading to the Tactical Officer's station that injures Lieutenant Silveira, who was running the test, the crew looks for other options.
That's when they develop a dangerous plan involving radiation and get an unexpected call from the station outside. Katy Orman's face appears on the screen and takes everyone by surprise, but doesn't allow the reunion to last long. She tells a tale of black things existing within the folded space where she, and the other missing crewmen, were trapped. Though they were unable to communicate in the folds, Katy was able to see the black thing that ultimately pulled her into normal space. She shared information with the crew that told them it was those who were missing, and the black beings, that were causing the hallucinations by touching those in the normal realm. The call ended with an agreement with the Prime Captain that all would work together to solve the crisis.
Soon after, Lieutenant Silveira makes a run for the anomaly outside with a shuttlecraft. Thinking that he is about to collapse the space-time rift, the Captain has the shuttle tractored and the officer beamed to sickbay, where he had not been released to begin with. A forcefield and a security detail keep him there while the Captain returns to the bridge and looks for a way to attempt contact with the assumed belligerent intelligence of the rift.
Sickbay continues to bustle with activity as Lt. Silveira returns and the Captain pays him a visit, berating him for attempting such a maneuver. Doctor Skyfire is temporarily relieved of duty after being worked beyond his limits, leaving Sickbay in the care of Doctors Morgan and Ryan. While this continues, the Bridge receives news that the void is expanding at an increasing rate. Erscyne station is advised to evacuate, with Excalibur offering to harbor as many as they can.
Meanwhile, Fleet Captain Nicholotti’s personal fighter was prepared for a mission into the void while the Science and Intelligence departments coordinated the transportation of missing crew members directly to sickbay. As Nicholotti left the ship on her mission, an increasingly desperate crew attempted a very risky maneuver with the potential to save all of the missing. They conducted a mass-transport, saving all of the would-be victims. Unfortunately, the inaccuracies inherent in the method led to transporter mishaps and injuries, including individuals materializing into solid objects.
Nicholotti’s mission ends in success, and the void visibly collapses into a colorful show of light and subsequently into a silver “scar”. However, she is lost to them and cannot be found. A search and rescue operation was ordered, with all hands working unsuccessfully to find her. Later, a briefing was held to inform officers of the situation and decide how to move forward.
Following Fleet Captain Nicholotti's disappearance, a memorial service was held in her honor. Commander Frost, who happened to be nearby, attended the service as well. In accord with Nicholotti's instructions, an award ceremony was also held. In addition to service ribbons being awarded, Sal Taybrim was promoted to Lieutenant.
Meanwhile, Engineering continues to work on repairs, now assisted by crews from Erscyne Station. In a change of heart by the Trade Alliance, the station is opened to Excalibur's crew as a place to seek relaxation and rest. High Chief Merchant Kzahtayapa has a strong interest in the Transporter technology aboard the ship, despite her earlier fear of how they would affect the balance of trade.
On a more personal note, Lieutenant Taybrim and Lieutenant, JG Skyfire seem to have developed a telepathic link and are examining its implications. Much of the rest of the crew is still reeling from the loss of Nicholotti; no replacement has been identified. However, StarFleet Command has indicated that a Court Martial will be held for Lieutenant Silveira as a result of his disobedience of a direct order from Fleet Captain Nicholotti.
Following the memorial and award ceremony, the crew of USS Excalibur-A enjoyed well-deserved time off. For some, this involved exploration of their new ship and getting to know those with whom they served. Others took the time to catch up on their duties. Now impressed by the Federation's transporter technology, High Chief Merchant Kzahtayapa invited the crew of Excalibur to visit the Statrbase in hopes of beginning to establish smoother relations and -- perhaps in the future -- get a closer look at the technology. Some members of the crew have already gone for a look, and they return with interesting stories of gifted gemstones and other tales.
Not long after the ceremony, a shuttle arrived bearing Rear Admiral Andrus Jaxx and Fleet Captain Cascadia Rainier. The flag officers arrived with the intention of overseeing Lieutenant Vitor Silveira's court martial, something which RAdm. Jaxx has particular personal interest. With the tribunal -- Jaxx, Rainier, and Commander Liam Frost -- all aboard, the court was swiftly called to session, with Lt. Commander Katy Orman prosecuting and Lt. Commander Brek defending the accused.
The crew of USS Excalibur-A watched with bated breath, either in person or at a distance, as the actions of Lieutenant Vitor Silveira were scrutinized by a panel led by Rear Admiral Jaxx. Lieutenants Sal Taybrim and Silveira both offered their testimony under the direction of Lt. Commander Katy Orman, representing the prosecution, and Lt. Commander Brek, leading the defense. The charges: reckless endangerment of the ship and undefined entities, dereliction of duty, attempted murder, and involuntary manslaughter of Fleet Captain Kalianna Nicholotti.
By the end of the trial, the tribunal was convinced of Silveira's innocence of all counts except insubordination, and demoted him to the rank of Lieutenant, JG.
Meanwhile, other members of the crew explored Erscyne station, taking in the sights and sounds of the Bakalostii, a marketplace on the station. While they were observed to be outsiders by some of the inhabitants, there were no incidents and the first steps toward more friendly relations were established.
By order of StarFleet Command, Fleet Captain Cascadia Rainier took command of USS Excalibur NCC 41903-A. After a tour of the ship, she met with First Officer Lt. Commander Ben Livingston regarding personnel matters. In that regard, Lieutenant Rune Jolara was ordered to the post of Chief Counselor. A petition by Scott Walker, civilian, to a role in the ship's counseling department is also under consideration.
Having received new orders, the ship now prepares to set out for its next mission.