Title: A THIN VENEER -Supplemental
Authors: Lightning Count, Kclcmdr (the Librarian) , RenS, and AlbertG: more to be added
Editing and comments by Ed Becerra Ash's Boomstick:
Contact: and PG- 13
Summary: Background stories directly related to 'A Thin Veneer'.
NOTICE: THIS STORY MAY BE DISTRIBUTED FREE OF CHARGE BUT MUST NOT BE SOLD OR EXCHANGED FOR FINANCIAL RETURN IN ANY FORM.
The full disclaimer will be located at the end of this story. However, be it known that we own nothing and expect to get nothing because the rights are owned by others. Only certain characters and technologies are ours and these are the creations of the authors who is solely responsible for them as such. Neither Studio is responsible for the content of this story.
THIS STATEMENT MUST ACCOMPANY THE STORY 'A THIN VENEER' IF DISTRIBUTED. THIS STORY IS FREE OF CHARGE AND MAY NOT BE SOLD OR EXCHANGED FOR FINANCIAL RETURN IN ANY FORM. THIS DEDICATION MUST ACCOMPANY ANY DISTRUBUTION OF THIS STORY.
Introduction: As you readers may know, ATV has grown from a small story (dreamed up by Col Crackpots 'Kirk Starkiller'), into a massive story with a few dozen side plots. What many of you may not know is that on that 'other website' the discussions, pictures, history, technical data, etc about ATV have been extremely hot and heavy. It has over 18,500 comments and over a million two hundred thousand views. It's been so heavy in fact that I found myself fighting to keep up with all of the data. Therefore it was suggested by myself and others that we ask for a few authors to submit a few side stories directly related to ATV but not part of the main story line to make sure that these secondary issues didn't get lost since I couldn't get to them without really adding to ATV which is already massive enough.
We will not even discuss ATV-2 most likely coming up in December –January of 2007. People are already speculating and planning for that generation of story. Whether its 10 years down the road or the 'next generation', we have 'the bible' set up for it and it's being added to all of the time. Some of the new vessels designs and plotlines are interesting to say the least.
Meanwhile and surprisingly, several authors answered the call. There were a few rules that had to be observed. No Mary Sue stories as they have to be directly related to the main ATV plotline. New characters could be added but these were short-ranged characters created to enhance the story not take it over. They were to remember that ATV was about the characters and the dangers to our 'civilized' attitudes first as opposed to the war itself. If the writer was unable to fully express himself, or herself through writing, it wasn't a problem. We would edit and configure the story because as you know-writing is hard and time consuming. And lastly; if you started, then finish it.
Those were (and are) the rules. So far several writers came to the fore. Some you know by their stories here on ff and some are new. We hope that you will enjoy. Now I do not know when we will update these stories but I will keep you abreast in ATV.
I did make one miscalculation in ATV and to a lesser extent the 'A universe of Change' series concerning the Minbari. First, I have been on their case quite heavily during the ATV war and for that I will make no apologies. They were dogs in their reasoning and handling of the Earth Minbari war. My mistake is that I should have balanced some of the more moderate characters so that we could get more sides of the Minbari people (not just the military and politicians) and their thoughts. That will be presented here in the supplement. But apparently, I have contaminated a lot of other writers and their stories with my Minbari attitude and for that I do half-apologize. At the same time, I've always believed that Earth Alliance was full of it and that reflects strongly in all of my stories including my little stint in 'Consequences of Actions-part 2'. The bottom line is that everyone (including the Feds) has its faults and I can't gloss over them.
The Vorlons-ah, the Vorlons. For such an advanced species, they have not shown much for their age…which is interesting. I do pick on them because they were supposed to be better than the Shadows-and they weren't. The Shadows were supremely dangerous and predatory but at least you knew where you stood with them. And they were more flexible (not trustworthy-not friendly; but you had a better chance of coming to an agreement with them as opposed to the Vorlons. So the agreement by the Alpha-beta quadrant allies was to keep them off the Feds back and keep them from making me write even more. Besides it allowed me to show another side of the elders which included the Metrons and Medusans and how they would affect that little circle everyone is so concerned about maintaining.
Dr. Khali was walking back to his assigned VIP room aboard the USS Concordat. For the past fifteen days, he had studying Federation culture and history in the starship's library database. Grudgingly, he was somewhat enjoying the trip. The spaciousness of his quarters, the whole ship in general was depressingly pleasant. EarthForce One was considered luxurious when traveling through to the stars. But Earth Alliance's finest might as well have been a horse and buggy compared to this. And he didn't like it one bit.
The library was just as nice but that wasn't of interests to him. He needed to cross-reference the information with what he had on hand from the database on Becerra Alpha One and from the reports given by General Lefcourt and Captain Sheridan, but he couldn't concentrate on his work. He had other interests such as using his time on the Concordat to observe the interspecies interaction in the starship crew.
Khali shuddered inwardly at the memory of the insane Minbari kamikaze assault on Becerra Alpha. It was fortunate that the Federation was technologically advanced enough to resist the assault as successfully as it had. The confusion and anger at the apparent betrayal of Branmer's own ultimatum had followed even as they were all convinced of Minbari insanity.
After the attack, Captain Sheridan had commented, "The Minbari believe in keeping their word of honor. For them to set forth an ultimatum of forty-eight hours and then break it…. That's not their MO. It's strange."
Khali dismissed the comment. It was only another symptom of the madness that the Minbari race seemed to be suffering. But now he wondered as his professionalism subconsciously tackled the problem.
Two men were walking down the corridor past Khali, conversing quietly. One was Vulcan and the other Deltan. Their species were only part of the amazing diversity of the starship crew. He'd seen Andorians, Caitians, Saurians, Tellarites, Betelgeusians, Zaranites, Ithenites and Tiburonians working together effortlessly. Some were odd, not just physically, but also psychologically.
The Vulcans, for example, was an entire race that appeared to be suffering from Asperger Syndrome. The symptoms were similar: limited interests or preoccupation with subjects not under their purview; repetitive behavior or rituals such as eyebrow-raising and that odd hand greeting. Peculiarities in speech and language including being pedantic and literal, advanced intelligence and an unnatural thirst for the most trivial of information, and a form of social behavior that might be labeled mildly autistic in humans as in the case where the Vulcans seemed to have an aversion to physical contact.
And the Deltans-
Deltans, including the man who had just passed Khali in the corridor with the Vulcan, smelled of sex. Normally, it would be exhilarating for Dr. Khali, but it was distracting. He couldn't see how the Deltans managed to go out in space in spite of their sexual addiction. To make matters more difficult, Deltans simply looked like humans who had closely shaved their heads. It was hard to believe that this was a typical example for Starfleet personnel. Then again he reasoned that only the best crews would be used to escort the delegation to the Federation.
How did they do it? Such different and distracting personal peculiarities. Oh, the Deltans had their Oath of Celibacy and the Vulcans had their exaggerated politeness. Still, it had to be distracting.
The closest example of interspecies cooperation that Khali could think of was what happened in the Dilgar War. The League races and humans had worked together to stop the Dilgar threat. Even then, the races stayed on their respective ships. They never mixed crews. He doubted that the alliance would have lasted if that happened. He could imagine a Drazi getting angry with a Llort co-worker and beating him up for trying to collect too many things.
Khali was sure that his future thesis would benefit from direct observation of the Federation. Any book he would write on the subject would have to be a bestseller back home. Too bad Senator Clark died. An input from the late Senator would add dimensions to his thesis.
What about the two Earths? In his readings and conversations, Khali was amazed to learn that there were more Earths in the Alpha Quadrant. Especially disturbing were the worlds of Juram V and Omega IV. They were perfect cases of what would happen had the Cold War gone another way.
The Federation already had a theory for that: Hodgkin's Law of Parallel Development. He planned to study more of the works of Dr. A. E. Hodgkin once he reached the Federation Earth. It seemed that just as the Galapagos Islands gave the crucial clues to Charles Darwin, the termites of Loracus Prime were the inspiration for Hodgkin's theory. Perhaps Khali would formulate a theory that was as revolutionary as that of Darwin and Hodgkin.
Khali's Law of Parallel Earths. Khali's Law of Xeno-political Evolution. He smiled. Those sounded good. He'd also heard of an ancient advanced alien race called the Preservers being responsible for the Earths. It was only natural that Humanity should attract the recognition of such higher beings.
But which Earth was the original?
It had to be his Earth. Otherwise, the incredibly detailed fossil record would have to be impossibly fabricated by the Preservers. He chuckled. He could imagine such a theory giving steam to those Young-Earth nuts.
His reputation was on the line, Khali was sure. Otherwise, those other professors at Harvard would laugh at him. How university professors love to grind their feet on each other's necks as they climb the academic ladder!
He knew that even as they praised his selection to be part of the delegation, they would turn around and mouth off about him. It was only natural in academic politics.
His thesis on Federation lore would only add to his prestige at Harvard.
"We picked this ship up fourteen minutes ago," the young tactical Officer reported as he led the two senior Officers urgently through the corridors of USS Lincoln. If he was somewhat awed by the mighty company he found himself in, the Officer offered no indication. "Minbari in origin."
His two associates, the nearest thing to living legends Starfleet could boast shared a look.
"Fascinating." Spock said.
"You know, I was just about to say that," Kirk replied.
"Is the vessel on a diplomatic mission?" Spock turned the question on their guide.
"In a manner of speaking, sir." He led them into a security station, showing his pass to the duty Officer at the entrance. "The vessel communicated with us and asked for permission to dock, after a thorough scan we found no bombs or traps so we allowed it and brought the occupant here."
"Just one?" asked Kirk.
"Yes sir," the Officer said. "You better take a look."
He brought up the display on a nearby panel, an image of a female sat silently on a bed in the USS Hanoi's primary brig. Kirk had never seen her before. The female alien was an entirely different species from what he'd seen in this sector of space.
"No, Admiral," the Officer answered.
Intriguing," stated Spock. "The Minbari do not share their technology, indeed they are irrational in how jealously they guard their secrets. It is unlikely they would have allowed an alien to purchase one of their vessels, even a small one."
"And I doubt she stole it," Kirk mused. "No one local has the tools to try that. We better talk to her. Maybe she can tell us something about the Minbari."
"Sirs, before you do," The Officer spoke. "There is some additional information. Her species matches nothing we have encountered so we ran it through Earth Alliance records."
"You got something?"
"We got a lot sir, not just a species match, but an individual match."
"So we got a celebrity?" Kirk asked.
"In a way, yes sir." The Officer handed over the information. "She's a Dilgar."
"Never heard of them," Kirk said.
"An extinct race," Spock recited. "Their star went Nova in 2235, shortly after they were defeated in a long war thanks to the involvement of Earth Alliance."
Kirk gave him a sideways look. "When did you find time to read that?"
"If something is important, you make the time."
Kirk grinned, remembering the origin of that quote. "And our guest? I guess they weren't all extinct."
"That is Warmaster Jha'dur," the Officer remarked.
"Go on Spock, I know you want to," Kirk grinned.
"I have no ego Admiral, as you know. My wish to share knowledge is for the benefit of all, not merely my own gratification," Spock answered plainly. "Warmaster Jha'dur was arguably the worst of her race and the greatest war criminal on record. Her crimes rivals even the most infamous criminals known in our own Federation archives. The true scale is unknown but Earth Alliance sources hold her responsible for over ten billion deaths."
That took Kirk a little by surprise. He'd met a lot of villains in his time, tyrants and murderers alongside beings callous and cruel, but this female threatened to take the top place.
"Why?" he asked. "Casualties of war?"
"Not all," Spock answered. "Many were killed for scientific experimentation, others apparently as simple entertainment. She infected the planet of Latig IV with a plague simply to see how long it took for them to die."
Kirk's levity vanished faster than ship going to high warp. He had been more interested in how she had gained Minbari technology, but now his mind was filled with darker thoughts.
"She is the most wanted individual in this sector of space," Spock concluded. "Both Earth Alliance and the League have warrants for her immediate arrest, but have never found her."
"I think I know why," Kirk answered as his mind pieced together the puzzle. How far are from the Hanoi.
"Inform Enterprise that we will divert and rendezvous with the Hanoi in two days," he ordered. "The rest of the fleet is to continue on their mission. We'll go talk to her and see what all this is about."
"I need a chance to observe incognito, Captain."
"Incognito," echoed Captain T'Lara with an arched eyebrow.
Dr. Khali took a deep breath. "Incognito. As you may be aware, there is a psychological effect in being observed by someone who's recognized as an outsider. I'm sure you've observed it yourself, Captain. Whenever you enter a room, your crewmembers worked just a bit harder to impress you."
Impassively, T'Lara replied to the request. "I have indeed observed such behavior among a few of the Officers. However, it is irrelevant. My only concern is that my crew performs its duty ably enough. I would hardly ascribe to the label 'outsider' as applied to myself, Doctor."
Flashing a brilliant smile, Khali said, "there you go! To make observations unaffected by such a psychological aspect, I need to borrow a uniform. You don't have to give me any rank. Just being a warrant Officer would be enough. It's only temporary, Captain. There won't be any break in your chain of command, I assure you."
"Indeed." The tone in the captain's response suggested that she wouldn't brook any such break.
"I'll be just a fly on the wall."
T'Lara opened her mouth to comment on the illogic of such a performance when the starship went into Red Alert. The Vulcan captain whipped her head around to look at the main viewer.
In the middle of the conduit, there was something that appeared to be an asteroid. Then it grew to the size of a moon. Khali realized that the transformation was due to the high speed at which the ship and object were heading toward each other. He gripped a rail and looked to the captain with wide eyes.
"Blue Alert," the Vulcan calmly ordered. "Shields up. Rear and front view in split screen. Inform the Achilles and the Guam to not take any evasive action."
As if they could. Inside the transit way there was no way the ships could turn, accelerate or decelerate or effectively use their weapons. They were in a state of non-existence and would remain that way until they exited the Courtor-Terra passage as it was now being called.
Khali knew none of this. How could she be so calm? They weren't even trying to get out of the object's way! It now appeared to be a planet—a gas giant with rings. Madness! These Starfleet types were suicidal!
"They're not showing anything," reported the science Officer. "Not even mass."
T'Lara nodded. "That is consistent with the reports of other sightings."
The giant planet rushed up to the starship until its face was so close it seemed as if they were going to slam into it. Clouds rushed past the ship. In the rear view, the clouds reappeared in a deepening blue sky. Glittering crystals appeared in the front view beyond the clouds. Khali glanced at nervously at the Captain, wondering whether the crystals would scrap the ship to ribbons. T'Lara only watched calmly at approaching doom.
The crystals seemed to dissolve before them – and resolved behind them. They were now into the planet's "surface." The crystals steadily became darker and dirtier-looking until they came upon ice-crystal clouds with flowing water. Beyond was liquid hydrogen which steadily became denser and denser until it was metallic.
"Fascinating," muttered T'Lara. For those who understood Vulcan psychology and body language, this was the equivalent of jumping up and down in the middle of the street.
Fascinating? thought the terrified Earther. That was an understatement if Khali ever heard of one. This…this was mind-boggling!
Then they came upon the planet's core. Khali's eyes widened even further than he thought possible. The core appeared to be solid diamond! Yet the Concordat and the two Earth ships passed through effortlessly as if it wasn't even there.
"Intriguing," commented the Vulcan Captain. "They are possibly using phasing technology of a type never encountered before."
They found a diamond the size of Earth, and all T'Lara could do was mumble some techno-nonsense?
Soon, the whole sequence of going through the layers was reversed as the starship went through to the other side. The planet soon shrunk to nothingness in the rear view.
As the crew stared at the viewscreen, amazed at what had transpired, the Captain announced casually, "cancel Blue Alert. Contact the Achilles and Guam, and inquire as to their condition."
"Science, coordinate with the department heads and see if you can modify the sensors to where we can actually investigate these sightings. I want to be informed as to whether the chemical photographs were successful in capturing this unprecedented event.
Dr. Khali looked around in amazement. The crew was slowly but surely going back to their routine as if what had just happened was routine.
He finally exhaled when he realized that he had been holding his breath while that planet came barreling at, through and past the starship in mere seconds. Was it just seconds? Seemed like an eternity!
If that wasn't staged for their benefit….
Khali reeled under the implications. He'd heard whispers among the older races, whispers of First Ones. He had been casually thinking about such beings creating parallel Earths and he hadn't fully realized the enormity of it all until just now in the warp highway.
"Doctor Khali," said Captain T'Lara. "It is prudent that we do not process your request for now. My ship requires attention. We shall relay any information we find to you and the other delegates as well as your ships. Doubtless, they would be most interested in what occurred."
He realized that he was being asked to leave the bridge…politely, of course.
"Er…yes. Yes. I understand. Thank you for your time. Thanks for that most fascinating…experience."
T'Lara raised an eyebrow at his response and then turned to her duty, clearly dismissing him.
Nervously, Khali went into the turbolift. Conversations with his fellow travelers and Ambassador David Sheridan were going to be very interesting….