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Unofficial Literary Challenge#20: Coming Around Again

marcusdkanemarcusdkane Member Posts: 7,439 Arc User
edited February 2016 in Ten Forward
Welcome to the twentieth edition of the Unofficial Literary Challenge: "Coming Around Again"! As is the tradition for every tenth Literary Challenge, it's redux time...

Prompt #1: "Redux"
Revisit the prompt for any previous literary challenge, official or otherwise. Maybe try it with a different crew, maybe approach it with the same crew for a different event or different perspective. Most important of all, write something and Have Fun!

* * *

Prompt #2: "Nibiru" by @moonshadowdark
Planet X. The Ten Planet. Nibiru. Throughout Earth's history, the tale of a mythical ten planatoid has both intrigued and confounded scientists for eons. The rumors of the mysterious "Grey Aliens" has been connected to the legend as well. According to Vulcan research, Klingon folk lore and many other ancient myths from across the quadrants, the Greys were considered to be a phantom race, a myth. But with so many mentions across thousands of cultures all across all four quadrants, the evidence that the Greys existed is staggering, and with it comes proof that Nibiru exists. Soon, the planets of the Sol, Qu'onoS and New Romulus systems will all align at the exact same time. Three gateways will open into one single dimensional anomaly. The path to Nibiru. Starfleet, the KDF and Romulus Command all want to investigate this lost world. Your mission: Orbit Nibiru, make contact with the Greys and, if need be, prevent the cataclysmic event Nibiru's appearance is said to bring. You have 24 hours before the planets fall out of alignment and close the dimensional anomaly. But be careful, Captains. The Greys were so secretive not even the Iconians had concrete knowledge of them. Anything that could hide from Iconians cannot be good news. It's almost here. The planets are aligned. Nibiru...is coming."

* * *

Prompt #3: "Enter the BOFF" by @marcusdkane
A new officer is assigned to your crew. They may be transferring from another starship, a participant in an officer exchange program, or even a newly commissioned ensign fresh out of the academy. Who are they? What will they be doing? How do they settle in? Do they fit right in, or do they just irritate everyone they speak to?

* * *

Prompt #4: "Better Angels Of Our Nature" by @ambassadormolari
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.

As usual, no NSFW content, and one entry per prompt per person (multiple prompts are not just allowed, but encouraged B) ) LLAP \\//_

The discussion thread is here.

Index of previous ULCs:
  1. The Kobayashi Maru
  2. Time After Time
  3. The Next Generation of Tribbles with Darkest Moments
  4. The Return of the Revenge of the Unofficial LC of DOOOOOMMMMMM!!!!!
  5. Back from the Dead?
  6. Gods of Lower Decks in Wintry Timelines
  7. Skippy's List: Starfleet Edition
  8. Revisit to a Weird Game, One of One
  9. In Memory of Spock
  10. Redux 1
  11. Delta Recruit
  12. Someone to Remember Them By
  13. In A.D. 2410, War Was Beginning
  14. The Sound of Q-sic
  15. Stand for the Crew
  16. A Future That Many Will Never See
  17. STO Thanksgiving
  18. Winter Wonderland Celebrations II
  19. Once In A Lifetime


  • marcusdkanemarcusdkane Member Posts: 7,439 Arc User
    edited February 2016
    ULC#19: Prompt#2: History Lesson:

    P A S T . L I V E S

    Ninth Dimension Fayre, Llandudno, North Wales, 10 October, 2412...

    Commander Meliden Bowen looked around the bustling hall of the Venue Cymru convention center. To either side, were a plethora of booths, kiosks and stalls, where people of every race displayed services and wares every bit as varied as the sellers themselves. Coming up beside her, Commander Heath Fletcher scrutinized the rough crystal shard which hung from his neck from a plaited thong of black leather.

    "What've you got there?" she enquired.

    "I picked it up from a Deltan fakir," Heath said. "He said it would promote calm and dispel negativity..."

    "It's a bit of cracked dilithium," Meliden scoffed. "You could stuff it up your a*se for all the good it'll do you."

    "No, these're for wearing, those're the suppository-forms," insisted the gullible Australian, pointing back toward the stall, where the Deltan was laughing with his Ferengi booth-neighbour. "You can't underestimate the power of primitive forces -- I felt calmer as soon as I put it on."

    "You're a bloody idiot, Heath Fletcher!" Meliden informed him sternly. "The only 'primitive force' at work here, is capitalism... It was only his pheromones making you feel calm! Charlatans like that can spot rubes like you a mile off..."

    Dropping the pendant to his chest, and taking Meliden's hand in his, Heath shrugged good naturedly.

    "Such is life," he mused philosophically, craning his neck to look for a food court.

    As they came to the end of the isle, the corner stall caught Meliden's attention. Beneath a holo-banner reading: Past Lives, sat an elegant Trill. Possibly in her sixties, her bobbed hair was the distinctive steel-grey of hair once dark-brown, and her blue eyes shone gently from amidst light age-lines.

    "Hello," she said invitingly, and Meliden found herself walking closer, pulling Heath after her.

    "What is it that you do?" Meliden asked, looking at the touch-pad and screen set up on the desk.

    Idina Seban gestured towards the devices, her top's scooped sleeve brushing the deep purple velvet tablecloth.

    "This analyses an individual's DNA, locates familial records via a multitude of databases, and produces a result based on the most frequently referenced ancestor, regardless of time-period," she explained. "Would you care to try it?"

    "Oh no, I'm adopted," Meliden said, to which Idina smiled and nodded accommodatingly. "I've never been interested in my biological family, they've certainly never made any attempts to track me down..."

    "I'll give it a shot," Heath said with a grin, reaching out and putting his hand within the outline on the black touch-pad.

    "Let's see what we have here..." Idina said as the screen flashed through pages, before showing a biographical listing. "The algorithm has highlighted a Brendan 'Benny' Fletcher."

    Heath shrugged and shook his head, "Not a name I know," he admitted.

    Idina looked back to the monitor and began to read, "Benny Fletcher was an interceptor driver with the Main Force Patrol," she said. "The MFP were a federal highway police unit founded by the remnants of the Australian government following the Third World War, whose purpose was to support the regular police in combating the rise in criminal biker gangs and various marauders who plagued the transcontinental highways, and parts of the outback."

    Heath looked impressed.

    "Can't say I knew all that," he admitted, before looking to Meliden. "The parental units live in the Northern Territory near Uluru. You've gotta see it some time..."

    "Well, it'll certainly be warmer than it is here," Meliden admitted. "What else does it say?"

    "Patrolman Fletcher was a probationer, based in Sun City, with a growing arrest record," Idina said. "Sadly, he was killed by one Crawford Montizano, also known as 'The Nightrider', when Montizano broke custody, and stole Fletcher's pursuit special V8 interceptor... He was survived by his wife, Gail, and son, Paul."

    "And Dad was always saying we were descended from a bunch of crims and poachers," Heath chuckled. "He'll get a real kick out of knowing there was a bronze in the family... Are ya gonna give it a go, Mel?"

    "Oh go on then, might be a bit of a giggle... Let's see what it makes of this..."

    Almost as soon as Meliden placed her hand on the scanner, the screen began to scroll, before flashing up the notification:
    Switching to External Database

    Idina frowned in confusion, "It's accessing Cardassian files..."

    "I am Cardassian, well, biologically-speaking," Meliden explained. "I was found in the rubble of the neo-natal ward of a hospital in Lakarian city after the bombardment, adopted by Human parents, and I grew up in Portmeirion. I was only surgically altered to appear Human for a mission several years ago, and when I was growing up, I always felt like I should be Human, not Cardassian, so I chose to not have the procedure reversed..."

    Idina nodded in interest, her smile transforming into an expression of concern.

    "Would you like me to cancel the search?" she asked, her finger hovering over a tab. She did not have to explain the reason why, but Meliden shook her head.

    "No, it's okay," she said. "I know who my Mam and Dad are, this'll just be an exercise in potential alternatives. It'll be interesting to see."

    A moment later, the screen settled on a result.

    Idina went pale.

    "What? What is it?" Meliden demanded.

    Idina shook her head, "I... I'm sorry, I ...I think you should read this for yourself..."

    Instinctively, Meliden's hand tightened around Heath's as Idina rotated the screen for her to see.

    "My God," she exclaimed, before reading aloud. "In twenty three twenty, Lokhin Enkala signed the order to execute four hundred fifty thousand Bajoran 'nationalists and revolutionaries' interned at reception and labor camps across Hathon Province and neighboring Katyn. The reason for the massacre, according to Bajoran historian Gana Ahan, was that he wanted to deprive any potential future Bajoran military of a large portion of its forces...

    "It has been suggested that the motive for his action, was to reassure the central command as to the ongoing sustainability and stability of the occupation. Since central command intended full-scale colonisation by Cardassian civilians in any case, Enkala felt certain that an unpacified Bajor would be hostile to incoming Cardassians. Under those circumstances, he felt that depriving it of a large proportion of its military and technical elite would keep it weaker. Lokhin and his expectant second wife, Mina, were never identified, but presumed killed by the orbital bombardment of Lakarian city during the Dominion War..."

    Meliden clamped a hand beneath her nose so as to hold back the vomit that flooded her mouth, and paling almost to her true Cardassian-grey, swallowed convulsively.

    "It can't be..." she exclaimed, shaking her head. "I can't be the child of someone so evil! I'm not like that!"

    "That's not who you are, Mel," Heath assured her.

    "I'm so sorry," Idina exclaimed, a look of stricken contrition on her features. "It also says that the mas- the action, was what inspired the Bajorans to begin forming resistance cells... It was a pivotal moment in Bajoran history..."

    "You're damned right it was pivotal!" Meliden snapped angrily. "I've got to get out of here, I need some air..."

    "I'm sorry!" Idina called as Meliden headed into the crowd.

    "Here, uh, take this," Heath said, removing his pendant and pressing it into Idina's ice-cold hands. "I'd better go after her..."

    * * *

    Outside Venue Cymru, Heath found Meliden sitting on the promenade, her arms wrapped round herself, shivering in the evening wind.

    "Are you okay, Mel?" he asked, sitting beside her and putting his jacket over her shoulders.

    "No, I'm bloody-well not!" she exclaimed, glaring at Heath with tear-stained eyes. "I just found out I'm the daughter of some bloody Cardassian butcher! Kodos the Executioner, Colonel Green, they're f**king lightweights compared to that kind of evil! How do you think that feels?"

    "Pretty crappy," Heath admitted. "But that's not who your parents are, Mel -- I met your parents yesterday in the village... They're your real family..."

    "I know," Meliden admitted, before shaking her head, and wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. "My God, Teva's family is from Hathon Province! How can I ever look her in the eye again!"

    "The same way you always have," Heath said. "Like a friend."

    "You won't tell anyone will you?" she asked. "You won't think any less of me?"

    Reaching out, Heath put his arm round her shoulders and pulled her against him.

    "Course not," he replied, as they looked up at the emerging stars.
    Post edited by marcusdkane on
  • shevetshevet Member Posts: 1,603 Arc User
    Personal log: Veronika "Ronnie" Grau, officer commanding USS Falcon NCC-93057

    "Permission to come aboard." The big Andorian on the transporter pad salutes smartly. Dunno how they do that without banging their antennae, but hey.

    "Permission granted. Welcome aboard, Mr Hihl."

    "Thank you, sir." He strides off the pad, and picks up a carryall that looks like it must weigh the same as me. I'd guess it's full of case notes and textbooks and stuff. Lieutenant Commander Sran Hihl seems to be a serious sort of a guy.

    "So, where do you want to start?" I ask him. "Meet the senior staff? Check in with the CMO? Go down to deck 12 and sample the rocket fuel they cook up in the chem lab that I'm not supposed to know about? Or just head for your quarters and settle in?"

    "Perhaps the CMO would be the best place to start," Hihl says. He's got a rather pleasant baritone voice, easy to listen to. Of course, in his line of work, that's an advantage, I guess.

    "Righty ho," I say brightly. "Off to medical, then." I peer around. "Turbolift, turbolift, where did they hide the turbolift?... oh, right, here we are."

    "There's no need for you to accompany me, Admiral Grau," Hihl says. "I don't want to take up too much of your time."

    "Oh, call me Ronnie, everyone does," I tell him, as I insinuate myself into the turbolift. Truth be told, I don't immediately want him plotting behind my back with my chief medical officer. "Sickbay," I tell the lift capsule. Hihl doesn't say anything. Doesn't really have time, the lifts are fast, and I can talk that way too. "No trouble at all, I suppose I ought to check in on Sickbay myself from time to time, y'know, make sure all the wheels are oiled and the gears are still turning and that -"

    "Interesting metaphor, sir." He snuck a word in edgewise while I was pausing for breath, dammit. "Considering your medical history, and especially the Borg assimilation."

    "Yeah, well," I say as the lift doors hiss open, "that's sort of behind me now, mostly. God, when I think of what it was like when Two of Twelve was living in my head, I wouldn't even have been able to look at you without her saying */*species 4464*/* at me, here we are, by the way." I stride through the sickbay doors with Hihl following me. At my Hihl, you might say. Ha.

    The small, mousy Trill woman at the bio-monitor console looks up as we come in. "What the hell are you doing here?" Zodiri asks. "Don't tell me it's for medical advice, this isn't April the first. And who's this?"

    "Chief Medical Officer Zodiri," I announce, waving airily at her. "Zodiri, this is Sran Hihl, he's -"

    "It's your damn eye again, isn't it?" Zodiri snaps at me. "Do the bloody exercises and stop bugging me about it. I'd give you eye drops, but you'd only drink them."

    "Drink them?" says Hihl bemusedly. His antennae are starting to wilt a little.

    "If anyone can get smashed on Retinox-5, it'd be her," says Zodiri. "Who did you say you were, again?"

    "I -" Hihl begins.

    "This is Lieutenant Commander Sran Hihl," I say loudly, "he's joining us as Ship's Counselor, effective today."

    Zodiri stares at me. Her face moves in an odd sort of way, one which takes me a moment or two to recognize. It's not something I often see on Zodiri's face... in fact, it's something I've never seen on Zodiri's face. She is smiling. More than that, she is positively grinning at Hihl, who just stands there looking blank and blue.

    "Ship's... Counselor?" she says. She hoots with laughter, and makes waving-off movements with her hands. "Run away!" she shouts, in between chortles. "Run away!"

    "You get used to her," I assure the increasingly baffled-looking Andorian. "I have, though I couldn't tell you why. Anyway, once she's got over her fit of the giggles, you can have a nice professional chat about things -"

    "It'll have to wait," Zodiri says. She seems to have regained some composure. "I've got stuff on, right now."

    "Medical problem?" I ask.

    "No, I thought I'd try my hand at knitting, instead. Of course it's medical, you superannuated Borg twit. Ahepkur."


    "I must apologize, sir," says a new voice. I turn to my left, quickly. Ada has been standing there, in my blind spot, all this time. I didn't see her, because of the eyepatch, and I didn't hear her, because - being an android - she was standing absolutely still and not even breathing. It's hard to read expressions, because of the metal eyes and the electronic panels... but there is something distinctly sheepish about the way she is looking.

    "You girls have got to get your relationship under control," I say.

    "I'm sorry, sir," says Ada. "But, well, she does insist on, well, testing my limits."

    "Relationship issues?" asks Hihl. Oh, of course, this sort of stuff is meat and drink to him.

    "It's more a spelling issue," I say. "Ahepkur is a Klingon, and you know all about Klingon relationships, right? They can't tell the difference between marital arts and martial arts. They get rowdy in the bedroom. Trouble is, when your partner's an android...."

    "Currently it looks like eight broken ribs, a dislocated patella, and a contused spleen," says Zodiri. "I mean, bloody hell, why not bring her flowers or something instead?"

    "I tried that once, sir," says Ada. "She ate them."

    "I didn't know that Starfleet androids were programmed for -" Hihl begins.

    "I have a wide range of discretionary functions," says Ada. "And Commander Ahepkur and I... hit it off."

    "After kind of a rocky start," I comment, "and maybe a bit too literally, sometimes. Tell you what." I take Hihl by the elbow and draw him towards the door. "Let's leave these guys to it for the moment. Zodiri will get Ahepkur on her feet in time for Ada to put her on her back, and while they're doing that, let's go say hello to the rest of the team, how about that?" He doesn't resist. I have a feeling Ada and Ahepkur aren't in any of his textbooks.

    I steer Hihl back into the turbolift. "I should consult with Dr. Zodiri as soon as she's available," he says in rather faint tones.

    "Yes, I'll bet. Do you have lots of notes about me? I mean, where are you planning to start? The repeated time-warps? The Borg assimilation? The homicidal fire god who hijacked my brain? It's all grist to the mill, I guess. Bridge," I say to the lift capsule.

    "You seem to be... adjusting... to the removal of more of your implants," says Hihl. "I understand that you relied heavily on the mnemonic circuitry for some time, surely the loss of that -"

    "Oh, right, yeah. Memory, all alone in the moonlight, I can smile at the old days, I was beautiful then - OK, OK, that last line's going back a fair old way, I admit. Never mind. No, I think what I lost in eidetic memory circuits, I gained in not having a ruddy back seat driver inside my head, commenting at me all the time. Makes it a lot easier to focus, these days. Where are we again? - oh, right, the bridge, yeah."

    I traipse out onto the bridge. "Hi there, folks," I call out. "This is Sran Hihl, he's joining us as Ship's Counselor, everyone say hello and welcome, now." I turn to Hihl. "Let's start with the sensible people, shall we? This is my first officer, Commander Tallasa -" I wave my hand at Tallasa, but she is already on her feet. Her expression is stony, her antennae are stiff and twitching slightly. Behind her, at the helm console, her sister Jhemyl stands up too.

    "Just Tallasa," Tallasa says, clearly daring Hihl to make something of it.

    "And I am Jhemyl," her sister adds. "Just Jhemyl."

    My Andorian exec and my indispensable top pilot both lost their family name after their parents comprehensively besmirched it. Clan-honour and clan-disgrace are hot-button topics for Andorians. It took some time, but they finally normalized relations with the last Andorian officer to join the team... actually, I sometimes wonder just how cordial Tallasa is getting with Areb Ysrip, not that I have any way of finding out. I suppose I could just ask Tallasa, if I particularly wanted her to break every bone in my body. Anyway. Right now, the two of them are looking coolly at Hihl, and Hihl is looking blankly back, and the social temperature is plummetting to a level that makes Andoria itself look positively sweltering.

    I'm rather suspecting my new counselor spent all his spare time reading up on my records, and didn't worry about the rest of the crew. More fool him.

    To try and defuse the situation, I turn to the science console. "And this is Saval, my chief science officer, and - ah."

    Saval nods politely: his face, framed by those God-awful mutton-chop whiskers, is composed and neutral as ever. "Welcome aboard, Counselor Hihl," he says. He indicates the Vulcan woman in engineering uniform standing beside him. "My daughter, Lieutenant T'Shomep, is visiting from the USS King Estmere."

    Hihl nods politely back, and then does a double-take. "Your... daughter?" he asks.

    "Commander Saval was with me on my last trip into the Stygmalian Rift," I explain. "We all got time-warped twenty-four years into the future, that time. It messes things up."

    "Adjustments," says T'Shomep, "were needed in our family life."

    "Yes," says Hihl, "I... suppose they must have been." I swear I can see him adding things to a to-do list inside his head. His antennae are limp and drooping.

    "And over there on comms," I say, "is Leo Madena." Leo looks up with a visible start. "You'll like Leo, I know I do. Leo's a nice lad, makes himself very useful, doesn't have any weird hangups or unusual living situations, frankly I don't know why he puts up with us. Tell you what, Leo, why don't you see Counselor Hihl to his quarters, get him settled in nicely, maybe tell him some more about the Falcon and the team in general? Leo will see you get sorted all right," I tell Hihl. "He's a very reliable person, is Leo."

    "Uh, thank you, sir," says Leo.

    "Yes," says Hihl, "yes, I see I have... a lot of data to review. Thank you, sir."

    "Well," I say, "no great rush. I'll come and have a chat, once you're ready, in office hours, sometime soon. Ish."

    Hihl lets Leo usher him into the turbolift. "Oh, just one thing," I call after them. "Leo? Better not tell him about those Ferengi snuff holograms - what was it, Ferengi Execution 104? Save that for some other time." Through the closing doors, I catch a glimpse of Leo's ears turning bright red, and Hihl looking towards him like a man with many questions.

    The doors hiss shut. I saunter over to the command chair, sit down, settle myself in.

    "Nice man," I say to the world at large. "Highly qualified, too, according to his personnel file. Energetic, able and dedicated, they said."

    "Yes, sir," says Tallasa.

    I grin at her. "Anyone want to bet he'll last six weeks?"

    "No takers, sir," says Tallasa.
  • grylakgrylak Member Posts: 1,572 Arc User
    Redux: 5.1: Lazarus

    Captain's Log. The Viper has been tasked with providing aid to Kobali Prime against a renewed Vadwaur attack. We put numerous troops on the ground and the TRT engaged the main force outside the Kobali Temple. However.....

    There was a long, drawn out breath before the log continued.

    One of our crew did not make it. It is with great sadness that I must report the death of Ensign Willie Wurz. She was a fine officer, and gave her life to ensure a Kobali soldier was out of the firing line.

    Talaina stood over the bed, holding the hand of her fallen Ensign. Her body ached from the combat, sore muscles begging for sleep. But she couldn't sleep. It was difficult, seeing the young face motionless like that. Willie had transferred with them from the Sentinel. Though not one of the main Bridge crew, Talaina had come to know her over the years. This was the second time she had witnessed Willie's corpse. "At least this time is more dignified." Saarish was nearby, but keeping a resctable distance and pretending to be doing busy work. He made no reaction to the odd comment from his Captain.

    "I wish there was something I could do. I should be able to do more."

    The door to Sickbay opened. Talaina turned around, the TRT armour weighing heavy on her tired muscles. She hadn't even had time to change out of it. Ttorkkinn entered with a Kobali male. "Captain" The Saurian started, "this is Graven. The Kobali who was saved by Ensign Wurz." The Kobali stepped forward and offered his hand. Talaina shook it and looked him over. He appeared to be early forties, medium build, pale skin and as bald as a newborn calf.

    "Graven. I'm glad to see you're ok." Talaina managed to keep her voice calm and level, though the glance Ttorkkinn gave her indicated he knew otherwise. The Kobali nodded solomnly.

    "Captain Kazzur. I can not thank you and your crew enough for what you did. If not for Ensign Wurz, that mortar would have certainly killed me. I owe her a life debt."
    "I'm sure she would appreciate you saying so, but that's not neccesary. Willie would have been happy to know she died saving someone."
    "Never the less, I need to express my gratitude. And..." He hesitated, shifting nervously from foot to foot. "I have an offer to make. I'm sure you know about how we Kobali reproduce."

    "Yes, it's not exactly something easy to keep hidden."
    "Well, I also know many species can take issue with how we survive. I don't know how you feel personally about it but..." Graven shifted nervously from foot to foot, hesitating before he continued. "I would like to grant Ensign Wurz the gift of rebirth. It would give her a new lease on life, and let me repay the debt I owe her."

    Talaina straightened up, her antenna lifting up to attention. This was a serious request. Personally, she found what the Kobali did to be a strange situation. On the one hand, they were desecrating corpses, reanimating them like zombies and calling them children. Re-writing the DNA of the original body until very little remained. But on the other hand, it was a corpse. A dead body. It's not like they take the life away from a person. They simply recycle the body after use. If the family members were ok with it, why shouldn't the Kobali get to live? It was a tricky situation, one that couldn't be hidden away behind the Prime Directive. From what Talaina understood, there would be no trace of Willie's personality. It would be a completely new being.

    "I understand what you are asking. But this won't bring Willie back."
    "Not completely, but a part of her will live on in the new Kobali. Captain, I ordinarilly wouldn't ask this, I know what the Alpha Quadrant thinks of us. But please, let me do this. I'll take her as my own daughter."

    Talaina looked back down to the Ensign, motionless on the bed. "It would honour her memory. And her sacrifice. But ultimately, the decision is not mine." Talaina looked Graven straight in his eye. "I need to discuss it with her family, with her parents. They are the ones who have first rights over her body."

    Graven nodded politely. "Of course Captain. I understand. May I talk to them?"
    "No. This will be a difficult time for them. I will bring it up when the time is right. When I go to tell them their little girl has died."
    "As you wish. If you excuse me, I must return to the surface. You know how to contact me when the decision has been made."

    Saarish waited until Graven was gone before walking over to his Captain. "You are not sssseriously considering this?"
    "Why not? Willie sacrificed herself to ensure a Kobali lived. Would she want any less after death?"

    Ttorkkinn stepped forward, his features softened with concern. "Talaina, I hope this isn't some fools guilt making you do this."
    "No my friend. It's not. This is about making a difference. About honouring an officer and a friend. Ultimately, the decision lies with her parents. Whatever they choose, I will honour."

    "That's going to be a tough decision."
    "Yes, it is. Saarish, can you put her in stasis until we return to the Alpha Quadrant?"
    "Of coursssse."
    "Good. Commander, inform the Bridge to return to the Alpha Quadrant. I'm going to get out of this armour."


    Talaina and Ttorkkinn stood outside the medical facility on Kobali Prime. The Saurian seemed nervous. "Are you ok?" Ttorkkinn leaned in close so he could talk quietly.

    "It's just the idea of this.... hmmmm... procedure. It doesn't sit right with me."
    "You would consign the Kobali to death?"
    "No. I understand they need to keep the next generation going, and this is the only way they can. It's just..."

    Talaina could see her friend was having trouble expressing his concerns. She waited patiently for him to vocalise his thoughts.

    "When someone dies, the funeral allows greiving. Family, friends, they can say goodbye. They put the body in the ground, or cremate it, or... sell it. It's a powerful moment, when they can say their peace to the deceased and begin moving on. But what happens here.... it robs the family of that chance. There's no body to say goodbye to. No closure. Instead, you have the dead walking around. Only it's not the dead. It's a completely new being. But what about those who cared for them?"

    Talaina thought long and hard before slowly replying. "Not everyone needs a physical body to say farewell. Klingons view the body as an empty shell, one who's spirit has already left. As you mentioned, Ferengi sell parts of the deceased. I understand what you're saying. And there is still time for goodbyes. But the being that comes from this is a new life. A person is not defined by their origins, or their lineage. They are defined by the actions they take in their own life, what company they chose to keep. Think about the circle of life. An apple is eaten by a worm. That worm is eaten by a bird. That bird is eaten by a cat. That cat dies and it's body decomposes, putting nutrients into the ground so an apple tree can grow. What happens here is no different. One deceased body is simply providing the nutrients for another. Don't judge the Kobali for what hand fate has dealt them."

    "Then let me ask you this. If you died, would you want to become Kobali?"

    Talaina paused, giving it some serious thought. "If I'm dead with no chance of recovery.... yes. I would want my body to be used to give someone else a chance to live."
    "You speak sense. It's something to think about."

    Talaina smiled and patted him on the shoulder. "That's all I ask."

    Graven and a Kobali female walked towards them. She was a slightly shorter woman, but had alot of energy to her walk. She smiled broadly, looking at everything. Graven stopped before the Starfleet officers. "Captain. Commander. I want to introduce my daughter. T'siz."

    T'siz shook both their hands energetically. "Hi! Pleasure to meet you both. I'm told I have you to thank for being born? Well, thank you so very much." Talaina returned the hand shake with a smile.

    "It's good to meet you too."

    T'siz kept shaking Talaina's hand staring at her. "Have... have we met before? You seem familiar."
    "Ok T'siz" Graven interjected. "I think that's enough excitement for now. Go back inside, I'll join you soon." Once T'siz said her goodbye and left, Graven turned back to Talaina and Ttorkkinn. "Forgive me for sending her away, but if she were to remember her past life with you, it may cause her to reject what's happened. Until she's fully aclimatised. I hope you understand."

    "I do. But you will explain to her when she's ready?"
    "Yes. We do to all our children."
    Ttorkkinn stepped forward. "And if she wants to rejoin Starfleet when she learns the truth? You won't force her back here?"
    "Oh no. Once she accepts who she is, and that she is Kobali, then she is free to choose her own life path. Everyone is. As long as they don't try to change back."

    "That satisfies me. Ttorkkinn, I think we should return to the Alpha Quadrant. Give Graven and T'siz some time. But, I would like to come back in time. See how she's doing."
    "I think we would both like that Captain. Until we meet again."

    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
    Bravok sat on the bridge of his B'rel. There was only the sounds of the consoles beeping and the quiet hum of the engines. After all, they were under cloak and waiting for someone to arrive. Talash sighed. "Where are they?"

    "Patience Talash." Tallara replied. Her antenna twitched nervously. The older Andorian checked her console. "Still no sign of them Captain."

    Bravok tapped at the eye patch bolted over his eye. He was getting too old for this kind of mission. Sneaking around was more akin to a Romulan tactic. Where was the glory of battle? Still, his crew needed to eat. "They'll be here. As long as we maintain cloak, we won't be detected." N'Nesh sashayed over behind Bravok's chair and draped herself over his shoulders.
    "Mmmmm, that's ok. We've got all the time in the world."
    "Knock it off N'Nesh. This isn't the time."
    "Ohh come now. A little fun while we wait?"

    Tallara turned in her chair and aimed her pistol at N'Nesh. "The Captain said no. Get back to your post."
    "Come on Kazzur, we used to be such good friends. Surely you won't shoot me? You certainly won't shoot me here, you'll risk hitting the Captain."
    "The Captain knows I'm the best shot on this tub. I ain't missing."

    N'Nesh pouted, twirling Bravok's grey beard around a finger before giving him a quick peck on the cheek and moving back to her console. Tallara kept her pistol trained on her well after she was typing at the console. Only when she was certain the Orion had stopped this latest bout of crazy did she holster her pistol and turn back to her weapons console, shaking her head. "That damned woman is getting worse every week." Talash just snorted.
    "She's Orion. The Galaxy's hookers. Of course she's acting up. Have you seen what we're flying here? You, me Cap'n, Laska over there and Kobor down in the engines are the only ones here who are not Orion ****. It's a miracle they've not just outright taken the ship. Come on Kazzur, we're not living here. Just alive. There's no point in making anything of it."

    While Tallara facepalmed, Bravok jumped to his feet and hit Talash in the back. "You think you can do better for yourself? You were nothing before you joined this crew. Now look at you. Fat. Depressed. You're no warrior, you're a rug." Talash turned to Bravok who was grinning. Tallara's console beeped, forcing her to interrupt.
    "Before you two start breaking the Bridge again, our contact is entering the system."
    "Ah, good." Bravok moved back to his chair. "On screen."

    The image on the viewer changed to show a Yridian freighter. "Ahhh, finally. We can get this done with. Wait for them to come to a stop, then move us within spitting distance of their Bridge and decloak." Bravok leaned back and smiled as he watched them fly up to the freighter. The lighting on the Bridge shifted slightly to indicate the cloak was disengaged. Imagining those pathetic little smugglers freaking out, Bravok stood up and ordered a comm open. "This is Captain Bravok. You're late."

    A Yridian male appeared on screen. He was wrinkly like all his species so impossible to gauge his age. "C-Captain! I didn't expect you to decloak so close!"
    "Cut the chatter. Do you have what we asked for?"
    "Yes. Give me the coordinates of your cargo bay and we'll beam it onboard."
    "We'll be beaming you over as well."
    "What?! That's not part of the deal!"
    "You want to get paid. We want to ensure what we have is genuine. You'll beam over with the cargo."
    "Oh-oh very well."


    The cargo bay lit up as crates transported in. The Yridian was stood amongst them with two bodyguards, twitching nervously. Bravok, Tallara and N'Nesh approached him.

    "He-hello. I hope you'll find everything in order." Bravok marched up to him and glared meanacingly.
    "What's your name?"
    "Well, I hope we find everything in order too."

    Tallara moved over to a crate and opened it. She took out a fist sized black orb with a couple of trigger buttons around the top. "High yield Iso-plastic charges. Perfect for demolishing bunkers, office buildings and starships if placed near their cores." Bravok grunted.
    "Excellent. Exactly what we were wanting. Can you get us more?" He turned to Jaglom.
    "Good." Bravok hit his arm communicator. "Bridge. The deal is done."
    "Understood." Talash replied. Bravok turned back to Janglom. "Your payment is being transported on board your ship. We'll have use for you again, of that, I have no doubt."

    Suddenly the whine of transporters echoed through the hold. A squad of large Gorn materialised, each one in battle armour, heavy weapons drawn. They had beamed in to encircle the group. Everyone pulled out their weapons and took aim, ending in a Mexican Standoff. One of the Gorn, with a distinct triangular snout, stepped forward, holding his assault pulsewave Disruptor in one hand. "Genltemen, you are all under arrest. Your ship has already been seized and your crew are in custody."

    Jaglom nervously moved beside Bravok. "I don't think so. I think you are going to let us go."

    The Gorn angled his head sideways. "Really? And why would I be doing such a foolish thing as that?"

    Jaglom suddenly grabbed Bravok and pressed a knife against his neck. "Because otherwise, I'll kill this Klingon."

    Another Gorn, one with the left side of his body and both legs seemingly replaced with cybernetics and a very short flat snout ending in a severe underbite stepped up with his minigun primed. "You think we care about the death of a smuggler? He's responsible for the death of thousands-"
    "Enough S'ag. We don't need to talk endlessly."

    Bravok took the distraction to press his neck into the knife. As pink blood trickled down the blade, he pushed forward, forcing the knife out of Jaglom's grasp. Bravok then slammed hsi head backwards, hearing the crack of the Yridian's nose. Pulling the knife from his neck, he staggered forward, clutching the wound. N'Nesh let out a cry but before they could do anything else, the Gorn squad opened fire, downing the three Yridians. The Gorn commander walked forward. "Srin, get a medical patch on Bravok." Holstering his pulsewave disruptor, the Gorn commander knelt down beside Jaglom and pushed him over. "We've been looking for you for a very long time. Finally we have the final piece of the puzzle. The ring leader of this entire little terrorist smuggling operation." The commander stood up and turned to his troops. "Beam him on board. Srin, how's Bravok?"

    "He'll live, though his voice will be horse for a few weeks."

    Bravok turned to the commander. "General K'hotiim, I trust this has meant the end of this endeavour."
    "Yes Agent Bravok. You no longer have to play the role of raider on the Cardassian border. Your ship is once more yours to command."
    "About time. We've been doing this for nearly seven years. If I see another Cardassian ship, I'm going to go crazy."
    "The Klingon Defence Force thanks you for your service. The discommendation on this ship and her crew will be lifted. On that, I give you my word."
    "Good. First thing we're doing is heading back to Klingon space and having some proper food."

    "One thing. You will no longer have access to the Praxus carrier. With the mission over, you no longer need access to its supplies or intelligence files. That should put to rest the rumours of you sometimes flying a carrier."
    "Fine. Whatever."

    K'hotiim saluted before he and his team beamed away, taking the prisoners with him. N'Nesh came over and placed a cloth over Bravok's neck, gently tending to his wound. Tallara also walked over.
    "Agent... Bravok?"
    "Agent? As in Klingon Intelligence?"
    "We were on a deep undercover mission to find the supply routes smugglers were using to move high explosives from Cardassia into the Klingon Empire. Somehow they were getting into the hands of terrorists who have amassed over a million deaths over the years. Like dishonourable targs, they dare not-"
    "Yes. But that's finally over now."
    Bravok opened his mouth to reply but was cut off.
    He was again about to reply when Tallara smashed her fist into his face. N'Nesh sprang forward but Tallara caught her arm and flipped her over onto her back, twisting the Orion's arm around Tallara's leg and twisting it sharply at the elbow past breaking point. Releasing her, Tallara stood up and advanced on Bravok. "I THOUGHT WE HAD AN UNDERSTANDING!!" She swung for him, but Bravok was ready this time. Ducking the swing, he retaliated, catching her jaw with an uppercut. It was enough to stop Tallara from fighting, but not enough to calm her down.

    "That's it! You betrayed my trust 'Agent'. I'll be packing up my things and leaving this ship at the next port of call."
    "DON'T! You can keep your green skinned ****. We're done."

    She turned and stormed off. N'Nesh had got to her feet and walked over to Bravok. "Tempermental little freak, isn't she?"
    "Shut up N'Nesh. We've lost a good member of our crew today."

    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 February 2016
    John sat at his desk in the observatory, a half eaten ham sandwich dumped unceramoniously beside some crisps. Or chips, as Bob, his American co-worker, liked to call them. John sighed and looked around the large cavern of a room, the centre of which was taken up with the multispectral oscillascope. Trying to learn the music of the galaxy was a very tiresome, very lonely task. The young man, barely in his twenties, scrubbed his bumfluff beard that matched the brown curly locks on his head. His co-worker emerged from an access panel on the far side and stood up. A portly man in his fourties and with a clean shaven head, he put the spanner away in the toolbox and closed the panel. "Well, there's the replicators back online."
    "Great." John replied with as much enthusiasm as someone who had been given a year's free pass to Nimbus III. "Now we can start to eat fake foul food instead of real foul food." He picked at his sandwich with the end of a pencil. Though most of the readings were done on computers and PADDs, he still liked to draw certain types of calculations by hand. It was unusual in this day and age, but it got the job done.
    "Ah come on now. That ain't now way ta talk. Surely you can appreciate-
    "Sshhh!" John held a finger up to silence Bob. His attention was fixed on a console on the far side of the room. "The readings. They're spiking."

    John quickly scurried over to the console and started checking the files. "That's impossible."
    "Frequency of that Quantum Filament we've been tracking has shifted. Look at it! The readings clearly show a change."
    "But that's impossible! Hang on, let me check the other sensors."

    John watched as Bob called up the readings. "Gravity in this sector is increasing. Almost as if something heavy is being added. Wait... what? Fusion in the Altanar star is halting. That star's going cold. How? Ah hell no. John, we've gotsa warn someone." He turned to John, an expression of sheer panic plastered over his face. "Sensors are picking up a mighty big spatial disturbance forming in the system. I don't know what's causing it, but I'll keep gathering data. You try to hail someone in Starfleet. Tell them to get a ship out here fast!"

    John ran to the communication console and tried hailing any Starfleet ship in range. It wasn't long before a human in his mid sixties appeared on the screen. A sharp yet round face, he smiled warmly, but there was a definite edge to his eyes. "This is Admiral Rykon of the U.S.S. Halestorm. What can we do for you?"
    "This is the Nimbus Observatory. We've picked up a large spatial anomaly forming in the Nimbus system. It seems to be shifting the laws of physics in this sector. Stars are going out. Quantum filaments are changing their very properties. We need help!"
    "We're ten minutes away from your position. Transmit all sensor readings you have and get ready to evacuate as soon as we arrive."

    The station started shaking, sending John into a panic. "Aaahh!! We're getting caught in the spatial effects! Hurry!" He started transmitting the data when another violent shake caused the monitor to overload. John felt strong hands lift him up.

    "John, we gotta go! The escape pod is our only hope!" As they ran towards the pod, John asked if he knew what was causing it. "No idea. But it looks like a couple of stars are going cold. And they all point in a line towards Sector 001, Klingon space and Romulan space." A sudden shift ruptured an EPS line in the floor, sending the scientists to the ground. Emergency forcefields quickly established themselves around the fire.

    "No! We're cut off!"
    "Nah John, there's another way. Follow me!"

    The Oddessy class ship flew towards the Nimbus Observatory at maximum slipstream. Rykon tapped his finger against his chair's armrest. He always hated this part of rescue missions. Beside him stood the behemoth of the ship's captain. "Time to arrival?"
    "Forty Seven seconds sir."
    "Hmmm. Too slow... too slow."
    "Captain!" The shout from the science officer caused Captain Grylak to turn. "Sensors are picking up a massive spatial disturbance ahead. It looks like subspace is being disrupted in this entire sector."

    The ship started shaking violently, lurching to the left hard enough to throw everyone to the ground. Lights went out as the power grid went down. In the emergency lighting that came up, Grylak could see his crew moving about. Rykon came over. "What happened?"
    "If subspace is being disrupted, it's too dangerous to use Slipstream. I'm guessing we hit the edge of the disturbance and it threw us out. Broke the ship as well."
    "Damage report. And what's the status of the Observatory?"

    They waited a moment, during which main power came back on. Damage reports started coming in. Minor injuries, no serious injuries or fatalities. Structural Integrity Field took some stress and would need to be checked out but no real damage to the ship. But then the report came in about the observatory. "It's gone Sir."
    "On screen."

    The two walked to the front of the Bridge, looking at what they saw. It was as if a great pool had formed in space, distortions rippling out fluidly across the star system. A small patch of deris floated just within the edge of the distortion, sensors confirming it as the remains of the observatory. "Any lifesigns?"
    "No Sir."

    Rykon gently rubbed his chin. "I want a full spectral analysis of this disturbance. Send a full report to Starfleet Command. Include our data, and everything we got from the Observatory before it was destroyed."

    Grylak narrowed his eyes and pointed at the viewscreen. "There, in the centre of the disturbance. Is that a planet?"
    "Sorry Sir. We can't penetrate the event horizon of the anomaly. We could send a probe."
    "Do it."

    They watched as the probe was fired towards the centre of the anomaly. ""Sirs, the probe was destroyed by the gravimetric distortions. But... I believe a starship would have enough mass to safely traverse into the anomaly."
    Rykon looked at the Bolian on the sensor station. "Did we get anything from the probe before we lost it?"
    "Yes Sir. Severe distortions are in there.... and we detected EM transmissions. There's people alive on that planet."
    "Alive?" Rykon turned to the viewscreen. "Who could live in a place like that?"

    Grylak stepped beside the Admiral. "Only one way to find out."
    "No. We're not taking the Halestorm in. The ship isn't equipped for a scientific research mission. This needs a proper team to go in. Hail Starfleet. We'll hold position here until they can get a dedicated science ship out here. Whoever they send.... they're going to have a tough time."

    To Be Continued....

    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'
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 638 Arc User
    The Pact

    The Kh'tar, 2410
    Delta Quadrant, Uncharted Space.

    "Any progress on our anomalous readings?" Gregs asks his first officer, Zinuzee. She looks up from her screen, if only to glance at the elephant in the room, Captain Dreever of the Turei, before turning to her Captain.

    "We don't know sir, we've heard that the Vaadwaur have been spotted out this far from traders on the outskirts, but nothing concrete without..." she trails off, not wanting to upset their guest.
    "Without what, Commander Zidire?" the cold Turei captain asks, "Without, perhaps, entering Underspace and violating our agreement with Alliance to minimize use of Underspace unless the it involves fighting the Vaadwaur, hmm?" The Turei's cold eyes gaze over the Trill woman, before turning to Gregs. "Why my people ever agreed to letting you into our space in the first place is one thing, but having Me placed onto your ship as a liaison while in our space is quite another," he says, "I would rather turn to the Voth again instead of your pitiful Alliance, if it means you don't gain access to our secrets and turn on us and ally with the Vaadwaur." The cold officer leaves the bridge escorted by a security officer.

    "Permission to speak freely sir," Zinuzee asks from her position at the science console. Nodding, he allows her to speak. "I don't quite like that cold-hearted, delusional, paranoid half-wit, even if he's an Alliance liaison assigned to our ship for this mission," she says, "And he feels like a leash holding us back from doing our job more than an escort into uncharted space on the current Turei/Vaadwaur border." Sighing, Gregs looks to the turbolift, making sure the Turei had left.

    "Normally I'd have more patience as well Ziny, but this liaison officer also seems to have been prejudiced against us from the start," Gregs says frowning, "He's probably one of many who blame the crew of the Voyager for bringing the Vaadwaur back to plague us today." Folding his hands, Gregs looks to the view screen, showing the ship orbiting a small asteroid field with metallic fragments similar to Vaadwaur ship wreckage.

    The ship had stumbled upon a section of space with former sensor logs showing this was a Vaadwaur waypoint, yet there were no signs of any technology marking whether or not this was truly the boundary, and possibly indicating tampering on the part of either side. The Turei liaison was sent to join them in navigating Turei space without incident, but after entering contested space, the Turei captain was starting to become more hostile. "Any way we could scan to see if an uncharted corridor of Underspace is located around here, it could be we're missing something right in front of us," he says, "If I remember correctly, and I may be getting fiction mixed up with fact, couldn't a navigational buoy be disguised as wreckage somewhere among these metal fragments in the asteroids, something the Vaadwaur could detect because their scanners are fixed to detect it?" Getting up from his chair, and taking an empty console, he begins to program variables into the computer.

    "There... Captain, the larger secondary asteroid off the port side it appears to be hollowed out, but it's old work so it could be one of the Vaadwaur's original beacons still active after all this time," Zinuzee mentions form her console, "There's also the possibility that the Vaadwaur returned and restored the beacon manually, as I doubt it would have lasted nine hundred years without severe degradation to it's energy reserves." Nodding, Gregs mulls over this new information.

    "Inform the Security officer assigned to Mr. Dreever that we've found a potential connection to the Vaadwaur and Underspace, so we would appreciate Mr. Dreever's presence," Gregs orders, "And inform him that if he wishes to preserve all records of Underspace in this section of space, he should be aware that we're going to be exploring for Vaadwaur presence this far out on the border, and to be prepared for a firefight."

    "Aye, sir," was the response of Khor, who goes to relay the information in person. Gregs takes a seat again at his chair. He then pushes a rarely used button on his chair, installed for ship wide announcements, signaling the crew.

    "Attention crew, we're going blind into a possible snake's den, and I want everyone to be prepared; we may have a tentative ceasefire with Eldex's Vaadwaur at the moment, but there are still those who could be separate splinter cells, or still under Neural Parasite control," Gregs announces, "We may be in for the fight of our lives if we happen upon a hidden base here in Underspace, and I wanted everyone to be aware of the dangers ahead this far out of Alliance territory; that is all." Ending the ship wide announcement, he looks toward the turbolift as a security officer and Dreever exit onto the bridge.

    "May I ask why you have declared your intention to enter Underspace to all of your ship, without first consulting me, as only I have the power to authorize entry in Turei space," he declares looking smug. Gregs only grins back in return, and turns to face forward.

    "Helmsman, please tell me where our ship currently is in reference to the Turei and Vaadwaur borders," he asks the helmsman. The helmsmen looks surprised for a moment, before turning back to his console and checking the exact position.

    "We're outside the Turei boundary and possibly infringing on Vaadwaur space, depending on whether or not this system is an active part of Vaadwaur space or merely the sight of a shipwreck," the helmsman replies. Smiling, Gregs looks back towards the Turei man, who has a scowl once more.

    "Since this is uncharted space, and we may be in enemy territory, I'll take every noticeable precaution for defense against potential Vaadwaur invasion points," Gregs tells the liaison member, "But if you have any formal complaints, I advise you take it up with Tuvok, not here with me; Helmsman, prepare to enter Underspace." Replying an affirmative, Gregs motions the Turei delegate to a spare seat. "I'd prefer you to take a seat, you'll be safer that way," Gregs says, as the Turei man grumbles under his breath, and sits down, "Helmsman, Engage."


    After entering Underspace, the Kh'tar was quick to follow the signs of Vaadwaur presence in the area. Using the Turei's knowledge of Underspace entrances and exits, they scanned for possible places that the Vaadwaur could have hidden their ships outside of normal boundaries, places they could rebuild in secret or have had knowledge of places that the Turei didn't know about.

    "Zinuzee, scan for any disturbances or trails in subspace that may indicate use of this corridor of Underspace," Gregs orders, "Make sure to map out our potential positions as well while we are here; we don't want to go too far outside of the Delta Quadrant and end up in the Gamma Quadrant now, do we?" With a grim chuckle all around, save the Turei delegate, they quickly made sure to scan subspace.

    Suddenly the various scanners and consoles lit up, and the ship rocked in Underspace. "Captain, it appears we may have stumbled upon one of the more unstable sections of Underspace, or else some form of subspace mine tuned to attack us," the Helmsman says, "It's emitting some kind of resonance pulse that's forcing us out into real space."

    /////Real Space\\\\\

    With another violent shockwave, the orange hue of Underspace was replaced with the blackness of space and the giant silhouette of a massive planet. "Sir, it appears from, scans that we're a thousand light years off course, and have been forced into orbit around a type 3, Class M, Planet," the Helmsman says, "While there are no active ships around the planet, there is a debris field I would associate with Vaadwaur wreckage; though there is also no facility either under or above ground that would show this planet to be a former Vaadwaur colony world, though there is heavy radiation interfering with deep sensor scans normal to a Type 3 world like this." The ship was rocked again, this time forcing red alert to reinitialize.

    "Sir, it appears some form of energy field is surrounding the ship, sensors show it's an unknown energy type we can't compensate for," Chassidy reports from her post below deck, "It's forcing our warp core into an overload, but I can shut it down before it gets too dangerous; but the resulting strain, if this force field continues, may cause minor fractures to turn into major damage to our ship." Rocking once more, the view screen shows the ship being pulled to the planet, as if attracted like a magnet.

    "Chassidy, tell me you've managed to shut down the core; I wouldn't appreciate destroying a planet in an antimatter explosion," Gregs says, "Helmsman, tell me you aren't the one piloting us toward that planet right now."

    "Negative sir, I don't have control right now, but it does seem like the force field is drawing us towards the planet," the Helmsman reports, "But according to my readings here, it appears we're being pulled towards some ancient ruins on the surface." Creaking was heard this time, as the ship was rocked yet again, violently.

    "Captain, I've managed to shut down the warp core, we'll be dead in the water until we can get it restarted, but we have to stop whatever is causing this force field," Chassidy reports from engineering, "We've had breeches on decks three through six, no fatalities, but until we make repairs some of the crew could be potentially stranded with little food or water if EPS goes out on those decks."

    "This doesn't make any sense, this isn't the Vaadwaur, and there is no way that this is a coincidence that we came across this planet when we were forced out of Underspace," Gregs says, "There is no way this is just some ancient technology left by the Vaadwaur either, but something much older must have set this up since they're using force field technology to force our hand, so the only logical explanation is that they want something from us..." Quickly making for an empty console, Gregs quickly scans for something on the surface of the planet, and finally finds what he is looking for. "To anyone down there who is listening, we surrender; let my people go unharmed and open communication with us to see who has attacked us," he says to a communications channel he had opened, "I wish to see face to face the beings that have trapped us so efficiently, and forced our hands, but it also requires you not crush our ship in your force field, since I suspect you want something from us desperately and only we know how to utilize our ship with our command codes." The rumbling and creaking had stopped, the energy field then removed itself from the ship, and on the view screen was revealed to be a force field in the shape of a pair of hands.

    As if forced open an image of static appeared onscreen, and a voice spoke, though it was not alone. "Ha, I told you they would not be as foolish as the Sons of Apep, to defy the will of their Gods and embrace death instead of offering their service, as is their right," the first voice, hoarse and battle hardened said, "Brother Osiris, you were not as shrewd as you would have us think, eh brother Zeus?" Another peal of laughter agreed.

    "Yes brother Odin, these beings are much more respectable than those rebellious sons who trespassed into the Bifrost without the approval of their Gods," the second voice says, cheerful and good natured, "But alas with the loss of our brother Heimdallr, we cannot protect our sacred home from the Daemons anymore, and surely Vigrith awaits our shattered Pantheon, now that our last defense has been drained of its aether, but perhaps..." Suddenly Gregs was seized in a violent explosion of rainbow colors, before he landed on his knees, his breath gone and the cold chill of space causing his bones to ache, and he blacked out.

    //To Be Continued in Part Two\\
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 638 Arc User
    //Now the Conclusion\\

    /////Unknown Planet\\\\\

    Looking up, Gregs was face to face with an Orion that had a beard stylized in the fashion of an Egyptian pharaoh and adorned with a matching headdress. Standing besides him was a one eyed man dressed in furs and crowned with a silver crown, while a Grecian man with a white beard and a crown of laurels dressed in a toga and leather sandals stood on the opposite side of the green skinned man. Kneeling down the green skinned one took Gregs hands and pulled him to his feet. "We apologize for the rudeness of interrupting our conversation aboard your ship to bring you before us, but the conversation was no longer a matter of our children's concern, but one that due respect of face to face contact," the pharaoh said, "You, as a spokesmen for your people, will listen to our story and decide the fate of your people, after we have knowledge of how you arrived here." Standing back up with the two others, the three men look down on Gregs, and sensing his hesitation, the Orion man speaks again.

    "Child of Shariel, the blood of the deserts of Mishara flows through you as it did when our people visited your planet and took our Brothers and Sisters with us to Sha Ka Ree, when they fled against the power of the Stone of Gol," The green pharaoh says, "Yet, here you are standing before your new Gods, far from home and tainted by the blood of Aliens from this quadrant, so I ask: How did you arrive here?"

    Gregs was uncertain how to answer, as he was sure these were not gods standing before him, but powerful men with powerful technology. "First of all, I recognize the lore of Vulcan and it's ancestral name, Mishara, but I am unfamiliar with this Shariel, or how you know I have alien blood in me, but my name is Gregs Son'aire" Gregs replies, "And I can assure you that, while a Vulcanoid's genetics affect my biochemistry, my genetic base is a species from this quadrant." Suddenly silent, no one spoke, and then the one-eyed man bursts out into a hearty laugh, amused by something.

    "Another healer ehh Osiris; it appears he knows more about the clay that makes up his blood than many of our children do," the one called Odin boasts, ribbing the green pharaoh, who apparently was Osiris, an Egyptian god. The Norse god had apparently done this before, as Osiris was clearly not amused. "Why talk of blood and the bones of our long gone Brothers and Sisters," Odin says, "Tell us child, how is it our children travel the void between the branches of Yggdrasil, beyond their homes; when last we were around our Children, you had just begun to reject us and our teachings!" The one-eyed man slung his armored arm over Gregs shoulders, panning out his hand as if trying to draw the story out of Gregs.

    "Enough Odin, our guest will regale us with his story in time," Zeus says firmly gripping the other god's hand and removing it from Gregs' shoulder, "We know he must have traveled here in a ship, like the one Kirk had traveled in, for now we should answer his questions and let the shock pass; perhaps even offer you food and drink, if you find it acceptable." Leading Gregs into a new room, a miraculous feast is set on a table of the finest wood Gregs had ever seen, lined with plates of the finest materials that gleamed like polished pearl, and stacked with a cornucopia of meats, cheeses, and various drinks and wines, befitting the gods themselves.

    Choosing carefully what he would eat, seeing that this feast was more than likely either spiked, poisoned, or a bribe, Gregs tried his best to not slip up, while dually worrying for his crew somewhere above him, still in orbit, he hoped. "Now, do I get any question I want answered?" Gregs asked the men seated at the table, each equally set on their own methods of eating from this feast.

    "Ah, a quick one, this man is, not even taking a bite of his hog or sip of mead before he tears into us like a hungry dog," Odin says, "Shrewd, you are, and an answer you deserve; yes any question will suffice, but be wary, as you may not like the answer you get." Tearing into his haunch of undefined meat, Odin leaves his brothers to talk with Gregs.

    "So then, do I have anything to worry about when partaking of this feast?" Gregs asked seriously, "I know you are being gracious guests, but you also are holding my crewmen hostage somewhere above, stranded and in a damaged ship from your attack, and apparently whisked me away to eat on the planet below; so I apologize if I seem wary." With a sly smile on his face, Osiris turns to Gregs.

    "Very astute, but you need not worry about your people, it appears they had managed to send out some signal to your allies, and a second ship approaches as we speak," Osiris says, "Though, I fear, it may not be the help you seek but another ship ferrying the sons of Apep, who dare approach their Gods in anger."

    Transporting in a orange haze, a squad of Vaadwaur appear around the four seated at the table, each pointing various weapons at Gregs, and at the gods. One Vaadwaur, a metallic eye-patch covering over his eye, looks to Gregs and smiles a cruel smile. "You, you were one of the ones who helped dispose of that traitorous fool Gaul, weren't you..." the warrior says, "Did you help these doddering old fools destroy my men, who were on a peaceful survey mission as well?" Taking a pistol from his belt, the Vaadwaur man slowly walks up to Gregs, positioning himself behind him. Gregs merely tries not to move, knowing he could potentially set off the short fuse this Vaadwaur had against him.

    "Now, traitor to the Vaadwaur, know that it was Klein, supporter of Eldex and an respected warrior among the Vaadwaur, will bve the one to take your life and restore the Vaadwaur's honor," Klein says coldly, pressing the Vaadwaur polaron gun into the back of Gregs head, "Prepare yourself and pray to your useless gods, only death awaits you, oh slayer of good men." Gregs awaited the darkness, very well aware the Vaadwaur had meant his every word, and realizing it was a misunderstanding, yet not one he could object to in his present circumstance. "Agh," was all Klein yelled, as he quickly let the pistol go like it was on fire. The various Vaadwaur among the room did so as well, each member releasing their hold, as if they weren't wearing gloves at all.

    "Sons of Apep, know that it was not our intention to let you blaspheme against us, nor that you think it was we who intruded on your place in the space between Yggdrasil's great branches," Odin said, "But when ye face a God of Thunder, do not bring weapons of cold lightning that a master of the sky, like Brother Zeus, can wield against ye." At this Odin gets up from his seat, and in his hand appears a spear, as if coming from air. "But twice ye have ridden the Bifrost, and twice ye have attested to battle the Gods of old, who forged the paths of Bifrost you use to cross the many branches of Yggdrasil," he says brandishing his spear, and now above Klein, "Pray to Apophis, you son of the snake, and know your death fuels our Aether, as you become one with your Gods." About to strike down in a blood lusted frenzy, the spear is quickly grabbed and stopped by Gregs, who had jumped out of his seat when he had seen Odin's intentions.

    "You will stop this, sir, as these men only follow orders and the facts presented to them, which is to say the debris and wreckage of a ship in orbit above us; one, may I add, destroyed after probably stumbling across the same spatial mine that forced us out of Underspace and into your realm," Gregs says defiantly, "These are mostly honorable men, who while snakelike in appearance, are not sons of an Egyptian god of chaos, but humanoid beings like me; who are very much mortal and protective since their numbers as a people are dwindling into dangerous levels of extinction, and have a right to be angry when their people are killed for an unknown reason."

    Looking coldly at the man who would dare stop him from his rightful kill, Odin quickly dismisses his weapon and brushes off Gregs, before sitting back at his place at the table. "Very well then, Son of Air, I will let their trespass go, but we will send them away as an example for those who would cross their Gods again, lest they all wish to die," Zeus says, finally choosing to speak in the steed of his sulking brother, "Be gone, you may use the Bifrost, this Underspace, as you see fit, we cannot stop you anymore, but know that if you ever cross this area of the Bifrost again, we will not hesitate to kill you or your kin." Getting up from their places, all the Vaadwaur, save Klein, remove themselves and return to their ship, once more in an orange haze.

    "Captain Son'aire, perhaps you spared my life, perhaps you did not attack our people, I will remember this," he says with a warning tone, "I will repay my debt to you this day, but after that, were next we meet in battle, you will die by my hands." Nodding to Gregs, and looking to Odin, he offers a gesture meant for respect, then he takes his leave and returns to his ship. Gregs now turns back to the assembled pantheon.

    "Tell me, when you said his life force would be turned into aether, what did you mean by that?" Gregs asks solemnly, seeing the faces of the other three men grow blank and distant, "Does the deaths of men fuel your ships and weapons, is that why so many myths and legends fear you as powerful warriors and butchers of men?" Osiris is the first to speak.

    "No, we mostly get our power from the worship we crave, you are no fool, we need not act like you are one of our Children anymore," he says, "It is true though, that death can fuel us, but that was long ago, when we were young and foolish, before we turned to more honorable and artistic ways to gain, to earn, the worship of our Children." Osiris gets up, discarding his food, and brings forth his own weapon, a Sheppard's crook made of plain wood. "We were once rulers, some of the elder gods were tyrants at first, others of our kin were benevolent, while some were just indifferent and remained unfettered from the rules of kings and gods," Oiris continues, "We went to war, caused mass panic and death, created monsters from our own soldiers, all in an event called the Titan War, which united the various gods of Earth at its end." The others abandoned their fod, knowing where this was going, and motioned for Gregs to follow them into another room, this one an armory.

    "My Father Cronus, was the last Titan born of our ancestor, Ouranos, who controlled the area that would become home to Greece and Rome in time, while his brothers were already scattered across the Earth to form their own families, to become Gods in their own time," Zeus said, "Atum, Brahma, Pangu, Ymir, Surtr, and Cronus, these were the ones who would become the ancestors of our Pantheon, who would cause us to go to war against each other, a war which would divine the future of humanity, either as a slave race, or one changed by our true nature." Zeus removes a sickle from a pedastal in the center of the armory.

    "The weapon which killed my ancestor, forged by Cronus to kill a true god powered by the Ambrosia we ate and drank to give us our immortality, as well as our divine powers focused through our personal weapons," he continues, "Our ancestor was sent to Earth from a place long ago and far away, a distant star we named Andromeda, though we would learn its true nature upon our leaving Earth, as a galaxy of stars home to the Old Ones, who birthed Ouranos as a weapon to bear more weapons, who could battle the Daemons who had ravaged our ancestral homes." At this Zeus replaced the scythe to its pedestal. "We were meant to be weapons powered by the very Ambrosia that sutained us, sent out to subjugate whole worlds, to conscript a military force that would one day face the Daemons and win back our homes," he says, "But Cronus, too young to learn all this, scattered his brothers, killing most if not all of them, leaving a young an untrained generation to squabble among a planet, before order was ever established, or perhaps, perhaps he always knew our true purpose, and rejected it in a way we never could." At this Zeus sighs and looks to his brothers.

    "We are dying, Gregs, our ancestral knowledge and ancient weaponry was scattered by rebels who followed my Father's path to free humanity, Prometheus, Typhon, and Pandora, who weakened us and caused us to change," he continues, "To make us realize we were not bound to a single planet, that we had Brothers and Sisters scattered like seeds upon the galaxy; but alas that was when we were young and foolish, we cast them into a hellish pit, into Tartarus, into Hel itself, using the last bit of technology the Old Ones had left Ouranos, and now we pay for it." At this point Zeus and the others had led Gregs down into another room, this one clean and sterile, unlike the others.

    "Here, Gregs, is where ye judge us," Odin says, "Do not be harsh, but listen to our plea, and weigh the scales of justice and freedom carefully." At that Odin takes his stance to the left pillar of the object in the center of the room.

    "Know, Son of Air, that we have lived long, and realize the universe no longer needs gods, but men like you," Osiris says, standing to the right pillar of the metallic object, "We ask you now, not to judge us, but to weigh our pleas and our stories carefully, as ancient men who are stiff in their ways, unchanging immortals who've perhaps lived to long without Death's touch in our lives."

    "Son of Air, we do not plead, we do not beg, for what could a mortal do to a God," Zeus says, standing in the center, "Choose now, whether to aide us in our last request, to let us have one last glorious battle, or to let our legends slip into obscurity and the all consuming darkness of the passage of time; chose, please, whether to open a new door, or whether to close our final path forevermore." At this Zeus retrieves a final object from a pillar to the side of the room, a metallic sphere, before returning to his place at the center of the room.

    "Chose now, Gregs Son'aire," the three say in unison, "Whether to open the Gates to Hell, and enter the Labyrinth aboard our ancient Reliquary, and retrieve one last holy relic, the Brazen Head of Daedalus himself, from which the knowledge of our people, our true history, lay within." The gleaming metal structure was shining, ever polished yet made of unfamiliar metals. The look of horror on Gregs spoke volumes though, as he had never thought he would see this device here. The archway stood closed, though the unmistakable architecture of the Iconians stood out in its design, as the Gateway lay dormant behind the three gods.

    "Tell us Son of Air," Zeus now says, "Will you risk your life for us, chose one of us as your protector, and enter Nibiru through Hel's Gate?"
  • antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,309 Arc User
    edited February 2016
    Here's a quick one - "Shore Leave" is probably the best prompt.

    "Busman's home visits."

    by antonie3258

    Note: Got this down sort of fast, but I had the idea of the segment - sent several months after the Iconian War, when the Terran Empire is being irritating.


    "I apologize again, Legate Emar," Admiral Antonine Revka said, shifting on the bench. "My people don't have a grand tradition of hospitality, but the way you've been treated is downright appalling."

    "Quiet in there!" came the high pitched voice of the teenager outside the cell, converted from a small storage closet, holding an outsized - and imported - phaser rifle. The forcefield on the cell hummed and buzzed again. An emitter behind him was deployed for it - this was a slapdash job.

    Legate Emar was keeping a brave expression on, "I don't hold it against you, Admiral - the dinner with your parents was really quite a charming invitation, and I have to say, this cell is far more comfortable than most commercial shipliners I've travelled on."

    "See," she said, looking at the guard, "There really is a market out there for hotworlder commercial liners, and we're actually very close to Cardassian, astronomically - the Legate could tell you more, but personally, if you're worried about the economy, imprisoning the trade representative of a friendly power is a terrible start."

    "Don't make me come in there," the guard fairly squeaked.

    "That's really not necessary," the Legate said. "After all, you're in full armor - and probably have some fascinating little items in a transporter buffer, and we're in street wear."

    Technically, formal wear - with the Iconian War done, reestablishing the links and connections across Federation space was the Federation Council's highest priority for rebuilding. And with the largest threat in the Alpha Quadrant now reoccurring Mirror Universe raids, Starfleet was preparing to refocus on the exploration missions Antonine had signed up for before things had happened.

    "Tell me, Admiral, is it Command or something in the current crop of young flag officers?" the Legate asked. "Here you are with some built-up leave time, and you come in just at the right time to serve as an example of the fragility of Starfleet."

    "Fragile?" she said, offended, "I'd like to think I'm worth at least half that guard."

    "Oh, far more than the guard, Admiral Revka, though I'm pleased to announce your assailaints will all survive." came a new voice. Their captor had returned. He was tall, with the aquiliane profile and dark red hair famous of the old city state of Darsk, and the wealth thereby, though transporter and antigrav technologhy from the Federation were destroying their old sea routes. Antonine was more concerned with the hand phaser on his side.

    "Good, I don't like killing the misguided," Antonine said, "And getting jumped from a transporter station sounds like a stupid mugging than a revolution, to me." She studied her opponent, old family, old wealth, fading...

    Marius Alek, of course, still had money now, and from the glimpse she'd gotten out the window, they were in one of the commerical shipyards that had been starting up around the planet. Or he'd had money - a lot of it was here, sidelined, when Iconian raids had collapsed trade for a planet still bootstrapping up to Federation level.

    "But here you are - alone and undefended. What does the Federation have to offer besides words? Your brother was at home, wasn't he? The grant he was working on temporarily suspended until the bank system recovers?" Marius said calmly, then glared at the Cardassian. "And you come with a scion of pirates and raiders and say paying them off with our beloved homeworld's natural resources will restore prosperity? Pah!"

    The Legate still looked calm - Antonine was regretting not paying more attention to how he'd served in the Dominion War, she envied that stoicism under fire. "Every planet suffered in the Iconian War - sinking into regrets and anger is exactly the wrong lesson to take from it," he said. Emar looked embarrassed, a flash, "Xenophobia is an ugly streak in many species - much of what happened would have been avoided with more respect on the Iconians' part."

    "Every planet is not here - the Federation is not here!" Marius said. The guard banged his rifle on the ground and looked embarassed. The forcefield popped and hissed.

    "No," Antonine said, "The Federation is here all around us - this shipyard and the stars opened up to us much faster by working with them - and in that 2400-era MACO gear you and the poor young man are wielding. Though I assume you've something more impressive than that for all those freighters burning up engine cycles at a loss. We were trying to figure out why the economy had taken such a hit lately, one reason Emar is here."

    "Is that what panicked you? Or the rising tide of prosperity you're know we're going to announce?" Emar said, "You moved very fast, and the secondhand weapon market had certainly been flooded the past few months. But a full fleet base... far more protection than you can offer your planet. No Assembly would throw its weight behind a dictator compared to dozens of ships."

    "We can certainly hold off one ship," he said. "We have your iternary, that you were metting your ship here. Automated weapons are no match for a ship on a weight-by-weight basis, but it's much easier to hang launchers than starships, wouldn't you agree, Admiral, even a Guardian can be swamped?" He snapped on a screen, "Our forces in traffic control know your ship is arriving in five minutes, and your captaincy of the Trafalgar is well known. It will arrive, and it will be destroyed, and Starfleet's failure will see the way to convincing the Assembly to withdraw from membership - the Federation is far too busy to do anything, and your tragic executions will follow, for the good of the state."

    "The capacity on those freighters is certainly enough in terms of raw torpedo launchers to give the Trafalgar pause," Antonine admitted. "And if you've not been too caught up in guns to buy targeting suites, you may even be able to give my ship some real trouble. But I think you're still thinking too parochially, twit," she finished scornfully. The guard started forward, but Marius stopped him, only flushing slightly.

    "Oh, yes, let the shining daughter explain!" he said.

    "Well - we're at the point where, overall, we can use technology like a shiny rifle, but not everyone really understands how it works together yet... Like this force field - it's a model from this planet, but you've added extra emitters to bring it up to spec against energy weapons?"

    "How did you-"

    "That deionization cycle it's running," Emar said bored, "Too many emitters, not enough infrastructure for a mobile field generator- old problem, even back in the 70s when I was running around. I know plenty of Cardassians who loaded up Dominion tech without thinking about how a strike craft works, well knew."

    "Yes, that hissing and popping?" Antonine said, starting to tense. "Shouldn't be happening... since" She nodded fractionally. Emar and her stood, and the bench - not bolted like in a proper cell, and with good timing, passed through as the forcefield cleared itself, knocking down the two and the emitter.

    Several busy seconds right out of Depata and Starfleet training manuals followed before they liberated some weapons and had the two restrained. Marius raved, "This is bigger than me- you can't stop it! A warp core explosion in orbit will be seen by half the world. The Trafalgar has no chance!"

    "My ship, and the Trafalgar," Antonine said, smilling, "will be fine. In the Admiralty we don't always get our favorite ship. As I said...." and she waited briefly, as a shining white Yamato-class dreadnought dropped out of warp - shields flaring and holding under the strain of automated launchers... and the second wave went wide as it scattered antimatter. It and its supporting vessels then, surgically started to carve apart the secondhand turrets "You don't understand - just how fast people move in modern society. Or when they don't show up - how little time it takes for communications to reach Starfleet and then the Nagato," it was named after some old Earth ship. They were always popular names in Starfleet, "within a minute with a modern communication network, and the Federation - and we love to talk- worked to make sure we could talk first, you idiot."

    "It's a lovely ship," Emar said politely.

    She spoke to be heard over transporter noise as security was deployed, "A regular Andromeda would be better, but Alliance PR - nothing like the impact of having a dreanought around to say things are secure." She adjusted Marius, jabbing a pressure point as he'd begun to move. "At the moment, I agree with the sentiment."
    Post edited by antonine3258 on
    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: 9,691 Arc User
    edited February 21
    In the unlit, nearly empty Operations center of Starbase 55, Captain Samya sat working diligently at an ops console not in any state of awareness for the overly windy swooshing sounds of the nearby turbolift.

    "Burning the midnight oil?" asked Admiral Cloud, slyly, more sure than anything that he was being original with the use of that phrase.

    Ignoring the failed attempt and his sudden creep-like presence, the second Human replied, "Huh? Oh, no. I'm reinforcing local systems so that we can finally get back to Tier V construction."

    "Damn that computer virus hologram that knocked us all the way back to Tier II," Cloud cursed to himself and at his holographic Intelligence officer. "How is Mayhem even still in Starfleet?"

    Breaking off her lean from her console, Samya paused. "More to the question: Where'd all the extra decks go? Never mind. I'm sure the answer is as comprable as the premise."

    "Don't you mean comparable?" Cloud tilted his head, slightly in confusion, suddenly gaining a view of her console. "Wait. That's not local system reinforcement at all? You're accessing intel on the Solanae to find your lost sister!"

    With the jig up, Samya looked straight away. "Fine. But can you blame me? I don't exactly maintain a social roster for interpersonal proxy. Besides, you're no Starfleet boy scout yourself. How does a starbase operate without a night shift?"

    "The shift rotation is easier this way! You know how I hate too many padds on my desk. Why are you even on this station all the time? Don't you have your own starship?"

    Turning to him, Samya threw up her arms. "The Dropzone is a Defiant-class! That's like asking a balding Lurian to do his drinking on a Klingon shuttlepod!"

    "Ah, perfect analogy," Cloud appraised. "Anyway, I came here because I need you to join your task force in the Azure Sector to investigate an alarming set of pseudo-anomalies."

    Sighing, the tactical officer turned in her seat. "Fine. But, why us? Why not Captain Shon and the Enterprise-F, since everyone seems to love them so much? They think they're so good."

    "Unfortunately, they're in the Bajor system, catching up with all the new Mirror Leeta stuff. It's quite confusing, timeline-wise; they're there, but they're here, but they're there? Non-time travel mechanics gives me such a headache."


    Later, the Steamrunner-class U.S.S. Tsunami exited warp and joined the Dropzone in the Azure Sector near several small, spinning black holes.

    "Burning the midnight oil, Captain Samya?" came the sly hail from Captain McCary on the Tsunami.

    The Dropzone answered back, relieved. "I know it's the middle of the day, but you hit the nail on the head with that phraseology."

    "The last time we were all together, we were ambushed by the Seventh Fleet," the one-quarter Klingon commented with a hint of concern at his joining her. "They suspected we were Changelings masquerading as masquerading Undine."

    Samya waved it off, deftly. "Yeah, but we set them against Battle Group Omega after we masked Omega's signatures as Borg ships. They were attacking each other for weeks!"

    Just then, the Akira-class U.S.S. Hijinx dropped out of warp and approached. "Well, this is a sight of implausibility to be had. Any preliminary scans or snarky one liners yet?" came Captain Reynolds' hail from her ship as she split everyone's screens two-ways.

    "You know as well as we do that we're supposed to form a giant arrow in the direction of the anomalies, first," Samya reminded.

    Rolling her eyes, the Betazoid replied, "Great. I see we're maintaining typical Task Force Epsilon procedure. Why don't we just paint targets on our hulls while we're at it?"

    Next, the Centaur-class U.S.S. Jenova dropped out of warp and took first position near them. "What?" Captain Iviok asked, splitting the screens three-ways. "Are we not doing the pointy thing?"

    "Task Force Epsilon is going to forego the pre-mission formation this time around," suggested McCary. "Also, let's not broadcast the royal fanfare either."

    The Andorian threw up his arms. "So we worked triple shifts on our Tier 1 engines for nothing? I lost two men to excess technobabble! Anyway, why are we even called Task Force Epsilon? Aren't the Greek letters re-assigned per crisis, per grouping?"

    At that, the Intrepid-class U.S.S. Crucial dropped out into normal space right next to the other ships. Captain Menrow hailed from his Bridge, splitting all screens four-ways. "To answer your question, which I am just assuming since I was at warp at the time, Starfleet has put us and several other grouped starships on long-term task over the Federation's rehashed storyline ambitions. Thus, we will likely never be disbanded until something original comes along."

    "Then I suppose we should all get to the space thing that's usually a one-ship space thing," McCary concluded.

    Reynolds replied, "We're still missing our command vessel, the U.S.S. Phoenix-X. Anyone see them?"

    "Uh, it's been forever since we heard anything from Captain Seifer," Iviok answered. "I just figured they died from that undead-like virus thing; seemed like screaming in sheer pain and horror was a good way to go."

    McCary stepped up. "Actually, Samya and I ran into him in a broken incarnation of Winter Wonderland, recently, after which he reportedly returned to his ship just fine."

    "In our off-hours, we investigated his second sickness and found no signs of malevolence," Samya reported. "As for the ailment itself, we still don't know where it's coming from."

    Reynolds tapped her chin in thought. "Is this because the LCs are dead? Oh, LCs are what I call Last Calls, which they stopped doing at 602 Club ever since we got hit with, like, three wars at once. Anyway, who's in charge if there's no Phoenix-X?"

    "According to Starfleet Regulation 191, Article 15, in any situation involving more than one ship, command falls to the vessel of the Intrepid-class variation," said Iviok.

    Widening his eyes in shock, Menrow replied, "That's me! I knew this spoon-beast would come in handy. And everyone said I was just asking to be lost in some random Quadrant of complete absurdity."

    Rubbing his hands together in excitement, Menrow brought up the space visual, splitting every screen, now, five-ways.

    "So, what have we got here? A bunch of black holes?" Menrow observed before processing. Then, in disgust and a sudden dash of hopes, replaced with frustration, he declared, "That makes no sense!"

    Reynolds chimed in. "He's right. Normally, they're collapsed stars and too concentrated to co-exist without orbiting or merging themselves."

    "My ship is reading an inconsistent flow of thermal radiation coming from those swirly-curlies. They appear to be sputtering in and out of the space-time continuum!" Iviok reacted. "Oh, and they're all drifting toward us."

    Everyone watched as their ships became immobilized under intense gravimetric suspensions. Then, all of a sudden, out of the blue, the Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X coasted, just far enough from out behind the black holes and slowly began passing the group, on a nose-down, 60-degree angle.

    "That's Captain Seifer's ship!" exclaimed Reynolds in shock.

    Menrow sighed in alleviation. "Phew. Well, that's a relief. All this task force commanding was making me thirsty. Margaritas, anyone?"

    "Hold that indispensable thought. I'm not reading any lifesigns on-board the vessel," reported Samya. "It's as if the polygons didn't spawn at all-- er, I mean, everyone evacuated for some reason."

    Iviok crossed his arms. "And here we were, ready to dismiss that over-nacelled-mashup because we wanted to break standard procedure. Seems when people are grouped, they come to poor conclusions."

    "This is why our task force was used as cannon fodder during the Iconian War," McCary stated. "We told everyone we wanted to negotiate each battle with diplomacy, and that group-think got our comm signals all entangled."

    Reynolds added, "My ship still blasts microphone feedback every time I hail someone."


    Everyone quickly turned down their volume controls.

    "Would it be better if we weren't near each other? Would that make things right?" interjected Captain Menrow. "As Epsilon's acting commanding officer, I hereby rule we do all we can to work autonomously, in far proximity from one another, however vexing it may be to accommodate, to complete whichever mission we perchance be assigned."

    As they nodded in agreement, all five Captains were suddenly beamed off their ships and onto the Bridge of the Phoenix-X.


    There, together, on the Prometheus-class vessel, they found holographic virus and Starfleet Intelligence officer Lieutenant Commander Mayhem standing over an operations console.

    "Oh, hello," Mayhem greeted, turning to take notice of them. "Are you familiar with the Nibiru? Well, they're this week's alien of the week."

    Post edited by hawku001x on
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 9,665 Community Moderator
    edited February 2016
    A Good Compromise

    Close your eyes now time for dreams,
    Death is never what it seems.
    Did the things you thought you should,
    All the things they said were good.

    All your faith in ancient ways,
    Leaves you trapped inside a maze.
    Take the lives of those you need,
    Sow the death then reap the seed.
    Reap the seed.

    Born an angel, heaven sent,
    Falls from grace are never elegant.
    Stars will drop out of the sky,
    The moon will sadly watch the roses die.

    In vain,
    Lost, no gain,
    But you’re not taking me.

    You can’t have my life,
    I’m not your sacrifice.
    You can try, but I’m free,
    And you won’t conquer me.

    I won’t crawl,
    Most of all,
    I won’t fall,
    For you.

    Show them gods and deities,
    Blind and keep the people on their knees.
    Pierce the sky, escape your fate.
    The more you try the more you’ll just breed hate,

    And lies.
    Truth will rise,
    Revealed by mirrored eyes.

    What if all the plans you made,
    Were not worth the price they paid?
    Even with the lives you stole,
    Still no closer to your...

    You can’t have my life.
    I’m not your sacrifice.
    You can try, but I’m free,
    And you won't conquer me.

    I won’t crawl,
    Most of all,
    I won’t fall,
    For you.

    “Sacrifice” by Jeff Williams and Casey Lee Williams, from RWBY Volume Two

    Hamir’s Bed & Breakfast, Port Ikrina, Moash, Federated States of Trill, 10 Kiris 8412 Central Date (2411.03.02 Earth Standard), 1605 hours local

    Jolin Tabris rolled off of his wife, the both of them soaked with sweat, breathing heavily. Tyria Sark laughed lightly. “Ah, that was good.”

    “Nice not being the one in command for once, eh, Captain Sark?” he teased her.

    “You know, I’d punch you for that, but I can’t seem to move my arms right now.”

    “Huh? Oh, yeah.” The other Trill rolled over and reached for the necktie securing her wrists to the cast iron headboard. “Let’s see, now how did this go together, again?” He glanced down at her. “Just kidding.”

    “You’d better be,” she said as the knot came undone. “If we’re late for—”

    An insistent chiming from the suitcase interrupted her. Jolin rolled off her again and dug through it. “Tyri, you seriously brought your combadge along on our romantic weekend getaway?”

    “You know how it is,” she grumbled. “We’re always on duty, especially when we’re not. Gaunt’s hosts…” She took the triangular chip of metal and plastic from him. “Captain Tyria Sark.”

    A basso male voice said, “Captain Sark, this is Rear Admiral Levchenko. Can you come on vid?

    She glanced at Jolin, who was lying on the covers grinning evilly at her. She rolled her eyes. “No disrespect, sir, but I’m not decent.”

    Fine. I need you to come in to the office in Leran Manev as soon as possible. We have a situation in the Gamma Quadrant.

    Tyria suppressed a shiver. ‘A situation in the Gamma Quadrant’ could only mean one thing: Dominion trouble. “All right, I can be there in fifteen minutes.”

    Thank you.

    “They’d better be giving you holiday pay for this. And our reservations are shot to hell.”

    She rolled off the bed and gathered her underwear. “Isn’t there, I don’t know, a case you can prep for until I get back?”

    “Aaaaagh,” he grunted irritatedly. “Just boring probate crapola I can do in my sleep.”

    “As opposed to… getting freshie ensigns out of lockup?”

    “I don’t recall you complaining,” Jolin quipped, tickling her along the spots on her ribcage. She squealed, dropped her bra and snatched up a pillow they’d knocked off the bed earlier. He blocked the blow aimed at his face, laughing, and grabbed her around the waist to pull her back down to the bed.

    “Ahhh, we don’t get nearly enough time for us,” he added, kissing the tip of her nose, “not since Sameen and you going back to active duty.”

    He was right about that. They’d been lucky Tyria’s mother had been able to take Sameen for the weekend.

    Tyria disentangled herself from her husband and got back up up to dig her uniform out of their suitcase. “So tell me about this case.”

    “Stupid stuff. Some bozo named Gard tried to will half his estate to his next host, even prepaid the attorney.”

    “Gard? Not Kyros Gard?”

    “Perrick Gard now. You’ve met?”

    “Yeah—no, Fillis Sark did,” she amended. “Went on a blind date with him. He was an *sshole, not to put too fine a point on it. Wait, wait, you’re calling that boring? Case like that could go constitutional, touches the heart—”

    “Yeah, except the frakker apparently tried the same stunt on his previous host and it was tossed then, too. Hey!” He tapped her hipbone. “There’s an idea: cite the legal precedent from his own case.”

    “You’re evil,” she answered, bending over to kiss him. “And I love you for it.”

    Starfleet Satellite Office, Leran Manev, 1540 hours

    Tyria paused in the ladies’ room to make sure her ponytail was tidy, then headed into the admiral’s reception room. The admiral’s adjutant was a fellow Trill, also a captain, but black-shouldered with a gold stripe. “Captain Tyria Sark to see Admiral Levchenko.”

    “Wait one.” A light on his console went out. “All right, you can go on in.” He pressed a key and the frosted glass door slid open.

    Rear Admiral Nazariy Levchenko was a tall, slim human with a receding hairline, prominent ears, and the confident but tired bearing of an old soldier as he handed her a file. “Can I offer you something to drink?” he asked in Federation Standard. His accent was interesting, almost like Russian but with some Germanic twists, but she filed that thought under ‘irrelevant’.

    “No, thank you, sir.” She looked over the file as he poured himself a shot glass of some clear liquor, noting the code word on the front, LEONID LEPER BIRTHRIGHT. “What’s going on, sir? Something’s familiar about this code word.”

    “One of your previous hosts was an epidemiologist, yes?”

    “Yes, Adril Sark, but—Wait.” Between that and Levchenko’s earlier reference to the Dominion, she realized where she’d read the code word before. “This is about the Teplan blight? I worked on some of the analysis of Doctor Bashir’s samples. Nasty stuff, but I thought that was over and done with.”

    “Well, Starfleet Intelligence has, of course, been monitoring things, and there’s a new chapter in the story, Captain. Thanks to Bashir’s handiwork they’re rebuilding themselves, their population is increasing again. They’ve also built a few starships—just light freighters, nothing major for now—but it seems to have struck a nerve.”

    “The Dominion.”

    The admiral nodded. “Jem’Hadar attack ships have apparently been making reconnaissance flights in the area for about a month, even buzzed a Teplan freighter as it was docking in the Stakoron system. Three days ago their current Lord Protector, a man called Julyeen, sent a request for Federation protectorate status to Deep Space 9 via the Karemma. The President has tentatively approved it.”

    “Don’t tell me: I’m going out there.”

    “Yes. Not alone, you’ll be leading a small flotilla. Stage at DS9, then direct to Yarmta, what we’ve been told is the local name for the planet,” he added by way of explanation.

    So much for my vacation… Tyria squeezed her eyes shut for a minute. “I’ll need a few things.” She started ticking things off on her fingers. “Some luxury goods for bribes: booze usually works. A communications officer fluent in Dominionese, and BUPERS still hasn’t gotten me a CMO.”

    “I’ll call Captain Wake. And I think we can handle the booze: will Romulan ale work?”

    “I think so. How many ships are we talking about?”

    Defiant wolfpack, two flights, plus the McCoy, Crazy Horse, Tlingit, Croatoan, and Yar.”

    “Plus Black Prince makes twelve.” She raised an eyebrow. “What aren’t you telling me, sir?”

    “It’s a very fine line: we’re trying to have a presence big enough to secure the system but small enough to not be an ‘overt offensive threat’.”

    Tyria heard the emphasis and groaned. “In other words the brass wants to have their cake and eat it: they want a PR victory but not at the expense of a shooting war with the Dominion.”

    “Well, with this Moab povna sraka radoshchiv all over the news, other talk of secession, the President wants to show that we can still effectively defend the fringeworlds. But you’re right: we’re spread far too thin to win a fight with the Founders on their own turf, and if they’re willing, you get the Hell out of there. That rock is not worth it.”

    “I think I’ll take that drink, after all.”

    Levchenko poured her a shot and raised his glass to her. “Za vas,” he said, before draining it in one gulp.

    Wardroom, USS Black Prince, five hours out of Idran system, 2411.03.10 Earth Standard

    Captain’s Personal Log. We entered the Gamma Quadrant twelve hours ago and the fleet is approaching the boundary of our commerce patrol zone. I’m ordering all ships to yellow alert. Hopefully we’ll reach Yarmta without any trouble. If not, well… We’ll see what this Hephaestus-class starship is really capable of.

    Jazz Velasquez was blunt: “This is chickensh*t, sir.”

    “Wow, Velasquez, tell us what you really think,” S’ulluru commented in response.

    The human shook her head, tossing back her streaky brown-black hair. “Look, we’re poking a bear for no good reason and we can’t even properly back it up. An Olympic, a junker Excelsior, two Dakotas and half a dozen tacscorts?”

    “And a patrol escort. And us,” Dr. Irim Valder pointed out. “A shiny new multi-vector escort has to count for something.”

    “Yeah, shiny,” Velasquez shot back at the Bajoran. “Except I’m still fixing control screwups those Yoyodyne pendejos should have got squared away before the christening two weeks ago.”

    “Commander, cool it,” Tyria broke in. “Look, I don’t disagree on any particular point. This is not going to be easy. But we’ve got our orders. We’re Starfleet: the Teplans want our help, and by Gaunt, we’re going to give it our all.”

    The brown-skinned woman sighed. “Yes, sir.”

    Tyria addressed the medical officer. “Doctor Irim, I’m going to need you to liaise with Captain Merdok on the McCoy. He has lead on the sample collection end but you’ll assist.”

    “Very good, sir.”

    “Try not to step on his toes,” she warned him. “He’s probably still miffed about me getting the commodore slot.” The Benzite had a couple years’ seniority over her, but he didn’t have combatant command cert and his battlefield experience was limited to a couple Klingon raids on starbases where he’d served in the hospital.

    She turned to the blonde Jelna Rigelian sitting with her hands folded in her lap. “Lieutenant Shelon.”

    “Yes sir?”

    “You’re to be on-hand whenever I talk to either the Teplans or the Dominion. There’s nuances to the language that Federation Standard doesn’t have; I need you listening with your translator switched off.”

    “I understand, sir.”

    “All right, anything else? Chief Filipek, you haven’t weighed in.”

    The chief of the boat leaned forward in his chair. “Not much to say, sir. The crew are restless about the mission—I don’t blame them—but they’ll do their jobs.”

    “Okay then. Keep an eye on that?”

    “My job, Captain,” the human agreed.

    “Get some rest, all of you. We’re at Yarmta at sixteen-hundred.”
    * * *

    “I still say this is chickensh*t,” Velasquez fumed in the ship’s mess, tearing into a plate of something brown and breaded like it had insulted her parents.

    “Pardon me for asking, sir, but what’s a chicken?” Gilad Ronson asked.

    “This…” She held up a roughly triangular piece of the brown stuff. “... is not chicken. This is something programmed by a replicator engineer who’d maybe heard of chicken.” The carrot-topped Trill stared at her blankly. “It’s a bird, all right?”

    “I’ll stick with the hasperat.” He bit into the flatbread wrap. “Whoo! Spice on that.” He grabbed for his cola.

    “Yeah, advantage of stopping at DS9, you can get better patterns local. Stupid Yoyodyne **** pain in the *ss…” She tossed the bone from her not-chicken back onto the plate. “So, did you really have Captain Sark for military history?”

    “Huh? Oh, yeah, in rot-cee.”

    “So I guess you know her better than anybody on the ship.”

    “She was my professor,” he said defensively. “It’s not like I dated her.”

    “I’m asking, what do you know about her?”

    Ronson took another few bites off the hasperat. “Well, she’s married, apparently an Academy hotshot, and she’s got a really old symbiote, something like eleven hosts.”

    Now Velasquez was the one with the blank look. “Is that important?”

    The carrot-topped man shrugged. “Well, from us Trill, I guess it gets a certain respect. It means she’s forgotten more than you or I will ever remember.”

    “Huh. Okay, what about this ‘Gaunt’ she keeps talking about?”

    “Gaunt? Ha!” He chugged the last of his cola. “Gaunt’s a tall tale. To hear Iklani like the Professor talk about it, he’s supposed to be the first symbiote to take a host, lived for a thousand years and joined with forty, but that’s ridiculous: no symbiote’s ever survived more than twelve.”

    “That you know of.”

    “That I know of,” he allowed. He gave her a strange look. “Pardon me for asking, sir, but what’s with the interrogation?”

    The dark-skinned woman smirked. “Well, isn’t it obvious? I’m chatting you up to get into your pants.” Ronson nearly choked on the last bite of hasperat. “Careful, there.”

    “Um, wow. Uh,” he stammered. “Uh, I’m—you’re—” He closed his mouth as she started giggling. “Uh, besides the difference in… uh, rank… Bad idea sleeping with… an admiral’s daughter.”

    She snorted. “Dad gave up on me ages ago. And I could use the distraction from dealing with those Yoyo yahoos’ leftovers.”

    He stood up and took his empty tray with him. “Uh, it’s a… nice offer, but, uh… I have to go do some… uh, calibrations.” And he walked very fast out the door.

    Velasquez picked up her coffee cup. “Nuts.”

    Teplan System, 2411.03.11 Earth Standard

    Twelve Federation starships blossomed out of warp in high orbit over a green-brown planet in perfect unison. Squat Defiant-series escorts quickly fanned out ahead of the bigger ships, sensors panning across the area with rapid-fire pulses of energy, and the Prince took up a guard position alongside the larger Crazy Horse.

    “Captain,” Lieutenant Shelon announced, “local traffic control is hailing us.”


    The olive-skinned and rather sleepy-looking alien who appeared was, to Tyria’s eyes, indistinguishable from a human or any of a dozen other species from the Alpha or Beta Quadrants. “Unidentified starships, this is the Yarmta Traffic Service. Identify yourselves and your reason for visiting.”

    “Yarmta Traffic Service, I’m Commodore Tyria Sark of the Federation Starfleet, Captain, USS Black Prince, here on request by Lord Protector Julyeen.”

    “Oh, uh!” The traffic controller quickly straightened in his chair and accidentally knocked something that looked like a mug out of the frame. “Uh, good, we’ve been expecting you. I’ll, uh, transfer you to Government House.”

    The screen went staticky for a second, then another Teplan appeared. He was a beefy man with a gaunt face and an unruly mop of dark hair veined with silver, wearing a black robe with silver piping at the seams. “Commodore Sark.”

    “Your Excellency,” Tyria greeted him back, inclining her head respectfully.

    “Julyeen, please. ‘Excellency’ is for citizens, not offworlders. We’re sending you coordinates to beam in; I’d rather do this in person.”

    “I understand. I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
    * * *

    Tyria and Azira Shelon quickly changed into their dress whites, service dress, not full regalia, and beamed directly in. Another Teplan, female with bronze skin and brown hair, wearing what was clearly a military-style uniform, was waiting with the Lord Protector. “Since we sent our last message there has been no further direct contact with the Jem’Hadar,” she said with an understandable degree of barely-suppressed distaste. “But we have our minutemen at their highest peacetime readiness level; we’ll fight for every hectare.”

    “Hopefully it won’t come to that, Strategos,” Tyria told her, recalling the form of address from Starfleet Intelligence’s files. The ancient Greek word was an approximation at best but the universal translator could handle it.

    The woman gave her a grim look. “You really think twelve Starfleet ships will stop them?”

    “I think twelve Starfleet ships will give them a reason to consider alternatives, ma’am. Look, I’ve dealt with Vorta before. As long as there isn’t a Founder around, they’re pragmatists. That’s our ‘in’.” She turned to Julyeen. “Tell me about the blight.”

    Julyeen sighed. “There are still surviving pockets of Afflicted. Not everybody who has the blight necessarily dies in the Quickening, not if something else gets them first, at any rate. And there’s always persistent rumors of transmission in remote areas the Public Health Ministry has trouble reaching.”

    “Our medical staff will be taking samples, and the McCoy and Crazy Horse can manufacture vaccine and beam it directly to problem areas.”

    The Teplan chuckled. “You say that as if it’s the most ordinary thing.”

    “Well, I’m not exaggerating when I say we’re as good or better than the Dominion in most areas,” Shelon piped up proudly.

    “Which is light-years ahead of us,” the strategos pointed out. “Our fastest ship can make warp 4 on its best day.”

    “We can negotiate technical upgrades,” Tyria offered, “although I have to work within the limits of the Prime Directive. Any new technology we give you, we have to be sure you’re ready for. I know”—she held up a hand to forestall the inevitable objection, and let a motherly tone into her voice—“you’re worried about the Dominion. So am I, but I’m also worried about you. I’m sure you know the precariousness of your civilization. Never mind the Dominion coming back, if we’re not careful about how we deal with your people, something we do with the best of intentions could lead to civil war, or worse. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen.”

    “So we’re just supposed to trust you that you’ll do the right thing?” the strategos summarized in a suspicious tone.

    “In a word, yes. But I swear by the forty hosts of Gaunt, I’ll do right by you.”

    “That’s good enough for me.”

    “Your Excellency—” the strategos began.

    “My decision is final, Sakoria!” he cut her off. “We don’t have any other choice: without Commodore Sark we don’t stand a chance.”

    “Very well, Your Excellency.”

    “If you’ll excuse me, Lord Protector,” Tyria said, “I have to get back to my ship.” He nodded and she and Shelon rose and strode out the door.

    “Did you hear anything odd from them?” Tyria asked the Rigelian.

    “No, sir. They’re scared, but they’re also hopeful. Sir,” she added hesitantly, “permission to speak frankly.”

    “Go ahead.”

    “Are you exceeding your authority here? Don’t our marching orders say to run if the Dominion shows up?”

    “Our orders are to not provoke a military confrontation and to cede the system if the Dominion is willing to go to war over it,” she corrected professorially. “But the exact text of the orders is intentionally vague and I intend to exercise every last iota of discretion I can.”
    "Two ways to view the world, so similar at times / Two ways to rule the world, to justify their crimes / By Kings and Queens young men are sent to die in war / Their propaganda speaks those words been heard before"
    — Sabaton, "A Lifetime of War"
    Volunteer community moderator for Star Trek Online forums. I am not a Cryptic or Perfect World employee, and comments made without [Mod Hat/] notation are my own opinions and do not reflect company policy. If you do see me put on my [Mod Hat/], please pay attention because I am speaking as a moderator.
  • rllaillieurllaillieu Member Posts: 351 Arc User
    "By the People, For the People"

    Daylon Kril yawned as he gazed at his beautiful wife on the viewscreen. She looked pleased with herself for some reason, but that wasn't new.

    "You can't be serious," he muttered, yawning again, "You want me to take a leave of absence from my ship, find another ship on the frontlines, and write a story."

    "Don't be ridiculous," Eleanor retorted, "See if you can get your ship on the frontlines and write a story from your point of view as a captain. People will trust you more if this is the article where you reveal your identity."

    "Really? So they want the point of view of a starship captain on the frontlines of the Iconian War... I can do tht. Command already knows who I am anyway, I can just promise them not to reveal classified information unless they need me to."

    "Perfect! See, it's easy after all. I'll talk to you again after you've written me a beautiful story!"

    With that, she signed off, leaving Daylon to pull on his uniform tunic and punch in a channel to Starfleet Command.

    Once the channel opened, he noticed a sour-looking ensign reading a PADD was the recipient. Up the chain it was.

    "Ensign!" he barked, "Put this through to Admiral Quinn's office, now!"

    The ensign rolled his eyes, "Can't. He says he's busy."

    "That wasn't a suggestion, Ensign. That was an order."

    The way he stressed the man's rank caught his attention and the ensign looked up long enough to catch Daylon's four pips and for his face to pale.

    "Uh, aye, sir. Sorry, sir. Just looking for a chance for some action, you know?"

    "Word of advice, Ensign. You answer message from captains all the time. Using protocol and poise will impress them far more than your boredom."

    The ensign grinned nervously, "Aye sir! Patching you through now."

    The face of Daylon's fellow Trill appeared.

    "Captain Kril. Thank you for teaching Ensign Harriman some respect."

    "No problem, sir. I've got something to run past you."

    Quinn nodded, "Go ahead."

    "My wife just commed me. She wants me to be a frontline reporter for the FNS and to go public with my identity."

    Quinn looked mildly disconcerted for a moment before replying, "Is that all?"

    "Yes sir. I agree with her, it will stir hope in the people that a Starfleet captain is willing to write the news just for them and from the frontlines with no barriers."

    "Fortunately for you, I agree. I've known you're the author for a while. Do you really think that Eleanor Kril would ask anyone else?"

    "Good point. But she uses her maiden name for FNS work, so it'd be Eleanor Kerry. So how did you know..."

    "She stormed into my office once and demanded to know why I was censoring one of her reporters. In a sealed meeting, I proceeded to tell her that you almost let slip classified information."

    "Ah. I remember hearing about that," Daylon winced. Eleanor was always something of a hothead, which was only emphasized by her flaming red hair.

    "There's a briefing for a mission in the Earth Spacedock conference room in three days, at 0800 hours. Be there," Quinn ordered.

    "Aye sir!" Daylon replied, tossing off a cocky salute that he knew only he could get away with.

    The briefing room was busy and looked almost like one of those bar events Daylon liked to attend with some other captains.

    There was Aenlyn Yirit and Varakya in the corner, avidly discussing something technical. Sarissa t'Kaveth-Colvem was busily confounding everyone with her perfect guesses as to their emotional state as her cousin, Jarell Colvem, laughed at the lack of knowledge everyone else had. Did they seriously never bother to look people up? If they had, they would know that Sarissa is half-Betazoid.

    T'Ali t'Ahvi was prepping the briefing and T'Lira was readying a display. Noemi Idaris and Chalizsava zh'Thane were arguing about something as Gary Williams looked about ready to throw his hands up in sheer exasperation. Daylon took pity on the other captain and meandered over, striking up a conversation with him just as T'Ali released a piercing whistle that caused those with sensitive hearing in the room to wince and Varakya to lift her hands to cover her ears, despite her hood.

    "Listen up, people. Briefing begins in five minutes, so find seats and let's get ready to go!"

    The "bar crowd" and a few dozen otehrs moved to their seats, with a fair few remaining standing simply due to the lack of seating.

    The five minutes passed in a blur and Admiral Jorel Quinn stood to give the briefing.

    "Captains, Commanders, Admiral, this mission is of the utmost importance to the Alpha Alliance, and to our Delta Quadrant allies. The Iconians have been tracked to a location in the Laurentian system, which surprisingly has a gateway that it took Starfleet years to notice."

    A captain scoffed and muttered, "Knowing Kirk's reputation, it's a damned miracle he didn't discover it years ago."

    "Shut it down, now, Captain Harrel," Quinn warned the human, just as Admiral T'Lira shot Harrel a glare that effectively silenced the man. A human woman and a Betazoid woman chuckled.

    "Anyway," Quinn continued, "We need a large fleet to get into the system and either take the gateway or destroy it. That's why there are two dozen or so of you here. Now, the Iconians have easy access to reinforcements, so I'm going to put you all on different duties.

    "T'Kaveth, Williams, Harrel, and Lewis, you will keep to the outskirts of the battle and provide medical and rescue support. Varakya, Yirit, Colvem, Lyrsin, and Jakson, you are engineering support. Turrets, fighter repair, repairs of any kind, you are in charge of that. The rest of you are on skirmishing duty, with Kril and t'Ahvi set to be the ones to destroy the gateway if need be. A few other things, Captains," Quinn looked them all in the eye before continuing.

    "As soon as you leave the Sol system, Admiral T'Lira is your flag officer. You listen to her. Yes, Garson, that means you, too. Second, I've got word from the FNS that they want a story out of this, so for all your sakes, I won't tell you who the assigned reporter is because I don't even know. Next, destruction protocol goes into effect at fifty percent losses. Finally, the mission is scrapped if you get to the Laurentian system and find an Iconian fleet biggers than odds of three to one, Am I understood?"

    A chorus of "aye sir"s rose around the room and Quinn nodded.


    Daylon was never more grateful for Quinn's blatant lie about the identity of the reporter as the other officers grumbled.

    Daylon was writing the introduction to his news story when his commbadge chirped.

    "Bridge to Captain Kril. Sir, you have a transmission incoming from Admiral T'Lira."

    "Put it through, Ensign."

    The serene face of the Vulcan admiral appeared. Scratch that, she seemed tired and mildly annoyed. Probably worry. Daylon knew the admiral had a family, but not where they were right now.

    "Admiral T'Lira. What can I do for you?"

    "You may cease all pretenses for the moment, Captain Kril. I know it is you who has been selected as the FNS reporter for this mission. I wish to speak with you in that capacity."

    "Of course, Admiral. How can I help?"

    "I require you to put something in your article."

    "That would depend on what it is."

    "Even if we lose this battle, I want you to instill hope into anyone who reads the article. I have spoken with several sources who say that the general populace is despairing. They need hope, Captain, and you can give that to them."

    "First of all, make damn sure we win this so it'll be even better. Second, slip words to a select few, trustworthy, individuals to have a little fun with their battle strategies. That way I can have an easier time writing a more vivid image for the article. Finally, even if we have to destroy the gateway, make sure to add optimism into any words you speak. Optimism and hope go hand in hand."

    "I will endeavour to do so."

    "Thanks, Admiral. I won't let you down."

    "You will find it is rather difficult to... 'let down' a Vulcan, Captain."

    "I'll keep that in mind. Kril out."

    He cut the channel and grinned, going back and revising the start of his article and adding as much hope as he could into it.

    Daylon listened to the comms as the battle commenced.

    "This is Admiral T'Lira to all forces, deploy in your assigned patterns and clusters."

    "Telent here, all relief vessels standing by."

    "Freedom, Har'ngok, all repair vessels are ready."

    "This is Captain Idaris. Skirmish Cluster One away."

    "Commander t'Ahvi here. Skirmish Cluster Two ready."

    "Freedom, this is Kril. Skirmish Cluster Three ready to roll."

    "All ships, engage the enemy!"

    "Iconian ships sighted at bearing seven zero one mark nine!"

    "Acknowledged. Skirmish Cluster One intercepting"

    Daylon continued to listen to the battle feed, giving orders to his skirmish cluster as he went. He noticed one ship trying to break through and get at the Freedom.

    "Captain Garson, you've got one on your ten, trying to break through."

    Garson's reply was garbled by a suden new wave of chatter as the Freedom and the Telnor released their fighter squadrons. Shortly afterwards, the other three carriers released their payloads and the fighters went at the Iconian Baltims with a vengeance.

    The chatter was starting to become overwhelming, especially now that more Iconian ships appeared. Daylon checked his displays again and saw something that made him almost want to **** himself, but one of Kril's previous hosts would have kicked him in the face for that.

    "All ships, be advised that unknown ships are nearby. I can't get a clear read on them."

    "Acknowledged, Captain Kril. Captain Yirit, see if you can identify them."

    "Will do!" the Trill KDF captain called out as her ship banked away from the main battle to check out the new ships.

    Daylon watched anxiously, and didn't like how Yirit's tactical officer was swearing loudly into the comms.

    "Admiral T'Lira, be advised that these ships claim to be here under the orders of the Praetor of the Romulan Star Empire. They have a Scimitar-class with them."

    "Understood, Captain Yirit. Return to the main fleet. I am opening a channel now."

    After several terse minutes of overhearing insults being flung casually between the Romulan fleet commander and the Vulcan admiral, T'Lira finally came back.

    "All ships, we are to finish the battle and take the gateway for the Alliance!"

    Cheers rang across the comms as Daylon slumped back in his seat with a shout of victory.
    Victory at Laurentia
    Submitted by: Special FNS Correspondent Captain Daylon Kril

    The Federation struck a blow to the Iconian forces today in the form of the capture of a recently-discovered gateway in the Laurentian system.

    Alliance forces arrived at the Laurentian system late Wednesday afternoon to find a sizable force of Iconian ships waiting for them. According to eyewitness reports and my own experience during the battle, the forces were swiftly and decisively organized into an efficient system that could only be devised by a keen logical mind found in a Vulcan. After several hours of dogged battle, Alliance forces were relieved by the arrival of ships from the Romulan Star Empire.

    "We have a vested interest in the safety of the galaxy," Ambassador Drilek of the Romulan Empire announced in a press conference on Thursday morning. The Ambassador continued by stating that it was his wish, and that of the Senate and Praetor, to continue working with Starfleet, the Klingon Defense Force, and the Romulan Republic Galae in order to "eradicate the Iconian filth". His sentiments were echoed by the KDF portion of the Alliance fleet.

    With the welcome assistance from the Empire, the Alliance fleet was able to drive off the Iconian vessels and claim one of the biggest victories to date, an Iconian gateway. It has been determined that the gateway is linked to the entire Iconian network and is a valuable study source, especially now that excavation efforts for the Tau Dewa gateway are stalled due to the war effort.

    In an exclusive interview with the FNS yesterday (see page 12), Admiral T'Lira, flag officer of the Laurentian fleet, has stated that the strategy was devised by Admiral Jorel Quinn and she simply implemented it as planned. In the same interview, Captain Aenlyn Yirit of the KDF said, "Vulcans have such small egos, it's a wonder they can be such fair diplomats! You, Vulcan, are one of the few reasons we survived that battle. We had reached thirty seven percent losses and if it hadn't been for your manuevering of our ships, my own vessel would have been lost!"

    As of yet, there is no comment from press relations representatives of the Alliance. Admiral Quinn has also declined questions at this time, citing a need to focus on the war effort.

    See more about the Iconian war effort on page 3.

    Daylon was grinning like an idiot right now. His article had made the front page and his wife had even used his Starflet personnel file picture to drive the point home, that this was a Starfleet captain talking to them, not some common reporter. Now, he was walking into a bar full of cheering friends and grinning even wider.

    "Daylon, congrats on your big break!" Zsava smiled, "I never knew you had it in you!"

    "It is illogical to lie," Zsava's wife, T'Pela, reminded her sharply.

    The Andorian's antennae twitched as she offered a nasty glare to the Vulcan. Daylon just laughed.

    "It's okay, really. It's a common thing to say, T'Pela."

    A lifted eyebrow was his only reply.

    Meanwhile, even Captain Yirit was getting ready to celebrate.

    "A toast!" she called, "A toast to not just bravery and honor, but to the courage it takes to plaster your face to a news service and practically beg to be hounded by the people and your superiors!"

    "If it helps," Daylon answered, "My wife talked me into this."

    Yirit chuckled, "One of my previous hosts was a reporter, trust me when I say no one can talk you into reporting what must be reported."

    "Thank whatever deity I'm praying to today," he said drily, "I've someone who agrees with me."

    A chorus of laughter answered him.

    T'Lira spoke next, "I believe that you now owe me that favor you promised."

    Daylon grinned, "Never fear, the reservation is set up. When's he getting back, anyway?"

    "Soon," T'Lira replied cryptically, her left eyebrow lifting in what Daylon had heard called the "giggle brow". He was always glad to help out another officer, especially when one wanted to slip out for an evening date.

    T'Ali was cracking jokes with Sarissa and at one particular joke about nosy reporters, Sarissa hit her cousin on the shoulder.

    "Elements, you can be rude, sometimes, can't you?"

    "Pure talent, oh dear cousin."

    Daylon's grin grew even wider as Aenlyn (since when did he start thinking of her as Aenlyn and not just Yirit?) put a mug of bloodwine in his hands and offered a cheeky smirk.

    "Bottoms up!" she called out over the sound of the bar.

    Even as he knocked the bloodwine back, he mused on what this might mean for the future.
    "Let me tell you about my spirit beaver"
    "You may lose an arm"

    If you get that at all, hit me up. I'm trying to find all you crazy **** on here.
    I would add the most recent, but something tells me that the devs wouldn't look to fondly on a blunt statement about a conversation involving anatomy and drugs.
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 9,665 Community Moderator
    edited February 2016
    A Good Compromise (part 2)

    Village of Kournaka, Glastron Territory, Yarmta, 2411.03.13 Earth Standard, 0305 hours task force time

    The Teplan boy was little more than five years old and already clearly infected, and Irim Valder’s heart broke. He hid his feeling as he took the samples, maintaining a friendly smile. “All right, see? Just a mouth swab.” The white-uniformed Bajoran dropped the no-longer-sterile foam wad into a sample bag and reached for an extractor needle with his other hand as he passed the bag to a petty officer from the McCoy. “Thank you.”

    “What’s that for?” the boy asked.

    Irim kept his voice quiet and kind. “I’m just going to take a little bit of your blood from the small vessels in your shoulder.”

    “Will it hurt?”

    “You ever been bitten by an insect?”

    “I was stung by a gorsefly once,” the boy said, uncertainly. “It hurt a lot.”

    Irim shook his head. “All right, I wasn’t thinking of that. See, I’m from a planet called Bajor. It’s very far from here. We have these insects called sweatbugs, they’re about this big,” and he held up two fingers on his right hand about a centimeter apart. “They’re harmless, they just want the salt in your sweat, but they’ll bite to defend themselves. It’s like a little pinprick, ouch!” He poked the boy in the chest. “But it’s all over in seconds, so you’re very brave and you get through it.”

    “I’m very brave, everyone says so,” the boy told him brightly. “When are you going to do it?”

    “Already finished,” and he held up the extractor in his left hand, the vial now filled with red. He passed it to the corpsman and sprayed the spot of blood on the boy’s shoulder with a coagulant.

    “I didn’t feel a thing, Doctor Irim.”

    “Then I did my job. All right, down you get, run along.” He hopped off the exam table and ran out of the tent where they’d set up the clinic into the sunlight.

    Irim turned to the boy’s mother, a pale woman whose face and bare arms were marked with the dark streaks of the blight. “Can you do anything for him?”

    The Bajoran grimly shook his head. “I’m sorry. We cannot cure the blight; it’s proven very resistant to our usual antiviral treatments. But your son will probably live for a long time before the Quickening takes him.” He picked up a PADD, a Nokia model with additional EM shielding designed for MACO field duty, and took some notes. “Now, you said this to Corpsman Forbes, but I want to ask you again: were you vaccinated?”

    “Yes, I was.”

    “You’re certain?”

    “Yes, I’m certain!” She sounded insulted at the question.

    Irim put the PADD down on his knee and looked her in the eye. “I’m going to ask you one more time, and I want to be absolutely clear that this discussion is confidential: nobody, apart from myself and other Starfleet medical personnel on this mission will be allowed to access the full file. Were. You. Vaccinated?

    “Yes!” By now the woman seemed near tears.

    Irim held up his hands. “All right, ma’am, I believe you; my apologies. When?”

    “Eight years ago.”

    “During a scheduled Public Health Ministry visit?”

    “Yes, he came by shuttle. He had credentials and everything.”

    “Thank you.” Irim noted this down and turned off the screen. “Your son, who was his father?”

    “A terrace farmer, like the rest of us. The Quickening took him three years ago.”

    “I’m sorry.” She accepted the condolence without comment. “All right, I don’t need anything else from you; you can go.”

    She paused at the door. “Doctor Irim? Thank you.”

    He nodded. “Walk with the Prophets.” She left.

    Corpsman Forbes turned to him. “Poor kid.”

    “At least he has a mother who loves him; I never knew either of my parents. They died in—”

    “Due respect, sir, please don’t say ‘the Occupation’.”

    “Prophets, I’m not that old, Petty Officer; it was a landslide. Militia dug me out but they couldn’t save my family. They put me in the orphanage at the Shikina Monastery in the capital.” He glanced out the door again. “Little Fredean reminds me of… well, of nearly every boy there.”

    “You were raised by monks, sir? Chanting and celibacy and all?”

    “Well, chastity isn’t a requirement, but yes. It’s why I’m a doctor, though: I always loved listening to the Canticle of Kern Dara. A minor saint,” he added by way of explanation. “Lived about twenty-three thousand years ago, cared for plague victims. The Federation Standard translations of the passage don’t capture the poetry of the original Bajor’ara.”

    “Mm.” Forbes sounded like she was listening but not really understanding; Irim shrugged and started logging the codes on the samples.

    “You know she’s lying, right?” Forbes said. “The mom?”

    Irim frowned. “I disagree.”

    “Look, there’s no way—”

    “Petty Officer, I believe that she believes she was properly vaccinated, but that means there’s something else going on.”

    “Medical scam?” the corpsman proposed.

    Irim mentally kicked himself for not asking if the purported Ministry official had demanded payment. “Certainly possible; we’ll check Ministry records. Prophets willing, that’s all it is.”

    “‘Prophets willing’?” Forbes repeated uncertainly. “What if it isn’t?”

    “Then we have a serious problem. Is there anyone else waiting?” She shook her head and he hit his combadge. “Commander Irim to McCoy. Two to beam up.”

    Crew Lounge, USS Black Prince, 1306 hours task force time

    Tyria walked into the lounge with a deliberately relaxed gait to broadcast that she was there for the same reason the crew was. The big screen on one wall was tuned to a football match and from the look of things the Denobulans were well on their way to denying Earth a spot in the upcoming Federation Cup tournament. A loud cheer erupted as she stepped up to the bar and ordered a synthale.

    She felt more than heard somebody sit next to her and looked up. It was S’ulluru. “Shrimp cocktail,” the Caitian told the barman. Then she looked over to her left at Tyria and her whiskers twitched. “What?”

    “Nothing, just a joke somebody at the Academy told me about cats and fish.”

    “So I like fish, what of it?”

    “Never mind, Commander. You got the results on that last battle drill, by the way?”

    S’ulluru passed her a PADD. “I think we’re as ready for the Dominion as anyone can be, sir.”

    “I hope so. With those sensor echoes the Erbil picked up this morning—”

    Suddenly behind them there was a trumpet solo accompanied by swearing and boos from several people. Tyria recognized the fanfare; it was FNN breaking into the game broadcast. “We interrupt this program to bring a fast-breaking story to your attention. We’re now going live to our studio in Lagos, North African Alliance.

    Tyria didn’t recognize the deputy anchor who appeared next. Human, male, black hair, olive skin. “At seventeen hundred hours GMT yesterday, we lost contact with our affiliate in the city of Nha Tranh on the breakaway colony of Moab III. I have an update now on what we erroneously believed to be a minor technical glitch on the subspace radio link. The world of Moab III is under heavy attack by a currently unidentified alien species, and according to sources with Starfleet, it is possible that the secondary colony of New Saigon has also been attacked. I advise anyone with small children to have them leave the room, as the footage we were able to salvage from the signal is graphic, and disturbing.”

    The screen shifts to a recording of a Klingon soldier and two humans in military uniforms with weapons. “You’ve got to get out of here, they’re coming, they’re right behind us!”

    “What is coming? Why should we leave? What—” A man in expensive civilian wear is arguing with the militiamen and their Klingon advisor, when an unearthly howl issues from offscreen.

    “Shut up, you need to go, it might be too late already, stop arguing and run!!” The human infantryman’s accent is lilting and his face is frightened. “Please! You need to go! NOW!”

    The Klingon barks an order in a language that isn’t Klingon; the text at the side of the screen translates, “Too late, Sergeant, they are inside the building. There is no time!”

    The militiamen start roughly shoving staffers back from the doorway as something smashes through. Gunfire and disruptors start cycling as first, the journalists stare in shock, and then, begin to panic and flee.

    “Oh my god! Oh my god!!”

    things that pour through are like some kind of animalistic nightmare, all stretched, leathery skin, slavering fangs, and claws, moving faster than the humans trying to repel them. In seconds first the Klingon, then two of the militiamen are torn apart—this is the point the cameraman starts to backpedal, and then, to flee, whispering prayers as the screams of the men being dismembered are picked up on audio.

    The gunfire continues and a woman screams off-screen, a spray of blood from that angle and gurgling, tearing sounds. The cameraman accidentally gets a full shot of Dorothy Haylesworth, a fairly well-known war correspondent, being eaten by the creatures—and she’s still alive.

    The camera-view next goes sideways, and briefly there are bloody, rag-wrapped claws in the frame, before it dissolves into static and screaming, interrupted with wet tearing sounds and crunches.


    The image reverted to the Lagos newsroom, and an anchor who looked very much like he wanted to vomit. But he swallowed and valiantly continued with the broadcast. “Representatives from Imperial News Service and the Klingon embassy have refused to comment until, and I quote here, ‘The situation in the Moab System is stabilized.’ Starfleet Command has verified that Vice Admiral Jesu LaRoca was in the system when these events occurred, conducting talks on behalf of the Federation, and that the admiral is, at present, alive and recovering. We’ll post more as details become available; at present what officials on all sides have been willing to discuss is that what we just showed you is a mere sample of the violence that has overtaken that colony world, and both the Klingon Diplomatic Corps and Starfleet have stated that casualties may run into the millions…” The anchor looked to the left, then back into the camera’s eye. “We have confirmation of the source of the attack on Moab III and New Saigon—the Klingons have confirmed that the attackers are a species called the Fek’Ihri, and that a similar, but smaller-scale attack by that species was conducted against Qo’noS three and a half years ago. Initial casualty estimates were just confirmed to be, at present, over forty million men, women and children on both planets. We’ll have more as the story develops. Back to you, Ruus, in Geneva.”

    The image of the anchors switched again, to Ruus V’shala, the lead anchor for FNN’s prime-time programming.

    “That couldn’t be real,” an engineering rate who looked like she might be on her very first tour, interrupted the silence in the rec-deck. “It couldn’t be—they’d never show something that graphic—this has to be a prank, or Klingon Psyops or something!” Her voice was edge-of-hysterical.

    “It’s real—it’s really happening,” said a part-Romulan tactical ensign who had probably come up from the ranks given the traces of age. “That wasn’t some prank report, FNN doesn’t do prank reports, and the Klingons don’t fake losing a battle for propaganda… Elements… forty million people so far?”

    “It’s what the newsman said.” An ebony Bajoran senior chief, Prince’s quartermaster, said, “There’s only three hundred fifty million folks in that system. Prophets… and they think it’s the legendary demons from Klingon mythology?!”

    “—Border fleet’s probably going crazy at K-7…”

    “…got a cousin on the Tiburon…”

    The engineering rate shouted at the Tac, “NO, it’s a LIE!! It has to be!!”

    “I know you have family on New Saigon, Mai,” somebody else snapped, “but that’s not propaganda, it’s happening and you’re going to have to deal with it and do your damn job—maybe they got out? Maybe it missed them? Starfleet’s got ships in the system, we’ll probably get reports on survivors.”

    One of the Vulcans, a medic, stepped up behind the now-hysterical girl and administered a nerve-pinch, catching her before she hit the deck-plates. “My apologies, Captain.”

    “No, good thinking, Petty Officer,” Tyria agreed. “Sickbay.” The quartermaster lifted the unconscious human under the other arm and the two crewmen hustled her out the door.

    “Spirits,” S’ulluru murmured. “There are old legends from the Ferasa’an about creatures like that—”

    “Yeah, we have stories like that, too,” Tyria whispered back. “And I read SI’s report on the Qo’noS attack when I was on the Warsaw. I would’ve bet you a year’s pay I was reading bad sci-fi—”

    “—but science fiction didn’t eat Dorothy Haylesworth,” the Caitian finished.

    Tyria grunted agreement. “Gaunt’s hosts, what in the hell is going on? Ever since Wolf 359 it’s just been one thing after another: the Borg, the Dominion, Hobus—” Tyria’s combadge chirped and broke her train of thought. “Yes?”

    Sir, this is Dr. Irim over on the McCoy. We’ve discovered something and I need you to come over here right away.

    Biology Lab 3, USS McCoy NCC-58934, 1321 hours

    The coppery-skinned Bajoran met her at the door of the lab. “I know from the files that your last host consulted with the Federation Medical Association and Starfleet Medical on the blight back in the seventies, but this is going to get technical, sir: how much do you remember?”

    “About the blight? Ugh.” Sark tried to bring the memories up, but microbiology wasn’t Tyria Rohallin’s area of expertise by a long shot. “The basics, mostly. It’s a lysogenic virus that stains the skin during the initial infection, then causes a fatal degenerative disorder of the connective tissue when the repressor genes deactivate.”

    “Method of transmission?” Captain Merdok quizzed her.

    “Through the amniotic sac during the third trimester.” Tyria realized after a moment that she’d put her hand on her belly.

    “All right. This is what we’re dealing with.” He brought up a diagram of a double-helix ladder, a DNA molecule. “This is the genome map of the original blight samples that Captain Bashir took in ‘72. Typical custom biogenic weapon: very clean genetic structure, few extraneous base pairs or noncoding strands. Now pay attention to these three genes I’ve highlighted in yellow.” He tapped a key and a second DNA strand appeared below the first. “This is from a sample Corpsman Second Class Forbes and I took from a boy in the Glastron Territory this morning.”

    Tyria stared at it for a minute, then started to notice differences, a few base pairs out of sequence. “It mutated. Or it was reintroduced.”


    “Doctor?” she prompted him.

    “I don’t know,” the Bajoran said. “The changes are small, and there’s pieces of the original genes left but inactive. It’s likely this was just natural mutation creating a new strain of the virus, adapted to the vaccine. Probably.”

    “You’re not sure?”

    “We cannot be sure, Captain Sark,” Captain Merdok said, “but it’s our best theory. We’ve got similar samples from a few nearby villages connected by gravel tracks and mountain trails. So far this appears to be confined to an isolated cluster of settlements where the Teplans had trouble delivering the original vaccine. The Teplan Militia also hasn’t reported Jem’Hadar ships coming close enough to the planet to deliver a fresh payload.”

    “All right, countermeasures.”

    Irim flipped to a different screen, this one showing a cross-section of a pregnant female. “Well, the vaccine works by impeding transmission of the virus to the fetus. Prophets willing, we can modify the original vaccine and have the Teplans administer both.”

    “How long do you need?”

    Irim scoffed. “Sir, I’m a general practitioner, not a pharmacologist. I understand the concepts but I can’t fix this myself.”

    “I can,” a Coridanite lieutenant standing at another station piped up. “Those changes aren’t big. Probably two weeks to adapt the vaccine. Our onboard industrial replicators can do the rest.”

    Tyria turned to Captain Merdok. “Captain?”

    The Benzite nodded appreciatively and addressed the Coridanite. “Lieutenant Faz, send Commander Sirek a list of whomever and whatever you need. You just earned yourself a priority assignment.”

    The young woman swelled about a size. “Thank you, sir!”

    “Don’t thank him yet, Lieutenant,” Irim commented. “The reward for doing a good job is more work.”

    “Uh, yes, sir!”

    “Dismissed,” Merdok told her, and she executed a proper military turn and marched out the door. Merdok left the lab a moment later.

    Tyria frowned and turned back to the image. “You said you took this sample from a boy?”

    “About five standard years old, sir,” Irim said quietly.

    “Damn it,” she muttered. “How could… How could they…”

    “How old is yours, sir?”

    “Seven. You have any children, Doctor?” Irim shook his head. “Think about it before you do. Sameen was… selfish: I conveniently neglected my contraception on our honeymoon. Don’t get me wrong, I’d burn the stars for her, but I see something like this and—” She bit off the sentence, gritting her teeth.

    “Sir, the Prophets put you on the path they did for a reason. I won’t dare to presume I know what it was, but I do believe there was a plan.”

    “I’d like to believe that. I really would.”

    “Then believe it!” he said with conviction.

    Tyria turned and opened her mouth to answer, but her combadge beat her to it. “Gaunt’s hosts, that’s twice in ten minutes. Sark here.”

    S’ulluru wasted no time. “Captain, get back here and bring the doctor with you! We have a squadron of Jem’Hadar ships on approach!
    "Two ways to view the world, so similar at times / Two ways to rule the world, to justify their crimes / By Kings and Queens young men are sent to die in war / Their propaganda speaks those words been heard before"
    — Sabaton, "A Lifetime of War"
    Volunteer community moderator for Star Trek Online forums. I am not a Cryptic or Perfect World employee, and comments made without [Mod Hat/] notation are my own opinions and do not reflect company policy. If you do see me put on my [Mod Hat/], please pay attention because I am speaking as a moderator.
  • rllaillieurllaillieu Member Posts: 351 Arc User
    "Shattered Hopes"

    Sarissa t'Kaveth-Colvem was working on going through some communications, mainly medical journals, when her comm chirped.

    "Sarissa here. Go ahead."

    "Riov, it's Saresh. There's an encrypted comm channel from Mol'Rihan, marked for your eyes only."

    Sarissa sighed and ran a hand through her hair. Thankfully, she had decided to grow it back out. That bob she had was starting to annoy her.

    "Put it through, Saresh. And aren't you supposed to be off duty?"

    "Funny, I was about to ask the same of you."

    Sarissa could hear the undiluted snark in her first officer's voice, and smirked.

    "Catch some rest, Saresh. It's going to be a busy day tomorrow."

    Saresh cut the comm channel and Sarissa opened her computer terminal and accepted the transmission.

    The face of Enriov tr'Kererek appeared on the screen, his face grim. That already assured Sarissa that the news was indeed poor.

    "Riov, is your ship ready for another mission?"

    "Of course. Which colony are we going to this time? And please don't tell me someone else has gotten the Rigellian flu."

    "No flu this time, Riov. I'm attaching a secure packet to this signal. You're going to the Tal Shiar medical station on Levaeri V. Yes, I know it used to be an experimental station, but it's now a Tal Shiar-run medical base. Empress Sela is throwing allegations around that a Republic warbird attacked the station and killed most of the crew. I need someone with medical training to look over the place. But first, you're going to rendezvous with the USS Serenity to pick up some MACOs. No argument, Riov."

    Sarissa didn't bother to open the subspace packet, just scowled.

    "You know my policy about soldiers on my ship, Enriov. This is a relief vessel, not a warship. And why, exactly, are you sending me to deal with the Tal Shiar?"

    Tr'Kererek's gaze brokered no arguments, but he let out a deep breath, "Look, Sarissa, I know of your history with them. I know what they did to you. But you're a doctor, with Starfleet training. And, you're empathic. You're damn near one of a kind in the Galae right now. I understand your hesitations. And the MACOs are headed up by someone you know. Mister Williams requested to be on the assignment and brough two of his med staff along."

    "Gary Williams? I... fine. You know what, I'll do it. Elements help me, I'll do it."

    "Thank you. The packet I sent contains Sela's allegations and supposed evidence. Give that to someone on your senior staff and let them go through it to see if it's real or not. Also, this stays between you, your senior staff, and the MACOs."

    "Ie, Enriov."

    He signed off and Sarissa opened the packet.

    As she read it and then saw the "evidence", her face paled further and further. The commander of the ship that had allegedly carried out this attack... she knew him. He was from Glintara, he'd been a patient of hers once. His daughter was a frequent visitor to her clinic, she'd had a poor immune system.

    With a long heaved sigh, she looked up towards the bulkhead above and let out a whispered prayer to the Elements.

    "Please don't let me **** this up."

    Gary Williams swore and slapped his card down.

    "Fold. Kelly, I swear, you always cheat."

    Lorella Kelly scoffed and brushed strands of black hair behind her ear, "You're just jealous that I'm better at poker than you. Loret isn't complaining."

    Loret Delens instantly scooted his chair back.

    "This is so not my problem," he announced, drawing laughter from the fourth player.

    Noemi Idaris chuckled, "Williams, relax. It's not your fault you can't get past the pheremones."

    Kelly offered the Trill a nasty glare as she set her cards down and collected the winnings.

    Major Sivak lifted an eyebrow, "Most human males tend to fall prey to Orion pheremones as a course of nature."

    Gary lifted his hands, "Fine, fine. Just some honest complaining here."

    "Bridge to Idaris. We're coming up on the rendezvous point now."

    "Idaris here. On my way. Prepare to open a channel."

    She excused herself and the three medical officers and the MACO looked at each other.

    "I believe the human term here is... 'show time', is it not?"

    "You're absolutely right," Loret said, looking proud that he actually knew that.

    Kelly chuckled and snagged her medical blue overcoat.

    "Let's do this."

    "USS Serenity, this is the RRW Telent, please stand by for transport coordinates."

    "Telent, this is Serenity actual. Hold for a moment while I get their asses into the transporter room."

    "Serenity actual, Telent actual. That's all the time we need. Sending coordinates now."

    "Thanks, Riov. They'll be over in a minutes. Also, that Orion probably cheats at poker."

    "I know. She used to wipe Bob Harlan out pretty easily and he was married to the master of all poker faces."

    "Poor man. Vulcans can be pretty interesting."

    "You just got a glare from a Vulcan, I'm sure."

    "Sure did. Well, I need to get to the next mission before Command harps at me again. Until next time, Riov."

    "Pleasure as always, Captain. Telent out."

    Sarissa leaned back and smirked at the familiar exchange. She'd known Noemi since her old friend, Tommy Alvarez, had introduced her to his team, which included the recent addition of the fiery Trill. Her predecessor on the team had gotten thrown in prison for illegally attempting to access a Tkon ship by manufactoring codes made from his teammates' codes and access.

    Saresh slid a hand under her hood and scrathed her ear for a moment before continuing to monitor the transport process.

    "So far so good," the Reman engineer reported.

    Elina and Jeruth glanced at each other before returning to their work. Everyone knew of Saresh's strange habit of scratching her ear when she was worried.

    Sarissa had picked up on that within days, being an empath, but it had taken the others some time. Now, they all knew each other's tells, and called them out.

    "Anything wrong, Saresh?"

    It took a few moments, but finally the engineer gave in.

    "This all seems wrong. It's... I don't know how to describe it. My sixth sense is going off like crazy."

    Instantly, the emotional temperature of the bridge took a turn for the nervous side of the spectrum. Saresh had never once been wrong about her sixth sense, ever. She'd even know something was wrong as soon as they'd approaced the Azure Nebula, before the temporal mishaps that only four people actually remembered.

    "We'll talk later," Sarissa promised before toggling the key for the shipwide comm system, "Attention, all crew. There is a senior staff briefing at 1400 hours. Lieutenant Commander Williams and Major Sivak, you are to be there as well. That is all."

    She toggled the comms off and looked back, "This is about to get real interesting."

    "Oh joy," Jeruth muttered to Elina, who struggled to restrain a derisive noise.

    Gary sat next to Sivak and watched the Telent senior staff file into the room. First was the Reman first officer, who looked slightly fatigued. Then were the science and chief medical officers, both of whom seemed annoyed. Next, there was the nervous-looking tactical officer, a man named Jeraik. Finally, in walked Doc and the chief engineer.

    "Take a seat, all of you," Doc ordered. She sounded so commanding these days, but that probably came from trying to wrangle one of the craziest Sickbay staff in Starfleet.

    "What's up, Doc?" Gary grinned. Sarissa pinched the bridge of her nose between her index finger and thumb before glaring at him.

    "Are you still making that joke, Gary? Really?"

    "I thought about mixing things up, but a little nostalgia is good."

    Sivak lifted an eyebrow, "Nostalgia does serve its purposes."

    The chief engineer waved his hands about, "Alright, enough from the peanut gallery!"

    The table burst out in a round of laughter, simply from hearing the man say that.

    "Alright, so I still wrangle crazies. Anyway, time to sober up, people. You're not going to like this, at all."

    "I heard something about Empress Sela making a complaint about an attack on a Tal Shiar base, but that always happens," Gary said.

    Sarissa's expression went from serious to pained in seconds.

    "As much as I hate to admit it, this was a good Tal Shiar base. It was a medical facility, mostly crewed by civilian staff, but with a Tal Shiar presence for the more serious work and for security purposes. A Republic warbird supposedly slipped through the defending force and did a number on it. You're not going to like this recording."

    She played it and jaws dropped around the room.

    A Valdore-class warbird smashed through the defending ships and opened fire on the base. Recorded comm messages depicted the base trying to plead for mercy, trying to get help, but their comms finally went silent. The warbird continued to fire for several more minutes before peeling away and going to warp, just before the reinforcements arrived. The recording ended at that.

    "Holy s**t," Gary murmured, feeling sickened.

    "I'm with him...," the Reman first officer scowled. The others agreed.

    "What's more, the warbird is one I recognize," Sarissa continued. Gary could tell that she was trying not to have a moment right now.

    "Oh?" Sivak asked.

    "I used to have a practice on Glintara, before the Tal Shiar happened to it. THe commander was a patient I saw occasionally, but I mostly treated his daughter. She didn't have a good immune system."

    "Damn," Gary muttered, "If that was really a medical base, they would have had containment cells for several very nasty bugs. If those containment seals broke..."

    Sarissa nodded, "Exactly. It's why we're going over in EVA suits and the full rig."

    "Still got your STAR gear?"

    "I almost slapped someone for trying to take it from me, despute how badly the mission went."

    "Anyone want to fill me in here?" Saresh asked.

    "Kid," Gary began, "You're looking at the only person in the entire Romulan Republic who has ever had the honor of being called a STAR agent. STAR is a special ops branch of Starfleet, one that has been noted for several cov ops missions, including the retaking of Sigma Rho from the Tzenkethi."

    Saresh's eyes widened, "Who sent a doctor on a cov ops mission?"

    "Let me tell you a story of damned fools with guns," Sarissa said before laughing, "Ahk, who am I kidding. I miss them so much, despite the craziness."

    Gary smirked, "Never thought I'd see the day where you said something about those crazy **** other than how crazy you thought they were."

    Saresh looked around the table and thumped her fist on the metal surface once.

    "Back to business," she said simply. Sarissa nodded.

    "Sorry. Anyway, we go over in EVA suits in three teams. Team One will breach the Ops section. Team Two will get to the containment center. Team Three gets to Engineering. We'll space jump across the gap between ship and station and use short range transporter units to get inside once we're within spitting distance, as it were. After we secure the assigned areas, Team One will get Ops running, Team Two will secure the containment facility, and Team Three will get the station running again. Teams One and Three will remain stationary unless attacked and Team Two will go around looking for survivors. Any questions?"

    "Only one," Major Sivak asked, "How many personnel will each team consist of?"

    "Team One is five people, Team Two is fifteen, and Team Three is seven."

    "I request one MACO for every five personnel, thus giving Team One a single MACO, Team Two will have three MACOs, and Team Three will have two."

    Sarissa nodded, "An excellent idea, Major. I'll send team listings to the department heads at 0500 tomorrow morning. We arrive at the station at 1300 hours with departure point being at 1325 hours. Dismissed."

    Sarissa leaned back in her chair in her Ready Room and sighed, going over the team listings one last time. Three empty mugs sat next to her, all having at one time contained some concoction of raktajino and Swedish coffee. Tasted like a mix of bad alcohol, coolant fluid, and a hangover; but it did wonders to keep her awake overnight. She was just too damned nervous to sleep right now.

    Surprisingly, her door chime went off at exactly 0420 and she called out, "Come!"

    And in walked Lorella Kelly, with the always-reliable cup of strange caffeinated brew she always would make after a long day in Sickbay or a battle.

    "You look like ****, boss," the Orion nurse said simply, setting the brew down.

    "Do I want to know what mixture of stimulants you've added to this?" Sarissa asked.

    "Considering that at least two are illegal, probably not."

    "Are they illegal in the Republic?"


    "All the more fun," Sarissa shrugged as she took a gulp of the drink and tried not to spit it out.

    "Tastes awful, doesn't it?" Kelly asked knowingly.

    "Absolutely. But I'm feeling very awake now."

    Kelly sat down and gazed over the mess of PADDs for several minutes before saying, "You're still not clean, are you?"

    "What do you mean?" Sarissa asked cautiously. How could Kelly possibly know? She couldn't...

    "I know about those missing drugs from Sickbay. Nothing anyone would look at seperately, but if you put them together, you get a black market stimulant that's illegal for a damn good reason. It kills most humanoids and even Vulcanoids have a damn hard time handling it. But somehow, you managed to create the perfect mix and put it in your coffee, every single day. I can't believe it was you, but... I asked for replicator access and I used a program to check your files. What the hell are you doing to yourself? How long has it been since you slept?"

    Sarissa sighed and ran a hand through her hair, "Lorella, it isn't that simple. I... I can't sleep. I can't sleep, knowing what I dream of. I have nightmares, every single night, Lorella. They're always the same. Either someone I love dies or I'm back in the Tal Shiar facility they were holding me at and... no, I won't explain myself to anyone, least of all someone who illegally checked my replicator files!"

    Lorella calmly gazed at her, "I'm a nurse, boss. But I'm not just a nurse. I'm a former slave girl, I've seen some pretty nasty stuff. But the look on your face just now, I've seen it before, and always on the same group of people. The victims. I don't know what the Tal Shiar did to you, and I won't ask. What I will ask is that you get clean. I don't care how you do it, but get off that damned drug."

    "How did you even know I was using it, anyway?"

    "I'm a nurse, remember? The last time I saw you, you were so damned happy and excitable, but now, you look pale, which is saying something, considering your natural skin tone. You hardly smile and when you do so, it's forced. Gary told me. He's worried, and so am I. I know what this drug can do. There's been a rash of deaths lately, all from the drug. Look, I know you're a doctor, but please, stop this. Your mixtures may become inaccurate one day and I don't want to think of what this will do to your mother, so soon after losing your father at Vega."

    Sarissa lifted a hand for silence and pinched the bridge of her nose.

    "Fine. Elements help me, I'll do it."

    Lorella looked pleased, "Look, I know it'll be hard. I got myself hooked on fake Venus drugs a while back, because they were counterfeit and did nothing but rake in money. I can give you the number of the guy who helped me. But first, you get some sleep, real sleep. I'll send out the listings, you take some time and sleep, because we don't need an exhausted team member."

    "I... won't. Not now. Being so close to the Tal Shiar... it's not bringing up anything good."

    "I'll be there. It'll be fine."

    Sarissa's carefully constructed facade slipped for just a moment before she recovered and nodded.

    "Thank you, Lorella."

    The Orion woman smiled, "No thanks are needed."

    Major Sivak calmly checked the seals on Riov Sarissa's EVA suit. This STAR gear was very efficient, and quite well designed.

    "You were on Sigma Rho?" he asked.

    "Yes," she replied.

    "I was one of the Federation prisoners you had rescued. I recall you were occupied working on saving a teammate when I attempted to thank you."

    "Yeah... Feyna. Haven't heard from her in a while, might one day, who knows."

    Sivak tapped his wrist unit for a private comm channel.

    "Riov, Nurse Kelly has asked me to join your team, as I presume you are taking Team One. Her request is that I watch you and make sure you are well. Would you know why?"

    "Yes, I do. And no, I won't share it. Just... make sure I don't do anything stupid, alright? And don't be afraid to call me out on anything, either."

    "I am Vulcan. Fear is illogical."

    "Good to hear."

    Sarissa tapped her wrist unit and pulled out the special model tricorder, linking it back to her suit and then setting up something.

    "All away personnel, this is Riov Sarissa. I'm going to be keeping tabs on all your life signs, so I will know if you are injured. Also, I don't want any trigger-happy idiots on this mission, I will know who you are, because you can't fool an empath. Any questions?"

    There was a resounding chorus of "no" and Sarissa nodded, giving the order to depart for the station.

    Gary looked around, cautiously noting all the debris and bodies.

    "This is a s**thole and a half," he muttered.

    "Stow the chatter, Mister Williams," Lieutenant Colonel Michael Harrel snapped. The grizzled security expert carefully scanned the area, checking with his MACOs.

    Gary didn't konw much about the man, but he knew that Harrel had been on the Presidential Security Detail at one time and that his husband worked at Starfleet Medical. That was about all.

    "Heads up," Loret muttered over the comm channel, pointing at a door that read, in High Rihan script, "Infirmary".

    "That's our place," Gary told the team.

    "Harrel to t'Kaveth."

    "T'Kaveth here. Go ahead, Mister Harrel."

    "We're at the location for Team Two. Getting ready to head in and check the area."

    "Understood. Keep an open channel."

    Gary followed just behind Harrel and his eyes widened when he saw what was within the damaged Infirmary door.

    "Oh my God," he murmured, "This ain't natural. This is cold-blooded murder, plain and simple. Ain't nothin' special ;bout it 'cept the crazy son-b***h motherf**ker that did this."

    He didn't even notice that his accent appeared, especially when a hand reached out of the darkness and for his helmet.

    A message from the author: So, I recently recieved a message from PWE that a forum post of mine had been reported for inappropriate language, hence the butchered appearance of this. I want to make it clear that I use crass language because it's normal. For example, in Gary's last line here, he swears a bit, because the shock is there. I didn't bother to "clean up" words such as "damn" and "****", because they're not "bad", they're words. I get that the forums are supposed to be PG-13, but that impedes my writing style and my attempt to keep realism, so yeah. Sorry for this, but I got pretty **** off at the "report for inappropriate language".
    "Let me tell you about my spirit beaver"
    "You may lose an arm"

    If you get that at all, hit me up. I'm trying to find all you crazy **** on here.
    I would add the most recent, but something tells me that the devs wouldn't look to fondly on a blunt statement about a conversation involving anatomy and drugs.
  • marcusdkanemarcusdkane Member Posts: 7,439 Arc User
    edited February 2016
    Prompt#3:Enter the BOFF:

    F R O M . c h ' R I H A N . W I T H . L O V E

    USS Vanguard, Axanar System, [DateRedacted]...

    The turbolift doors opened, and Subcommander Arek tr'Naralan walked out onto the newly upgraded bridge for the first time. It was a vast, multi-terraced hub of efficiency. Directly ahead of Arek before the viewscreen, a Vulcan female and a Terran male sat at the joined helm and operations console.

    A tier above and behind, two separated relief consoles were occupied by two more Terran females, who tried to look busy and efficient, despite clearly having nothing to do.

    Directly to Arek's left, and with a deck level which he took a ramp up to, a Deltan male sat at what Arek knew was communications, his pheromones creating a calming influence as Arek passed his console.

    From his orientation briefing, Arek knew that his station, the phaser control console, was the large free-standing console directly to the starboard side of the Andorian captain.

    Despite how the ship was euphemistically recorded in the registry as a tactical explorer, there was no denying that it was a ship of war, with all the warfare systems, shields, phasers, torpedoes, each staffed by an individual officer, under the orchestrations of the tactical officer, but more significantly, surrounding the command chair.

    Any other officers, such as the Bolian female seated at the science console, or the Deltan communications officer, or any of the handful of officers at consoles around the perimeter of the bridge, the captain would need to move to address directly, but the officers of the tactical group, formed an entourage of immediate access.

    Arek approved silently as he made his way to the console which was staffed by a Bajoran female. She nodded politely as she accepted relief and turning over the console, moved away to one of the open consoles at the rear of the bridge. Beyond his silent acknowledgement, Arek had no need to speak to anyone unless spoken to, or unless his duties required it. Captain ch'Ehra knew who he was, and Starfleet protocol did not demand that he identify himself upon appearance. He may have worn the uniform of a Starfleet officer, but the rank device on his collar was Romulan, as befitted an exchange officer.

    Beside the Bajoran, Arek saw the cybernetic form of a former Borg drone. Clearly female, the poor soul had yet to undergo the process of de-assimilation, and was still trapped within the violation of the implanted hardware. Skin as pale as any Havranha, was visible at the neck, head and hands, and from a distance, the black and bronze exo-plating could have been mistaken for an armored body-stocking. But hearing the near-imperceptible glide of servos and micro-hydraulics as she moved and subtly shifted in position as any organic being would, broke the illusion, and Arek recalled the encounters with the Collective along the Neutral Zone, which drew the Empire out of its fifty year isolation; The disappeared ships, colonies gouged from the very ground as if by some giant claw, and he suppressed a shiver at the living nightmare the woman endured, yet which she clearly refused to allow to hinder her career or duties. Hers clearly was a strong mnhei'sahe, one to be admired...

    Arek had never seen a Brikar before his reception interview the previous day, and now, saw the rock-like behemoth standing at the primary tactical console, slightly behind and to starboard of the command chair.

    At the Brikar's side to port, the Ferengi lieutenant, Mog, who served as the shield distribution officer, gave him a cursory glance, before returning his gaze to his console.

    Directly across from his console, Arek knew that the Andorian lieutenant, Thoris ch'Endilev, was his counterpart in charge of torpedo control. He had the lean, hungry look of a young man eager to face battle. Not to prove himself through pride, but to continually test himself, to prove his worth. To Terran eyes, their ages would have appeared similar, when the truth was that Arek had just passed his hundredth year, having been born the year the Empire went into its period of galactic isolation. Like most Rihansu of his generation, he had served in the Imperial navy, but an interest in military politics had pushed him to the forefront of the Republic's officer exchange program, so now, he was on temporary secondment to the Vanguard while the original phaser control officer, was assigned to the Delta Quadrant with her MACO captain...

    Arek knew of lhhei s'Kazanak by reputation and her familial status. Her respect within Starfleet's organisation was an example of the alliance, and how the Rihansu had adapted to the destruction of ch'Rihan. However, Arek knew that they were not destined to meet, as when the captain and the commander returned to the Vanguard to return to their duties, he would be reassigned back to the Alita-Class USS Everdeen for the remainder of his tenure in Starfleet.
    Post edited by marcusdkane on
  • antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,309 Arc User
    Story was too long to post here with character limits - but please enjoy!
    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: 9,691 Arc User
    edited March 2016
    In the flickering, run-down Bridge of the Prometheus-class U.S.S. Phoenix-X, all five Captains looked on in awe and shock at the virus hologram standing before them.

    "Qu!" barked Samya. "I mean, Mayhem! Sorry, that just seemed natural."

    The Intelligence officer stepped around the railing and approached them. "There's no time for your signature randomness! You see, those small artificial black holes are orbiting each other on chaotic paths, threatening to lock us in gravitational suspension between them forever!"

    "In English, holo-man!" ordered Iviok.

    Mayhem rolled his eyes. "That was as dumbed-downed as I could get it. I one-time beamed you all here, the so-called brains of your ships, so that you could get the Phoenix-X online, faster, before certain eternal destitute."

    "What about our own ships? They're already trapped inside that system-disabling, space-time mish-mash!" argued Menrow. "And what happened to this ship??"

    Activating the main viewscreen, Mayhem, replied, "We'll be back for your crews once we're online and done." He replayed an image of an attacking Breen vessel. "In the meantime, the Phoenix-X was ambushed by these popsicle mystery men, who were trying to obtain supplies to get home in some sort of full-body-armored Janeway rip-off."

    "Our engines are completely offline," Iviok noted as he accessed a nearby console. "The Breen version of Tom Paris must've over-clocked an energy dissipator."

    Nodding, the hologram continued, "Yes, and all while I and the crew of Phoenix-X were on a mission from Starfleet Intelligence to render the phenomenal activity on these black holes inert."

    "What kind of activity?" asked McCary.

    Mayhem answered, "Highly volatile space-time warping-- which we were warned about, from a lone signal long ago, by an unknown species called the Nibiru-- which I successfully stopped by using purple matter."

    "Dammit! You can't just make up matter and assign it a color!" Reynolds declared.

    Shaking his head, the virus finished, "Unfortunately, your precious Captain Seifer agreed and had his entire crew hijack that Breen vessel in search of another cluster of artificial black holes... for something called a 'redo'."

    "He's mad," realized Menrow. "It's that obsession of his with a 'magic reset button' all over again. Odd, though, that he reported that so we would all know."

    Crossing her arms, Samya said, "And let me guess, we know nothing about the Nibiru because your program is infecting the Federation database."

    "I need to infect something!" Mayhem defended. "That's like asking a Bolian not to be a hairstylist."

    Menrow turned to the other Captains. "Seifer is our mission now, considering he could facilitate untold damages to all that is good and safe in the galaxy."

    "Like the time you enslaved the Takarians in the Delta Quadrant?" Reynolds reminded.

    The Captain waved it off. "Ferengi possession doesn't count! Besides, my body is still recovering from tube grub overdose." He then addressed each one, down the line; his stomach aching. "Iviok, go to Engineering and get the engines into safe mode. Samya, check the status of the weapons. McCary, update life-support systems. Reynolds, run a diagnostic on the deflector dish. I'll ensure main power holds up."

    "You do realize we're playing right into the do-not-work-together reversal, don't you?" Samya clarified.

    Menrow countered, "I realize that pointing out something's a trope is itself a trope! Dismissed!"
    Captain's Log, Stardate 87446.9

    As Acting Commanding officer of Task Force Epsilon, I, Captain Menrow, have taken command of the abandoned U.S.S. Phoenix-X. It turns out Captain Seifer littered his entire Ready Room with leola root tart wrappers. How can one man eat that much junk food? Anyway, we've engaged warp in safe mode and are following the last known coordinates of the Breen Chel Grett warship Darkseid. As odd as it is attempting to acclimatize myself to this new role over my peers, I am fairly certain we will not succeed as a team. In fact, it's more likely we'll buckle under our own incompatibilities. The only question is how soon?
    Reynolds entered Engineering where Iviok was hard at work, managing the engines by himself.

    "Damn the Phoenix-X! Where does the X even come from?" she asked. "Are they just trying too hard to be what they used to call 'cool'?"

    The Andorian examined the intermix chamber. "Judging by this conglomeration of engine core, it would appear the vessel was being used as the test ship for everyone's on-again, off-again transwarp ability; the engineers must've burned through twenty-four other Phoenix-named ships to get here."

    "Makes sense-- Which is the least I can say about my own senses. You see, my Betazoid mind has been hearing high-pitched drilling noises ever since I beamed onto this Admiral-approved flying-shovel." She massaged her temple. "Ohhhh. I'm nearing full-Troi."

    Iviok moved to another console. "At least you don't have to rebuild major components everyday of your life. On my Tier 1, Centaur-class starship, interstellar dust gets into the cracks and then wedges our hull plating right off into space."

    "Clearly deserving," she added. "You command a ship that uses a crank to power up its transporters."

    Pointing back, Iviok replied, "Hey! We save on environmental energy waste that way. Though, we do over-compensate in excess antimatter."

    "I'm just going to pretend this conversation never happened," Reynolds said seconds before she was interrupted by a nearby console. It displayed her now released deflector controls. "Whoa. I think those black holes have been hitting the Phoenix-X with psionic energy??" She checked her data. "No wonder I've been considering putting my head into a food decompiler!"

    The other Captain perked. "That would only take your hair, by the way." And then, "Hmm. Using that correlating data, we may be able to build a defense into our shields using a modulated delta wave frequency."

    "This better work, unlike that one plan we had to hog-tie Captain Menrow."


    Samya entered the Conference room to find Menrow at a wall panel, fixing a main power circuit.

    "Is it just me, or is there an entire deck floor completely cracked and broken?" she asked.

    Menrow stepped away from his work. "Oh, yes, that's from Seifer's pet Horta Hatchling. You get used to the randomly warped gravity." He sighed. "Which is the least I can say about being in command of fellow-ranked officers."

    "With all due respect, Captain, but I believe I should have been the one in command here." She stepped up. "I'm not susceptible to body-switching and I'm quicker at making decisions."

    Rolling his eyes, Menrow answered, "Oh, please. You're reckless and have been self-involved ever since your sister went missing. You're probably looking for her right now!"

    "How dare you?" she started seconds before an incoming hail from a Yridian information dealer came through the wall screen, indicating her search request for her sister garnered no results. "Well, can you blame me? What makes my own blood less relevant than Seifer's?"

    Menrow gave in. "Now that I've had a chance to review all the stolen Forcas III trophies in this room, I'm certain nothing does. But, this is our current mission and we have an obligation to do what is right and utilize available sources to complete it."

    "Huh," she paused after typing in the request onto the touch screen. "The Yridian is saying he did hear something about a Breen ship in the sector. I'm sending him a billion energy credits to tell us where; it's not much money, but it's all I'm willing to part with."


    As the Phoenix-X changed course, Mayhem entered Sickbay, where McCary was accessing a console in the dark.

    "Captain? I just came here to infect the EMH like I do on every ship I visit?" Mayhem entered slowly, trying to get a view of what McCary was doing.

    Then, turning in shock, McCary revealed himself to be covered in random patches of fur, sticking out of his sleeves, tearing through the Odyssey uniform front and white shoulder cut. "Don't look at me!"

    "By my programming God, some guy named Lester, the rumors of you turning into a tribble are true!?" Mayhem was taken aback.

    Breathing heavy, McCary continued. "That's just the thing. We did reverse the transformation on ourselves and the crew of the I.K.S. Rotog, in time, with the cooperation of both ship's Doctors, resulting in minimal hair spread." He attempted to turn to address the hologram. "But ever since you beamed me onto this disease-drenched dirt-ship, psionic energy has been resequencing me all over again."

    "Oh, ugh--!?" Mayhem began puking holographic numbers and mathematic symbols all over the floor as he took in the realization of cross-cultural teamwork. "Working with Klingons? You organics disgust me!"

    The now rainbow-colored-hairy one-quarter Klingon, three-quarter Human stepped toward Mayhem. "Tell me the truth; were the Nibiru targeting the Phoenix-X? Is this what caused their Calibus VII disease to resurface?"

    "Of course!" Mayhem held up his photonic arm in disgust-filled defense. "The purple matter may have settled the artificial black hole clusters from becoming erratic, but it wasn't enough to stop their psionic radiation."

    Picking off loose pink fur, McCary realized, slowly but surely, "The Nibiru are causing the clusters and Seifer is going after them."

    Then, a communiqué from the Bridge broke through. "Menrow to all Captains. We've engaged... the Borg-- I mean, the Darkseid."


    Dropping warp in the Qo'Nos sector, the Prometheus-class Phoenix-X approached the Breen Chel Grett warship Darkseid.

    On the Darkseid's massively, smoky Bridge, Captain Seifer and his partially-deteriorated crew operated the vessel before a series of artificial black holes.

    "Captain, how are we even still alive??? Also, we have the target in sights," Armond reported from tactical.

    Kayl turned from her Operations console. "The canister is loaded. We'll only get one shot at this."

    "Did anyone check out the Breen quarters? Even their beds are covered in environmental containers?" Doctor Lox questioned, perplexed. "They leave everything to the imagination."

    Kugo entered the Bridge, "Engineering checks out as I expected-- a complete nonsensical configuration. I touched nothing."

    "Ah, you guys. After all our forced on-and-off bed-rest, it's good to be working with you again," Seifer sighed, truthfully.

    Turning from helm, Ensign Dan asked, "Even me?"

    "You're relieved!" the Captain yelled, upset.

    Menrow's hail from the Phoenix-X broke in, and the screen clicked on, interrupting them. "Your ship to Seifer; we know you've been severely affected by these clusters and we have a solution: Iviok has lined this ship's shields with a modulated delta-wave frequency. We know it works because it has stopped McCary's tribble-ing. That's a thing now."

    "Whoa! The whole Task Force Epsilon team is here?" Captain Seifer reacted. "We never got along? Remember that Klingon troop we ambushed, only to turn all our weapons on each other instead? The troop just left us, laughing."

    The other Captain sighed. "You promised never to speak of that again! Besides, we figured out how to work together, like we were supposedly trained to do. I believe the activator was immediacy."

    "Uh, you fell right into a reversal, is what you did. Well, it doesn't matter anyway. A ship modification is not enough as we're going to use blue matter to transform these clusters into a portal to the Nibiru." Then, chuckling, "Can you believe how easy it is to create matter and assign it a color? Darkseid out!"

    Armond tapped at his controls, scanning the Phoenix-X's next actions. "Sir, they're preparing their own colored matter in response...... red!?"

    "What? Those Cap-slacks really did overcome their inevitable, collective failure," Seifer bemused. Then, realizing, "They're going hit our blue matter with red matter and make purple matter!?"

    Kayl replied, "That'll disable this cluster like the last one."

    "Not if I can help it. We've been suffering through life without our LCs-- oh, Lissepian Candies, to clarify-- for far too long. Target the Phoenix-X and prepare the Breen Tom Paris'd energy dissipator."

    Kugo turned from her controls. "It's ready."

    "Sorry, Epsilon; you did good, but not Third Fleet-good. --Fire."

    Seconds later, a white fizz of energy was shot out from the Darkseid and into the Phoenix-X, knocking all its systems offline, once again.

    The Breen ship turned to the cluster of black holes and ejected a canister of blue matter into it, forcing the holes together and opening a large tunnel in space-time. The Darkseid then flew through, somehow circumventing all forms of spaghettification, gravitational lensing or loss of electrons.

    Post edited by hawku001x on
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 638 Arc User
    edited April 2016
    Due to word length being way over forum limits, please enjoy Animosity
    Post edited by aten66 on
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 9,665 Community Moderator
    edited May 2016
    A Good Compromise (part 3)

    Bridge, USS Black Prince, 1329 hours

    “Talk to me, S’ulluru!” Tyria snapped as she arrived on the bridge.

    “Twenty-three attack ships, one strike ship, bearing one-niner-zero by five-five at high impulse,” the Caitian quickly rattled off. “Their weapons are hot. Erbil’s wing is on an intercept course.”

    “No capitals?” S’ulluru shook her head as Tyria vaulted the quarterdeck railing without slowing down and took her seat, hitting the comm switch for the squadron’s tactical frequency. Might mean they aren’t serious; we could still salvage this. “All units,” she said into the mic, “scramble tac channel. Yar, Crazy Horse, stay with McCoy and get her out if they get past our fire. Dakotas, you’re second hurdle: come in behind us and backstop. Ronson!”


    “Hard about and straight at ‘em. Shelon, open a hailing channel.”

    “Channel open.”

    “This is Commodore Tyria Sark of the Federation Starfleet to Vorta field supervisor. This system is under Federation protection, and while I wish to avoid a military confrontation, we will respond to any overtly hostile act against either ourselves or the Teplans with all due force. Please respond. Break. Leave the channel open, Shelon.”

    “Black Prince, Cape Town, lead flight of bugs coming right at us—Commodore, they’re going for torpedo lock! Do I have permission to fire?

    “Negative, Cape Town; hold your fire. Do not fire until fired upon.” We shoot first, it’s an act of war. They shoot first, it’s self-defense.

    No, take evasive action! Damn it, Sark, we’re engaged with five, repeat, five! We’re in deep sh*t!

    “Keep your cool, Commander!” she snapped. “I repeat, do not fire unless fired upon! Edward!” she said to the air. A twenty-five centimeter hologram of a knight in black plate armor with his helmet under his arm flickered into existence atop a console. “Activate multi-vector assault mode.”

    “Aye, milady.” The knight put on its helmet and winked out.

    Tyria shook her head. Edward was definitely one of the more eccentric AUs she’d met. The personality even had an SCA membership for Gaunt’s sake.

    All hands, stand by,” the entity’s tenor voice rang through the intercom as alert klaxons went off. “M-V-A-M in five, four, three, two, one!

    Tyria felt the rumble through the floor of the docking clamps retracting, then the upper lobe of the escort’s bow lifted smoothly off the fuselage. The axial warp nacelles extended from the wedge-shaped Alpha section’s dorsal and ventral surfaces as the lower half of the main hull separated.

    She nodded, satisfied. All she had to do now was trust Edward to keep his two sections coordinated with hers. “Ronson, get us in firing range of the strike ship and get a solid lock.”

    “I thought we weren’t attacking.” Ronson sounded confused.

    “We’re not. Trust me,” she said, forcing a smile. “Full impulse. Prep attack pattern Sitak Two.”

    Ronson assented and hit a command sequence. There was a squeal from his console; Tyria caught sight of a red light. “Engineering, Conn, I’ve got an alarm on the dorsal nacelle!” Ronson yelled into the intercom.

    He was answered by the chief engineer yelling, “¡Que p*ta tu madre! F*cking Yoyodyne pendejo, imunna rip your spleen out through your—

    Tyria snapped, “Velasquez! Answer the comm!”

    Sorry, Cap, we’ve got a—no, that one goes there, that one goes there!—overload in one of the coils, blew out half a dozen—

    “Short version!”

    We have no warp core! We’re minus half power and we can’t run!

    “Wonderful!” S’ulluru snarled.

    I can fix it, but you won’t have enough power for the main cannons unless you draw from—

    “If this works we won’t need the main cannons,” Tyria interrupted.

    “And what if it doesn’t work?” Ronson blurted out.

    “Then things are about to get really interesting!”

    Prince’s three sections arrowed in at the two Jems trailing the New Samarkand as the Cape Town whipped past a hundred fifty klicks below their bow, trailed by five—No, six—attack ships. “Flag to New Sam, on my mark, come off high to port,” she ordered. “Three, two, one, break left!

    The squat São Paulo-class veered relative up and to port as Alpha swung right, bringing Black Prince’s spade-shaped prow into line with the pursuing strike ship. “Cannons locked!” Ronson crowed. “Launcher locked and loaded!”

    “Targeting sensors to maximum power! Paint the hull but do not fire! Edward, cover them!” The other two sections raced forward and moved into formation with New Samarkand as the advanced escort bounced harmless but very loud energy off the beetle-like frigate’s hull.

    Tyria might not speak Dominionese, but she was fluent in the unspoken language used by spacers. Painting the hull meant, “I have you dead to rights.”

    Sam, Edward, full impulse two seconds, then Immelmann!” Tyria barked. The strike ship and attack ship broke to starboard and went evasive; the three other ships flipped end-for-end and came back at him. “Ronson, stay with him and keep those cannons locked! Shelon, hail them again!” The Rigelian waved her on as the stars on the monitor whirled. “This is Commodore Sark to Vorta field supervisor. I won’t be the one to initiate hostilities, but you and I both know eventually your First is going to lose patience, so cut the cr*p and answer the comm before your next host has to explain this to the Founders!”

    The channel remained silent for a moment, then an incongruously friendly female voice came through. “Commodore Sark, this is Kilana. If you would be so kind as to pull your ships back, we will stand down.

    S’ulluru sent a text to the screen on Tyria’s chair. “Negative, Kilana,” she read aloud; “you pull back. You are in violation of the territorial space of a Federation ally. Treaty of Bajor, Article II, Clause Six—”

    —was intended to refer to existing colonies of the Khitomer Accords powers, not newly created protectorates,” the Vorta interrupted, voice still friendly but now tinged with irritation.

    On the screen the strike ship jinked right; Ronson swung to starboard and followed, keeping the torpedo tube in line. Tyria muted the channel for a moment. “Ronson, back off a bit, give her room.” She turned the comm back on. “And it didn’t explicitly specify either way, Kilana. Per paragraph seven you may leave an equal number of ships in-system as a diplomatic escort—”

    Which you would outgun by a factor of three.

    “Should have brought a cruiser, then,” the Zakdorn gunner’s mate at the tactical station to her left muttered, sotto voce.

    Tyria shot an irritated glance over her shoulder. “Even if I was the type to violate regulations on the treatment of foreign diplomats, that would be an act of war. And I’m not suggesting you meet with the Teplans, just me. If you’d agree to a face-to-face meeting, I think we can avoid any further unpleasantness.”

    There was a pause, then: “Your place or mine?

    “... Is she flirting with you, Captain?” S’ulluru whispered.

    “I have no idea, but I’ll play along. Kilana, I believe my ship has a bigger wardroom and better replicators.”

    There was a burst of tinkling laughter on the other end of the channel. “First Takat’alan, you will stand down. Commodore Sark, I will beam to your ship in fifteen minutes.

    “Thank you. Sark out.” Tyria stood as several of the Jem’Hadar ships blurred into the distance, and turned to the tactical station. “Gunner’s Mate, my ready room, please.”
    * * *

    “She’s late, sir,” the Andorian goldshirt at the technical monitor station remarked, glancing at the clock.

    “I noticed,” Ronson muttered. “Jessie, you got a likely point of origin?”

    The senior cadet sitting at the science station answered, “Their entry vector tracks with a known Dominion base at a protostar thirty light-years rimward, catalogue number NGC-25286.”

    “Funny,” Petty Officer sh’Quo said. Ronson gave her a quizzical glance and gestured at her to go on. “Well, sir, according to this intel, they’ve got three full battle groups at that base. Six BB, one DN.”

    Jessie Kahangi nervously prompted, “You mean—”

    The shen was blunt: “They could’ve wiped us out.”

    “Oh, God.”

    “But they didn’t,” she continued, looking back to the report.

    “There she is,” Ronson said, pointing to the screen. The others on the bridge crowded around the console.

    The image showed a woman in a cranberry-colored long dress, flanked by two scaly Jem’Hadar who raised rifles at the armed Security crewmen standing behind the Professor. Jessie tensed beside him, but the Vorta waved a hand and the Jems lowered their weapons; the redshirts did likewise.

    Welcome aboard, Kilana. I’m Commodore Sark.

    Well, on behalf of the Dominion, allow me to extend my apologies for the earlier… unpleasantness.

    “That’s an understatement,” Ronson muttered.

    I can respect a woman doing her job. This way, please.

    “She’s cute,” Jessie remarked as the party left the frame of the camera. Ronson glanced at her in surprise. “What?”

    “Nothing.” He shook his head.

    “You think the Professor can pull this off?” Jessie asked.

    “What, get the Dominion to back down?” Sh’Quo let out a breath. “I hope so.”

    “Damn. Damn, damn damn damn.”

    Ronson turned his chair around. “Hey. Like she said, they could’ve sent a lot more ships—”

    “You saw that broadcast earlier?”

    Ronson froze. “Moab?”

    “I had a Moby in my battalion in freshman year.”

    “Close, sir?” sh’Quo asked, concerned.

    “Study partners a few times but we weren’t really friends. Anyway, Mizrahi defected when they broke away and now…”

    “Oh. Frak.”

    “And we’re off on the other side of the damn galaxy playing tag with the Dominion when that’s going on?!”
    * * *

    “Can I offer you something to drink?” Tyria asked.

    “I’ll… have what you’re having,” Kilana decided.

    The Trill poured two snifters of cerulean brew and handed one to the Vorta. Tyria took a sip. It was strong stuff, sweet and sour.

    Kilana drained her glass in a single gulp and promptly choked, grabbing at her throat. “Are you… trying to poison me?” she gasped out between hacking coughs.

    The captain hid a smile behind her glass. Even with the Vorta resistance to toxins, Romulan ale was Romulan ale. “This is a very good brew. You’re supposed to sip it a little slower.”

    “I’ll stick to water,” Kilana managed, hoarsely.

    “As you like. Now.”

    “Yes, ahem, the Teplans.” Kilana coughed again; her eyes were watering. “I’ll, um, be straightforward.” She leaned against the table and flopped into the chair. “Once again, the Federation is, hem, interfering in matters that are not its, hack, concern.”

    Tyria took pity on the Vorta. “Water?”

    “Please. Um. The Teplans are rightfully citizens of the Dominion; you are beyond your jurisdiction and, I think, violating your Prime Directive.”

    Tyria passed Kilana a glass of ice water. “According to most customs I’m aware of, I think it’s fair to say any de facto jurisdictional claim ended in”—she paused to remember the date—“2192 Earth Standard when you pulled out.”

    “Yes, after they rejected the beneficence of the Founders and tried to warp a commandeered attack ship into the Karemma homeworld.”

    “Well, I don’t condone that.” Then she leveled an icy glare at Kilana. “Any more than I condone the deaths of 47 million Benzites, 70 million Betazoids, and, oh yes, eight hundred million Cardassians.”

    “We were at war.” Kilana’s easy smile had long since faded.

    “What happened in the occupied territories went well beyond war and you know it,” Tyria snapped. “I can’t speak for the Teplans, but if what I saw at Weller’s Star after the Jem’Hadar came through is your idea of ‘beneficence’, I’d’ve taken my chances. And the fact that you completely abandoned the planet after bombing them back to the Gunpowder Age and releasing the blight suggests you didn’t have much use for them to begin with. I mean, look at the place.” She got up and waved a hand at the mud-colored world hanging in the blackness outside the viewport. “Minimal dilithium and duranium deposits, barely enough to support civilian space travel. No other significant renewables or nonrenewables; their only real export commodity at the moment is arts and crafts. You leaving tells me the Teplans were never much use except as a jewel in the Founders’ crown or as an example to potential rebels.”

    “So why does the Federation care about them?” Kilana countered.

    “Because they asked.”

    Now the Vorta did start laughing. “I like you, Sark. You’re good. Ahhh…” She leaned back in her chair. “Starfleet really enjoys its creature comforts, doesn’t it. Do you know why you want this system?” She slid a small silvered disc across the table. Tyria tensed momentarily before remembering the weapon scanners, then her suspicions vanished with the appearance of a holographic starmap. “It’s strategic. T-Rogaran, Malastare, and 415 Belial, major systems within forty light-years.”

    Tyria raised a skeptical eyebrow at the Vorta. “Really? That’s what you’re going with? If Starfleet needed a secure beachhead in the Gamma Quadrant we’d just fortify the Idran terminus, like we did on the far side during the War. Certainly not a system this far out.”

    “You’ve already fortified one planet even further out.”

    “What, New Bajor? Not my responsibility.”

    “Interesting: you claim the planet and it's people as your territory but deny any involvement in their actions.”

    “You understand, we’re a federation, not a unitary state,” the Trill pointed out. “The Articles of the Federation state the Bajorans are entitled to maintain military forces of their own, and they disbanded their space warfare arm ten years ago in any case.” She waved one hand dismissively and took a sip of ale with the other. “But if you have a specific accusation about a breach of treaty by the Republic of Bajor or the Militia, make it through channels and we’ll take it up.”

    “Well, you’re a perfectly good channel for this message, Commodore. Not an accusation, a warning: the Dominion will not tolerate Federation interference in our affairs.”

    “And the Federation will not abrogate a freely entered agreement with an allied state simply because you want us to.”

    “We will not allow you to build a base here.”


    Kilana froze just long enough that Tyria caught it. “You agree?”

    “As I said, we don’t need one; our ships have enough range it would be superfluous. It’d just be needless provocation.”

    “Well, of course it would. And we want diplomatic access.”

    “With a small Jem’Hadar garrison, naturally,” Tyria nodded. “In return, I want it in writing that the Dominion accepts de jure Teplan independence.”

    Kilana laughed. “Ask no small favors, eh?”

    “Look, they’re already a de facto independent world, you’d just be making it official.”

    “It will be difficult.”

    “All right, how about this?” She clicked through a few screens on her PADD. “I can get Dominion trade ships a small credit on wormhole fees.”

    The Vorta’s expression didn’t change, but Tyria caught a twitch. “Are you trying to bribe me?”

    “Possibly,” Tyria answered, suppressing a grin. “Is it working?”


    Government House, Keralaton, Yarmta, 2341 hours

    “You betrayed us!”

    “Due respect, Your Excellency, I saved your lives.”

    The Teplan’s reaction to the deal wasn’t unexpected. “You promised you’d keep the Dominion out, and you’re letting them in! And you say I have no say in the matter?”

    “Sir!” Tyria shouted before he could continue. “Just because the Dominion has a presence doesn’t mean you have to actually listen to them!”

    Julyeen seemed to almost short-circuit at this. “What?”

    “They’re going to have a consulate, a few Vorta and enough Jems to provide security. I have it in writing from Kilana that—”

    Kilana?! That one ordered the blight!”

    “Sir, may I please finish?”

    “I thought your Federation prized self-determination! You should have consulted me before you unilaterally decided the fate of my entire species!”

    Tyria was impassive. The Lord Protector was an autocrat. An elected one, but an autocrat nonetheless, and as a rule autocrats were jealous of their power. “Sir, I didn’t consult you because I knew you’d react like this. This is the best deal you could get.”

    “No military technology, no permanent defenses, no reparations, and a Dominion military presence on my world, a world they tried to destroy!”

    “Legal independence, continued Starfleet naval presence, Dominion presence small enough you can counter it, and it’s only the Federation who can’t sell you weapons!” Tyria countered. “A good compromise is when both parties are dissatisfied.”

    “But if you can’t fortify Yarmta—”

    “The Dominion at least tries to look like they keep their agreements, and they know if they break treaty they give us casus belli. We beat them once before, and without needing to use the weapons I worked on.”

    “What weapons?”

    Tyria guessed that this qualified as need-to-know and hoped Command would agree. “You think the Dominion are the only ones who can make biogenic weapons? During the Dominion War—or I guess it’s the Quadrant War here—I worked on a team developing a virus to target the Jem’Hadar genome. Alpha Red, we called it.”

    “It works?”

    “It was never tested. President Zife had ethical objections and the war ended before it was anywhere near ready. But as far as I’m aware, the project was never actually cancelled.”

    The Lord Protector paused thoughtfully, then he gave her a quizzical look. “Wait, back up. You were alive during the Quadrant War? You don’t look old enough for that, Commodore.”

    Tyria grinned. “I stopped counting after I hit three hundred.”

    “You really don’t look old enough for that.”

    “Try talking to Q sometime.”
    Post edited by starswordc on
    "Two ways to view the world, so similar at times / Two ways to rule the world, to justify their crimes / By Kings and Queens young men are sent to die in war / Their propaganda speaks those words been heard before"
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  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 638 Arc User
    \\\\ Somewhere between Terra Nova and Starbase 621 ////

    The Tzenkethi merchant ship T.G.S. Bizranth traveled the common trading lanes heading toward Starbase 621, after disembarking from port within the Federation colony world of Terra Nova, before heading towards its final destination of Ab-Tzenketh. Shipping lanes were dangerous now with Na'kuhl raiders having been attacking ships in transit. Captain Ferram Ter Gar-B, merely hoped he and his crew would be able to sell their wares after checking in at Starbase 621, before heading back to Tzenketh with a few more credits in his possession and happy customers, hopefully earning Rank A from this dangerous assignment.

    Suddenly his ship lurched, leaving warp 3 after being forced out of subspace. "Captain -grrtch-, we've been hit by a subspace mine -grrtch-" the ships Breen helmsman reports from his position, "Damage is negligible, -grrtch- but the warp core may be out until repairs are made -grrtch-" At this the Tzenkethi Captain gets up form his seat.

    "How long are repairs going to take, while we sit dead in space?" he asks his crew, before turning to his weapons and intelligence officer, "Do we know if this was Na'kuhl?" Typing into his console, the Tzenkethi crewman looks to his Captain.

    "No sir, it appears to be an older weapon, fragments indicate the mine was... Federation in design, but dating indicates this mine is well over a hundred years old; it's possible that it finally gave out and exploded," she replies, "It could be a leftover from the Old Wars; the Federation was a little bit more loose on this type of weaponry until the establishment of the Second Khitomer Accords."

    Suddenly alert klaxons trip on, and the Breen Helmsman turns to his Captain. "-grrtch- Incoming Warp signature, attempting to match visuals," he says while returning to his console, "Visual records indicate a negative to descriptions matching Na'kuhl, -grrtch- sir, but its technology is -grrtch- most similar to Federation technology."

    "Bring it onscreen," the Captain says, the screen flaring to life, revealing a dark colored ship of unknown design, "Open hailing frequencies, let's find out what they want." Before the channel could be open, the ship shuddered, the bridge going dark.

    "Captain, shields failing, whatever they just hit us with disabled our subsystems," a Orion crewman calls from the side, "Some kind of viral matrix inserted into our systems by the mine, it's taking control of our environmental systems.. sir! It's flooding the ship with unknown gaseous chemi-" The crewman had barely anytime to utter a word, as the screen showed one last volley of torpedoes heading toward the already damaged ship.

    ///// Two Hours Later /////

    \\\\ I.S.S. Clockwork \\\\

    "Helm, are we near the last know coordinates of the Bizranth?" the human Captain called Drake asked his Andorian helmsman, "Any sign of escape pods with survivors or debris?"

    "It appears Captain that there are ship remains located nearby," the ships Liberated Borg/Romulan science officer, Nilona, says, "Debris indicate various containers and cargo, all still intact though showing weapons damage, which I'm attempting to analyze now..." Nodding, Drake returns his view to the screen, showing the debris field.

    "Sir, I'm detecting a shuttle not to far off from here, 13 Ceti System, just got a ping from its emergency beacon," a Caitian officer says, "Their life support is failing, warpcore is looking to turn critical from weapons fire, their on their last leg."

    "Helm, set course for the shuttle, alert Dr. Sapheris of potential casualties and to prepare for anything," he orders, before returning his eyes to the view screen, "Let's go people, we have a mystery to solve."

    // Ceti 13 System, Outer Rim //

    After removing it self from transwarp drive, the Clockwork quickly grabbed the shuttle gently in its tractor beams, guiding it away from a collision course with a nearby asteroid fragment. At this Drake stands taking in the view of the shuttle before him. It was badly damaged, scorch marks marred the hull of the unique teardrop vessel, while it appeared to have emergency force fields surrounding a breach in the hull.

    "Extend shields, lets make sure that patch holds," Drake says, "Open a channel to the... Marrk, and let's see if we can get a handle on this situation." The request is sent and the channel opens up to show a being huddled very close to their own viewscreen.

    "Thank the Gods!" the alien exclaimed, "I am Crewman Engineer-A Tahlo, formerly of the Tzenkethi starship Bizranth, I'm glad someone showed up." She appeared to be an Evora by her stature and appearance, and there appeared to be a Tzenkethi and a not-quite-human crewman behind her.

    "I am Captain Drake Stormbauch of the Federation starship I.S.S. Clockwork and we've been asked by Starbase 621 to see why your ship hadn't checked in," he says, "We found evidence of a battle nearby when we picked up your distress signal, can you tell us what happened?"

    "We escaped -cough- not so much the rest of the crew though," she says, "We were attacked after we -cough- stumbled upon an old mine that must have got lost during some war... we were down below when we really got attacked, managed to make inside an escape pod when things went real bad." Suddenly she breaks down into harsh coughing fits, the not-human crewman managing to grab her and help her down. The man takes over her position at the screen, revealing him to be a Daliwakan with his pronounced bridges on his forehead.

    "I suggest that if you do send anyone over here, Captain, that you make sure they wear hazard or decontamination gear," he says, "I'm H'rahn Jamison, minor toxicologist and nurse, formerly, and we have all been currently exposed to unknown toxins released into the Bizranth before its destruction, we may still be carriers as well as this shuttle." Nodding, Gregs had tactical relay that to the engineering team about to beam over with security, as well as inform sickbay.

    "Thank you Mr. Jamison, I've informed my crew of the situation and we will respond according to procedure," Drake responds, "We'll send a team over to stabilize and sterilize your ship, if possible, and make sure you all are comfortable until we find an antitoxin." Looking quite relieved, all three crewman look satisfied with their response.

    //// Sickbay ////

    "I've managed to stabilize the Tzenkethi, he had a little bit more resistance to the toxins than the others, but Miss Tahlo and Mister H'rahn are in a very delicate situation," Rubia Sapheris, the Senior Medical Officer of the Clockwork says, "The toxins appear to be a mix of a bit of everything, necrotic and neurological, from various sources I can't even begin to identify, except a base few." Drake nodded at what his trusted medical officer was telling him, knowing firsthand how difficult it was to deal with toxins without a pure source to pull Anti-Toxins from.

    "I know this is difficult to ask, but is there anything you can pull from the toxins themselves that could identify who this came from?" he replies, "Engineer Tahlo spoke of a mine they hit, perhaps it held the toxins and distributed it into the ship before anything could get sealed off."

    "H'rahn also mentioned that the toxins were coming from the vents, Captain, before I had to put him under," Rubia says, "Perhaps the mine held some kind of worm or virus that overwrote the merchant ship's life support systems, so that it would produce these toxins?"

    "How though?" he says, "Even if a virus got in and was able to alter life support, there is no way it would have been able to produce the toxins necessary, not without some kind of replicator at hand, and I doubt a ship like that wouldn't have noticed power being diverted and not correct it in a battle they could have fled." At this Drake takes his leave, heading for his ready room to investigate the ships cargo manifest, hoping he had received both Terra Nova's and Starbase 621's own records.

    \\\ Meanwhile, Unknown Star System ///

    "Any progress?" the first person asks a second.

    "No," the metallic ring of the second answers, "We've come across many of these toxins before in our travels, I've managed to only decode a third of them so far, and progress is slow on identifying all the anti-toxins." The first merely nods.

    "Very well then, I'll let you continue on your work, I will be speaking with Zinuzee privately in my new ready room," Gregs replies, "And Ten, if Captain Feram's condition improves in anyway or even worsens, please alert me." With that the Liberated Borg officer nods and returns to his current work, analyzing an alien device found in an old subspace mine brought hundreds of years forward for an unknown purpose, along with about a hundred other identical ones.

    Swiftly riding through the turbolift, Gregs ascends to the bridge of his new vessel, its light blue colorings quite reminiscent of another life, a better future. Passing by his Kobali engineer, his Breen security officer and Jem'Hadar tactician on Beta Shift, Gregs makes his way to his ready room, oddly not to dissimilar to his old one except for a palate change and some changes in seating, even a fish tank holding his dear common Octopus, Leopold. Already seated across from him, half-asleep by the looks of it, his Trill First Officer diligently pours over a PADD in front of her. Kissing his wife on the cheek, Gregs merely looks over her shoulder to see what it was she was looking at. A Tadaari raider, by the looks of the schematics, along with a dissection of its weaponry and information regarding shields and hull strength, as well as detailed reports on it's 'Time Slip' ability and plasma barrage feature.

    "You need a break," Gregs says to her, "Go to bed and let me continue 'oh diligent' officer, I promise to wake you up if Noye comes out surrounding us with his personal warship and a fleet of Sphere Builder ships, or if the Na'kuhl manage to bring Vosk back and he targets everyone we've ever loved..."

    "Right funny man, you weren't even involved with Vosk..." she yawns, "It was....It was..." With that she rubs her eyes, having forgot who it was, before being gently guided out the door and steered towards their quarters.

    "Yeah, Vosk..." Gregs says, now returning to his desk, "We may just come across Na'kuhl though..." The screen showing a depiction of the timeline and Na'kuhl interference in the past hundred years. Returning to his desk, he reviews the files he had received from Chassidy regarding the mystery of the subspace mines with alien technology in it. "Now let's just see what the Na'kuhl are up to," he says, "And find out just what they would have gained by poisoning the Tzenkethi Coalition."

    \\\\ I.S.S. Clockwork's Ready Room \\\\

    After twenty three minutes of searching, Drake was interrupted by a beep at his door. "Come in," he replied absently, shuffling through two PADD's and his own desk screen, trying to find discrepancies. Nilona walked into the room, holding her own PADD, before walking to Drake's wall monitor, bringing up technical schematics of the missing, possibly destroyed, ship.

    "From what we can deduce from various parts and large debris cut off of the hull by the attack," she starts, "There is three primary energy types given off by various different weapons, Thoron, Quantum Phase, and Chronometric Polaron, along with the Subspace mines own energy signature." Drake merely looks up from his work. "Quite an odd hodgepodge of weaponry, don't you think so sir?" she says, "This has to be either a pirate ship or another trade merchant trying to frame the Na'kuhl for this attack and loot both crew and cargo for their own gain." She manages to bring up known pirate groups operating in this section of space.

    "I'm sorry Nilona, but it isn't pirates," Drake sighs wearily, "I'm afraid I believe I've deduced who would have done this, I would have agreed with you if it wasn't for the Quantum Phase weaponry and the fact the subspace weapon was old Federation standard." Quite puzzled, the long haired Borg operative merely tilts her head in confusion. Turning a PADD to her, Nilona merely gasps at the ship before her.

    "No sir, it can't have been the Kh'tar, she was presumed destroyed one month ago, there were debris..." she says, noticing the ships compliment included all three energy types, "There must be a mistake, sir you know those people, they wouldn't do anything, especially if they still considered their former Captain deranged."

    "That's if he was still deranged when he returned to the ship for transference to a new facility, Captain Son'aire had proven to not be a danger, that was why he was transferred after three months of observation ," Drake replies, "but there were rumors that he talked to himself, or to someone else; very possibly the same people who convinced him to take up arms and proceed to go rogue, likely Section 31 or another faction." Nodding numbly, Nilona thought of the friends she had in the Kh'tar's senior crew.

    "That is, of course, if it is Gregs who has become rogue, or someone who overpowered them en route and seized the vessel for their own use," Drake says shakily, "Either way we must do our duty and rid ourselves of this phantom pirate, before he starts a war with the whole Alpha Quadrant, or re-ignites the ones between Tzenkethi and the Federation." Drake gets up from his desk. "Either way, I'm afraid I can't let this slide," Drake says, "Gregs is either coming back in to be court-martialed, or go down fighting."

  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 9,691 Arc User
    edited September 2016
    In the exhaust-filled, spark-flinging darkness of ship-interior-ness, Menrow, Reynolds, Iviok, Samya and McCary found themselves just waking off the floor, together, from simultaneous unconsciousness.

    "Damn! We failed our self-given mission worse than Riker mounting an uncalculated bar stool," cursed Menrow.

    Samya gripped her head as she sat up. "Please don't bring that up. Ever. Again."

    "Our lack of visual is messing with our references. Let me get the light." Iviok felt around for a control panel in the dark.

    But, instead, he flicked a switch which let out the floor beneath them. All five Captains fell through and out of the ship onto a red, grassy land: They were crashed on Planet Nibiru, in a forest, and the ship they were in was the Breen Chel Grett warship Darkseid!

    "That wasn't the light," countered Reynolds. "And outer space has dirt now?"

    A nearby shuffling sound was followed by Seifer's voice. "You're on an alien world, Reynolds. One, the likes you have never seen! I'm guessing. It's not like I can read your mind. Welcome to Nibiru!"

    "Captain??" Samya, followed by the others, turned to behold a nearby area of forest where Seifer was caught in an elaborate trap.

    Walking over, the group viewed that Seifer was being suspended above them by a complex system of primitive red bamboo-like sticks.

    "After we went through the black hole portal, I realized Mayhem had transferred himself over to the Darkseid's Bridge," Seifer explained. "He must've beamed you guys over, last minute, to help stop me. Well, I took care of him."

    Seifer revealed a mobile emitter in his left suspended-arm's palm.

    "He actually stole this from Voyager's Doctor out of holographic competition. Typical Section 31! Am I right?"

    Menrow's jaw dropped. "That's the second time he transported us!? And he's with Section 31??"

    "Oh, come on. Like you couldn't see through that pretentious elitism? He's like a message board user who harps on your writing any chance he gets," Seifer explained. "You see, Section 31 does whatever they want. It's they who have Geordi's VISOR."

    Samya clutched her head. "This is too much to process. What is it you want out of all of this then?"

    "I just want to negotiate the release of my crew's Calibus VII re-disease-ening. The Nibiru somehow reactivated it; they can stop it."

    Iviok began examining the bamboo-like contraption. "Oh, they can do anything, can they? Like, capture Captain Seifer? At least now we have you, the same way the Enterprise-D was able to hold on to Doctor Tolian Soran."

    "Maybe if we had built a defense against that dissipater instead of some pointless psionic shielding, we wouldn't be crashed on this planet right now," countered a hairy McCary.

    Reynolds began massaging her temples from a resuming barrage high-pitched telepathic noise. "What do you mean? That's how we stopped you from going full Tribble in the first place!"

    "The fault lies in our commanding officer. I should have been the one to lead us, my sibling-search notwithstanding," Samya turned to face Menrow.

    Shaking his head, Menrow erupted. "You know what? You're all on a time-out! I want each of you to find a red tree and stand, facing it, to think about what you all have done!"

    All five Captains began talking over each other in anger until their raised volume activated a mechanism on the trap, erupting a strange alien call out from a bamboo-like tube.

    "It's the prophesized ones!" came an alien voice, freezing Task Force Epsilon's energized discussion. Its speaker, a Nibiru with white skin and black lines around his head, approached. "I am First Leader Nune and we have been calling to you through the Heavens!"

    In no time, the group was surrounded by more Nibiru. They collectively deactivated the trap and let Seifer down to be free.

    "These traps are for the untamed naked drakoulias. They eat the delicious flesh of anyone in the Red Forest," one of the other Nibiru explained. "My name is Cela and I am Second Leader."

    Seifer was freed. "Your 'calling' has somehow reactivated a sickness in me. Who targets a starship with copious levels of psionic energy from a planet anyway?"

    "Oh, we do! Our psychic powers are amplified through the Heavens, and their Heavens' Heavens, eternal," Nune said while one of the other Nibiru played around with the mobile emitter. "And its use of the genetically-altering power of ones mind acts to reveal you as our God! We are all now the Great Birds of the Galaxy!"

    Then, Mayhem was suddenly activated prompting Menrow to react in shock.

    "Oh, for the many alien loves of James T. Kirk! Whoever the actual Great Bird is must be spinning in his bird grave."


    As the group was escorted to a small pre-industrial village, fashioned together in red structures, they came upon a giant crystal at the center of the town. There, several Nibiru Priests were knelt, ritualistically feeding psionic energy into it.

    "This is all our fault," Menrow said to his team of four Captains while Seifer and Mayhem were drifted away by the locals. "If we could only maintain a work-together paradigm like we were supposed to via the reversal, we could have taken Seifer back to the Darkseid and out of here by now."

    Samya sighed. "I hate to admit it, but Margarita-Head is right. What's more, is that we let Mayhem get the best of us, twice."

    "Perhaps, instead of allowing fate or tropes to define us, we should define ourselves," Iviok suggested. "I accept that our group has a clichéd Captain's team hand-stack ritual before every mission."

    As he held out his hand, waiting for the others to join him, everyone decided to just nod in awkward agreement instead.

    "I can read that you are all not happy with circumstances at present." They were then approached by Cela, the Second Leader. "Only a small portion of my people have mental powers, and I use mine to survey social cliques."

    Reynolds nodded. "As one should. But what's it to you, Stripe-Face?"

    "I, too, do not believe we need a 'God'," Cela replied. "To me, there is no such thing, and what we witnessed over a century ago does not correlate to our definition of who we are now."

    McCary was taken aback. "An atheist?? A pox on thee!"

    "Yes," the Nibiru woman rolled her eyes. "Not all us Nibiru are as foolish as our head-tilting ancestors, just 151 years ago, when they gazed the saving of our world by an obese metal bubble-bird."

    Menrow tapped his chin. "I kind of want to know what that is, but I also kind of don't. Also, can we leave on our own free will?"

    "Yes, but your friend Seifer will likely be executed when he disavows being our God," Cela answered. "Our mental powers are highly developed, but only at sacrifice to our maturity levels."

    Samya shrugged, contemplating it. "Well. I mean, he had a good run with those LCs that one time, right? Oh, Leola Crepes."

    "And there is another problem," Cela continued. "Your non-mind holo-friend has gone somewhere with Nune, the First Leader. Nune seeks mortal power over all Nibiru Countries-- even the weird ones."

    Iviok added, "We're two for two! Now Mayhem can do all the evil schemes he wants here. It's in his programming after all."

    "You know what?" Menrow started. "You two are on a time-out! Go stand next to the psionic crystal!"


    Later, Menrow, Samya and McCary approached Seifer and a group of Nibiru, just outside the red forest. Seifer was preparing for a run.

    "Captain, once you disavow your God-hood, the Nibiru will kill you," warned Menrow. "And, according to B'Elanna Torres, the correct afterlife is the Klingon one."

    Seifer smirked. "Who in their right minds would disavow something like that? Also, are you going to join me in the chase ritual? It turns out, everything here is high-octane and adrenaline-running!"

    "I haven't run since my Academy days. Twisted my ankle chasing mini-Q after mini-Q," McCary added, raising his tribble-fur-covered arm, as his body had resumed transformation.

    Seifer looked at him. "You're weird. Well, anyway, Task Force Epsilon belongs to all of you now." He addressed the three. "If you could not-ruin her with Warp 10-salamandering or anything, that would be great." Then, interrupting himself, he added, "And, GO!"

    "Didn't a Klingon named Menchez do that once?" Samya asked before realizing Seifer and the group of Nibiru jumped into a run for their lives through the red forest.

    Menrow, McCary and Samya looked at each other in reacting-shock and then decided to run after them!

    "Does-- my-- speaking-- in labored-- breaths--- constitute-- as 'done-to-death'--?" McCary asked during the sprint.

    Menrow and Samya replied, "YES!"

    As red trees whipped by their fields of vision, sounds of naked drakoulias could be heard all around them.


    Reynolds and Iviok secretly followed the holographic virus, Mayhem, and the Nibiru leader, Nune, toward the tall volcano in the distance. Inside the hole, within the depths of the mountain's innards, it appeared as if an entire lava explosion was frozen and hardened in place.

    "This is where we avoided death, oh great one," Nune said. "Our lives are renewed thanks to your Starfleet kind-- the Great Birds of the Galaxy!"

    Mayhem agreed, as he carried a Breen device with him. "That's actually true since most of Starfleet is run by Aurelians now. Anyway, we must complete your renewal here with one of our own rituals, as reciprocation." And then, to add, "An eternal reciprocation..."

    "Hold it right there, Mayhem," Reynolds called out as she and Iviok stepped around one of the many tall, hardened lava spews, to reveal themselves. "You're planning on destroying the planet!?"

    The holographic virus double-taked. "Damn! How could that one self-indulgent line be my undoing? And to answer your question, Yes."

    He took the time to explain everything.

    "You see, a few months ago, the Nibiru began infusing the Vulcan sector with space-time psionics that initiated micro black holes, in an unwitting intent on terraforming half the quadrant into a shared space."

    Iviok's jaw dropped. "That's when Seifer's diseasening started! Not that I'd know of such things."

    "Precisely. They think they're merging and connecting with Heaven and even communicated with our telepaths so. But when I stopped the clusters with purple matter, I didn't suspect two more locations would arise: one in Romulan space's Azure sector, and one in Klingon space's Qo'noS sector. Section 31 sent me, your neighborhood hologram, a preprogrammed directive to stop the Nibiru by any means necessary. Since I'm also a virus, that means I distort that programming to any interpretation I see fit."

    Reynolds grumbled in anger. "You know, we couldn't boot up the Hijinx's main computer for two weeks after you left us? We ended up replacing it with Undine organics!"


    As Menrow, Samya, McCary, Seifer and the group of Nibiru reached the cliffs at the edge of the forest, Samya was busy kicking a naked drakoulias off her mouth-engulfed foot. Everyone else dismounted their own beasts, elegantly.

    "You're supposed to ride them, Captain," repeated Menrow.

    Samya finally kicked her naked drakoulias away from her. "I'll do it my way; you do it yours!"

    SPLASH! Suddenly, a giant red-bamboo like structure arose from the ocean, revealing a makeshift, home-made imitation Federation starship.

    "This is a part of their ritual. Using their eidetic memory, they reconstructed the obese metal bubble bird that saved them from an erupting volcano, long ago," Seifer explained.

    On its side, was labeled U.S.S. Enterprise. And to that, everyone gaped in shock!

    "Wait. What? Is that supposed to be a Constitution-class starship??" Menrow asked. "It looks like a swollen mash-up of fan-boy perversion? The nacelles make no sense whatsoever!"

    Samya stared at it. "It's possible the Nibiru got the details wrong?"

    "Or, perhaps we are in an alternate reality," McCary added. "Which is more likely after passing through a black hole? Think about it!"

    Menrow began to realize the odds which McCary was playing. He quickly turned to Seifer. "This is utter madness! High-octane adrenaline-runs? Giant, bulgy Starfleet ships?? We are in an alternate reality!"

    "I suspected as much when we entered that singularity in perfect form," said Seifer. "But then again, we don't have the same detailed understanding of black holes we used to back in the early 21st century."

    Samya interrupted, taking a fighting stance. "That's it! I'm cutting our losses, and taking these Nibiru-abominations out while we still can. I used to kill a lot, but alternate reality murder doesn't count. Right? It's on a heavily edited wiki somewhere, I'm sure."

    "No! We do this every time; rejecting some random trope or mishap. We have to stop that cycle and instead embrace their hokey alternate thing for what it is: A confusing nonsensical hack job full of rehash-- similar to Task Force Epsilon, if one were to bring it back home," Menrow said, before turning to the Nibiru. "We are no different than you. An imitation reality can be reality itself. Complete your final ritual."

    The group of Nibiru nodded and began a mental communication with the elders around the crystal, back in town. A giant shockwave of psionic energy blasted out from the crystal and through everyone, causing Seifer's sickness to recede.

    "You knew they were going to cure you," Menrow turned to Seifer in understanding. "You had no intention of remaining here as their God."

    Seifer nodded. "I John Harriman'd it; as in, I faked it till I made it. Only, I was more successful." Then, "Unfortunately, the only way to stop my crew's transformation was for the Nibiru to ritualistically cancel out their own abilities. For you, that means no more new Nibiru-brand micro-black holes."

    "And no more destroying of our world either!" came Nune's mixed-upset response while Reynolds and Iviok pushed out a defeated Mayhem, approaching the group.

    Mayhem grumbled. "What? I can't take five minutes to info dump without some alien native and two Starfleet Captains foiling me? You know everyone's a Fleet Admiral now, don't you? That doesn't make sense!"

    "We caught Mayhem trying to destroy the planet using a Breen warm fusion device," Iviok reported. "Nune, here, let the best of greed get a hold of him as he's been using all this for a second goal to foothold power over his neighboring countries."

    The First Leader nodded, humbly. "It's a lesson I am the first of my kind to learn. But, without OP mental abilities, our primary goal, the search for the true Great Bird, literally or thematically, will be more difficult than ever."

    "And, as for myself, well, I gleaned a lesson about the ire's of sentient technology," Iviok stated. "So, that may be a No from me on holographic equal rights. Just, No."

    Seifer stepped around to acknowledge the new arrivals, and Nune's intentions. "Even an alternate reality existence can go too far with its crutches into our Prime timeline. Whatever crazy, non-canon antics your Starfleet gets into, here, they're who you should be forcing an encounter with."

    He then stopped and looked at the over-sized, imitation alternate reality Enterprise. He began to feel sick to his stomach again.

    "Ugh. So ugly. How could they mess up something we so firmly established?" Seifer tapped his commbadge, quickly cutting off that thought. "Anyway, Seifer to crew. Seven to beam out!"


    Later, with the Darkseid repaired, the Breen Chel Grett warship re-entered the portal back to the Prime universe and towed the paralyzed Phoenix-X back to the Azure sector. There, the disabled starships Crucial, Hijinx, Jenova, Dropzone and Tsunami were rescued from their orbiting gravity conglomeration threat.

    "Well, with everything you've done, it's unlikely Starfleet will put you back in command of Task Force Epsilon any time soon," Menrow said to Seifer as the group of Captains stood in the Intrepid-class U.S.S. Crucial's briefing room.

    Seifer nodded. "The price for my reset buttoning; a price I've paid before, only, this time, for less-selfish reasons. But, at least I've got two partly-working starships, and, like Sela, I didn't get arrested. That's fair, right?"

    "Perhaps you should be the new task force commander, after all, Captain," Samya said, turning to Menrow, in response to Seifer. "A reality like what we just witnessed, or an over-the-top narrative, if you will, is not what I signed up for."

    Then McCary spoke in a reassuring tone to her. "Captain Menrow will still need you by his side."

    "Whoa!" reacted Reynolds as she and everyone turned their heads, for the first time, to behold a McCary who was now basically a fully transformed giant oval of multi-colored tribble fur.

    McCary decided this gathering was the pristine opportunity he'd been waiting for, to make the announcement he was dreading for so long now. "Well, I suppose this is as good a time as any. Guys, I'm pregnant!"

    Everyone looked at him in shock.

    "Oh, yeah. That's the stuff," replied Seifer. "It's good to be back."
    Post edited by hawku001x on
  • cmdrscarletcmdrscarlet Member Posts: 5,127 Arc User
    edited May 2016
    Rumors Are Not - Prompt 3

    The Type-15 shuttle banked toward the gigantic gantry floating near Earth Space Dock. Engulfed within the structure and attached by station-keeping grapples was an Excelsior-class ship. The semi-cylindrical nacelles connected to the secondary hull by angular pylons, which countered the current Starfleet aesthetic. The most obvious difference between old and new designs was the round saucer of the primary hull. As the shuttlecraft flew closer, the ship’s pearly skin made Solaris look brand new, even though it had seen retrofit, refit and repair over the years. Its current Captain was one of the few remaining actively flying its class. Although the Advanced Cruiser model was recently reintroduced with a modern visual style, Solaris was slowly becoming a one-of-kind.

    Cira Beitz had studied the history of the ship class and of Solaris itself. When her classmates in the Academy shared their postings, some were proud to have their first assignment with well-known Captains or ships. One of them even had a slot on the venerable Enterprise. For her part, Cira got a few jabs from friends at being assigned to an ‘old junker’. Yet, her readings suggested a slot on Solaris’ crew was nothing to be ashamed of or afraid from.

    Standing about 1.7 meters, Cira felt small in the tiny shuttlecraft, especially relative to the ship in the forward window. Her short dark brown hair rested mid-way down the neck while her high cheeks rested under penetrating blue eyes. She tucked her hair behind the left ear and turned to notice the pilot sitting to her left looking away back to the ship.

    “First assignment Ensign?”

    Cira nodded and forced herself to look relaxed by resting her hands in her lap. “How could you tell?”

    The pilot shrugged. His Engineering uniform was crisp and Cira noted the Lieutenant rank pips. With a sharp jawline and pointed nose, he looked intelligent. The pilot’s first question sounded disarming while inviting for discussion. “The more chatty ‘Cadies will blurt it out. Those who are quiet are the ones to watch. It’s in the eyes though. Veterans will focus on anything else because most ships are basically the same, just the layout changes.”

    Based on that answer, Cira considered the pilot may have a lot of experience at the shipyards. “Do you have any stories to share?”

    The pilot looked back to Solaris, and then lowered the speed one increment. “About the ship or the Captain?”

    Surprised, Cira stuttered, “e … either, one or the other, whatever.”

    The pilot grinned. “Let’s see, something not found in the files. During the retrofit near 2380, I think, Captain Carlyle insisted the outboard impulse engines be replaced with shuttlebays. So, the new engines would go to the secondary hull. CoE put a stop to that within minutes of the request.”

    Cira chuckled as she recalled the technical specifications for the Excelsior-class made that idea a physical impossibility.

    He smiled from her mirth and added, “yeah, Carlyle was known for out-of-the-box thinking.”

    After a few moments of silence, Cira enjoyed the insight. “Is the ship haunted or anything like that?”

    “Nah.” The pilot humored. “It’s just an old ship, even though it doesn’t look it. I heard the Captain has refused to upgrade the computer core to accept A.I.. Apparently is she doesn’t like them and top brass isn’t forcing her to have one.”

    Cira was interested. “Not surprised really, those are better used on the larger exploration or flagship vessels.”

    “Or maybe she cares more for a personal touch, if you will. Oh yeah, you may know that the Transwarp Drives on this class are notoriously unpredictable to work, right? Well, for Solaris, the Drive only failed once: on the first run with the Captain. So either the Chief Engineer is that good, or she is that lucky.”

    Cira grinned, “or the ship likes her”.

    Without pause, the pilot smiled and replied, “quite possibly.”

    “What about Captain Beringer?”

    “Oh, yes. I heard that when they scrapped her previous ship, she requested all the crew follow her to the new ship.” He nodded to the ship filling the forward viewport. “Very uncommon request.”

    Cira agreed. “Did they all go with her?”

    “You know Starfleet wouldn’t allow that, but she did get over three-quarters. Very uncommon accommodation.”

    “That does seem … impressive.”

    He continued, “scuttlebutt was that every crew member made a request to transfer with her to Solaris.” He turned the shuttle toward the rear of the ship. “Do you like Orions?”


    The pilot started to input information and, without looking away from the console, patiently repeated, “do you like Orions?”

    Still surprised by the non sequitur, Cira casually responded, “I’ve only met a few at the Academy. I guess so. Wait, does this involve Captain Beringer? I read she has an extreme opinion about them.”

    “I heard the same thing, but that doesn’t explain her friendship with one on the bridge. Interestingly, there is only one other Orion on the ship. Still, I wouldn’t call her racist.”

    “The notes on that subject were vague,” Cira recalled. “I just figured it was one of those personality quirks that have not received official attention.”

    “Should it though?”

    “I suppose not. Although, her record makes it sound like she has made dents in the Syndicate’s operations.”

    The shuttle turned toward the open shuttle bay doors and slowed. The pilot communicated with the deck officer to finalize the approach.

    Cira gathered her belongings and stood. “By the way, how do you know so much? There must be hundreds of ships in the Fleet.”

    The pilot gently landed the shuttle, started to power down the engines, then stood and offered his hand. “I’m Ethan Carlyle, your mentor. Welcome aboard Solaris.”

    Surprised, Cira paused enough to gather her wits before reaching to return the gesture. “You … you’re not with the station crew?”

    “Captain Beringer insists her staff pick-up and delivers transfers. It only seems appropriate I guide you to your new post. Transporter Operator is more glamorous than it sounds.” Activating the door to open, Ethan picked up Cira’s largest bag and then waved a hand for her to exit first.

    Taking the lead she exited the shuttle, and then turned back as she walked down the ramp. “You are the previous Captain’s son?”

    “Yes. It would not be proper to work under your parent’s command. So, when Captain Beringer received the ship, I was granted a transfer to Solaris.” He looked past Cira and saluted.

    Turning, Cira Beitz dropped her bags as Kathryn Beringer walked up, and saluted. The Captain stood over seventeen centimeters taller than Cira. Even a few steps away, Cira had to look up to the burgundy-haired woman.

    “Welcome aboard Solaris, Ensign Beitz. I hope you will enjoy your tour with us.”
  • grylakgrylak Member Posts: 1,572 Arc User
    edited May 2016
    ULC4: Prompt 3: Broken Threads

    It was a glorious Sunday afternoon in San Francisco. Of course it was, it was what the weather report had said. Most cadets were taking the day to sunbathe, eat an ice cream in the park with their class mates or cram for finals next month. Except for Cadet Julliano Caspare. He was inside his dorm room, doing what he did every spare minute he had. He was hunched over his computer monitor, blinds and curtains drawn to make everything as dark as possible so he could see every tiny detail on the monitor. PADDs lay neatly stacked around him, containing meticulous notes on every frame of the video. But ultimately, he had nothing to show for it.

    The door burst open, casting strong sunlight across everything. Juliano's roommate burst in with a bunch of his friends. A medical student, the Andorian was a lovable thug, to put it one way.

    "Hey, Engie! A bunch of us are heading to Hawaii. We hear there's some killer surf there today. You in?"
    "No thanks. I'm trying to-"
    "Hrrrrrrgggghhh!!!!! I know what you're trying to do. You haven't shut up about it all year." The Andorian rolled his eyes and his antenna. "You Engineering cadets are all the same. Always trying to fix what you didn't get right in the first place."

    Juliano turned to look at his friend. "Look, Medy, this was one of the greatest breakthroughs they came up with. You said yourself, the medical report sounded like some bad forgery. And the LT won't take me serious about it unless I find some new evidence."
    "I said I know. Jeez, sometimes I do worry about you." As he started to close the door, he paused to mutter "Jeez? Huh, my first terranism. Cool."

    With the distraction gone, Juliano turned back to the monitor and resumed checking. Yet another screen of nothing. He advanced the image forward another frame. And started visually checking every tiny millimetre of the screen.

    An hour later and a half drunk cup of coffee, he reached the pilot's neck. Coffee exploded across the screen. "Madonna Mia!!" Searching for somewhere to put the cup, he settled with using a stack of PADDs as a coaster. Grabbing a tissue, he wiped the screen down and looked closer.

    "Computer, magnify and enhance section forty seven alpha beta."

    The image zoomed in and cleared the pixilation. Juliano started hyperventilating. There was nothing in the reports about this. Resetting the zoom, he advanced to the next frame. And there it still was! Clear as day! He advanced again, but this time it was gone. Making a note of the two frame numbers, he started advancing through the rest of the experiment, focusing on that area. But it never came back. Rewinding back to the first frame, he checked the validity of the image. It was indeed a direct copy of the Cochrane's video log. He downloaded the two images onto a PADD as well as a few either side, asked the computer where his lecturer was and ran out the room. On the now stained monitor was an image frozen in time, taken over forty years before. The image of one Tom Paris having just broken the Warp Ten barrier.

    Solvar sat in the Academy Bar with a tepid glass of water. His drinking partner was another engineering lecturer. A Bolian with a fondness for a banana split. To have something as nutritional as a banana covered in solidified cream made no sense. But Solvar had long ago realised this was a very illogical planet. He gently sipped his water, calmly setting it down and dabbing his mouth with a napkin, before perfectly folding it and placing it exactly two centimetres to the left of the glass. Flott watched while eating a piece of banana. "It never ceases to amaze me how you are so pedantic over everything."
    "And it never ceases to amaze me how you can eat terran food."
    "It's so explosive with flavour and texture. Don't get me wrong, I love Plomek Soup too, but the humans have somehow managed to make food come alive."
    "Some could say that about Klingon cuisine."

    Flott laughed, but Solvar ignored it as something much more annoying had just entered the bar, shouting and waving. As the cadet made his way over, Flott leaned in, pausing in a moment of surprise to hear the tiniest of sighs escape the Vulcan, before muttering "This part of your fan club?"

    "Cadet Caspare believes he can find the evidence that the Voyager Warp Ten incident was sabotage. I gave him the shuttle logs to stop him from... questioning me about every detail."
    "Well, you ARE the Engineering History teacher. Who else would he learn it from? Wait... you gave him the files on the Love Lizards?"
    "He wore me down." By this point, Caspare had reached them. "Cadet. What has brought you before me today."

    "I've done it! I've found the evidence!"
    "Very well. Do you have the evidence present?"
    He presented his lecturer with a PADD. Solvar flicked through the images. "These are just the images from the log."
    "Flick to the last two."
    Solvar did so. Flott had to resist a smirk as a pointed eyebrow arched dramatically. He studied the image, then scrolled back and looked closer. "Are these genuine?"
    "As genuine as the one you gave me."

    Now Flott was curious, so he put his spoon down and leaned over. Solvar turned the device so his colleague could see. "Pay attention to the pilot's neck here."

    The first two images were normal. But then something appeared against the neck. It was there in the next image but gone in the rest. Solvar moved to the end images. A close up showed some kind of hypospray against the neck and a ghostly reptilian hand holding it. "Congratulations Cadet. It seems your determination has yielded results. That is the kind of attitude an Engineer in Starfleet needs."
    "Sir, if I may, I'd like to further this investigation. I would like to speak to Captain Paris, Admiral Janeway and The Doctor."

    Flott butted in. "I don't think a cadet should be asking any of those three questions about this incident. Well, maybe The Doctor, but certainly not the Captain or the Admiral. Solvar, maybe you can help out? You know, as a matter of historical significance?"
    "Yes. This certainly deserves further investigation. Well done Cadet. I shall make enquiries and will be in contact with you once I have some information."

    Solvar waited patiently for the connection to be established. Prior to the Iconian War, communication with the Delta Quadrant required the use of the MiDAS array, and could take up to two weeks for a reply. Now the spheres made a relay only have a delay of a minute. Meaning if you didn't mind staring at a person staring at you for a bit, you could have almost real time communication. The now iconic face of Dr Lewis Zimmerman in his prime appeared with a pleasant smile. "Hello. I'm The Doctor. How may I help?"

    "Peace and long life Doctor. I am Lieutenant Solvar, lecturer of Starfleet Academy Engineering History. Are you the same doctor who served on the U.S.S. Voyager when it was trapped in the Delta Quadrant?"
    "The one and the same. I must confess, I don't usually get calls from Engineering lecturers. Medical lecturers certainly."
    "I have a young cadet who has been looking into one of the old experiments of Voyager's to get home. The Warp Ten Threshold. And please remain within the boundary of Doctor\patient confidentiality."

    "Ah. That incident." The doctors face dropped. It was obvious he had reacted as soon as the incident was mentioned, but with the lag, had seemed to take it all in. "I'm not sure what else I can add that wasn't in the files. Certainly nothing an engineering cadet would find useful."

    "My cadet has been going through the visual logs frame by frame, and it appears moments after breaking the warp ten barrier, an almost translucent reptilian hand injected something into the then Lieutenant Paris' neck. The hand and hypospray is only visible for two frames of a second, explaining why it was not caught before. When played at normal speed, it would be impossible to see with the video steady, let alone the turbulence the shuttle was experiencing at the time. Do you recall anything that may have been a result of this?"

    "A reptilian hand? Aliens got on board?" There was a pause while he obviously listened to what else was said. Finally, he started talking again. "Other than Lieutenant Paris turning into a salamander, I don't remember anything that would indicate an alien presence. This information is public knowledge in the archives, to stop others from attempting warp ten, so I can tell you this. The transformation process happened because it triggered a de-evolution in Paris's very DNA. Every human cell carries the potential to evolve into any manner of life, including reptilian."

    "But did humans not evolve from the mammal Ape?" That lead to an especially awkward pause due to how short a phrase it was.

    "Yes, but I'm talking about tracing the entire Earth genome back to its start. Everything on the planet came from the merging of those first two cells. That means everything has the potential to be anything on the planet, had evolution taken a different path."

    "I'm no biologist Doctor, so I shall defer to your expertise. But is it possible the hypospray triggered the mutation?"
    "Yes, it's certainly possible. May I ask why the intrigue now in such an old case?"
    "The warp ten project has always been of great interest to engineers. If there is a possibility it can be breached without the effects witnessed by your crew, it is deserving of being investigated."
    "I see. Well, who am I to block science? I will have to review all the scans I took at the time to see if there's anything I missed now I have this new knowledge. Voyager should be in my sector within the next few weeks, I'll make a visit to get the data straight from the banks. Plus, I'll take any excuse to visit Tuvok again."
    "Thank you Doctor. Live long and prosper."
    "And to you."

    The line cut off. Well. There it was. Nothing to do now but wait.

    The last three weeks had been torture! Juliano had finally been vindicated! Medy even bought him three pints in way of an apology. Now he stood with Solvar, waiting for The Doctor to contact them. Solvar sat calmly at his desk. "Pacing will not make him call faster."
    "I know sir. I'm just excited to know I was right all along. It WAS sabotage."
    "All we know is that there was an alien presence." He looked at his monitor. "The call is incoming."

    Juliano moved behind Solvar as The Doctor appeared on screen. "Hello again Lieutenant."
    "Peace and Long Life Doctor. I have Cadet Juliano Caspare with me. He is the one who made the discovery."

    "Hello cadet. That was some mighty fine detective work. The kind that will make you go far in Starfleet. Indeed, I would say it rivaled my own."

    "Doctor, do you have any new information?"
    "Yes. I can't go into specifics without breaching patient confidentiality, but now I have more experience with mutagenic viruses and I know it's not a natural transformation, I did find certain markers that indicated there was a foreign contaminant that caused a violent mutation in the cells. My original theory was completely wrong, everything that happened was a result of that contaminant. I feel so foolish missing it the first time."

    "Recriminations at this stage are less than pointless Doctor. Everyone missed this. Everyone bar one. So attempting to break the warp ten barrier will not trigger any transformations?"

    "It shouldn't turn you into lizards. Not unless these aliens reappear. But they should be in the Delta Quadrant. Which now has easy access to the Alpha Quadrant thanks to these spheres. I'll transmit my new procedures through so your team can go over them."

    "Thank you Doctor. Live Long and Prosper."

    The screen went blank and Solvar turned to the cadet. "Well, it appears you may have just salvaged a project that is of great interest to Starfleet."
    "I hope so Sir. This is a potential breakthrough."
    "Though may I remind you cadet, the transformation was only one of the two main problems. You have opened up the possibility of now resuming the project, but there is still the issue of the shuttle stopping exactly where it started. Unless you believe that is also the result of aliens."
    "That would be silly Sir. But I do wonder who they will get to pilot it if it ever gets to the test phase."
    Post edited by grylak on

    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'
  • sharpie65sharpie65 Member Posts: 679 Arc User
    ULC15, Prompt #3 - "Bad Intelligence"

    The two hooded figures met in silence; what was about to happen needed no words for it had been planned for some time - months, maybe even years. The transaction was simple - the newly-arrived figure simply brought up a case - the first figure showed the contents of another, and the second being exchanged their case for that of the first.

    The first figure then waited until the arrival had left, before moving off, further into the shadows....

    The starship captain anxiously waited by the transporter pad, flanked by two security officers, his first officer, and the ship's doctor. Also present were the captain's hand-picked trio of intelligence officers - a Vulcan male, approximately 62 Earth-years of age; a young Human female; and an older Trill woman, aged approximately 53.

    **The previous day**

    Commander Ethan Burgess, of Starfleet Intelligence, had informed the senior staff that there would be a new Intelligence officer joining the crew - something that had been poorly-received by the already-present Intelligence cadre.

    "Trust me, sir, I don't like this any more than yourself. Unfortunately, they won't be reporting to me; Commander Starfleet has made it clear that this new addition to your crew will be reporting directly to her - cut out the middleman, so to speak."
    "Fine, Ethan..but I'll make my objections, and those of my crew, noted in my log." The human engineering officer looked much older than his 31 years, something that had proven advantageous during his short tenure in command branch. "Unless there's anything else, Commander...?"
    "No, sir, that's all for now. I'll talk to you more when you reach K-7. Oh, and one more thing before I go sir..that officer will be coming aboard tomorrow at 0445 hours, Federation time - I'd get some rest."
    "Understood. Aubrey, out."

    **0430 - November 27th, 2409**

    "Bridge to Captain Aubrey, we have a small ship on sensors..from the looks of things, it appears to be a runabout - Danube-class. Markings identify it as being Starfleet Intelligence. They've requested a transport for one person."
    "Right, tell Transporter Room 3 to stand by; I want a security detail, as well as Commander Colclough and the Doctor H'Rirre, to meet me there. Let them wait a few minutes."
    "Aye-aye sir."

    Captain George Aubrey, of the Resolute-class heavy cruiser U.S.S. Sakaira, was a light sleeper in comparison to the other two officers he had mentioned. He made his way to the bathroom and gazed into the mirror, before deciding on having a light shave.

    10 minutes later, he met up with his XO and CMO in the turbolift. "Still waking up, I see," grinned the captain. Not even the death stares from the Caitian and Human women could remove his anxious smile.

    "Go to hell, George..what kind of a madman decided on 0445 as a time to come aboard?"
    "Commander Starfleet. I've hea--"
    "**** her. I'm not the only one who thinks that way, and I need my beauty sleep. She does want the pride of Starfleet to be able to function to the best of their ability, doesn't she? If not, I'd have been better off taking a post on some backwater colony or starbase," said the younger human woman seriously.
    "When we get to K-7, I'm going to recommend her for a full psychological examination..this shouldn't be happening, who does this "Intelligence" fellow think they are anyway?" the yellow-furred Caitian asked through a catty yawn.
    "I don't know, but I'd watch what you say about the Commander while they're around..those Intelligence types are sneaky. Apart from that, I don't trust this one..keep your thoughts to yourself, they're not one of Ethan Burgess' people."

    The three officers continued their journey in silence, until they were joined by the captain's intelligence cadre.

    "Good morning captain, commander, and lieutenant commander. I trust you slept...well?" The Vulcan intelligence lieutenant, despite his age, still looked in his 30s - a testament to Vulcan longevity.
    "Limus, I wouldn't ask the doctor or XO that if I were you. As for myself, I did indeed sleep well, after we introduce ourselves to this new crewman I'll be taking us to the mess hall..or the officers' quarters for, my grouchy comrades" said George as the aforementioned officers glowered at him and the specialist.
    "I, ah..see. My own colleagues do not suffer from such a problem, however I am getting a feeling of..mistrust from you. Is there something you would like to say, Captain?"
    "Yes, actually. I don't trust this new officer in the slightest. I was informed by Commander Burgess that they would be reporting directly to Commander Starfleet, not him..that speaks volumes, to me at least. What could you and your people deduce from the viewscreen recording, if anything?"
    The cadre leader turned toward his Trill companion.
    "Ensign Sazu, your findings please."
    "Yes sir. We all agree that the feelings Commander Burgess has towards this development are sincere, and he does disagree with the Commander's..arrogance in that she 'knows better'. Unfortunately for her, she doesn't."
    "Thank you, ensign. Let's go and meet the new crewman," said the captain as the turbolift door opened.

    ----End of Part One----
  • antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,309 Arc User
    edited July 2016


    By antonine3258

    Timeline: About seven months after ‘Midnight’.


    Drozana station had been a useful ‘neutral’ point for smuggling and resupply as the Klingon War had entered its final phase of raid and counterraid. With the end of hostilities, its owners had actually spent some money upgrading the place as it became a legitimate trade-hub. Dahar Master D’ellian of M’ara took a deep breath, something that had previously been unwise, and smiled as the transporter beam released her. Someone had actually upgraded the filters, and it had the proper metallic topaline tang of an old-style recycling system instead of the body-odor of hundreds of visitors.

    Even without the must, it was still a long way from a proper legitimate trade hub, with say, Alliance customs agents. The Lobi Consortium found such things inconvenient, at this time. Other such inconveniences were questions about certain good origins, and these questions were considered inconvenient by enough smaller groups to keep Drozana afloat.

    The Orion next to her – big, bulky, and a healthy deep green, sniffed at the air in some disgust. They were both, technically, clad in furs. He in the heavy vest and bracers of a successful mid-level buccaneer, and D’ellian wore the full uniform of a KDF general, polished, and enhanced in some subtle ways for comfort and surprises. Neither uniform was unknown here. One was a mere costume.

    The big Orion asked, “This is the great smuggling port? Where are the silks? The rare art? This is a rusty hole.”

    She looked at her evaluation goal/chauffer/brother, and restrained a sigh, carefully. “Vert,” she said calmly, “Rusty is exactly right – this is the graveyard of warriors. The Lobi even deals in ship hulks; if you’re interested in upgrading.”

    “A pack of mad dogs could run the Glory,” Vert said stiffly. And they more or less did, in D’ellian’s opinion. “The Dacoit’s well proven, and not everyone in the family has completely surrendered to the Klingons. Why wait weeks for custom fitting or having parts shipped work when any Syndicate shipyard can turn it around in a day, and crew wait in every port?”

    “Yes,” D’ellian murmured quietly, pitched to not carry, “And yet there are so many days where the Glory is nonetheless in dock.” Vert glared, knowing something was up. Louder, she spoke, “Nonetheless, there is no one better in the quadrant for violence than the Klingons, and I have learned their ways. Mother awaits my word if you are to be moved from salvaging wrecks and intimidating colonies to more risky ventures.” It would never be given of course; that was understood by all but Vert. Given what was left of the great powers’ fleets, and the new technology rolled out, the Dacoit would be child’s prey to even the meanest line frigate.

    Vert rolled his eyes. “As she made very clear before letting me taxi you out here,” he said. “Which I still hope for a clear answer from one of you on: why not a shuttle or some other ship instead of joining our patrol? An inspection crew didn’t need to be such a long run. Even if you’re detached on ‘House business’.”

    General D’ellian replied, “Two reasons.” Three. “From a House perspective, monitoring of the economic recovery and forecasting changes of the coreward colonies is very important to our interests. From an Imperial interest, the reconnection of those colonies to the capital is vital.” And third, she thought privately, the mercenary soldiers she’d coordinated during the war still had a few on her payroll, and some intelligence shouldn’t be sent over subspace.

    “And it’s easy to fake an inspection for a few hours – a couple weeks of operation give a better view of what your ship is part of – and you had another bridge officer to stand watch who wasn’t taking a share,” D’ellian said. Vert nodded at that.

    “Not many qualified people who haven’t been snapped up,” he mused. “You’re lucky to keep your crew together.”

    “They’ve been terrorizing a bunch of Academy last-years for six months, and getting double pay while the Demonslayer gets refitted,” D’ellian said, “And it’s not like they have to pay for drinks, either – not many veterans around.”

    Vert said, “And Jm’pok’s out of options so he’s giving you the expedition fleet to help out against the Terrans in the Badlands. Your crew’s busy readying to be flag staff”

    D’ellian nodded, deliberately enthusiastically. After the last few weeks in the opium den of the guest quarters on the Glory, she hadn’t thought he’d get there were more professional awards than pay.

    But the Iconian War, the Vaadwaur conflict, the Federation-Klingon war, they were finally done – the realignment of interests and filling the various financial and political vacuums had kept her occupied and away from Demonslayer during its refit, as well as selecting the squadron. Now as equivalent to a Kurak, it would be joining her here with a small squadron to support the Federation against raiders from a bizarrely barbaric alternate reality.

    Here made sense, it was close to Federation space. The requirements of an armed force across Federation space – requiring an escort, red-tape, subspace tracking, etc., could be handled without the press. So when they suddenly arrived at the Bajoran sector in a flair of drama, all the realities of concern of a previously hostile power moving across unsettled power would be under the run, leaving only a shadowplay of valiant Imperial heroics.

    “I don’t think Jm’pok was out of options as a flag officer capable of handling the nuances of the Federation’s usual gaggle of species,” D’ellian said politely. She stopped at one of the tables, examining. There was one other reason here, but it didn’t concern Vert. Vert stopped, apparently out of politeness.

    “Staves?” he asked.

    “Herald antiproton weaponry, good sir,” the Ferengi proprietor said, obsequiously. “Genuine molecular signatures are on file – recovered from a Federation colony world that was, ah, generous with salvage rights to our hearty traders.” He gestured, and said, “All of these have been tested and retain power – alternate power packs are available for a small upcharge.”

    “Yes, I had a package ready,” D’ellian said calmly. Vert started.

    “Ah, yes – biometric scan, just a moment,” the Ferengi said, touching a control. “Welcome, Dahar Master, we appreciate your business and hope you will spread word of your service” he said, somehow cringing even more. “Let me just signal…” a discreet panel opened, revealing a far better kept store room than Drozana’s usual rusting place. A burly Nausicaan came out, carrying a gift-wrapped thin stave. She accepted it, gingerly, with just a nod.

    “Present?” Vert asked.

    D’ellian said, “Yes, a bit of a recruitment gift for later. Though, one thing you missed here – it’s all salvage, yes?” Vert nodded. “This is where seventy-four percent of all Tholian silk enters Imperial space. And I know you still haven’t gotten her a ‘thanks for the ship’ bribe – really, there’s a propriety.”

    Vert sighed, “Yes, yes – I will see you later? Is there anywhere safe to eat here?” D’ellian shrugged.

    “My ships will be here soon, you’ll be welcome to dine. If you can move past the gagh, I can promise a proper repast after my crew’s drunken themselves down,” D’ellian said. Vert laughed, accepting the brush-off.


    D’ellian moved to the most traditional point to meet a returning shipfarer – the main bar on the station. She found herself double-checking her surroundings and forcible gripped the table to stop herself. Confidence was required, as a Dahar Master. And there would be no problems. Because there was four reasons to delay her rendeavous. Her science officer’s liaison tour had not quite been ready when it looked like her schedule was ready to take command, and from a personal and professional perspective, she wanted her friend at her side when facing multi-dimensional threats.

    A little discrete horse-trading with Intelligence had altered the schedule and gotten the ship Thraak was serving on assigned as her warden when they travelled the transwarp network.

    Finally, the scheduled time – with practiced ease she drank up the lights and noise, and spotted the Gorn, standing once again in KDF leathers, though with eye shields sensibly in. Next to him stood a lean Betazoid in a Starfleet bodysock, standing with their typical neutral posture – though wincing a little against the sensorium. She’d gutted a few during the war – psychics just didn’t handle distractions well.

    She left the staff under the table as she stood, and did not show her surprise when a third stepped onto the floor by them, not in Starfleet or KDF uniform. Also, an instectoid species, rare to see them travelling the stars, especially alone, though the shape wasn’t leaping out as familiarity.

    “Dahar Master,” Captain Vexa said with a sharp salute. D’ellian returned, fist to chest, and gave a nod as well. Captain Vexa and her crew had spent much of their time helping the Empire avoid some embarrassment, preventing arms traffic to Gorn separatist groups. She studied Thraak as best she could, while keeping her mind still.

    As always, he was practically opaque to her training, and even years of serving together had helped only a little at reading his body language. Reptilians simply didn’t move in the same basic way as mammalian humanoids, and he could play the statue fairly well. And he knew it bothered her, which made it worse.

    “Thank you for returning Commander Thraak intact, Captain Vexa,” she said. “I hope his service was as valuable to you as it has been to me.” She reached under the table at that point, presenting the staff. “Small tribute,” she said, “Of your effort during the Iconian War – a reminder and trophy of those dark times.”

    He was obscure, yes, but she knew Gorn customs, as a warrior race. There was in the age of holograms and faster-than-light, still a love of trophies, loved almost as much by the Gorn as land.

    “Many thanks,” Thraak said, taking the staff gently. “A potent

    “He’s a remarkable officer,” the Betazoid said politely, dark eyes gleaming despite the strain she was under. “Thanks in large part to the team he’s built, we’re being moved to detached duty to highlight our improved science department.” Thraak waved a hand dismissively.

    “Starfleet simply recognized the talents of your individuals, my job was primarily organization,” he rumbled, holding his gaze on D’ellian. “We have much to talk about Dahar Master. First, may I introduce Leader Darta, of the Mchwa. He was involved in providing protection for freighter groups during the Iconian War, but afterward, political realities meant the termination of his contract.”

    “His hive operates on board an escort ship,” Captain Vexa said politely. “Thraak thought you might find a use for his warriors, as the Alliance allows such troops transfers, and the economic realities may benefit them more there.”

    Darta clicked his mandibles and gave a short bow, before talking – apparently Xindi had some sort of pheromone or body-language component, her translator couldn’t give a direct overlay. “Greetings, Dahar Master. Our Hive has served well, but Starfleet’s ability to provide additional system defense ships after the wars have limited our options. The Commander recommended you could buy our contract out to avoid the risk of dissolution.”

    D’ellian looked at Thraak. He might be grinning, or that was simply his face. She had often mentioned she was looking into more carrier wings – they made good convoy escorts by being able to cover more angles.

    “A fortunate coincidence that the Mutara came across them when they were needing employment,” Thraak said.

    “I’m sure the House of Mara or the KDF can find a use for a starship they did not have to pay to construct,” D’ellian said smoothly. The negotiations were, a bit rougher than that, but at least smoothed with alcohol.


    As soon as possible, in deference to Thraak’s preferred tolerances of noise and light over hers, they’d headed to a small room with supposedly bought privacy and some comfort, like its own air fresheners, as well as a few extra devices from various engineering friends to annoy the remaining listening devices.

    Thraak had not put the staff down during negotations, but finally set it carefully next to the chair.

    “I have not heard much of the Empire’s internal politics. Jm’pok has done a good job keeping things sequestered,” Thraak said at last. “But silence speaks volumes. Are things so dire my credentials require establishing?”

    “No, not on any ship I’m captain or owner of,” D’ellian said, surprising herself slightly with her own vehemence. “No, the Gorn counsel is retained in the Great Hall of the Klingon Empire. The separatists have been quiet, but the opportunity for reform after so many were allowed to be great by necessity has quieted the moderates.”

    “You will not hear from them again, on any scale,” Thraak said. “The virtues of our cultures that have allowed such a profitable assimilation into the Empire, can be vices if taken to extremes. Such aggression, admirable in tales, finds itself difficult to govern without assistance. They have been encouraged to find glory in more personal combat. Many have succeeded beyond their wildest expectations.”

    “You found honor there?” D’ellian asked.

    “With Starfleet yes. A warship is a warship, in spite of their pretensions. There are certain commonalities of operation,” the Gorn said. “This was a mission that could easily lack in honor – there was much use of uncommon assets, but a telepath has a knack for distinguishing them. The differing emphasis on investigation we knew about, as many times as we scattered sensor ghosts. The differing science officer loads even on their warships explains some of the doctrine.”

    “Ah,” D’ellian said, “Yes, I’m afraid heavy fleet support vessels remain a low priority for the KDF currently. The focus remains on small high-speed craft. That-“ she indicated the Herald staff, “Would gain acceptance from the rabble coming out of the Academies to give credence to your very real qualifications and how they relate to battle, in whatever role if you remain with the Empire”

    “Well,” Thraak said slowly, jaw working several times. “I had hoped to return to your service. To continue to shower ourselves with wealth and keep the value of the Empire’s current, ah, policies visible.” “Well, yes, that is my plan,” D’ellian said, “But – I know what you did in Starfleet service, and you still speak of it highly. And, well, your counsel is always dear to me, but the needs of the service would always delegate you to a secondary role. The Gorn situation has been buried, but not improved. Your captaincy on an Imperial Klingon ship would be more perilous than I – would prefer. The Mchwa would be a fine anchor to defense forces or ‘reassurance’ patrols, but a good raider spinward if you would like.”

    “Oh, no,” Thraak said quickly, the translator indicating surprise. “No – I have no desire to command soldiers that also bring their families with, even as polite ones as the hive. But they respect good contracts, and you are the best I know. It is an old tradition, to return with something of value, a token of travels.”

    “One of those commonalities of those who crack the light barrier,” D’ellian said, “But nonetheless.” She stopped. “Thank you,” she said simply. “Much of this,” she gestured to her rank pins, “Were as much you as every other part of the crew. And you are always welcome aboard my ships.”

    “As always, Shipmaster, thank you, for taking a half-outcast prison guard and making a warrior,” Thraak said. “I don’t know what you saw, but I know what I saw.”

    “It may be the drinks,” D’ellian said, “But I will ask, for once.”

    “One as myself – Klingon in spite of appearance, aware of both, and fiercely certain to outshine all,” Thraak said, raising his glass. “Q’plah, Dahar Master.”

    “Q’plah, Commander, and Sensor Officer of the Demonslayer.”

    The rest of the time, and it was brief, passed in companionable silence. Soon Vert would return, with certain merchants having to be soothed, and Demonslayer would return and they would return to death or glory. Now it was quiet.


    This piece was oddly hard to write, and I’m not sure it quite took the shape I was anticipating.
    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!
  • grylakgrylak Member Posts: 1,572 Arc User
    Rolana Imzavia sat in her Captain's Chair, looking at the viewscreen. "Och. Talk about David among Goliaths."
    Beside her, Emony looked up. "Sir?"
    "Our piddly little ship beside those three. I dinnae know what Starfleet was thinking, sending us out here."
    "They obviously thought you have the experience to deal with something like this. You are a science captain, in command of a science ship. We've charted our fair share of spatial anomalies on our patrols."
    "Nae, I aint talking about the anomaly. I'm on aboot the ships."

    Emony looked at the viewscreen and had to admit, she saw Imzavia's point. Their little Nova class ship was sitting beside a Vorcha cruiser, an Oddessy flagship and a D'Deridex warbird. "Well Captain, the opening of this spatial anomaly does seem to have intersections with the Klingons and Romulans as well. And Nimbus III is on the border of the three. It makes sense diplomatically to bring them onboard."
    "Have you ever met a Gorn or a Romulan?"
    "Yes Sir." Imzavia thought she saw a flicker of pain in Emony's eyes, obviously a memory of a past mission gone wrong. Her First Officer continued. "Gorn's respect strength and truthfulness. But Romulans tend to favour deceit. I'm afraid you're going to have your hands full Sir."

    Imzavia set her jaw. "Well, that's just gonna make things interesting. Mr Peck, what do we know about the other Captains?"

    From his tactical station, Peck smirked. "The Toraga is commanded by General K'hotiim. Reports indicate he's a rational and forward thinking General, but with a vicious streak. As long as the Empire isn't under threat, he can be trusted. The Tomalak is under the command of Commander D'Elon. A loyal soldier of the Star Empire, but has been noted helping the Republic on occasion. She isn't one of those Tal Shiar lunatics, but she is fanatically loyal to the Empire. Someone that needs to be watched."
    "Great. That's just what we need. Hail the ships."

    Imzavia waited for the other Captains to appear on the viewscreen. Admiral Rykon spoke first. "Captain Imzavia. Use caution and good luck. Remember, the planetary alignment that seemed to trigger this rift will cease within twenty four hours. You need to make sure you're out in that time."
    "Yes Sir."
    D'Elon stared intently at the screen. "Don't worry Admiral, we will ALL get out before that rift closes."
    K'hotiim snorted. "We're wasting time. The KDF will lead, like usual."

    He promptly cut the comm, prompting D'Elon to also cut the comm. As the two large vessels moved towards the rift, Rykon narrowed his eyes. "Remember Captain, we have other duties to attend to. We won't be here for support and another Starfleet ship won't arrive for two days. Watch yourself. Both for whatever you find, and our allies."
    "Understood Sir. We'll be careful."

    The comm cut and Imzavia ordered Jose to take them in. The little Nova class ship moved forward. As it penetrated the cloud-esque barrier of the anomaly, it started shaking. Imzavia could sense the nervousness of her crew. "Report."
    "It's almost as if we're encountering atomspheric fritcion against the anomaly edge." Emony reported from the science station. "But we're not reading any atmosphere around the ship. Our hull is holding, but I'd rather we get out of this disturbance quickly."
    "We'll get through soon enough. The Tesla is a tough little ship."
    "These readings are really fascinating." Emony continued. "There's an unusual phase shift in the atomic level of the anomaly. It's similar to the readings seen in an Iconian portal, but severely skewered. Like some corrupted version. Definetely the same principle but yet completely different."
    "So we could be anywhere in the galaxy?"
    Emony looked up to her Captain. "We could be anywhere in any dimension."

    Peck's console started beeping. "We're getting hull stress from this cloud, but integrity should hold."
    "Jose, how long until we're oot this clood?"
    "Any second now Captain."
    "Och, then stay alert. If this is Iconian related, we need ta be careful. Last thing we wanna be doin' is startin' another war."

    The viewscreen showed the cloud finally dissapate and the shaking stopped. Before them lay a starscape of black with rich, deep blue swirls slowly flowing across. A single planet was before them with a lone moon in an unusually close orbit. The planet looked to be covered in technology. An intricate web of orbital platforms spread out across the planet, as if long spindly fingers were trying to keep the planet held within. The star was nearby, casting light on the left half of the planet and keeping the moon in darkness. Imzavia sensed the awe from Emony and couldn't repress a smile, fully agreeing with her. This was a technological marvel, structurally speaking. But what were they for?

    "Mr Peck, can you identify what those things in orbit are?"
    "Not a clue Sir. There's EM signatures in the area, but that's about all we can determine."

    "Captain, the other ships are hailing."
    "On screen."

    The Romulan and Gorn appeared on the screen, D'Elon speaking first. "Whatever this society is, its highly advanced. We are detecting Muon Particles within those orbital structures."

    "Muon?" K'hotiim asked.
    "A very rare particle that doesn't exist in nature." Imzavia replied.
    "And what are Muons usually used for?"
    "Dimensional portals."
    D'Elon interrupted. "Then I suggest we locate someone to talk to. Quickly."
    "I would suggest we start with the ship approaching. I will take point."
    "So you can negotiate a deal for the Klingon Empire? No, I shall talk to them."
    "Oh I think not Romulan. Your kind have a reputation. I say we compromise. Let the Starfleeter talk to them."
    "Very well. Starfleet does usually act in the interest of fair play. At least the younger captains do. Captain, you speak to them. But we will be listening."

    The two captains vanished off the screen. Imzavia swallowed. Hard. She had never been in a first contact situation before, and knowing the other two were watching did nothing to ease her strain. Emony seemed to pick up on this as she moved to her First Officer chair and leaned in close so she could whisper.

    "Are you going to be ok with this?"
    "What do ya mean?"
    "First Contact. This is your first one and you seem a bit anxious."
    Imzavia smiled, trying to put Emony's concerns at ease. "I'm fine Commander."
    "Really?" It was obvious Emony wasn't buying it.
    "I thought I was the telepath. You're right, I'm terrified. Not least because the eyes of two Empires are watching." She drew in a deep breath, holding it a moment to centre herself before slowly exhaling. "But I did join Starfleet for new experiences. Gotta do this sometime. Mr Peck, hail the approaching ship."
    "They're responding."
    "On screen."

    The being that appeared on the screen was humanoid. Clad in golden armour with lots of intracate detailing, only the face was exposed. It had a stubby snout and pupiless red eyes.

    "State your business."

    His deep gravelly voice threw Imzavia off centre a moment, but she recovered. Smiling politely, she spoke with as much authority as she could muster. "Hello. I am Captain Rolana Imzavia of the Federation Starship Tesla. We came through the dimensional portal that opened on a peaceful mission of exploration." She paused a moment, giving him time to digest the information and respond. When no response came, she quickly continued. "To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking to?"

    "You came through The Gap?"
    "If.. Ye mean the spatial anomaly behind us, yes."
    "Excellent. Then the Prophecy is going as foretold. Our Lord will want to speak to all the Commander's of the vessels. Follow me. I assume you have ways of landing on the planet."
    "Aye, we can get down there. Lead the way."

    The comm cut abruptly. Imzavia leaned in close to Emony.
    "Well I think that went well."
    "Be careful Captain. Prophecies are never a good thing, especially not when involved with first contact."
    "What do you suggest?"
    "We go, but have Tesla keep a lock on us at all times. And keep our eyes open."
    "Thank you-"

    Before Imzavia could say more, Peck interrupted to say the others were hailing. K'hotiim was first to speak.

    "Haha you sounded like a Targ pup caught in its masters bed. Don't tell me, this was your first time." He stated it as fact, not a question.

    "Oh come now Gorn, I'm sure even you were once a red cadet. I thought she did well considering. We got invited to the surface."
    "Yessss, to meet their 'lord'. I'm not in the mood to meet someone playing God."
    "That's enough! Both of ya!" D'Elon and K'hotiim looked at the young Starfleet Captain. "The pair of ya are acting like children. If ye cannae stop bickering, ya can head back through the anomaly."

    D'Elon smiled. "The Human finds her spine. Good. Maybe there's hope for you yet."
    "I'm not human. Now shut up and follow that ship."

    D'Elon closed the link. K'hotiim smirked and gave a slight nod before also cutting the link. Imzavia blew out an exasperated breath and slumped back in her chair. Emony turned to her with a smile.
    "Nicely done Sir."
    "Och, it's enough to put you off kids for life. Jose, follow that ship." As she watched her ship accelerate, she leaned her head slightly to the side. "Commander, what did that Romulan mean by red cadet?"
    "Like humans calling you green."
    "Huh. Bloody cheek."

    On the Toranga, K'hotiim leaned back in his chair. His first officer and friend S'ag came over, his one eye focusing on his captain.
    "Despite how young she appears, the Starfleet captain has cranial spines."
    "Yes, someone worthy of respect perhaps. Not so the Romulan. Do we have the coordinates?"

    Toshme shouted up from the sensors station. "Yes, my glorious and honourable captain. It's a town square in front of some giant temple like building. One that gives me a baaad feeling."

    K'hotiim turned his chair to face her. "Why are you manning sensors?! Get back to the Engineering station and let Kazengo do her duty!"
    Toshme pouted as she made her way across the bridge. "Sorry, I was just curious."
    "Your curiosity can be satisfied later on the away team. In fact, I depend on that. While I'm meeting this lord, I want you to go find what you can. Especially if you can tell me what that orbital web is."
    Toshme threw a very over the top salute. "Oh yes! That I'll do! I-"
    "Just shut up."

    Imzavia, Emony and Peck materialised at the given coordinates. They were in some sort of city square. The dark green sky was almost obscured by the height of the rustic spires reaching for it, but always falling short. The orbital web could be faintly seen, a constant reminder of the technology of this place. More creatures walked around, clad in the same armour as the one from the view screen. Now Imzavia could see more. Each one was about six feet tall and the best gold armour covered them completely. They had two claw like toes on each foot and the standard four finger one thing hand, though the armour ended in claw like fingers. If their real fingers were like that or if it was a product of the armour, Imzavia couldn't tell. Nor could she tell any physical differences in their faces. But what she could tell was an overwhelming sense of pride and excitement. Something big was coming. Something they had been working towards for a very long time, and something that was about to see completion. Another whine of transporter deposited D'Elon and two of her officers at the same time K'hotiim, some half cyborg gorn and an orion woman materialised. K'hotiim looked around.

    "Certainly an impressive city."
    "Advanced tech usually just means more arrogance. We need to be careful. Course, you always are aren't you?"
    K'hotiim just looked down at the Orion before making his way over to the Starfleet officers and Romulans.

    D'Elon looked at the small screen on her wrist gauntlet. It confirmed Ta'el had left the ship in the shuttle and was on her mission of discovery. She quickly shut the screen down and looked at the approaching Gorn. "Well, it seems our host is tardy."

    K'hotiim huffed. "Typical Romulans. Not everything runs on schedule. They clearly have bigger things going on."

    "Aye," Imzavia interjected. "And we need ta find oot what it is. Course, this could also be a delaying tactic, keep us off guard."

    "Whatever it is, we won't be waiting forever."
    "Oh come now Romulan, surely you have enough patience to see this out. We're on an unknown planet in another dimension. Does that not just give you chills?"

    D'Elon just tilted her nose up at K'hotiim. "I'll feel better when my crew is back in Romulan space."

    It was then the Goldarian captain approached. "Honoured guests. My Lord will be pleased to see you. But please, only the commanders are permitted to enter the temple."

    K'hotiim was the first to respond. "Very well. But may our crewmembers explore this fantastic settlement of yours? It surpasses anything we have."
    "Of course. Feel free to explore. I'm sure you'll find we are a very rich culture."

    K'hotiim turned to S'ag and Toshme and gave them a nod. They both left the group. As the other two Romulans transported away, much to Imzavia's surprise as she was certain they would have tried to find out something, she turned to Emony.

    "Keep working on a way to close that rift. I donnae trust these people. They're hiding something."

    Emony and Peck nodded and made their way into the city in a seperate heading to the KDF. The Goldarian captain motioned towards the temple doors.

    The three captains entered the temple. For that was clearly what it was. Arches reached midway up into the rafters, forming a ribcage for the Gothic architecture. The rest of the wall was an old grey stone. Statues of the aliens adorned the walls in various commanding poses. Rows of pews reminded Imzavia of the church in her home town, but to an nth degree. And at the end was a large open area before a short set of stairs that rose up to a gold throne, intricately decorated with an avian influence. Sitting on the throne was another of the aliens. He looked at them as they approached. In one hand, he loosely held a long silver staff that had a triangular point on the bottom and a design of circles within circles, culminating in a red gemstone off centre.

    "Welcome. I am the Lord of all here. Identify yourself."

    The captain who lead them in bowed at the bottom of the stairs. " My master, these are the aliens from the Gap. Just as the prophecy foretold."
    "Then step forward, so that I may see you."

    D'Elon stepped forward first. "Lord. I am D'Elon of the Romulan Star Empire. It is an honour to make first contact with you."
    "Welcome Romulan. Your arrival is a most fortunate sign. It means the Great Bird Of The Galaxy will bring about unity in the universe."
    "Excuse me?"
    "You must know?" Lord leapt of his throne, making his way down the steps. As he did so, a pair of black wings unfurled from his back, lined along the top hinges with the same gold armour. He came to a stop in front of D'Elon and firmly planted his staff in the ground. "The Great Bird Of The Galaxy will come when three visitors pass The Gap. He will bring together all species under his wing and the Goldarian Empire will have its day."
    "Sounds like a bunch of nonsense to me."
    "And yet, here you are."

    Imzavia stepped forward. "Excuse me, but how is the Great Bird supposed ta unify the universe?"
    "By bringing all under its wing. That is all that is written, that is all that needs to be."
    "But, surely ye must have some idea?"
    "You question the will of The Great Bird Of The Galaxy? That is a challenge I will meet. Defend yourself."

    Lord swung his staff around into a horizontal position, ready to strike. Imzavia held her hands up and backed away.
    "Woah there. I didn't mean anything by it. I was just curious."
    "Then your curiosity will cost you."

    Lord swung the staff at the betazoid, only for it to get caught in the steely grip of a scaly claw. K'hotiim leaned his head to the left as he spoke, a fiery intenseness Imzavia had no idea a Gorn was capable of. "She didn't know what she was doing. And you clearly outmatch her physically. What honour is there in challenging such an obviously inferior foe?"
    "The honour lies not in the challengee, but in questioning our fundamental beliefs."
    "Then let me take the challenge in her place. At least have some dignity."
    "Unacceptable. Our laws clearly state only the one making the challenge can fight. Otherwise, people would never learn. Now, release my staff or I will hold you all in contempt."

    With a snarl, K'hotiim released the staff and backed up to D'Elon who made a snide comment how that escalated quickly.

    Lord approached Imzavia, swinging his staff around. Imzavia could sense the frustration from him that he had to do this. Oddly, there was no pleasure. It was almost as if he was only doing this because his role demanded it, and given the choice, he wouldn't. He swung the staff, Imzavia jumping backwards. K'hotiim shouted from the side: "At least give her a weapon!"
    "She can use any weapon she can grab."

    Imzavia looked around, but there was nothing to hand. And although she had the basic Starfleet combat training, she had no hope of holding her own against this guy. She jumped back from another staff swipe,only to be caught off guard when it lead straight into a shoulder charge. She hit the floor hard, rolling sideways and springing back to her feet. Her ribs ached but she couldn't worry about that now, as another swipe came. This time, she ducked under and tried to get close to punch, but Lord sidestepped and swept her feet. Landing hard on her back, her skull cracked against the floor. Colour exploded across her vision as she lost focus. Lord slashed the point of the staff across her face, setting her cheek on fire with a squeal. She clutched her face, feeling the tell tale stickiness of blood. It felt like it stretched across her whole head. She started panicking. This was the first time she had got in a proper fight since she took command. After all, technically she was still a Commander! She didn't have any real combat experience! She tried to roll over, but a kick to her stomach doubled her over into the fetal position as she gasped for breath. There was no way she was going to survive this. All she could do was struggle and sense the regret from Lord as he swung his staff around and above his head for the killing blow...

    K'hotiim watched the fight with disgust. The small.... well, none human was getting battered. She clearly wasn't a fighter. He twitched, ready to move in but a hand on his arm stopped him. D'Elon looked at him sternly. "Don't interfere. We have no idea what would come from such an act. And Starfleet has a policy of respecting the individual planetary laws. She wouldn't want you to get involved."

    He growled and snapped his arm free. "For some of us, honour means more than just following the orders of the Empire." He looked over and saw Lord moving in for a killing blow. He triggered his motion accelerator and charged forwards, tackling Lord to the ground.

    "What are you doing? I told you this can't involve you!"

    "And I told you she was no match for you. I will not alow you to slaughter someone so weak."
    "Then you are not the ones from the prophecy. Heretics!"

    Lord kicked K'hotiim off and jumped to his feet, bringing his staff around. K'hotiim caught the weapon, both combatants unable to break the other one free. K'hotiim snarled as he kicked his leg out, sweeping Lord's. The alien went down but rolled and came back up quickly. He straightened and slammed the point of his staff into the ground. Electrical discharges ripped through K'hotiim's body, setting every nerve on fire. He was only subconciously aware of D'Elon collapsing and Imzavia writhing in pain briefly. He dropped to his knees, but refused to yield. Punching the ground, he started to force himself up, but a swift kick to the face sent him down for the count.


    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

    D'Elon came to very slowly. A fog in her mind refused to leave. And truthfully, she didnt want it to. For then she would have to face the horrible truth of just how badly a betazoid and a gorn had screwed her over. She moaned, scrubbing her face. After all, she was an officer of the Star Empire. Her sense of duty kicked in fairly quickly.

    Opening her eyes, she looked around. She appeared to be in a pretty large cell. There were no windows and only one door that looked solid. She got up and checked the walls. Solid metal. No panels to pry open. No bolts to loosen. The light wasn't great. She looked up. The featureless ceiling curved up to a hole with a grate. Light eas coming from it, but it was too high to grab. Looked like the bulb was directly on the other side of the grate, inset in a enclave only for the bulb. No help there.

    She turned her attention to the door. There was no window on it. The hinges must be on the outside. But she could tell where they were. She could also tell where the lock was. She pressed her hands against it and pushed. Didn't move in the slightest. And they had taken everything she was carrying. Fortunately, Romulan Commanders were usually ready for such situations. She started by finding her lower back tooth with her tongue and sliding the tip under a groove. A sharp wrench snapped the fake top off. Spitting it out, she reached in and gently lifted the tiny device out of it's protective casing which shielded it from sensors and transporters, making it look like a normal tooth. Pinching the tiny thing between two fingers, she carefully lifted it out and set it in her palm. Ever so gingerly, so as not to break the device, she pushed the button, which should trigger an alarm on the Tomalak and let them know to find and rescue her. Of course, it would be better if it had a locator as well, but there was only so much such a small device could be fitted with.

    She had been more than happy to take a back seat in this whole affair, doing just enough to, rightly so, antagonise the Gorn. After all, he was just a Gorn. She had observed and learnt from the others interactions. But now they had jepordised the mission, it was time for her to take over. Sliding her ring finger nail under the thumbnail of the opposite hand, she yanked hard, ripping the nail off. A furious curse broke free. The tech department had said that was a painless procedure. Steeling herself this time, she ripped the other thumbnail off. Cursing the designer of these, she ignored the blood now dripping off both thumbs and moved to the door. Aligning the two nails so their undersides were face to face, she spat on one and pressed them together. They started fizzing, the sign the spit had successfully acted as the catalysing agent and she had about ten seconds. She rammed the nails into the door where the lock was and ran to the other side of the cell. A brief but powerful bang later, D'Elon moved to the door, wafting away the smoke. It had moved ever so slightly, but more importantly, the lock had disintegrated. It was now very easy to push the door open.

    She cautiously checked outside the door. Not seeing any guards, she thought about seeing if she could free the others, but it was more important to get back to her ship and warn The Alliance. After all, she didn't even know if the others were still alive.

    Pain. A sharp pain in her ribs. That was the first thing Rolana Imzavia became aware of. Something was broken. She hoped the difficulty breathing was just the ribs, and not a punctured lung, although she probably wouldn't be still alive if that was the case. The next thing she became aware of was that she was lying on her front on some kind of metal. She tried to remember how she got here. Something about a bird. And a fight. She moaned when it came back to her. How utterly outclassed she was and the fact it was only khotiims interference that meant she was alive.

    Deciding it was time to move, she told her arms to get under her. Except they didn't. She moved her leg into a brace position against the floor. Except it didn't.

    Her first instinct was to fear her back was broken. But if that was true, there should be some pain from it. Or so she thought. She wasn't a doctor. But she did know, if she could wriggle a toe, her back was intact. So that was what she focused on. Just one toe. One. Little. Toe. The pain was making it hard to concentrate. But she had to buckle down and get through it. Plenty of other Starfleet captains had been through things like this. It was almost a rite of passage. Move you blasted toe! There! It moved! Imzavia let out a mental sigh. Something good, finally. The next step was to stand.she tried to take slow, deep breaths to calm and centre herself, but it hurt too much to do so, instead resulting in short sharp panicked breaths. OK, she wasn't going to move under her own power anytime soon. Fortunately being Betazoid, she had other options. Though it would be tricky in her current state. And went against everything she believed in.

    Imzavia closed her eyes, reaching through the haze for the closest mind she could sense. It didn't take long. It was actually surprisingly close. She narrowed her attention on it. Male. Scared. In pain. Wait... it was the boy from the observatory that was destroyed when the anomaly opened! He had somehow survived! She would have to make sure she got him out. She decided to seek out the other two Captains. They must be somewhere nearby. But she couldn't sense them. She could, however, sense a guard nearby. Doing something she hadn't done since she first discovered it was possible back when she was a wee lass, she connected to the mind, feeling its strange sensation bubbling in her own brain as she subdued it. It was a lot different to her first grade teacher's mind, a lot more aggressive. Some of that extra violence started to bleed into her own spirit, but it would fade over time. She pictured the alien on strings, it becoming her puppet. And like that, it was. Imzavia kept her eyes closed, using the anger and violence from the alien to keep her own pain down. She started seeing the world through his eyes as she commanded him to open her cell. The guard made his way to the cell without incident. It was only when he opened her cell and walked up to her did she realise just how bad she looked. T'Per was going to be busy patching her back together. The guard slid his arms under her, lifted her up and carried her out.

    K'hotiim moaned as he finally started coming to. He was flat on his back, he knew that. Flopping a claw over his face, he tried to remember what happened last. Saving the Starfleeter... pain... nothing. Maybe security got there. No doubt it was some reaction to his interference, but he couldn't just let the young girl die. Not when she had proven her bravery in facing the challenge. And how she handled both K'hotiim and the Romulan filth. He sat up and looked around. A metal box. With a door. Always a good place to start. It had no discernable hinges or handles on this side, but he could see where the locking bolt was. With the right implement, he could do something. But there wasn't anything in the room. Not a bed. Not a chair. Not even a toilet. Then his gaze lifted upwards. Some grate in front of a light source. That could do. He instinctively reached for his belt, grasping where his motion accelerator should be. Not finding it, he looked down. Not only was the accelerator missing, all of his gear was. He let out a slight growl. That would complicate things if a fight broke out.

    Still, he was still mobile without it. Just a lot slower. He went to the grate and checked how it was held in. Very flimsy. Sliding his claws through the gaps, he lifted his feet off the ground and started yanking downwards. A screech accompanied the release of the grate. Inspecting it, he decided it was indeed suitable. Breaking the end piece off, he went back to the door and jammed it into the door frame where the locking bolt was. Moving back, he readied himself. Without his accelerator, he wasn't sure this was going to work. But he was damned sure going to try. Running as fast as he could, he hit the grate flat against the door and jumped into it, the combined force and speed making an impact that shattered the wall section holding the bolt in place. The door itself was still in place, but a careful inspection showed the wall had indeed been damaged.

    K'hotiim started picking at the damage, ripping apart small shards of the wall until the bolt was exposed. At that point, it was a simple process to push the bolt back into the door and swing it open. Grabbing the grate piece as a makeshift spear, he moved into the corridor beyond.

    D'Elon moved through the hallway, determined to find some kind of shuttle bay. There had to be a way off here. The rifle/sword hybrid she had 'aquired' was heavy in her arms, but she refused to let that stop her. The alarm was blaring so any attempt at subterfuge was gone. She strode with purpose. Hearing some guards ahead, she ducked down behind a corner and took aim. Sure enough, two guards came into view. The weapon crackled as a ghostly green blast shot forth, hitting one guard in the chest. He went down, but it took more than one shot to get through their armour. Still, she fired again at the second guard, simply to make him duck, then returned fire on the first guard, hitting him multiple times before he could get to his feet. With him smeared across the hall, she paused, waiting for the second guard to poke his head out. And waited. And waited. With it obvious he was not going to move first, she quickly ran out, firing at the spot he had ducked into. Assuming he was taking cover, she ran around the corner and drove the blade forward, scoring a direct hit into the unaware guard's armour. She quickly pulled the trigger, getting the blast in behind his armour and causing him to drop dead. Picking up his sword rifle, she slung it over her back. After all, she didn't know how much ammo these things carried, if they had ammo or batteries at all. But she started moving again.

    There was a large set of doors ahead, and some kind of commotion from the other side. D'Elon kicked the doors open and fired at the first gold armoured purple monkey thing she saw, then ducked behind some crates. Sure enough, she had found an outside. It wasn't a shuttle bay, but it was some kind of court yard. Should be good enough. But what was strange was there had been no retaliation. She slowly peeked over the top of the crate, getting a better view of the situation.

    There was a group of the aliens firing at a group of crates, which for some reason was shooting back. D'Elon shifted her postion to see better and was surprised to see one of th ealiens crouched behind the crates shooting at his own kind. Bizarre. But maybe one of the other Captains had found a traitor to ally with. Still, with no discernable way of knowing it was them, she decided it was better to stay put and catch them in a cross fire. Aiming her sword gun, she began picking them off. The confusion of suddenly getting attacked from behind caused the aliens to be quickly vanquished. The alien looked over to where D'Elon was, but couldn't see her in hiding.

    "Commander D'Elon? General K'hotiim? It's Captain Imzavia!"

    D'Elon peered around the side of her crate. The alien held up a Starfleet combadge.
    "You call that proof? You could easily have taken that off her dead body."

    "Bloody stubborn Romulan! We can't hang around! Get over here!"
    "Ha! I need better proof than that."
    "Ok. Tell me, are you always such a green cadet? Like K'hotiim?"

    Well, it was a call back to something the aliens wouldn't know. So even if it wasn't Imzavia, it would be someone from their ships. She peered again, this time seeing a young human male with curly brown hair. Deciding there was nothing else to lose, D'Elon ran forwards, keeping her head down. She slid feet first behind the crates, keeping her gun sword pointing at the alien as she came to a stop. It crouched down at her.

    "Now we just need to find K'hotiim and figure out a way off this planet."
    "What's going on?"
    "What do you mean? Oh, right. I'm mentally controlling this alien since... well..."

    The alien indicated the body of Imzavia, propped up against some crates. Her eyes were closed but she was scowling. "I'm too injured to move by myself."

    D'Elon filed away that little trick about Betazoids for later. "Help should be here any moment."
    "How do you know that?"
    "I sent a signal to my ship. I'm surprised they haven't already found me."
    "Then we just have to hold out here long enough for your ship to beam us out?"
    "Yes. Assuming they got the message." D'Elon paused, looking at the large doors at the far end of the platform. A small army came through and set up defensive positions. "Great. This is not going to be easy."
    "As long as we don't let them flank us, we can hold."

    D'Elon looked at the human boy. "What's your story?"
    "I-I was on the observatory and was captured. Those things have been studying me."
    "I think it's how they knew how to speak a language our universal translaters could interpret."
    "Huh. I had been wondering about that. Keep your head down kid. This is not going to be pretty."

    D'Elon and the alien opened fire. Blaster fire bounced back and forth across the platform but neither side would give in.

    The wall near the escapees shattered open as a brute in gold armour tumbled through, grappling with the large scaley form of K'hotiim. The two traded blows but K'hotiim was much too slow and only managed to get the occasional lucky shot in. Imzavia's alien crouched back under cover.

    "We have to help him!"
    "We go out there, we're out of cover. We get shot, it's over."
    "Dammit, what happened to Romulan pride? What happened to we all get out of here?"
    "And what exactly do you expect us to do against someone that size? Assuming we can even get there?"

    K'hotiim snarled as a sword pierced his left shoulder. He grabbed the wrist connected to the blade and began crushing it. The alien punched him to get him to release him, but the Gorn held fast.

    D'Elon cried out in frustration. "Fine. Give the human your weapon and get out there. We'll cover you."

    Imzavia gave her sword gun to the human. "What am I meant to do with this?"
    "You shoot."
    "But I've never fired a weapon in my life!"

    D'Elon grabbed the human by his collar and pinned him against the crate. "I will not die here because some little human got scared. Nor will I let members of this team die because of some scared little human. Either pick up that gun and start shooting, or I'll run you through on my own blade and take the weapon myself. You don't have to hit them, just keep them ducked under cover. Understood?"

    The human nodded and picked up the gun. Pausing just to watch how to fire it, he stuck the weapon above the edge of the crate and started firing. D'Elon was taking more targetted shots, but together, they did give Imzavia enough of a distraction to run across the platform and tackle the brute. The two aliens tumbled across the deck, trading blows. The brute landed on top, at first confused at seeing who his attacker was, but quickly overcame this. He grabbed the Imzavia alien under his chin and started to crush his neck. A sharp twist snapped his neck, prompting a sudden scream from Imzavia herself. Her eyes briefly flew open before she slumped unconcious.

    But it had given K'hotiim enough time to approach the brute from behind and grab him in a headlock. His thick forearm under the brute's chin cut off his air supply. No matter what he did, K'hotiim kept applying pressure, only releasing him long after he stopped breathing. More weapons fire hit K'hotiim in his back and he collapsed.

    The human checked on Imzavia. "She's unconcious but still breathing."
    "That doesn't do us any good. Dammit Satra, where are you?"

    Almost on cue, the sound of photon torpedoes rang out from above. They rained fire from the sky, hitting the entrenched aliens. D'Elon watched with satisfaction at the destruction, finally letting out a sigh of relief. The Romulan shuttle decloaked in front of them, already landing with it's hatch opened. D'Elon pointed at Imzavia. "Get her inside!"

    Using the shuttle as cover, D'Elon ran over to K'hotiim and grabbed his feet. She started dragging him back towards the shuttle when he kicked her off.
    "What are you doing Romulan?"
    "Getting you to the shuttle. Though I'm perfectly happy to leave you here."
    K'hotiim half rolled over, saw the shuttle and got to his feet. "MOVE!"

    The two ran inside the shuttle and D'Elon slapped the door controls. The shuttle was already taking off as she moved into the cockpit. "Ta'el. Please tell me you were able to discover something?"
    "Yes Sir. I believe I found the source of their dimensional projector."
    "Good. Get us back to the Tomalak."

    As soon as the shuttle docked, D'Elon marched back onto her ship. As doctors came in to attend to Imzavia, the Romulan commander moved straight to the bridge. As the doors opened, she commanded a comm channel be opened to her two ally ships. Commander Bearlo and S'ag appeared on screen.

    "Commanders. We have your Captains on board. Imzavia is critically injured, I suggest transferring her to your ship where your doctors know her biology better. Give us coordinates to your medbay. Satra, transport Imzavia over. K'hotiim is injured but alive. He will also transfer to your vessel shortly. Now, we need to find a way to shut down this portal and stop these aliens here."

    S'ag interrupted with his slightly robotic voice.
    "We take no orders from Romulans. General K'hotim will tell us what to do."
    "Shut up Gorn. Your commanders screwed up this mission. I have taken over operational command. We don't have time to argue. I assume you both have been gathering data. We need to pool our resources."

    Emony spoke up.
    "We've developed a way to collapse the dimensional portal. Based on the Iconian influence in the anomaly, we can create a phase shifted multi-spectral barrier with our ship and use our deflectors to close the portal. There are two downsides though. The ship to do it must fly into the portal until it's collapsed. And secondly, the portal can't be fully sealed unless that beam that's opening it is shut down."

    "Good Commander. We've located the projection point of the beam, but it's secured behind multiple layers of security and shielding. We can cut through, but we don't have time. Gorn, you had a team on the ground. Have you found anything? Security codes perhaps?"

    "Answer her S'ag." K'hotiim had entered the bridge, holding himself against a chair. His body armour had been removed and the open wounds on his back could be seen, blood trickling down between the scales on his back. "The Romulan has command now. We will follow her orders."


    S'ag winced, then motioned off screen. Toshme's bubbly face popped into view.

    "You wanted access codes? Yeah, I managed to get one on the surface. Also managed to find out the termination sequence of the generator. But it aint gonna be easy to shut down."

    K'hotiim stepped forward, straightening up. "Ready a full assault team. We're beaming over there as soon as I'm on board. Toshme, you will stay behind the squad. We'll cover you while you get that thing shut down."
    "Aye aye, my General Sir."

    D'Elon looked at Emony. "We'll provide cover for your ship while you get in there and shut down the portal. There's a fleet of ships between us and there, so we'll have to make this count."
    "Our ship won't be able to survive against much of a fight. We're not exactly a powerful ship."

    As K'hotiim beamed out to his ship, D'Elon turned to Lollius and spoke quietly to him, before turning back to the screen.
    "Shut down your external dampeners. We'll tractor you between our dual hulls and cover you with our shields. A battering ram as it were. Once we're through the fleet, we'll release you and engage the enemy."


    As they all vanished off screen, D'Elon sat down in her chair, clasping her hands in front of her face, steepling her index fingers against her lips, resting her chin on her thumbs. She watched as the Starfleet vessel was grabbed and moved into the safety of her own ship. What an interesting day this had turned out to be.

    "Tomalak has released us. They've turned to attack the fleet."

    Emony nodded at Peck and focused on the viewscreen. The command was her's now, and although she hadn't taken command since the Sentinel crashed, she knew this time was going to be different. She was alot more confident in general now. She knew who she was. She had got married since then. And if there was anything being with Amy had taught her, it was self confidence.

    "Josie, get us in that rift. Shousha, make sure the shields have been reconfigured with the equations for the Iconain portals. Remind all crew to stay in the rear shuttle bay. Things are going to get hot."

    The Nova class ship flew into the maw of the portal, turning lengthways and coming to a stop. Blue particle beams shot out from both deflector dishes, hitting the side of the anomaly. Emony brought up the sensor readouts on the Captain's readout panel. The portal had already shrank by forty seven centimetres. It appeared to be working, if slowly.

    "Status of the Romulans?"
    "They're maintaining a perimeter close to us, intercepting all weapons fire at us."
    "Good. Let's hope this thing closes quickly."


    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

    The Vorch'a cruiser flew to the orbital web. A torrent of disruptor fire and torpedos lanced out, striking the origin point for the beam. When the explosions cleared, the only damage was blackened scorching on the hull. S'ag looked up from his console with his one eye.

    "No noticable damage. That area is too heavily shielded."

    K'hotiim groaned as the doctors applied some salve to the wounds in his back. A dermal regenerator didn't seem to be working on those wounds, something about the weapons used leaving a corrosive around the tissues that prevented modern tech from working. Though he would heal naturally in time. But time was something they did not have. He motioned for the doctor to leave.

    "Then we'll have to board the web and shut it down at the source. Toshme, you have the security codes?"
    "Aye Sir. If we can get to the main access console, I should be able to shut it down."

    K'hotiim motioned for a pair of guards to move forwards. They began mounting large shoulder pads, reinforced gauntles, and leg armour to their commander.
    "The assault team will beam onboard.While we distract the guards, you get to the console and work your magic."

    The blue haired Orion saluted with a grin. "It'll be my pleasure."

    The group of Gorn materialised in what was believed to be the command centre. They were in a close circle formation, all pointing outwards with weapons drawn. As soon as they were solid enough, they opened fire and gunned down any of the aliens they saw. K'hotiim lowered his minigun and stepped out of formation.

    "Well, it seems this place was easier to take than I thought." He turned to the group as Toshme stepped out from the centre. "Get that computer system shut down."

    As the Orion moved to a console, K'hotiim looked around at the dark room. It seemed to be a very generic control room, poor lighting and numerous consoles dotted around. Nothing too exciting or unusual. Although one of the walls appeared to be reinforced. "Srin. Is that a blast door?"

    The small Engineer inspected the bulkhead. "Yes Captain. I'm detecting a power source on the other side. This may be the main core of the entire orbital web." Thraak came over, the grey Gorn focused on his tricorder.

    "I'm having trouble scanning the area. But I think Srin is right. Mapping the power conduits, they do all seem to converge behind there."
    K'hotiim looked over to Toshme. "Any luck shutting it down?"
    "No. I can get into the systems but the shut down is on a completely different circuit. I can't do anything."
    "Can you open this blast door?"
    "Maybe. Why?"
    "If we can't shut it down properly, we'll blow the core."
    "And take us with it?!"
    "To stop the invasion, yes. I'd rather live, but it would be a good death."
    S'ag came over and held out some grenades. "Or... you know. We could set some timers on these and beam out."

    Emony held on to her arm rests as the ship rocked. "Report!"
    "Shields are almost out." Peck shouted from his console. "The aliens are openly targetting us."
    "The Romulans?"
    "No sign of them. They were covering us but they decided to cloak."
    "Damn them. Bridge to Engineering. Shunora, divert all engine power to the shields and all weapon power to Auxillary."
    "Yes Sir."
    Peck shouted up as the ship rocked again, causing a rear console to explode.
    "Sir! Is that such a good idea? Shouldn't we try to shoot back?"
    "We can't fire phasers while we are collapsing the portal. The phased particles will react badly with our deflector beam, and cause a cascade reaction through subspace. There's no telling how that will manifest itself. The portal is almost closed. All we need is for the Gorn to shut down that beam so we can collapse the portal completely."

    The blast door unlocked and started to open. With barely any opening showing, a metal point came through, piercing Srin's skull. The little Gorn collapsed as the others let out an angry roar. The doors finished opening to reveal Lord standing in the doorway, his staff dripping with Srin's blood. Behind him lay a vast circular generator, deep blue beams pulsing into the device from all angles. It was clearly the thing they needed to blow up. But Lord was standing in the way.

    "You will not stop us from achieving our destiny!"

    He lunged forward, sweeping Thraak's legs. Before they had a chance to react, Lord had leapt forward, plunging his staff into S'Sraat's eye. The Gorn roared and grabbed the staff, pulling it out of Lord's grasp and staggered back, slamming against a computer and collapsing. K'hotiim triggered his motion accelerator and ran forward, but Lord was able to flip him over. K'hotiim landed hard on his back, his wounds causing him to pause a moment. S'ag and Thraak moved in from a flanking position. Thraak went for the punch first, but Lord was able to duck under. Unfortunately, it also meant S'ag could use his robotic legs to kick Lord in his knees, dropping him. He tried to get up but the two Gorn started stamping on him, beating him badly. K'hotiim came over and grabbed Lord's head from behind, letting his claws reach over his forehead and dig into his eyes. K'hotiim then took one of the grenades, popped the pin and shoved it into Lord's mouth.

    "For my men."

    He quickly released Lord and moved back as the grenade detonated, scattering Lord's head across the room. He looked over to S'sraat. Toshme was over him. She looked up and shook her head. With a growl, K'hotiim moved over to Srin and checked him. Also dead. K'hotiim vowed their death would not be a meaningless one.

    It was a matter of seconds to set the detonators and blow the power source. K'hotiim activated his comm. "Toraga. Report."

    Kazengo answered. "There's been power fluctuations and the beam has decreased in power but it is still generating a rift."

    "Scan for a secondary power source."
    "Got it. It's four hundred miles from your position. But there's too much interference from secondary systems, we can't get a transporter lock into the area."
    "Destroy that chamber with the ship weapons."
    "Aye Sir."

    K'hotiim waited patiently until Kazengo came back on the comm. "No effect. The hull is too thick to penetrate with our weapons."
    "What's the closest you can beam us in?"
    "Fifty miles away. It's as if that generator is located around the subspace induction fields generating the rift."
    "Ha! Then we must be at the backup generator. Is there anything you can do?"
    "No Sir. We don't have anything capable of breaking through the hull short of a warp core breach."

    K'hotiim paused, letting that sink in.
    "Do it."
    "Full ramming speed. Crash the Toroga into the generator and blow the core. Evacuate who you can first, but that generator must be destroyed at all costs."
    "And what about you?"
    "We'll find a way."

    "We're evacuating the ship. Only a skeleton crew will stay on board to ensure the ship stays on target. Blast!"

    "Kazengo. Report. KAZENGO!"

    We got ambushed Sir. Critical system failue! The ship is breaking apart! The Romulans have taken the heat off us but structural integrity is failing. We'll have to ram it now!"
    "Understood. You have been the finest crew I could have asked for. You die with honour to save our galaxy. May you all find peace in the afterlife."

    "Thank you Sir. Helm. RAMMING SPEED!"

    The comm cut as the ground under K'hotiim's feet shook. Toshme came over and put a hand on her Captain's chest, staying close to him. "What's happening?"

    "The main generator was destroyed. Hear that rumbling? Those secondary systems Kazengo mentioned must have caused some kind of power surge. Or feedback loop. Something. This entire place is destroying itself."

    S'ag came over and looked K'hotiim in the eye. They clasped hands in a show of solidarity, more than friends, almost brothers. His one red eye softened slightly, his robotic voice almost sounding like the old friend K'hotiim knew before the incident.

    "It's been a true honour and pleasure to not only serve with you, but to call you friend. I do not regret these years I have known you."
    "Nor I, you. You have been the best friend anyone could ask for. Thank you for everything S'ag. We die as free Gorn. And some day all Gorn will be free. Our actions here today have helped bring that one step closer."

    The rumbling was growing more intense all the time. Thraak came over to stand with his crew as consoles started shorting out, the temperature of the room increasing dramatically. Toshme quickly gave K'hotiim a kiss on his cheek, prompting him to wrap his free hand around her waist and pull her close against his body. "I'll see you on the other side."

    The wall before them disintigrated in fiery death, a wall of flame that washed towards them. K'hotiim decided this was a good final sight. The wall of red, yellow, orange as it all turned green. The fire tore through the control room, incinerating everything within.

    "The beam is down!"

    Emony nodded as Peck shouted confirmation. She checked the sensor readouts. Sure enough, the portal was beginning to now collapse within itself. Only problem is, it would take the ship with it.

    "Jose, can we get the ship out of this anomaly before it crushes us?"
    "I could, but then we would loose the deflector beam targeting."
    "No. We need to keep the beams focused on the portal until it's fully closed."

    Peck shook his head. "That'll crush the ship."
    "Technically it'll invert and implode the ship."
    "Same end result. We all die."
    "You're right. Can the escape pods survive the distortions of the portal?"
    "Doubtful. And they certainly wouldn't survive getting through the barrier."
    "Then we stay put. If we have to sacrifice ourselves to save the Milky Way, then so be it. Launch the flight recorder through the portal. Hopefully Starfleet will learn the truth of what happened here."

    Emony made an announcement to the crew, informing them this was the end. That they were paying the ultimate sacrifice to save their loved ones back home and to make peace with whatever deity/afterlife/loved ones they have.

    The ship shook again. "The disturbance is about to make contact with the hull."
    "All hands, brace for impact!"
    The ship lurched violently but to Jose's credit, he was able to keep both deflector beams locked on target. The ship was shaking uncontrollably and constantly now. Consoles exploded and the lights started flickering. Emony reached into her uniform and pulled the necklace from under her shirt. Half of a unity symbol entwined with a symbiote, etched with the initials of Amy Vok. Just as Amy had the other half with the initials of Emony. The symbol of their marriage. She thought about that fateful first meeting with Amy back on the Sentinel. About all of the soul searching she had done, and all the years of bliss she had since accepting herself fully. She pictured Amy now, in her wedding dress. The most radiant she had ever seen her. She just hoped Starfleet would tell her the truth of what happened here.

    The ship started loosing hull integrity, the outer edge of the ship imploding inwards before blasting outwards into the vacuum of space, taking anyone and anything in those sections with it. The computer announced the warp core was becoming unstable due to damage to the nacelles. Commander Emony Bearlo whispered quietly as the world turned green. "I love you Amy."

    "Nice sentiment Commander, but save it until we are out of this mess. Ta'el, lock onto that Starfleet vessel and fire on Satra's command."

    Emony looked around, She was on the bridge of the Tomalak with the rest of her bridge staff. K'hotiim and a couple of his officers were also present, though at the back of the bridge out of the way. They looked shaken. Commander D'Elon was sat in her chair, watching the viewscreen inently as the ship shook from weapons fire. The sound of plasma beams rang out.

    "Direct hit on two enemy vessels. One is breaking off-" Ta'el paused while the ship lurched again. "The other three are continuing pursuit."

    Emony quickly tucked the necklace away as D'Elon turned her chair to stare at Emony. Her tone was calm, cold, calculating. How very Romulan. "Commander. Our only way out is through that portal. And your ship is in the way. We will have to destroy it."

    "But is the portal closed enough?"
    "We time it right, it will be. We beamed the rest of your crew to one of our cargo bays, but thought you would prefer to be here. Stay out of my crew's way."

    "This is your ship Commander."

    D'Elon turned back to the viewscreen with no acknowledgment of any kind as Emony gathered her crew and moved to the rear, but keeping a respectful distance from the Gorns.

    "Satra. How long?"
    "Almost.... almost...."
    "That portal is already too small to fit us through fully. We wait any longer, we'll be destroyed too."

    "It's almost at full implosion po-NOW!"

    Instantly, torpedos rang out from the nose of the craft. Emony watched as the little Nova class ship, almost right ontop of them by this point, took the hits and exploded in a blinding flash. The Tomalak flew straight into the fireball, her shields protecting her from suffering catastrophic damage from the ship's destruction. But the portal was too small to fit them through fully. The nacelles at teh wings of the ship sheared off, taking sections of the double hull with them. Tomalak lost all power and everyone crashed to the ground. In the darkness, Emony could hear people moving around. The bridge was chaotic, but somehow still organised. She did have to admire the Romulans for their discipline.

    Finally, power came back on. D'Elon was stood by a console with Satra. She looked over to Emony. "Good news Starfleet. The portal closed and we are in the Nimbus system. No sign of the aliens."

    Emony let out a sigh of relief. It was done. The day was saved. Through the joint efforts of the KDF, Starfleet and the Romulan Star Empire. Ironic, really, that such a thing happened in the Nimbus system of all places. "Well done."
    "Oh don't start all that yet. We've lost both our nacelles. So we're stuck in this system. And neither of you have ships. We're going to have to wait until someone comes to pick you all up."
    "The Magpie is due to arrive for support two days after we left."
    "Which shoul dmean they will be arriving soon. When they arrive, you and your crew will transfer to them. And take General K'hotiim and his survivors with you."
    "I don't think there'll be enough space for the crew of a Vorcha class as well as us and the Magpie's crew."
    "Doesn't matter. They are the only survivors we could grab."

    Emony looked over to K'hotiim and understood now the look in his eyes. It was the look of a captain who lost everyone. She decided to keep her distance for now. Instead, she decided to check on her own crew.

    A few hours later, Emony entered the mess hall of the Magpie. She spotted K'hotiim at a table by the window by himself. She ordered a strawberry milkshake and walked over to him. "Is this seat taken?"

    He indicated with his palm she could sit. She did so, admittadly feeling a little nervous. The last time she was this close to a Gorn, it was an attack squad that had boarded the Sentinel. In fact, this guy looked vaugly familiar, but she dismissed that thought. "How are you doing?"

    "I'm alive. Which is more than I can say for my crew."

    He picked at the piece of meat on the table in front of him. Whatever it was, it had clearly been sitting there for some time, and only had one bite out of it.

    "You did everything you could. I'm sure your crew knew that you would have died in their place."
    "Yes. But when one consigns his crew to death, it's expected one dies with them."

    K'hotiim leaned back and looked at Emony.
    "I'm not sad my crew died. They performed their duties well. The acted above and beyond the call of duty. They did everything I could ask of them and more. And they never questioned my order for them to die. It was a good death. No, I'm sad that I did not die with them."

    Emony just slightly grimaced. "I understand what it's like to loose your crew. My old ship was ambushed. The Captain and many of the crew were taken captive and our first officer was gravely wounded. I was left in command and.... I wasn't ready. And I lost alot of crew that day. Even now, I still sometimes think I should have been with them." She placed a gloved hand on K'hotiim's claw and patted it gently. "But that's the burden of command. Sometimes we have to send others to their deaths so the many can live."

    "Don't mistake this for something it's not. I've sent many warriors to their deaths before. And I'll do so again. It's just accepting your fate, only to have it ripped out of your hands at the last second. It's unnerving. Not that I'd expect a Trill to understand. You don't have the heart of a warrior."

    Emony took her hand off K'hotiim. "No. No I don't. We'll be meeting with a supply ship in four hours. They will take you to Garamba Station where you can make your own way from there."

    Emony picked up her milkshake and moved to another table of Starfleet officers. K'hotiim picked up his mug of some aweful substitute of a Klingon drink and raised it to the windows and the passing stars.

    "To absent friends."

    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'
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