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Unofficial Literary Challenge #11: Delta Recruit

moonshadowdarkmoonshadowdark Member Posts: 1,899 Arc User
edited June 2015 in Ten Forward
Welcome to the Unofficial Literary Challenge #11: Delta Recruit. You know what to do!

"Delta Recruit" -jonsills

You're an up-and-coming cadet/second officer/colonist, with your whole life ahead of you. Then one day, you're confronted with an older version of yourself (and not that much older!), wearing the insignia of the very highest rank, and telling you that you have to use the device you're being handed to gather intelligence on the supposedly-extinct Iconians, to prepare the galaxy for a massive invasion. How do you handle it? Does this feed your ambition? Do you have ambitions, or did you just join Starfleet to study nebulae? What is your reaction to finding out you're destined to surpass anyone's expectations - and that you have to prepare for total, all-out galactic war in less than two years?




"Captain's Best Friend" -moonshadowdark

"Porthos. Butler. Mollie. Spot.

A captain is nothing without his crew or his ship. But even the best captains need a life long animal friend. Write about your captain's pet. Is it a traditional dog, cat or bird? Is it a horse or a lizard? Is it a Horta or Tribble? How do they spend the day with their pet? Is it on board the ship or is it stabled at home, waiting for their captain to come see them?"




"Better Angels Of Our Nature" -ambassadormalori

The unthinkable has happened. Word has reached your captain that a fellow commander in Starfleet/the KDF/the Republic Navy has gone rogue and committed a horrible crime. Perhaps this captain has subjugated an underdeveloped planet and set him/herself up as a god. Perhaps this captain has committed an atrocity against unarmed civilians, or lashed out and destroyed the ships of a former enemy. Regardless, your captain has been ordered to go after this rogue and bring him/her to justice...or failing that, to terminate this renegade's command with extreme prejudice.

Write about your captain's hunt for the renegade and what he/she finds.


__________________________________________________________________________

Rules as usual--nothing NSFW, one story per author per prompt.


The discussion thread is here.

Index of previous ULCs:
ULC 1: The Kobayashi Maru.
ULC 2: Time After Time.
ULC 3: The Next Generation of Tribbles with Darkest Moments.
ULC 4: The Return of the Revenge of the Unofficial LC of DOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!.
ULC 5: Back from the Dead?
ULC 6: Gods of lower decks in wintry timelines.
ULC 7: Skippy's List: Starfleet Edition.
ULC 8: Revisit to a Weird Game, One of One.
ULC 9: In Memory of Spock.
ULC 10: Redux
Post edited by moonshadowdark on
"A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP"

-Leonard Nimoy, RIP

Comments

  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,162 Arc User
    edited June 2015
    The Akira-class U.S.S. Hijinx sat at an undisclosed location; its windows completely blacked out by Starfleet issue, texturized curtains.

    "Where........ where are we?" Lieutenant Bo attempted to lift one of the futuristically designed drapes, but his hand was slapped down by his commanding officer.

    Reynolds snapped. "Hey! You know we're not allowed to know where we are."

    "Did the Temporal Protocol have to black out our sensors along with our windows, while auto-piloting us all at once?" Bo complained, passively, as they entered a turbolift.

    Reynolds nodded. "Well, it's about secrecy, I suppose. But, at least my job here is done. I did what I had to do: Went back in time and talked myself into helping save the galaxy from the Iconians."

    "It's odd to think that anyone in Starfleet would be arbitrarily pro-Iconian, not to mention entrusting the future of a 100,000 lightyear-in-diameter galaxy to a fresh, green Cadet."

    Reynolds tapped her foot, impatiently. "All that matters is that my younger self doesn't mess things up for me in the present."

    Now, worried, Reynolds' thoughts drifted, in search of her memories. She'd hoped to find anything out of the ordinary; she delved deep into her past-self and the series of events that led to where she was now:

    ---

    Back, in the past, Reynolds sat in Admiral Herthel's office, unsure at the reasoning in her presence there.

    "According to medical reports, everyone involved in the accident has been cleared for re-entrance into Federation society."

    Reynolds lifted a finger. "Uh, I was lured here with the promise of a five-drink coupon at 602 Club?"

    "Yes, yes. Of course," he said, tossing her an isolinear chip. "That gets you two pounds of wings, as well-- The free range kind, none of that lab-grown stuff Chronowerx Refit was pushing for a while." He paced. "Now, despite everything you've been through, whichever of it you even remember, your aptitude and academic scores remain exemplary. I'd like to ask you to apply to Starfleet Academy."

    The Betazoid burst out in short laughter. "Haha! Are you kidding me? Last week, I got into a bar fight with a bunch of Starfleet recruits, after I called one of them 'Cupcake'."

    "Even more of a reason to join, as that's a Captain's-prerequisite in some alternate realities. But, in this one, sooner or later, you're going to have to accept who you are and what you're capable of, as the many others did, who endured that same accident, including Menrow, Iviok, and Aeris. Once that is done, you get to rightfully take your place among Starfleet's okay-ish."

    Reynolds sighed. "I don't know where this is coming from, but I'm young, brash and too full of life to throw it all away on some rule-bound science-y/militaristic and exploration mash-up organization. Seriously, do you guys do birthday parties too?"

    "Yes, in fact, there is an entire department dedicated to that-- But I'm not here to get into operational specifics of our purple cake, celebratory initiatives at the moment. My purpose is to convince you to join..." He tried to measure her by mere visual observation... "You'll get to read people's minds from across the vacuum of space...?"

    She immediately slammed her palm against the surface of the table. "Sold! Now where do I sign up? And when are you going to apologize to your wife about forgetting your anniversary?"

    "Uh... tonight?"

    Reynolds nodded. "Very good."

    ---

    Years later, Graduation Day, Reynolds found herself in a last-second, Advanced Phaser Training program minutes before an embarking for her Training Cruise. After taking out several Klingon holograms, using live-fire inside a Klingon warbird Bridge simulation, Cadet Reynolds took a sigh of relief.

    "Ah, yes, very good. I guess that Herthel was right about me after all. I'm pretty darn, nifty, if I do say so, myself. Promising future, here I come!"

    Then, an unexpected, similar voice rang out, from behind her. "I know this is going to sound crazy, but I am you, from your future."

    "Yeah, right. Nice try whatever-your-name-was," Reynolds said, turning to observe the Fleet Admiral version of herself.

    The Admiral smirked. "Think of a number, any number. It will be identical to the one I thought of when I was in your position."

    Blue, Reynolds thought, being as sly as ever.

    "Ah, yes," the Admiral smiled, "thought I was quite the comedian back then. The number you are thinking of is 'blue'."

    The Cadet cursed at the telepathic Betazoid standing before her. "How did you know I was thinking that? How did you know what was in my mind?? How???"

    "Future-you; it's the only explanation," the Admiral reaffirmed. "Now; there is a war coming. The Iconians, who we thought were extinct, have returned to take back that was once theirs. You... we... will benefit from the knowledge I'll give you today."

    Cadet Reynolds nodded. "Tell me what I need to know."

    "I can't just drop everything on you at once; the knowledge I just said I would give to you. No! Take this," she handed her younger self a large, unpocketable, disc-like device. "It allows me one-way communication from the future to you."

    Reynolds shook her head. "Doesn't that inhibit productivity? And, also, if you're really me, then you know I, like others, are still recovering from an accident, years ago; our minds trickling bits of who we are, piece-by-piece, in a fragile, psychological battle for mental stability."

    "Quit your whining, me. You get to be Fleet Admiral, which means ordering people around on a grander scale, including dealing with the weight of the Iconians, which, I'm sure a Cadet with no perceived experience can handle, easily."

    The Cadet gritted her teeth. "I feel like we're going off-script now? Anyway, let me just say how odd this all seems that a future group would intentionally paradox all of this, this... Beta Quadrant Recruiting?"

    "Delta. Well, you'll find out. Maybe. You'll also blow up a lot."

    She tilted her head. "I'll help you, fine, but you have to clarify that whole accident thing that's got me, predictably, addicted to cordafin and inaprovaline."

    "Done! But just so you know, your Cadet friend and Captain are behind one of those holographic walls, trying to decipher the muffled sounds of our talk," future Reynolds warned. "Now, allow our minds to touch; my mind to your mind, my thoughts to your thoughts."

    Young Reynolds was taken aback. "Ew, a mind read of myself? That's like trying to kiss your own brother."

    "Uggh. Don't you see? It was a massive molecular reversion field, intermixed with an ion storm, that turned all of us half-young and the trauma of it suppressed years and years of memories! Several starships were involved."

    Young Reynolds looked to the side, in pure shock. "Of course! I remember now. I was old, and now I'm young again. That explains why Herthel wanted me and it explains why my face is a déjà-vu every time I see myself in the mirror. I've always felt like I've seen that woman before."

    "I can't... I can't begin to explain to you how mirrors are meant to work like that anyway. Now, instead of me confusing you further, there will be updates through that device as you progress through your career. Check it often."

    The Cadet did a double-take. "You can tell me about the Iconians, but you can't tell me the specifics of them all at once? By the time I figure everything out, Starfleet will have zero time to be ready??"

    "I'm going to be honest, me. We need action. Like, lots of it, in the future, or what's the point of doing anything? And the only way we're going to get it is if we design ourselves to be ill-prepared for a surprise attack, through the guise of preparation itself. Well, I think I've taken up as much of your 'time' as I can. Enjoy the free ore!"

    As future Reynolds faded away in an odd and painstakingly slow dissolve, young Reynolds was left to her new life of account-wide rewards. "Umm... Thank you?"

    ---

    The simulation disengaged and Reynolds found herself in one of the Academy grounds' holodecks, where she began. Her Cadet-mate stood there, alone. "The Captain got tired of waiting for you and said to meet him aboard the ship when you were done talking to yourself. The other Cadets in our class went up too, ten minutes ago, via shuttle."

    "I think you should start referring to me as 'sir'."

    The Cadet squinted. "Why? Why would you make that suggestion out of nowhere? Never mind. Let's just beam up. It's not like there's a shortage on transporter confinement beams."

    "Uggh. That future me screwed everything up here. I'm way out of sync now! She thinks she likes being Fleet Admiral, huh? Well, I'll show that jerk who's the boss here."

    ---

    Back in the present, still at that secret location, future Reynolds returned to the Hijinx and she and Bo made their way in to the turbolift. The two conversed until Reynolds dropped off into deep-memory.

    "Ma'am?" Bo interrupted her thoughts. "You were saying something about expecting your younger self not to mess things up for you in the present?"

    Snapping out of her extended flash back, so oddly engaged in the presence of another person, Reynolds shook her head to awake-mode. "Oh, yes, yes. Sorry. That was selfish of me to take up your time like that. You see, it was an entire year of obsessive rank-building, for me, but I finally made it to Fleet Admiral, again. And it was all thanks to me-- that other me, I mean."

    The two stepped out of the turbolift and on to the Bridge. Bo found it important to correct her, just then. "Actually, you never became any-Admiral. You Picardly turned down promotion after we captured that slippery, no-lipped Romulan, Taris, and you remained Captain ever since. Oh, they registered you as Admiral, but only as a hollow, non-effective commission, just there for the rank system paper work."

    "What!?" Reynolds then recalled those Romulan Mystery events: "And where did half those missions go? Did I just skip them??"

    She quickly approached a nearby, blacked-out console, where she could address her reflection out of pure rank-inhibiting spite. It was clear, now, her tendency for diminishing growth was now self-inflicted.

    "Dammit, me!"
    Post edited by hawku001x on
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  • grylakgrylak Member Posts: 1,572 Arc User
    edited May 2015
    The body dropped to the floor, encased in it's own blood. The rest of the patrons ran screming out of the door as the bartender took out a shotgun and clicked the rifle, aiming it square at the giant lizard in the middle of the room.

    "O-okay buddy. You need to leave now."


    K'hotiim barely turned, angling his head ever so slightly to the right so he could glare the bartender down. Ever so softly, a gutteral growl rumbled in his deep throat. "If you intend to use such a primitive weapon, then use it."

    "I-I-I'm not gonna ask again."

    The bartender was shaking. K'hotiim simply let out a huff and scooped his glass up off the table. Downing the last half pint, he casually threw the glass at the bartender and started for the door. A shower of plaster did nothing to faze him. The shot was pathetic. Such a coward was not worth the time. K'hotiim had dealt with the unsufferable human that caused him to kick off. As the Gorn stepped out of the bar, he paused and looked skyward, closing his eyes. The hot air of Nimbus III was like paradise. He could lie down and go to sleep right on the step. But that would probably not be wise. Too many people around. So instead, he took his shirt off and slung it over his shoulder, making his way through the town.


    Finally passing through the main gates, he paused to look around. Scorpions littered the desert not far out, so he couldn't go too far. But there was a very large rock nearby. He sauntered over and sat down. Wadding his shirt into a pillow, he positioned it behind his head and laid back. It wasn't long before a soft snoring carried over the desert.





    He was aware of a presence before a word was spoken. Living under Klingon rule, one's senses were trained rather well. Instinctively waking himself up, he opened his eyes to see another Gorn close. Despite the heat, he was wearing a full uniform. One of someone high ranking in the Empire. But that wasn't the odd part. He had the exact same nose as K'hotiim. Frowning, he pushed himself upright, but the visitor held up a hand.

    "Don't get up. I know how comfortable that is."
    "Oh you do?"
    "Yes. I know you won't believe me, but I'm you. From the future."

    A riotous laugh escaped K'hotiim's lips, one that would send wildlife running for miles, if any were around. "Like I haven't heard that before."

    The newcomer sat down on the rock beside K'hotiim. "It's true. Think of a number. Any number."

    "Ok."
    "You're thinking how you really need another pint to get rid of this drunken hallucination, and that terrans are very weak. Despite me asking you for a number."

    K'hotiim narrowed his eyes. "Okay...... So you know how I think. Doesn't prove-"

    The future K'hotiim leaned in close and whispered. "Someday, the Hegemony will rule the Klingons. That is your greatest dream."

    K'hotiim growled and got to his feet. "Ok. So you're me from the future. What do you want."
    "I would think I would be a little friendlier to myself."
    "You know I'm hungover and not in the mood."

    Future K'hotiim sighed and also stood up. "Yes, I'd forgotten what a mean drunk I can be." Seeing K'hotiim's expression, he continued. "I stopped drinking when I took my ship."

    "HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! No Klingon would let me command a ship."
    "Not just any ship. A Vor'cha."
    "Now I know you're lying."
    "Listen. My time is running short. You have an important task ahead of you. The Iconians, a once extinct species, have returned. They have laid waste to the galaxy, and it's only through finding out what we can now, that we could stop them."
    "Iconians?"
    "Yes. They once ruled-"
    "I know what Iconians are. No one has seen one in millenia."
    "They return in a few years. They have Dyson Spheres that can transport entire fleets instantly. After they try to destabilise our alliances, they strike en masse. The Klingons all sing about how glorious it is. We know better. Much of the Alpha and Beta quadrants have fallen, and it's only a matter of time before they strike into the Gamma. We thought we defeated them before when the Solanae Dyson Sphere was destroyed, but it somehow came back. Temporal incursions or something. And that's why I'm here. A last ditch attempt to ensure you're ready. That we are ready. During the next few years, keep an eye out for Iconian tech. Information. Anything that can give you an edge. You are not the only one we're contacting like this, but you will play an important part in the future."


    K'hotiim was silent as he took it all in. "So.... basically what you're saying is.... I need to learn everything I can about the Iconians."
    "Yes. Here, take this device. It has a sensor tuned to Iconian power frequencies. It'll register when something is in the vicinity."

    K'hotiim took the small circular device and gave it a quick glance over. Seemed like a standard tricorder in operation. Future K'hotiim continued. "I know what you're about to ask. Why is Iconian tech littered throughout the galaxy? I don't know. Probably more temporal incursions. Just know, you have to do this. For the sake of the Hegemony. For the sake of the galaxy."


    K'hotiim looked at the device, then at his future self. "Ok. Sounds easy enough."

    "Thank you. I hope you don't live the same future I have. Qa'pla!"

    Future K'hotiim saluted and vanished in a flash of light. K'hotiim looked at the device in his claw. "So... my own Vor'cha? And some high ranking position? Interesting. I look forward to seeing how that plays out." He pocketed the device and leaned back on the rock. He was just a second officer of a lowly B'rel. It made no sense that he would eventually get a Vor'cha. Still, if his future had said it, it must have happened. K'hotiim decided to start pushing his position more. Angle himself into the captaincy of this ship, and move up the ranks. And maybe, just maybe, once he was a Captain, he would be able to start helping the Gorn Rebellion and start the Hegemony on the path to ruling. He knew a couple of good officers he could transfer to his command. But it would have to be gradual. A newly promoted Gorn Captain suddenly transferring a bunch of Gorn onto his ship would be far too suspicious. The ship wouldn't be back to pick him up until tomorrow. He had until then to decide just how he was meant to save the universe.
    *******************************************

    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'
  • grylakgrylak Member Posts: 1,572 Arc User
    edited May 2015
    Talaina sat on the park bench under a large tree. Ttorkkinn had gone to see when the next shuttles to Trill were, so the Andorian had some time. Still dressed in her diplomatic uniform, she had managed to get her emotions back under control. There were three more families on Trill to see, and then her responsibilities were over. Her position as Captain was done. At least for the time being. Until the therapist cleared her for active duty, she would have to find something to do. Some way to keep busy, to stop her mind spiralling out of control. It wasn't going to be easy, but she had Ttorkkinn to help. He had been a rock the past few weeks. Without his support, she didn't know if she would have made it through. And for that, she would be forever thankful.


    A noise from the alley across the road caught her attention. Sounded like some fighting. She got to her feet and crossed the road, pausing at the entrance. As the buildings either side were high, no sunlight made it in, casting long dark shadows across everything. A clatter of metal boxes instantly shifted her into a defensive stance as she slowly edged into the alley.

    "Hello? Anyone there? Stop your fighting and step out. This is Starfleet."

    There was a loud bang and some hissing. Barking came from behind a dumpster. Talaina moved over to it and jumped back as something low to the ground shot out of the shadows. Talaina quickly swung aside and watched the pitbull run off into the street and out of sight. She straightened up and breathed a sigh of relief.

    "Phew. It was just some dumb dog." She was about to leave the alley when she heard a mild moan. It didn't sound very healthy. Cautiously, she peered around the dumpster, her antenna dropping in sorrow. Lying on the ground was a small orange tabby cat. It had a large wound along it's side and was bleeding out. It wheezed and was barely moving.

    "Oh you poor thing."

    Talaina knelt down beside the animal. It tried to move away but couldn't. She quietly hushed, holding out a finger to it's face. The cat looked at the finger and started sniffing it. It gently licked it, then put it's head down. Talaina took her jacket off and carefully scooped the cat up, wrapping it up in the jacket and applying pressure on the wound to stop it bleeding. Ignoring the red stain forming over the white jacket, she held the animal close to her and left the alley. The cat closed it's eyes and burrowed it's head into her chest, letting out a wheezy purr. She went up to the nearest pedestrian.

    "Excuse me. Can you tell me where the nearest vet is please?"

    The young man helpfully pointed her a few streets along. Talaina thanked the man and quickly walked, keeping the animal safely embraced. She hoped the poor thing would be ok, but if not, she would at least make sure it was comfortable when it died.




    Talaina sat in the waiting room of the vet's. It had been nearly half an hour since the vet had taken the animal in. Ttorkkinn had called her to find out where she had gone and was on his way. Finally, the older man walked out of the door and pulled his face mask off. Talaina stood up. "Well doctor?"

    The vet sighed. "He was lucky you got him here when you did. The dog's attack punctured his lung. Another hour and he would have died."
    "So he's ok?"
    "Yes. I've repaired the damage and sedated him for now."
    "Oh thank the ice for that. Can I see him?"
    "Of course."


    The vet led Talaina into the back. The cat was lying on his side, breathing normally and was fast asleep. Talaina quietly walked up to the table and knelt down so she was on eye level. Ever so carefully, she reached out and stroked his head with a thumb.

    "What'll happen to him?"
    "Well, since he's not shipped, he has no collar, and no other means of finding his owner, he'll be declared a stray. But even if he had, I'd be tempted not to contact them. He's showing signs he's been on the streets for a long while. Old fractures not healed properly. Bruses. Slight malnutrition. If he does have an owner, they obviously don't care about him. He'll remain here for a few days under observation before he'll be moved to a shelter and put up for adoption."

    As she stroked the animal, he started purring in his sleep. Every so often, his tail would flick. "If anyone was interested in claiming him, they would have chipped him. Or given him a collar. Something. Poor thing just needs someone to show him some love."

    The cat woke up and looked at Talaina. He lifted his head up and started sniffing her hand, sweeping his nose across every inch of it. When he got to her fingers, he started licking the tip. Talaina smiled and gently moved her finger around, teasing the cat and watching him follow with his whole face.

    "What if I adopt him?"
    "Are you prepared for the responsibility? He's going to need constant attention in the next few weeks. I see you have a Starfleet uniform. Your duties won't interfere with that, will they?"
    "No. I've taken an extended leave for a month. And I'm planetside for the duration."
    "Well, then I don't see why not. If you have any questions, feel free to call me. But like I say, he needs to stay here for a day or two, make sure his injuries are healing properly."
    "I have some business on Trill. Can he stay here until I get back? Should only be a couple of days."
    "That works out perfectly. Any idea what to name him?"


    Talaina had been watching the cat the entire time, never once looking at the vet. "Not yet. But I'll think about it while I'm off planet."


    There was something innocent about this animal. A curiosity, a need to learn. A need to have someone watch out for it, a need to protect it. It was like a crewmember. Maybe looking after this being was what she needed to start the path of healing. She needed him as much as he needed her.

    "I have to leave you here for a couple of days, but I'll be back soon. And then we'll get you settled in properly. You won't have to worry about fighting to survive again. I promise."
    *******************************************

    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'
  • guljarolguljarol Member Posts: 945 Arc User
    edited May 2015
    Resigned, Karameth put away another two elements that did not match, in spite of what that veruul of a manual claimed. They did not match, full stop. She looked around the floor, and sighed. She could disassemble and assemble back a plasma riffle, but she could not build this. It was just too complicated. There was no choice; she needed help!

    She rose from the floor, and approached her desk. Was Subcommander Tal off duty or was he spending his free time over some scientific project again? She found no project logged in, so she hoped she wouldn’t disturb him. She considered it rude taking free time from her officers; they did enough on duty to leave them to their private lives off duty. But this was not duty, this was... very important!

    “Karameth to Tal,” she said to the comm. She didn’t wait long.

    “Tal here. What is it, Commander?”

    For a moment she analysed his voice, searching for a hint of annoyance, but she found none. “I need your help with something. Could you come to my ready room?”

    “I’ll be right there”, he replied and closed the channel.

    She returned to the disaster on the floor, making another attempt in assembling... something, anything. She was still leaning over parts when the door chime sounded. Sitting in the middle of a mess of small and medium elements was hardly dignified, so she rose before giving the computer the command “Enter,” which opened the door to let her first officer in.

    Tal strode in, and abruptly stopped, surprised by the vista of the messy floor. “What’s the problem?” he asked, looking up at her.

    “I just can’t do it!” she cried, raising her hands holding parts, and then letting them fall to her sides in resignation.

    “Anything missing?” he approached the elements on the floor, and knelt on one knee to take a better look.

    “Not that I know of,” she said, feeling her cheeks turning a deeper shade of green in embarrassment.

    “Uhm,” was all Tal said. He took one of random elements, looked around, pick up another one, and assembled them together. Then another two, and set them all aside.

    She didn’t want to tower above him, so she sat on the floor next to him. She desperately wanted to help, but she was afraid she would only make a bigger fool of herself. Tal kept assembling random parts, sometimes he put together the assemblies he had set aside earlier, and the habitat was finally taking its shape. She didn’t miss the fact that he didn’t glance at the manual even once. He just knew what to do.
    Did he think she was an idiot, because she was unable to do something he found so easy? His face didn’t express anything, and was almost set in stone. Almost — she knew him well enough to notice that the flames of the tattoo on his right cheek were slightly deformed in a well hidden smile. But it was a smile, not a smirk. She was glad he knew to keep up the appearances, and let her save face.

    When the assembled parts were reduced to fewer than seven, Karameth was finally able to be helpful, and assist. They finished work, and placed the habitat on its designated place in her ready room.

    “I’ll put some plants and toys in there,” she said.

    “Is this where he’s going to be all the time?” Tal asked.

    “No, he’ll be free to roam, unless it’s too dangerous for him in emergency situations.” She didn’t want to say “in battle”. “But I want him to have a safe home, and a place with some flowers, and grass. I already have plants and some rocks in my quarters.”

    Tal nodded approvingly. “When do you go to pick him up?”

    She grinned. “Tomorrow.”


    ooOoo


    Karameth beamed down directly to Epohh Fields, right in front of scientists’ tents. She could catch one of epohhs in the field, of course, but she was believed that animals born in wild — even as friendly and curious of hominids as epohhs were — should live in wild. So her only option was to adopt one of those that were for whatever reasons raised in captivity. She knew the zoologists took care of those that were abandoned by their parents, orphaned, or hurt. She wanted to give one a safe home and change his world for better, not ruin it.

    It was pleasantly warm inside the tent, and fairly quiet. Several pups ran around, and played in their designated space behind a mesh barrier, bringing a smile to Karameth’s face.

    “Ah, Commander, you’re right on time!” a scientist greeted her.

    “Punctuality is a way to respect others’ time,” she replied.

    The woman nodded, and gestured toward the animals. “We just fed them. Take a look. Which one do you like?”

    That was a difficult decision for they were all adorable, and she wanted to take them all home. But it would not serve her warbird to be overtaken by epohhs. How to choose? How to choose? No, the choice wasn’t hers.

    “Can I enter their... territory?” she asked.

    “Of course,” she scientist replied, so Karameth moved toward the small gate.

    She didn’t approach the animals, but sat instead on the ground near one of plant pots, putting her hands behind her for support, and waited. A grey epohh moved toward her, gave her a glance, and then jumped happily away. “Not you, then,” Karameth muttered. She observed them with interest, wondering if they ever grew tired of that jumping and running around, and was startled when something touched her hand.

    A small foot with a three-finger hoof was just right next to her fingers, while a small face with a big, flat nose was raised toward her face, sniffing.

    “Hello!” she said softly to the epohh. She raised her hand, making sure her movement wasn’t too abrupt, and rubbed the furry mane of the green pup. “You must be the forest kind.”

    Six eyes blinked at her. She noticed the pup’s hind leg was slightly deformed, but it didn’t seem to bother him, or make it exceptionally difficult to walk. He jumped around her, then into the pot, which was big enough for the epohh to be on the level of her face. He sniffed her shoulder.

    “Looks like you want to adopt me,” she said to the animal. He sniffed some more, then jumped off the pot.

    “I can see the choice has been made,” a voice said. Karameth glanced toward its source to see another scientist.

    “Apparently,” she confirmed.

    “I have some things for you,” he said, pointing to a bag in his hands. “Some food for about a month, so you can get an idea what he is used to eating.” He took a padd out. “Here you can find information on his needs, and a few different replicator patterns for food, although, if you can, please feed him the real thing. You can always buy supplies from us each time you visit Mol’Rihan.” She nodded, absorbing the information. “If there are troubles with adapting, or he becomes a burden, we’d rather have him back than see him... disposed in some manner.” She had to have a horrified expression on her face, because she grinned broadly. “Any questions?”

    She looked at her new pet, and thought for a while. Then she shook her head. “No, not really. I assume if I have any, and the answers are not on the padd, I can always come here to ask them.”

    “Certainly. Come, or just contact via subspace.” He put the bag on the ground, and entered some information onto the padd. “I’m adding the codes to contact us.”

    She rose, patted her trousers to clean them from soil and grass, and took the bag with the padd. She put the device inside, held the bag under her arm, and with the other one she gently raised the epohh. She paid attention to his reaction, making sure she wasn’t stressing him, but he just cuddled up close to her, clearly quite happy.

    With her hands full, she had some problems with reaching her communicator, but finally she managed to tap the sequence to beam back up to her ship — directly to her ready room. “Thanks,” she told the scientist, who smiled in reply. “Come on, Urhik, let’s go home.”

    And they were gone.
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 651 Arc User
    edited May 2015
    Redemption / Ambition / Peace



    Redemption: Sarus Thieurrull Kh'rell - I Really Hate the Taste of Romulan Ale

    Ambition: Karras S'skan - Family Peace

    Peace: Nathaniel "Drake" Stormbauch - 42, Blue

    *********



    Redemption:

    Virinat, Beta Quadrant
    2409
    Two Weeks Prior To The Borg Assault On The Vega Colony

    **


    Warehouse District of the Colony



    He had come in for to get a replacement part for a tractor Sa'lvin was rebuilding in the fields, when he was assaulted with a flash of light. It was him, though the Klingon style clothes were new, as well as the hard gaze seemingly judging him as he stared back at himself. "If you stare into the Abyss enough Thieurrull, you may find Hell staring back at you," 'Sarus' from the future says, "I am from your future Sarus, and you'd wish Hell was the least of your concerns."

    "Ha-ha Tovan, what you find an old Holo-emitter, or bribe Ace to build you one?" Sarus from the present asks his 'friend'. 'Sarus' merely smirks, and then chuckles.

    "Try again Sarus, this isn't a trick, and I'm not Tovan," 'Sarus' says, "Think of your deepest secret, your truest desire or secret and I'll answer it, the same way I answered it when I was asked this."

    He thought:

    1. I never wanted to be a farmer, I want to fly through the stars in a ship I can call my own.

    2. I really hate the Taste of Romulan Ale.

    3. I once took 20 credits from Tovan Khev when he was drunk.

    4. If this person really is me, then they would know that all I have on my mind is tonight's festival.

    Answer: 2

    "Heh, I always hated the taste of Romulan Ale as I grew up, it was like acid with fruit flavoring, but I partake now and again on special occasions," Future 'Sarus' replies, "or when I'm with my closest friends and confidents."


    "What's going to...? Forget it. You're me. You're from the future, and something is about to happen, but you're not here to stop it. What are you here for?" Sarus of the present asks.

    "Let's get down to business then..." Future 'Sarus says, "There is a war coming. An ancient race known as the Iconians once ruled huge areas of space, including this one. They had the power of Gods - technology far beyond what anyone else had. It took all of the Iconians' enemies rising up against them as one to defeat them.
    We thought they were extinct. Now, we know we were wrong. And they've returned to take back everything that was once theirs."

    "That's where you come in?" Younger Sarus asks, "Why? What makes me special?"

    "You are a hero to the Romulan people, and your deeds are legend," Future 'Sarus' replies, "But, more importantly, you have an opportunity to gather intelligence on the Iconians, their capabilities and their possible plans."

    "Throughout your career, you ... we ... will benefit from the knowledge I'll give you today. When the war with the Iconians comes, the Galaxy will have a fighting chance, thanks to what you've learned," Future 'Sarus" says, "That's why I've come back... so I will know what I need to do."

    "I can't drop everything on you at once, there's paradoxes and everything that could occur. But I can give you this, a device that will help you when it is needed," He says.

    Flipping out a device from his pocket, he tossed it into the hands of the younger Sarus, the silver shine coming from the device nearly blinds Sarus as he barely catches it. "It's a Tesseract Communications Receiver, 31st century technology you'll need in the future," Future 'Sarus' says "You'll receive critical communication from it from upstream at certain points in your future. Make sure to check it often." 'Sarus' turns around towards the middle of the warehouse, where a T'liss class Warbird sits, its once shining silver coating grown over with moss and grime. 'Sarus' smiles at the memories he places in that old Warbird, memories he knows his young counterpart has yet to have.

    "My time is up here Thieurrull, and I can't tell you much more except one last piece of advice," he says turning back, "Know that in enemies, you'll find more allies than your expecting... Know that not all of your friends are truly allies, but enemies in disguise...and most importantly trust Ace, he'll be there when you'll need him most."

    'Sarus' begins to walk away, towards the Warbird, when a flash of blue light blinds the only other occupant, and his counterpart has vanished into the air.



    *********



    Ambition:


    Deep Space Nine, Orbiting Bajor System
    En route to Qo'noS, First City.

    Captain's Quarters

    "Do you swear your allegiance to Qo'noS, not forsaking your Gods, The Great Link, but to redeem yourselves in their eyes by joining my crew as a delegation of Warriors and as an Advisor of Dominion culture to my crew; to be envoys showing Solids, outside the Vorta and Jem'Hadar, have honor worthy of true allies," the Gorn standing at attention said, "To show this, drink the brew of Tea given to you, to test your mettle and your loyalty to our cause, 'teH SuvwI', tar HIq Datlhutlh cha' toDuj quvvam jagh '"

    Karras brings his cup and swallows it in a single gulp. "Loosely translated it means 'To drink this poison brew, Warrior, shows you are worthy to the Enemy', it is, sadly, as poetic as I could get in the Klingon dialect to share in the traditional Klingon Tea Ceremony, and it does not translate well I've found," the Gorn says, "By drinking the tea set before you, it will prove your loyalty to the council and make it easier for me to make a case to allow you to remain as active warriors under my command; Now Drink."

    At that the three Jem'Hadar swallowed the foreign substance; though drink was unnecessary for their systems, they could drink liquids, and as Alpha Jem'Hadar, could withstand the poisonous brew due to their unique nature. The Vorta on the other hand, named Dathan, licked his lips in nervousness, unsure if he would survive this particular encounter with this toxin, having only this one life, free of his Gods control. Sighing in defeat, the Vorta knows this life will at least have one exciting aspect to it, as he brings the drink to his mouth and drinks it.

    Smiling, or the action most similar to a smile for the reptilian, he dismissed the Jem'Hadar and Vorta, having a Bekk show them to their new quarters.

    Sitting down at his desk, the Gorn pulls out his Tesseract Communicator, and a holographic screen appears, showing the information he has collected about the Iconians over the past few months. His help in taking back DS9 from the enemy fleet from the past, reminded him of the glory his future self had told him he'd receive. While he truthfully wished for peace and security the Gorn Hegemony, relatively, had before the Undine caused a war between the Klingons and the Gorn, he knew that with the threat of the Iconians looming in the coming months, his want of a mate and peaceful life would be put to the sidelines for now. Now called for a keg of Bloodwine... yes, Bloodwine sounded really good right now, after of course he tells the Vorta that they gave him the anti-toxin when he came on board earlier today. Heh.



    ******



    Peace:


    Peace, it was such a foreign concept to him after years of war. First, the he thought the war he fought in before he even came to this universe was grim, but to land in the end of a cold war full of fear and suspicion of the unknown because of the shape shifting Undine, it was maddening. He wasn't even sure of who he was anymore, especially in this world. Once, a lifetime ago, he was a hero who fell into the role of a vigilante. Here, here he was a captain, a hero with a purpose that was more than just a war, but even that would come to and end after tonight, when his destiny became uncertain.

    He had a purpose when he joined Starfleet, to explore, to build relations; that's begun to occur, but not from strides in diplomacy, but under the threat of war and extermination. Does anyone remember when the Federation used to be full of explorers? He never even saw it except in the holovids of Kirk and Picard and all the other 'good' Starfleet Captains.

    Hours ago he visited the Preserver's Archive below his ship, along with a Klingon and Romulan Republic delegation, to help transfer the Preserver's who wished to experience this new future. There Drake himself, Karras a Gorn from the Klingon Defense Force, and a Romulan by the name of Sarus, were approached by their respective Temporal agencies, the Department of Temporal Investigations, the Klingon Temporal Intelligence, and the Romulan Temporal Defense. In a span of over five minutes he completed a time loop that from his perspective lasted eighteen months.

    Drake thumbed an old crystal in his hand, the once flaming orange core was dim, the icy blue outer shell once shining, now dulled to a muted color that was more gray. How he hated temporal paradoxes, otherwise he would have taken any ship and went to the farthest corner of the universe, away from a future now set in stone. He had at least completed what was classified as a Predestination Paradox, one of six he had been a part of in his time... oooh the headaches predestination paradoxes and time travel in general gave him. He could understand why the Department of Temporal Investigations liked to keep away from time travel.

    Putting the shard of crystal back on it's necklace he wore at all time, he tucked it to were it was not visible to anyone but himself. "Captain, "Elisa Flores chimes in over his badge, "Admiral Quinn has contacted us, and wishes to speak to you, I'm patching it through now." A blip occurred on his computer screen, and the seal of the Federation showed up. "Captain Drake, we need you to come to the Solanae Sphere for a briefing we'll be having in a couple of days over the current occupation and revelation of the Jenolan Dyson Sphere," the Admiral says, "Tuvok has requested you meet him and help him with the preparations, post haste." Cutting the communications line, Drake was left alone with his thoughts, and a wish for a nice barrel of Romulan Ale or at least a pint of real-not-synthol-alcohol, he really wished for something to clear his mind for sure.



    *********


    The Captain's Table

    A Few Months Later... 2410 (Relatively Speaking)

    Sarus, Karras, and Drake sat at the bar, each with a glass mug of differing brews.

    Karras is gorging on a keg of Bloodwine, while Drake absently stirs his Long Island Iced Tea -non replicated/Non-Synthol- while Sarus stares out of the nearest window over his Vulcan Spice Tea at the nebulous gasses. "You know..." Sarus says, breaking the ice, "Isn't this one big Anomaly?" A groan can be heard from Drake and hiss of annoyance from Karras.

    "You just had to ruin the mood didn't you Sarus?" Drake says.

    "Old jokesss only go sssooo far, Thieurrull," Karras says, "Don't try and beat a dead Epohh."

    "How'd you folks get in here again?" Cap asks for the second time that night. All three flashed their Tesseract Communications Devices.

    "Important 25th century business and the like, there's been reports of Iconian information on this station," Drake says, "We're here to get it from the informant... Oh Look 'Kurland's Here', you better get him a drink Cap." At that Cap nods and goes back to polishing the antique glassware he served some of his drinks in, as he greets Kurland.

    "Where's Sulu' anyways?" Sarus quips, "He was supposed to meet us ten minutes ago and share the new info he got." Sarus then looks at Drake with an eyebrow raise equivalent to a full blooded Vulcan, as Drake attempts to hold back a snicker. "This was just an excuse to get free booze again wasn't it Drake?" Sarus says, sighing, "Well then, need I remind you about the Ferengi and that Holodeck program I 'conveniently' had disposed of when you found he sent you the wrong program?"

    "Touche, Sarus, touche." Drake replies sobering up a bit, as he downs his tea, "Well, thanks for the drinks gents," he says, looking at his watch, "But my crew needs me for the refit process to be complete tomorrow, so I need to sleep this off as fast as I can."

    Waving the Gorn and the Romulan/Vulcan goodbye, Drake walks out to his shuttle, after tipping Cap, of course.
  • grylakgrylak Member Posts: 1,572 Arc User
    edited May 2015
    K'hotiim growled as he watched the stars streak by on the viewscreen. "K'Gan, report."

    "We will be approaching the station in one minute. Assault Squad is ready for deployment."
    "Good. The instant we drop from warp, transport the team over and open a hailing channel. We'll keep her distracted while the squad moves to her position."


    The K'tinga dropped from warp in the trinary star system and quickly closed to the old battered station in a high orbit over one of the stars. Hull temperature of the Qu'Vep started rising. K'Gan reported the Assault Squad had beamed over and the station was responding to hails. On the viewscreen, a Ferasan female appeared. A series of gold rings lined her left ear and her face had a very intricate cream coloured pattern over her blue fur. "I'm surprised to see a Gorn commanding a KDF ship."


    "Mafdet. You're actions this day have brought dishonour to the Klingon Empire, and the wrath of the nearby systems. This is your only chance to surrender."

    Mafdet purred softly. "And what does a Gorn care for Klingon honour? I know you have sent a team on board, but it will not stop my destiny. We Ferasans will achieve our true greatness. And there's nothing you can do to stop that."

    The comm channel cut off, prompting K'hotiim to smash the chair of his arm. He spun towards the Orion woman at Tactical. "KEZENGO! Target that station's power generators and destroy them!"

    Disruptor beams lanced out, slicing into the old hull with pinpoint precision. Lights on the station flickered out. Now it was a waiting game. With both K'hotiim and Thraak on the Bridge, the Assault Squad was missing two of it's primary members. He just hoped the replacement teams were up to it. S'ag would let him know afterwards. For now, all the Gorn could do was wait. But waiting was not his strong point. At least, as far as the Klingons were concerned. "Open a channel." He paused a moment. "Mafdet. For crimes against nature. For the mistreatment of civillians. For refusing to stand down to an Imperial officer. For arrogance and generally pissing me off, you are under arrest. Surrender to my officers before they are forced to kill you. Your crew will be treated according to all due laws of the Empire."

    Kezengo cut in. "Sir, S'ag is hailing." K'hotiim leaned back and motioned for him to go ahead.
    "Sir. We've taken the station. Some of the scientists surrendered, but most of the primary crew escaped through a portal of some kind. Srin is trying to figure out where it goes, but he says there's a lot of chroniton radiation eminating from it."

    A long growl was K'hotiim's reply. "Then she's gone through time. Thraak and I are beaming over."





    The Gorn materialised in an equipment lab that seemed to double as a command centre. Consoles and cables were scattered everywhere. A large viewscreen was on one wall and an active portal was sat in the very centre of the room. S'ag walked over to report. "That scientist is the one in charge of their research. He won't tell us where the prisoners are. I thought you would enjoy asking him personally."

    "I would. It's been a while since I tasted feline." The hulking brute walked up to the Ferasan scientists, who were all bound on the floor. K'hotiim grabbed the one S'ag had pointed out and hauled him to his feet, keeping a thick claw around the back of his neck. "The prisoners Mafdet took from the nearby colony. Where?"

    "I-I won't tell. You can't make me."

    "Oh brave words for a scientist." K'hotiim lunged forward with his jaws, sinking his teeth into the Ferasan's ear and tearing it free. Calmly chewing it, he simply stared at him, letting the blood stain the scientist's fur.

    "You monster!"
    "No. The monster was Mafdet. Slaughtering those women and children to get those components. For what I assume is for that portal. I won't ask again."

    The scientist just shook his head, so K'hotiim spat the ear onto the ground and dragged him over to a chair. Gripping the Ferasan's leg with his own foot claw and holding it in place, K'hotiim started bending him backwards over the chair. The Ferasan started screaming as his spine reached it's limit. K'hotiim didn't say a word, just kept slowly applying more pressure. Cracks started ringing out from the scientist's back as vertibrae started snapping one after another. The Ferasan clawed at the Gorn, but he just kept applying the pressure.

    "You know how to make this stop."

    There was still no answer, so K'hotiim jerked his hand forward, snapping the Ferasan in half. He released his hand and foot, letting the body slump very unnaturally over the back of the chair and walked to the next hysterical scientist. Grabbing her by her throat, he lifted her up and slammed her against the wall. "WHERE?"

    "One level down in a hidden lab. I swear, we didn't know what she wanted for them. I'll give you the access code, just please don't kill me!"

    K'hotiim dropped her and motioned for a pair of officers to go get them. K'hotiim himself walked over to Thraak. "Any idea where they went? Or when?"

    "It looks like a few thousand years in the past. It's difficult to locate a precise moment, but they have a lot of historical texts in their database from hundreds of worlds."

    S'ag walked over. "They ran through the portal as we entered the room. We didn't dare follow them without knowing what we would find, but we haven't changed any settings or shut it down."

    "Which in theory means we could follow them." Thraak theorised. "If we go, I suggest a small team. The smaller the better."

    K'hotiim nodded in agreement. "How many went through."

    S'ag shrugged. "Two. Mafdet and her first officer."
    "Any way we can get back?"

    Thraak picked up a small wrist strap from the nearby table. "This emits a beacon that allows the user to be located and recalled. I guess Mafdet created them in case they went somewhere they did not like."

    K'hotiim took the device and put it on. It barely fit around his wrist. "S'ag. You and S'raat are with me. The rest of you, stay here incase we need help."

    S'ag stepped forward, speaking in hushed tones. "I notice no Klingons here. This one of our missions?"
    "No. Temporal incursions are too dangerous. Even for our use. When we get back, this portal is being destroyed. S'raat. You ready?"


    With the three Gorn ready to go, they stepped towards the portal. It was a sparkling blue ball floating in the air. Nothing connected to it, but it shimmered, as if made from water. "Well... here we go."





    The three Gorn found themselves stood in a desert. A single yellow sun bore down on them from a cloudless blue sky. All three instinctivly smiled, enjoying the high warmth. K'hotiim looked around. Nothing but sand dunes in every direction. "S'raat. Any idea where we are?"

    S'raat scanned the area. "Class M world. No signs of power, technology or infrastructure of any form. No Ferasan lifesigns, but I am picking up human life signs that way. Not far."

    "Human?" K'hotiim turned to S'raat and cocked his head slightly to the right. "We're on Earth? Or one of their colony worlds?"

    "Impossible to say. It could be one of those alternate worlds Starfleet kept stumbling into in the mid 22nd century."
    "Set weapons to stun. I have no desire to erase myself from existence because I killed some random human. Or human-esque creature."


    K'hotiim started walking, his wide feet making travel on the sand fairly easy. His toes curled into the sand with each step. It was nice to feel real ground under his feet, especially such hot ground. Too much time spent on ships and stations. Something caught his eye ahead. A series of tents flapping in the wind. There was a considerable number, far too many to be nomads. And too well organised. It looked like a primitive town. "There. I want the two of you to stay back. I'm going to draw enough attention, we don't need to pollute the timeline more. If you don't hear from me in fifteen minutes, come and get me." K'hotiim started making his way towards the encampment.



    The place seemed to be some kind of market camp. Stalls were running along the 'street' and dark skinned humans in loose fitting robes were everywhere. In the centre was a more solid construction, a three floor tall pyramid built of stone. K'hotiim had no idea what they were saying, his universal translator wasn't set for whatever language it was. But when they saw him, they all reacted the same way. Their eyes went wide and they started screaming "SOBEK! SOBEK!" and fled towards the pyramid. K'hotiim was clearly not going to get any answers. He calmly marched towards them and stopped behind the crowd. There was a good thousand humans present. Men, women, children. He didn't understand how the fragile species could survive here, but frankly he didn't care. It wasn't why he was here.

    "MAFDET! I COME FOR MAFDET!"

    His voice echoed through the desert. One of the humans, an older man, slowly came forward. He said something fearfully. K'hotiim looked down at him. "Mafdet?" More gibberish. K'hotiim just growled and looked at the pyramid. It seemed out of place. Pushing past the human, he walked around it. On the far side, he smiled. The entrance was here, and either side was a statue of a Ferasan woman in some regal clothes. "MAFDET! I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE!"


    Scraping of stone against stone opened the door, revealing the Ferasan woman. Mafdet was wearing clothes similar to her statues. White cloth with a colourful shoulder collar embedded with jewels that reflected the sun with each movement. She walked out into the sun, a pair of humans with her. She smiled when she saw K'hotiim. "So, my 'would be capturer' finally catches up." She purred with anticipation.

    K'hotiim slowly cracked his neck and knuckles. "Yes, and now I'm here to take you back." Mafdet said something in the local tongue and the crowd rushed around her. She smiled and purred again.

    "As you can see, you will not take me without taking out my followers. They worship me. And I help them. They will lay down their lives for me."

    "Then you're not much of a leader if you use your own followers as shields."

    "You wouldn't dare attack them. You must know you're in the past. Anything you do could disrupt the timeline."
    "You've already disrupted the timeline. I would simply be setting it right."

    "You're bluffing."
    "I don't bluff."


    K'hotiim tapped some commands on his wrist gauntlet and activated his motion accelerator. He charged forward into the crowd, sending humans flying. Many of them tried to get out of his way but couldn't move in time, getting trampled under the Gorn. Mafdet quickly shouted something and the crowd scattered, giving her the space to leap forward and pounce on K'hotiim's face. She started scratching his face so he fell forward, rolling up to land on top of her. Her legs kicked upwards, causing K'hotiim to faceplant into the sand and flip over. Mafdet landed gracefully on her feet and jumped forward, landing on his legs and grabbing the battery pack on his belt. She tore it free and quickly leapt away, breaking it apart. With the battery pack broken, his motion accelerator shut down. As K'hotiim got to his feet, he knew he would be lucky to land a hit on her now. Which meant one thing left. He unholstered his assault blaster and fired, but the Ferasan was too quick. She jumped sideways, avoiding the blast, jumping again to avoid another. She pounced on him, using his high centre of balance to knock him over. She punched his face a few times before leaping off.


    As K'hotiim got to his feet, he saw her on all fours, arched back as she prowled around. She let out a meow. "You see? Here, I am a god. I've spent two hundred years making this place, and I will not let you destroy it."

    "Two hundred years? How? Ferasans don't live that long."
    "That's something you won't find out."

    She leapt again but a disruptor from the side knocked her into the crowd. S'ag and S'raat came in, weapons ready. S'ag rested the rifle, which looked more like a pistol in his grip, over his shoulder. "We got bored."

    "Glad you did. She's taken out my accelerator, I can't get a hit on her."

    S'raat smiled. "Leave her to me." He activated his own accelerator and charged into the crowd. After a few seconds, an angry ball of fur flew through the air, landing on S'ag with a hiss. Her claws raked against scales as the Gorn tried to get her off, but she seemed to clamp down. S'ag staggered around, grabbing her and starting to squeeze. She moved quickly, stabbing her claws into his left eye. S'ag roared and dropped to the ground, punching her off. "THAT STUPID CAT! SHE RIPPED OUT MY EYE!"


    Mafdet landed on her feet and hissed at S'ag. S'raat charged into her from behind, bowling her over. He pinned her down under her weight, giving K'hotiim the opening to run over and force handcuffs on her. S'raat stayed sitting on her as she continued to struggle. K'hotiim looked down at her. "You've caused a lot of trouble for us. If any of your followers try to help you, they will be killed."

    She hissed and spat at him. "You wouldn't! The timeline!"
    "IS ALREADY POLLUTED! And I no longer care about the history of this backwater world. Tell them to let us go or die."

    Mafdet nodded and stopped struggling. She spoke to them and the crowd moved away. K'hotiim lifted her up and kept a firm grip on the scruff of her neck. S'ag came over and glared at her with his remaining eye. "I'm already half cyborg, and now you go take my eye?? I should kill you painfully for that!" He punched her hard in the face, her snout breaking very loudly. S'ag went for another swing but S'raat grabbed his arm.

    "No S'ag. That's enough." S'ag started breathing heavy, growling at the Ferasan.

    "What of the other one?" Mafdet didn't speak. Either through choice, or because she physically couldn't, it was hard to say. K'hotiim tightened his grip on her neck and lifted her off the sand.

    "Your second. Where?"
    "She died. A few years after we got here, the settlement was attacked. She died saving us from the invaders."
    "Where is she buried?"
    "She was cremated."

    K'hotiim growled deeply. "How convenient. S'raat, signal our return. And you, Ferasan, will answer for your crimes."




    The three Gorn and Ferasan appeared back on the station. Srin was at the controls. K'hotiim shoved Mafdet towards a security detail of Klingons. "Brig. Now. Full security detail at all times." As they beamed back to the ship, he approached Srin. "How long have we been gone?"

    "Five hours. Thraak was able to figure out what she was doing with the prisoners. Some kind of genetic experiments to prolong lifespans. No idea if they made any success."

    "She says she spent two hundred years in that place. I think she made progress."
    "Fair 'nuff. What about the other one?"
    "She says she was killed and cremated. Even if she's lying, there's no way to track her. We couldn't pick up any lifesigns, not even from Mafdet. Somehow they found a way to mask their lifesigns. Wherever, and whenever she is, that one got away. I assume the prisoners have been freed?"
    "Yeah. And back on the Qu'Vep."
    "Good. Start pulling apart that time portal. No one is to use it."


    _____________________________________________________________________



    The caravan of travellers moved through the sand at a steady pace. After all, a god was with them. The Ferasan sat under the shade of her personal transport, carried by four burly and handsome men. Well, handsome for humans. They were almost at Mafdet's Sanctuary. Not a regular trip, but one she did enjoy doing. The time between seeing her friend and Captain was too far inbetween, but the Pharoah had many enemies and needed her protection. After all, without her and Mafdet, there would be no Pharoah to protect. There wouldn't even be a civilisation. The caravan stopped and someone ran up towards her. A young man, he dropped to his knees.

    "Oh great Goddess Bast. There looks to be trouble in Mafdet's Sanctuary."

    Bast sat up at this news. "What?" She unfurled herself and stepped into the light. From this vantage point atop a dune, they overlooked the Sanctuary by quite a height. Her enhanced feline eyes were able to make out Mafdet fighting three Gorn. And she lost. The young man stood beside his Goddess.

    "Should we not help?"
    "No. Sobek has come to take Mafdet. Her time has ended. If we intervene, all of us would die." She turned to the young man and cupped his cheek in a paw. "We must wait here until they have gone. I will take Mafdet's place and ensure your people are looked after. She knew this day would come. She has to go, but we both planned for me to replace her. After all, it is my destiny."
    *******************************************

    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'
  • antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,376 Arc User
    edited May 2015
    Captain’s Best Friend

    By Antonine3258

    Minor edit for better paragraph breaks and author's note:

    A/N: Set before Sphere of Influence, during the major fighting in the Solanae Sphere.
    ***********
    D’ellian of the House of M’ara, proud captain in the KDF and significantly less proud Orion, studied the small tactical display briefly as she took cover behind a container of alien machinery. Voth sensor scattering gear was better than Alliance, but not at close range. Also, you could set a watch by Voth deployment patterns and their little red dots hung on the map. The fight to free a spire from Voth control had moved to the ground stage, and this factory room’s large contingent had promised booty and glory, in the finest Orion and Klingon traditions.

    The fight was going about as expected, and she took a moment to survey the room. Nothing looked like an Omega containment device, thankfully. The Voth were standing around several cargo bins, having been arrayed to guard in the other direction. Electricity crackled on the room’s upper reaches, alien machines reaching down. Probably something subspace-active was being made, she decided, with that much energy grounding in reality.

    She tapped the tactical band open, “K’Gan, move to flank – there’s probably booty in the cargo containers, and I want to move the Voth towards the other side of the room.” Her big Klingon weapons expert acknowledged, but was covered by a second squawk on the tactical.

    “Centurion, fall back! That next door looks too small for the mech!” came a dusky male voice in Romulan over the band.

    She cursed “Warriors, advance to second positions now! Incoming commander, be advised a Voth group is in reference grid 5622_A.34!” Her men moved forward, taking cover at the containers.

    “Acknowledged,” came a terse response and she rolled her eyes. A small technological treasure trove and they were going to have to leave it in the crossfire because some idiot pointy-ears was looking to prove themselves.

    Irritated, she called her ship. A security strike team could beam in to the side and do some real damage, but her security was already almost all down here. She did have a small personal reserve however. “Wake it and beam to my coordinates,” she ordered, wincing as one of the cargo containers exploded in a cloud of priceless shrapnel.

    The door opened, and a Republic team in their usual tans spilled through, plasma beams firing at something out of view, but the thumps of its footsteps were audible. It’d be precious seconds before they could find any cover. The Voth commander stood, a photon grenade ready, before with a hum of transporter effect, a white blur leaped out and grabbed onto his arm.

    D’ellian vaulted her cover, and held up a hand sign. The jackal, Ho’, pushed off the Voth’s body, spinning him around into clear view, and then detached his jaws to find cover before someone decided to shoot the unshielded animal. He glowed blue briefly as his own shields fought to absorb spears of fire form her away team, before burning away to nothing. There was a brief lull from the Voth at the sudden incandescent death.

    D’ellian strode forward, selector thumbed over to rapid fire, sending a hail of bolts into her opponents, holding the gun one handed to signal her engineers to move forward and set new micro-turrets. Thraak, meanwhile, charged into one of his reptilian opposite numbers, putting his claws to good effect. The Orion rolled her eyes and signaled her pet as one of the spec ops went to personal cloak

    With the Voth sufficiently distracted and dying, the Romulans were able to find cover, recharge their shields and get their combat gear back into order. They at least, D’ellian admitted, knew their business, and with the extra numbers, hammering another nail into the coffin of Voth superiority was straightforward.

    The immediate aftermath had D’ellian and Ch’gren discussing turret placement for dealing with the mech beyond it, while Thraak and K’Gan were making avaricious gestures while looking through one of the cargo containers. The profit would be nice, privateer side-raiding wasn’t really possible in the Sphere. Ho’ sniffed around, looking for escapees.

    The Romulan commander was, to D’ellian’s disappointment, checking his men rather than dealing with the still existing threat. Diplomacy required a less direct approach, unfortunately.

    She strode over, looking up at the tall subcommander. He glanced her over, not bothering to hide it. She could see easily he was expecting a Matron’s traditional outfit over a KDF uniform.

    “Captain,” he said before she could come to a stop and give him what for, “Thank you for being here. It seems you did a good job getting the Voth all twisted around for us, but you and your pets have saved us from a rough situation.” She could read him – she was nothing, some Klingon’s trophy.

    There was a delicate, and dangerous hush. “He is very fast, Subcommander, so I could understand your confusion, but I only have a single mastiff. I don’t need any more,” D’ellian responded sweetly. Her body language was a sheathed knife. Ho’ blinked and padded over, having seen no runners. It sat, panting slightly from its previous exertions, muzzle stained. His captain reached down and scratched his ears.

    The Subcommander paused, “Well, yes – your ability to control must be noted. It behaved very well.”
    “It has better vision than a targ, Subcommander – it can recognize KDF battle hand-signs.” She shrugged. The circumstances were more complicated, but tomorrow’s enemies didn’t need to hear that.

    “Really, may I?” the Subcommander said. D’ellian shrugged, and walked over to check the loot, out of range before she did something with pheromones she’d have to apologize for. Whatever points he was trying to earn was distracting her from debating where to hide his body.

    She looked back when she heard laughter. The subcommander was performing the kill sign towards her, with Ho’ looking quizzical. D’ellian signaled the affirmative, and Ho’, with nary a growl, latched onto the subcommander.

    “Off!” she said after a second – before the arteries could be punctured. “Thraak,” she said calmly, and the Gorn broke into motion with the medical kit.

    She went over and kneeled as the Subcommander held his hands to his throat, brushing aside his men. “I don’t know why, nor do I care, why you sought to prove yourself over me. But if you ever think my command ends at arm’s length again, I will let Ho’ finish his display of loyalty.” She reached over and petted the mastiff again, who purred briefly, and stood up, walked away, pet at her side.


    ************
    This was an attempt to keep a story to around 1000 words. :P
    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!
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 651 Arc User
    edited May 2015
    Double Dealing

    Ferenginar, Late 2408


    It was a shadowy night, dark by Ferengi standards. The domes kept most of the shops and patrons dry from the torrential downpour, yet the stench of rotting vegetation could not as easily be removed, nor would the populace want it to when they lived in it everyday. It disgusted one lone patron who sat at a Slug-O-Cola Shoppe, and he couldn't wait until he could leave this wretched planet behind.

    A fink of a ferengi, diminutive in stature, and a weasel by the looks of his adornments, if one could measure untrustworthiness in the baubles on the Ferengi. In short, an everyday lowlife by ferengi standards, which is why he need this man to do the job.

    "So, you got my communication, good, now, if you'd be so kind," the man gestured to the seat across of the table from him. Sitting down, the Ferengi nervously looked back out of fear, to see his two Nausicaan guards sitting incognito across the floor, while he noticed the Lethean mercenary he hired, watching them from nearest shop. "If you're worried about me killing you here and now Ferengi, don't worry," the man chuckled, "But seriously, you hired a Lethean and two Nausicaans, their not hard to spot, and I doubt they'd come to sample the drinks, too much algae anyways." The Ferengi's eyes widened, not realizing the alien in front of him could discern that so easily.

    "Now, please, I know you want me to do this," the Ferengi begins to say, "But if the Klingon's destroy me and my ship before the ship you say will arrive, what good would it do..." The ferengi was silenced by the Mek'leth coming down and embedding itself into the table.

    "This, my friend," he says, glaring at the Nausicaan that had started to get up, only for the pirate to be stopped by his compatriot putting an arm on his shoulder and shaking his head against the move, "Will show you speak the truth, and he will do exactly what I ask you to tell him, his honor would be questioned if he did not do this for the House of shadows he serves; or at the very least he'll kill you and stay to satisfy his own curiosity." The Ferengi nervously looked at the blade, before slowly picking it up and storing it inside the cloth of his robe. "Besides Qwern, you owe me this for saving your life last month," the figure says, "Your captain won't even know his second officer ever struck a deal with Klingon's and lured his own ship into an ambush, he wouldn't know you were promised a planet's worth in latinum for doing this, and he will never know you were backed into this by a Federation officer."

    The figure smiles cruelly now, before looking at a tricorder in his hand. "Ahh, and now the poison takes effect, three minutes later than I thought it would," he says before getting up to leave, "Next time Qwern, pay extra for lackeys with brains who would expect themselves to be poisoned, but don't worry, I didn't kill them, per say, they'll only die in five minutes if they aren't treated." Chuckling as the figure beams out, Qwern looks to the Nausicaans and the Lethean, finding the pirates slumped on the table, and the Lethean retching into the nearest bush. Sweating in fear, a feat in it's own on the humid planet, the Ferengi got up, and would return to his house, where he would send a communication through back channels to the I.K.S Chot, before returning to the S.S. Break Even as it left for it's next route.

    ******

    2410, Present Day

    Sitting in the smoky bar, over a hundred thousand light years from his own planet, the Denobulan smiled at the Ferengi across from him, trussed up and bruised from being slugged across the face. "Now, now Qwern, you can't be that surprised to be visited by me, ehh?" the Denobulan asks, with a smile all to calm for the psychopath in front of the Ferengi. "Can't have loose ends, now, can we Qwern, and it seems someone found an old subspace message from the Break Even to the Chot," he says, "I need to take care of you, so no one will find out that I exist, and what I did to Captain Taggart."

    This time the Ferengi looks puzzled and fearful at the same time, as he realizes who the man in front of him is and who he works for. The Denobulan smiles again, as he sees the Ferengi's eyes widen once more, knowing the gullible rat made the connection between his assaulter and the victim in question. Masc P. Taggart, Captain, stared at the now whimpering Ferengi, as he smiles again.


    ******


    "The device in question seems to have been, most likely, a compact Agonizer device employed by the Terran Empire," the Doctor, Rubia Sapheris records in her files, "To find the Ferengi dead in a Bar on a planet in the Delta Quadrant is surprising, to find it be at the hands of a Terran Empire agent is remarkable." At this she looks to the computer besides her, showing the micro D.N.A. fragments she had scavenged from beneath the Ferengi's sharp nails, as it shows the match to one man, before turning to her captain behind her. "But to find the blood of a dead man, on a ferengi, in a bar, on a planet in the Delta Quadrant," she says, "Makes complete and utter insane nonsense, if not for the presence of this weapon of choice, which changes it into the only logical conclusion: either a dead man has gone rogue from beyond the grave , or it's an insane quick grown clone from Section 31, or we have an impersonator from the Terran universe, specifically targeting this Ferengi for an unknown reason." The Latina doctor throws her arms up and then sags her head against the desk in a muffled sigh.

    "Well, I'd agree it seems far fetched, and while I wish it was option two, from what I just got from command about the old logs found in the Break Even's files," Drake says chuckling at his medical officer's outburst, before turning more somber, "It seems Captain Taggart's abduction and death was more than a coincidence, and this Ferengi, apparently, had enough of a hand in it that it required his death to be inconspicuous; if we hadn't survived the ordeal as well, we wouldn't know there was an obvious plan that was derailed by our survival." He sighs at this, putting a hand to his face, rubbing away the forming headache. "It appears our commanding officer was to be replaced," he says, "Well, now we have a murder mystery we have to solve, even if the Terran Empire is no longer a threat, one man alone could derail our work in this quadrant by posing as out dead C.O. and damaging the fragile threads of friendship and relative peace the Alliance has begun to form." Getting up from the desk he sat against, he quickly made his way to the bridge of his ship.

    ***

    Briefing Room

    "He doesn't need to have a fancy ship with the Federation logo, he doesn't even need a Miranda class to destroy us," Drake goes on to say to his assembled bridge crew, "If he is anything like our old captain, all he needs is a shuttle and his brains to take us down from the inside." At this Drake gets up behind his chair, and leans onto it's back. "We need to find him before he causes a galactic incident," Drake says, "Even though we can warn people, we will never know where he is if we cause him to go into hiding; so we won't report this yet, but we may eventually have to. Dismissed" The assembled Senior bridge crew leaves the room to return to their work.

    *****

    Somewhere in the Delta Quadrant
    Cooperative probe

    The Denobulan was bored, if only because his latest plaything, an Elachi Beta, had killed itself after he had let he had accidentally let it get to close to its own technology. Oh well, he may have destroyed the Elachi's ship, but he was sure he could find another one somewhere in subspace. A Borg drone lumbered past him before stopping, a Hirogen hunter, while it accompanied a smaller drone, a Tellaritte female who stood in front of him, which then handed Taggart a PADD.

    Scrolling through the device he noted that location of a subspacial fissure to check out, as well as new information regarding the so-called Heralds of the Iconians; yet what got his attention was the name of his next victim, the Terran known as Drake "Storm" in this universe, who was one of the crewman of his late counterpart's last ship.

    Drake was nearby and apparently investigating the death of poor Qwern. It was perfect, and everything was falling into place. The probe finally came to a stop, as a damaged Borg cube came into range, either from a fight with the Vaadwaur, or from the Octani virus. Personally Taggart hoped it was the later, he need a good brainteaser to crack, it only a took him a half Terran hour to take over the ship itself, and only two hours to take control of the Cooperative drones, he wondered how long it would take to unravel this cube, before using it to tie up a loose end. Nano-mechanics came so easy to him, he hoped this would present more of a challenge than the probe, with so much chaotic principles involved.

    ********

    Wyanti System

    24-Hours Later...



    The U.S.S. Brilliant, a tactical Odyssey, arrived on the scene of the wrecked Cooperative probe, it's Vinculum somewhere in the wreckage, along with the Beacon emitting the emergency signal the ship had received. Somewhere on the bridge of his own ship, Drake paced, hoping that this wasn't a trap that cost him hours of time, to find only the effort is wasted with no survivors.

    "Sir, the Viniculum is trying to send us a message on an automatic program that activated once we arrived in system, put it on screen?" Elisa Flores asked. Drake merely weighs the potential, then nods, and at first only a static image is shown on screen.

    "Ah, this is the mighty Drake Storm, I've heard so much about, you and I have yet to meet," the figure says, "But then again, I guess you could call me a ghost from your past." The figure chuckles, as the audio is finally matched with visual, which shows the visage of the majority of the ships former Captain Masc Taggart, though their was no physical signs of differences between his once captain and the seemingly growing monster before him. "Well, I would say you've 'got me' but then again you were late and I got what I needed," he says, "If you want to catch up, meet me in the Brothra system, I'll be waiting for you in orbit." The screen then went blank, as the message ended.

    "Sir, we're obviously going to be walking into a trap, and weapon's marks I've scanned from the wreckage shows Borg weaponry was used to destroy the probe," this was from the liberated Romulan drone, Nilona, "Though it seems illogical, I believe he was trying to 'send us a message' more so than the message he sent; he may indeed be in control of a Borg Cube, which would mean he believes himself to be at a tactical advantage." At this though, Drake grimaces, contemplating this new factor in. "And yet, Sit, their appears to be crucial debris missing from the probe," Nilona continues, "If the cube was damaged when Masc Taggart took it over, he would have taken the components he needed and scuttled the ship, as well as leaving a message, though how he would have known we specifically were going to be here remains to be seen."

    "Do we still happen to have a few salvos of our anti-Borg torpedoes or weaponry available?" Drake asks, a grin beginning to form, "If he thinks we aren't strong enough to take on a cube at full power, let alone half, he obviously thinks we can't adapt to their technology at all, then we'll just have an ace up our sleeve."

    **********


    Brothra System


    Drake's ship arrived in orbit around the Brothra system, while a terrestrial storm raged on the surface of the planet. Knowing the obvious trap was about to be set, he had his crew ready weapons and raise shields, awaiting Taggart's first move. "Nilona, scan the system for a Borg ship presence," he asks his science officer. Replying with a negative for the system going out, the planet was suddenly overshadowed as a Borg cube breaks through the planet's atmosphere, unloading a salvo of torpedoes and weapons fire at the Federation ship. "Evasive maneuvers," Drake orders, "Once it clears the planet's orbit, sufficiently, activate the subspace jump and disable that ship." When the Cube was sufficiently out of the planet's range, the subspace jump was executed, and after a few minutes of exchange of weapons fire, the Borg cube was disabled by the ships Isokinetic Canon.

    "Sir, the Borg ship is disabled, but detecting two energy signatures being transported to the surface," Elisa says from the security station, "We can't redirect it, but we can send an away team down to pursue them!" Grabbing the Delta Command rifle he always carried with him, Drake quickly made his way down to the Transporter room, flanked by Nilona and Flores.

    *****

    The Surface

    Upon beaming down to the surface, Drake, Nilona, and Elisa, as well as the two security guards, began to set up a point of defense while looking for the two mysterious persons who had beamed down nearby, one which was assumed to be Masc. A kilometer away was a rocky outcropping, it had unusually colored plant life, and what was assumed to be a cave opening. Deciding to head that way, Drake took Nilona and a red shirted security officer with him.

    Upon reaching the mouth of the cave, a sudden shadow blocked out the sun's rays. Unable to compensate, to run, or to hide, the security officer was tackled by what appeared to be a Borg drone made from a Gorn, it's destructive tail impaling itself in the security officer. Unable to help the officer at the moment, as the Gorn merely holds the now thrashing body down, as it's victim is assimilated, Drake and Elisa fell back towards their own camp, only for Masc to be in their way, his hands folded behind his back.

    Flanked, with nowhere to go, Drake immediately calls down a secondary security team along with an anti-Borg device from Defera he had them retrieve from his quarters. While the two security officers, along with Elisa, deal with the Gorn drone as they try to disable whatever hold the other has, Drake takes the time to confront Masc Taggart.

    "Taggart, I ask you now, merely out of respect of who your counterpart is," Drake begins as he levels his weapon towards Masc, stone faced, "Stand Down; if you resist, I will take you down." At this the double of Captain Taggart merely frowns.

    "Do you even understand Drake, why I am evening doing this?" he asks, "I'm not here to kill you, but you are in my way." He too levels a pistol at Drake. "I want to use this technology, I need this technology to save my universe," he says, "Think of the Iconians of your world, you think their shadows, the Heralds, are bad, try facing an onslaught of aliens you can't even see, you couldn't predict; my universe is facing the return of an enemy just as great as the Iconians, and much, much older." He pulls a tube out of his jacket pocket, at first glance it appears to be full of ash or black sand. "This, Drake, could help us win a war, imagine, having a commanding unit with men and women organized in perfect unison, able to predict and adapt to the enemy," Masc looks sorrowful, on the verge of breaking into tears, before steeling himself and returning the vial to its place, "This technology can help save millions, we won't have to mourn all of those killed because we can save the recent dead, missing limbs wouldn't matter if we could replace them with fully functioning artificial ones." At this Drake takes a step forward trying to get closer to Taggart; Masc responds by raising his weapon again.

    "And then what Masc, when you win this war, when these commanding officers who have legions of obedient followers under them, decide that your government should be under this same unifying force?" he retorts, "I know, it will lead to a situation that will create an entity that is essentially a Borg King or Queen, if only under a new name." He lowers his weapon at this, trying to convince Masc of his non-hostility.

    "I know it seems like the solution lies in Borg nanoprobes, in their technology, you may have been able to override the Borg implants, you may have even broken an Octani virus that destroys Borg Drones, you may have taken control of a Borg Cube, and that's impressive, it shows you are smart," Drake says, "But I know the Borg, I know their technology is brilliant and shining, but hardwired into every ounce of metal is a need, a need to serve a higher power, to be controlled, to make a Queen or King; if you think you could break their programming, their adaptive nature, you would be like the man in the Klingon legend who foolishly believed he could fight the wind, a died a foolish death." At this Masc falters, only enhanced by the fact that the Gorn drone was taken down behind Drake.

    "I-I'd be able to overcome that, we'd make sure the men are p-prepared," he says running his hand through his head, "N-no you, y-you're wrong, I don't believe you, nothing should be able to withstand m-our- they-they promised." The denobulan had dropped his weapon, as his mind went as fast as it could, searching for a flaw in Drake's reasoning, his mind weighing calculations and unseen variables. As he falls to his knee's, the weapon is pushed out of his reach, and he scrambles to get it, as a burst of energy from Drake reduces it to metal. "No!" he says, as the vial flies out of his pocket after he had gone for the weapon, shattering on a rock hidden by the alien moss and grasses. Frustrated he grabs something in his pocket and tosses it at the ground, it's shining silver case dulled by the line of dark gold encircling the outer edge of the device. Curious, Drake leans down to pick the device up, realizing immediately a nearly identical device was in a pocket of his pants.

    "H-how do you have this device," Drake asked, kneeling down to Masc's level, leaning on his shoulder while showing him the device in his palm. At this Masc merely laughed.

    "You don't know?" he chuckles darkly, "You aren't the first I've met Drake, did you know that? No, of course not, you're just like the others, close minded to the fact that this is a very, very old war." He pokes his device, causing a holographic interface to appear, where he pulls up a section. "This device was how I knew my counterpart would be where he was in your universe, my temporal agency isn't...concerned about paradoxes and was far more lenient in divulging information that would progress our means to an end," he continues, "I don't think they believed another temporal agent would interfere, so we didn't get to conquer your reality due to you being a variable." He looks down at the surface of the planet, and he sighs. "I created you by interfering with my counterpart, and you will be the one who created me as an agent," he says lunging into Drake, tackling him to the ground as he grabs a secondary pistol out of Drakes side holster, "I'm sorry I had to kill my counterpart, I really am, but I've failed my universe and I won't be able to return, I know that now, but at least I've closed one Predestination loop." Pulling the trigger after pointing at himself, Masc Taggart is scattered into photons and ash as he disintegrates.

    Staring in shock at the death of his predecessor's counterpart, he merely looks on in shock at the spot where Masc Taggart once stood. In a flash Elisa Flores and Nilona are at his side, the Gorn Drone being taken care of and repaired by the Security officers, as control begins to return to the Cooperative Drone. Nilona hugs him, Elisa tries to help him to his feet, while Drake merely stares in numb horror at the device in his hand.

    With a flash of yellow light, a man in a dark, black suit that bares resemblance to the 31st century time traveler attire that has become known to the Federation and the Empire, what is assumed to be a man from the parrallel universe of the Terran Empire stands a few feet away. "It's sad really, that in his last moments he thinks he failed," the man has the gall to speak, "In truth I believe he could have beat you if you hadn't told him he wasn't smart enough, but then again in a few years we wouldn't really need this antiquated technology anyways, a shame we have to start the loop all over again." He brings his hand out towards the device, awaiting Drake to place it in his hand.

    Mute for a few moments, Drake looks from the device to the man across from him. Tossing the device over the man's shoulder in rage, Drake makes for a punch that misses the man as he sidesteps it. "Eff you, you son of a..." Drake was violently punched in the mouth, and as he then recovers, wipes the blood that had begun to trickle from his mouth, he continues, "You think he wasted his life, I just saw the man I looked up to die in person, again, I believed in him, when you didn't...Uuurgh..." He moans as a fist connects with his gut, knocking the wind out of him.

    Cracking his knuckles, the man looks at Drake on his knee's where he landed, before turning behind to find the device on the ground. "Tchh, you are not worth my time Drake, " the mystery man says, picking up the device, "Be happy I don't kill you where you are, if it weren't the fact I've already done it in another timeline." In a brilliant flash equal to the first, the man is gone, and Drake is left with empty air, while Nilona and Elisa Flores flank him.

    "Lets go home guys," Drake says, "We have work to do on that cube, and to help the Cooperative members get it under control." Nodding, the four humans and two drones beam up away from the planet, back up to the stars and their awaiting star ships.

    ********

    Elsewhere...

    Moaning as he comes to, Masc Taggart wipes the corner of his mouth, feeling dried blood from the fall onto the ships deck on them. "Get up, you fool," a voice says, as Taggart is roughly kicked in the side, making him falls back on his face. Looking up from his spot on the floor, the denobulan sees a human male standing over him.

    "Who, are you," Captain Taggart manages to get out, if weakly. The man smiles a cruel smile at him.

    "Who I am, doesn't matter, but I can tell you the coup against you by your 'loyal' first officer failed, Flores is currently in the brig, being held by your loyal agents," the man says, "Right now though, worry about your future, because you have a very long road ahead of you Masc Taggart, and your going to do a lot to help out against a war we'll be facing in the future soon..." Captain Masc Taggart, of the I.S.S. Blackthorn, the garbage scow of the Terran Empire fleet merely smiles back, thinking how to turn this to his advantage.
  • jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 8,460 Arc User
    edited May 2015
    "We've pinpointed the correct point in your timeline, Admiral. Do you have the device?"

    "Right here. I just hope I can remember what I'm supposed to say."

    "Don't worry too much about that, sir. History has a way of papering over the cracks. Just make sure you get this into his hands, and let him know what he's supposed to do with it. Your return will be initiated automatically a few minutes after you get there - or rather then. After all, we still need you here."

    <sigh> "Okay, let's get this under way, then."


    Starfleet Academy, April 15, 2409. 0800 hours local time.

    Ch'rowl loped across the Academy grounds. Most of the assignments for his cadet cruise had been posted, but the captain of the training ship Daedelus was being very cryptic about his position. All the young Caitian knew was that he was not the tactical officer, and that the Captain wanted him to take the advanced phaser marksmanship course he had frankly been putting off. Ahead, he saw his friend Maryam Bishara, the one who had been tasked with Tactical. He slowed as he approached her.

    "Hey, fuzzy," the Human said, raising one paw (one hand, he corrected himself) in greeting. "Captain says you need to do Advanced Phasers?"

    "Yeah, I hadn't gotten to that yet."

    "You? Mister Extra Credit? There's something you didn't do yet?"

    "Hey," Ch'rowl said, raising his forepaws in mock surrender, "I never figured to be using a phaser a lot. I signed on as an astrophysicist, remember?"

    "There's a war on, you know," Maryam replied, suddenly becoming serious. "Even a star-counter might have to grab a phaser and fight off a Klink boarding action. Now come on - let's get this over with, so you can find out where they're putting you on the ship."

    The pair set off toward the Sulu Memorial Building, the largest structure on campus, housing both administrative offices and the training holodecks. As they approached the entrance, Maryam asked, "So, any last-minute questions?"

    "Why? Did you program this?"

    "Hey, it's my job. As Tac Officer, I have to make sure of the combat capabilities of everyone aboard the ship, especially the senior staff."

    Ch'rowl flicked an ear. "You're not going to try to make this easy on me, are you?"

    The Human girl snorted. "Are you kidding? Last time I did that, I almost lost an academic year! I'm not going to risk my career at this point just so my favorite kitty can win." She grinned.

    Ch'rowl started to bristle, then remembered that for most humanoid species, smiles were friendly, not a threat display. "Okay, good. Let's go get me a phaser and get past this." The pair of them entered, stopping by the weapons locker for a phaser (safed for training, it would only emit a harmless beam of light, which the computer would score as a hit or miss) and then making their way to Holodeck 2. Maryam stopped outside the door, while Ch'rowl proceeded inside.

    The air around the Caitian shimmered, then solidified into the interior of a spacecraft - Klingon architecture, Ch'rowl mused, probably a Bird of Prey - with a closed door directly in front of the cadet. A computer voice came from everywhere and nowhere. "This is a boarding action," the voice announced. "Your task is to subdue resistance on the bridge of a B'rel-class Klingon frigate, taking prisoners where possible. Automated defensive systems have already been offlined; however, Klingon personnel are typically equipped with a variety of personal weapons. Simulation begins now."

    Ch'rowl drew his phaser and opened the door. He dropped as disruptor beams whined through the air where his head had been; rolling to the right, he caught one of the Klingon defenders directly in the chest with a heavy-stun shot. Three left. Wish holograms had scent - gotta rely on my eyes. He sprang left as a simulated d'k tagh split the padding on the wall behind him, dropping the knife-thrower with another shot. Make that two. He grabbed a nearby stanchion, converting that leap into a swing-around, and kicked a third Klingon in the side of his head. Three down - watch that last one! The last remaining defender shouted something incomprehensible, whipping a bat'leth off his back. Ch'rowl sneered and placed his final shot directly between his opponent's eyes. Okay, that wasn't so bad...

    As the young Caitian recovered his composure, a strange feeling came across him, as though the air were suddenly thicker and charged with electricity. An indistinct swirl appeared, slowly becoming another Caitian. Not just another Caitian, Ch'rowl realized, as the image solidified and the familiarity of the face began to sink in. He knew that face very well indeed - aside from a few scars and a certain haunted expression around the eyes, it was the same face he saw in the mirror every day. And wearing the insignia of a Vice-Admiral.

    "Cute, Maryam," he called out. "Am I supposed to shoot myself now?"

    The being before him rumbled with Caitian laughter. "No, Maryam didn't do this," he said. "In fact, we're suspended just outside time now. As far as Maryam and the Captain are concerned, you're still standing in one place, catching your breath after a successful hunt."

    "Oh, really? Who are you supposed to be, then?"

    "Seems pretty clear. I'm you."

    Ch'rowl's tail lashed once, sharply, in negation. "That hardly seems likely."

    The older being's ear flicked in amusement. "Keep that skepticism. It'll serve you well in coming times - there are a lot of things out there that want to trick you, and I don't just mean Q. On the other paw, if I'm not you, who am I?"

    "Oh, there are lots of possibilities. Hologram, Undine infiltrator, visual hallucination, take your pick."

    "Ch'rowl. You're being obfuscatory. You're not a Human, to use just your eyes, or a Ferengi, relying on your ears. There's one sense they haven't figured out how to fake yet. Use it."

    Ch'rowl narrowed his eyes at the other being, then breathed deeply through his nose. Metal, the special tang of ozone, that indefinable whiff of phaser energies - and behind it all, a scent as familiar to him as the face, and for the same reason. "That's impossible. You can't be me, I'm me!"

    The other Ch'rowl chuckled low in his throat, like a Human. "Remember what they taught us in Elementary Logic. Once you've eliminated the impossible..."

    "...what remains, however unlikely, must be the truth. Okay, so since I'm here, and you're me, you must be either me from another reality or another time."

    "Time. I'm who you're going to be. I don't remember this conversation exactly, but the guys in Temporal Investigations say it doesn't matter, as long as I stick to the gist of it. And I'm here to give you all the warning that's possible. Remember learning about the Iconians?"

    "Ancient history, yeah. They had a galaxy-spanning empire using teleport gates. Overthrown and went extinct around 200,000 years back. Ambassador Picard thought they might have been misunderstood, overthrown by jealous races whose technological development wasn't as advanced."

    "Turns out Jean-Luc was wrong. They weren't misunderstood, and they aren't extinct. They'd been waiting in a sort of stasis, and have been awakened by their servants. They've already begun meddling in galactic politics - this whole war with the Klingons was stirred up by their agents, and they were the ones who set the Undine on us again. I can't tell you everything, but I can give you this." The other Ch'rowl held out a complex-looking device. "It's called a Tesseract Communicator. We'll be able to signal you when you can gather intel on the Iconians, and we'll be putting that intel to use in the future when they come back in force. I - you - we - damn, never did figure out which pronoun to use. We'll have unprecedented opportunities in the future to derail Iconian plans and find out more about them, and this will make it possible. It can be used for small amounts of material support as well, but that takes, er, some time to set up, so it can't happen very often. If 'very often' even means anything in this context."

    Ch'rowl took the device, then looked at his counterpart. "And the rank?"

    "Yeah, advancement can happen fast in a war. We're lucky - we haven't died yet. Lots of others weren't so lucky."

    "Lots of others? Like who?"

    The other Ch'rowl shook his head sadly. "I can't tell you that. You took the same course in Temporal Mechanics that I did. I can still hear Professor Song in my head. 'Spoilers!' Just take care of your people, do your job, and the rest will sort itself out."

    Ch'rowl looked at the device he was holding as if it might explode. "I'm still not sure I believe any of this, you know."

    "Of course I know. Go by the DTI office after we're done here, tell them what happened. They can give you a chroniton scan. Now put that away and get ready to face your future - I have to go back to it. Good hunting!" The other Ch'rowl began to fade.

    "Good hunting," Ch'rowl muttered with reflexive politeness, staring at the Tesseract Communicator. After a moment he shivered, put the device in his pocket, and called out, "Computer, end simulation."
    Lorna-Wing-sig.png
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 651 Arc User
    edited May 2015
    Vulcan, 2402


    It was only supposed to be a day out in the Forge, the Vulcan desert was screaming hot, and while the weather for now was projected to be good, there was call for a sandstorm in the afternoon. His companions, T'kara and Sehlk, did account for everything from Sehlat's to a sprained ankle when they left, all of the trio were prepared for everything but a natural, unexpected disaster. They had chose the quickest, most direct route, which would lead through the Plain of Blood, and began going up a cliff side trail jutting out from the rock, but an unexpected rockslide cut Gregs off from his Vulcan traveling companions. The trail sheared off from the very cliff side, the width of the gap to wide to traverse.


    "I'll double back around to the south trail, I'll meet you two back at the established campsite," Gregs shouts over the gathering wind. Nodding back, the two Vulcans continue on their way, while Gregs takes the time to move away from the unstable edge, before taking stock of his remaining supplies. He was down a water canister, but his hip canister was still connected securely. It may take him a bit out of the way, only a third of an hour, but he would be able to secure more water when he met up with the others later.



    ********


    Later


    He hated irony, right now, he wasn't totally familiar with Earth irony, but this seemed like a perfect example of it. He had run out of water, he had gotten to the meet up point, only to realize the equipment he had been following was damaged in the rockslide earlier, either by a rock striking him as he got out of the way, or the direct contact with the ground from said action. Checking his remaining equipment, he found only a basic compass, useless in these heavy magnetic sands, and a map of use and not full of sand. Choosing a rock underneath the nearest point of shade, Gregs sat down to try and figure out where he was on the very alien planet. Trying to figure out where he was located out from the map was difficult, the sandy terrain was always shifting over the years, he knew he couldn't trust if this was a recent map or not. He nearly didn't notice the gentle shift in wind, as the breeze began to pick up.


    Turning to the shift in wind, he finally noticed the Sand Fire storm heading his way, quickly putting the map away and grabbing his gear. Running for the nearest cave he could manage he knew he would just miss the deadly storm when it would pass overhead. He had heard about these storms from his two guides earlier, and had he been with them, he would have not even stuck around this area long enough to witness it, but then again, he wouldn't wish to get electrocuted either.


    Out of breath and thirsty, Gregs took out the last little bit of his water, intending to either rationally divide it, or greedily lap it all, he just hadn't decided yet, when he was spooked by a sound further in the cave. Leaving his non-essential gear, and grabbing an emergency hand phaser, he decided to check out the sound. Crawling between a pair of stalagmites columns, he found an injured Sehlat cub, whimpering, as Gregs noticed a burn on her back leg, suspiciously seeming to come from an energy weapon, as nothing natural could have caused that wound. "Hey," he says softly, reaching out to the injured young, who had quickly bared her fangs at the newcomer and yipped at him, "Hey, I don't mean any harm, just let me take a look at that." He kneels a few feet from the cub, putting out his hand in the least offensive way he could to the injured young, when he was pounced upon, forcing the breath from his lungs.


    He barely noticed the green flash of energy barely pass inches from his face, but he realized the Sehlat saved his life, before another flash, this time orange and going to the source of the first shot could be seen from further in the cave. Running back to his backpack, leaving the cub there, he grabs and activates a flashlight as well as grabbing an emergency medpac. He ducks at first, and after noticing no more weapons fire, he crawls into the cave followed by the cub. Finding an unrecognizable alien, with an accompanying hole the size of a fist in his chest facedown across the cave, he turns to find a Vulcan man, V'shar from his attire, bleeding heavily from a wound in his right side as the man sat laying against a cave wall, the wound most likely fatal.


    "I-I am s-sorry, I couldn't stop you from seeing this," he begins, wheezing heavily from the effort, "If I had known he was still alive I would have had her keep you from coming in here any deeper." He coughs up green blood, having to stop, Gregs quickly tried to stop the bleeding, but both men knew it was too late. For a moment he was silent, though the Sehlat was whimpering and yipping. "Thank you kindly, Gregs Sharvan Son'aire, and yes I know your name, from her," he says smiling at the cub, unusual for a Vulcan, "She's not a Sehlat, Gregs, and I need you to get her to my people for me, they'll realize what happened to me." With straining effort, he pulls a device from a side pocket, barely the size of an old writing utensil, a pen if Gregs recalled. "Keep this, it will allow my people to find you," he says, before turning to look behind Gregs, "and you, keep him alive in the mean time, don't worry about me, we both knew the risks." Turning to look behind him, Gregs sees what appears to be no more than a young teen girl with brunette hair, standing where that Sehlat cub was.


    Tears in her eyes, the young girl walks over to the Vulcan, before falling to her knees trembling, tears flowing as she rests against her friends lap. "Hey, we both knew the risk, and this storm isn't going to dissipate in time for us to do anything," he says, ruffling the girls hair weakly, "I need you to be strong, young one, learn from this, because you'll outgrow many of your attaches -cough-," he brings a hand to cover his mouth, and the young girl whimpers wordlessly, before he resumes with a half-hearted smile, "Young one, my friend, do not despair, Sha Ka Ree will be my Katra's resting place, I won't survive this, but you can, follow Gregs he will protect you until the others find you." With that he closes his eyes, Gregs walks over to the young girl who was sobbing harder, and walks her to the outer part of the cave, near his original position. Walking back into the cave, Gregs does not come out for twenty minutes, before he takes the now once again Sehlat cub out into the desert.


    ********


    An Hour Later


    Waving down a Type-8 shuttlecraft, Gregs takes the sleeping Sehlat cub in his arms, he doesn't let it out of his sight when the Vulcan crewman try to take the young cub from him, he doesn't explain why until he meets with a V'shar and Department of Temporal Investigations officer some time later, telling his tale. Understanding the situation, and asking Gregs to make contact with the San Francisco Branch upon his return to Earth, Gregs is cleared to leave with his new 'pet' Sehlat.


    ***


    Lazily scratching her head, Gregs looks to the alien taking the form of an animal sitting across the shuttles bench next to him. He was told of her race, and was amazed at the secrets the universe still held, and the great honor he was unofficially thrust into. He hoped to return her to her people, or if they did not come, he hoped a friendship could be formed, to help her if he could. No one should lose family or friends, and make it through unharmed, not matter their training or age, he hoped to help her, as he was being helped to get past his own tragedy. He looked out to the stars, and took in the majesty of it all, the secrets, the wonder, the mystery.


    ***


    2402, Delta Quadrant


    "Dang it, Dang it all!" a voice said from his perch in his ship, "The calculations...everything is going wrong!" The pink-eyed man punches a console next to him. "The Aegis member was supposed to die, now all that work rerouting that Na'khul agent into his past is worthless," he spouts to an empty bridge in a rant, "There's still a 47.896 percent chance I can kill him before he causes all this destruction...yes, I can still kill him...heh..heh...Ha ha!" The deranged laughter filled his ships empty bridge, the madman, long gone from his current troubles, plotted his next attack on Gregs Son'aire's timeline.
  • antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,376 Arc User
    edited May 2015
    Better Angels of our Nature
    By antonine3258

    Author’s Note: Delta Rising era, sometime after Takedown when the Vaadwaur are in general retreat.

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



    D’ellian stalked the halls of her ship, a Mogh battle cruiser, running an inspection of recent work and the crew. The lights were in the usual low Klingon frequencies, but the air was thin and cold to Klingons, and not especially comfortable to its Orion captain either. Spirits, fortunately, remained high, and she caught traces of chants and laughter as she approached stations, before her mixed crew came to attention at her approach.



    The Demonslayer had served well in a full fleet action against the Vaadwaur, drawing ships away for the commando strike against the Iconian’s meat puppets, but the work to restore it to combat functionality had left support systems operating at low levels. But two kills and multiple assists were added to the ship’s Record of Battle, and so the chants echoed. There was even word for their fighting, she may get granted the title of Dahar Master (a political move to a non-Klingon, but still, one that could not be taken back).



    It was reassuring, combined with the deep pulse of the warp core thrumming through the ship’s bones. It was once again consistent, the damage repaired from feedback from a nacelle hit. Repairs were nearly done, requiring just a little outside assistance, and regular service was being resumed, and soon the chill would leave the air.
    Maintenance simply wasn’t able to keep environmental worked up the level of heat and moisture Klingons felt at home in while patching other systems. Now though, the air was starting to warm and thicken as the normal schedule of duties restarted.
    D’ellian wasn’t certain whether to feel guilty at this bit of arranged stagecraft. Klingon captains dealt with bands of warriors and had to convince them to be soldiers in a technic society, and so often called back to the old traditions of blood, fire and pain. But her life before that had also been about managing impulses, and sometimes day-to-day life made it hard to separate the courtesan from the captain.


    Fortunately, there had been no shortage of battle over the last few years, so she’d no time to fall into decadent Orion thoughts of self-reflection and concern. Now she had to devote time to it – with the Federation war over and the Vaadwaur reeling backwards, privateering was about to dry up in the short term, and service in large KDF fleets brought glory, but not treasure. And even if she kept herself apart, she maintained obligations to her family in the House of M’ara to increase their share of power in Orion and Klingon spheres.


    Fortunately, the Demonslayer was completely paid off, thanks to her… efforts towards the House of Martok, so she would not have to promise herself to make payments, but keeping her ship fully crewed so far from home meant a steady diet of plunder, which was one of those unifying forces in the KDF. She’d had some refits of local technology before the large battle, so she wasn’t planning any large expenditures. She’d never heard Starfleet complain about purser’s accounts, and wondered what that was like.


    Hence, heading towards Zahl space instead of the Sphere for resupply. She’d sent a subspace message to a Talaxian outpost several days ago. Given their skills at putting the right goods with the right buyers, they’d have the supplies needed to bring the Demonslayer up to spec available on arrival. And even though the refugees hadn’t brought a warrior culture with them, they were always willing to be open-minded when it came to putting together a party. It was good business, and the crew would be entertained.


    It was a niche they’d found for themselves – habitable planets were in short supply here, without the infrastructure to support the steady terraforming in the Alpha Quadrant, and going for rich mineral claims would have left them, a defeated people, vulnerable or enslaved. But trading, the act of adding value, harmed no one, and so they were able to survive on a service economy without doing anything alarming as building warships.



    But there were sections of space where they weren’t welcome, or treated very badly. The Talaxians kept their ears and eyes open to their competitors and oppressors, and were perfectly happy to drop a discrete word about… opportunities to their more militant friends. They weren’t the only Klingons out here, but what remained in the sector were mainly Birds of Prey after the fleet had concentrated to stop the Vaadwaur, and Demonslayer could descend on the remaining Vaadwaur convoys the raiders would have to avoid like a targ on plate of fresh meat.


    And so, one last inspection to check that the repair work was done, and sear into mind their leader and captain, reminding them of lighter work before the oncoming drinking and hangovers, and the drilling that would repair the resulting dissipation. This was also Klingon.


    She returned to the bridge to verify the status repeaters on her way to her office. K’Gan remained at weapons, despite having the watch. The command chair sat empty, unneeded true, but unusual. K’Gan had strange ways of showing respect after their long association. All was otherwise as it should be. Intermix ratio was healthy, stores were low, weapons were prepared.


    One thing was off, but it wasn’t on the main repeater. The incoming message log only showed return traffic from the Sphere. “Have we received any challenge from the outpost?” she asked. From her understanding, the Talaxian’s usually outsourced security to the Hazari, but even navigational sensors should have picked them up by this point.


    K’Gan reported, “Negative, though their navigation beacon feed is coming in clearly.” He looked chagrined. He had been technically correct in that no report was expected, but had simply assumed the outpost had been asleep at their boards. D’ellian nodded, not expecting the issue to reappear.


    “Accelerate to maximum warp and go to standby alert,” D’ellian ordered. “Communications, hail the outpost and began concentrated sensor sweeps.” The repeater flashed a warning amber as acceleration pushed them past their current safe temperature levels on the warp core, but D’ellian ignored it. They wouldn’t be at it long.


    “Estimated new time of arrival is four standard minutes,” reported helm, before giving up his position as the primary bridge crew took their stations. Weapons and shields precharged as the ship tensed.



    “Understood - recalculate exit point to three light minutes, and prepare to cloak. Communications, any response?” D’ellian asked.



    “Negative – carrier waves still in place,” replied the communication Bekk.



    Thraak reported, “No subspace phenomenon detected that could be interfering – not detecting any warp signatures in the immediate area.”


    “Battle alert,” D’ellian said coolly. She leaned back in her seat as final preparations busied around her. The bridge’s viewports closed as the battle cruiser’s secondary shielding was deployed. Still no response, between energized shielding and their warp drive’s flare, the only way they could be more obvious was weapon fire.


    Only a few minutes later, the battle cruiser lurched out of space, trailing heat from its intercoolers. “Maximum successful cloaking will be at forty percent impulse, General,” Thraak reported, checking the passive sensors. “Energy scan shows fusion reactors running at low on outpost. No active warp signatures or heat trails near outpost.”


    “If there was to be an ambush we have spoiled it – we must finish our repairs regardless, proceed to outpost. Send status report to Delta Command. All weapons on standby – full impulse,” D’ellian said, projecting confidence. “We will see if they are indeed asleep.”


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



    D’ellian wondered who was mocking her with her words as they surveyed the devastation from the main market square. Over five hundred dead, most of them Talaxian, and a scattering of other races throughout the structure. They’d arrived in orbit to find everything on standby and peaceful, ignoring the radiation wave and debris cloud of two destroyed Hazari ships.



    She’d taken Demonslayer on a sweep, but everything said the same story, of decayed energized polarons and tricobolt traces, but there’d been no warp trail to cover in the area, at least, none her ship could find. The impulse engine trails had shown the odd dispersion caused by the Vaadwaur’s ability to hype their engines. A Starfleet science ship or one of the intelligence raptors might tease the warp trail out of the crowded spoor of a popular destination, but she’d have to do it via a hunt.


    It was when they’d beamed down to check on the lack of life signs, after a scan for contamination, that she’d realized what had happened. Her away team was by her and she stood with her arms folded, waiting for Thraak and his science team to finish confirming the lie, all of them in environmental suits. Ch’Tuk and the medical teams were conducting autopsies. K’Gan was taking reports from the other security teams, pacing back and forth and muttering. No survivors had been found, and while an attack against civilians was sometimes necessary, Klingon honor was very clear on it. Her obligation to civilians was clear.



    D’ellian suspected he knew what had happened, but was loathe to voice it. If it was not true, it would reflect very poorly on the one who spoke.


    “No biometric traces detected, but polaron traces are all through the air. Body count does not match residence, but scan traces show signs of vaporization. Impact sites on the bodies confirm such weapons, and the grenade residue matches the blast profile of Vaadwaur weapons. None detected, but they must have recovered their dead,” the Gorn reported glumly. The battle had been fierce and total, but clearly not entirely one-sided. Hasty barricades had been found, albeit riddled through, simply insufficient against the military might deployed.



    She pointed at one of the barricades, “This took fire from both sides. Does it show polaric interaction on both?” Thraak nodded. “General, I must note there is no sign of destroyed drone components that were not in the local security inventory, and there is no sign of backscatter from local phasers or plasma weapons off Vaadwaur unimatrix shielding.”


    D’ellian nodded. “Make sure a full report is available to Delta Command – your analysis has been thorough and fast, as always.” The Gorn inclined his head briefly. Lavish praise was not their way.


    “One thing remains, then,” she remarked, and held up her communicator so all could hear. “General D’ellian to Ch’gren. Is the forensic analysis of computers complete?”


    “Partially, General – there are a large number of systems rather than a single network, one that has grown over time. We have retrieved the stored memory for decryption, but analysis of the data buffers will take longer. The traffic control computers are completely slagged.” This had been expected. It would be too easy to follow otherwise.


    “Have you been able to transfer inventory records to K’Gan?” D’ellian asked calmly. The engineer responded in the affirmative, and the Orion general looked at her second.


    “Many small items have been taken from living quarters – most of the trade items in the market itself were damaged. The duranium plating and additional transtators we ordered are untouched, but the plasma manifolds are not present.” K’Gan took a moment, almost showing weakness, and continued, “The latinum also appears to have been taken.”


    “So, parts commissioned specifically for a KDF ship have been taken, but the more general and easily converted raw materials are left. Many high volume, and medium value items are stripped from the homes of the defeated. Vaporizations seem most common in close-range areas where combat would be likely to be hand-to-hand, rather than with high energy weaponry. The attack shows signs of high mobility and repositioning using transporters to avoid and disrupt enemy strong points, and the blast patterns from defenders show attacks directed against enemies who were using overwatch and fire-and-movement. Not the continued advance of Vaadwaur soldiers,” D’ellian listed, struggling for calm, “Is there anyone present who speaks against these points?”


    K’Gan stepped forward. She understood, he had made mistakes earlier, he must now show courage. “No, General – there are no patterns that do not fit that analysis. All signs indicate Vaadwaur equipment, but the Vaadwaur do not have the warrior tradition to have adapted their tactics in this manner.” The Vaadwaur were brave and resolute true, but they were soldiers who were led. And they did not have the generals or scientists, those who warred against ignorance, to understand the toys the bluegills had handed them.


    He swallowed, “This shows all signs of a textbook privateer raid by our forces against a moderately held strongpoint.”


    D’ellian let the silence drag out a few beats. One must always show weight. “I agree,” she said at last, “This appears to be a KDF attack, and one attempted to cover up the signs of being one of our own. We must finish examination of the computers to confirm that honor has been so violated. Much Vaadwaur equipment has been seized, it could be a band of prisoners who escaped and were insulted,” she said. The others nodded. It was unlikely, but possible.


    “We must prepare for more likely contingencies, however, as Delta Command has not indicated we are at war with the Talaxians,” the Orion continued. “Continue forensic analysis with secondary teams. We must take a shuttle to see if we can find the visual entry vector, based on our current analysis. The Demonslayer’s computers will be required for decryption, and we must be completely ready if we are to pursue. Thraak, with me.”


    The Gorn nodded, and after a brief communication with the ship, faded out in a flare of transporter effect. K’gan looked at his team, who were shifting nervously.


    “Back to work, you dogs!” he growled, directed at himself as much.


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



    The shuttle D’ellian was piloting was a simple one of the compliment craft. Not personalized, and with simpler computers. Visual light reconstruction would be easy… and the standard auxiliary would be easier to clear its computers if the High Council later required it. Now it lurked in the darkness of the borders of the system, hovering near the heliopause, the system’s sun merely a bright point. Hours ago, a terrible crime was committed, but from the perspective here, light-hours away, life continued as normal in the inner system.


    Thraak was primarily silent from the copilot’s seat during their short warp jump, and then the locking in the Demonslayer’s beacon so they could warp back without overshooting into a planetoid. “Demonslayer’s passive sensor sweep has been adjusted for her shield harmonics; frequency Zulu-six to Delta Command should go unnoticed by her computers,” Thraak hissed.


    D’ellian smiled in acknowledgement, “Yes – take the control functions for the visual sweep. I’ll set for directional pickup.” She tapped into the shuttle’s communication array with comm screens coming on at both pilot and co-pilot’s station. Galera would only see and hear her, however.


    Intelligence was busy enough running what had turned out to be a small war over an investigation that even a priority message took several minutes to get through to the Imperial Intelligence bureau chief. Galera looked briefly surprised to see D’ellian, but covered it well.


    “General – given the current situation, I can only assume you have uncovered an unrepentant pocket of Vaadwaur and require support,” the Intelligence officer said.


    “That is perhaps true, but not accurate – I will be shortly sending a report of an attack on one of our ally’s outposts using standard channels. It will indicate Vaadwaur weapons… and I believe a Vaadwaur ship, that we will confirm shortly, were involved. I am sending the full preliminary report via data channel, as I believe certain sections will require confirmation,” D’ellian said coolly.



    “I see,” Galera said, and scanned the report, “Yes, I think we should simply send in the base data for now to the allies to warn of a raider in that part of the frontier. The forensic report will require time before being released to our allies. However, I agree, despite possibilities, this must be confronted.” D’ellian relaxed. There had been the possibility that this crime had been condoned. “Have you identified a warp signature?”


    “Not in this craft, though by our estimates, we should be seeing its warp-in shortly. I doubt at this range we can achieve a hull image through active shielding, but perhaps a vector. Is there any other craft in the area who could assist?” D’ellian said.


    “I have a list of ships conducting ordered operations in the area,” Galera said, “Which I am forwarding to you now.”


    “One moment,” D’ellian said, distracted turning from the visual pickup, “Verify all recorders, five seconds to probably entry to normal space. Attach datastream to feed to Delta Command.” Time passed, but after a few minutes even the naked eye could see brief flashes of intense, blue-white light, which at this distance told the experienced starfarer how ferocious the energies being unleashed were.



    D’ellian busied herself briefly studying the list of ships, which were only those under KDF control directly or confirmed to have ‘sectors’ for privateering operations to harass the Vaadwaur flanks. With the Empire’s structure, private House fleets had great freedom to roam on their business for glory or riches, or even sometimes honor. Identifying what was truly in the area at any moment would require an army of automated sensor drones that the small powers and principalities of the Delta Quadrant could not provide.


    “General – confirmed from weapon impacts against shields and arc of ship at this range – ship size is at least battle cruiser class,” Thraak said quietly, tapping the pickup to go general, “Light waves are in frequency range for optimum harmonics for polaron-based weaponry and Hazari tuned corrosive plasma. Timing on light pulses indicates usage of heavy polaron barrages – confirm destruction of first Hazari destroyer,” he said, continuing his analysis.


    “Timing between warp in and start of fire?” D’ellian asked.



    “At least two minutes, point of origin began on Vaadwaur crusier, with return fire after fifteen seconds from two Hazari origin points,” Thraak said.


    “No signs from Demonslayer of more than two Hazari ships?” D’ellian asked formally. Thraak merely shook his head. “Thank you Commander.” D’ellian switched the pickup back to directional and turned to Galera.


    “We can assume the presence of one Astika-class battlecruiser only, Commander,” D’ellian continued, “We can assume a transponder code of some kind that mimicked a captured vessel, as the Hazari did not react to its entry per their usual tactical doctrines. We will, naturally, rise to our ally’s aid and seek pursuit of this treachery.”


    “Agreed, you are authorized to seek this raider and see to our ally’s defense,” Galera said, “I will contact the High Council. This may require… strategic redeployment of assets if the Vaadwaur still are active so far from their homeworld, but I believe upon receipt of your report, we will be able to send an alert to neighboring colonies.” D’ellian inclined her head, and the screen cut off.


    “Any chance of radio frequency repeaters for transponders?” D’ellian asked harshly – politics were a necessary evil in any culture, but she didn’t like the aftertastes. Still, an Orion government may have simply allowed a well planned raid against allies to continue. This was an improvement.


    Thraak sighed, “No, they must not have wanted to bother to change the secondaries, and simply disabled them. It shows a lack of respect,” he sniffed. “General – I am sure the crew will be behind you on this, for whomever it is, when the Council can identify the ship.”


    “Would that we could wait so long, Thraak,” she said, standing up, feeling the need to move. “But they slaughtered children and civilians for what? Sport? I will not give the Council time to allow this to be hidden or escaped.” D’ellian slid one of the decorative metal flanges on her KDF uniform out, and slotted it in the console.


    “Computer, download program – voiceprint match code Jade Hawk,” she said. The computer chimed deeply, “Use provided contact information and frequencies.” Thraak looked surprised, briefly, then nodded, catching on, and returning to try to catch the raider’s departure in long-sent light.


    After a few minutes, a dusky Romulan face appeared. “General D’ellian,” Subcommander Sahen said, one of the Romulan Republic’s operatives scurrying through the quadrant, and one whose authority went beyond her stated rank. “This is a bit of a surprise.”


    “Subcommander, I hope the battle goes well. I appear to have encountered an errant Vaadwaur battle cruiser attacking innocent settlements,” D’ellian said, standing tall at attention. “Honor demands we find and destroy this craft before it can continue, but none of our raiders report such a force from the Vaadwaur in this area. In order to pursue more quickly, I was hoping to cash one of the favors to cut red tape in requesting any knowledge Republic Intelligence had in this area. The Alliance reference grid puts this at Outpost Beta-47-3-Alpha.”


    “I see,” Rai Sahen said automatically, “Yes, the failure to detect an enemy cruiser of that size in a quiet sector would require communication support from other ships to avoid enemy concentrations. I can see what ships our communication intercepts suggest may be in that space.”


    “Thank you,” D’ellian said politely. “As we will have the information, I may not clog official channels with such a request.”
    “Naturally,” Rai Sahen said equitably, “I understand the demands put on field resources, as spread thin as we are. This act is abhorrent to all our governments, though perhaps it is lucky for the perpetrator a Starfleet ship did not discover this. They react very poorly to attacks on civilian targets.”


    “No,” D’ellian said, “I very much doubt there will be any such luck. Thank you, Subcommander. May you find glory.”


    “Not if I do my job right,” she said with a brief laugh, and signed off.


    “Information packet retrieved, General,” Thraak said. “It is… larger than the one sent by Galera.”


    “Yes, I will look through it – if we can find the departure angle as well as arrival, it should allow us to position ourselves discretely for pursuit,” D’ellian said. That would, of course, require luck. But a KDF ship, especially a Vaadwaur ship, would have sent regular reports to authority to have gone this far, probably. And the Romulans, bless their suspicious hearts, kept an eye on everyone when they weren’t spying on themselves.


    D’ellian studied the new data, as Thraak recorded the battle dutifully, the two working in the silence of a long association. Finally, after a long period of near darkness as the bloody work was carried out within the outpost, the Vaadwaur ship warped out.


    “We will return to Demonslayer and work to finish the repairs the ship needs before we leave. We must also,” D’ellian said dryly, “Finish our reports to the proper channels.”



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



    Given a chance to actually put the ship at rest, Ch’gren’s crew had been able to finish the repairs quickly using the base materials that had been left in the outpost. D’ellian had insisted on transferring from the ship’s account to the Talaxians who had arrived to bury their dead, despite their pleased efforts to avoid payment at having a mighty ship arrive so quickly to avoid them. Finally, she’d pleaded a rest cycle to leave them.


    She’d gone to her quarters to have a long shower to try and rinse some of the shame after that. It hadn’t helped. The ship, however, was properly dark and musky again, environmental working when she emerged. Demonslayer was tensed for action. And she had a name.


    Now, she was doing something she disliked, but one did not get a crew of 600 to follow you to slaughtering civilians without backers. It meant it was time to talk to her mother to hear what spoken and not in the Klingon halls. Demonslayer back at power meant a real-time connection was possible, bounced across the Spheres to Orion space.



    Shera, of the house of M’ara, was clad in the business dress of a successful older Matron – that is, very little. She looked pleased at her fourth daughter’s appearance – she was, after all, the most successful for maintaining their fortune in the Syndicate, even if she did so unconventionally.


    “K’arek, of the House of Tr’eng,” D’ellian said, “I know our contacts in the High Council are weak, but he is senior enough to have a House, so I was hoping you knew of him.”


    “Yes – and I’ve noticed you haven’t asked why,” Shera said, looking amused.


    “Murder, mother, instead of war,” D’ellian said, visibly clenching her fists. Shera did not blink, but for Orions, in their pursuit of physical pleasure and using it as a weapon, it was nearly shouting. “He should surely have gun-running contacts, unusual material from the Delta Quadrant – sufficient to outfit a complete raiding party with weapons from the Vaadwaur.”


    “You believe these contacts will be suggested to disassociate themselves?” Shera asked.


    “That will be required. Additional ill effects will require knowledge of a favor network I have yet to penetrate,” D’ellian said, then shook herself. She was Klingon, she must remind herself.


    “Yes, all these great Houses of ancient lineage, older grudges, and petty larceny,” Shera said, “We will, of course, continue to make ourselves useful to them. Weapons, though…” she tapped on a console out of range.


    “Ah, here we are – a cadet branch of the House of Torg, originally. He is a third son, no children claimed of his own, and apparently no children at all. No useful addictions. Service record has been poor previous years, apparently working in his House fleet. Ah, a high level connection,” Shera said, pausing for drama.


    “Matron,” D’ellian said. Useful info, though habit meant disguising how much, even from family. This… thug, had certainly only fought Klingons and intimidated minor systems. Perhaps a useful tidbit.


    “Sorry – habit, dissipation is a useful disguise, no?” Shera said, then continued more grimly, dropping her own guard. “B’Vat. K’arek studied under B’Vat before being called to his House.”


    “The ‘Ambassador’?” D’ellian said, “I apologize, to ask, knowing your sources, but.”


    “Yes. High levels indeed. Jm’pok’s right hand, and then, a sudden death with little additional information. But there are those who are willing to speak of the dead. His policy was war as only one whose line had ended could hope for it, eternally.”


    “That is a common sentiment, Mother,” D’ellian warned, “The Klingon ideal.”


    “Yes,” Shera said, “But of the next life. In this, they understand that sons and daughters need to be born, metal found, and forged into ships and their pointy sticks.” She examined her fingernails. “B’Vat was different. He saw the Empire as inherently weak. We did not believe this, so of course our contacts were with different Houses, so this information is second hand. Things seemed to come to a climax, and then… gone, with no more remarks. The House was gone, and Martok rose back to prominence, to all our benefit.”


    “I understand,” D’ellian said, “Then this conversation must never have taken place – or B’Vat may yet have his wish.”


    “Yes – daughter of mine,” Shera said, “You and your bloodthirsty crew are well placed in Klingon halls, and you are the first I have heard any hint of this, which speaks well of the qualities learned in my hall. Federation trade is proving lucrative, and the Iconians strings are becoming more blatant. As head of House, I believe it is in our efforts that this not have happened, for us, our allied Houses, and the Empire, much as tweaking Jm’pok has potential dividends.” The Orion leaned back, musing.


    “Mother,” D’ellian said, “Focus, please, there are immediate financial benefits.”


    “Yes,” Shera said, “Don’t worry daughter – I’ll get Martok to keep pressure on his backers, so they are willing to throw him onto your own pointy stick to stop any whiff of investigation.” The older Orion woman grinned, “Meanwhile, try to take his ship intact? I believe there may be a sudden drop in suppliers of Vaadwaur polaron weapons.”


    “In this,” D’ellian said with a bow in the older style, “I serve.” The image cut out, and she turned to Thraak who had been out of range. The Gorn and the Hegemony had their own lines of communication, but Thraak had not been originally noble, hence KDF instead of the Gorn’s own forces. Knowledge of politics was a necessary inoculation for her friend.


    “So,” Thraak said without humor, “This Klingon is a mere aberration in his lust for continued battle and glory, is the current stand of the High Council, I see.”


    “Naturally,” D’ellian responded in similar tones, “We are exemplars of our races, risen as high in the Empire as it is possible to, with the capacity to command ships and fleets that could devastate worlds. Any failure on our part could affect the future of our entire species and our relationship with the Empire, and determine if we are chattel or partners. So we wait where a Klingon could wave a sword, shout ‘Q’plah!’ and remove the insolent fool. But he remains a fool, while we must remain to the letter and the spirit.”


    “Naturally,” Thraak agreed, “But a fool who has convinced other fools, and has a great and powerful ship to make up for inexperience at command.”


    “Well, those Vaadwaur ships go at auction, and wouldn’t affect House production. And privateering will affect multiple Houses when it dries up in this part of the Quadrant, including my own” D’ellian admitted. “But yes, for what you are not saying – I can take him. And the Demonslayer is perhaps the closest ship easily capable of matching his battlecruiser on its own. We must remain the closest to ensure five hundred ghosts are answered.”


    Thraak brought up local space and spotted, “We have the recent communication traffic and vector – he certainly remains in this part of the Alsuran Sector frontier – the Bluegills were careful to make Vaadwaur ships difficult to spot at warp, but we have enough harmonics knowing the class to keep him isolated to a light year or so from a distance.”


    “Good,” D’ellian said, “We have done our official report and must continue our patrol. In the light of the attack… well, we must hit the convoy still, to avoid K’arek trying to run back to the Sphere. Uncomfortable questions raised by the allies would surely have us scapegoated as well, and we cannot attack him until his status has been answered. In any case, we will contract the Hazari to move the convoy back to our space to divide the spoils, four probably in this case.”


    “Ah, yes, the Klingon expects reaction for his bold move,” the Gorn said, “So we increase Hazari patrols and activity along the sector.”


    “And their destroyers have been having their sensors tuned to detect Vaadwaur,” D’ellian said, “And we will detach extra junior officers to command the freighters and leave some escape clauses for temporary detachment for juicy emergency defense contracts.” Hazari were true to their contracts, but they liked filling two at the same time even better.


    “So our mission continues,” Thraak said, “I will run-down the sensor traces for those convoys. We will see if our hunting has to be cut short for unfortunate emergency missions from Alliance command.”


    “We’ll see how well our luck holds, and if we are very lucky, perhaps these will not be ‘emergency missions’” D’ellian agrees. “I’m sure the crew will have word within a day, can you put me down for five days in the pool for the emergency mission?”


    “Ever the optimistic Orion, wasting your latinum,” Thraak said sadly, “But yes – two slips per usual?”


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



    D’ellian lost the bet – it took a week by standard notation before Galera responded with a message. Demonslayer was patrolling a nebular protoplanet, that may prove life-bearing in a billion years, but for now, might hide a sensor platform or even a mining station. They’d even vaporized an automated sensor drone or two, but compared to civilized space back home, it was eerily quiet, sometimes hours going by without a whisper of communication traffic.


    And, keeping the mood quiet was the red blotch on the long-range sensor display – a Vaadwaur cruiser with a KDF identity, staying fat and sullen on passive, squatting in a small emission nebula. D’ellian wasn’t sure if they thought they were masking themselves – believing simply being in a cloud of gas meant invisibility, or some other task was being done.



    They’d been edging in closer to K’arek’s ship, if it had the chance with those over-reinforced Iconian warp coils, it could duck out of range, and come screaming out of the sky elsewhere in the sector. On the other hand, even if the Demonslayer’s sensors were relatively poor, their cloak gave them the advantage in movement


    D’ellian had raced to the bridge when the priority message alert had come in, having been busy writing the watch schedules for the next month. Galera answered immediately when they acknowledged the alert- she’d been waiting.


    “General,” Galera began, “Delta Command has examined your report from the outpost attack, and confirms it was the Vaadwaur ship you’ve been shadowing. While your presence as a picket has prevented future attacks, Intelligence believes there are no supporting craft in the area and that you can safely attack it without risking your allies.”


    Galera’s mouth tightened before she continued, “On a different note, with you being the highest ranked officer in your section of the frontier, the High Council requests your aid in the apprehension of a noble for trial. K’arek, of the House of Tr’eng, stands accused of financial malfeasance and fraud, and must answer before the High Council to retain his honor. We are transmitting biometric information and transponder codes he is using, as well as the High Council’s seal”



    “Of all the-“ K’Gan began but D’ellian speared him with a look potent enough that he instantly subsided.


    She pulled a dagger out to wave, “Q’plah!” Thraak ducked his head – Galera was well versed in aliens to recognize a reptilian grin. D’ellian ignored it with long practice. “I am always pleased to aid the High Council in the pursuit of justice, especially for such a… pathetic crime as financial manipulation of the Empire. Should we come across him, we will gladly return K’arek for trial, but I am pleased this isolated raider will be destroyed with no more mention.”


    “Precisely, a singular tragedy that we will now be able to say with certainty to our allies that it will not happen again, that their citizens are secure,” Galera said. “Good hunting!”


    “Of course – Delta Command will shortly have another battlecruiser to examine, I’m sure K’arek will not prove any challenging above that,” D’ellian said, “Kai! Demonslayer goes now to hunt.” Galera winced again briefly as the transmission cut out.


    “Engineer, prepare ship for period of high warp and cloaking, we will fall upon this honorless dog and finish this farce for the High Council’s consumption,” D’ellian said without expression. “Science officer, confirm enemy position with long-range sweeps. All stations to battle alert.” The ship’s claxons chimed, and the bulkheads echoed with footsteps in the distance.


    A few minutes later, the angular and dull-grey ship faded from the naked eye, leaving only the slow fires of a planet being forged. Better sensors might detect a flash of tachyons or the energy surge of warp travel, but Demonslayer left no clue remaining to its presence.


    ***********



    A week of waiting had led to ten busy minutes as they crossed the short distance between systems, remaining under cloak. D’ellian hung at fifteen hundred killikams, waiting for the energy to rebalance for battle. Ch’gren and his team were working hard, and the hum of the EPS conduits at full volume were faintly audible, as the ship sang its own battle song.


    Meanwhile, fat and content, a Vaadwaur battlecruiser hummed at low impulse in a small nebula, refueling judging by the magnetic flux. Passive sensors were showing few grand structural changes, like new impulse engines or massive energized shielding upgrades, but then, the Vaadwaur had enslaved themselves for blunt, shocking power.



    And like all who saw blunt, shocking power and saw endless war as some sort of ideal, D’ellian mused, I will show what few truths can be learned in the actuality of combat. D’ellian was certainly not opposed to bloodshed, but even the Klingons’ vaunted Kahless knew there were times not to fight.



    Ch’gren nodded – energy was prepared and ready, all systems armed. D’ellian gathered herself. “Gunner, target warp drive for disabling, and prepare security crews for boarding action. Computer priority to weapon optimization. Accelerate to half impulse and prepare DDDS – drop cloak and hail, so we can play our part.”


    Communications followed orders tightly, though no visual response was coming. D’ellian spoke to silence. “Vaadwaur vessel, shut down active sensors, drive, and shielding, and prepare for boarding party. Your ship is in Alliance-controlled space, and will be interned and sold to defray damages inflicted on Alliance forces. Any other response will be met with force. You have ten seconds to comply.”


    That brought a reaction, a Klingon face starijng wildly, with a wild mane and surprisingly well-trimmed eyebrows. “An Orion wench? Perhaps you are worn from your exertions, but this is a Klingon ship, and I do not take jokes from your kind!”


    “K’arek of the House of Tr’eng?” D’ellian asked rhetorically. “This is fortuitous! I have a warrant for you to defend your honor before the High Council.”


    “Whatever Martok and his stooges believe,” K’arek said, drawing breath, “I fight for the true Klingon spirit! To maintain the Empire. Whatever poison you have heard, Talaxians’ only value is in their deaths.”

    D’ellian interrupted, “I’m not sure what you mean, but your valuation may explain the crime stated. The warrant is for fraud and financial wrongdoings. Per the High Council, if you will lock your navigation to ours and beam aboard, you will be treated as one of your station until our return to Qo’nos.”



    K’arek laughed wildly, “That is all the Empire’s cowards could manage? Fine – we will leave your ship’s bones as a warning to others and put you and the rest of your filth back into place! Prepare for battle!” The screen cut off. Onscreen, the battlecruiser leaped forward, accelerating in a haze of ions. Disruptors raced after, though the sudden speed threw Demonslayer’s targeting off.



    “Enemy approaching weapon range limits,” Thrrak warned.


    “Launch dynamic warheads,” D’ellian said. With a lurch, the two big demi-shuttles raced forward, keeping the enemy in arc as it raced out of range of their mother ship’s weapons, leaving a trail of weapon pods. Fingers of disruptor fire traced at the enemy ship and empty space. D’ellian nodded. K’arek was at least not fool enough not to have mines in the racks as he readied other systems


    “Quarter impulse,” she ordered, “Prepare for all-points firing and ready subspace induction field.” Her crew busied herself around her, as the Vaadwaur ship whipped around at a speed that left Alliance shipwrights fuming. A spread of white points separated itself as it reentered weapon range, backed by the purple lines of polaron beams. Demonslayer replied as its own disruptor and kinetic beams lanced out, and the ship started to ring from hits.


    Shields flared on both ships from energy bursts, with small red explosions being shrugged off K’arek’s ship from the photon mines trailing the dynamic warheads. On D’ellian’s plot, more and more white points were starting to appear as Vaadwaur-tech cluster munitions deployed, and mines began to awaken to the battle cruiser’s presence.


    “Incoming quantum torpedoes. EPS network showing distortions from polaric particles. Tricobalt cluster launch detected. Sensors detecting tricobalt mines activating,” Thraak said calmly. “Impact in six seconds, five-“


    “Induction field online. Link batteries to weapon capacitors. Weapons to red-line. Helm, three points to port, cut behind it,” D’ellian said, gambling that K’arek would turn left again out of habit in an effort to give a broadside.


    Space flashed red, then black, then broiled as Demonslayer’s equipment kicked the supports out from under local space, tearing low-mass items apart around them. D’ellian had once heard it referred to as a Tantalus field by a Starfleet engineer, but he’d neglected to explain who that was. Regardless, his theory worked, simply dictating that mines and other small items would fall apart on their own initiative, disintegrating K’arek’s oncoming projectiles.


    As the ship’s sensors sorted out the impossibilities, D’ellian leaned forward, grinning. K’arek had turned in the best standard cruiser tradition, but so had D’ellian, and now she was staring at his exhausts, and her craft, in the finest tradition of Empire, was nimbler than the enemy antique.



    “Bring us in!” D’ellian said, leaning forward, “Finish the dog! Lock tractor beam! Ready torpedo salvo!” Demonslayer raced in, proving once again despite the near-magic of the latest technology, the square-cube law still applied. Its weapon sting increased exponentially, and photon after photon raced out over the Demonslayer’s bridge from its backset torpedo launcher as Demonslayer snagged the enemy in its embrace.



    Crimson and green mixed to hammer at the enemy, sighting down the tractor beam to best effect. On Demonslayer’s bridge, in the best militant tradition, D’ellian paid no attention as spot energy flares overloaded consoles and harmonics bled through the shields to scar Demonslayer’s hull, nodding only to acknowledge the litany of small but increasing problems on the damage report.


    Then, with the shocking suddenness of space combat, it suddenly ended as the enemy ship’s shields collapsed and engines stopped with a lurch, plasma spilling out from the nacelles as the ship shut down to avoid a containment breach.


    “Excellent, weapons,” D’ellian said, standing, brushing some small sparks off her arm. “Damage control teams to stations, security teams prepare to board, and lock tractor beam on the enemy ship. Maintain scanning, continue fire if energy levels resume. Prepare my gear in transporter room 1 for my arrival, target will be the enemy bridge.”


    K’Gan stood, “General – I will arrange the away team to accompany you,” He said, hand on chest in a salute.


    D’ellian returned it, but shook her head, “No, the dog will be sure to face me alone instead of fleeing. You shall have the bridge. Ensure I am not ambushed. Someday, this may be told as the story it should be.” She smiled weakly at Thraak, “So we must make it a proper dramatic one.”


    K’Gan’s eyes shone as the Klingon love of a grand one-on-one battle tore at him, but the warrior and soldier in him nodded and sat, directing the boarding teams locking down enemy weapon rooms and engineering.



    D’ellian strode off the bridge without an additional word, or backward glance at the crippled enemy ship.


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



    She appeared on board in a flare of red light. The Vaadwaur bridge was nearly on Klingon lines, with a captain’s chair set far above the working consoles, though with far more bracing than was required. Small fires still burned, with several consoles flickering in a way that indicated a recent overlook. Most of the crew was busy fighting fires, with a single Klingon figure on the captain’s podium, haranguing the crew. On the viewscreen, Demonslayer hung, dark and dangerous.


    K’arek turned around at the sound, and stopped. D’ellian stood in a ready stance, bat’leth held over her shoulder, saying nothing, but having it turned to show the Boreth seals on it.



    “Ah – you again. Do I fight you wench, and honor you with death against a Klingon? Or are you hoping to break my mind? Where is your real captain?” K’arek said, taunting, “Or did he abandon you here after he tired of you in his bed?”


    “If a whiff of Orion is enough to bring you to your knees,” D’ellian said, “You are no soldier of the Empire. But you are Imperial Klingon – would you run away or bring help against a single enemy, whether they were noble or not?” D’ellian’s free hand tapped her sidearm. There was plenty of cover – she had no fear if he decided to burn her down one on one.”


    “Fine,” he said with disgust, “I will kill you, rally my crew, and show what happens to those who seek to pollute the Empire with your filth.” He reached down by his chair, bring out a bat’leth of his own. D’ellian went through a standard warm-up exercise, spinning the sword. He grinned and responded as he approached. The crew went silent, ceasing their damage control as they watched


    The two clashed briefly to get each other’s weight. D’ellian was less strong, which she expected, and in Vaadwaur tradition, the captain’s chair had clearly been the best protected part of the bridge. Her opponent showed no injuries or hesitation, matching through a series of textbook blocks.


    “Have you fought anyone but trainers?” she asked curiously, moving to a second series of strength-based forms, giving some ground to avoid being forced into a clench.


    K’arek growled, and shifted to stab. D’ellian moved into the stance of the traditional block of the Klingon warrior, to catch the blade and raise it up. K’arek began to move smoothly to the counter-stance for the move to bring the other bladed end to bear, but D’ellian was not there.


    Shorter than the usual warrior, she’d instead moved the block to hook her enemy’s bat’leth to the side, following up with a kick into K’arek’s knee. As he wobbled, off-balance, and guarding against a perfected enemy that did not exist, she brought her blade around into his side from the back. He crumped, bleeding.



    “K’Gan,” she said into her communicator, “Seize the bridge.” The crew who had been standing shook themselves from the battle as red light flared around them, resolving into a transported security team. D’ellian ignored this, studying her opposing captain.


    D’ellian rolled him to his side, and with a brief study, stabbed again, severing the spinal column low. K’arek roared, and began to whimper from the pain. “Oh, you’ll live,” she said in a detached whisper, low to his ear, “I was ordered to bring you, dog, to trial to preserve Klingon dignity as you faced your death as a warrior. And I have followed so far to preserve the Empire, but the filth of the past like you is dying out for the new warriors. And I will not allow one who murders children to stand in the First City as a warrior. You will arrive, alive and conscious, but mewling on a bed escorted by a woman, so that Klingon pride and machismo will see even your friends desert you.”


    She stood, “And the future that even Jm’pok has admitted is coming will sometimes use you as an example of what happens when one is lost to honor.” She flipped on her communicator. “Demonslayer, transport cargo to sick bay!”



    “No!” he managed to grunt before vanishing in a haze. D’ellian looked around the bridge, and then at Demonslayer. The trial would be a filthy business of lies to hide true dishonor behind commendations bought and sold, and backroom deals, but at least she’d managed to make sure the words would stick in their mouths at the helpless object they would defense.


    And someday, the Klingons would be willing to see their ideals extended properly beyond their species, and Gorn, Orion, and others would have their seats in the bright hall. In the near future, though, she would stand, serve, and smile only on the inside.
    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!
  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,162 Arc User
    edited May 2015
    The Akira-class U.S.S. Hijinx sat out in deep space, unable to move. Down in Engineering, several crewmembers stared blankly at the drive.

    "Damn. Did we learn nothing of warp bubbles from the Wesley Crusher years?" Captain Reynolds gripped the edge of the main console.

    Science officer Jolene breathed a sigh of distress. "We learned not to have any more Wesleys, hence the Jake Siskos, and, to a lesser extent, the Echebs."

    "Not to mention, the Dividiians are creating these bubbles as neural energy labor camps," Security officer Lane stated. "If we hadn't stumbled upon this one, those poor Kazon murderers would've gotten hurt-- or worse, their just desserts."

    Suddenly, a voice came through, from the Bridge. "Bo-Lin to Captain Reynolds."

    "Here." The Captain tapped her commbadge. "Wait. Your name is Bo-Lin? I thought it was just Bo?"

    There was a quick answer: "When the first Starfleet database patch was released in 2409, I had to re-register my name because there was a three character minimum. Not to mention, this was always my full first name. Not to mention, why don't you know your own crew's names?"

    Reynolds waved it off. "We Betazoids are far too busy reading minds to pick up details on people somehow. Anyway, nice to meet you."

    "I just wanted to let you know the U.S.S. Jenova has arrived and is offering to beam over their experts," Bo reported.

    Captain Reynolds nodded. "Beam them in."

    In a matter of seconds, Captain Iviok and his Chief engineer, Caveat, were transported into the vicinity.

    "Madame Reynolds," Iviok opened. "Or, is it just Madame? Or, Mademoiselle?"

    Reynolds looked at him. "It's neither? I don't get why people don't know what to call female Captains."

    "Well, whatever your title is, my Chief engineer will have this fixed in no time-- Not to put your Chief Engineer out of business or anything."

    Chief engineer Scion turned from his console. "Are you insinuating a lack of enlightenedness on my part? Thems fight'n words, Mac."

    "Don't worry about him," Reynolds turned to Iviok. "He's just going through the most embarrassing relationship break up. As for us, after we bridged the warp bubble, using Wesley's Kosinski Warp calculations, and saved the people inside, our own warp drive stopped working."

    Caveat approached the main console. "Ugh. Last time we were caught in one of these, I was applying analgesic cream for weeks. Also, your ship's positioning is offset from the Dividiian warp field by a few trillion microns. Just realign your field's positioning until it lines up, by pressing this button, here, repeatedly." He begins tapping one of the buttons, to start, and Scion approaches to take over. "It may take a few hours, so you'll want someone to make krill-beast sandwiches."

    "--Starfleet Command to Captain Reynolds," a screen nearby suddenly clicked on, interrupting. The speaker appeared to be Admiral Herthel.

    Both Captain's walked over. Reynolds addressed him, first. "Admiral? Aren't you supposed to be at Starfleet Academy??"

    "Quinn and I are going out to lunch; I'm at his desk while he's dealing with some time travel loiter outside his office, before we go. In the meantime, there has been a devastating report of the U.S.S. Crucial attacking and destroying several Starfleet science ships in the Vandor system. Since you're the closest vessel, I'm proxy-ordering you to track down Menrow so he can pay for his inexplicable crimes."

    Reynolds raised an eyebrow. "After all the trickery you've put me through? I refuse to take your orders! Last week, you had me tracking Fek'lhri, who are clearly just figments of Klingons' imaginations."

    "Also," Iviok's Andorian antennae twitched, "Reynolds is indisposed with her ship at the moment. That being said, and hense forth, and other extra words, shall I take over?"

    Herthel looked at him in realization. "Agh. Your ship is a Tier 1, isn't it? Well. You can try, I guess. You'll probably die, infinity. Seriously, how are you alive? Fine; might as well get what we can get since the Enterprise-F is out, right now, grinding for experience points. --Damn! I have to get going. It looks like Quinn and Crey are getting into an awkward slap fight. --Reynolds, I still expect you to catch me a Fek'lhri. Ferra wants to breed them for DOFF assignments."

    ---

    Later, Captain Iviok entered the Bridge of the Centaur-class, U.S.S. Jenova. He took a seat just as the ship sped through warp for the Vandor system.

    "Ah, yes. Back out into open space. It's the cry of the space fairies that each of us Captains must answer, with glee," Iviok narrated.

    Reynolds stepped into his field of vision. "You mean the Calamarain? They're more like space fireflies-- Who can lift a man if they wanted."

    "Yeah, them. --Wait. What are you doing here??"

    She then took a position, standing next to him. "You may have seen me in a state of refusal earlier, but that was just in taking orders from Herthel. This was still supposed to be my mission. Ever since the Phoenix-X was taken out by that Calibus VII virus and the cancellation of LC's-- that's what I call the Life-support Canisters in their environmental systems-- we've been getting lucky with mission queues, and I refuse to waste this one on my ship being inert."

    "Captain Seifer's still alive, though, right?" Iviok asked, confused. "I mean, it's not like he's actually dead now?"

    Reynolds just shrugged.

    Before they could continue, the Jenova was knocked out of warp, just as they approached Vandor IV. The Orion corvette, Hakkett, dropped out in to normal space, with them, and opened fire.

    "Federation starship. The Orion Syndicate has taken full control of this system, as your kind was quick to abandon it," a large, Orion male, named Ginyo, blinked on screen.

    Iviok stood up. "It's only been inhabited by Federation citizens for, like, 59 years, is all."

    "Yes, but the last 10 of those years were under a shared Syndicate operation, in much the same way your precious Deep Space 9 was awkwardly intermixed with the skin-toned, pajama-uniformed Bajoran Militia. Only, the advantage with our joined service was the money we could offer for illegal materials; that, and the slave girls."

    Reynolds snapped her fingers. "Of course! This was the site where Doctor Paul Manheim caused a rip in dimensional space-time-- thus stunningly causing a turbolift, carrying Picard, Riker and Data, on the Enterprise-D, to appear right next to itself."

    "And he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for that meddling Android! I think. I really didn't know any of them. The people running his project just got desperate. Let's just say Manheim's son was leading it. Right? That makes it more dramatic? Ah, I should've been a fan fiction writer. That was my calling."

    Captain Iviok pointed at the view screen. "How dare his legendary legacy be sullied in this dark and trendy way? You'll pay for what you've explained!"

    "Don't you mean you want to negotiate a cease fire, so you can investigate what the U.S.S. Crucial did to your own people, and where it went?"

    The Andorian dropped his pointing finger. "Huh? Oh, yeah. That."

    "Well, said gesture is not in our nature. Clearly! Plus, some other things. Now, defend yourself!"

    The screen clicked off and the Hakkett re-opened fire, blasting photon torpedoes on to the Jenova's forward shields. The Jenova responded by veering off into a rotating attack pattern, returning with quantum torpedoes and phasers. After several minutes of exchange fire, Reynolds stepped away from her position.

    "What is this? Are we back at the beginning of the game? Never mind. I'm taking a team down to Manheim's lab to see what I can find out," Reynolds said.

    Iviok turned to her. "Why don't you just wait until we're done here?"

    "Are you kidding me?? This ship is like a Pakled in Future Guy's shadowy drug chamber! I'm being specist, but, the point I'm trying to make here is, basically, you're never going to be done."

    At that, she left the Bridge and Iviok turned his attention to his Klingon first officer, Melyot, as three Orion interceptors approached.

    The Jenova was then taken down, closer to the rocky, barren and uneven planet while Caveat expertly beamed two transporter rooms of Starfleet officers out through shield cycles.

    ---

    Reynolds and her team rematerialized into a hallway, next to the lab, where several muscle bound Orion operators were surveying open consoles and lifting large crates around.

    "So, my mother is about ready to retire from the Orion slave business. Ah, the career she's had. I am truly proud," one of them said while carrying a case.

    His co-worker nodded. "She really was the best. I've actually seen her work in action; several times and up close, in fact. She certainly did thrust herself in to her profession. --Yes, she was a very good office manager." At that, the group suddenly took notice of Starfleet's presence.

    A hell storm of weapons fire erupted from both sides, both taking positions behind dead crates, as Reynolds noticed Iviok was right next to her with his own team.

    "You abandoned your ship in mid-fight??" Reynolds exclaimed in shock, while continuing firing her phaser in rhythm with the enemy. "This, I'd expect from emotion-chip-Data, maybe even alternate-reality-Kirk; but you, the Andorian everyman who is also a Captain?"

    As men from both sides were taken out, Iviok phasered the open console, blowing the rest of the Orions away in a messy, debris-spattering explosion. "I trust my crew, Captain; I don't trust you." The two stood up. "This mind reading ability you have gives you too much power. It's made you over-confident, and who knows what else? What other kinds shenanigans are you really into? 22nd century Vulcan fury? Delta Quadrant magic MacGuffins? British Kahns?"

    "All of those things, if I wanted to kill our franchise universe!" she confronted, emoting on a completely separate issue, just moments before realizing they were the only two left. "Damn. That's ominious and post-apocalyptic."

    The two entered the lab, and began examining the equipment. Display screens listed data on wormhole activity, rather than dimensional doorways, and just below a console, blended with the room debris, was an injured Damar Kahn, chained to the wall.

    "Uggh. You guys made it. As you can see, the team, here, has been focusing on something completely different." The Trill coughed out dust and his shoulder was pierced with a duranium rod; debris from the explosion across the lab doorway.

    Iviok and Reynolds ran over, immediately. "We have to get you to the Jenova! Your Trill symbiont is in danger!"

    "I'll be fine. I'm buffering the EMH as we speak. He sure does have an alternate Spock vibe to him. He was knocked temporarily offline when you blew that console. Not to mention, I made out with Jadzia Dax once, so, pretty much anything that happens to me pales in importance."

    Iviok nodded. "Well, he's right about that."

    "So, you survived the Crucial's attacks and the Orions kept you to finish the work here?" Reynolds surmised by mind reading.

    Damar Kahn sighed in self-contained frustration. "Ah, a telepath. That makes things easier; and by easier, I mean, annoying. Yes, I was touring several research facilities when this one was hit. The team, here, was grandfathering Manheim's dimensional equipment to, in a sense, catch wormholes; more specifically, the Barzan wormhole."

    "I'm actually glad you're present to explain all this, rather than us finding out through story, or technical deduction," Iviok admitted.

    The Trill shook his head. "Yes, yes, I'm clearly a mechanism. Now, back to the research: You see, after catching one of its ends, we gained control of the Barzan wormhole; insane, over-the-top control; so much so, that we've enabled use of the dimensional portal as an entry point."

    "So, what went wrong?" Reynolds asked. "I mean, tell Iviok. I already know."

    Damar Kahn breathed. "Menrow, from the Crucial, forced us all to open the wormhole in space, right here, so that he could take his ship through. I don't know why, or what his motivations were, but his actions freed up the area for Orion raiders. Wherever they went, you'll find them by going through this space-time rift." He reached over to a wired remote control and turned a TRIBBLE, activating the in-room portal: a reflective, crystalline mesh of flat rectangular surfaces, shifting into each other. "Manheim's portal turns Barzan into a person-sized-wormhole."

    "You'd expect it'd be voice command, as everything is in this century," Iviok observed.

    Reynolds turned. "You're thinking of the last century, the one with the computer search engine that processes like it's from 1987."

    "What? Are you two doing a thing? Never mind. You'd better go through, now, as the person-sized-wormhole can only hold for a few minutes at a time, and before more Orion's get here. And don't bother trying to contact your ship; the Syndicate installs Ferengi thought makers everywhere they occupy. They prevent intruders from wanting to call for help."

    Iviok stood up in realization. "Hey. He's right?? Well, I suppose we have no choice."

    "Right. It's time to put Menrow down; that sultry, sexy looking man who sleeps around with any alien he comes across," Reynolds stood up as well, and the two of them stepped through the portal.

    ---

    Moments later, the two emerged out a similar looking portal on the sunny side of a planet, somewhere in the Delta Quadrant.

    "Seriously," Reynolds continued. "We may have to infiltrate his operation and I might have to get close to the enemy-- for the good of the mission."

    Iviok looked at her. "You're weird. You're a weirdo. Also, it's nice that the wormhole transferred atmosphere and that we didn't just walk out into cold space, for, you see, Captain Menrow is going to have to pay for what he's done. Killing others is inexcusable."

    "What about all the thousands of ships and crews we destroy, daily, on system patrols and seasonal story missions?"

    The Andorian nodded. "I figured you were going to mention those, and I've prepared a thoroughly thought-out, perfectly articulate, message board-esque answer which more than justifies those actions, and, in fact, calls for even more murderings. And that answer is---- BY THE RIP-TORN SHIRTS OF KIRK??? Look at that!"

    He pointed, interrupting himself, at a giant industrial building, feeding smoke into the atmosphere, sitting at the head of a stone-built, ancient-looking city center. Entering the city and busy town square, the two were approached by a raggedly dressed, colorful-robed man.

    "Hello, Great Advocates. What an honor it is to run in to you. My name is Mard and I'd like to submit a Takar business opportunity passage, if that would be okay with you?"

    The man put his hands together, with glee, and prepared to recite his rhythmic legal epic:

    "As you may know, our sorrows grow;
    We share them high, we share them low.
    But what say you, is how we deal?
    Why, a drinker's bar: to help us heal!

    "An establishment of class, an establishment of glee;
    For upper state commoners, like you, like me.
    Stories shared, stories laughed, stories cried, all night;
    Like when I slept with my cousin, and it felt just all right.

    "Money made, money earned, money gathered, you'll see;
    We'll start a thing called tipping; 30%; all three!
    For shares are our goals; a cut of the pricing;
    Together we'll gouge and have all the icing!"

    Reynolds looked to the side, in sudden distraction. Her senses all ready; all ready for action. "A planet with a town, a village called Takar? This scenario, the chances, they aren't really that far."

    "Wait; what? Are you rhyming? Please don't set a precedent. Please?" Iviok begged.

    The Betazoid shook her head out of it. "Sorry. I mean: this is the Takarian home world. They were a Bronze Age civilization, last encountered in 2373, by that ship-that-shall-not-be-mentioned, operating under rhythmic, religious overtones."

    "Oh. Actually, this seems like a great opportunity to comment on religion as a base structure for developing societies, and ask questions like, is it necessary? Would a non-religious-based society even get off the ground?" Iviok queried, just seconds before Reynolds slapped him across the face.

    The Betazoid snapped. "There's no time for that! It's clear, by the Starfleet guards throughout the entire town, that Menrow has enslaved this civilization in the name of these Great Advocates."

    "Owe," Iviok rubbed his cheek. "You do know blue skin is sensitive to warm hands?"

    But it was too late-- both Iviok and Reynolds found themselves surrounded by Starfleet crewmembers from the Crucial, aiming phasers at the two trespassers. Mard was sadly escorted away.

    "You pit-i-ful Humaans! You think you can just waltz on in and disrupt an operation that was ours to begin with?" Menrow said, walking down a large stone entrance-staircase for the industrial plant.

    Iviok looked at him. "Clearly, neither of us are Human. And, just because you are accustomed to 'conquesting' females, does not mean you should amplify that to entire cultures. Yes, it's a natural progression, but we have to fight those obvious urges."

    "Just the culture ones, though," Reynolds clarified. "The other ones are okay. Menrow? Shall you and I meet in private to 'discuss' things?"

    Menrow shook his head. "This is more than taking over the Takarians; this is taking over the Takarians for profit! If you add Rule of Acquisition #10, greed is eternal, to Rule of Acquisition #52, never ask when you can take-- You get Rule of Acquisition #62, the riskier the road, the greater the profit."

    "Wait. Rules of stuff? You're not Menrow and his crew?? You're all Ferengi?? That, or Androids," Reynolds accused and stated all at once.

    Menrow approached them. "The name's DiaMon Cide. My crew and I found ourselves in the most gracious of luck, one day, when our minds were somehow switched with Menrow's crew. We were no longer on my D'Kora-class ship, the Jade Fox, but, rather, some Intrepid-class U.S.S. Crucial. Searching its database for opportunity, we discovered the Vandor IV labs."

    "Oh, good. You're explaining everything; Really appreciate that, by the way," Iviok nodded to him, honestly.

    Reynolds' eyes widened at Menrow/Cide's revelations. "Then you must have a deal with the Orions where they maintain the Barzan wormhole from Manheim's lab??"

    "Exactly! The resources we strip from this world will go to Ferengi and Orion operations all throughout the Alpha Quadrant, thanks to the Syndicate. You see, I purchased the rights to this planet from Arridor and Kol, the first Sages in Takarian prophecy. As we did more opportunity data mining-- the spoken kind, in this case-- More epics of their history became clear to us: Specifically, the Song of the Advocates, who were prophesized to establish a Takarian economy!"

    Reynolds cursed at his selfish, society-improving treachery. "You TRIBBLE!"

    "Seriously, we just invented electricity for them, like, two days ago."

    Iviok turned to his partner. "Why'd we go from an Enterprise-D thing to a Voyager thing? That seems backwards to me."

    "By the southern twang of mind-altered Leonard McCoy! We have to stop this rehash of a shoddy series of events before we become just as cheap and sub-par, ourselves," Reynolds realized.

    Menrow laughed. "Good luck! There is, in fact, a counter prophecy, but we've installed thought maker devices all over town to prevent telepaths from reading our now-vulnerable minds!" He then realized: "An odd and random precaution, I admit. Even odder that I would concede to the counter prophecy."

    "Of course!" Iviok realized, taking out his tricorder. "Ferengi thought makers are mere imitations from some race we haven't met yet, or Iconians, and, as copies, are therefore cheap and faulty. They're even preventing Menrow's crew from shooting us."

    Trying to fire his weapon, Menrow/Cide was hit with a clinch of physical constipation. Iviok quickly TRIBBLE into the devices and allowed Reynolds the will to read Menrow's mind.

    "Amazing! I never thought I could read a Ferengi mind. Profit and greed are a way of life for you, isn't it?" Reynolds perceived in a very EMH Mark I way.

    Iviok turned to her. "What? We already knew that."

    "Oh," she snapped out of it. "I mean, there is hear-tell of a future group of Holy ones called the Holy Dissidents. Songs, ever so lengthy, go on about their role to slow economical growth before it destroys all of Takarian kind."

    As her words rang true, Takarian men and women from the square began to pick up on it.

    "We could be these Holy Dissidents, here to temper progress, and stop possible threats like carbon emissions from expediting global warming effects! And we could stop the Internet from becoming over-saturated with horrible comments sections!" Reynolds called out so that all could hear.

    Menrow furrowed his brow. "Again. We literally just invented indoor plumbing yesterday."

    "Holy Dissidents! Stop our progress!" But it was too late. The accumulated crowd had finally found the courage and strength of the next part of the one of their many, many prophecies. "Holy Dissidents! Stop our progress!"

    Captain Menrow/Cide dropped his weapon out of realized defeat. "Damn it. Once you get them going, you literally can't stop them. And this was supposed to be my salvation after losing my job at Slug-o-Cola!"

    Iviok celebrated. "Hah! We stopped those shoddy series of events-- kind of. Either that, or we played in to them."

    "Captain Iviok, I misjudged you as some kind of Starfleet-abandoning-invalid. But the truth is, your piece of junk starship has made you an innovative, courageous engineer," Reynolds confessed.

    The Andorian sighed in relief. "And your mind reading over-confidence was instrumental in mental data mining, which, I'm sure, a less confident telepath would have messed up from emotional panic."

    "Yeah. Definitely," Reynolds agreed. "But what about the crew of the U.S.S. Crucial? Where'd their minds go??"

    Suddenly, another man faded in, next to them, in a striping band-like effect. "I'll field that field-worthy question," he said. "You see, my name is Wayfar, and I'm a Traveler. My powers include altering space and time, and I have a history with mind switching Captain Menrow and his crew. I once sent them to the 28th century, don't cha know."

    "Ahh! He's grey like a giant bug!" Iviok over-reacted. "I mean-- go on."

    Wayfar continued. "My job was to transport the real Sages and Advocate aliens of the Takarian home world into corporeal form, but, due to the fact I'm horrible at my job, I accidentally sent the non-corporeal Sages into a crew of corporeal Ferengi. And, due to my past mind-transfers with Menrow, I mix-displaced that Ferengi crew into the occupants of the U.S.S. Crucial."

    "So, what happened to the crew of the Crucial? Are they non-corporeal now??" Reynolds asked.

    The Traveler was caught off guard. "What? Oh, sorry. My mind wanders. The answer to your question is yes." He then rolled up his sleeves. "But I can fix things now, for I was otherwise preoccupied with Traveler paper work. You have no idea the forms we're expected to fill. Like, actual paper and pen forms."

    At that, he concentrated, hard, and caused himself and the Starfleet officers from the Crucial, all over the city, to fade in and out in sliding bands. Moments later, the crew of the Crucial was returned to their bodies.

    "What... what happened? We were floating energies??" Menrow reacted in pure shock. He then double-checked his body parts, top and below. "Oh, thank the Vice Admirals, everything is back!"

    Reynolds' eyebrows went up.

    "My fault, Captain." Wayfar turned to Menrow. "I shouldn't have tried to switch minds during that Intrepid-class celebration in your Messhall. I didn't think you'd serve real green drink??"

    Menrow nodded. "Yeah, that's the non-syntheholic stuff. Since we're expected to have as many pointless parties as Voyager had, we go for the hard stuff. Also, since I was in a non-corporeal form, I already knew what you did. But that doesn't make me any less disappointed in you-- As is the nature of our working relationship with each other."

    "So the Sages are real, huh? Are they okay? Their plans never went through?" Iviok commented.

    Wayfar held up his hands. "Whoa! To redo any of that will take days and days of Traveler administration. So, I'll try again next week."

    "On the plus side, we've finally tamed the Barzan wormhole," Reynolds observed. "The downside being the Orion Syndicate owns it and will use it to go all over the place."

    Iviok nodded. "At least we saved this world from Ferengi conquest, despite that being something that happens to them a lot. Not to mention, Cide seems to have gotten away with mass murder."

    "Forget all those trivialities! All that matters is that we're okay now, thanks to you two," Menrow offered in the direction of Iviok and Reynolds. "The lesson, here, being, there's nothing Starfleet Captain's can't accomplish when working as a team."

    It was at that moment the group noticed that the townspeople had been building wooden logs all around them the whole time. In the next moment, it was lit on fire.

    "Holy Dissidents! Stop our progress! Stop our progress!"

    Reynolds looked around. "What the hell? Sending us to the sky on 'wings of fire' isn't even part of this specific prophecy??"

    "No, that's... That's just a thing they do," Wayfar reassured. "Well, it seems your ship's transporters are being blocked, so, good luck with everything." And he disappeared in the same Enterprise-D era banding energies he rode in on, leaving the three Captains to their eventual demise.
    rrw_tetreya2.jpg
  • cmdrscarletcmdrscarlet Member Posts: 5,137 Arc User
    edited June 2015
    Lipstick was expertly applied with decades of experience. Smacking her lips, Kathryn smiled at herself in the mirror. Turning her head she checked her hair style for the day then stepped away to look at the uniform. Brushing her shoulders to wipe away dust that was not there, she nodded in satisfaction. Turning toward the door, the gray-colored ball near her feet was noticed last-second and Kathryn stumbled to avoid it, arms wide as she awkwardly danced around the immovable object. Catching herself she turned and frowned.

    Merow?

    Kathryn signed a little, and then smiled as she knelt down while reaching for her pet. The feline gracefully leaned forward to meet Kathryn's outstretched hand and started to purr.

    "Duty calls, Hector."

    She patted his head then stood to walk out of her quarters. Turning as the doors opened, Kathryn said, "this time don't go into the Jefferies Tubes."

    Hector licked a paw and wiped it across an ear.

    Merow.

    +++

    In a Jefferies Tube junction, Ensign Mallory Aralla pulled Lieutenant Jim Bushel toward her by the collar. He kissed her passionately, lowering his hands and cupping her buttocks. The action caused Mallory to breathe harder and press further onto his mouth. She raised a leg to wrap around Jim"s waist as he pulled her from the floor.

    Mallory opened her eyes to look at Jim when movement caught her attention behind him. Fear struck like a thunderbolt that their tryst was discovered by another crewman and she pulled away from Jim. He looked confused by the sudden withdrawal.

    Merow?

    Both sighed at the sight of Hector looking at them. Jim turned back to Mallory and leaned in to continue when she ducked under an arm to escape.

    "Sorry, Jim."

    "What?"

    Mallory pointed to Hector. "That's the Captain's pet. I hear his collar has a built-it camera."

    Jim looked amused. "You think the Captain sends her cat to spy on the crew?"

    "Not taking any chances. Maybe after our duty shifts?"

    Sighing, Jim looked to Hector. "Sure."

    Hector's tail swished.

    Merow.

    +++

    Lieutenant Vivian Warshawski looked at the rank pip in her hand for several seconds while sitting in the shade between two cargo canisters. Placing her head in her hands she started crying, curls of long blonde hair bouncing with each breath. Her soft sobbing echoed in the cavernous cargo bay. When she was finished, Vivian snorted mucus and stared at the cold steel floor.

    "I ... I can't do it. There are more deserving on the team."

    Vivian heard small steps padding around a canister and she became curious. Sliding out from the darkness, she met two golden eyes staring back at her.

    "Oh, hello Hector. A little far from home too?"

    Merow?

    Vivian nodded and reached for the cat but stopped short to let Hector sniff her hand.

    "I know, smells like coolant or a gel-pack. Sorry."

    The feline started to purr and walked into her hand, rubbing from head to tail and rounding back to repeat. Vivian smiled and scratched Hector"s back as he paced.

    "I mean, why did he pick me?"

    Hector stopped and sniffed at the air.

    "Truth be told, after I was put in the brig, I thought my career was over."

    The cat yawned wide.

    Vivian paused as memories raced from one image to another: from pouring over technical readouts, to stealing a quick snack in between assignments. Her smile faded slightly recalling her last boyfriend broke up with her because she had been so busy for the past few months.

    "Yeah well, Jim was a jerk anyway."

    Hector walked up to Vivian's hand that held the rank pip and sniffed her skin. He then pushed the top of his head onto her hand compelling more back scratching. The pip fell to the ground and Hector sniffed at it, and then swatted it playfully toward the lonely Engineer.

    Picking it up, Vivian looked at the silver bar. She recalled the look on Thel's face when he presented it to her; he had a faint smile on his face, as if he were proud of her! Maybe, in light of her previous transgression and her diligent efforts to make up for that, she had proven her worth - to the ship, to the crew, to the Chief Engineer! Her smile returned.

    Sniffing back her melancholy, Vivian looked back to Hector. "You know, I can do it. I wasn't looking for a promotion, I earned it. If Thel thinks I am up for the job, then I can't let him -."

    Merow, Hector interrupted.

    "Heh, you're right. I can't let the Captain down either."

    Hector purred.

    +++

    Ensign Engig pulled the panel from the wall and set it to the side. Looking both ways down the hallway the Saurian recognized being alone then opened the repair kit. Pulling out a PADD he accessed the designated schematics then looked back and forth from the device in his hand to the technical maze inside the wall.

    "Let's see. Circuit A-One to router four seven."

    Without looking, the engineer reached for a tool in the kit and touched soft hair instead of hard metal. Engig yelped from surprise and jumped from the wall.

    Hector ran away a few steps then turned and hissed, showing fangs and raised fur.

    Engig slowly stood and raised a hand as if to calm the animal. "Sorry, I didn't see you there." From embarrassment, he looked both ways of the hallway again. Noticing he was alone with the cat, Engig gradually returned to the open panel.

    Hector deliberately crawled to the opposite wall and kept an eye on the red skinned Saurian.

    Both settled into their place calmly. Hector's tail swished back and forth on the carpeted floor while Engig worked on damaged circuitry. Occasionally he would look over his shoulder to see if Hector had moved.

    Hector just watched Engig.

    After several minutes, Engig placed the tools into the kit, and locked the panel back onto the wall.

    Slowly standing, he turned to the cat still sitting on the floor who just watched him contently. Thinking of what to say to the feline, Engig struggled with the idea of talking to an animal that more than likely would not understand a word. He mentally shrugged away whatever words he could use and decided on a course of action.

    Engig saluted.

    Hector licked a paw and wiped it across an ear.

    Merow.

    +++

    "Go!"

    Arms quickly moved in blurred motions. The two officers grabbed at parts laid out on a table as if randomly and attached them to a metal frame. With each piece clicking into place, another piece was already in motion to be added to the frame. A third officer watched intently while keeping count silently.

    The shortest of the three, a Tellarite, snapped a piece and looked up for a split second. Reaching for a part, he smiled. "You too slow, Carter."

    The Human fit his scope into place. "I've beaten you seven times in a row, Tras. The less you talk, the faster you'll be."

    Bur'ar tried not to roll his eyes or say something to refocus the two officers. They were to assemble, then disassemble, their MACO rifles twenty times before allowed to join the team in the mess hall. Their banter finally came to blows and the Klingon security chief had had enough. This was the first level of their 'rehabilitation'.

    The doors swished open and Bur'ar looked at who entered the room, then to Tras and Carter. Realizing he was the only one who noticed the doors open, a mischievous thought came to his mind.

    Standing, Bur'ar shouted, "officer on deck!"

    Stumbling to their feet, the other two snapped to attention as rifle parts fell and clattered to the floor. After several seconds, Tras and Carter looked around but did not see anyone they should be saluting to.

    A grey cat peeked out from behind a nearby console.

    Merrrooww!

    Bur'ar bellowed in laughter.

    "Aw, Chief. That wasn't funny!" Carter started picking up rifle pieces.

    Tras helped. "Yes it was. You jumped faster than escaping Vaadwaur ships."

    Bur'ar pretended to wipe a tear . "Silence, that's the lesson here."

    Hector turned and quietly left the room.

    Gesturing to the closed doors, Bur'ar continued. "See. The animal gets it."

    +++

    Kathryn entered her quarters and fell forward onto the couch, sprawling arms and legs. Several seconds passed in relative silence as the ship's engines hummed at a lazy Warp 2. Kathryn relished the moment.

    Hector rubbed his head into her open hand resting on the floor and she responded by scratching the top of his head. He purred.

    "I hope you had a good day, Hector."

    Merow.

    Kathryn smiled. "Good, anything interesting out there?"

    Hector sniffed the air, then lifted a leg and started grooming himself.

    "I guess not."
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