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Literary Challenge #68 - STO Halloween - Entries Thread

pwecaptainsmirkpwecaptainsmirk Member Posts: 0 Arc User
edited November 2014 in Ten Forward
Welcome to a Special Edition of the New Month Long Writer's Challenge!

Today we start the one month run of the sixty-eighth Literary Challenge: STO Halloween.

We will be running this event from the 10/01 to the 10/31.

You may enter 1 story for this topic over the course of the net month.

This month, our topic will be a single storyline...

Star Trek Online Halloween
The ancient tradition of Terran Fall Harvest Celebrations, Spirit Worship, and the practice of 'Trick or Treat' has long been studied by allies of the Federation. With our favorite holiday fast approaching, we want to see what great stories you can come up with that celebrate the concept of Halloween, either from a human perspective, or from that of any of the species in STO. Do the Klingons or Romulans have similar cultural traditions? Do the Bajorans? The Caitians? The Orions? The Talaxians? Now is your chance to invent something special just in time for the holiday.

This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.

The Discussion Thread for all three topics can be found HERE.

We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.

The Basic Rules:
  • Each Challenge will run for 4 weeks. You may enter at any time during this open period.
  • There are no right or wrong entries.
  • Please keep discussion about the entries in the appropriate Discussion Thread.

A few other important reminders:
  • Please obey the TOS rules and policies of our Forum with each entry.
    • Anything overtly sexual or "adult" will be deleted. You have been warned. This is not a slash forum.
  • Each poster can have one entry per topic. Feel free to edit your post to fix typos or add/ remove content as you see fit during the next month.
  • After four weeks time, the thread will be locked and unstickied, as we move on to the next challenge.
  • We'll have two threads: One to post the entries in and one to discuss the entries. **Cross-linking between these two threads is acceptable for these challenges ONLY!!**

Have fun Captains!

~CaptainSmirk
Post edited by Unknown User on

Comments

  • worffan101worffan101 Member Posts: 9,518 Arc User
    edited October 2014
    Mostly plotless silliness, hope you enjoy!

    Cast list:
    Trenek: Stephen Lang.
    Rachel Connor: Demi Moore, from "GI Jane".
    Ta'kat: Andy Serkis.
    Keran Evek: Grant Imahara
    Enak Lekal: Andrew-Lee Potts
    CMO Ensign Fel: Ethan Phillips, because he’s a damn fine actor even if I hate Neelix with an undying passion.
    Mori Halan: Ruth Kearney
    Lieutenant JG Aaron Gray: Ben Browder
    Private K’tar, son of K’tang: The Rock, because he's actually a decent actor.
    Private Andrew Lamont: The Undertaker, because he's got an awesome act.
    ***
    "You must be joking."

    Lieutenant Rachel Connor's voice was flat and humorless.

    "We're in the Pelia sector--where Undine attacks are a weekly event--on extended duty, and you want us to throw a party?"

    "Not just any party," said Lieutenant JG Aaron Gray, XO of the USS Patagonia, with a brilliant grin. "A HALLOWEEN party."

    "Even leaving aside the tremendous stupidity of this idea, isn't it kind of discriminatory against those species and cultures that don't celebrate Halloween? I mean, I don't think Klingons have an analogue, Bajorans certainly don't, and who knows about Ha'ni? Captain, I'm going to have to strenuously object to Lieutenant Gray's plan."

    "Your objection is noted," said Captain Trenek, lounging ever so slightly in his chair at the head of the table. "Nevertheless, I agree with Mr. Gray. This celebration will be a positive respite from our duties. However, I must insist that all species and cultures possible be represented."

    "The Kot'Baval's the same day as your Halloween this cycle," growled MACO Private K'tar, son of K'tang. "I could replicate a costume and come to the party as the tyrant Molor; people could take turns being Kahless the Unforgettable."

    "Just as long as I don't have to be Lukara," grumbled Rachel. "Ridges are hard as hell to hold."

    "We don't have anything like this in the Union," said Keran Evek, the Trill chief engineer. "But the Gul always said that understanding other cultures is critical to effectiveness in any career, so I can come as...I dunno, Captain Proton or something."

    "Sweet," beamed Gray. "I'll be Agent 014, and Lekal's going heel as Latinum Moneybags Cashfield. Hey, we could have a costume party, and apple bobbing..."

    "That leaves just one problem," said Trenek. "Who explains this to Ta'kat?"
    ***
    "I hate drawing the short straw..." muttered Rachel Connor as she pulled a three-month-old khartan crocodile off of her hand and stuffed it gently but firmly back into its tank, then closed the lid. "I really, really do..."

    "Oh, tanit Rachel!" exclaimed Ta'kat, her reptilian vocal apparatus mangling Rachel's name almost to the point of unrecognizability. Rachel really wished the woman would just wear a universal translator instead of consciously speaking Standard. "Come in, come in!"

    The little Ha'ni pulled off her welding goggles, absent-mindedly put them on top of a precarious stack of PADDs, and patted a juvenile khartan that was wandering around on the head.

    "What does the zaan require?"

    "Um...Captain Trenek doesn't need anything," said Rachel. "He was wondering, though, if you'd like to attend the shipboard Halloween party in costume, though."

    "Costume? Halloween?" The skinny little lizard's interest was piqued.

    "Yeah. You dress up as a devil or a witch or a ghost or zombie or some character, generally a scary one, and you go to a party like that and eat lots of candy--that's food with way too much sugar--and drink bad fruit punch. Want to come?"

    "I need to be something scary?"

    "Um...not need, but yeah, it's considered traditional to be something scary..."

    Ta'kat fairly cackled in glee.

    "Liratana! I will be there, tanit! You can depend on me!"

    "That's...wonderful," said Rachel, backing swiftly out of the hazard zone that was Ta'kat's immediate vicinity and trying not to think about the Ha'ni woman's reptilian hisses of laughter as she fairly sprinted down to the relative comfort of the armory.
    ***
    Rachel gave herself a last once-over in the mirror. Face in proper shape, eyes shifted to imitate the glaze of congenital blindness, hair black and in that adorable little style, barefoot, the vaguely Vietnamese or maybe Chinese-looking clothes in green and pale tan, the fancy belt...

    Yup. She just needed the smirk...

    One saucy, arrogant little badass smirk later, and she was the spitting image of her favorite holo character. About a foot and a half too tall, of course, but she wasn't a ten-year-old girl from a fantasy world; some sacrifices had to be made.

    Now. Attitude. The most important part.

    "I'm the Blind Bandit, and you're going down, Boulder!"

    Mmh. Voice was a little off pitch. She tried again.

    Perfect.

    Rachel allowed herself a small thrill of satisfaction as she left her quarters for the crew lounge. She was going to win this contest hands-down.
    ***
    Keran Evek took the uniform out with no small degree of reverence.

    It had been his father's, before the uniform code got revamped by Legate Garak. It was a relic of the old Guard, a mark of pride for Daran Evek, who'd been a bottom-feeding freighter Captain with his wife before the Gul had come looking for a fancy pilot to go after a Maquis raiding group that had been causing him problems.

    They hadn't caught the Maquis, and the ship had been badly damaged, but the Gul had been very impressed by Daran's skill at not getting the Gul's ship destroyed by the Badlands cosmic storms (even though there had been quite a few hairy moments after that exotic particle wave vacuumed up the Maquis ship and send the Cardassian warship flying). Daran Evek had taken his offer in a heartbeat and never looked back.

    Keran straightened the Fourth Order insigniae, smoothed out a few wrinkles, and checked himself in the mirror. He saluted.

    "Gil Keran Evek reporting for duty, my Gul. For Cardassia!"

    Dad would say he looked good in the uniform, and then would clap him on the back and take him fishing. Mom would be mildly disapproving on the surface but secretly proud. His uncle, the old Gul, would salute him right back and tell him to go put on a proper new CDF uniform. But he'd be proud of Keran, too.

    Growing up in the Union, Keran Evek had never experienced anything like Halloween. But by the state, he was willing to try.
    ***
    CMO Ensign Fel was dressed up as a Talaxian.

    The Patagonia's crew, as a whole, disapproved of Admiral Janeway, her actions in the Delta Quadrant, and the entire Talaxian and Kazon species. Some briefing materials for Operation Delta Rising had made their way to the Patagoina, including a briefing on Talaxian culture containing several recordings of Neelix.

    Fel had hated the man on sight.

    So now he was dressed up as an openly racist stereotype of a Talaxian; and somehow, the fifteen people who had seen him in costume and character so far had found him less annoying and racist towards Talaxians than Neelix.

    "Captain," said Fel with a salute to the Vulcan man, who was dressed in a flamboyant silken outfit. "Nice suit."

    "Thank you, Ensign. I am in costume as Elrond, from the Human entertainment frahcnise "Lord of the Rings". Your costume is...most jarring."

    "Yeah. Oh, hang on, lemme get in character...Herro, Mr. Vulcan! Me is Neelix! Me smart! Me can cook! Me food be toxic, I be annoying, I make anyone who see me want to airlock themselves! Make me your morale officer!"

    Trenek could not resist a small quirk of his lips--the Vulcan equivalent of a laugh. "Most impressive. I believe that you are actually less of a hindrance to public opinion of the Talaxian species than Neelix is."

    "Heh. I've had people tell me that over a dozen times so far. Oh, and stay away from the punch, sir, Gray spiked it."
    ***
    Mori Halan shoved her way into the almost painfully-tight suit, pulled the zipper up as far as it would go (huh, turns out it WOULD only go up halfway, even with less...endowment--which begged the question as to how the Human woman had managed it in those old films in the first place), checked her sprayed-red hair, and carefully applied some lipstick.

    Ready to go.

    She made it three feet before tripping and nearly chipping a tooth.

    How the blazes do Human women walk in these damn heels, anyway?
    ***
    "Ah! A warrior dares challenge Molor the Honorless! Ha! Step forth, worm, and meet your doom at the blade of Molor!"

    MACO Private K'tar, son of K'tang was having a good time. Challenging people to "duels", making grand gestures with his imitation bat'leth, eating Terran back ribs, which were delicious even though they weren't good old gagh...this party was a good idea.

    "Lieutenant!" he said, breaking character for a moment as his would-be dueling partner (Ensign Lekal) laughed slightly nervously and moved off. "Excellent costume!"

    "Thanks, K'tar!" said his CO, recognizable only because of the nametag pinned to her tunic. "Took me a while to get the pigment right, and it's exhausting as heck to keep my eyes like this, let me tell you!"

    "Gray is manning the grill, go try some of those back ribs! They are delicious!"

    "Will do, Private. Have you seen Ta'kat?"

    "Not yet, Sir...what in the name of Kahless's most baggy loincloth..."

    Lieutenant Connor spun around at that, doing a double-take as she saw the five-foot lizard walk in in...

    Well, whatever it was supposed to be, it was a massive costume with lights and feathers and wings and things. K'tar found it dizzying to behold. The little Ha'ni was clearly having some trouble moving.

    Private Lamont, dressed in a strange, scaled assemblage, with his face painted in a weird geometric pattern and a heavy fake tail trailing behind him, helped ease the overburdened woman through the door. They seemed to have come as a double act.

    "Alright!" shouted Gray from the stage. "Looks like we're all here! I'm Agent 014..."

    "And I'm Latinum Moneybags Cashfield," said Ensign Lekal, his thin Saurian face embellished with a considerably dark goatee. "We'd love to welcome you to our first annual Halloween party and costume contest! Going on all night so Gamma shift can get in on the action, too!"

    "Our first act of the night is a classic double act; our very own Chief Science Officer, S'lin Ta'kat, as the..." and here Gray stumbled a little, "uh...well, this bit's in Ha'ni script, so..."

    "It translates as "Sky Queen"!" shouted Lamont.

    "Oh, thanks! S'lin Ta'kat as the Sky Queen and Private Andrew Lamont as the Great Mother Below. Come on up, guys! Give 'em a big hand!"

    The crew cheered and whooped as Lamont half-carried the wheezing Ha'ni up the three steps onto the stage. Ta'kat took a moment to catch her breath, then she nodded to Lamont. Both sentients struck a pose.

    "Foolish underling!" snarled Ta'kat in her best approximation of an evil chuckle. "You have no idea what you face! I am Na'kaRa'tan'ikan, the Sky Queen, bringer of savagery and foe of civilization! Prepare to meet your doom!"

    "You have blasphemed against the Ha'ni for the last time, foul dweller-above!" boomed Lamont with a grandiose gesture. "I am Ka'nNl'Ula the Mother Below, and I shall return you to your hateful halls!"

    They struck another pose, grappling theatrically. Slowly, and with much exaggerated effort, Lamont started to push Ta'kat back. Ta'kat headbutted him in slow motion, and Lamont broke the grapple, returning with a slow-motion punch, followed by a grab around the waist. Swiftly but with a considerable degree of care, he flipped the Ha'ni over and (with much manly grunting and roaring) gently touched her head to the floor, turned her back over, and set her on her feet. Ta'kat staggered theatrically and collapsed with exaggerated twitching. Lamont struck a pose.

    There was some hesitant applause, which quickly swelled. Ta'kat and Lamont straightened, the Human helping the Ha'ni to rise, and took a bow, Ta'kat nearly overbalancing again beneath the weight of her costume.

    "Well...that was something!" said Lekal, as Lamont and Ta'kat were escorted offstage. "Let's give a bit round of applause for our next entrant; Captain Trenek himself as Elrond, Lord of Rivendell!"
    ***
    The party was dying down. Lieutenant Connor was actually enjoying herself, having received a standing ovation for her costume. She hated to admit it, but the psycho b*tch's alterations had been useful, even fun.

    Not that that would stop her from kicking the psycho b*tch in the crotch next time they met.

    She was currently guzzling punch that she knew was spiked with real alcohol alongside Mori and Evek. The Trill and the Bajoran were each nursing a half-full glass of punch.

    "So..." said Mori. "What's with that uniform?"

    "It was my dad's," said Evek. "Before he retired, that is. He was in the Guard--the Fourth Order, to be specific--then the CDF when they changed it up."

    "A Trill? In the Cardassian Union?" Mori's voice was cold and disbelieving.

    "Yeah. He and Mom were lowlife traders and smugglers in the area around Cardassia and DS9. This was before the Dominion War started and that filth Skrain Dukat betrayed the Union. Dad's ship got banged up by Orion pirates; there was a smuggling deal, Dad took offense to their slaving, they took offense to him liberating their slaves and booking it at warp 8. The Gul showed up in the Vetar and hit the Orions with enough firepower to break a small planet, and he was impressed enough with Dad's flying that he brought him on as a mercenary. See, the Gul was going after this Maquis cell that had bombed a military base, including a school for officers' kids that got caught as collateral; a mixed bag, bunch of Humans and Bajorans, a Vulcan, a Klingon hybrid. The Gul knew they had a base near the Badlands, he needed a hotshot pilot, Dad fit the bill. They damn near got the Maquis, too, but some kind of vole-sh*t cosmic event nabbed the Maquis ship right out of space and knocked the Vetar into a plasma stream. Dad pulled them out, the Gul was impressed enough that he made Dad his permanent helmsman."

    "That's some story," said Rachel, tossing back another glass and refilling it with spiked punch. She still wasn't intoxicated; damn rapid metabolism. "What happened during the war?"

    "The Gul got put out to pasture. He went over to Legate Damar as soon as he got word of the rebellion; he was on patrol with some Dominion ships and turned on them. Managed to take out three of the damn bugships before they blew out the engines and forced the ship down. Dad got his leg muscles torn to bits holding off the Jem'Hadar while the Gul was unconscious after the crash; he still has a limp. Federation forces picked the survivors of the crash and the Jem'Hadar ground troops a week later. The Gul ended up retiring to this out-of-the way farming planet in the Algira system, set up a little villa and set Mom and Dad up with a nice place about a mile away."

    "Wow," said Mori. She was still uncomfortable around Evek's outfit, having grown up on stories of the Guard and their atrocities. But she had to admit that it was a good story.

    "Yeah. Dad had a crazy life. You ever been to Algira?"

    "Once," said Rachel. "I was undercover, getting away from Frankie Drake and his goons. I make a serviceable Cardassian. The Gul was on Cardassia for a few months, the True Way tried to take the planet. I sent a distress call, the Federation showed up and took out their ships while I destroyed their installation with some of the civilians. Damn terrorists threatened to behead the entire third year of the school with knives if we didn't let them claim the planet--something they took from an old Terran organization, apparently. I never met your dad face-to-face, but I heard that he took offense to that."

    "Yeah, you could say that," said Evek. "He set off a smoke bomb to distract the guards, flooded the school with anesthazine gas, and led twenty men in to rescue the kids. They ended up stripping the terrorists and tying them up with their own underwear."

    "Heheh, yeah, I remember seeing vids of that. That was about the time I slipped into the tunnels." Rachel poured herself another glass.

    "So this Gul of yours," asked Mori. "Who is he?"

    "My uncle? Aman Evek, he was a Gul in the Fourth Order. He was in charge of the DMZ before the Dominion War."

    "Top brass," said Rachel with an appreciative grunt. "He was an objector during the war, huh?"

    "Didn't like how Dukat was running things," said Evek. "Dukat wasn't happy, but the Gul was too high-up to get rid of."

    Mori couldn't resist a little smile at that. "I guess politics really is the same everywhere."

    "Indeed," deadpanned Evek. "Universal constant."
    ***
    "Report," said Trenek.

    "I'd call it an unqualified success, Sir," said Gray. "Lieutenant Connor won the costume contest hands-down, only three guys needed to be warned not to harass Ensign Mori, Ensign Mori did not kill Ensign First Class Evek for his old Cardassian Guard outfit, and zin Ta'kat has been hanging around with Private Lamont and the MACO teams for the past three days because she had so much fun with that little act they put on."

    "Plus I got to be Cashfield," said Lekal with a nerdy grin.

    "Yeah. We should definitely do this again, Sir."

    Trenek tapped something in to his PADD. "I concur. I will schedule another celebration similar to this one in one Terran year."

    Lekal and Gray stood there for a moment.

    "...That's it, Sir?"

    "Yes," said Trenek. "The celebration was pleasant and enjoyable for the crew, and served as a capable morale boost, which is beneficial given our current mission. Therefore, I shall schedule another celebration in a year's time, as most species prefer regularly-scheduled celebrations. Dismissed."

    The two men filed out, and then looked at each other.

    "Wow," said Gray. "I was sure he'd shoot us down."

    "Yeah," said Lekal with a hint of wonder. "Well...might as well celebrate!"

    "Latinum Another Day?"

    "Oh, hell yes!"

    "I get to fight Menial Labor."

    "Fine, as long as I get to fight Overweight Oaf."

    "Deal."

    The men shook hands, and ran off to get changed.
    If you can get all of the references, you win an internet. :D
    Founder and Grand Vizier of the Glorious Regime of Sovereign Ba'al. Hail Ba'al!
    Baal%20prop%20pic%208_zpsqaptvpnu.png
  • catriecatrie Member Posts: 0 Media Corps
    edited October 2014
    Once, a long time ago, on a night just like this, there was a proud and honourable Klingon, named K'reb epetai-Ruztah. Now, K'reb was known to be a great hunter who won much acclaim hunting the wild packs of targs on Qo'noS. Little did he know, he had an enemy that wanted him dead.

    K'reb had heard rumors of an unusually large targ that was wreaking havoc on a small farm in the Ketha Lowlands. The head of the House of Martok came to the High Council and requested help in getting rid of the beast. The High Council hired K'reb to rid the land of the menace.

    K'reb went to the Lowlands and heard the tales of everyone who had witnessed the destruction of the beast. He knew that the job would be too big and dangerous for him to do it alone. So, he went back to the High Council and requested a proper Hunt. Several of the best warriors were called up to participate in the hunt. One of those was a brash, up and coming hunter named Daxos.
    Daxos was starting to make a name for himself as a powerful hunter. However, he was very ambitious. He didn't want to be known as just another powerful hunter. He wanted to be known as the best hunter in all of the Klingon Empire. To do that, he knew he had to get rid of his biggest competition... K'reb epetai-Ruztah.

    On the day of the hunt, everyone met at the Martok Manor House. They left the manor and took off in the direction of the last known location of, what locals were calling The Mantok Beast. As they drew closer to the woods, the group split off into smaller groups and each took a different path. Daxos made sure that he was in the same group as K'reb.

    As it neared dusk, they heard something large charging through the bushes. K'reb yells for everyone to spread out and take up their positions. K'reb, himself, took up his position in the middle of the path. With the others positioned in a semi circle around him, K'reb unhooked his Bat'leth and waited for the beast to appear.

    As the beast burst out of the thicket, K'reb got his first look at the beast. This was by far the biggest targ he had ever seen. It easily came to his shoulder in height. It was easily as broad as it was tall. K'reb stood his ground, but a sudden movement caught the targ's attention before he reached K'reb.

    The targ veered off and quickly charged at the Klingon to the left of K'reb. With a toss of its head, it gored the Klingon and flung him backward. The targ quickly wheeled around and dispatched the Klingon coming up behind him. That left only Daxos and K'reb.

    With a mighty roar, K'reb raced toward the enormous targ. At the last second, he swerved and sliced the right side of the animal. Out of the corner of his eye, K'reb saw Daxos running toward the pair. Squealing in pain, the targ turned to rid itself of the irritant. As it did so, K'reb delivered a blow of his Bat'leth to the underside of the targ's neck, slicing through the jugular, killing the targ instantly.

    As K'reb stepped back, he felt a sharp pain in his back. Looking down, he noticed the tip of a bat'leth blade sticking out the front of his tunic. Gasping, he turned around and saw Daxos standing there, with an evil grin on his face.

    " Old man, I should really thank you for making me the greatest hunter who ever lived. It's too bad that you were careless and let the beast gore you in the back. I was able to kill the targ, but you just couldn't be saved. " Daxos explained.

    " You cowardly p'tach! You have dishonoured not only your family, but all of Qo'nos. " K'reb said, coughing heavily, " Mark my words, p'tach. You may think you have won, but you have failed. By my last dying breath, I swear that I will seek vengeance. You shall not survive this night. You will not live to see the coming of the dawn."

    That night, there was a celebration of both life and death. Those who had fallen in battle, with the mighty beast, were given a hero's send off to Sto-vo-kor. The hero of the day, Daxos, was toasted and celebrated for his part in bringing down the Beast of Martok. There was feasting and drinking far into the night. In the late hours of the night, the Hero of Martok was escorted back to his chambers by an enthusiastic group.

    Just as the first rays of the sun broke through the sky, a scream rent the air. A maid had discovered the still cooling body of Daxos, with his Bat'leth in his back. The mystery lay in that no one had been seen entering or leaving the chambers from the time the Klingon had been dropped off until the maid had entered the chambers. On a stand by the bed, was a note detailing what had actually happened on the hunt. Some say that K'reb had returned to extract his revenge.
    To this day, some say that right before the dawn, they have seen a ghostly Klingon, weilding a flaming Bat'leth, riding an enormous targ. After the sighting, the body of a Klingon, who had brought shame to their family, has been discovered.

    Remember well this lesson. Your actions have consequences. Always choose Death before Dishonour.
  • allen1973allen1973 Member Posts: 22 Arc User
    edited October 2014
    Autumn is a murky time for the Empire. The natural smell of death permeates everything, and by Klingon standards, much more so on the Lethean home world. The House of Mongdech had noticed that standardized patrolling, deployment and supply running would incur during the natural pageantry for the Lethean species. Gaardox decided in the stride of his trans and inner fleet cultural miscegenation program that an extra two weeks of shore leave would be scheduled for the ships in his fleet in inter-stellar transit within that proximity. It was explained to standard and extraneous crews of these vessels that Letheans had abandoned certain traditions too grotesque by Klingon standards some hundreds of years prior and that their celebrations held onto the ancient wisdom of cultural and natural standards of their species. Essentially feasting, fighting, and dancing around bonfires, conversations, and general camaraderie [diplomacy and networking...] and the traditions of the Lethean chronology of decay [Autumn,] a frightful performance of drumming, dancing and chanting would be required as this global phenomena would occur at different planetary chronological proxies allowing for most of the Mongdech fleet section to observe the spirituality of a non-native culture, and bond with crew members of whom that such a preference would be normative.
    Lethean seers communicate with their guardian spirits, explaining that their departure until spring is necessary and that their guardianship had been helpful, and expected. This is committed by way of performance, dancing and chanting. Clothing created by animal skins and bones, ceremonial jewelry, skills and styles that go back thousands of years are in place. A 'green' or 'warm-tone' bloodwine are the beverages of choice and both cooked and prepared raw foods are sampled. The ceremony lasts several days with dancers often fasting and dancing until they are physically unable to do so. This coincides with a Lethean adulthood ceremony, and is usually preceded by a war-dance, raiding or hunting expedition. Warriors in this dance, upon the time of their rest period are honored by their elders telling the tales of the adventures preceding the bonfire ritual. Sages and seers work with the dancers conducting them as if they are the ancient guardian spirits, they pass close to the fire, they pass far from the fire, they pass into the crowd of onlookers, they pass upon the periphery of the congregation, they move into the darkness and disappear, their chanting is still heard in the distance with the percussion and other kinds of instrumentation. Eventually there is relative silence. In older times the performance location was too far for elders and children, and workers sometimes were unaware of the time of the performance, lost in new found seasonal darkness, lost in their work, so an envoy of Letheans often return with the dancing 'spirits' and eventually the again dance, perform and weave symbiotically around within, and near the flames of the fire, sometimes adding fuel from their excursions and peripheral recruitment of audience section of performance. This is usually the time for children to brave the spirits and the fire and to perform costumed with the initial procession of warriors. Elders often lead the young on to this effect, guiding them as they have done the older warriors. Tired warriors are given blankets, food, and the best seating arrangements during the ceremony. These allied Klingon guests in attendance were encouraged to create their own participation. Warriors using ritual martial arts and attacking the fire with blades, Klingons use face-paint and often join the Letheans during this time. The fast and ceremonial dance is often seen as spiritually refreshing by all participants. A good way to create a mainstay of tolerance and acceptance for the cold season to come.
    Certain Houses such as the House of Mogue, Martok, and other alliance members of the Empire and Klingon Occupational Force network conducted similar ritualized shore leave, also on various other planets, conducted by various other species. This tradition is unusual beyond the Winter festival where only bare-bones patrols by the major houses are expected. Conducting cultural experiences and experiments within and extraneous to the Klingon Empire have been construed by the office of the Empirical Chancellor as 'vital' to the integrity and unification of all things Klingon.
    "This is good for morale." -Martok
  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 9,352 Arc User
    edited October 2015
    The Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X sat out in deep space, completely unmoving, as Captain Seifer sat focused, staring at the sea of stars on his viewscreen, intently.

    Kayl approached, easing into an awkward observation, as she handed him a report, "Uh, if you don't mind, why are you just glaring at nothing? Also, what's our mission?"

    "Lieutenant," Seifer broke his trance to address her, "You don't need to always have a mission, or be doing something, or have a purpose. Just enjoy existing for once."

    Armond turned from tactical, "Captain, as a social gesture of conversation between colleagues, will you be attending the fall harvest festivities in the Messhall this evening?"

    "Dammit, I don't know. It's just that being forced to use a dank messhall isn't as glamorous as a 10-Forward, like the kind you find on a Galaxy-class starship, for example."

    Armond replied, "But tables and such?"

    "Forget it! You can have your pumpkin spice pie cakes lattes-- those weirdly meat-filled desserts that are also dinner and a coffee all in one."

    A proximity alert went off and Ensign Dan called it, "Captain, a Klingon Vor'cha-class cruiser is de-cloaking off the port bow!"

    "Destroy it, immediately!" Seifer called out.

    Armond tapped at his controls, "Ah, sorry, I wasn't ready. Besides, it's just the I.K.S. B'Cnah."

    "Greetings," the viewscreen blinked on to a view of the Klingon Captain, Menchez.

    Seifer stood, "Armond, destroy them! Follow my orders without question!"

    "Only if you come tonight, sir. Only if," Armond bargained.

    The Captain then sat back in his chair, frustrated, "Ugh. Never mind," then addressed the Klingon, "What do you want, Menchez? Is this about that Klingon civilian transport ship we fired upon before knowing who they were as it de-cloaked in front of us?"

    "What?" Menchez didn't catch that.

    Seifer replied quickly, "Nothing."

    "Whatever! We have apprehended a Human criminal for hijacking a Klingon Pach-class starship during the honoured and mostly forgotten Kot'baval Festival. He did the most hurtful Kahless impression using a hauntingly otherly-franchised, outer limit-like voice."

    Seifer watched as the human, an ex-Starfleet officer, Avery, was shoved on to the Bridge for Seifer's benefit. "Dammit!" the Captian cursed, recognizing him. "You're right about that specific Human. You see, he dropped out of Starfleet after being sorely, and whine-ily, unsatisfied with how his Starfleet message board suggestions were being ignored and verily argued against."

    "It's amazing I even got a Starfleet commission," Avery commented, suddenly being aware of his unrealistic luck.

    Captain Seifer threw up his hands, "Don't you Klingons kill people who wrong you? Why is he still alive-- which, for the record, I am glad about--- but only for the record."

    "Since our Iconian-forced allying, the High Command has ordered me to pursue acts of diplomacy with you goodie-goodie-full-body-pajama-wearers whenever possible, for the acquisition of something called Diplomacy Points. So far, I have 0."

    Seifer turned away, "Forget it, Menchez. The last time I dealt with criminals, I was given to tracking Lore parts-- aka, the evil-Data who, by his very existence, trumped the Enterprise-D crew from ever having a proper Mirror universe experience."

    "You petaQ! We still haven't resolved our discourse over you accidentally time-sending my ship to the 21st century Xindi homeworld!"

    The Captain forced-smiled in nervous recollection, "So, you'll beam the prisoner over then?"

    ---

    Later, Seifer entered Transporter Room 4 with Armond, where Menchez, two of Menchez's crew, Derok and Ch'Tong, and the Human traitor, Avery, beamed in.

    "So, Avery, we meet again?" Seifer eyed him.

    Avery smirked, "Your precious little Starfleet has very little time left, Captain. I hope you're ready to say goodbye to your ship."

    "Ugh," Seifer half-rolled his eyes and addressed the Klingons, "All he ever did was mothball starships when he had power." He turned to Avery, "You know we can un-mothball things, right? And you don't actually fill the ships with actual mothballs."

    Derok shoved Avery into Armond's custody, who then turned and took Avery out into the corridors. "That was my calling card!" Avery yelled just before the doors closed on him.

    "Sorry about that," Seifer continued. "By the way, why did you guys beam over? Are you invading? If so, I want in."

    Menchez stepped off the transporter pad, "We were extended an invitation to a harvest festival in your Messhall. It is rare we Klingons get to check out a Federation starship messhall; also, Diplomacy points."

    "What the hell? Messhalls are the worst! Never mind. Just come with me," Seifer gave in, reluctantly.

    ---

    They followed him out into the corridors. "So, here's a question, why do you eat targs but also keep them as pets?"

    "Long ago, Klingons realized the usefulness of targs in all aspects of our culture. They're our friends, our farming mules, our upper class food trough delicacies," Menchez explained.

    Derok nodded, "They're also great for pre-courting jitters."

    "I'm just...... I'm just going to stop trying to learn about your culture," Seifer concluded.

    ---

    After a short trip, Seifer, Menchez and his two officers arrived at the Phoenix-X's Messhall. Inside, was a décor of orange and black streamers, pumpkins and hay bales everywhere.

    "What the Shinzon is going on here? Didn't we jettison those Bringloidi farmers out into space??" Seifer said, shocked.

    Kugo, the Vulcan Chief engineer, approached, "Uh, no. This is the party that celebrates a seasonal change even though space does not have seasons. Also, you're thinking of an Enterprise-D mission."

    "Sorry, it's just that Picard did all the best stuff," the Captain conceded. "Except that time, around Surata IV, he allowed Riker to under-go flashbacks; nothing but flashbacks."

    Crewmembers filled the Messhall, drinking and chatting with each other, merrily. The Klingons joined the festivities and Ch'Tong attempted to head-butt Ensign Dan as a sign of goodwill.

    "Captain, permission to be relieved of duty so I can go to Sickbay?" Ensign Dan walked over, clutching a gaping wound in his forehead.

    Seifer was taken aback by the question, "How dare you trump my relieving you of duty, especially when you aren't even on duty to begin with. You're relieved!"

    "Oh, thank you," Ensign Dan ran out quickly.

    Seifer glanced over at Derok, "He's a good kid; horrible at duty."

    ---

    Down in Sickbay, Doctor Lox and Armond were examining Avery, who was lying on a biobed, seemingly unconscious and pale. Ensign Dan entered.

    "Lox, I've got a thingy here," the Ensign interrupted. "It's thinging my cranium thing in the most thingful way."

    The Doctor glanced over, "Oh, the EMH will take care of that for you."

    "You do realize the drain on resources the EMH tolls on the ship by being run all the time, don't you?" Armond criticized in Lox's general direction as the EMH took Ensign Dan to another section of Sickbay, on the opposite side of Lox's office.

    Lox snapped, "Hey, I have far too many lobe enlargements on my schedule! Oh, I forgot to mention that I'm temporarily contracted to work for the Ferengi to replenish Starfleet latinum reserves. Admiral Quinn went a little overboard with the Dabo addiction last month."

    "Anyway, are we even allowed to be talking to each other without a main in the room?"

    The Doctor paused, "What? Never mind. What I was about to say is your prisoner, here, is dead. I'm going to have to do an autopsy to find out what killed him. The question is, do I go laser scalpel, or this new pen-knife I got as a free sample in the mail."

    "I will leave that to you, Doctor. In the meantime, I'll inform the Captain of the situation, even though he hates being notified of situations," Armond nodded just before leaving.

    Doctor Lox went around to prepare his tools for the surgery. As he was focused on wheeling his table around, he was delayed in noticing the suddenly empty biobed.

    Gasping abruptly, he turned to observe a pale, deathly-eyed Avery slowly walking toward him. Too close and too immediate to respond, Lox was collided-into by the sleep-walking man who also gaped open his mouth and bit right into Lox's shoulder: Blood gushed out in painful abundance. "AAAAaaggghh!"
    Post edited by hawku001x on
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  • takeshi6takeshi6 Member Posts: 744 Arc User
    edited October 2014
    Author’s Notes: When I first saw the prompt for this LC, I knew I wanted to do something related to the Bajoran Faith, with Tia visiting Sobaru’s grave again. That said, I had no idea what could be done for a Bajoran Halloween, but then I noticed StarSword was coming up with something similar. We started swapping notes, and soon enough we had this thing done.

    So, please enjoy:

    Remembrance of the Fallen

    “The dark is generous, and it is patient, and it always wins—but in the heart of its strength lies weakness: one lone candle is enough to hold it back. Love is more than a candle. Love can ignite the stars.”
    — Matt Stover, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith novelization



    Goralis, Sacrifice Cemetery, April 15, 2413

    The cemetery hadn’t really changed much, Tiana Lanstar mused as she walked along the paths, wearing a customized Bajoran Uniform - colored black and Starfleet Tactical Red as opposed to standard Militia colors. Her golden wedding band still sat upon her right ring finger. She carried three small packages in her arms, two that she’d brought with her from her ship, the last one she’d purchased from a local vendor. Some people she passed by glanced at her very swollen stomach, but being on her last trimester of pregnancy, that was only natural.

    She walked over to the cluster of markers which, if the cemetery were converted to an actual system map, marked the place where the USS Wolfram had been hit by the Fek Warseed. There were no bodies buried here—those that hadn’t been turned entirely into Fek had still been incinerated by Raging Heart’s venting of plasma through the infected decks.

    She looked through the markers, remembering interactions she’d had with each of them, before she came to the central marker, the one she'd come to see.
    Lieutenant Commander Sobaru Lanstar
    Chief of Security and Commander, Air Group, USS Wolfram NCC-102948
    2383-2412
    Her Sacrifice allowed her ship to keep fighting, allowing the system to survive.
    May she rest with the Prophets.

    “Hey there, Sobaru,” Tiana said as she knelt next to the marker. “I know I visited you after I took my new posting, but given that it’s the Day of Remembrance, I couldn’t stay away.”

    She rubbed a hand against her stomach. “The baby’s doing well,” she said. “Though I think he or she is going to be just as energetic as you were, if not more so—I can feel him/her kicking up a storm a lot of the time.”

    She began unfolding her packages. “I brought you some gifts,” she said. The first package was a copy of their first-year cadet photos, taken soon after they met. This was placed by the marker, before the second package was opened to reveal a bottle of springwine, Hathoni-produced, vintage 2410. This, too, she placed by the marker, and then opened the third, local, package, revealing two rolls of flatbread-wrapped meat, vegetables, and spices. Hasperat.

    “Your favorite,” Tiana said, placing the first hasperat next to the marker. “Made from natural ingredients, just as you liked it. Was a little surprised to find a vendor here who actually sold natural hasperat made from locally-grown ingredients.” She picked up the second hasperat, along with her own bottle of springwine, and sat down to eat.

    “You know, I still remember the first time we celebrated the Day of Remembrance together, back at the Academy…”



    Mendiluze Gymnasium, Starfleet Academy, March 12, 2403

    A thin cloud of steam billowed into the locker room from the women’s shower as Kanril Eleya stepped out with a damp towel over her shoulder, shivering slightly as her bare skin hit the cooler, less humid air outside. She nodded to Senior Chief Janet Tanzer, her Krav Maga instructor. “Same time Friday, Chief?”

    “I thought you had a CMN 305 exam, ma’am,” the short-haired, graying brunette queried.

    “No, that’s not for two weeks,” Eleya answered.

    “If you’ll pardon my impertinence, I also thought you’d lost a lot of ground after—”

    Eleya groaned and opened her locker. “A, only so much studying I can take before I feel like my brain’s going to burn out. B, please don’t bring Dalton up again—I'm trying really hard not to think about ye’phekk maktal kosst amojan.” She pulled the blue Academy jacket and trousers out and stripped out of her sweatpants.

    Her combadge chirped when she had her undershirt halfway on. “Geh, phekk.” She struggled to get one arm through the sleeve so she could reach the communicator. “Kanril Eleya.”

    “Commander Thrass here,” her major advisor’s slightly gravelly baritone introduced itself. “You got a few minutes to come by my office? Got a job for you.”

    “Is it going to take long? I’ve got Romulan 111 in half an hour, sir.”

    “I just need five minutes, Kanril.”

    Eleya pulled her uniform jacket on. “All right, I’ll be there in ten.”
    * * *

    The secretary for the Naval Weapons program pointed Eleya into the office Haelivthras th’Shvrashli shared with two of the other instructors, who were teaching class at the moment. The Andorian turned in his swivel chair, scratching at his goatee, as she came in and snapped to attention. “Cadet Lieutenant Kanril Eleya, reporting as ordered, sir.”

    The thaan’s antennae twitched slightly in amusement as he gestured at the chair in front of his desk. Thrass pushed a PADD to her across the slab of replicated teak and she picked it up. “Cadet dossiers?”

    “Couple of first-years I want you to tutor. They’re having trouble in Principles of Electronic Countermeasures.”

    Eleya took a look over the files. Tiana Lanstar, military history major, and Kojami Sobaru, criminal justice. Sobaru, a familiar name construction. “Hathon Province?” she asked.

    “Who, Kojami? Yes, from the city in fact. Part of the reason I picked you—the two of you are Bajoran.”

    Eleya snorted and dropped the PADD back on the desk. “Yeah, not exactly the same background, sir. Townie versus city girl? Maybe not a good combination.”

    Thrass folded his hands on the desk. “Be that as it may, you’re the only other Bajoran here right now who’s finished the course—recruitment on Bajor was a little thin last year and they mostly went to the engineering school—and you earned straight A’s when you took it. Plus, there’s that run of F’s and incompletes you got at the start of this semester.”

    Eleya gritted her teeth at the memory of the failed relationship the mention brought on. “Your point, sir

    Thrass briefly glared at her tone, then his expression softened. “I talked it over with Admiral Torvig from the Board and we’re willing to give you some extra credit, forgive some of the bad grades, if you do this for me.”

    “Do I have to?”

    “No, you can still pass if you get a 90 or better on your remaining assignments, which shouldn’t be a problem. But my personal preference would be to have the extra room to maneuver.”

    She raised an eyebrow. “You could’ve just said ‘yes’, sir.” She shook her head and downloaded the files onto a data solid, which she pocketed. “Their comm codes are in there?”

    “Comm code, singular. They're roomies. Word is they’re also a couple.”

    She stared at him. “You’re putting me next to a blue-on-blue? After Dalton?”

    The Andorian held up his hands defensively. “It’s the rumor. I’m almost certain it’s not true, I just didn’t want you getting surprised if it is. They’re certainly close friends, though. Anyway, think of it as something to do when Jazz Velasquez kicks you out on Friday nights.”

    “How do you—”

    “I’m your professor. I know everything.”
    * * *

    Tiana Lanstar stood in the library next to her roommate, Kojami Sobaru, as they stood before a red-headed upperclassman who cut a rather impressive figure at 185 centimeters. Her green eyes had the look of a veteran, not to mention the scar under her left eye was rather prominent. “So, you’re our tutor?” she asked.

    The older Bajoran nodded once. “My name’s Eleya. Kanril Eleya,” she introduced herself in a rough contralto, a little formally. Sobaru noted a Kendran accent to her Bajor’la, a characteristic twist on a couple consonants, a lilt on a vowel diphthong. “Commander Thrass said you two needed help in your ECM course?”

    “Yeah,” Sobaru replied. “We can understand the practicals rather well, but theory’s a bit out of our grasp.”

    “Not to mention Sobaru here being rather hyperactive,” Tiana remarked. “She doesn't sit still that well—makes it hard for studying.”

    “Tiiiiiiaaaaaaa,” Sobaru whined. “Don’t be mean!”

    “It’s the honest truth, Sobaru,” Tiana replied. “In the year we've been roommates, you’ve had trouble studying simply because you can’t sit still!”

    “Yes, well, I think I can handle it,” Kanril said in an amused tone. Then, in a harsher, more commanding voice, “Sit down

    Almost without conscious thought, Sobaru quickly found a chair. “Sitting down, sir.”

    Kanril snorted. “Okay, you can get up,” she said in a friendlier tone. “I was just checking to see if ‘Sergeant Kanril’ worked on you.”

    “‘Sergeant’?” Sobaru asked, standing up again. “You were Militia?”

    “Mm-hm. Enlisted in ‘97, naval guns. My CO got me a transfer when the Chamber shut down Space Arm in ‘01. Oh, and by the way, don’t call me ‘sir’. I work for a living. Or I used to, at least.”

    They laughed at that. “So, did you see any action out there?” Tiana asked.

    “Little bit, tangled with the Orion Syndicate and the Breen once or twice, but mostly we were on smuggling interdiction.” She scoffed slightly, mouth quirking in a grin. “Phekk’ta Ferengi don’t know when to quit.”

    When Kanril mentioned the Orion Syndicate, Tia seemed to grow a bit melancholy. Sobaru, however, didn’t notice right away. “I take it you learned to swear in the Militia, too, Kanril,” she commented.

    “No, Mother was always telling me I needed to watch my language,” Kanril answered, sitting down at the table and digging a much-abused PADD out of a worn gray cloth kitbag. “I think it did get worse after boot camp, though. So, uh, WEP 125, ‘Principles of Electronic Countermeasures’. And you can call me Eleya.” She tapped out a command and waited, then swore again and smacked the rim of the PADD with the heel of her palm. “I really need to get a new one of these.”

    Sobaru chuckled as she and Tiana sat down near Eleya, Tiana getting past her fit of melancholy, as they began the lesson...



    Tiana and Sobaru’s Quarters, Starfleet Academy, April 13th, 2403

    The two first-years’ grades had definitely picked up after Eleya began tutoring them. They’d also shared a few stories with each other, allowing Sobaru to learn just why Tiana had gotten melancholy at the mention of the Orion Syndicate: A year earlier, her older brother Tiida had been on a ship that engaged the Syndicate in battle to protect a civilian merchant convoy, and had given his life to save both his ship and the civilians.

    The older woman was sympathetic, gesturing to the scar on her cheek. “Souvenir from a greenskin matron; it’s got a partner on my stomach. They hid their ship in a comet’s tail looking for some easy prey and we didn’t see them until it was way too late. By the time Colonel Karryn managed to bring the main gun around and blow them to hell they’d already boarded. Lost most of my gun crew manning a barricade, then another one of them went after sickbay.” Eleya took a pull from her mug of coffee. “That’s when I got knifed.”

    Tiana nodded. “Yeah… still, most everyone who hears about my relation to him ‘expresses condolences’ or gives lip service to his sacrifice—got old after a while, so I started just trying not to let people in.” She scowled. “Earlier today, overheard some civilian who’d heard about that incident from a commemorative special newsvid or something and mocked Tiida, saying he could have done it without dying and that Tiida was an idiot—that guy’s now in the hospital with a fractured forearm, and I’m lucky I only got a single demerit for it. I still don’t know if he’ll press charges.”

    “You’re more restrained than I would’ve been,” Eleya remarked.

    “Not really—SFPD got there before I could go for anything worse,” Tiana replied. “I just…”

    Sobaru started shifting herself slightly closer to Tia. Eleya’s head cocked slightly, but she leaned back in her chair and took another sip of coffee. “You’ve had to deal with this all yourself, haven’t you,” Sobaru inferred, worriedly. “No other family?”

    “None—parents died when I was young due to disease, and Tiida was the one to raise me,” Tiana confirmed. “My only living relative is a cousin who makes a living as an exotic dancer in one of the colonies.”

    “I’ve heard worse ways to make a living,” Sobaru commented. “She could be a politician

    “True,” Tiana remarked with a chuckle, even as she seemed to lean a bit in Sobaru’s direction. “Still, no other family aside from her… was just myself and Tiida until last year, when he died… I’ve been able to fend for myself, but it was still hard dealing with all the pity and ‘condolences’—”

    Tiana suddenly found herself being hugged by Sobaru. “Sobaru!” she exclaimed, and Eleya jerked a little in surprise. “What—?!”

    “It’s so sad…” Sobaru replied. “So sad you had to deal with this all on your own… You won’t have to worry about that anymore—I’ll be here for you, Tia.”

    Tiana blinked. No one had ever said something like that to her before. “Sobaru…” she said, her eyes beginning to well up with tears. “I… I…” she couldn't say anything more, as she clung to the bluenette, crying, letting out a year’s worth of pent-up sorrow and grief.

    Sobaru just held her, letting the orangette cry onto her shoulder. After a moment, she looked up. “Hey, the Day of Remembrance is in two days,” she said.

    “It’s Kadera already?” Eleya paused, then shook her head. “I’ve completely lost track of the Bajoran calendar. 24-hour days are **** me up. I thought it was still Tamhali.”

    “Yeah, it is,” Sobaru confirmed. “We could all celebrate it together!”

    Tia, who was starting to get herself back under control, looked a bit confused. “Day of Remembrance?” she asked.

    “One of our faith’s lesser holy days,” Eleya explained. “It’s about celebrating those of us who are, erm, with the Prophets, mainly.”

    “Yeah,” Sobaru agreed. “Though it isn’t just Bajorans who we remember these days—it applies to all friends and family members. Tia, if you’d like to participate with us, we could include your brother in that.”

    “Really?” Tiana asked. “You’d… do that for a non-Bajoran?”

    “You’re my friend, Tia,” Sobaru replied. “I told you I’d be here for you, and I meant it. Besides, the Prophets won’t mind.”

    Tiana smiled. “Thank you, Sobaru,” she said.

    “Well, then, apparently I have to go see if my mother has a decent recipe for milaberry biscuits,” Eleya said. Off Sobaru’s look, she explained, “My paternal grandfather’s favorite comfort food. I never actually met the guy—he was Resistance, died in the Kendra Valley Massacre years before my parents got married—but Father told me a lot of stories and showed me a few vids. Apparently Grandmother had to make an extra batch just for him every time, ‘cause otherwise he wouldn’t leave any.”

    “We should hear some of those stories, then,” Sobaru replied. “Along with anything Tia can tell us about her brother.”

    “I have a few stories,” Tiana replied. “And if the dead’s favorite foods are involved, I’ll need to see if anyone around here is able to make curry the way he liked it… was his absolute favorite.”

    “No problem,” Eleya said. “What kind of curry? Punjabi? Thai? South Vietnamese?” At Tia’s look of mild confusion, she explained, “I dunno, I like trying other places’ food. Visited the Klingon restaurant on Deep Space 9 a couple times when I was in the Militia and the gladst was fantastic. And this is San Francisco. We got food here from all over both quadrants, never mind Earth.”

    Tia smiled. “Thai,” she said. “And thank you… both of you.”



    Goralis, Sacrifice Cemetery, April 15, 2413

    “I really enjoyed that first Day of Remembrance,” Tia was saying as she finished her hasperat, a smile on her face as she recalled the memories, even as tears fell down her cheeks. “It was the first time I could talk about Tiida with no worry about false sympathy. It was also when I started training to make my own legacy, rather than follow his. And I think it was when I started falling for you, Sobaru.”

    After a moment of silence, she stood. “Don’t worry. I’ll make sure no one else is forced to make the choice you did, Sobaru. And I’ll make sure our child has a safe galaxy to grow up in.” Another moment of silence, as she looked at the grave marker one last time, now decorated with a photo, a bottle of springwine, and an uneaten hasperat. “Goodbye for now, Sobaru. I’ll visit as often as I can.”

    She then turned and walked out of the Cemetery, not bothering to hide her tears as she headed to the transporter terminal to return to her ship.



    Co-Author’s Notes: Before anyone asks, we haven’t decided yet if Eleya’s and Brokosh’s exploits are going to be merged into the Masterverse. For right now, consider this an intercontinuity crossover. That said, doing this collab was more fun than I had expected.

    We based the Day of Remembrance primarily on the Latin American Día de los Muertos rather than Halloween. We placed it in the springtime because farmers plant their crops in the spring, and the Bajorans bury their dead, so I thought we could draw a symbolic link.
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  • drajoradrajora Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited October 2014
    Sickbay, USS Talon, Warp Speed.

    The frantic efforts of Emma, the Enhanced Medical Hologram, and her assistants was long over. The tools had been scrubbed, the floor had been cleaned, and the air filters had sucked the last of the metallic smell of blood out of the atmosphere.

    Captain Selene Persico lay in the primary biobed, her lifesigns hovering on borderline as the the might of the Federation's medical prowess labored to keep her alive.

    The exhausted Andorian commander Anthi Tsaun stood silent vigil over her comatose commanding officer. The maddened Klingon general that had driven a mek'leth blade through the Captain's gut and spine was still out there somewhere, skulking around. The Talon had engaged in a frantic dogfight among the asteroids surrounding the nameless star system, attempting to flee the vengeful Vorcha-class cruiser.

    They had succeeded, but the chase had cost the Talon. Massive structural damage rippled along the engineering hull of the Jem'Hadar Attack Ship, and one of her nacelles was still leaking warp plasma, a glaring plume that was no doubt acting as a homing beacon.

    But for now they were at warp, heading for the relative safety of Sol itself, a desperate distress call slowly drawing a protective shroud of Starfleet vessels towards it. The USS Skylark under Captain Draj Drahcir was already in formation, and the USS Defender, under Captain Sazev Bh'ypiv was eight hours out.

    "Commander?"

    Ensign Balek Wolversham stood at the doorway to sickbay, clutching an object.

    "Sorry, Commander, I didn't realise you were here"

    "It's alright Ensign. What have you got there?"

    The Bajoran ensign looked vaguely embarrassed. "It's my family's Prayer Mandala. I was going to sit with the Captain and ask the Prophets to intercede on her behalf. I can come back later if-"

    "Not at all, Ensign. Feel free to pray."

    "I was trying to find out if Humans have a sort of religious festival around this time. They have something - a few hundred years ago there was a celebration called All Hallows. I just thought that, well... my prayers might work instead.

    All Hallows looks fascinating though. Apparently it was a ritual where humans used to celebrate life and demonstrate they did not fear death or forces more powerful than them. And the favoured way to do that was to tell stories and laugh."

    "Interesting. I don't think I've ever heard the Captain mention such a festival."

    "Well, as I said, they haven't celebrated it for decades, if not centuries. And I don't understand what sugar confections had to do with it."

    "Do you know how this Halloween ritual works?"

    "Not really. I think you just start telling stories about times you faced something bigger than you.

    Like, when I was still a kid, back on Bajor, I was playing with Sayna and Theren up near the Novalin mines. The Occupation had been...lighter around our village than most areas on Bajor. Later we found out that was because a Cardassian scientist with powerful connections had set up in the area, and had persuaded the Governor to keep the troop movements to a minimum. She took over the Novalin mines, and the village never saw much of her.

    When they left, the scientist apparently abandoned most of her inventions and research projects in place. So our parents were always telling us to avoid the place.

    Of course, we were younger than them, so we obviously knew better. Anyway, it was just another day when Theren dared us to get as close as we could to the mine entrance.

    We got there....but when we did, there was a voice from within the mine.

    It was deep, resonant, and Cardassian.

    'And Who Is This Creeping At My Door? Do Not Move, Little Ones, Unless You Want to Die'

    Sayna froze up on the spot. I froze. There was a deep red glow coming from just within the mine, and we knew enough at the time about ancient Cardassian traps that this was probably one.

    'Children For The Master's Experiments? She Will Enjoy Torturing You.'

    It was then that I heard something outside the mine."

    Balek and Anthi jumped as the door to sickbay whooshed open, the sound intruding into the story. Lieutenant Commander Eight stood behind in the doorway, holding a PADD.

    "Apologies. I was on my way to my regeneration alcove when I thought I heard voices in sickbay. I was intending to see if the Captain was awake. I now see it simply your story I heard."

    Anthi spoke up.

    "It's a human ritual called Halloween. You tell stories to show you aren't afraid. At least that's what we understand of it. Draw up a biobed. Join us."

    Eight did so, and Balek continued his story.

    "So the Voice was threatening Sayna and I, when we heard something. Theren was calling, asking us who had won the race.

    'A Race To The Master's Door? Are You So Eager To Die?'

    I tried telling it that the Occupation was over - the Cardassians had left, that the scientist was long gone.

    'You Tell Such Amusing Lies. The Occupation Will Never End.'

    And so I laughed at it. The absurdity of the situation was too much. I was trapped at the entrace to an abandoned mine by a Cardassian booby-trap that didn't know the Occupation was gone. I mean, I should have been terrified, but I couldn't stop laughing. Later I found it it was a nervous reaction, but it was exactly the right thing to do.


    'What Is The Sound? Error. Cannot Comprehend.'

    I don't think it was programmed for any reaction other than fear. When I laughed, it honestly didn't know what to do. Sayna and I took a step away, and it did nothing.

    We ran back to the village, and our parents called in Starfleet. They found the device wedged into the mine opening, with a short-circuit through the primary reasoning banks."

    Balek shrugged, embarrassed.

    "That's about it, I'm afraid. Not much of a story."

    "Nevertheless, it was an intriguing method of demolitions disarmament."

    "Well then, What about you, Eight? Did the Borg ever face something bigger than themselves?"

    "I...the Borg fear nothing. We did not indulge in such primitive ritual supersitions as this Halloween ritual."

    "Oh come on, Eight! There had to be something! Weren't the Borg afraid of the Undine?"

    "We were not afraid. Species 8472 was simply resistant to assimilation. It was an inconvenience, nothing more. Besides, the Talon has destroyed several hundred Undine vessels. It would be exceedingly difficult to fear that which we have triumphed against."

    "Well put, Lieutenant Commander."

    Captain Selene Persico opened her left eye, watching the three crewmembers turn towards her.

    "I think that's advice that I started following."


    Admiral Karlyn Venas lifted the end of the fallen beam. Sparks flew through the smoke clogging the bridge of the R.R.W Scythe, the moans of injured crew and officers a low counterpoint to the emotionless shrilling of the alarms and computer warnings.

    The entire left wing, along with its warp nacelle was just gone. Subspace communications were gone, the Singularity core was showing critical instabilities, and the persistent haze was a worrying sign that life support itself must be offline. The creaks of the superstructure were their own form of langugage, one that told Karlyn a chilling message.

    The alien ship had appeared out of nowhere, its attack as devastating as it was sudden. The finest shields of the Romulan Republic had been shredded by some sort of photonic mines, and the oblong-shaped vessels had poured energy fire into the bleeding wreck.

    The Scythe was dead. It would never achieve warp under its own power again. In one stroke, the warbird had been lamed, crippled and rendered deaf and mute. It was finished.

    As glorious first forays into the Delta Quadrant went, this was most definitely not on the itinerary. Her orders were clear. Investigate, report and build alliances. The Federation USS Voyager had made many missteps as it blundered through the Delta Quadrant, and that natural anger would serve to gain the Republic many allies in the area. Someone apparently disagreed.

    An alarm altered pitch, and Karlyn left off efforts to free the trapped Commander Khev. Vessel approaching. Unknown class. The energy signature was different though, and the optical sensor was reporting a more conical shape than the mystery attackers.

    "Greetings, Alpha Quadrant vessel. This is Hunter Kassid of the Hazari. Are you in need of assistance?"

    "Hunter Kassid. This is the Romulan Republic warbird Scythe. We have been attacked by an unknown enemy."

    Karlyn considered for a moment, and then made her decision.

    "We require assistance."

    "Our crews will be beaming over shortly. We will do all we can. These attackers have been hitting ships all over the sector. Kassid out."

    Karlyn thumbed the shipwide communication channel.

    "All hands. The enemy has returned. Stand by to repel boarders with extreme prejudice."

    The Reman intelligence officer she had been instructed to take along ghosted out of the smoke by her side. Almost as if he understood her plan already, he was carrying two plasma rifles.

    "You tricked them". His voice held no reproof or disappointment. It was a mere statement of fact.

    "Look around you, Enzar. The Scythe is a wreck. And with such fortuitous stroke, I see no reason why we should not treat ourselves to a new ship."

    Karlyn grabbed the proffered rifle, and patched through to Subcommander Saga, who was ensconced in the Victrix, the Kestrel-class shuttle in the main bay.

    "Karlyn to Saga. Two to beam directly to the Hazari bridge."
  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 9,352 Arc User
    edited October 2015
    Captain Seifer and Captain Menchez stood in the mostly empty Prometheus-class Engineering room of the U.S.S. Phoenix-X, staring up at the unusually large transwarp coil.

    "So, wait-- Your series of vessels were precursors, but it took you twenty-four consecutive ship-explosions to get it right?" Menchez asked.

    Seifer nodded quickly, "A lot of the hulls were made of low-grade titanium. That, and they kept putting the go button right next to the doorbells."

    "Shall we return to the festival then?" Menchez suggested, "Derok gets anxious and bitey around Humans. It's the lack of ridges that spooks him."

    Seifer nodded again and they both left for the corridors, "Good idea. We only have low-grade synthehol on board and its anti-debilitating effects are hit and miss."

    ---

    "So, here's a question," Menchez started, "Why do you celebrate harvest and the dead in both an equally edifying way?"

    The Starfleet Captain started, "Long ago, people realized celebrating things, no matter the thing, was the best way to express themselves in a collective, group, pie-filled mindset."

    "That," Kugo said as she joined their walk, "and avoiding the fear of being afraid of the things."

    Menchez furrowed his brow at their awkward Federation ways, "I'm just....... going to pretend you are Klingons from now on."

    As they turned a corner, they instinctively averted their eyes from a couple who, from their half-cornered quick-glances, seemed to be 'making out'.

    "Ugh!" Seifer covered his peripheral with his hand, "You know you're not supposed to do that on this ship. You two report to anywhere but public! Now!"

    Menchez turned to Seifer as the three of them continued on, "Shouldn't you ensure they follow your orders?"

    "Nah," Seifer brought down his arm in relief, "The last thing I want to see, even the remnants of, is a human side to my crew-- makes it harder to order them around in a hardcore militaristic style."

    As they gained distance from the section, the two officers remained in the state they were in-- one female Engineering officer biting right into a slowly slumping, passed-out male Sciences division officer.

    When the female officer finished feeding, she slowly limped away.

    Half paying attention, Ensign Belm walked by and flipped the fallen Science division officer a slip of latinum, "Get a job, lazy!"

    ---

    Seifer, Menchez and Kugo entered the Messhall, but instead of finding the festive activities of celebratory fall-times, they were presented with a desolate sarcophagus of forsaken season.

    "Just FYI, this is not a reflection of Federation autumn celebrations, which, I imagine to be completely tame in comparison to Klingon autumn celebrations-- if those even exist," Seifer reassured in a questioning sort of way.

    Kugo glanced around, confused, "Did the hokey gathering of uniformed personnel degenerate into the fear-themed STO Halloween occultism already?"

    "And exactly what does STO stand for?" Seifer asked.

    Kugo glanced at him, "Space-Time October, the month our plain of existence intersects this time of year."

    "I'm certain none of that made sense," Menchez started. "Also, it appears your security is not doing their job," he pointed to a smear of blood on the floor, leading to behind an over-turned table.

    Seifer and Kugo went over to see what the blood led to, followed by Menchez. They discovered a fallen officer, Lieutenant Tong, impaled by a table leg from another table on its back. But Tong was not seemingly unmoving as they would have expected: With a deathly glare at no one in particular, Tong tried, continuously and unsuccessfully, to get up.

    "Tong!" Seifer called out, "You look unwell." And then, "--Seifer to Sickbay. We need a medical team in the Messhall, STAT." But the commbadge chirp from his tap went flat-- "Seifer to security? Seifer to anyone? Seifer to my Horta hatchling?" But there was no response. "Ah, he can't talk yet."

    Kugo pulled out a tricorder from a nearby cabinet and began scanning, "It appears there is a deficient dampening field in the vicinity."

    "Menchez to B'Cnah," the Klingon slapped his wrist communiqué, but he did not get a response either.

    The emotional Vulcan engineer looked at him, "What did I just report?"

    "Huh? Oh, sorry. To be honest, I have not paid attention to a thing you've said since you joined us."

    As Seifer approached Tong, Tong became aware of his proximity and snapped at him in an animalistic way-- but being restrained by the impaling, as before, he did not get up.

    "He looks infected with something," Seifer observed. "I probably should've suggested this wayyyy earlier, but why aren't we all wearing breathing masks?"

    Kugo continued scanning, "If it was airborne, we would've seen the effects by now, probably. I just made that up. By the way, this is curious," she began, "It appears that the dampening field is originating from Tong himself." She turned to scan through the walls, "As well, there are more people emanating dampening fields too."

    She walked closer to the doors to shift her scanning range when suddenly the lights flickered. The doors opened and two seemingly undead-like officers straggled in and collided into her. Not expecting the attack, Kugo fell and was bitten in to.

    "Oh, come on. Moving near the doors was clearly a set up," Seifer criticized no one in particular. He grabbed a frying pan from the kitchen and whacked the two officers off Kugo. Menchez kicked the two out into the hallway and locked the door.

    Kneeling and tending to Kugo was too late for Seifer, as Kugo fell unconscious from her wounds.

    "Dammit," Seifer remarked, "She owed me, like, ten strips of latinum."

    Menchez addressed him, "It is odd how we are all always owing each other money."

    "Well, anyway, I assure you this is not how our fall-time gatherings typically go, but it is on-the-button on sentiments."

    Not too long later, Kugo awoke in an infected gaze. She attempted to bite into Seifer, but the Captain force-palmed her head back. He and Menchez then wrestled her into a nearby food storage closet and locked its door.

    "You and I work well together. Like the time I teamed up with Obisek on Brea III to defeat Hakeev," Seifer offered.

    Menchez was taken aback, "What the gre'thor? But I thought it was I that teamed up with Obisek to defeat Hakeev??"

    "You know what. Let's just say we both did," Seifer compromised before he picked up a phaser from a nearby closet. They both then exited the Messhall through the back doors.

    ---

    Discovering the tubolifts offline, Seifer and Menchez elected to take a jeffery's tube to the Bridge-- a seemingly empty wasteland of malfunctioning consoles.

    "According to what's left of these interfaces, the dampening fields are intensifying in certain areas and effecting shipboard systems," Seifer explained while hitting one of the consoles in an attempt to maintain its response.

    Menchez looked around, "Is it just me, or is your Bridge bigger, and thus not to spec, than to what it's supposed to be?"

    "Yeah, the devs kind of............. kind of rushed it," Seifer replied.

    The Klingon changed subjects, annoyed by the constant failures, "Anyway, what is the point of all this? All you can seem to do is justify our immediate horror as being in-sentiment with your culture's Space-Time October celebration."

    "Uh, yeah, we use light-hearted attitudes to face our fears. So what if Doctors call that denial? Besides, you Klingons live for this stuff."

    Menchez shook his head, "There may be comfort in the danger, but there is nothing honorable about losing yourself to an infection that rips off the Borg!"

    "You're lucky Seven of Nine isn't here. She loves those massively numbered cybernetic bee-like assimilators and everyone supports her in that," Seifer argued with passion.

    But before they could continue, an odd moan developed from the Captain's Ready Room, "Mmmhhrruhhh......."

    "I thought the Federation banned cows from starships after that Barclay incident?" Menchez said, confused.

    ---

    The two slowly made their way over to the Ready Room doors, which were trying to close, repeatedly, except that the torso of a headless and armless corpse was wedging it.

    In the corner was Armond on the floor, his sides being eaten into by a mindless Klingon automaton-- though his upper body appeared to be conscious.

    "Armond!" Seifer blurted in shock, "Why aren't you screaming, or dead yet?"

    The weak tactical officer held up a hypospray, "Uggh...... Got one of these pain relievers on my last trip to--- Sickbay, where Avery died. Don't bother-- going there, though; it's flooded with infected --just wandering around. Is my-- speech pattern-- throwing you off?"

    "Yeah, a little," Seifer confirmed. "--Damn; the dampening fields put the phasers offline too," he tried firing at Derok, but the weapon returned flat-chirps. "Oh, sure, but it's got enough power to make those noises."

    Menchez pulled Derok off Armond and angrily moved the seemingly bland Klingon to the far wall, "Qovpatlh!!" He then impaled a tajtiq through Derok's shoulder, pinning him against the surface. Menchez stepped back to observe his own chief of security, in shock.

    "--Communications are --offline as well," Armond continued, "I couldn't--- get to you-- so I came here, just in case--"

    Seifer knelt down at him, "Great; thanks. You knew I'd survive out of anyone else."

    "Seemed-- likely-- since you're a... Captain--" Armond then pointed to the desktop monitor, "Inform---ation....... Infection introduced at ---Calibus VII." But the action of pointing weakened him and he passed out.

    The Captain closed Armond's eyes, "I hate it when people die with those open. It's like, come on, finish the job."

    "Calibus VII is the planet we captured Avery in orbit of," Menchez reported. "--The colony was holding a Klingon 'honor of the dead' ceremony during Kot'baval and invited nearby ships."

    Seifer recoiled, "Ugh. You mean your Halloween is a ceremony??? Well, I can't say I'm surprised."

    "The point is it was Avery that infected your crew! Next time, we need to listen to any person that says: 'say goodbye to your ship'."

    Seifer tried accessing the monitor, "Come to think of it, that really was blatant, in-your-face foreshadowing." Then there was a half-beep, "I think there's a cure on here," but the monitor blinked as he tapped at the controls. "What the hell? It's also saying the main database is failing! And I can't even log in to access local memory without it??"

    "A Klingon does not try to understand how computers work-- We just conquer them and hope for the best," Menchez explained. "And, you were right about my need to embrace all this," he conceded, "As such, I've come to believe this is where we must die. Dishonor is our destiny."

    The monitor blinked off from the infection, "Okay, wow. Someone obviously needs jamaharan." Seifer then ejected an isolinear chip. "Anyway, this chip has the local information Armond loaded."

    "What is relevant about that? Perhaps we should start over: Hi, I'm Menchez--"

    Seifer lit up, "No! What I mean is: Don't you see? We have the magic reset button!" He walked in front of his desk, "Every horrible thing that ever happens to Starfleet vessels, anywhere, no matter the far-fetchy-ness, always gets a quick-turn-around master reset button-- Whether it's a Krenim temporal wave, an Enterprise-D T-cell de-evolution or magic Kahn-blood--- don't ask me where I got that last one from-- there is always a guarantee we will to go back to the way things were!"

    "That is preposterous!" Menchez countered, "We'd end up with stale repetition, enough to bore our minds into the deck plating, and don't get me started on the abnormal after effects. In fact, I once encountered Warp 10 salamander descendants. One of them was named Venice."

    The Starfleet Captain opened his tricorder and was about to walk passed Menchez, "Well, I've already made up my mind, sir. Since our Sickbay is flooded, I have to get to yours and use the B'Cnah facilities to develop an antivirus. I imagine it's a lot like baking a cake."

    "The answer is no," Menchez out-stretched his arm, "We die here, as it is meant to be."

    After a moment to weigh the consequences, Seifer quickly knocked the arm away and force-pushed Menchez back for space. The Captain then ran out onto the Bridge, which was quickly being flooded with physically deteriorating, mindless officers.

    Menchez ran out, but was too late; he did not see Seifer anywhere, "That petaQ!" He then addressed the inbound crew, quite matter-of-factly, "You are all in need of analgesic cream."

    ---

    Down in Transporter room 4, Seifer struggled the doors open and bee-lined it to the control deck. With the door left half-open, slow-moving undead-like officers began to squeeze their way in.

    "GGgrrrggghhh..." the infected version of Ensign Dan managed his way through, hungry for humanoid flesh. He then tripped and fell at Seifer's feet.

    Seifer tapped at the controls, "Just enough juice to beam me over. As long as more of you don't enter." Ensign Dan bit into Seifer's left ankle, forcing Seifer to kick Ensign Dan away-- "AAAugh! You're relieved for real this time!"

    As a gold shirt officer drooled his way in to join the festive party, Menchez's d'k tahg pierced his head from behind, sending the officer to the floor and allowing the Klingon to step in, himself, "Huh. Turns out you've got to aim for the head." He then changed focus, noticing the wound on Seifer, "Captain! If you go over there you will infect my crew!"

    "I disagree. The reset will negate that paradigm. Resets for everyone!" Seifer exclaimed. He then began accessing a quickly deteriorating transporter system, "--Computer, beam me out as soon as I'm on the padd."

    The computer acknowledged with a half chirp.

    Menchez intercepted Seifer on his way and launched a fist to which Seifer coldly stopped by snatching Menchez's forearm. Seifer returned the favor with his free hand, but Menchez leaned back and grabbed that in much the same manner. Clinging to each other in a struggle for dominance, they began to be the target of slow-moving, incoming, drooling officers.

    "That's it. I'm a vegetarian from now on!" Seifer said, finally.

    Menchez observed the approaching horror, which was tripping and stumbling to his boots, "Uh, I will consider such a commitment."

    As he was pushed into, Seifer tripped backward over a crawling brute and Menchez lost his hold. The Klingon was taken down by grabby-infected-hands and he glimpsed Seifer falling backward onto the transporter padd.

    The Starfleet Captain was beamed away.
    Post edited by hawku001x on
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  • grylakgrylak Member Posts: 1,572 Arc User
    edited October 2014
    Captain's Log. After six months stranded in Galaxy M-33, the Viper has finally reached the edge of the galaxy. We have suffered casualties, we have made new friends. The war between the two factions almost crippled us when they sought out our cloaking device, but the crew were able to fight them off and make what repairs to the ship they could. Before we proceed further, I award a commendation for every member of the crew.


    Before us lies the vast emptyness between galaxies. There will be no planets. There will be no help. There will be no enemies. Xui Li predicts it will take us nearly one hundred years to cross into Andromeda. As very few of the crew will live that long, I am hesitant to commit ourselves to such a journey. The Viper is not designed for long term missions. We are already running with patched systems and pushing her beyond her operational limits. I believe the best course of action would be to locate an inhabited star system and try to modify our engines in some way.



    Talaina sat in the chair, staring at the screen. Scorch marks were still on the walls from that boarding party two months ago. Computer panels remained dark, either damaged beyond repair or shut down to save energy. The lighting was dark, as if they were running under cloak, even though that device had been disconnected a long time ago simply due to how much power it drew. Everyone had adjusted to the dark conditions. Talaina wondered how Voyager had been able to come back to Earth looking so new. Trarsk and Naahz had not been helpful as guides, having long past the region they lived in. Talaina was surprised they had remained on board. Still, they had been offered the chance to leave the ship back at that trader's yard. They had declined the offer. The screen showed black. Nothing but black. "It's funny. Why isn't there a barrier at this galaxy?"

    Ttorkkinn was stood beside the chair in the TRT armour, something he and the rest of the squad wore perminantly now.The beefed up Saurian blinked and looked down to his Captain. "Excuse me?"
    "The Great Barrier. Starfleet records indicate our galaxy has some kind of energy barrier around it's outer edge. I'm wondering why this galaxy doesn't have one."
    "Maybe for the same reason some planets are Class M, and some are Class D. Random quirks of nature."
    "Maybe.


    Xui Li spoke up from her console. "Captain, sensors are, ah, picking up a vessel beyond the, ah, Galactic Rim."
    "Status of it?"
    "It appears to, ah, be adrift. No power detected." Ttorkkinn leaned forward. "Might be something on that thing we can salvage to get home faster."
    "Take an away team. And I don't need to tell you to be careful." Talaina shifted slightly in the seat. It hadn't been right ever since that bullet tore through the back. The Defiant class ship eased itself out into the black. The vessel was reached within a matter of minutes. The large imposing hulk was black, blending into the dark perfectly. A large box with six curved 'sails' extruding from the top and another one from underneath. The stub of another sail was evident underneath, orange plasma burning into space. There were no windows on the ship or identifying marks of any kind. Sections of the hull were torn open, revealling the decks within. From this distance, it was hard to see any details inside.



    The transporter beam dropped Ttorkkinn, Karry, Grimworm, Xui Li and T'Fon into the middle of a dark corridor. Xui Li and T'Fon wore environmental suits, the others being protected by their TRT armour. T'Fon took out his tricorder and started scanning. Ttorkkinn and Grimworm triggered their helmet lights, casting them around. The walls were made from the same black material as the hull. Alien writings were scribbled across them haphazardly. The floor was a metal grating. T'Fon finished his scan. "It appears life support is not operational. This section has minimal air pressure, and it is decreasing slowly. It is logical to surmise there is a minor hull fracture in this compartment. I would suggest we not remove our breathing apparatus." Ttorkkinn nodded. "Xui Li, Grimworm, Karry. You go that way and see if you can find a computer terminal. Proceed carefully and maintain contact at all times. T'Fon and I will head this way and try to locate the Bridge."

    Grimworm led the way down the corridor, keeping his assault minigun handy. "You picking up any signs of life?" Xui Li checked her tricorder again. "No. Nothing. Wait. I'm detecting, ah, a large biomass in the compartment ahead." Karry slipped past to take the lead. Approaching the door, she cast a quick glance to Xui Li for confirmation it was the right door. Seeing the nod, she started checking it for any traps. "Looks clean. But I don't see any door panels." Grimworm approached the door. "Easily sorted." He slid his fingers between the cracks and strained with all his might to open them. He was visibly shaking from the effort but a deafening screech yielded the doors. Inside was too dark to see, even with the torches. "Wait here Commander." Grimworm moved in and shuffled to the left, Karry moving in and sweeping right. The two dissapeared into the dark. Xui Li frowned. How odd. She should still be able to see their helmet lights. "Zhong to Grimworm. Can you, ah, hear me?" Silence. "Zhong to Karry." Silence.



    Ttorkkinn opened the doors and scanned the room beyond with his rifle. It was pitch black. T'Fon scanned the area. "No signs of life, but this does appear to be the Bridge."
    "Keep alert. I have a bad feeling about this."

    The two officers entered the room. From what they could tell by their flashlights, there were some consoles in the centre of the room, all facing inwards towards a central chair, obviously for the commander. Metal grated stairs went up to a level that extended around the room. T'Fon approached the nearest console and tapped it. "There does not appear to be any power. I will attempt to see if I can power up one of the consoles, it may provide us with information." As the Vulcan worked, Ttorkkinn worked his way around the Bridge. His boots barely made a sound as he slowly moved to the upper level. "T'Fon, I've found something." T'Fon made his way up the stairs and knelt beside Ttorkkinn. Some kind of mess was bathed in the flashlight. It was clearly a body of some kind, but it had been eviscerated beyond any hope of recognition. T'Fon ran his tricorder over it. "It is some kind of organic matter. Most likely one of the crew."

    "Can you tell how long ago it died?"
    "Negative. Without a frame of reference for this species, I am unable to create a cellular decay rate profile. And the vacuum we are in would disrupt such readings."
    "Ok. Store his genetic profile. We may find his species and they would probably like to know what happened."


    Ttorkkinn stood up and resumed his search of the Bridge. T'Fon recorded what he could about the alien. A whisper in his ear caused him to spin around. No one was behind him. And even if there was, they wouldn't be able to whisper in his ear through the EV suit. The voice whispered again. Perhaps the comms were malfunctioning. He ran a quick diagnostic but no faults were reported. He focused on what the voice was saying. It almost seemed like the creature was the one talking. T'Fon stared at the mess on the floor. Some kind of spectral entity? He reached out a gloved hand towards it.





    Xui Li moved cautiously through the room. Though her lights were on, nothing was visible. Even when she touched a wall, she could see her hand in front of her, but not the wall. Her stomach was in knots, but she knew she had to push on, if only to find Grimworm and Karry. Suddenly, a yelp from ahead was followed by rapid phaser fire. Grimworm was firing his Minigun at something. Xui Li took a deep breath and started jogging. She slammed straight into a wall, her nose squishing against her visor. Wriggling it to try and work the numbness off, she turned right and started moving. She checked her tricorder. Two lifesigns ahead, and it was able to scan the walls so she didn't run into them again. Coming around a corner, she found Grimworm on the floor, hysterical. Karry was trying to settle him, but the Hulkanian was ignoring her. Xui Li ran up to them. "What happened?"

    "I don't know. He just went crazy. He's just babbling. We need to get him back to Viper." While Karry tried to calm him, Xui Li tapped the comm unit on her wrist and ordered an emergency beamout.







    Talaina stormed into the Viper's transporter room. Grimworm was trying to fight his way out of security's grip. Karry was trying to calm him and T'Fon was comatose on the floor. She marched up to Ttorkkinn who was taking his helmet off. "What happened?"
    "We split into two teams. T'Fon and I took the bridge. Power was out but no sign of trouble. We found one of the crew members ripped apart. There wasn't much of him left. I continued to secure the Bridge, next thing I know, T'Fon screams and collapses. I beam us back to Viper. Moments later, those three beam up reporting something happened to Grimworm."
    Talaina nodded and looked over to Juffra as he sedated Grimworm. She and Ttorkkinn picked up T'Fon and carried him towards the medbay as security helped move Grimworm.




    It had been an hour. Talaina stood in the cramped sickbay as Juffra came over with his report. "Scans are showing an increased neural activity in both of them. Something over there hyperstimulated regions of their brain that controls their telepathy." Talaina frowned. "Grimworm has telepathy?"
    "Very, very minute. It's an evolutionary leftover from thousands of years ago. To be honest, I'd be surprised if any of his species even registered it. I've started them on a treatment of cortical suppressors to try and bring their activity down. They should wake up in a few hours. Little shaken, but they should make a full recovery."

    "Thank you Doctor. Keep me informed of any developments."





    Captain's Log. I have decided to head back towards populated space. Viper is not equipped for an extra-galactic journey and I have no desire to get my crew killed. Trarsk has pointed us towards where he believes a technologically advanced society resides, though he could be getting it confused with the home of the Space Whales. I guess we'll find out soon enough.



    Night had fallen on the ship. Ensign Jenna Jones walked through the corridor, carrying a mug of warm cocoa with a hint of nutmeg and a dash of whiskey. She'd had trouble sleeping so decided to try a remedy her foster father had told her. It certainly helped calm her down enough to sleep back on the Crothers. If only replicators in quarters hadn't been shut down to save on power, but the advantage of such a small ship is that everything is close by. She took a sip, enjoying the warm sensation as it flowed through her. She could already feel the tension slipping away. She walked up to her door and pushed the button. With a sigh of contentment, she stepped inside, but paused. Her right foot had felt like it was in something sticky. She looked down. The pink furry slipper slurped as she lifted her foot up. A red stain was underneath it. How odd. No stain was there when she left. Frowning, she crouched down to get a better look.

    "No. That can't be right."

    Because of where she grew up, Jenna knew a blood pool when she saw one. She looked around. No blood was on the walls, just blast patterns and they had been there for weeks. Her gaze lifted upwards. A red stain seeped through the roof. Jenna quickly moved inside her quarters and hit the comm panel.

    "This is Jenna. I need security at my quarters."






    Talaina rubbed both eyes with a finger and thumb. She was shattered at having been woken at this time of night, but some things couldn't wait. And the broken corpse of Ensign Neil Redshirt was one of them. The poor guy had freaked when he was assigned to a Security detail. And who could blame him, with a name like Redshirt? Everyone knew the songs that went around the Academy Campus. His name had finally caught up to him. Bob Juffra finished his examination and stood up.

    "Almost every bone in his body has been broken."
    "I'm not surprised, the way he was stuffed in the ceiling."
    "No, I don't mean at the joints. His bones have been snapped in half. Something powerful did this."
    "Someone on the crew?"
    "Hmm. Grimworm is the only one with the strength to do this without any mechanical help. But he's still in sickbay."
    "Is he?"
    "Well. He was when I went off shift. I'll check in on him when I take Neil's remains there."
    "Very well. Jenna, are you going to be ok in your quarters tonight, or would you like to move?"
    Jenna had been standing inside her door, cradling an empty mug. She was clearly shaken by the discovery. "I'll be ok Captain. I saw much worse on my homeworld."
    "Ok. Goodnight Ensign." Talaina then tapped her commbadge. "Kazzur to Ttorkkinn. We have an issue."





    Trarsk walked down the corridor, his eye wide in panic. Someone had been brutally killed on the ship. He knew it. He felt their soul scream in agony in their final minutes, but he hadn't been able to do anything about it. "Oh me oh no oh my. Haunted death stalks this ship of graves. Soon all will cross to the other side, and I shall be left alone to atone for my sins." He saw the Chief Engineer on the floor up ahead, working on some conduits in the wall. "Chief, did you hear?" Claire Dotson took the plasma torch out of her mouth and shuffled sideways to look at the guy. "Hear what?"
    "There's been a murder on this ship. An innocent man cut down in his prime."
    Claire extracted herself from the wall. "What are you talking about?"

    "It's all over the ship. Someone was murdered, and they think it was one of the crew." Trarsk paused when he sensed strong emotions from Claire. She visibly tensed up and became agitated. Trarsk's eye widened as he realised why. "You? You did it? But-" He was cut off when Claire slammed him against the wall and held the Plasma Torch to his neck, the prickly heat from the tool far too uncomfortable. "Now you listen to me you little runt. No Jem'Hadar are innocent. I did what I had to do to avenge Betazed. I haven't been found out yet, and I'll be damned if I'll let some hitchiking freak squeal on me. You say anything to anyone, and I'll burn your throat out. Understood?"

    Trarsk nodded quickly. "I wont tell. You have my word I wont tell. I swear on the Moons of Grazthinka I won't tell a soul about your secret." Claire narrowed her eyes before releasing him. Without saying a word, she turned back to the panel and crouched down. Trarsk wearily moved around her. "But... the victim was a human." Claire looked back up at him. "What?"

    Around the corner, a figure remained motionless, listening to everything. It silently moved away.






    Captain's Log. We have discovered another murder on board. One of our passengers, Naahz, has been found behind one of the warp relays. Her throat was cut with what appears to be a plasma torch. I have ordered a full stop of the ship until we can get to the bottom of this.



    Talaina stood to the side, watching Trarsk mourn his blue friend. Sickbay was feeling especially cramped right now. Ttorkkinn and Juffra held a respectful gaze. Trarsk was in tears, babbling incoherantly. Talaina turned from the guests. "Do we have any clues?" The Saurian shook his head. "Whoever's doing it knows how to avoid security detection. It's someone with technical skill."
    "Bob, can you sense anything from the crew?"
    The Betazed paused a moment while he reached out with his mind. "I'm sensing.... alot of apprihension. Understandable, considering. To be honest, without doing a person by person scan of their mind, I can't pick up anything specific."
    "I'll tell you who it was." Trarsk looked over from the bed. He firmly clasped Naahz's hand. "It was that engineer Dotson. She threatened me with a plasma torch. Just like this. She's killed before. She'll kill again."

    Talaina's antennas pricked up. "Commander Dotson? That's some serious charges. Do you have any evidence?"
    "Evidence? EVIDENCE?! She held a tool against my neck and threatened to burn my throat out! Kill me! Silence me, like a Grishna cat to the slaughter. She's done this to hurt me. And hurt me she has." His gaze returned to his beloved. "Be at peace now my love. May the Goddess watch over your pure soul, and forever fly the stars."



    Talaina turned to the other two. "We need to talk to Dotson. My quarters. Ttorkkinn, have some security there."





    The human woman just sat there. She didn't react when Talaina challenged her. Juffra and Ttorkkinn flanked either side of their captain. Talaina sighed and leaned forward, folding her arms on the desk. "Commander, just answer truthfully, and this can all be over. You've been accused of threatening behaviour, and murder. If you answer the question, we can forget about this and all go back to finding the true killer."

    Dotson took in a deep breath. "I did not kill Redshirt. Or Naahz." Juffra leant over to whisper in Talaina's ear. "She's not lying about that, but she is very nervous. Strong feelings of guilt, and a desire to hide something." Talaina simply nodded. "Ok." She sighed before rubbing her eyes with a finger and thumb. "Claire. We're trying to find a murderer. The sooner you tell us, the sooner this will end. You know you can't lie with a Betazoid in the room."


    Claire set her jaw and crossed her arms. "I reserve the right to remain silent."

    Talaina leaned back, considering her options. Claire had her right to privacy. There was no guarantee what she was hiding was anything even remotely related to the murders. But then again, Trarsk had claimed she assaulted him, threatened him with death. That just couldn't be ignored. And she certainly wasn't acting like an innocent party. "Ok Commander Dotson. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't consider this. But we are far from any help, and there's already been two deaths on board. I'm not going to sit here and let that go unanswered. Either tell us what you're hiding, or Commander Juffra here will have to extract the information himself." Talaina ignored the look of surprise on Bob's face. Claire remained motionless. "You can't do that. You're a Starfleet officer. You have a code of conduct to maintain."
    "I have a crew to protect. I would haul you in front of a tribunal and do this properly if we were in the Alpha Quadrant. But we're not. I would prefer you simply tell us. But one way or another, we will find out."


    Ttorkkinn leaned in and whispered. "If we start crossing the boundaries of personal freedoms, we begin-"
    "We'll discuss this later." The Saurian simply straightened back up. Dotson remained defiant, so Talaina sighed. "Commander Juffra. If you would." The Betazoid concentrated on Claire. The group was silent as the seconds ticked by. Claire started twitching, fighting the invasion but she wasn't trained to fight telepathy. Bob frowned as he recovered what he was looking for and turned to Talaina. "She is innocent of the murders today, but she is guilty of killing Mirat and the other members of the Dominion Delegation last year. Some kind of revenge plot."
    Talaina shook her head in frustration. "Consider yourself suspended from active duty until further notice and confined to your quarters. Do you have anything to say in your defence?"
    "Only that they deserved it."

    Talaina made no movement. After a beat, she called Security in to take her away. Once the door was shut, she let out a loud exhasperated sigh. "That solves one mystery. But still not who's doing the murders now. Bob, I'm sorry I made you do that." Ttorkkinn moved around to the other side of the desk so he could face his Captain fully. "I hope that doesn't become a habit. Once we start stripping away people's freedoms, we become no better than the Borg, or Cardassians." Talaina shifted her gaze to meet Ttorkkinn's, unimpressed. "I'm well aware we need to be careful about it. And it's not something I intend to repeat. If I can help it. But we are not a few days from a Starbase. We can't just call up the legal department and have them put someone on trial. We're out here alone, and when someone starts picking off members of my crew, you can be damned sure I'm going to do what I have to in order to safeguard them. If that means I need to.... bend, a few moral rules once in a while, then so be it."
    "Just be careful Captain. When you justify it the first time, it's easier to do so again."
    "I'm sure you'll prevent that from happening."


    Talaina turned to Bob, who had been unusually quiet. "Bob? You ok?"
    "No." The Betazoid was quiet, clearly unnerved. "I can sense a presence. A powerful entity on board. One with strong hatred for all life."
    "Is it the killer?"
    "Yes."
    "Who is it?"
    "T'Fon."




    The Vulcan walked up to an intersection and abruptly stopped. Karry was stood before him, sword in hand. "Lieutenant, what appears to be the matter?"
    "We know T'Fon. So just come quietly and there won't be trouble."
    "I do not understand. To what are you referring?" T'Fon looked around. Grimworm, Ttorkkinn and Talaina all approached from the various corridors, flanked by security teams. Doctor Juffra was also present, but keeping back. The Captain was the one who answered. "We know you've been the one killing members of the crew. We're here to take you in." A shadow of anger crossed T'Fon's face. "Oh I don't think that will be happening Captain. I am stronger than any of you here."
    "Not all of us. TRT. Take him in."

    Karry, Grimworm and Ttorkkinn all approached, keeping their weapons trained on him. T'Fon moved with lightning speed, slapping the blade out of Karry's hand and punching her in the face. As she staggered back, nose broken and gushing blood, T'Fon spun around and punched his bare hand through Ttorkkinn's armour. Another swift punch sent the Saurian flying against the bulkhead, broken ribs puncturing a lung. He started gasping for breath, the life support in his armour trying to keep him alive. T'Fon was about to pounce on Talaina when an armoured hand almost the size of his head clamped around his face and slammed him into the wall. His feet flailed in the air, but Grimworm held tight onto his prisoner. Karry picked up her sword and moved beside Grimworm, but T'Fon was not yet done. Looping an arm over Grimworm's, he slammed his other palm in an upwards strike at the elbow. Even through the armour, the joint snapped upwards, releasing the Vulcan. Grimworm staggered back and Karry slashed her sword. T'Fon caught the blade between his hands and yanked it from her grasp. Phaser fire struck the Vulcan from behind but he didn't go down. Talaina ordered the settings to be higher and they fired again, Karry using her quick martial arts strikes to keep his focus on her. T'Fon backflipped away from Karry and swung at the security, knocking them down.


    Bob was tending to Ttorkkinn. He'd stabilised him but needed to get him to sickbay. But when he saw the Vulcan beating up the others, he knew he had to do something. This was not a normal Vulcan. And so, for the second time today, Bob was forced against his principals. He mentally invaded another person's mind without their consent.




    T'Fon's mind was chaos. Vibrant colours flashed in whisps around Bob. He looked around. Nearby, he saw T'Fon held in a tiny cage, barely bigger than he was. Bob moved towards it. "T'Fon. What's going on?"
    "Doctor. I appear to be trapped. Something has taken over my mind."
    "Wrong T'Fon." The voice was alien, slightly screechy. Bob turned around to see who it belong to and gasped in terror. Behind Bob had appeared an Undine!


    The creature from Fluidic Space continued. "This is MY mind. You, T'Fon. You are the invader. For too long I remained amongst your kind. In your form. I pretended to be you for so long, I began to believe I WAS you. But now, that psychic trail from that ship reawakened my true mind. I am myself once more." Bob was terrified. But he knew he was the only hope, not just for his shipmates, but to bring the T'Fon personality back into domanance. "T'Fon. You and I will need to work together to beat this thing. I know your mind is strong. With my help, we can put things right."
    "How pitiful. The T'Fon personality is nothing more than a cover. It does not exist."
    "Yes. I do."


    T'Fon grabbed Bob's hand, establishing a mental link. The cage dissapeared around the Vulcan. "For you see, a Vulcan's brain may be inferior to your mental capacity, but my brain is not Vulcan. My brain is Undine. And the mental link I now share with Doctor Juffra is stronger than your mind by itself."

    "What?" The Undine fired white pulses from it's head. Each one struck the two officers, lighting their nerves on fire. But they stood firm. They could fight this creature. The Undine moved towards them. "The weak shall perish."

    Bob lifted his chin slightly. "And you. Are. WEAK!"

    The two officers channeled a psychic blast at the Undine. It's body started glowing before it exploded. The two officers collapsed from exhaustion. "Doctor. Are you ok?"
    "Yes T'Fon. I will be. But I need to break the link."

    Without waiting for a reply, Bob severed the link and collapsed on the floor.




    A few hours later, Talaina sat in her quarters. T'Fon, Grimworm, arm in a sling, Karry and Bob were also present, though Grimworm and Karry were there purely for security. The Andorian had been told what happened. She hated mental type things, almost as much as she hated time travel. "So, T'Fon. You believe you are in full control?"
    "Yes Captain. The Undine presence has been removed, thanks to Doctor Juffra."
    "Even though, I want you to wear that neural monitor at all times. We can't afford the risk of having it return and cause more carnage."
    "I understand. A sensible precaution Captain. I also request to be taken off all Away Team duties until such a time we are confident the Undine will not return."
    "You will be kept off ALL active duty for the time being."
    "Understood."
    "Dismissed."

    As the Vulcan, human and Hulkanian left, Talaina turned to Bob, who was resting on the bunk. "Honest answer Bob. Will it return?" The doctor sighed and shrugged. "I honestly can't answer that Captain. This wasn't a case of an alien presence invading the mind of a Vulcan. This was the case of someone being undercover so long, that personality developed it's own sentience. Multiple personality disorder. T'Fon's body is still morphed into that of a Vulcan, but as you saw, with the Undine strength. Frankly, I'd be surprised if it didn't come back some day. Does explain his name though."
    "Oh? How so?"
    "You know how he has a woman's name? Well.... translation mixup when the Undine took on the role."
    Talaina nodded. "And here I always thought it was some deep, complex backstory, like honouring a deceased sibling or mother figure. At any rate, keep an eye on his neural patterns."
    "I've already rigged the computer to alert me the instant it detects them raising."
    "Good. Let's hope we can get home before it happens. We can't afford to lose anyone else out here."



    In his quarters, T'Fon slept. He rolled over towards the wall and quitely mumbled "The weak shall perish."
    *******************************************

    A Romulan Strike Team, Missing Farmers and an ancient base on a Klingon Border world. But what connects them? Find out in my First Foundary mission: 'The Jeroan Farmer Escapade'
  • ambassadormolariambassadormolari Member Posts: 709 Arc User
    edited October 2014
    I look in the mirror, and take a few seconds to consider what is staring back. A fit, shirtless body, abdominal muscles clearly visible, pinkish skin unmarred by time or by injury. A fine, chiselled face, one that almost perfectly straddles the line between youth and maturity, the sort of face you see on holovid covers and Starfleet recruiting posters. A pair of bright blue eyes, two ceruluean irise flecked with ice. A neatly combed crown of brown hair, that seems almost gold in the light of my quarters. I smile at myself, noting the perfect white gleam of my teeth, and slide on the shirt of my outfit. It is ochre-gold, tight-fitting, bereft of ornamentation save for a more archaic, triangular form of the Starfleet symbol on my breast.

    I look like an image right out of history, an icon that is shared and celebrated throughout the Federation. I feel the bile rise in my humanoid throat as I note how insignificantly, disgustingly weak I look.

    I have been in the form and identity of a certain Ensign Jason Travers for a month now, acting like a normal, innocuous Human, carrying out mundane duties on this cold metal vessel and pretending to like all of the inane little hobbies and pleasures that Humans like. Even a month pretending to be such a rudimentary creature can be taxing, but I am of a superior will, a superior strength, and a superior intellect, and I have played my role flawlessly. Up until now, none of the dull, plodding Mundanes on this ship have guessed at the predator in their midst, despite all the fear my kin have sown from the attack on Earth. Their ignorance will serve me well, on tonight of all nights.

    The rituals of these Mundanes have always perplexed me. They insist on setting aside specific days for...celebration. Sometimes it is to celebrate abstract concepts, such as love or independence, or sometimes it is to commemorate some memorable moment in their fragile history. Other times, it is for reasons long-forgotten, perpetuated only by centuries-long habit. Today is one such celebration: Halloween, a Human holiday that, for reasons unknown, had been co-opted by much of the Federation. On this day, for reasons no one even seems to remember any more, people dress up in elaborate costumes, and pretend to be things they are not. Characters from fiction, people from history, animals, inanimate objects...the number of possible costumes is seemingly endless. And the Captain of this ship, for reasons I cannot begin to understand, has allowed his crew a day off to celebrate this absurd...holiday, as they call it.

    All the same, I cannot help but appreciate the irony. All these Mundanes in costumes, not even knowing my own disguise for what it is. To maintain my cover, of course, today I have decided to play along with their little holiday. I have gotten the necessary materials together, and even dyed my hair a little to look like James T. Kirk, some lowly Human whom most of Starfleet seems to revere for no apparent reason. Kirk, in his prime, looked even more disgusting than Travers does, but I console myself. At least I am not dressing up as the murderer Janeway.

    The time is ripe to make my move. I have already gained all the information from this ship that I need, and forwarded it to other of my kin throughout Solidspace. Now comes the final move before I shed this form and take another.

    Today, Captain Arkos Nair will die. And once I take his form, his ship-- his precious Archimedes-- will be under my control.


    ******

    "I can't believe you kept that thing."

    Lieutenant Commander Neazri Sann looked down at her outfit-- a dark blue 19th-century evening gown, complete with ridiculously wide-hemmed dress and seemingly ornamental umbrella-- and shrugged. "I figured I might as well keep it after we did that temporal mission," she said with a smile, taking a sip of her synthehol. "I mean, its still a replicated copy, but its still authentic in its design. And besides, when else will I have the opportunity to dress like Jane Austen?"

    "I have no idea who that is," Commander K'Nera Shras muttered dryly as she sipped her own drink. At the moment, Ten Forward was over-crowded with dancing, inebriated crewmates and loud music, and she and Sann were waiting outside to get some fresh air. Around her, members of the Archimedes' crew were bustling back and forth in a riot of colours and shapes, crowding the narrow hallway outside of Ten Forward. Everywhere K'Nera looked, she saw Starfleet officers wearing outlandish costumes of varying elaborateness. She saw Ensign Park from Astrometrics, for instance, dressed as some sort of feudal warrior, laughing as he shared a drink with a red-painted Ensign Toozal. A little further ahead of her, Ensign Lizann was dressed as some sort of scantily-clad, insect-winged humanoid and holding an absurd-looking wand, while nearby, Ensign Orflik was dressed as a giant canine of some sort. Over to her left, Ensign Sewell was dressed as some sort of bald, overweight, yellow-skinned being, and was acting out some pantomime where he walked into a bulkhead and shouted "D'oh!" The joke was lost on K'Nera, but for some reason, his crewmates found this hilarious.

    The Andorian shook her head. Of all the Human customs that had permeated Starfleet, she would never understand Halloween. It all felt so frivolous, and silly, and--

    "So who are you dressed as, Commander?" Neazri asked.

    K'Nera turned and gave Sann a surprised look. "What, isn't it obvious?" She gestured to the suit of interlocking black armoured plates she wore over a sleek, silk dress. "I'm Lor'Vela!"

    The statement earned her a look of confusion from the Trill science officer. "Who?"

    K'Nera's antennae twitched in irritation. "Lor'Vela," she said again. "One of the greatest zhen in history! Uniter of the kethni during the Time of Lament! The heroine who released all the captives from bondage, who slew one of the most nefarious tyrants in ushaan, and who brought our race back into unification! Seriously, did they not teach any of that in Basic History back at the Academy?"

    Sann's mouth twisted a little in embarassment. "I...sort of...fell asleep during all the bits about Andorian history. Ma'am. Her name doesn't ring a bell."

    A perplexed look crossed K'Nera's features. "Why would she ring a bell? That would be very irresponsible of her-- the sound vibrations could cause a cave-in, you know."

    "No, Commander, I mean--" Sann sighed, and then smiled. "But you know, this is what I love about Halloween. We're learning about each other's cultures through our costumes!"

    K'Nera raised a white eyebrow. "Our cultures?" She gestured to Sann's petticoat. "Sann, the last time I checked, the Trill never dressed like that."

    "Yes, but that's beside the point! Look around you--" she gestured to the ship-wide party going on. "Everyone is dressed as something from their own culture's particular history, or mythology, or media, or even something that just reflects their cultural mindset!" She gestured to Ensign Grev, who was giving some bombastic speech in imitation of whatever famous Tellarite he was dressed as. Thus far, he had drawn quite a crowd. "This is why Starfleet has encouraged the celebration of Halloween, I think: it's a wonderful way for us to learn more about each other, and truly appreciate the diversity of the Federation."

    K'Nera made no reply. She had to admit, Sann had a very good point...although, going by what she said, the multi-angled abomination that Ensign Zsez was dressed as suggested some very odd things about Saurian culture.

    "I guess you're right, Sann," she said, sippping her synthehol. She turned and gave the Trill an annoyed look. "Although how could you have fallen asleep during Andorian History 101? You honestly can't tell me that you found the rise and thaw of the warlord Krotus to be boring--"

    Someone shoved into her, almost spilling her drink. "Sorry, Commander," a startled voice said. The apology was the only thing that kept K'Nera's tightly-wound instincts from grabbing the offender and pinning him against the wall.

    She turned, and almost jumped at the sight. For a brief moment, she had thought James T. Kirk had stepped out of some temporal anomaly and was standing right in front of her. It took a quick second for her to realize that, no, the person who had bumped into her was not the Federation's greatest hero, but was Ensign Travers from Security.

    "S-sorry, Commander," the Human officer said. "I didn't mean to bump into you like that. It's just that the hallway was crowded, and--"

    "At ease, Ensign, no harm done," K'Nera replied with a smile. She glanced at the 22nd-century ochre command uniform Travers was wearing. "I take it you're enjoying the Halloween celebrations?"

    Travers nodded and smiled, though K'Nera couldn't help but notice the forced, nervous quality of the smile. What in the cold is he so nervous about? "Yes ma'am. It took me a long time to get the materials and the design of the uniform right, but I think I've managed to pull it off."

    K'Nera was about to say something positive and affirming to Travers when Sann suddenly leaned forwards, squinting at Travers' chest. "Hmm...no, not quite Ensign," she said.

    Travers blanched. "M...ma'am?"

    K'Nera turned and raised an eyebrow at the Trill. "Sann, what are you on about?" It wasnt unusual for Sann to act strangely, but even so, K'Nera wondered if her synthehol had been spiked.

    Sann ran a finger along Travers' chest, causing the Human to flinch as though in pain. "The material's right," she said, "but your posture's all wrong. If you're going to dress like James T. Kirk, you need to do more than look the part, Ensign."

    The poor Ensign seemed to break into a sweat at that point. "I..." was all he managed to mumble before Sann suddenly set her drink down on a nearby table and began to circle and inspect him. "If you look at all the history vids, you'll find that Kirk always had a straight, erect posture. He looked confident, and commanding Travers, which you don't right now. To be a good Kirk, you need to mimic his personality, not just his uniform."

    "Sann..." K'Nera began, but she knew it was a lost cause. The history nut in Sann had been activated, and there was no stopping her now. Travers seemed bewildered and confused as Sann grabbed him lightly by the shoulders and straightened him out a little, used her hand to pat away some of the creases in his uniform, and made sure his shoulders were level. "And for the final touch," she said, producing a hairbrush from somewhere on her dress, "the hairstyle." With a few quick sweeps, she brushed Travers' unkempt brown hair over so that it was much more neat and tidy at the front.

    "There," Sann breathed, stepping back. K'Nera had to admit, as invasive as Sann's actions had been, Travers looked a little more convincing now. He seemed older, brasher, more like the man who had become a symbol for Starfleet heroism. "Now, just remember, to dress as Kirk, you also have to act like him," Sann said. "Be confident, be brave, and boldly go where no man has gone before."

    "That's an order, Ensign," K'Nera added dryly.

    Travers still seemed a little confused by what had just happened, but he nonetheless nodded. "Yes, ma'am." He then seemed to remember Sann's advice, and straightened himself a little. "Yes ma'am," he said in a much more confident tone, before he turned and headed off down the corridor.

    The moment Travers disappeared from view, K'Nera pressed a palm to her face and suppressed the urge to chuckle. "Sann, you are a horrible person," she said, smiling despite her best efforts.

    Sann flashed her an innocent look. "Oh, like you've never had fun at a duty officer's expense before, Commander."


    ******


    I feel perspiratory fluids rolling down my forehead as I hurry down the walkway. It is a sickening sensation, one of liquid on skin, that speaks of an inferior, uncontrollable biology. I have been in this body for too long, I realize. It is weak, and I am slowly but surely succumbing to its weakness. I need to change my form soon.

    I silently curse to myself as I walk down the hallway-- cursing, another infectious Human weakness that I seem to be adopting. Shras and Sann had almost discovered me back there outside of Ten Forward. If I hadn't stayed in character, they just might have discovered my true nature. I had thought that I had figured everything out about this ludicrous "holiday," but it seems I was wrong. Apparently, looking different is not enough: I must act the part I am playing as well. And if such a little thing as that can get me stopped and accosted, then it is only a matter of time before I am discovered.

    So be it, then. If these Mundanes wish me to act like James T. Kirk, then I will act like the swaggering, oafish, over-libidinous imbecile that they all love so dearly. I am an infiltrator, and taking on new roles is second nature to me. My deception will be flawless.

    I pause outside the turbolift, take a deep breath, and think on everything I know about James T. Kirk. I take what I know about the man-- the arrogance, the intelligence, the harnessed passions, the infantile devotion to his crew and to his duty-- and ingest it all. I allow myself to become Kirk. Or rather, I allow myself to become Travers becoming Kirk-- I must remember that this is but a cover for a cover, another layer of outer skin sliding over an old one.

    I take a deep breath, and straighten up. "Space," I say to myself, "the final frontier." I smile. Yes, this sounds right. This...feels...right. I...feel like James T. Kirk, as....Sann suggested.

    I step into the turbolift. It almost sad that I will soon have to shed this role for another, I think to myself. I could grow to like this role.


    *****

    I step onto the bridge of the Archimedes, and, in keeping with character, steps in with the posture of someone who owns the bridge. I note, not with a little distaste, that Halloween is occuring here as well. Aside from the usual jumble of insignificant duty officers, I spot Chief Th'zarel, at one of the diagnostic stations, dressed as some sort of long-bearded figure wearing faded grey robes and a ridiculously pointed hat. He has taken a pause in his duties to chat with Dr. Choll, who is dressed in a simple suit jacket and pants and is leaning on a cane for some reason. And in the commmand chair, looking somewhat bored, is Lieutenant Farim Meru, dressed as some sort chained-adorned spectral creature. I suppress a smile. Ghosts are the last things that these Mundanes should worry about.

    Farim is quick to notice me, turning her eyes in my direction. For a moment, her dark-skinned face intrigues me, and I am suddenly thinking of one of Kirk's crewmates. The look she gives me, though, is one of perplexed surprise. Obviously, my performance is working.

    "Lieutenant Farim," I say, folding my arms behind my back in a calm, commanding posture, "is Captain Nair in his ready room?"

    Farim stares at me for a few seconds, as though unsure of what to make of me. "Yes," she says slowly, "he is...Ensign."

    I nod at her, and give her my most charming smile. "Thank you, Lieutenant," I say, almost adding As you were, before heading off to the ready room. Captain Nair maintains what the Mundanes call an "open door policy"-- anyone, no matter how insignificant, can simply walk into his office and talk about their wretched, pathetic little grievances. It reeks of emotional weakness, the sort of slavish sentiment that infects all of the Mundanes regardless of species. But today, that sentiment will serve me very well, as Captain Nair will think nothing of Ensign Travers coming into his office to have a private talk with him.

    I step in front of the grey door and press the chime. "Come in," says a cheerful, melodious voice on the other end.

    I step forward, and the door hisses open. Arkos Nair's ready room is a testament to controlled chaos: at his desk swivels a bizarre, hovering contraption of cold metal, with multiple silver spheres rotating in clockword through a series of weaving gold rings. Occupying the other half of his desk, just next to his terminal, is a large, almost glowing sample of blue-green coral, its fronds stretching outwards as though seeking contact. More sentiment, I think with disgust, a remnant of the homeworld that Nair left behind. A nondescript metallic box sits just underneath his desk, and his walls are adorned with shelves, two more samples of coral, and what appears to be a half-finished jigsaw puzzle.

    Nair himself is sitting at his desk, having dinner-- the purple, fleshy orb he is eating smells noxious and foul, even from here. Nair himself is dressed in a bulky, white outfit with what appear to be multiple power packs and tubes crisscrossing in and out of it. For a brief moment, I am reminded of the hated Borg, but calm myself. It is a facsimile of the early suits that the Mundanes wore for space exploration-- a necessary expense on their part, as their inferior biologies cannot handle the stresses of Solidspace.

    "I'm so glad we stopped at this starbase," he says, half to himself, as I step in. "Do you have any idea how hard it is to find live-farmed anemones? They sold these at a higher price because they're apparently poisonous, but--" He pauses as he looks up at me, his words dying in his throat as he stares at me.

    I let him stare. I take a brief moment of satisfaction and pride at how well-put together my costume is, how flawless my mannerisms are. Take a look Nair, I think, at the Captain you wish you could be, but never will.

    "Captain Nair," I say with a confident smile. "I was hoping I could get a moment of your time." A moment is all I will need to bury my claws in his throat and crush it.

    Nair just keeps staring, blinking in idiotic, Mundane confusion. "Ensign...Travers? he finally askes. "Is that you?"

    I feel my Mundane cheeks redden. "Of course it is!" I reply, gesturing to my costume. "I made it myself. Pretty good, don't you think?"

    Nair continues to stare silently at me for a few seconds, the vestigal tendrils curling up his cheek twisting a little as he frowns. "Travers," he says slowly, "what have you done to your face?"

    I feel a chill down my spine as my weak, Mundane biology reacts in surprise. "What do you mean, sir?"

    Nair doesn't respond. Instead, he taps his terminal twice, and swivels it around to face me. A mirror function quickly springs to life on his terminal screen, showing my image back at me.

    I almost jump. The face staring back at me isn't Jason Travers-- it doesn't have his thin face, his narrow chin, his high cheekbones, or his deep-set eyes. Instead, the face that stares back at me is more square and broad, with flat cheeks, a more rounded chin, and a wider forehead. It is a mature, handsome face, one that can transition effortlessly between warm smiles and icy sternness. It is, I realize, the face of James T. Kirk.

    A part of me screams inside when I realize what has happened. I was so focussed on acting, thinking, and being like Kirk that my isomorphic injection must have reacted! I have no time to waste: I need to kill Nair now before he can take advantage of my mistake. With a mental impulse, my wrist lance slides free out of my arm, and I level it at Nair's surprised face.

    "The weak will--"

    I'm cut off as Nair leans forward and makes a wet, gurgling noise. A stream of black-green liquid gushes out of his mouth, splashing across my face, and I scream as my eyes burn. I stumble drunkenly, clutching at my eyes with useless Human digits. Venom, I realize. Whatever it was that Nair did, it was venomous.

    With a mental pulse, I shed my inferior Human form, and feel myself grow. I welcome the agony of bones and flesh re-knitting, and the burning fades away as my adaptive biology kicks in. I am an apex predator, and Nair's little tricks mean nothing to me. My mind is suddenly aflame as my telepathic senses are freed from their blunt, Mundane prison. I open my eyes again, and rear back on all three legs, towering over Nair in my true form--

    I pause when I notice Nair is suddenly hold a long, metallic object in both hands. Wait a minute, where did he get that gun--

    There is a flash of green light, then pain, then--


    * * *

    Farim and a pair of Ensigns came bursting into the ready room, phasers drawn, at the same moment as the Undine's disintegrating carcass hit the floor. The Bajoran woman stared down in surprise as the dead alien, then gagged at the stench of its roasted flesh.

    "See, Farim?" Arkos carefully set the Borg-tech plasma minigun down on his desk, and tapped one of its blinking lights. With a whine of rotating gears, the gun compressed back into the small, metal box that had been sitting innocuously under his desk a few minutes before. "I told you it was a good idea to keep this in my ready room."

    Farim found herself unable to reply as she stared down at the Undine. Slowly but surely, the massive alien finished disintegrating, until ing was left but a neat pile of ashes. She coughed, and tried to wave away the the thing's smell. "Sir, are you alright?"

    Arkos nodded. "Yeah...a bit shaken, but I'll manage." He sat back down in his chair and stared at the ash pile. "He was going to kill me. He would have, too, if he'd known I could filter and regurgitate toxins."

    Farim raised an eyebrow. "Sir?"

    "Oh. It's a Korda thing. Ask Dr. Choll if you want the full details." Arkos straightened up in his chair. "Alright. Alert Lieutenant Commander Brax, and set up a ship-wide alert. Examine everything Ensign Travers was doing ever since he got on this ship, including whatever data he may have been handling. I want to know how long we've had an Undine on our ship, and if there are any others."

    Farim nodded. "I'll get right on it, sir." She paused, and looked Arkos over. "Nice outfit, by the way, Captain. Looks really authentic."

    Arkos beamed. "Why thank you!" He picked up his plate in one hand and extended it towards her. "Anemone?"

    The Bajoran woman blanched. "Um...no thanks, sir."
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,250 Arc User
    edited October 2014
    It was a tremendous bribe, and An’riel could feel the void opening before her, whispers pushing her forward. She could feel D’tan’s hand in this. The scene was shaped well, even reorienting the Deihu to view the proffered new ship hanging temptingly in the void, a beautiful Dehlan Warbird, a lifetime younger than the poor old Valorous. Subcommander Nadel hung nearby, ready to usher her into a decision, and she knew whose voice Nadel spoke with.

    “Your contributions at Khitomer are not to be underestimated, Centurion An’riel,” Nadel said. An’riel actually looked around for who had the same public name briefly; the rank had been confirmed suddenly. “You’ve shown a talent for diplomacy and working with outsiders,” Nadel said, “I’m sorry – our foreign allies. See? You handle it better than I do, and you’ve got a strong working relationship with the local colonies.”

    An’riel sighed, and said, “Subcommander – I have been helping our people. I have resupplied once and barely had a chance to read D’tan’s literature. You’re the only ones doing something for everyone, and I want to be part of that, but Air far away, I can’t give my word on something I barely understand yet!”

    Nadel, to An’riel’s growing vertigo, actually laughed. “D’Tan is not quite the idealist he appears. He’s kept ahead of the Tal Shiar and built all this. And an idealist would have been caught long ago. But… no, we’re not becoming Vulcans,” Nadel said, and her eyes flashed briefly. “You are here because you know our xenophobia and secrecy has been the slow death at the heart of Rihannsu lives and honor. That is what we are building. And we have too many blades and too few plowshares, and too much death.”

    An’riel felt a brief surge of pity. Temer and the best of them were gone, and Nadel had inherited the responsibilities of a man whose word and honor had wiped the stain of Empire. The madness before An’riel was nothing compared to Nadel’s.

    “We cannot build Dewa into something and hold off the Tal Shiar, can we?” An’riel asked.

    “Not without the help of our fiercest and oldest enemies. That’s the new world, where they don’t have to be. Everything we’ve learned has been wrong. The Klingons can show us respect. The Vulcans are not simply robotic drones of humanity. Elements know what we’ll learn next,” Nadel said, “But we do, and our neighbors, will treat you and the others with honor. The agreement is… complicated, a variation on what the Klingons already use.”

    “This is not just me?” An’riel asked. She had been the most visible Rihannsu soldier in the aftermath of the bombing. Temer’s death had been brutal, and D’Tan had seized the moment while she was still in shock, making her a heroine for the hour.

    “At least half our forces, maybe more. Almost all the system defense and militia members who have joined up will be going, we’re keeping the defectors closer to home on defense instead of joining their operations,” Nadel said, “And this was the best path D’Tan could find and hope for. It would happen even if Temer was still here.” The subcommander looked down, and again An’riel felt a flare of pity for the person renting her out, effectively.

    Still, the mind that had gone from tracing groundwater and running part of a colony militia to a full starship understood the path. D’Tan was sending all the new blood to learn and see what could no longer, and, An’riel could barely admit the near-alien thought, should never have been enemies. While the old Imperial Navy defectors were kept an eye on, and would learn to work with Klingon patrols and the more ‘flexible’ colonies around Tau Dewa compared to the icy control of the heartlands.

    But… she sighed, “I will talk to them then, let me see the agreement?” An’riel could feel the void, sometimes friendly with treasure and sometimes fierce, all around her, and Virinat and warmth so very far away. The Republic was far more alien than homesteading… but perhaps, if she could survive the madness, she could weight them to an honorable identity.

    Nadal bowed, perhaps to hide a smile, perhaps affecting the older style. “Thank you,” she said with true relief. “You holding to the path of captain is, I think, the best use for you right now,” she said, “And you can learn more there than we can offer, and so can your officers.” Nadel stood, and said, “You really are ushering in the new age – leadership and initiative can’t really be taught. And you can get the seasoning you need without being poisoned from the old well soiled by the Eagle.”

    “I hope I will prove equal, and be worthy of the new phoenix,” An’riel replied, matching the bow. Her thoughts raced. She had been the first approached, hadn’t she? The trail-cutter for all the others. She had to admire it, it had been honorable, straightforward, and in some way, political. Nadel had, clearly, been right. D’Tan was more than he let on, but also, An’riel had to reflect, far less than he wanted to be.

    ***********************





    Nadel had been true to her word, offering transfers to one of the Flotilla’s few larger ships, even if it was still technically a scout warbird, to all her officers and crew. All her officers, to An’riel’s eternal respect and the weight of duty, had joined, and most of the crew as well. Those few who had not would be remaining on Valorous in its new role as a system defense ship against potential Tal Shiar raiding of the new homeworld. The flotilla was dividing up, going beyond a political movement to a true force.

    An’riel prayed she would be allowed to be part of it under the new banner. New crew had also joined, and they were frantically being drilled, new passengers on this great voyage. And eventually, An’riel knew, she would be used to ventilators that did not rattle from a hundred years of use, to an impulse drive that did not quite bring its drive fields into sync despite everyone’s efforts. But for now, she’d even been allowed to Name the ship, and chosen her proudest moment after joining, in the ancient discovery on Tau Dewa. The R.R.W. Raptor Blade, had, so far, seemed pleased with her name, even if she had chosen the Federation Standard translation in a nod to where they were going.

    The earlier checks had gone well, and the ship, fully repaired and refitted thanks to the first Federation and Klingon largesse, was ready for a journey that would have been impossible five years ago. A journey that would have been unthinkable a generation ago. She was struggling not to giggle at where the Elements had placed her, about to be one of the first Rihannsu on an armed warbird to ever reach the core systems of the Federation.

    And before her was the pathway right to the heart of the Federation. A space twisting discontinuity. She had been reading the specifications and so far, they had just made her head hurt. Transwarp conduits were the next leap forward, making a thousand light years take a few minutes. They were beyond the Republic or the Empire’s capacity to build, something that had contributed to their happy isolation. Nadel had delivered, in person via a biometric lock, the impossible treasure of the access codes to Earth’s node on the transwarp network. The sector-by-sector hub codes were being distributed more generally. Suddenly, the Republic had an economy again.

    And someday, An’riel knew, they would be able to build them themselves. Singularity event horizons differed more in style than substance from the event horizon before her – something that had wracked the eyes of her and her friends before they had found which optical filters to use. This passage would be at minimal speed. Every bit of interaction between Rihannsu warp coil technology and the transwarp had to be measured and understood for the future.
    “All stations lock for transit,” she ordered, pressing a switch on the chair as the PA echoed through the ship. The lights dimmed slightly as the sensors went through a boosted scan, the results showing to her station as she examined the data streams and tapped in minor adjustments to other systems. Even a geologist knew sensors, these held no mysteries, but the enhancements to tactical systems and on-the-fly compensation was only available from the chair, and she wondered briefly what new strange tricks she would learn.

    The ship’s pitch changed slightly, as Virel made minute adjustments. The Reman was one of the few yet to join the Republic. After all, they had far more experience with Rihannsu internal politics than the Klingons or Vulcans, and it would take a lot longer to forgive. An’riel had found to her surprise she liked Virel personally, beyond the guilt and pain on both sides, and professional respect. Perhaps, An’riel thought dizzily, D’Tan was right and they could change.

    Torvan dropped the privacy field he’d been using to gather reports from the ship departments. “All stations report ready for transit. Anti-nausea drugs have been distributed. Bulkheads are ready to drop, and emergency force fields on standby.” An’riel nodded and marked the time. They’d been working on the speed of locking the ship down temporarily but it was still not quite coming together. Sometimes the administration of a starship felt like moving through pudding, limbs moving long after the thought impulse.

    “Thank you first officer. Ahead all slow. Transmit access codes for-“ she said, stopped, and then continued, “Transmit access codes for Sirius Sector, Earth. Switch IFF to Federation-provided codes,” she ordered, then gripped the captain’s chair tightly. This was impossible. It had to be. She was about to go to the seat of the ‘Vulcan’s masters’. She would wake up and be back to refining minerals and tracing groundwater for expansion on Virinat. Or, more likely, she would be staring at a bizarre alien drone, in her last moments.

    Despite her disbelief, the transwarp conduit grew before her. The discontinuity grew, and flared as the codes were accepted, as the conduit sought one of its opposite numbers. After a moment, it signaled success, but there was no visible change, to her disappointment. She’d been praying for stars, like a wormhole, some hint reality was on the other side.

    Satra, watching the conduit’s results relayed via the science crews, nodded.
    Everything matched with what they had been told. An’riel was worried she was perhaps poisoned after all when that made her nervous.

    “Thirty seconds to travel membrane,” the Uhlan at the helm controls reported. “Locking reaction thrusters, all course corrections ready. Navigational deflector degrading to forty percent efficiency, as anticipated.”

    “Steady on. Relay countdown to screen,” An’riel said, then tapped all-hands again. “Transit in twenty seconds. No further updates. Steady, my children. We soar where no eagle has dared. May this be only the start of our legends.” She flipped off the switch and glared at Veril as the Reman snickered. A message pulsed on her chair arm. Torvan had sent her a small correction to the old command dialect she affected – the last word had been plural by mistake. She sighed. Even language was not what it should be.

    The countdown pulsed on screen as the impossibility grew, and as zero hit, the world flashed. She could feel reality try to lurch under her, like the transition to subspace but subtly alien. There was no other sensation of movement – the inertial dampeners had registered nothing. She breathed out, then in again. Oxygen apparently, still worked at least.

    A hum began to build in the ship’s bones, the Uhlan before her started, then slowed the ship’s throttle slightly, easing off the sound, but she could still hear the whine in her ears. That would need to be corrected. Hopefully they would be allowed dockspace. For a brief instant, the horrible thought of this lovely new ship visected, like the old Warbird that was the heart of Virinat, life pulled out piece by piece.

    Then, with a start, transit ceased. Reality and the blessed void of the stars, Fire hanging in the distance, returned. The whine and hum dissipated, replaced by the standard rumble of impulse engines as the ship moved ahead. Before her, five more impossibilities hung at one of the Federation’s transit hubs. With a focus of will, An’riel forced her hands off the chairs. Three more jumps to go.

    “Lieut- Centurion,” Torvan corrected, “We have a signal from the transit maintenance station.” An’riel nodded.

    Suddenly, on the screen, instead of the expected Federation banner, some bizarre gourd appeared on screen instead, carved into some parody of a face. Flames licked at it from within, flickering within in some bizarre semblance of light. The crew could only gawk before it was suddenly replaced by a cheerful looking Bolian.

    “Welcome back to the Federation, transit #322C1A,” the blue-skinned alien boomed, “And remember only three days to Halloween, so feel free to stop and pick up-“ the alien stopped, looking at their stunned expressions, and he finished weakly, “Candy – you’re not Benzites, are you?” The Bolian looked off screen, and then slumped. “Oh damn,” was all he(?) said, for perhaps a minute.

    “Um, transit #322C19, Republic vessel Raptor Blade. I apologize for the confusion,” the Bolian said. Some sort of sweat was on its/his/her face as their transit information was read. “Welcome, again to the Federation. You have been cleared for conduit four, and are cleared through… oh dear. Cleared through to Earth Spacedock. I have been, oh God, asked to relay that you have been invited to a banquet to be hosted by Admiral Quinn in honor of the new Republic.” The Bolian blinked and swallowed, muttering quietly.

    It was too much, impossibility on impossibility. The grand Federation, the ancient enemy that had enslaved their left-behind ancestors. Their honor being tethered to that impossibility as they leapt at unthinkable speeds across formerly-hostile territory to be dined and wined. Almost as one, the bridge crew burst into helpless laughter, continuing long after their next transit.

    Many of the fears of that week would be alleviated or replaced by newer nightmares courtesy of the enemies ahead, and the far darker spaces. It wouldn’t be long before the transwarp discontinuity passed without comment, or the Republic’s warriors association with the Federation continued until they had their favorite bars staked out in San Francisco and Utopia Planitia. And so many fears and new friendships would be forged as the Alliance proved its commitment in fending off the single largest Elachi assault seen when it struck New Romulus.

    But even later as they understood more about the Federation and its love for a party grabbing even random Earth holidays to celebrate, it could reduce the crew of the Raptor Blade, wherever they served, to laughter simply by mentioning the word ‘pumpkin’.
    Fate - protects fools, small children, and ships named Enterprise Will Riker

    Member Access Denied Armada!

    My forum single-issue of rage: Make the Proton Experimental Weapon go for subsystem targetting!
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 9,004 Arc User
    edited October 2014
    To Absent Friends
    Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone.
    Suzanne, the plans they made put an end to you.
    I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song,
    I just can’t remember who to send it to.
    I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end.
    I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought that I’d see you again.

    Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus, You’ve got to help me make a stand.
    You’ve just got to see me through another day.
    My body’s aching and my time is at hand and I won’t make it any other way.
    Oh, I’ve seen fire and I've seen rain. I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end.
    I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought that I’d see you again.

    — James Taylor and Carole King, “Fire and Rain”


    4 Kadera, Seventh Era 957, Year of Distant Travails (6 April 2410 Earth Standard)

    Nestled under the saucer rim of a Galaxy-class starship is Compartment 13 Forward, the public observation lounge. Mostly, it’s the enlisted crew’s rec room. Holotables for various games, an uninterrupted view of space, replicators, ready turbolift access for emergencies, the works.

    But on the aft wall of the lounge there’s a dire reminder of how quick this could all be taken away. Forty-five stainless steel Starfleet chevrons dot the bulkhead, each one with a name engraved. It’s the USS Bajor’s memorial wall, keeping silent vigil over fallen crew members. Above it, the ship’s seal, with a stylized Orb of the Prophets over the Celestial Temple, and a motto on a ribbon underneath that the crew picked out after launch and I never bothered to look up: “Morituri Nolumus Mori”.

    The memorial’s busy today. It’s the Fourth of Kadera, the Day of Remembrance, and most of the 152 Bajorans on my crew and many of the non-Bajorans are here to pay their respects. We’re at cruising speed, headed for our next patrol point, so there’s not much else to do today, and there’s a lot of names to remember.

    These days it feels like we lose somebody every time we go out.

    Hardcopy pictures dot the wall next to most of the chevrons. Duranja lamps bracket the display, and foods from all over the galaxy lie at the foot of the wall. Some of the names on the wall, I know. Too many, I don’t, and that hurts. But there’s one here I know far too well, and since her own memorial wall died with her, and she was part my crew and one of my friends for two years, I put her here myself two months ago.
    Lieutenant Commander T’Var
    Operations Officer, USS Bajor NCC-97238
    Commanding Officer, USS Olokun NCC-93794
    2374-2410

    I’m holding a bowl of sliced Rillian teaberry melon and roasted dirka nuts. It was her favorite: she loved to mix sweet and savory. I reach past Senior Chief Athezra, who’s placing a photo next to a marker for a Crewman Teaghan Matheson, and stroke T’Var’s chevron. “Hey, there, old friend.” I put down the bowl and tuck a picture behind the edge of her marker. It’s of me, T’Var, Tess, and Biri, all of us in bathing suits. I’m in a simple black one-piece (I’m not as self-conscious about my scars as I was at first, but there’s no point inflicting them on anyone else), Biri’s got a bikini and a flowered sarong, and I remember how many heads that navy blue two-piece that Tess was wearing turned, what with her curves.

    Beside me, Gaarra, ever-dependable Gaarra, squeezes my shoulder, as much of a PDA as we’re willing to share in public. He’s lost seven of his people since he came aboard, four of them in the Schrödinger’s Butterfly incident alone. I lean out of the way so he can tuck a white and red pelta blossom behind the chevron for somebody named DO1. Chai Ezanad. “How’s the beard?” I ask him. He’s still growing it out after Warragul had to shave it.

    “Itches. It’ll pass.” He looks at the beach photo. “When was that?”

    “About a year ago when I had the George Hammond, during the Klingon War. We got a little shore leave during a round of repairs and went to Zalaar Beach on Deneb IV.”

    “T’Var didn’t swim?”

    I glance at the photo again and see what he’s talking about: She’s wearing a Starfleet Academy t-shirt and tracksuit pants. “No, just modest. She didn’t see the, uh, ‘logic’ in flaunting it when she wasn’t actually in the water. She could swim like a fish, though.” We step back from the display and the space is quickly taken by an ensign from forward gunnery. I pass a slice of melon to Gaarra and he trades me a hasperat. I bite into it and my mouth burns pleasantly from the spices. We just sit there chewing for a moment, then I recall, “She loved the water. They don’t have full-on oceans like that on Vulcan. A couple big inland seas, that’s it.”

    A memory flashes through my mind, the four of us sitting on the beach one evening that week, shooting the breeze. “What, never?” Biri asks.

    “No,” T’Var confirms.

    “‘Not ever,’ never?”

    “I have never seen the need.”

    I’m confused, and not just with how did we get onto this subject in the first place. “I thought Vulcans typically had marriages arranged in their teens.”

    “My parents thought it more logical to allow me to seek my own mate. And before you ask, my
    pon farr has never been so intense as to require more than meditation to control.”

    Tess waves a dismissive hand. “Give me a break. I know for a fact you pointy-ears have sex outside of
    pon farr

    “That’s it!” Biri exclaims.

    “What’s what?” I ask.

    “That’ll be our present to you this week, T’Var. We are gonna get you laid.”

    I look at the Trill incredulously, then I hear Tess trying to hold in a enormous guffaw and failing miserably and all three of us collapse. I even catch sight of a twinkle in T’Var’s eye in between gales of laughter.


    “No, I have no idea how we got on the subject,” I insist as Gaarra and I sit in one corner of the lounge. Tess and Biri are with us, now, too.

    Tess guesses, “Some combination of booze and the natural tendency of soldiers to turn roughly anything sexual if you leave them alone long enough.” Biri starts snickering.

    He stares at me, then shakes his head. “Did it actually work?”

    “No, at that point we ordered another round of drinks and Biri p-passed out!” I answer, sputtering with laughter at the memory.

    “T’Var had to fraggin’ carry me back to our cabin!” the Trill adds, now positively howling. Tess falls out of her chair and I lean into Gaarra’s shoulder and slide off onto the arm of the chair, shaking with laughter.

    As the merriment subsides, I glance up at the wall, which now looks more like a scrapbook than a memorial. Tess says, “I heard through the grapevine they’re renaming one of the new Avenger-class cruisers the Olokun-A.” My eyes widen and she nods and explains, “The hull formerly known as the USS Ho Chi Minh City, NCC-97510, is launching out of the Okana Shipyard next month. They’ll probably want us at the ceremony.”

    “Of course they will.” I shake my head. “Phekk. You know, even T’Var hated when we had to wear our dress uniforms. Remember when Captain Lahau got promoted? She spent half an hour trying to get that stupid necktie right.”

    Gaarra gives a derisive snort as I scoop up a handful of dirka nuts and stuff them in my mouth. “Who the hell came up with that one?”

    I shrug. “Earther thing from centuries ago. Some moron in Procurement decided to go retro that year. So glad they got rid of that in the Odyssey unis.”

    “So, who’s getting the Olokun-A?” Biri asks.

    “Urellh Gursultur, half-Romulan fellow from Syrma IV,” Tess answers. “He was XO when I was on the Khitomer. Bit of a jerk but he grows on you.”

    I hear a couple of twangs from across the lounge and look up to see several people clustered around the stage in the far corner. Warragul’s twisting the **** on his guitar and giving the strings experimental picks, Dul’krah has his vodchakh out, and—I get up and walk over there with the others hot on my heels. “Doc? Care to explain the piano?”

    “Fairly simple, ma’am,” Corpsman Watkins says. “You press one of these keys and—”

    “Ha ha,” Tess says in a dry tone as I fight valiantly to keep a straight face. I admit it, she got me. “She meant how did you get it on board and where have you been keeping it.”

    “The transporter, and one of the undeveloped rooms on deck 8, sir,” the blonde part-Betazoid answers.

    I look at Warragul. “How good is she?”

    “Good enough,” Watkins returns, “though not as good as my mother, Captain. She plays for the Medara Philharmonic. I don’t practice nearly enough to be a professional, but I can play and sing.”

    I absorb this and turn to my CMO. “What did you have in mind?”

    “A few old Earth tunes, quiet stuff. Uh, sir,” he asks Dul’krah, who outranks him by one grade, “my pick’s gone walkabout.”

    “On the piano, where you put it,” the Pe’khdar says without looking up, adjusting the spring tuner on his instrument. The dark-skinned man grunts in annoyance and scoops up the triangle of plastic without a word.

    “Are you ready, Chief?” he asks Watkins. She sits at the baby grand and nods, and Dul’krah raises the vodchakh to his chin. Warragul looks at me. “I introduced T’Var to Sarah McLachlan our third day aboard. Corpsman Anaala and Specialist th’Shrellikath liked her too. We’ve been practicing this one ever since Dul’krah started working on converting it to that overgrown fiddle of his two weeks ago. Thought you’d appreciate this. Computer, dim the lights and give us a spotlight. And a one, and a two…”

    Watkins starts into a slow buildup on her keyboard, with Warragul and Dul’krah joining her on the strings a bar or two in. The chief begins to softly croon, “Remember the good times that we had? I let them slip away from us when things got bad. How clearly I first saw you smilin' in the sun. Wanna feel your warmth upon me, I wanna be the one.”

    Warragul hits the harmony in tenor during the refrain. “I will remember you; Will you remember me? Don't let your life pass you by. Weep not for the memories.”

    Now it’s the doctor by himself, singing and strumming his guitar. “I'm so tired but I can't sleep, Standin' on the edge of something much too deep. It's funny how we feel so much but we cannot say a word. We are screaming inside, but we can't be heard.”

    I don’t know when Gaarra and I started slow-dancing but I feel safe in his arms, against his chest. Like the first night we met. Feels like hours later when he says, “Uh, Captain, song’s over.”

    “What? Oh, right.” I let go of him and step back, brushing a lock of hair out of my face and nervously clearing my throat. Hopefully nobody noticed. No, they’re all applauding Watkins and—

    “Oh, for Uzaveh’s sake, Captain, just kiss him already!” I spin and gape at Tess.

    “Yeah, we all knew you two were a thing weeks ago,” Warragul adds.

    I smile, turn my head and give Gaarra a peck on the lips, then turn back to Tess as he clasps his hands below my **** and hugs me to him. “I guess our secret’s out,” he comments into my ear.

    “It was not a secret, Commander Reshek,” Dul’krah says. “The only question I had was when your first children would be born.” There’s an oddly musical clunk from Warragul dropping his guitar. I feel my cheeks burning and Dul’krah has the good sense to start looking embarrassed. “My apologies. Clearly I have run afoul of, I believe the term Lieutenant Commander Bo’tok at the Academy used was ‘culture clash’.”

    “Phekk’tem understatement,” somebody female in the crowd mutters in Perikian.

    “Watch it,” I warn over my shoulder. While I’m looking I see Nalak Lang and several of the crew from food service come in with two cases of Romulan ale—legal now, and you can thank the alliance with the Republic for that—and several trays of hasperat, as well as a big bowl of Kendra-style kava pudding I’d requested. “Mister Lang, send some bottles and glasses around, please.”

    “Yes, ma’am, I was already doing that,” the old white-haired Cardassian says.

    I wait until everyone in the crowd, almost a quarter of my crew, has a glass in hand before raising mine. “To absent friends. Rest with the Prophets.”
    * * *

    Author’s Notes: Thanks to takeshi6 and gulberat for acting as editors.

    This was fairly straightforward in concept, taking the groundwork takeshi and I laid for “Remembrance of the Fallen” and repurposing it for T’Var’s death in The Wrong Reflection. The execution proved a little trickier, but I like writing Eleya in a relaxed, non-action context almost as much as I like Eleya the Crazy Improvising Soldier.

    The “culture clash” Dul’krah mentions comes from the background material I wrote for the Pe’khdar. In their culture romantic relationships rarely last more than about five years or so, and any children that result are part of the mother’s clan and get raised by the whole clan in concert (the father typically only takes a major role if he is a member by birth of the same clan). Dul’krah himself has a son and a daughter by two different women.

    Oh, and that Sarah McLachlan song is “I Will Remember You”, by the way.
    "Never underestimate your audience. They're generally sensitive, intelligent people who respond positively to quality entertainment."
    — Lt. Col. Cameron "Shaft" Mitchell, "200", Stargate SG-1
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  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 9,352 Arc User
    edited October 2014
    Captain Seifer beamed into a dimly lit, dank, empty corridor aboard the Vor'cha-class I.K.S. B'Cnah. In the distance, the deadpan moans of an infected Defense Force officer could be heard coming his way.

    "Dammit. The Klingons too??"

    As the foaming-at-the-mouth warrior turned the corner for Seifer, another Klingon, Ch'Tong, approached from behind and sliced a mek'leth through the infected's head.

    "Yes, the Klingons!" Ch'Tong took notice of the Captain as the body hit the floor between them, "I assume you were remarking in such a fashion before I arrived here. It's just a general response I call out on occasion, hoping it applies."

    Seifer nodded, "It does."

    "That would mean the Phoenix-X is being plagued with the same bitey-bitey-snatch-snatch! After I transported back here, the whole ship started falling apart."

    The Captain looked at him, "We learned that Avery was the original carrier, and that it can only spread through attempts at cannibalism."

    "No Klingon shall eat another: That has always been one of our people's most influential sayings."

    Seifer took out an isolinear chip, "We can ensure that remains true. You see, I have a cure on this, but need to get to your medical bay to read the information and manufacture it."

    "That's going to be tough. There are infected all over the decks from here to there and the lifts are offline," Ch'Tong explained. "Besides, where's Menchez? Is he standing right behind you?" He leaned slightly to change his viewing angle to no avail.

    Captain Seifer hesitated, unsure how to explain things, "Uhh, well, you know how people can sometimes trip over things? Well, we were being bombarded by drooloids and that spike in Menchez's boot happened to hamper certain foot over foot movements-- and, well, you can imagine the rest."

    "That sounds unnecessarily step-by-step, unless, of course, you're covering up someth--- Wait. By the gre'thor of gre'thor?? You allowed him die so you could escape??" He then pointed in vile accusation, "You're a betrayer!"

    Seifer held up his hands, "Nah, bro; it ain't like that."

    "And what is that vernacular you speak? It is utterly horrible!!" But in Ch'Tong's increasing cloud of passion, he failed to notice a door prying open next to him, where grabby-infected-hands lurched out and clung on. "Arrgh!" As he was being taken in and bitten into, he spat out in pure strain at Seifer, "You petaQ! You better help me right now! We both have to die here right nowww!"

    But Seifer was locked in complete shock as Ch'Tong was taken through the doors, too late to act on the request even if he wanted to, "Dammit. That didn't work out so good." He then attempted to call out to Ch'Tong as he picked up the mek'leth, "--I'll make use of this; thanks!"

    As he took a step forward, his weakening leg set off pain detectors in his head. Seifer pulled out one of Armond's hyposprays and shot his shoulder with it.

    "Ohhhh yeah; better than ketrecel white."

    ---

    The doors from the corridor to the Shuttle bay on the Phoenix-X were pried open by a herd of infected. Menchez, covered in blood, tore his way through the bodies with his d'k tahg and approached the Danube-class runabout U.S.S. Iroh. Inside was Kayl, trying to get it online.

    "Captain Menchez?" she said, shocked, as she opened a hatch for him. "I thought Klingons hated slow, steadily-paced violence?"

    Menchez helped her close the door as the shuttle bay began to flood with dreary dead-heads, "We do. But violence is violence, and when murdering comes-a-calling, Menchez-comes-a-knocking. In times like these, it is okay to fight like a rabid-unfocused-Ferengi."

    "Anyway, if things don't start working out for us, rabid-unfocus is all we'll have left," she explained, gesturing to the windows. The entire shuttle was hauntingly being surrounded by clawing and crying infected. "By the way, what happened to Captain Seifer? Did he die from doing nothing? He likes to do a lot of nothing."

    The Klingon clenched his fist, "That petaQ left me to be fed to the wolves while he transported to the B'Cnah. We are to head over there and stop him from his arrogant attempt at mundane-ity."

    "I'm not sure how I deciphered that, but are you saying he has a cure? Are you saying you have a death wish??"

    Menchez gritted his teeth, "I intend on killing your Captain for that one shred of honor within the vacuum of dishonor we've all been mandated. His attempts at reset are harmful and presumptuous!"

    "Uh, reset is a Starfleet tradition. I'm sorry, sir, but I can't let you go through with your openly explained planned actions," she went over to a storage container and rifled through it in search of a weapon.

    Just standing there, waiting, Menchez began to lose his patience, "Oh, for the love of stovokor. Just take my mevak!" He threw her the weapon.

    Kayl caught it and launched it toward him. Menchez knocked her arm away and jabbed his d'k tahg at her. Dodging, she grabbed his arm with her free hand and elbowed him. The two stopped when the console next to them beeped.

    "I had a program running, which I wrote to counter the dampening effects around the ship," she glanced at the display, "It worked! I knew the Delta Rising subroutine would over-power everything."

    But, Menchez, breathing heavy and weak from something else, quickly lurched his head into Kayl's shoulder and bit right into her!

    "Aah!" Kayl screamed, pulling back and falling to the floor, bleeding. Her skin started to turn pale. "How dare you do that and not take me out to dinner first??"

    The Klingon pulled out a hypospray and shot himself with it, "Ahhh; perfect. It's a good thing Armond had several of these, off-screen." He then turned to Kayl, "My apologies. Your honor will be joining our dishonor, if that makes any sense word-wise." He then activated the Iroh's impulse engines, hovering it off the bay floor and knocking several brain-dead officers back.

    One of them was Bekk Rinn, visiting for the festival, "Heyyy! I'm not infected?? I'm just camouflaged in blood and guts!" The other lazy-eyed officers turned to his direction. "Ah, I shouldn't have talked."

    ---

    Seifer, crawling through the maintenance tubes of the B'Cnah, had teamed up with several surviving Klingon Defense Force officers: Ulkegh, Necktos, Tayana -- all of which he unintentionally betrayed to sudden influxes of infected, brain-thirsty warriors.

    Kicking out a service hatch, Seifer entered the medical bay, which was yet to be technologically compromised, "Dammit. What are the odds that all three of them would get 'Seifered'? That's what I'm calling it until the reset."

    "If I heard your self-deprecation correctly, most of the crew is dead," Terek, the tall and old Klingon medical officer emerged from the shadows.

    Seifer approached and handed him the isolinear chip, "Indeed. I also discovered that the B'Cnah's infection originated through Avery's Klingon jackal mastiff, which he acquired on that Pach-class ship and likely infected on purpose for you guys and--- well, it was this whole side-mission thing. I'm trying to get to Level 60."

    "I admire a thorough man in the face of death! But you do know I still cannot ignore the betrayals, right? Killing is the most conflicting and confusing thing a Klingon Doctor must do."

    The Captain shook his head, "You're too late anyway. I'm already dying," he took out a hypospray and shot his arm with it... but this time there was no effect. "Bloody hell. It stopped working? This is what I get for being a bad Captain; and I was hoping the reset would patch that."

    "Huh? Oh, sorry, I have a tendency to block out other people's personal issues. Also, I was busy reading your data. --This appears to be a cure," Terek said, having plugged in the isolinear chip and began scanning through the medical monitor. "According to this, in 2273, your very own Admiral Kirk, Mr. Spock and Doctor McCoy encountered this disease on the previously quarantined Calibus VII. The epidemic was a hybrid organic-cybernetic infection leading to attacks of desperate-franchise-crossing proportions."

    Running out of energy, Seifer leaned against a medical bed, "That's.... impossible... I've seen every historical database-episode, even the Pike one."

    "Oh, this was cataloged as sequential imagery, a 'comic' if you will-- titled, 'Infestation'-- Likely nobody read it," he confirmed. "What an obscure and odd reference, though," Terek commented, "Even so, I can actually replicate this quite quickly. It's likely Avery added the dampening effects to the infection for his commendable anti-Federation efforts, so we should distribute in gagh form."

    As he began replicating the cure, Seifer found himself confronted with the reality of the 23d century, "That Klingon ****..... was right. We're just ripping off Kirk...?" He struggled toward Terek in altered-resolve, "We.... have to.... stop.... the reset......"

    But the sudden banging on the medical bay doors over-noised him. Terek walked over to the entrance, "Who is it?"

    "It's Menchez; you fool!" came the familiar voice.

    The Doctor attempted to work the door's unlocking mechanism, "Captain!" But he had trouble unhinging the archaic metal handle, "You'd think we'd have advanced these things by now."

    "Terek," Menchez started, recognizing the delay. With his body getting weak and tired, his mind began to drift out of the moment, "I've come to the conclusion that the only way we can all ever be sure of our... deaths... is if they are....... in dishonor....."

    Doctor Terek paused, "Sir, you already know I'm impervious to personal issues. Besides, it sounds like you're forcing death for peace-of-mind--- despite that being the actual nature of it all."

    As he opened the door, Menchez surpassed the unconscious stage and immediately turned into an infected walking corpse-- the Klingon Captain charged at Terek, colliding into him while biting right into his neck.

    "Auggh!" falling to the floor, the bite shocked-still Terek's motor functions. "This has been--- an eventful--- Klingon-Halloweeeeennnnnggghh!"

    Seifer's vision blurred and he turned as well. After a moment of painful screams from Terek, Menchez finished feeding and stumbled over to Seifer.

    The two undead-like, drooling, Captains, unable to acknowledge each other, remained pacing around the medical bay having partook and surpassed in one of the most sacred Klingon-Halloween ceremonial traditions ever: the sharing of a near-death experience. Happy Halloween!

    ---

    The Soveriegn-class U.S.S. Zephyra came upon the two adrift vessels, the Phoenix-X and B'Cnah.

    "Ma'am," Kuri started, "It appears that both crews have endured a viral, living-death-inducing infection! Captain Seifer and Captain Menchez are walking around aimlessly around what seems to be vats of a gagh-cure-- I believe it should be easy to administer if we feed it to everyone in much the same way a mother bird feeds her baby hatchlings."

    Captain Aeris, ignoring her tactical officer, gritted her teeth in utter annoyance of what was before her, "...........Those idiots!"
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  • zidanetribalzidanetribal Member Posts: 217 Arc User
    edited March 2016
    Literary Challenge #68: STO Halloween

    LC68: Cultural Comparisons, and Free Candy Besides
    Captain's Log, Stardate 88374. The Aquarius mission pod of the Odyssey-class starship requires fifty people to operate efficiently. Perhaps coincidentally, there are fifty cadets on the Lord English as part of the Academy Abroad program. As we are in the Sol System in preparations for Operation Delta Rising, I will take this opportunity to ask the designers at Utopia Planitia whether this was intended or not.

    "Are you eating well? Your father wants you to eat fresh foods more often than you do replicated ones."

    Cadet Juno Inselart was surprised when her mother messaged her in her quarters; she had planned to visit her parents while she was in the Sol system, only to learn that they went to Risa for the month. A gruff Teutonic voice could be heard behind Juno's mother.

    "Your father wants you to be wary of the male cadets at your posting," she explained.
    "Tell him not to worry about it," Juno replied with a chuckle.
    "Did you get the package we send you before we went to Risa?"
    "The mailroom hasn't notified me of any package. What did you send me?"

    At that moment, Juno's roommate Garaze Rela entered with a jumja stick in her mouth and a furred garment in her hands.

    "The mai'oom said they had a package for 'oo," Rela said. "It 'ooks 'ike an animal fur. Wait, what if this was the pet dog 'oo owned?"

    Suddenly Rela fell to her knees as she raised the furred garment to the ceiling.

    "Oh P'ophets! Why wou'd fate be so c'uel as to p'event a faithful companion f'om seeing its master one 'ast time?" she wailed.
    "Rela, that isn't my dog!" Juno said with a blush. She recognized the garment as the Halloween costume she wore the year before she joined the Lord English.

    ---

    Once word got out about the package Juno's parents sent her, Juno's friends came to her room to pressure her to wear the costume for their amusement. Juno, being a meek and easily persuaded person, changed into the costume and stepped out of her quarters bathroom. Her friends quickly began fawning over her, even when it became apparent they had no idea was she was supposed to be.

    "My, you make a cute Lake El-Nar Otter, Juno," said Idouna Stadi, her Betazoid friend.
    "Otter? I thought she was a furry Southern Okegeti," said Salin, her Saurian friend.
    "Of course! Juno is disguised as a palukoo!" said Garaze Rela, her Bajoran friend.
    "You guys," Juno Inselart, Human protagonist, exclaimed, "I'm a mouse."

    Juno's friends looked at each other before nodding in agreement. Rela pulled out a wedge of cheese from her pockets.

    "I heard that the Earth mouse loves cheese! Give it a try, Juno!"
    "Rela, why do you have cheese in your pockets?" Salin asked. Idouna decided to change the subject instead of hearing the answer.
    "So why did your parents send you a costume, Juno?"

    Juno started blushing again, while Rela ate the wedge of cheese.

    "It's an old Halloween costume," Juno explained. "We wear it when we go trick-or-treating?"

    This was met with blank stares, so Juno explained further.

    "Halloween was an Earth holiday that used to be about remembering the dead, but after a while it became more about trying to contact supernatural entities. After World War III, it fell out of practice except in areas influenced by the United States. My friends in Copernicus City introduced me to Halloween and trick-or-treating."

    Suddenly, Juno had a thought.

    "Do any of you have holidays like Halloween where you explore the supernatural?" she asked her friends.

    Rela raised her hand.

    "Bajorans have the Borhya, but we don't really explore it as much as we use it to discipline children. Pagh is more like the Human soul, but they don't affect us much either."

    Neither Salin nor Idouna had Halloween-like holidays either.

    "Saurians haven't given much thought towards spirits and afterlife," Salin said.
    "Betazoids don't believe in ghosts, since they can't be read telepathically," Idouna said.

    Juno thought about the cultural disconnect between her and her friends. Suddenly she thought of an idea.

    "What if we had a Halloween party on the Lord English?"

    ---

    Juno and Rela went to their respective department heads to ask permission, and they directed the pair towards Admiral Lee for a final decision. So the two entered Admiral Lee's ready room. In the dimly lit ready room, Admiral Lee sat in his chair with his back to the two cadets.

    "So I've heard you two wanted to have Halloween festivities aboard the Lord English," he said. "Disregarding the fact that only Humans with a North American background would have enough knowledge of the holiday, I'm loathe to allow cadets full use of ship resources for personal reasons..."

    Lee turned in his chair to face the two cadets. He was wearing a Chinese opera mask and dressed as Sun Wukong, the Monkey King.

    "However, as we will be going on an extended mission to the Delta Quadrant that some of you may not return from, I will allow cadets to celebrate Halloween as part of cultural sensitivity training. If you write up a report on different Halloween-like concepts between cultures afterwards, then I see no problem in letting you go trick-or-treating on board."

    So Juno, Rela, Idouna and Salin went trick-or-treating on board ship. Juno remained a mouse, while Rela dressed as a gardener. Salin dressed as an Orion Matron while Idouna went as a 2290's era Starfleet admiral. Going around the ship, the four met other cadets dressed up as other figures as they visited other people's quarters.

    ---

    First Officer Kay Taylor was working on the documentation for Lord English's mission to the Delta Quadrant when her door chimed. She answered the door to Juno and her group.

    "Tripe or trap, Commander Taylor!" Rela shouted.

    Kay stared.

    "What?" she asked.
    "It's trick-or-treat, Commander Taylor," Juno explained. "Admiral Lee has given the cadets permission to ask the crew of the ship about Halloween-like beliefs. Do you have any Halloween-like beliefs, Commander Taylor?"
    "Well, I've always loved the creepy but safe feeling of Halloween," Taylor responded. "In Toronto, I used to go door-to-door and ask for candy, and sometimes it wasn't even replicated. Here, give me a moment."

    Taylor withdrew to her quarters. When she came out, she was dressed as a Flapper of 1920's Earth. She put some hard candy into the cadets' bags.

    "Well, it's been the bee's knees seein' ya kids enjoying today. I hope everything's copacetic, but I don't wanna be a flat tire, seein' that I gotta see a man about a dog. Bye now!"

    Taylor returned to her work and Juno worked on her PADD. After she finished, the cadets went off to their next destination.

    ---

    "Vulcans do not believe in ghosts or spirits," Vulcan Chief Engineer T'Shaanat told the cadets. "As Kiri-kin-tha's first law of metaphysics states, 'Nothing unreal exists'. For your troubles, however, I have some plomeek-flavored lozenges for your consumption."

    Juno jotted down T'Shaanat's statement while Rela attempted to enjoy the taste of plomeek.

    ---

    "I've heard of Halloween when I was growing up in Port Archer," Klingon Chief Scientist Kira stated, "but I never went trick-or-treating. Besides, my parents are culturally conservative and wouldn't have let me dabble in such things anyways. Best not to risk being jat'yln by a Human spirit, you see."

    Idouna remained polite, even as she suppressed thoughts of eating candied racht.

    ---

    "Jem'Hadar are dead by default," Jem'Hadar Assault Squad Chief Vorat'kax proclaimed. "In going to battle we reclaim our life, but before that we are dead, yet still speaking with you. Is this what you meant by communing with the dead? Also, we have nothing to give you, except the white, and your species cannot consume ketracel-white."

    ---

    "When I was still a servant to the Terran Empire in the Mirror Universe, many of the Terrans I was indentured to threw parties around this time which celebrated holidays in the same vein as Halloween," Orion Chief of Security Aranea Serket remembered. "Oftentimes I would have to dress in highly revealing costumes, like Sexy Klingon Warrior or Sexy Pon Farr Vulcan or Sexy Communications Officer. I once was even put in a Sexy Sehlat costume. You tell me how a Sehlat could be considered sexy. Anyways, I'm glad in this universe you wear more subdued costumes."

    ---

    "Ever since the loss of Romulus, I think more and more Romulans are becoming more reverent of the dead," Romulan Senior Research Lab Scientist Liviana stated. "I know we've had our share of monsters and superstitions, but as for celebrations of the supernatural, I don't think we've had much to celebrate. Thirty years on and we're still mourning the dead... but enough about Romulus, I know you kids are here for osol twists."

    ---

    "The Voth are technically not allowed to believe in ghosts or spirits," Voth Senior Geologist Nelen Exil explained. "Doctrine states there are no supernatural entities and that anyone espousing such thoughts were Heretical. However, I've seen a lot of superstitious behavior among lower-class Voth so I would say that some Voth have fear of the supernatural."

    ---

    Breen Chief Ground Warfare Specialist Thot buzzed.

    "We're asking if the Breen have any special beliefs regarding the dead," Salin asked.

    More buzzing from Thot.

    "Besides dissolving one's body upon death," she rectified. "Any story of ghosts or afterlifes or monsters."

    A curt buzz from Thot.

    "No holidays or anything of that matter?"

    An even shorter buzz.

    "Do you give out treats to visitors?" Rela butted in.

    Thot began to shake his head, but stopped. He reached into his quarters and pulled out some snowballs, which he put into the cadets' bags.

    ---

    At the end of the night, cadets all over the Lord English returned to their quarters with containers full of alien cuisines and PADDs full of comparative studies. Juno and her friends pooled the goods they had accumulated in Juno's quarters.

    "Rela, don't start eating just as we get back!" Salin ordered. "We still need to compare notes before we hand in our reports! Idouna, help me out."
    "Mmrm rmmf frmm fmmr," Idouna replied with a mouthful of osol twist.
    "I never knew just how many different cultures dealt with the idea of the supernatural," Juno exclaimed.

    She went the data in her PADD that she got from cultures as diverse as the Vulcans, Romulans, Jem'Hadar, Voth, Breen, Orions, and non-classified aliens, among others. She closed her eyes and imagined herself in the shoes of all the different species she researched.

    ===
    Captain's Log, supplemental. Utopia Planitia assures me that the Aquarius mission pod crew complement is coincidential to the cadet population. All systems report positive, and so after the crew gets their personal effects in order, we will be setting out for the great unknown of the Delta Quadrant. It won't be easy, but being in Starfleet never is, so the only thing I can do is make sure I can keep as many of my people alive to bring them home.

    ===

    Having vicariously experienced the different cultures of the galaxy, Juno opened her eyes to see Rela stuffing herself with candy despite the efforts of her friends to stop her. She never changes, Juno thought to herself with a chuckle. She felt something tugging at her sleeve.

    "Grandma Juno, when will Grandma Rela be done with the candy?"

    Juno looked down at her grandchild, a young child of mixed Human and Bajoran ancestry. She patted the child on her head.

    "She'll be done soon. Here, have some jumja gum."

    She gave the child some gum and the child ran off cheering. It has been eighty years since those days on the Lord English. In spite of the heartbreak and the trials that she lived through -leaving Starfleet to become an artist, making new friends, burying old friends, and raising children and grandchildren- she always looked forward to October, when she would go trick-or-treating with her friends. Rela came over to Juno, towing two more Bajoran-Human children behind her.

    "Juno! Let's take the kids out again!"

    Juno smiled and stood up.

    "Okay! Where do you want to go, kids? First City? Mol'Rihan? Or maybe somewhere further, like Jenolan City?"
    Post edited by zidanetribal on
  • cmdrscarletcmdrscarlet Member Posts: 4,992 Arc User
    edited November 2014
    "And that's why we call it 'Halloween'". Kathryn smiled, then sipped from her short glass.

    Staza Murai returned the smile then looked out the window of Headsail Lounge. Located on Deck 15 to starboard side, the large windows revealed streaks of light as Solaris traveled at a lazy Warp 3. The majority of the ship's crew was due for shore leave and Risa was their destination. As the Diplomatic Attach
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