Canopus Station
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Posted on Thu May 27th, 2021 @ 1:01pm by The Narrator & Major Tatiana Skobelova & Lieutenant Commander Amie Cerys & Staff Warrant Officer Blaise Birch

Mission: S2:3: Snow Drift
Location: 'Coney Island', Planet Tripwire, Concordance Space
Timeline: MD-2 18.30

Dusk was beginning to settle in on Coney Island. To the north and east of the island, the Concordance continued their exercise. So far it was infantry fighting tactics, with the armour they'd unloaded acting in a transport capacity. But the Observation Post had spotted them unloading palletised ordinance for their armour. A portable comm's tower had gone up around the same time powerful lights lit up the Concordance Camp, and encrypted burst traffic had begun to whisper to and fro.

And whilst the Concordance were enjoying their military glamping, the Federation contingent on the south end of the island were enjoying...well the label on the side of the bar proclaimed it to be 'Banana/Beef'. One half of the bar was canary yellow, whilst the other was a decidedly brown colour.

But given both sides tasted worryingly similar it was best not to look too closely.

"If you're not going to eat that, I'll have it," Kle ventured looking at the bar in one of the science tech's hands. "Compared to the yeast porridge I had day in and day out in the bunker back home, it's luxurious. And it's a new flavour."

Amie just shook her head. She was used to field ration type things in all her time as intel-in-the-field, not doing normal Starfleet things. But even this was an odd taste for her. However, it was food and it could be worse. "That yeast porridge could be worse," she finally said, glancing to Kle. "I found ways when I did have it to make it taste...edible."

Fuming and furious, Blaise uncrossed his arms to better lean forward and whisper two words in a disdainful hiss. "What. Now?"

"OP to Base Camp, we got company incoming. Looks like two cargo trucks and one of those armoured IFV's. We've had eyes on them for the last thirty minutes, but they've only just begun dog legging their way up an overgrown trial. Didn't even see it until they started cutting their way through it. But now we can see the trail leads approximately to our landing site where the burn pit is. We can keep eyes on them, but their going through the jungle we'll loose them as the terrain masks their approach. We move to keep eyes on them we'll loose sight of the beach and their FOB. Orders?"

"Burn pit could be one of their normal spots, but they have a point about the jungle." She looked between the others. "What do we want to do?"

"The more we move the better chance we get detected." Tatiana replied. "Let's see how these guys react to the fire pits. If anything, we'll learn what they like to eat and how much they like to feed their faces. As for the OP, you guys keep eyes on the FOB."

"Is there a compelling reason we can't call for a beam-out?" Birch asked, continuing his train of grousing. "At least those of us who do not have a death wish?"

"Transporter technology converts matter into energy," Kle said, finishing up the bar. "Never did see the Concordance using that tech. But I imagine it puts out a lot of byproducts during the process. Radio waves, light, enough to light up a Saints Day Pyre back home. At least from close range."

She balled up the wrapper and slipped it into a pocket.

"Like a beach," Kle said, looking at Birch eye to eye.

"Don't think any of us are leaving until this mission is done," Amie stated looking at them. "So whether or not we have a death wish doesn't matter now, we have a job to do."

Tatiana smiled at Amie before turning to Birch. "Welcome to Starfleet."

"I'm surrounded by idiots," Birch muttered.


Night had fallen on the landing party. The night skies of Tripwire were wrapped in bands of clouds, and a tiny pale potato-shaped rock of a moon cast nearly no light down on them. The three-vehicle convoy from the Concordance beachhead had finally made it up the rise. The heavy wheels of the eight-wheeled cargo trucks shoved smaller tree's aside, and the armoured IFV pulled up the rear. It was a squat six-wheeled affair, its wheels thick metal toothed cogs that bit into the dirt.

Soldiers in grey fatigues and body armour got out of the cargo trucks, twenty in total. From a glance, they were clearly a mix of different species, but none seemed to have preferential treatment over the other. Each soldier wore a mask over their head, a stylised monstrous grotesque design like a Japanese kabuki mask depicting a demon.

The IVF disgorged the officer class, three figures in dark greatcoats and peak caps. One of them was much shorter, matching the descriptions the Canopus Expedition had provided of the patriarch species of the Concordance.

Over the next hour half of the troopers set up a loose perimeter, whilst the other half began to chop down wood and pile it atop a soon lit pyre. The three officers walked around the pyre as it was constructed, directing one of the troopers in their unit to pick up stones from the ground and place them in a bowl.


Amie watched carefully. Even if Intel was her area, this was more military than that. She was still carefully taking in all of the details, however, some of what they were doing, such as the stones into the bowl, she wasn't quite understanding. "They are for sure making camp," she whispered after some time.

"Thank you, Captain Obvious," Birch said. "And now for the weather..."

Grinding her teeth while talking on the comm, Tatiana tried to restrain her anger. "Mister Birch, do I have to remind you that you are a Starfleet officer? It's hard enough to keep the marines in line without the officers acting like fools. If we didn't have Concord types crawling all over us, I would have you removed from this mission. As it is, I'm tempted to make a formal complaint about your unprofessional behavior to your department head. Unofficially, I would like to slap your pasty white face all over this island. Now unless you have something constructive to add, stay quiet."

"Tit for tat, Major, for I have already composed in mind the preliminary draft of the formal complaint I shall lodge against you because, and I repeat..." Birch cleared his throat in preparation of a melodramatic statement, "WE SHOULD NOT EVEN BE HERE RIGHT NOW!"

Snapping her head over to the others, Amie glared at them. "Doesn't matter now, does it? What matters is we are here and need to take care of things. Also," she looked at Birch, "She is right. You are a Starfleet officer and I won't hesitate to put you on report for your conduct here. Watch it."

"Oh, you're all going on report," Birch said, "never you worry. Command is going to have a field day in regards to this little field day."


The Concordance troops stood their watches as night darkened, and the campfire was lit. It was an impressive blaze, the dried wood of the island burning with a venomous green tinge.

Field Marshal Arjin stood back amongst the vehicles, watching as his second officer Kajik walked slowly along the line of neophyte officers that had accompanied them to this place. Unlike the rank and file, the officers did not wear the iron grotesques. They wore their origins on their faces, eyes that had evolved under a dozen different stars, but with minds that all now knew the truth of Concordance.

"It's alright to be afraid," Kajik said with a rueful smile. What the Xilosian lacked in physical prowess, he more than made up for in charisma and presence. He looked at each cadet officer as he spoke. "I stood where you stand now, three years ago. I was new to the crusade, to the idea of war. Before I knew the truth, I was a painter. Of houses, not art, but it was honest work. Much like this. Honest. Truthful. War does not lie."

He nodded to a mask-wearing trooper, who using a pair of tongs pulled the metal bowl out of where it had been buried in the flaming timbers. The stones within it, now rosy in colour from the fierce heat, crackled and spat.

"And nor will I. Serving as an officer of the Crusade is painful, it is tiring, and ultimately will lead to your death. You'll never be thanked by the peoples who you aid in liberating, or by the heathens you eradicate. But it is a pain shared, by all who wear this uniform with pride," Kajik's voice purred as he took off his left glove, revealing his dark obsidian skin. The palm was grey and twisted with scar tissue, and he reached into the bowl and picked up one of the smoking coals.

"Pride and endurance will take you far, it will make you a beacon to your men and women to follow into battle. You must embody the will of the Concordance to them," he said as he held up his left hand, his fingered curled around the smoking rock. "One voice. One mind. One people. It is through the fire that the will of the universe is known, and it's faithful anointed."

He waited another handful of seconds, before lowering his hand and dropping the stone. His hand, charred and smoking on his palm, remained at his side.

"Step forward the first who would be anointed into the officer ranks, so that your brothers and sister might know you?" Kajik asked.


Kle lowered the monocular from her eye, her knuckles turning her black skin grey where she gripped it tightly.

"Kajik," she hissed. "I recognise that bastard."

"Friend of yours?" Birch asked snidely.

"That's why we're here. To find things like that out." Tatiana replied to Birch's question. "See, instead of making fire pits to cook food, we discovered they use them for some sort of creepy hazing ritual. The things ya' learn."

"Getting back to the mission, what can you tell us about him?" Tatiana asked.

"Kajik...was a civilian from back home. During the years before the Concordance's true nature was revealed he came out of nowhere, plucked from obscurity to become the poster child for the good works of the Concordance. He travelled the globe with them, the frontman for them. He talked to crowds, rallies...looking back he was just means to an end. Getting the Concordance used to being seen on Xilos and accepted by the locals with their tame and trained Xilosian pet," Kle said darkly. "And when they pulled off the kit gloves, suddenly he was stirring up the mob. What looked like popular uprisings in support of nuking our cities, in hindsight, was just the infected flocking to him. He was very good at getting people to do what he needed them to do. Not bad for a decorator."

Her hand had fallen to the holster on her hip. Instead of a phaser, there was an L shaped piece of composite and metal that looked like a slug thrower from Earths pre-warp days.

"He marched them into those temples when the end came. Sang them on their way as ash and smoke billowed from within them, as countless millions happily walked into incinerators with a glad heart," there was a click and the gun was in her hand, her body already moving.

Kle's actions sent Tatiana's heart racing. She was going to get them discovered. Tatiana needed to act. She got up and started to move towards Kle. "Kle, stop what your doing! You're going to get us killed!"

"Oh, no, the angry soldier with the vendetta is going to get us all killed," Birch said with no small amount of snark. "How could anyone have ever seen that coming? If only someone had thought to leave her on the ship, or suggested going back to the ship when enemy forces were spotted, or suggested not waiting until we were completely fucking surrounded before taking any action." His black lips spat onto the ground. "Stupid grunts should never have been in charge of a scientific survey."

"Did that man help burn your planet to a nuclear wasteland? Did he march your family into one of those Saint damned obsidian temples and burn them alive?" Kle stopped, turned on a heel and glowered at Tatiana. "For you, this is a recon mission. You want to know more about them. Well, we've been telling you about them since you took us in. My world died because of those things. What did you think I was here for? Your commanders already made it very clear we're 'guests' of the Federation. We're pitied. Well, someone's got to do something to make the deaths of billions mean something."

She then slowly raised the weapon into the air and pulled the trigger. A bark of cordite resounded through the wood.

"To Shade with this." Since caution was now thrown to the wind, there was nothing stopping them from evacuating. Birch tapped his combadge. "Ground team to Necromancer. Beam us out as soon as you get a transporter lock. Feel free to leave the Xilosian if she gets out of range."

"Damnit...we aren't leaving anyone behind!" Amie swore in a few languages. "Necromancer, confirmed, beam us out! But get all of us!"

The comm badges chirped in response, but whatever was said was cut off as sporadic gunfire began to pluck at leaves and tug on the iron like bark of the trees. The initiate officers by the fire, closest to the Starfleet position, had pulled out service revolvers and began to cover the withdrawal of Kadjik and his shorter superior.

This was soon followed by the sweeping searchlight attached to the top of the trucks, that shattered the foliage into black and white blades with its brightness.

"-Necromancer to away team, unable to comply. Out of range. Suggest starside intercept with the Javelin when we make orbit. ETA fifteen minutes."

A flare went off over their, it was too dim to be a flare. More like powerful moonlight. No sooner had it begun to fade than another flash of pale light...and another followed it. Above them, a trio of stars were pulsing, moving across the heavens as the massive Orion pulse drive starships of the COncordance began to move out of orbit.

"Where the bark did he go!" Kle said, gun up and returning fire with a marksmen's skill. One of the officers pitched over, the solid slug from her gun having taken most of the head along with it when it passed through him.

Hearing the Necromancer's reply, Amie swore again. "We don't have bloody 15 minutes!" She pulled her phaser but was going to let the others do the shooting. She hated that part of the job.

"Skobelova to landing teams: Do not fire unless you're compromised. The compromised party isn't from Starfleet. They might assume she was a stay behind. Star in your hiding places, the Javelin is en route for extraction. No one will be left behind." Tatiana ordered in a calm but firm voice.

"I hope they shoot you, Kle. It will save Starfleet the trouble." Tatiana thought to herself.

Sighing heavily, Amie ducked back down into the hiding place a bit more. "What a hell of a mess," is all she mumbled.

A tree ten meters to the right of Amie exploded. The sound of it falling was cut off as another further back blew up. The autocannon mounted to the turret of the IVF had turned to bear on the threat and was now barking out a steady cough of shells. DOOK! DOOK! DOOK!

"Ma'am," one of the marines next to Skobelova hefted their right arm up. Running under the forearm of the armour sleeve was a narrow tube. A 'tread feather' was the slang term for the H-8 rail gun, a single-use weapon designed for taking out armoured targets with a depleted uranium core as big as a chop stick.

"What the hell are you waiting for?!" Birch shouted at the Marines. "You meat shields have one job! Why aren't you doing it already?!"

"Shoot it!" Tatiana yelled at the marine. A bit frustrated, she got on the comm. "Skobelova to marines: If you have been compromised engage the your targets. Don't ask for permission! You have it!"

Tatiana readied her rifle. While she really wanted to start shooting away, Tatiana had a duty to lead the marines and keep them somewhat organized. Fifeteen minutes was a long time in a firefight, she hoped that there would be something left of the landing party to rescue.

Amie hadn't wanted a firefight. But, what choice did she really have at this point? All she had was a phaser, and even though she'd been in Starfleet for longer than she liked to admit, she was still a terrible shot. The marines obviously had a plan of their own, and she still had the intel job. But, what good was the intel job if she didn't survive this? "Why do I ge the feeling you all knew this was going to happen?!"

"I've only been predicting it this entire time!" Birch bitched.

"Lance Corporal Takabe, you have a flank shot on one of the APCs heading our direction. If your guy can take the shot, do it now!" Tatiana shouted over the comm.

Less then a second later, a contrail zipped from under some underbrush and hit one of the APCs center mass. The turret of the APC shot straight into the air as fire engulfed the hull.

"Outstanding Third Team." Tatiana congratulated her marines.

Controlled burst fire from the Marine's soon began to whittle down the return gunfire from the Concordance. Though to give them their due they were regrouping quickly, seeking out cover behind the trucks and now burning wreckage of the APC.

"OP to command, we have activity from the beachhead. Looks like some sort of rapid response unit is lifting off from the transport, came up from an under deck hanger space. Quadrotor craft. They are already deploying land-based assets, but estimate they will be OBE by the arrival of the drop ship." Buzzed over the comm feed.

"Oh come on now, really?!" Amie was tired of this. She didn't sign up for this type of mission, and she absolutely hated it. She was an intel officer who hated firefights. At this point, she just wanted to get transported out of there. "Can't we catch a damned break?"

"I think we're doing well." Tatiana replied to Amie. "Skobelova to everyone: We have enemy aircraft incoming. Try to knock it out of the sky before it can offload its cargo."

Glaring at Tatiana, Amie shook her head, "No, I was hoping this wouldn't be a firefight mission. No point in me being here as Intel if that was the original plan!"

"I wanted this mission to be uneventful. It just didn't work out that way. Look at the bright side, you can get your intel on these guys first hand." Tatian told Amie before quickly going up to one knee and shooting at dark figures moving too close.

"This is not the kind of intel I'm needing though!" Amie was letting the others do the dirty work, that wasn't her part.

Birch scoffed, loud and obnoxious. "This was always the plan, just as I objected from the start. Soldiers are nothing but hammers in a universe they cannot help but see as nails."

From the underbrush to their right one of the metal grotesque masked soldiers came out. He was humanoid, bulky across the shoulders, but with the snarling metal mask covering his face it rendered the solder almost entirely featureless. What was not featureless was the machine rifle in his hands. He brought it up quickly, a practised movement.


The Concordance trooper fell over sideways, the masks metal frontage hiding the mess one of Kle's stub rounds had done on its way through the front of the soldier's skull. Kle holstered her pistol, picking up the auto rifle and quickly running a practised eye over it.

"These people are death to billions, trust me I'm just speeding up the process of getting you Federationists into the fight," she said without looking at Amie or Birch. She racked the slide, the design oddly intuitive.

A dull roll of thunder peeled across the cloudless sky.

"-zzzt Javelin to Ground Team we're inbound, coming in from the south towards the clearing. We are detected multiple directed radar beams coming from that transporter, probably SAM's. We'll come in low and beam you out in a single pass. How copy?"

"This is Skobelova, good copy, Javelin. If you can't get everyone out, leave the marines and myself for another pass." Tatiana answered.

"Copy. Should be able to get you all in one pass, stand by we're coming in."

The buzzing thrum of the Concordance quad rotor roared as it crested the cliff face, its powerful spotlights blasting through the tree cover in monochromatic shafts. Its bug-eyed cockpit, festooned with sensor antenna's and gun muzzles, glinted as the chin-mounted autocannon swivelled and took aim. It juked to one side suddenly as a blue flash ripped past it, as a Marine rail gun failed to connect to the target.

Then it suddenly turned, tracking a new targeting as tracer rounds spat from it into the dark sky. The solid ammunition fire was returned a second later but a powerful jab of phaser fire, that melted most of the quadcopter and turned the rest into falling and flaming debris.

Debris which landed gratifyingly close to the Concordance position.

"Okay folks, it's now or never," the Javalin pilot said over the open mic, as the large Marine drop ship slewed in the air, turning on its nose as it bled speed.

And then the transporter took them.


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