USS Vesta

A Play-by-Nova roleplay game.

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The Ghosts of Esquimalt

Posted on Sat Oct 16th, 2021 @ 5:15pm by Commodore Yoshi Minawara

Location: Esquimalt Command Information Centre

The truth was, Operations, or as it was more often called, the Command Information Centre, was often dead. Captain Penner's office was off to the side, so they rarely spent any time present in the space unless needed. Mandatory position, Strategic Operations, Station Operations, and Flight Control were manned all hours of the day, but rarely by senior level staff as it was mostly unecessary. The spot, for all intents and purposes, served only to act as a location for senior staff to meet if there was a crisis. So far in the recent history of the station since her refit, the only crisis had been a civilian transport that had serious engine troubles and had drifted off course and out of transporter range. So, for the most part, it was a rare sight to see anyone here. Today was one of those rare sights.

Rear Admiral Minawara was standing over the central table, watching the coming and goings of the ships that floated around the holographic representation of the station. It wasn't much, mostly supply ships and ships seeking supplies that passed through. Two Aerovant LC-3152s were docked, offloading massive stores of Helium and Deuterium to the station for storage and resupply of vessels as they came through - that was really it. The only other ship of note was the Vesta herself, docked to the exterior, and the two Hornet class escorts that were nestled in their alcoves. The doors to the deck hissed open, drawing the Admiral's eyes, who raised an eyebrow at the people that walked through. Ms. Elaine Yaciw, the stations teacher, was leading a parade of students, who looked around in wonder. She had clearly been in the middle of explaining something, but stopped dead in her tracks to look at the Admiral. "I- uh- Admiral Minawara," she stuttered, before regaining her composure. "Class, this is the Task Force Commanding Officer for Task Force Seventy-Two. His crew, from the Vesta helped deliver the last supplies critical to making this station active." She straightened up, looking the man dead in the eye from the raised ring that dominated the Ithaca-class' CIC, and waited to see what he said. The brief staring match was broken by the doors to the ready room hissing open and Captain Penner exiting.

"Sorry Sir," they said, "I gave the class permission as there is nothing sensitive ongoing here in the Command Centre," they added. Yoshi smiled warmly, looking from the Captain to the teacher.

"Of course, it is crucial that the younger generations get to see the more boring side of the Fleet," the Read Admiral said with a node, himself straightening and lacing his fingers behind his back. "Well then, you came for a tour of the most boring part of this station, how about I let you ask me a question or two before you're on your way?" Immediately hands shot up from the gathered students. He nodded to a young girl in the front of the group who was waving her arm hard enough it was liable to come off.

"I heard you have a Borg arm!" She exclaimed excitedly, her eyes wide with excitement. The andorian boy behind her chimed in instead.

"No no, it's not a Borg arm, its a robot arm he said, matter-of-factly, a smug look settling onto his face. While the students themselves looked on with wild interest, Yoshi did his best to ignore the adults who instead looked positively mortified. Not skipping a beat, the Task Force Commander laughed, and paced around to be closer to them.

"The young Chan would be more correct, though you're not far off my dear," he said, laughter still colouring his tone, as he extended his arm forward. "The correct term is cybernetic, which refers to the study of using biomechanical engineering to replace damaged or missing organs and body parts. My left arm, the top four fixed ribs, and the left lung were all damaged beyond salvage while I was on an away mission. Early versions of my replacements were based on parts designed from traditional understandings, however since I first received them, following our dealings with the Borg in 2381, significant changes have been made to our understanding of cybernetics. Some of those new developments, including nanoprobes that can repair damaged tissue around my implants, were developed from reverse engineering Borg technology." This drew a murmur of excitement from the gathered children. This continued until a Bolian boy in the back's hand shot up.

"What's on deck one hundred?" he asked as soon as he was called on. While his tone was strong and confident, his eyes wavered, like he knew he wasn't supposed to be asking the question. Ms. Yaciw moved foward hurriedly ready to silence him, but Yoshi raised a dismissive hand.

"Admiral, Qegg doesn't know any better," she pushed, but again Yoshi shook his head to dismiss the comment.

"It's all good. Captain Penner, you think we should tell them?" There was a playful twinkle to his eyes, and Kai smiled, the non-binary human playing along.

"Well Sir, they do live here, they should know," they said, looking to the gathered bridge crew, who exchange confused looks. If the children picked up on it they showed no signs, all eyes locked on the Admiral. Forbidden knowledge was the best knowledge to a child. The Admiral nodded and cleared his throat.

"Computer, disable internal audio recordings, authorization Minawara Tango-One-Niner-Epsilon," he said, and the computer dutifully chirped. His eyes fell to the students, who had now pushed up to the railing so all could see. "You want to know what's on deck one hundred Mister Qegg? Ghosts. Not your holodeck fairy tale style ghosts, no, these are people trapped in an eternal struggle for supremacy of this station, trapped for all time and doomed to repeat the battle they are under taking." Some children looked skeptical, a few even went to comment, but they were shushed. "Ah, I see some of you don't believe. Tell me, have you ever heard their wails? Don't you wonder why we installed the airlock system? Why only very specialized crew may enter that deck?" Yoshi paused, allowing the tension to build.

Silence fell on the bridge, even now curious bridge officers listening in, and thirty pairs of eyes tracked his movement, listened to the sound of his boots on the deck plating. "Twenty-two years ago, this station was the edge of Federation space, the stop-gap between the Breen and the Cardassians, our only way to see the movement of ships from place to place. It was a critical refuel and surveillance point, and the Dominion wanted it gone. They were desperate, but the Federation made it a hard target. The Vancouver was stationed out of here, along with the Victoria and even the Miyazaki."

"Old Iron Sides," a student whispered somewhere in the crowd. The Miyazaki was a famous Akira-class, known for having been stranded on the other side of the border, and having been forced to scavenge parts and supplies. She had raided a Cardassian repair facility, cut off from support by a Klingon attack, and her crew had taken the liberty to make some on-the-fly modifications - not the least of which had been ablative armor stolen from said Cardassian facility. It had given the ship a hull far stronger than expected, and there was a famous sensor photo of the Miyazaki punching out of an ion cloud around Esquimalt, her port side trailing plasma fires and the ship firing a volley of torpedoes. Captain Cooper had been given a field promotion over the ship, and she had survived the entire war to eventually be returned to standard specifications. But the name had stuck.

"Exactly," Yoshi said. Truth was, the ship had made her first stop at Esquimalt and was supposed to be departing, but that wasn’t the point. “But the Dominion didn’t know what they were up against truly, and had held out, waiting for the right moment. What was misidentified as an ion storm was headed for Esquimalt. The Dominion knew the sensors and communications would be blacked out during this time, and chose to strike. As the storm rolled in, the stationed ships retreated behind the Esquimalt’s shields, and prepared to wait out the storm. The Dominion Ships broke through though, and an all out fight started. The Federation ships were strong, but Jem'hadar ships got through the shields and managed to get troops on board this station.” A few gasps escaped from the gathered children, something most were aware of, but most knew little details of, after all it wasn’t an exciting war turning fight.

“Fierce fighting filled the halls, but none was fiercer than the fighting on deck one hundred. Cardassians and Jem'hadar forces met Federation forces who were tasked with protecting the station's internal structure supports. The battle ground to a halt, and the minutes turned to hours, the hours into days. The fight on the station was a series of back and forth attacks, each attempting to secure the station. While the Federation ships did force back the Dominion ships, inside the station it was a very different situation. Marines held all the key points, but they didn’t have the resources to fully drive off the Dominion, who likewise had limited resources to push. That’s when something happened. The storm shifted, and strange energies coursed through the station. Consoles exploded, beams gave away, Esquimalt seemed determined to shake herself apart. The forces on Deck One Hundred took the opportunity to push, and weapons fire erupted! No one know how, but someone there ignited the energies, and everyone on Deck One Hundred disappeared! All without a trace.” The sound of awe passed through the students. “By the next day, the storm had passed, and the Dominion had failed to destroy this station. But on the eve of the battle being won, every year if you listen carefully, you can hear the cries of battle from the doors, the sound of Dominion and Federation forces locked in eternal battle. Who knows, maybe one day one side will win.” He trailed off.

“Okay class, we have taken enough of the Admiral’s time,” came the quiet and almost sheepish call from the teacher, but one student had her pause.

The child looked down on the Admiral, and waved a hand. “Sir, when was the storm done?”

Yoshi paused, considering the words like he was trying to remember the date. “If I remember right, 50834.93 would be the date. November 1st, 2373 by the Earth Calendar,” he said, nodding, as if he was sure. A group of students exchanged glances with one another as left left, a series of whispers as they moved from the room, Captain Penner approaching. They stood next to the Admiral, and waited for the kids to be gone.

“The Battle of Esquimalt and the Western Front took place in February,” they said, a sly smile. “And the Dominion never boarded the station, the Miyazaki ambushed the forces that got too close. The storm destroyed the other ships or drove them off.” The Admiral shrugged, but the Operations officer who was standing at his console chimed in.

“Admiral, I don’t mean to suggest you don’t know the station, but deck one hundred is simply a structural access point, it’s not critical in any way…” Looking back to the display Yoshi shrugged again, his face emotionless as he studied the ships around the station.

“Very interesting Lieutenant. But, we should schedule some basic maintenance on that section. Warn staff in surrounding sections there could be some settling on the superstructure if we do. Schedule it for 73833.27. Oh, and don’t forget to set up the trick-or-treating route for Halloween this year Captain, can’t have our children disappointed.” He offered a polite smile to the Captain. “I have some Fleet work, I’ll be in my office,” he said stepping away from the table and headed for the doors himself. As the silence fell, the Operations officer turned to the Captain.

“Captain, are we really going to do maintenance just to spook some kids for Halloween?”

“You heard the Admiral,” the Captain said heading for their own office, “can’t disappoint the children.”


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