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ULC 27: Extra Lives, Entry Thread

aten66aten66 Member Posts: 639 Arc User
edited September 2016 in Ten Forward
Welcome to the twenty-seventh edition of the Unofficial Literary Challenge: "Extra Lives"! It's my second time, so enjoy my odd picks.

As some of these are older submissions, please feel free to update to more current in-game lore as you see fit.


"How the Mighty have Fallen" by moonshadowdark

"While investigating strange extra-dimensional anomalies, you are surprised when a bright flash of light washes over the ship. Everyone is blinded momentarily. For a second, all seems normal. Then hundreds of nude bodies appear all over the ship falling from nowhere. One body in particular appears on the bridge...Q! It seems that something or someone has ousted the entire Continuum from their realm and into ours. Who could do such a thing? And how do you plan on helping the Q regain their realm? And for God's sake, could someone get these people some pants?!"

"Second Life" by proteusrex

You wake up in another time and another life. Though everything seems 'normal' you begin to realize it's not where you belong. As you start encountering members of your bridge crew in key roles of this other life, you become more and more convinced that it isn't real. Where did you wake up? Are you a lounge singer on a Risan yacht, or a cowboy on the American frontier, or maybe a blue collar worker on a 20th century Romulus. Who put you there? Is it an enemy scheme, alien influence, holodeck malfunction or fantasy made real?

"I am Your Son"* by Starswordc

A strange encounter: you meet a character claiming to be your child. Is he or she a product of a brief liaison many years ago, or could they be something far stranger: a time traveler, or perhaps a trick of the enemy or one of Q's little pranks.

*('Vader, I Am Your Son', is the original working title)

Bonus Prompt

"An Enterprise Of A Different Sort" by fyrwinde13109

"If there is one quantum constant, it is that any starship bearing the name Enterprise runs afoul of odd situations on a near-daily basis. While on Iconian Patrol alongside Captain Shon and the USS Enterprise, both of your vessels encounter a Herald invasion fleet. In the midst of the ensuing skirmish a Herald Dreadnought suffers a catastrophic cascade failure and implodes, creating a powerful subspace anomaly. Your vessel, the Enterprise-F and several enemy vessels are swallowed up in the ensuing wormhole...and what you find on the other side is unnerving. Not only have you and the Enterprise gone backwards in time, you've gone sideways!

"Now you and Captain Shon are facing a quandary of truly "Enterprising" proportions; an alternate timeline featuring a larger, sleeker and more heavily-armed version of the famous Constitution-class U.S.S. Enterprise, crewed by younger,brasher versions of the Enterprise's crew under James T. Kirk...and it is clearly the result of a massive Temporal Incursion by a madman thought long dead. To make matters worse, the Enterprise-F has suffered severe damage to its starboard nacelle and requires repairs, and one of the Herald battleships managed to survive the passage and is now loose in deep space.

"Does the Temporal Prime Directive take ultimate precedence? Or will the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few? It's up to you and your crew--with the help of the alternate Enterprise--to protect the Big E-F and both realities from the Herald threat...before any more damage is done."





As usual, no NSFW content.

The discussion thread is here.

The LC Submission 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
  20. Coming Around Again
  21. In the Darkness
  22. The Company You Keep
  23. Battle Scars
  24. Mirror Wars
  25. Agents of Yesterday
  26. Love and Loss

Comments

  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 639 Arc User
    My take on 'I am Your Son'

    Forefathers

    \\\\

    K.D.F. Alexander, Medical Bay

    "So, you want a blood sample, and why should I comply?" Sarus asks the group before him, "I mean, I'm not related to you guys, so I don't see why this is relevant...." Berg chuckles, slapping his comrade on the back, before taking a firm grip on his shoulder and panning his hand out over the assembled group.

    "All of us, in some way, are related through a unique genetic link Ace found in the Delta Quadrant, somehow from a pre-awakening Vulcanoid," Berg says, "We're trying to isolate it by testing it against a pure strain Vulcan and Romulan sequence, to see what genetic traits were passed on into our ancestors." Ohir, Gregs, Ace, Berg and Tekhav all nod, though the Vulcan seems hesitant. "Tekhav, being the closest Vulcan we could take a fresh sample from, and you being the closest Romulan we could find, with out it being awkward asking some stranger," Berg says, "I'm many things, a scientist and geneticist being one of them, and a warrior of the Klingon empire second; I don't get many chances to do something like this in my field of work, because being the solider normally comes first in space." Hesitant, the Romulan sighs, before he allows the genetic material to be taken, the prick of the needle covered by an anesthetic, already easing the fading pain.

    "Now, to run this against our collected database...." Berg says, putting the sample into a depository, where the DNA was catalogued, and compared against the collective medical data taken from their various ships, "It's always fun to get a fresh sample, blood, like data, is always gaining new things, disease, immunities, infections and anti-bodies..." He trails off, humming to himself, while the rest of the group takes a collective step away, concerned by the cheerful tune coming out of the normally grumpy alien. "Their we go, genetic analyzation complete, compared against both the fresh and stored genetic information I've given the device, and we'll have our charts and graphs ready in a... Ah, there!" He says, downloading the information through and into a connected PADD, "Tekhav, Ohir, Gregs, myself, Ace, and Sarus!"

    Handing the PADD to the assembled group, they hand it to Tekhav. "Normal antibodies consistent with Vulcans, some leftover diseases I haven't seen in centuries, long since dormant or killed by said antibodies, and rendered harmless by new treatments," Berg says, "Genetically you are consistent with the genetic stock found around Raal, your home city, and your most recent ancestor is... Odd, it says 2273, Sern of Raal, who died in a Shuttlecraft accident, must be a glitch." Shrugging it off, he takes the device from Tekhav, and hands it to Ohir. "I had some digging to do with your genetics, had to take some info from Kyana Station, but you seem quite healthy," Berg says, "5% Vulcanoid, 53% Ocampa,,42% Krenim, not too unexpected as you come from a parallel world."

    Moving on to Ace, as both Gregs and Berg know their own DNA is 40/23/20/17 Ocampa, Vulcan, Romulan, misc, in that order, with a 5% difference depending on who it was; Gregs having more DNA like a Romulan, with Berg closer to a Vulcan's. "Sa'lvin, you have 83% Romulan, 11% miscellaneous Vulcanoid, and 6% Ocampan DNA," Berg says, "Not to unexpected, since you were injected with our DNA, not born with it." Finally he turns to Sarus, who takes the PADD in hand. "And yours, my boy, quite an interesting find," Berg says, slyly looking towards Tekhav, "You might just want to be prepared for what you find..."

    Raising an eyebrow at that, Sarus looks through the device and its findings. "Mix of DNA, unknown pathogens, altered genes, genetic abnormalities corrected before birth," Sarus says, looking up at Berg, "I don't get it, why don't I have a genetic breakdown like yours?" Berg takes the PADD, then passes it to Gregs, who scans over it with interest, before giving a sideways glance to Tekhav. Gregs then begins to monkey with the PADD, before Berg continues the conversation.

    "There appears to be a blacklist in your medical files," Berg says, "Apparently the system flagged our search, it had few clustered words that triggered it, but it appeared mainly because of cross referencing your name... with Tekhav's." Sarus looks in confusion from the PADD, to Berg, to Tekhav.

    "I thought you said it was cross referencing files from my ship, against the KDF and Federation medical database on your ships," Sarus replies, "How would my name be blacklisted on your databases?" Sarus looks between Tekhav and Berg.

    "I believe I have a solution," Gregs says while still looking at the PADD, "We activated a Trojan virus encased in your medical records, it opened a dummy file, and get this, it wasn't just yours and Tekhav's name that was connected to it..." He shows the PADD, which has files displayed on its screen. "You see Sarus, Tekhav couldn't alter your files, because they are only on the KDF and Republic files, and Berg wouldn't deliberately alter files because he hadn't met you yet when they were time stamped," Gregs says, "But, I believe we both know someone in the Republic that had the ability and knowledge of how to create and bury this file in sealed medical records, and have the foresight to leave the program open for alterations at a future date; that's how I got in, after all."

    Sarus and Berg both see the names on the list, and look to the Vulcan office, whose face is an emotionless mask. "Tell us Tekhav, what secrets are you going to such lengths in hiding," Gregs says, "That you got your fiancée to hide for you?" The name of Nali i'Gol-teth Aetarra lines the screen among Tekhav, Sarus, and many others.

    \\ Nali's Hotel Room, Risa

    With a violent knock on the door, the petite captain has to hurry to unlock the door, lest whoever it was bust down her door and give the resort a reason to charge more to her already lengthy bill. It was a good thing she had a few savings scattered across the quadrant, though this whole event had nearly emptied one of those savings out by now. With a burst of color in a whirlwind, Sarus and Tekhav are in her room, with Sarus barely being held back by the Vulcan. "By the Elements, calm down, let me get a breath in edge wise," Nali says, "Tell me what it is you're trying to find out, and then I can help you!" The irate Romulan is pulled to a sitting position by Tekhav, who twists his arm to accomplish this, while Nali grabs a chair and sits across from them.

    "I need to know," Sarus says, squirming out of the Vulcan's grasp, "Why did you fake my medical files, why did you plant files for people to find and be placated at a surface glance," he asks, "Why would you do that? Why me? Why should you care about an orphan kid from Virnat, one whose inherited a cursed name?" Nali's emotions range from shock to disappointments, before she looks down and composes herself.

    "Tekhav, how did he find out?" she asks, "What- what does he know?" The Vulcan looks from Sarus to Nali.

    "He only knows what the others found out, what Gregs and Berg dug up, but when I asked them-" he says, "They won't pry unless we had any dangerous secrets, but I believe they have the right to know." Nodding to her partner, Nali looks to Sarus.

    "I'll tell you, Sarus, but you need to keep a cool head," Nali says, "My name, as you know, is Nali i'Gol-teth Aetarra, but my birth name was T'Aminu of Gol, then T'Lie of Excirvion, and finally T'Preth the wife of Delon." She sucks in air, and sighs gently, folding a straying hair back into her hair. "T'Aminu died, forged by the fires of what is now called the Badlands, T'Lie died when a monster consumed her world, and T'Preth died a bloody end, stripped of her son and husband, after being imprisoned on a planet," Nali says, "She had been found wandering the stars in an alien ship, yet she was clearly Vulcan, or close enough genetically, and so she was sent to an unusual prison, for such an unusual prisoner; I believe you know a planet called Thieurrul?"

    "Hellguard, the cursed planet whose name I bear as a curse for my forebearer's disobedience," Sarus says, "The reason I proudly wear it being that my ancestor was a Vulcan spy, a V'Shar operative implanted on that fringe world seeking after the disappearances of Vulcans from colonies among the Neutral Zone..." The Romulan looks from Nali to Tekhav. "Tell me, are you saying you are, what, my long lost relatives, trying to burn away any curiosity I may have about my heritage, because I am Romulan, because I favor the KDF?" he says, "Why hide something I proudly flaunt; to save your own careers from my mark of shame, from being related to me?" He stands up, anger flaring in his eyes. "Why should I stay to be ridiculed for my heritage," he says, "Why should I listen to you?" An anger burns in Nali's own heart, as she looks up, hot tears streaming down her face.

    "Shut up, and face your fourth Foremother in the eyes," she shouts, surprising Sarus, who recognizes the stress in the term 'foremother', "Delon- Tekhav, he was there, it was a different time, I-I was-" She breaks down, and curls up into Tekhav, crying, relieving memories from an age long past. Sarus cools off, concern on his face, as he looks to Tekhav for an answer. The Vulcan is stoic, but his eyes seem to show mist in them as well.

    "She has sacrificed much, for you and I to meet like this," Tekhav says, "Trust me, Sarus i'Thieurrull, we understand your confusion, but she and I have much history with that accursed place; it was where we were first married, and the reason we are marrying now, so long after..." The Vulcan sighs, before setting her down on the bed, stress having caused her to pass out, tears still flowing. "Let me show you," Tekahv says, getting into position with Sarus, "May I initiate a meld?" Nodding, Sarus awaits the memory linking.

    \\ In the Meld

    Sarus awakens to a burning house around him, and standing, he sees what seems like a slice of time frozen around him. Two Tal Shiar guards, surrounding a female Captain or a Commander of some form, holding what appears to be a child, a babe, in her arms, while he sees a gruesome sight at her feet. While quite different in appearance, the form of Nali i'Gol-teth Aetarra, or here T'Preth, lay in a pool of her own blood, throat cut. A younger Vulcan man, in Romulan guards clothing, watches the pyrrhic scene unfold before him, though the eyes of the man convey the same haunted look Sarus had seen in Tekhav's eyes.

    'The wounds are deep, son of Hellgaurd, and your history has been muddled by time,' a voice says in his head, 'We had lost ourselves this day, I left behind a wife I thought dead, a child I knew unreachable, and a life embittered by this loss, a life as a V'Shar operative left for a Federation frontier life.' The scene changes to show an unfamiliar planet, a green and chaotic sky, smoky and choking, as if nothing could stop its oppressive aura. 'Taurus II, a place that changed the course of my history,' the voice says, 'I thought this place would be my grave, if not for the three brave souls who helped me through it.' Giant creatures, savage men, all brutal, surround a older Tekhav, an Andorian security officer, the woman he had come to know as Hazel Mir Kaur, and the Tellarite Captain he knew as Panl.

    \\

    The link begins to fade, and Sarus feels himself coming back to his senses. Little time has passed, but Nali has calmed, as has Sarus and Tekhav. "Tell me, forefather, what was it like on Vulcan?" he asks softly. The Vulcan man has a ghost of a smile on his face, before sitting closer.

    "Only if you tell me how your life was, how you father and your father's father was," Tekhav says, "I have a lot of catching up to do, Sarus, and I would be proud if you considered me your Forefather." Sarus smiles, and begins to tell his tale.
  • marcusdkanemarcusdkane Member Posts: 7,439 Arc User
    edited September 2016
    ULC#27: Prompt#2: Second Life:
    You
    On-ly
    Live twice
    Or so it seems
    One life for yourself
    And one
    For your dreams
    You
    Drift through
    The years
    And life seems tame
    Till one dream appears
    And love
    Is it's name

    And love is a stranger
    Who'll
    Beckon you on
    Don't think of the danger
    Or the stranger
    Is gone

    This
    Dream
    Is for you
    So pay the price
    Make one dream come true
    You only live twice

    And love is a stranger
    Who'll
    Beckon you on
    Don't think of the danger
    Or the stranger
    Is gone

    This
    Dream
    Is for you
    So pay the price
    Make one dream come true
    You only live twice



    Nancy Sinatra - "You Only Live Twice"


    P A R A D I S E . U N L O S T



    I breathe
    Darkness
    I open my eyes
    Darkness
    I move
    Solid block
    I move again
    Solid block
    I feel
    Distance
    Solid block
    I move
    Falling
    Dropping
    Impact
    Frustration
    Fear
    I lash out
    Hard impact
    Pain
    Soothing
    I lash out again
    Pain
    Light
    Soothing
    Blinding
    I squeeze my eyes shut
    Instinct drives me upwards and forwards
    Noise
    High-pitched
    An animal's cry
    I open my eyes
    A figure
    Female
    Angry
    Frightened?
    Reaching
    Brandishing
    Light flares
    Noise flares
    Pain
    Falling
    Impact
    Soothing
    Instinct drives me upwards and forwards
    Female screams
    Light flares
    Noise flares
    Pain
    Falling
    Impact
    Female Flees
    Opening
    Soothing
    Instinct drives me upwards and forwards
    Cooler
    Lesser darkness
    Uneven
    Losing stability
    Falling
    Impact
    Pain
    Rolling
    Falling
    Impact
    Pain
    Falling
    Impact
    Pain
    Instinct drives me upwards
    Figures
    Male
    Female
    Older
    Younger
    Soothing
    Moving forwards
    Pain ends
    The male speaks
    Incomprehensible
    I reach out to them both
    Help me...

    ---

    Hearing Za'vi scream, Xelif turned towards the sound of his daughter's cry. He saw the dark-haired man appearing atop the ridge as if from no-where, staggering on the rocky hillside, before falling, plummeting onto the rocks below, rolling off the ledge, falling, before bouncing, tumbling again, then coming to a rest, battered and bloodied, his long, dark blue robe hanging open, the right-sleeve partially torn away at the shoulder, the back ripped open from neck to waist.

    As the dark-haired man rose unsteadily to his feet, staggered forwards, Xelif pulled his teenage daughter behind him, and called out, "Who are you? Where did you come from?"

    The dark-haired man stumbled forward, reaching out a hand.

    Intellect told Xelif that the dark-haired man's gesture was one of supplication, of desperation, and with a wave of compassion, he no-longer feared for Za'vi's safety.

    "Where did you come from?" Xelif asked again, moving closer, Za'vi moving out from behind him

    The dark-haired man said something in a strange tongue, then collapsed.

    Za'vi ran to the insensate form.

    "Papa, he's hurt!" she exclaimed. "We have to help him!"


    Twelve months later...
    Hearing a roar, Za'vi looked up toward the cloudless blue sky. At the lakeside, Visuban did likewise.

    "Do you know it?" Za'vi asked.

    Visuban gathered the fishing gear.

    "It's Klingon," he said. "We should get back to the village."

    "Klingon, like Worf?" Za'vi asked. She remembered the stories her father had told her of the Klingon warrior who had helped them flee the drones sent by the Son'a.

    "Worf is a Klingon name," Visuban replied. "But we should get back to the village and tell the others. Klingons can be aggressive, adversarial -- we should be prepared for them."

    Za'vi nodded. In the year since Visuban had appeared before her, she had helped him learn the language of the Ba'ku and become a part of the community. The community always embraced those in need. It had accepted back those who had once left, time healing their sicknesses, restoring their deformities until they looked like people once more.

    Visuban had not been deformed when he appeared. What injuries he sustained in the fall, had healed quickly and completely. The only unusual thing, had been the swirling black lines, permanently marked on the edge of his right forearm. But as whole as his body had been, for all his vitality, his mind had not been whole. Some things, like speech, how to fish, how to start a fire, he knew instinctively. Skills like how to prepare food, how to make music, had soon been revealed. He knew some things about the offland, like places and names, but his own identity, his past, was a blank. Between them, Za'vi and Xelif had called him Visuban -- newcomer -- and he had never objected.

    * * *

    "How near did it land?" Artim pressed, as Visuban and Za'vi reported what they saw. "Could you tell?"

    Visuban shook his head, "It maintained altitude before it passed beyond the Jura mountain range," he explained. "They may have landed, they may have continued further, we had no way to tell."

    "But they would have seen the village," Xelif reasoned. "They may intend to come here."

    "If they intended to come here, they would have beamed down by now," Anij pointed out calmly. "We shouldn't assume they mean us harm."

    "They're Klingons," Visuban noted. "Whatever their intent, they will have motive. Klingons always have a motive..."

    * * *

    Q'sha, daughter of L'uq, strode down the boarding ramp of the IKS jub Qu', and gazed around the clearing. Clear blue skies, clean air, warm, mild breezes, nothing like the harsh environs of Qo'noS. The tranquility was almost unnerving in its serenity, when one was used to the lightning and gales of the Ketha lowlands.

    Beside her, science officer Khoq's tricorder warbled and hummed.

    "As we were told, Mistress, the metaphasic radiation is beginning to interact with our genetic sequences even more energetically than in orbit," Khoq reported. "This truly is a place where the Barge of the Dead has no port."

    "Then, for the glory of the Empire, we shall make a thorough study and bring the secrets of this place back to Qo'noS," Q'sha vowed.

    * * *
    909d7cda93335d83bb43d3459b4dfcd5_zpsayiqcsfi.jpg
  • marcusdkanemarcusdkane Member Posts: 7,439 Arc User
    edited September 2016
    P A R A D I S E . U N L O S T
    P A R T . I I

    Beneath the open window, Za'vi lay in bed, listening to the wind-chimes hanging outside. The night breeze was chill against her arms, rested on her chest atop the woven blanket, and shifting onto her side, Za'vi pulled the sheet over her bare shoulder, continuing to gaze sightlessly out the window and up to the stars in the night sky. Her mind's eye kept showing her the Klingon ship as it had passed overhead. Something from the offland.

    She remembered the tension in Visuban's voice: We should get back to the village... Not fear exactly, but he was definitely concerned by the appearance of the ship. She had never heard Visuban sound like that before, even before he had learned the language of the Ba'ku, even when he needed help. The presence of the Klingons had to be serious if it was able to upset her friend, who was usually always in such good spirits.

    Of course, in her fifteen years, Za'vi had never seen a Klingon, at least, not in the flesh. Only pictures the artisans had once painted of Worf and the other offlanders: Data, Jean-Luc, Beverly and Deanna. She wondered what would bring other Klingons to their place, and why it had taken such a time for them to arrive? Had they travelled far? Had Worf sent them? Was Worf with them? Did they even know Worf?

    Then she considered something else. Worf had been but one Klingon amongst the other offlanders. What if he was some kind of exile from his people? What if other Klingons weren't like Worf? Was that why Visuban had been so worried by their appearance?

    In her mind's eye, Za'vi saw the Klingon ship as it passed beyond the Jura mountain range. She knew that there were open fields beyond the mountains, and by passing through the caves, it would take less than a day's hike to reach them. If the fields were deserted, she could simply return to the village, but if they weren't...

    The opportunity and urge to see new things grew too much to bear, and pushing back the blanket, Za'vi slid from her bed and began to dress.

    * * *

    It wasn't until the noon meal, that Agetha became concerned. Having spent the morning preparing dough, she had given no thought to her daughter's absence, but when she saw Liet and Elan approach the benches without Za'vi with them, she realized that she truly had not seen her since retiring the previous night.

    "Girls, is Za'vi not with you?" she asked while Anij and Chiron began to set the tables.

    "Not today," Elan replied, with a shake of her head.

    Liet looked confused, and did likewise, "We thought she was baking with you," she explained.

    Agetha smiled in thanks, her expression not quite concealing the concern she began to feel, "Thank you girls," she said, before walking toward the plantation fields.

    As she walked, Agetha cast an eye across the village toward the bridge, and to the dale beyond, where some of the other children were returning, but still Za'vi was nowhere to be seen.

    As she walked, she fostered the belief that perhaps Za'vi was at the plantation with Xelif, but when Agetha reached the field, she realized otherwise.

    "Xelif!" She called, drawing her husband's attention from his labors. "Has Za'vi been with you?"

    Xelif shook his head, "No, has she not come to eat?"

    Agetha shook her head, anguished worry now clear on her face.

    "I overheard," Visuban said, putting down his hoe and walking over. "Have Za'vi's friends not seen her?"

    Agetha shook her head again, "They thought she was with me, I thought she was with them, or even here with you, but no one's seen her."

    "When did you last see her?" Visuban asked, raising an arm to shield his eyes from the glare of the noonday sun.

    "It must have been last night," Agetha realized, and Xelif nodded.

    "The Klingons," he said. "After you saw the ship, it was all she wanted to talk about."

    Visuban nodded, "When we returned from the lake, she kept asking me about the Klingons. I couldn't tell her much -- there's still so much I can't remember -- I just told her what I could remember about their way of life ...If I overstepped my place, I'm sorry."

    Xelif reached out and put a hand on Visuban's shoulder, "Not at all, my friend," he promised reassuringly, shaking his head. "Za'vi's always been an inquisitive girl. It's a trait we always indulged her to cultivate. I would guess that she has gone in search of their landing site." He looked to Agetha, "I'll bring her back, don't worry."

    "I'll go with you," Visuban said. "Za'vi's my friend -- the first friend I made here -- If I fed her curiosity by telling her things about the offland ...I should have remained silent."

    "To have remained silent would have been dishonest," Xelif told the apologetic Visuban. "You were asked questions, you answered honestly, the fault is not yours. You had no way of knowing that the offland would ever come here. Nor how -- wilful -- Za'vi can be when she sets her mind to something. But any assistance you can offer is welcome."

    Visuban nodded, "The ship passed over the Jura mountains. I would think that is the direction Za'vi headed."

    * * *

    In a grassy clearing, Q'sha crouched down, squeezed her eyes shut and gave a low growl of frustration at the pounding headache which sapped her concentration.

    Khoq looked up from his tricorder, and recalibrating it, made a brief scan of the kneeling woman.

    "Accelerated metabolism, and elevated hormone levels," he informed Q'sha, as she looked at him with a raised eyebrow. "The changes, reversions really, brought on by the metaphasic radiation are making us experience symptoms like jak'tahla."

    "That would explain the gorch on my -- nevermind," Q'sha reasoned, before stopping herself.

    "I have them too, Mistress," Khoq admitted, in an attempt to ease Q'sha's embarrassment. "On'daQ, Lomakh, K'mpok, all of us are undergoing these changes."

    Q'sha nodded, and looked back to her PADD, ruggedized for field-use. "We need to begin cataloguing the flora and fauna," she stated. "Analyse how the metaphasic radiation affects everything on this world."

    Khoq nodded, and pointed to a flock of birds taking flight, "I doubt that the radiation is affecting the animals," he proposed. "Immortality would be an illogical path for an ecosystem to take."

    Q'sha snorted in amusement, and veered toward a bubbling stream, "Illogical? You sound like a Vulcan!" she laughed, stooping to cup her hand in the cool flow. "Explain your thoughts."

    "Life evolves, does it not?" Khoq pointed out. "Immortality, at least as we understand it, is essentially biological homeostasis. Such a condition would preclude evolution of any lifeform."

    Q'sha nodded as she slaked her thirst, "A reasonable presumption," she admitted. Standing, she wiped her palm dry against her thigh. "Lifeforms do adapt and evolve to be in tolerance of their surroundings, not affected by them... We should still make scans of the indigenous creatures anyway, even if to confirm that the radiation has no effect on them, of if it does, to ascertain to what extent."

    Khoq nodded, "Scans of the local population would also be enlightening, to determine the extent of the regenerative effects -- If we over-fly the village directly, we should be able to use the ship's sensors to gather preliminary data."

    Q'sha jerked her head toward the shadows of the treeline, where a young girl crouched. "We may not need to use the ship's sensors afterall," she observed.

    * * *
    909d7cda93335d83bb43d3459b4dfcd5_zpsayiqcsfi.jpg
  • marcusdkanemarcusdkane Member Posts: 7,439 Arc User
    P A R A D I S E . U N L O S T
    P A R T . I I I


    They had hiked all night without stopping to rest in the hopes it would allow them to make ground on Za'vi. When Xelif saw the morning light glinting off the upraised wings of the Klingon raptor in the glade at the base of the mountainside, he knew that the effort had been worth it.

    "Do you have any suggestions?" he asked Visuban, as they made their way down the incline.

    Using the shaft of his hoe as a hiking pole, Visuban shrugged, "We can only ask if they have knowledge of Za'vi's whereabouts, and then act upon their answer," he said. "Anything else, would be speculation."

    "If they've done something to my little girl, if they've hurt her in anyway," Xelif began.

    "Then there will be retribution," Visuban vowed, his grip tightening on the shaft of his hoe.

    * * *

    K'mpok and Lomakh put down the crate they had been offloading, and looked up at the sight of two Ba'ku men approaching from the incline which lead to the caves. One carried some kind of gardening implement, which he used as a walking staff.

    "What do you want?" K'mpok demanded as the men drew closer.

    "We're looking for my daughter," the leader of the two said. "She is this tall," he held out a hand, "and has dark wavy hair. We think she may have come this way yesterday."

    "The mistress has already left for this morning's survey with her new pet," Lomakh retorted dismissively. "Go back to ghor chap HuD!"

    The last words came across untranslated, and Xelif looked to Visuban, "Back to what?"

    Visuban shrugged, "I don't know, I can't speak Klingon," he admitted, before looking to address K'mpok. "Our only concern is for the girl, we're not interested in whatever brings you here."

    "And you are wise not to be, farm-hand," K'mpok declared, stepping forward belligerently. "You have already been told that the mistress and her pet are not here!" Reaching behind his back, K'mpok took hold of the hilt of the tajtiq, and with a firm pull, drew the blade free from the magnetism of the baldric's links which had held it in place, and gestured aggressively. "Be gone!"

    "We're not leaving without my friend's daughter," Visuban stated quietly. Taking a step further forward, and swinging the hoe up and around for momentum, he meant to bring it down against K'mpok's wrist, instead, he felt an icy burn in his abdomen.

    Looking down, Visuban saw the tajtiq buried in his stomach as deep as the blade's side grooves. With a gasp, he dropped the hoe and staggered backwards, pulling free of the blade, and fell clumsily onto his backside.

    "I told you to be gone!" K'mpok bellowed, still in a combat stance, ready for any attack from the other farmer.

    Xelif ran to Visuban's side to assess the wound. Not that he had any medical equipment or training, but even after three hundred years of life, to help a fellow being, was still instinctive.

    So focused was he on attending Visuban, that he failed to see a third Klingon appear at the top of the ship's boarding ramp.

    "What has happened here?" Khoq demanded. Taking in the scene at a glance, he saw K'mpok with his blade drawn, and one of the Ba'ku collapsed on the floor with a stomach wound. "K'mpok! Explain yourself!"

    "HoD Khoq, we were antagonized-" K'mpok began, only to have Khoq round on him, drawing himself up to his full height, getting right into K'mpok's face.

    "You were antagonized by two pacifists with a gardening implement??" Khoq demanded. "Is this what they taught you at Ty'Gokor? To stab farmers??"

    "No, HoD Khoq," K'mpok admited grudgingly, looking away.

    "Mistress Q'sha will have you sleeping in the targ pit if this man dies!" Khoq snapped, before moving to where Xelif was maintaining pressure on Visuban's wound. Looking round, Xelif tensed at the Klingon's approach, but Khoq held out both his hands, palms forwards. "I mean you no harm," he vowed. "I apologize for the behaviour of my men. I know it is no excuse, but the effects of the metaphasic radiation on my people result in a state of volatile moods and heightened aggression. Let me bring your companion aboard the ship that we may tend his wound properly. You have my word as a Klingon warrior, that no harm will befall either of you."

    With a tight nod, Xelif slid an arm beneath Visuban's, slinging his arm across his shoulder, and allowed the Klingon to do likewise.

    * * *

    "Get him on the table," Khoq directed, having lead Xelif through the dimly lit corridors to the medical bay. "I will need the light to tend his wound."

    Hoisting Visuban, they dropped him back onto the table. "On the far wall, third locker from the left, you'll find a med-kit, bring it to me," Khoq directed curtly, as he took a d'k tahg from an angled sheath at the small of his back, and used it to cut open the front of Visuban's shirt.

    As Xelif returned with the med-kit, Khoq immediately reached for the tricorder, but before he could begin his scans and assessment, Za'vi's voice cried out; "Visuban!" and she ran ahead of Q'sha, across the medical bay, throwing herself across Visuban's chest. "I'm so sorry you got hurt! I never meant for this to happen!"

    "Stand back, and let the Klingon tend him," Xelif said gently, coaxing Za'vi away, before looking angrily toward Q'sha. "Are you the mistress? Why have you come to this place? Our home is supposed to be a sanctuary of life!"

    "The situation has been explained to me," Q'sha promised, moving closer, and looking from Xelif, to Visuban's motionless form, and back again. "I am Q'sha, daughter of L'uq, of the House of Goradh, and I am an Imperial planetologist. My mission here was to study the effects of the metaphasic radiation on not only your people and the indigenous wildlife, but also on my own people."

    "You mean like the Federation and the Son'a?" Xelif demanded. "You would drive us from our home?"

    Q'sha shook her head decisively, "I explained to your daughter, Xelif, and I will tell the same to you -- My purpose is to study the radiation, in the hope that it can be artificially recreated elsewhere. We seek to displace no-one."

    While Q'sha spoke, Khoq had returned his attention to his patient, pulling aside the ruined garment to assess the injury. Instead of a deep, open wound, all he could see on the muscular torso, was spilled blood, and a faint seam of flesh, knitting back together as the wound finished healing before his eyes.

    "What are you?" Khoq demanded in a low whisper, thinking aloud, rather than interrogating. Taking the tricorder, first he held it toward Xelif, taking a scan to use as a base comparison, then pointed it toward the man on the table. Scanning again, the results made Khoq scowl, "This man is not Ba'ku, but a Terran!" he announced. "Do wounds normally heal so fast here?"

    Xelif shook his head, "Quickly, yes, but not that fast," he replied, before admitting, "Visuban is not one of my people, he is from elsewhere."

    "Let me see," Q'sha demanded, holding a hand out for the tricorder. Khoq handed the device over, watching as Q'sha's eyes widened as she scrolled through the scan data. "This man is not just Terran," she announced. "His DNA contains additional chromosomal base-pairs which are facilitating massively accelerated cellular regeneration. Regardless of the metaphasic radiation, this man truly is immortal!"

    * * *
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  • shevetshevet Member Posts: 1,639 Arc User
    Personal log: Veronika "Ronnie" Grau, officer commanding USS Falcon NCC-93057

    I'm sure I've mentioned before that red alert isn't my favourite way to wake up. I'm on my feet and out of the ready room at a dead run, though, without stopping to complain.

    As I sprint onto the bridge, the lights flicker and the deck lurches beneath my feet. Not good. But the status lights on the shields are rock-steady, and there's no drop in structural integrity - uh-oh. Somebody is shooting at us with something exotic. And, judging by the way Commander Saval is very carefully maintaining the lack of expression on his bewhiskered Vulcan face, they're hitting us. Somehow.

    "What've we got?" I snap at the bridge crew in general.

    "It looks like a small commercial scout craft," my Andorian exec Tallasa reports. "It was passing us at low impulse speeds, and then it swung around and came after us, hard." The deck shudders again. "Still hitting us -"

    "I can't get a targeting lock," Tallasa's sister Jhemyl chimes in. "And I can't shake it - I've tried every evasion trick I know, but -" Another wham cuts her off. Bad one, this time.

    "Hailing on all frequencies," Leo Madena adds from the comms console. He would be. Leo's a good boy really. "No response."

    "Saval." I turn to look at my science officer. "You're looking worried. What are you worried about?"

    He does the Vulcan eyebrow thing. "I believe we are being targeted with an adaptive polymorphic virus program. It is infiltrating our systems, and it is highly effective. I am attempting to determine the parameters of its carrier wave - if we can block that channel, I should be able to purge the systems in due course. However -"

    He doesn't get to finish that "however", because at that point the lights go out, and a terrific thump knocks all of us sprawling on the floor. Well, that's just dandy. No need for our attacker to faff around firing torpedoes and such, when he can monkey with the settings on the inertial dampeners and rattle us like a set of maracas.

    Emergency lights come on. Saval's awful muttonchop whiskers don't really look any better when they're lit up in red from underneath.

    "Helm control is down," Jhemyl says. Tallasa adds some commentary in Andorian which the universal translator avoids translating.

    "Signal coming through, sir," says Leo.

    "Oh, now they want to talk, do they?" I rise to my feet with as much dignity as I can muster. "On screen."

    The main viewscreen flickers, and an image forms. For a moment, I don't know what it is - and then it sort of gells in my head. It's a human face, but surrounded by machinery, cradled in it. A transparent tube crawls up one nostril, there are what look like medical monitors plastered across the forehead... and the face is old, wrinkled and withered and fallen in, aged beyond almost anything I've ever seen before. Rheumy eyes regard me. They look as though they might have been brown, once.

    I decide to break the silence. "Admiral Veronika Grau, commanding the USS Falcon, here. What the heck, call me Ronnie, everyone does. Well, you got us. What are you going to do with us?"

    The eyes gleam. The wizened mouth curls into what might be a smile... and then the lips part, and a thin, rasping voice speaks.

    "Hello, Mother."

    ---

    I don't actually remember folding at the knees, but somehow I seem to be sitting down in the command chair anyway. The ancient face on the screen is still looking at me and smiling. I think everyone else is looking at me, too, only not smiling. More gaping, in most cases.

    I find my voice. "Oh, this has got to be a joke."

    "No joke," says the thin voice. "I've been looking for you, Mother. For quite a while, now."

    There are a number of questions revolving around in my brain, now, and I decide to let the most urgent one out. "Who the hell are you?"

    "I'm exactly who I say I am. Don't play games, Mother."

    I stare at the ancient face grasped by machinery, and I think hard. "No. I've never had a child. Never had time, when I was younger... never had the chance, after I was older." After the Rift. After I was first displaced in time, and came back with an obsession about it, wanting to know what had happened to me... an obsession which displaced everything else, and which might not have been all mine, to start with.

    "You disappoint me, Mother. Perhaps I should try cutting off your life support, to see if it jogs your memory."

    Tallasa is looking at me hard, now. Andorians... Andorians are big on family. But Tallasa knows me, she knows I've never had a child... doesn't she?

    Don't I?

    "There are nearly a thousand people on this ship." I decide to play for time. "You'd put their lives at risk just to make a point? I don't know who you are. Nothing you can say will change that. Something weird is going on, here, so why not work with me and find out what it is?"

    The rheumy eyes narrow at me. "More games, Mother? I'll give you an hour. Think things over. Then we'll talk again."

    "Wait. One thing." I stare at the face, trying to find some connection, some spark of recognition... and failing. "What's your name, dammit? At least tell me your name!"

    The eyes blink. "Simon," the rasping voice says, and then the screen goes blank.

    ---

    My ready room doesn't look at its best in emergency lighting. My bridge officers are dark silhouettes against the dim red glow - they look almost sinister, somehow. Tallasa's antennae are twitching.

    "Leaving the family reunion to one side, for the moment," I say, "what the hell is our situation, anyway? Saval?"

    "Computer operations are completely subverted," Saval reports with his typical Vulcan urbanity. "We are locked out of all command functions; weapons, shields and drives are offline. Thus far, all my attempts to circumvent the software intrusion have been unsuccessful. It would be helpful to have more data regarding the nature of the intrusion."

    "Yeah, right. And there's one person, and one only, who can tell us about it. Our friend Simon."

    "Do you have any idea who he is, sir?" Tallasa asks.

    "Not a clue." I can't meet her gaze in this light. "I've never had a child. Look, you know damn well I'm erratic, but my memory is good enough, and I'd certainly remember something like that! No, this is some sort of set-up. But I don't know what sort."

    "We are able to run read-only queries on the ship's database," says Saval. "Perhaps, sir, we could check your service record, to confirm this?"

    "What's the point? Baby boy out there has complete control over our computers. By now, he's probably rewritten my service record and family history all the way back to a protoplasmic primordial atomic globule. You'll get whatever answers he chooses to give you."

    "Still," says Saval, "it might be useful to know what those answers are."

    "Go ahead, if it'll make you feel any better."

    "A possibility, sir." Jhemyl speaks up. She's no happier than Tallasa, I bet, at even the possibility that I might have abandoned a child. "Suppose this is some kind of temporal event? An alternate timeline, bleeding over into this reality? Suppose this Simon is a child you might have had, in some other possibility framework?"

    "Well, if that sort of finagling is going on, hell, anything's possible. How could we possibly check?"

    "Subquantum scan for anomalous chroniton signatures," Tallasa replies promptly.

    "Yeah, right. Fancy spotting those by eye? Because we use the computer for identifying things like that, and guess what, we don't have control of the computer. We are only going to get the answers this guy wants us to have."

    "Simon Grau," says Saval. "Mother, Veronika Grau; father, Simon Kriegmayer. Born 22nd September 2164 by Earth reckoning. Not Starfleet personnel, so I have no other details." I can't really see his eyebrow quirking, but I know it does. "No date of death recorded, but... one would expect there to be one."

    "That's the year before you took command of the USS Goshawk, isn't it, sir?" says Tallasa.

    "And vanished into the Stygmalian Rift the first time, yes," I say. "But I've never even met a Simon Kriegmayer, much less - Besides, if any of that were true, I'd still have been on maternity leave instead of taking over the Goshawk."

    "Unless you took extreme steps to conceal the birth," says Saval. "Which, of course, might account for feelings of abandonment, and thus resentment, in your offspring."

    "Who is, according to that piece of fiction, getting on for two hundred and fifty years old. Human beings don't last that long, Saval! Hell, Vulcans don't last that long!"

    "Experimental advances in geriatric medicine, perhaps," says Saval. "We can see that he is functioning only with the aid of extensive mechanical life support."

    "So where's he been in the meantime? Why didn't he pop out of the woodwork back in the 23rd century, while I was there? Then. Whatever. And what does he want? Back child support? Two centuries' worth of birthday presents?"

    "The only way to find out," Tallasa says, "might be to ask him."

    "Um, sir." Leo Madena. Well, Leo's a nice lad, maybe he will have something nice to say. "I'm, um, puzzled about the computer attack. You'd need - well, you'd need very sophisticated systems to hack our main computer, for a start -"

    "Evidently," murmurs Saval.

    "But - well, I can't shake the feeling, um, you'd need more," Leo continues. "You'd need to, well, really know our systems, from the inside out, kind of thing."

    "Perhaps he worked on the initial software design teams," Tallasa says. "He's had time, the Infinite knows."

    "Time. Right." I stand up. I hope it looks decisive. "Time's something we ain't got. Leo, Saval, put your tricorders together and see if you can hack some way through his hack. The rest of us -" I shrug, helplessly. "Deadline's coming up. Let's get back to the bridge and see what his next move is."

    ---

    The ancient face doesn't look any more familiar. "So," he says, "you've had time to consider. What are your conclusions?"

    "What are your demands?" I snap back. "I'm assuming you've got demands."

    "Is a mother's love too much to expect?" The withered lips twitch into a ghastly parody of a smile. "But, yes, I suppose there are other things I want."

    "So name them, and we'll go from there."

    "You'll just give in? Like that? You disappoint me, Mother."

    "I said I'll listen. Never said I'd agree. And if I'm your mother, Simon, where's your filial respect, anyway?"

    "It died. A long time ago. Very well, Mother. I want something, yes. I want what you have."

    And what's that? A wonky left eye, a lot of aches and pains where my Borg implants used to be, a stash of Saurian brandy that I hope Tallasa doesn't know about? "Specifics," I snap at him.

    "I want your ship, Admiral."

    "You've got my ship, already."

    "No. I've got control of your main computer, yes, but that's a long way from having the ship. I need... intelligent cooperation. I need a crew, a competent crew, to work the ship. I can't do it all by software subversion, no matter how good I am." Horrible smile again. "And I am, though I say so myself, very good."

    "You know I can't just turn over my command. And why my ship, anyway?"

    "Because you owe me, Mother." I don't think he's smiling now. More of a snarl. "I'm restoring basic ops power to your ship. No drives, shields or weapons. And then I'm transporting over to you, and we will get my systems installed on your bridge. Make no mistake, Mother, I am taking over."

    ---

    The transporter pad whines and glows, and a column of lights in the air resolves itself into a solid form.

    In the flesh - in person, rather - Simon is something like two and a half metres tall, and massively bulky. Most of it is mechanical exoskeleton. He lumbers off the pad in a hissing of hydraulics and a clanging of metal on metal, his withered face looking like an afterthought, perched on top of that terrifying mechanical carcase. He reminds me a lot of... things I'd rather not be reminded of.

    Zodiri, my grouchy Trill medical officer, steps forward with a scanner. Simon raises one huge mechanized arm and pushes her aside.

    "Look," Zodiri says, "if you're coming aboard, I need to do some baseline scans, okay? I'm the CMO here, which means if you suddenly drop dead, I'm the one who gets stuck with the paperwork. So don't make my job any harder, okay?"

    Simon spares her a quick sneer, then turns to me. "No welcome aboard, Mother?"

    "You're here. Not much I can do about it." I give the exoskeleton a quick once-over with my mark one eyeball. Plenty of mechanical power in those massive augmented limbs, but I'm not spotting any built-in weapons systems. Of course, there's a lot of machinery and stuff that I don't recognize at all, but I'm guessing most of it's medical stuff. At his age, he must need all the medical machinery you could imagine. Ignoring Zodiri fussing around him, he lumbers off towards the turbolift.

    "So," I say. "Where have you been all my life, anyway?"

    "Let's just say busy," he replies.

    "Look. I know I've been kind of an absent parent, what with time warps and all that, but how come I never heard from you when I wasn't stuck inside the Stygmalian Rift? You've had years, decades, when you could have made contact -"

    "I was busy," he repeats. The turbolift doors hiss open, and he steps into the capsule. I follow him in. Just hope the damn thing will take his weight. Zodiri stays behind. I hope she's got a plan. It'd make one of us.

    "Busy doing what? If I'm your mother, I'm allowed to nag."

    "For most of my childhood, trying to survive neglect and abuse in an Earth orphanage," he says with evident bitterness. "And then - well, I had a career, and it led in an interesting direction. Eventually, it led to a biological research station on Eta Palinuri IV." The withered face twists. "I was one of their successes. You wouldn't want to see the failures. No, you wouldn't like that at all. Bridge." The turbolift responds to his voice. I feel a bit aggrieved about that.

    "I've never heard of Eta Palinuri IV," I say.

    "You were never meant to. It's on the fringes of Federation space, and it is a very private and very illegal research station." The turbolift doors open. Simon strides through them, out onto the bridge.

    "Your attention." The exoskeleton comes with amplifiers; Simon's voice blares across the bridge. "I am taking command of this vessel. We will proceed at cruise speed to the Eta Palinuri system." The deck plates groan as he marches over to the command chair. There is a hiss, and spear-tipped cables slide out of his forearms, to sink into my command and tactical consoles. He is taking over, and he's making it clear. "There is an extra-legal research facility on the fourth planet of that system. This ship's mission, now, is to locate, expose, and reduce that facility, with maximum force." He seats himself in the command chair.

    ---
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  • shevetshevet Member Posts: 1,639 Arc User
    "Out of his tiny mind," I grumble.

    I'm standing in a corridor on deck six, talking to Saval and Tallasa, because I suspect he's monitoring the ready room and probably my quarters as well. Heck, he could be monitoring anywhere on the ship - but I'm guessing he can't keep his attention everywhere, and an anonymous stretch of corridor might be something he'll overlook.

    "If he's right about the biological research at this lab -" Tallasa begins.

    "Oh, you think he's telling the truth about that? I got a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you."

    "His biological and biomechanical augmentations must have been done somewhere," Saval points out.

    "And somewhere that doesn't worry much about ethics," Tallasa adds.

    "Even so," I say firmly, "I am not about to blast some research station into slag on the say-so of some nutcase who claims he's my long-lost son. So we need some options, and we need them before we get into phaser range of Eta Palinuri. Tactical options don't look good, am I right, Tallasa?"

    "That exoskeleton is well-protected," says Tallasa. "A group of us could probably jump him, but we'd take casualties, and we would not be able to take him down before he compromised the ship's systems with his computer controls. Phaser fire would take him out, if we could get an armed team within range without him noticing -"

    "Which is not likely," I finish for her. "So, that leaves the technical side of things. Saval, ball's in your court."

    "We are still locked out of the main computer and all its distributed networks and subnets," says Saval. He would definitely be sounding gloomy, if that was allowed. "We have prepared simulations of back-door intrusion methods which would allow us to regain control - but our tricorders and non-networked portable computers do not have sufficient capacity to enable us to be certain of success. And failure would definitely alert our captor, and provoke immediate retribution."

    Damn and blast. I scratch irritably at the skin by my eyepatch, where my optical implant used to be. Then I have a thought, and it's not one I like. "What's the actual bottleneck?" I ask Saval.

    "Essentially, it is a factor of speed and coordination. We would need to override the main computer's input processing at certain precisely coordinated points in its cycles -"

    Damn and blast. Again. "Thought as much." I heave a deep sigh. "Listen. You know where you can still get some additional processing power? That's set up for peer-to-peer coordination and sneaky systems infiltration? OK, so a lot of it got burned out, and most of the rest is decidedly second-hand, but still -"

    ---

    So now I'm dangling over the main computer core with a bunch of tricorders strapped to my waist, and wondering why in hell I forgot the first rule of the damn military, never volunteer.

    "Need to be closer," I subvocalize into the throat mike, and Saval and Tallasa pay out another metre or so of line, and I drop down that much nearer the top of the core. I could have just gone through the door like a normal person, but we figured Simon would spot that. So. Jeffries tube and ventilation duct time. Why is it always ducts?

    I reach out with my still-Borged-up left hand. A normal human shouldn't be able to feel the computer core's processes, but I can... a sort of indescribable tingle along my nerves and my shoddy neural cabling, a whispering in my ears like a rapid conversation half-heard in the next room. I shut my eye and try to concentrate, try to feel my way into the system.

    "Launching nanoprobes," I whisper. No, we're not using our standard networked combadges for this stunt. The throat mike works just fine. Has done so far.

    Invisible motes stream from their launch sites on my fingers. The tingling and the whispering both intensify as the induction field picks up more of the core's activity. I concentrate. I am in a black, black void, hanging upside down, listening to the data as the core sings to itself, and the data is rushing over me, and I can hear it and feel it, and I want to be a part of it -

    Somewhere, faint, on the edge of hearing, there is a voice saying */*reconnect--- priority--- reconnect--- reconnect--- reconnect--- */* Two of Twelve. My former Borg identity. I thought I was free of her, damn it.

    "Synchronizing," I gasp, feeling how slow and squishy and imprecise my organic voice is. "Preparing payload." The programmed routines in those tricorders are at my command, now, and I need only watch and wait, wait for the right moment in that rushing data stream, the right moment to -

    "Activating."

    Something clicks. Not a physical sound, just a sudden sensation of change - change and rightness. Like when you throw a dart at a dartboard, and the movements of your hand and arm, the weight of the dart in your hand, the sudden lightness as it leaves your fingers, they all come right, and you know it's a good one, and the thump of the dart into the treble twenty is just a confirmation of what you knew already. We're in, and it's worked. Good for Saval.

    "Disconnecting." If I can, because a part of me still wants to be submerged in all that data... but I tell it no, I doggedly go through the routine of turning off the nanoprobe stream and pulling my hand back from the datacore and saying, no, I am not part of this, I am just me, Ronnie Grau, shut safely away inside my own skull and not connected to anything. Two of Twelve's whimpering dies away and she is silent, once again. I wish I could believe it will be forever.

    "Get me out of this," I mumble, and I am suddenly rising. There are a few bumps and bashes as I'm dragged back through the ducts, and I am painfully reminded just how many sharp edges there are in these things. Not that I mind the pain, so much. Pain is personal, pain is private, pain is human.

    I'm out of the tube. Tallasa and Jhemyl are helping me to my feet. I am bruised and shaking and slick with cold sweat. Saval is studying a tricorder readout. "It worked," I tell him.

    "I believe so, sir."

    "I know so. Come on. Let's get to the bridge and get my darling boy disconnected, before he notices what we've done and starts figuring a way round it." There's another figure in the corridor, now, though, and I have to blink and focus before I realize who it is.

    "Yeah, well." Zodiri is holding a PADD towards me. "I think I've worked out what he is."

    ---

    The turbolift doors hiss open and I stride onto the bridge with a confidence that I don't entirely feel. Lieutenant Haloy is at the helm. "Course change," I tell him. "Away from Eta Palinuri, back to our scheduled patrol pattern. You'd better make it warp seven, we've got time to make up."

    "Ignore her," says Simon's rasping voice. "I am in charge here, Mother."

    "Oh, you are so wrong about both those things." I nod to Haloy, who taps at the helm console. On the screen, the streaking stars wheel and settle into a new configuration as the ship turns. I march across the bridge, to turn and glare at the half-human thing squatting in my command chair.

    "Mother, Veronika Grau. Father, Simon Kriegmayer. Absolutely right. Only my CMO, well, she may have a worse bedside manner than Jack Kevorkian, but she's got a brain and she knows how to use it. And once we got the computer back, we even bothered to make some checks. Simon Kriegmayer, born 2368. So how could I have had a kid with him, back in 2164? I mean, I'm good, but I'm not that good."

    Ancient eyes stare at me; the withered mouth twists.

    "Zodiri found genetic markers when she did her scan. Epigenetic degradation, codon fragments, all indicative of something. Synthetic biogenesis techiques. You weren't born in 2164, Simon. You were never born at all. You were made, in a test tube somewhere, using tissue samples, de-differentiated and then reverse-engineered into gametes. No problem getting hold of the samples, I guess. Dunno about this Kriegmayer, but with all the samples the medics have had off me over the years, there must be enough to build a spare." I fix him with a glare. "You were made. Somehow, they aged you, super-aged you into that. Somehow, they put two centuries plus of false memories into your head. I'd rather not even think about how they did it. But that's what they did. You're somebody's weapon, aimed at - what? Eta Palinuri? What is there at Eta Palinuri, anyway?"

    He rises to his feet, looming, his face contorted. His metal arms make abortive clutching motions towards me - then his knees buckle, and he falls to the deck with a crash. For one moment he kneels there in front of me, then he slumps face-forward along the deck.

    "Medical to the bridge," someone says urgently into the communicator.

    "No point." I nudge the inert shape with my foot. Now he's gone, I can feel sorry for him. "He really was two hundred plus years old - physiologically, at any rate. He was hanging on to life by his fingernails. Being told he wasn't really alive at all... just the shock of that was enough to kill him."

    ---

    I make my way back to my quarters. It's been one hell of a day.

    I start to unfasten my uniform tunic, and then I notice the tabletop console flashing. Incoming message. No origin code. What a surprise.

    I turn the screen on. "Hello, Frankie."

    The scarred face with the yellowish eyes looks at me, not in a remotely friendly way. "You were expecting me?" asks Franklin Drake.

    I shrug. "It makes all kinds of sense, doesn't it? A completely unethical experiment, that's right up your street. And Leo Madena was right, the computer attack was made by someone who knew all my ship's systems - prefix codes, security gateways, the works. So either Starfleet's security is hopelessly compromised, or, well, it was an inside job. Besides, we read Simon Kriegmayer's record - it's so perfectly consistent, it just has to be phony. One of yours."

    The spokesman for Section 31 nods, slowly. His expression is still unfriendly.

    "So what is at Eta Palinuri?" I ask.

    "Nothing significant. We'd have stopped the test if it had come to your ship actually firing on the planet."

    "It was just a test." A funny feeling is coming over me - a mixture of weariness and disgust. "And you picked me - why, exactly? Still sore over that Sheliak affair?"

    "Not in the least. You should take it as a compliment, Ronnie. You and your crew are efficient, capable, highly adaptable. So we picked you to test a - scenario. If we could rattle you and yours, break your effectiveness, we would know that our psychological approach could work."

    "Yeah, well. Sorry to disappoint you."

    Drake shakes his head and chuckles. "It's still a useful data point."

    "Data point?" That feeling isn't going away. "Whatever else he was, once you'd made him, Simon Grau was alive. A real person, Frankie. Maybe with a phony past and a head full of fake memories, but he was a living being, not just some - some unit of Section 31's resources, something you could use up -" My voice is shaking.

    "And how many living beings have you killed, in the course of your career?" Drake asks.

    "I didn't make them just for that!"

    "Perhaps you should. It might be preferable, ethically speaking. Like the Founders and their Jem'Hadar."

    I glare at him. "Don't talk to me about ethics. You don't have the right."

    "I have my duty. And I don't need your approval, Ronnie."

    "You're not getting it. And I promise you this, Drake. If I ever run into you in the flesh again, I'll throw something a damn sight heavier than a chess set at your head."

    "I'll bear it in mind, Ronnie. I'll add that one to all the other threats I've heard." He smiles. He actually smiles. "Goodbye for now, Ronnie. I'll be in touch."

    And the screen goes blank.
    8b6YIel.png?1
  • marcusdkanemarcusdkane Member Posts: 7,439 Arc User
    P A R A D I S E . U N L O S T
    P A R T . I V

    The loaded plate hit the tabletop with a clatter, "Eat that," On'daQ barked.

    Unsure if the silver-haired Klingon woman's words were an invitation, a dare, or an order, Visuban looked up and smiled nervously, "Thank you," he said, reaching for a piece of grilled meat.

    With everyone seated around the table in the jub Qu''s mess hall, Q'sha tried to unravel the conundrum before her.

    It had taken but the work of a few moments for Khoq to run Visuban's genetic profile through the Imperial database, unquestionably clarifying his identity as that of Admiral Marcus Kane, of Starfleet Intelligence's Foreign Bureau. A man killed five years previously, allegedly by a counterpart from an alternate quantum reality, but unquestionably, the cause of death had been listed as transporter malfunction. One of the few things which could conceivably bring the final death to an immortal.

    "How did you come to be here, Admiral?" Q'sha asked.

    Looking across from his food, Visuban shook his head, "Don't call me that," he insisted uncomfortably. "That name and rank doesn't mean anything to me. The records you showed me, I don't know who that man is. All I know is who I am now."

    "It is you!" K'mpok insisted. "It is who you were before you came here! It is who you are now!"

    "It's not!" Visuban shouted, throwing down the meat he held. "That is not who I am!"

    "Enough of this nonsense!" K'mpok declared. "I can find better pastimes in the targ pit!" Rising to his feet, the irate warrior left the mess hall.

    "More for the rest of you," On'daQ observed pithily, dropping a large platter of grilled meat in the center of the table.

    Q'sha sighed in exasperation as the doors closed behind K'mpok, "He finds the acoustics favorable for his opera recitals," she explained, before returning to the topic at hand. "What do you remember of how you got here?" she probed. "Your earliest recollections?"

    Frustration played across Visuban's features, as he tried to recall, to put words to memories which were little more than instinctive impressions.

    "Darkness," he said after a moment. "I was in darkness, inside something, I think. Then, I was in a room... There was a woman with hair the color of sand, and she screamed when she saw me... She pointed at me, and there was stream of golden light which burned and knocked me down... I... got up, and the stream hit me again... She ran from the room, and when I could get up again, I followed her, then I fell. When I woke up, I was in Xelif's home, Za'vi was sitting nearby, while her mother was repairing the robe I had been wearing, which tore when I fell."

    "Where did this fall happen?" Q'sha asked.

    "On the outskirts of the village," Xelif replied. "Visuban appeared at the top of a cliff as if from no-where. He lost his footing and fell, so Za'vi and I brought him to our home so we could make him comfortable."

    "We did pick up an energy signature near the village when we made our landing," Khoq noted, reaching out to take some meat from the plate. "We should be able to pick it up easily with our multi-spectral sensor array and beam there directly."

    Q'sha nodded, "Perhaps we shall find our answers there."

    * * *

    The red swirl of the transporter beam faded from Q'sha's vision. Looking about, she saw that she was in a narrow, rectangular room with display banks along one main wall, and the other comprising large windows which overlooked the village. In the middle of the room, a variety of medical equipment and monitors, and on the floor, the open casing of a Starfleet mark-six photon torpedo.

    "What is this place?" Za'vi gasped, fascinated by the consoles and the blinking lights.

    "A research and observation lab," Khoq replied, moving toward the main displays and trying to access the database.

    "Access to this system is restricted to authorized personnel only," the souless voice of a Federation computer interface informed him.

    "Who said that?" Visuban asked, looking about.

    "The facility's computer," Q'sha explained gently. "You really have no memory of your life before you came here?"

    Visuban shrugged his shoulders before shaking his head, "Some knowledge of the worlds, but only fragments," he replied. "Some things I simply don't know."

    "Speak to it," Q'sha insisted. "Speak as you would to a person, it will understand you."

    "What should I say?"

    "Ask for access to the facility logs and archives," Khoq said.

    With a shrug, Visuban took a breath, looked toward the nearest display bank, and said, "Please show me the logs and archives of this place."

    "Access denied, verification error," the computer replied.

    "There is a conflict between the database and the recognition software," Khoq realized. "We can exploit that. Question it further."

    "Do you know who I am?" Visuban asked.

    "Voiceprint confirms: Admiral Marcus Kane, Starfleet Intelligence. Listed deceased stardate 86731.5," the computer stated.

    Visuban snorted with amusement and chuckled, "Am I dead?"

    "Negative,"

    "Am I Admiral Kane?"

    "Affirmative; biosignature and voiceprint confirmed."

    "Then please give me access to the files..."

    "Civilian access granted, pending confirmation of permitted clearance from appropriately ranked Starfleet personnel..."

    "It's a closed system," Khoq noted, as a screen began to fill with information. "Such a request will never be fulfilled, but this should allow us the information we need. You said you have been here for a year, let's see what the logs from that time tell us..."

    The screen began to display the internal security logs. Once the correct timeframe was isolated, it showed a slender woman working at the desk. She appeared to be startled, and a moment later, the photon torpedo fell off the desk, opening along its equatorial axis, and Visuban staggered out.

    "Ur'ana," Xelif murmured in recognition.

    On the screen, Ur'ana picked up a Son'a energy weapon, shooting Visuban point blank in the chest. He dropped, momentarily still, before getting up again. They watched as Ur'ana fired again, before fleeing the outpost. After a moment, Visuban got to his feet and followed her.

    "That fits your account," Khoq announced. "But it still does not explain your -- nor her -- presence here..." he selected an earlier file, this one an unsecured personal log.

    The screen filled with Ur'ana's features as she emoted toward the screen's lens. Her simple, elegant beauty was marred by what appeared to be resignation and weariness.

    "Introducing the genetic sequence from the deceased cells has had no effect," she sighed. I've been forced to bring the body here, in the hopes that the metaphasic radiation might trigger a cellular reaction..."

    "She was trying to integrate your genetic code into her own," Q'sha observed. "She was trying to make herself immortal..."

    Xelif sighed, "Ur'ana was never satisfied with the life here," he noted. "Even following the return of those who had left, she still sought the ways of the offland. For all that life here offered her, she remained a Son'a at heart."

    "When you were brought here, you were dead," Za'vi gasped, looking at Visuban.

    He looked to Khoq, "Did the metaphasic radiation restore my life?"

    "Yes, but not in the way you may think," the Klingon replied, looking through the physiometric data which had been collected on the Ba'ku decades before. "The metaphasic radiation continually renews the genetic structures of the Ba'ku -- and us," he added, casting a glance to Q'sha. "It is not, however, what is renewing your cellular structures. The bioelectrical energy doing that, is of a different frequency, to that of the metaphasic radiation.

    "All I can conclude, is that the metaphasic radiation reinvigorated -- re-energised -- your body's own regenerative capabilities. No different to recharging a drained power cell. That your previous memories, your very personality, was lost, I can only attribute to the nature of your initial demise, and a loss of neurochemical links through errors in that transporter process."

    "If this data is correct," Q'sha said wearily as she scrolled through the findings of the survey team, "Then reproducing the metaphasic effect elsewhere is an impossibility..."

    Xelif nodded, "One of the young people who left, Gal'na, attempted to recreate the metaphasic effect within their ship, and the effect was catastrophic to their health. The effect is unique, and cannot be duplicated."

    "Then our mission here is over," Q'sha determined. "We shall report to the High Council that metaphasics is a fruitless field of research not to be pursued further. But what of you? Do you wish to return to the Federation? You could come with us...

    Before Visuban could reply, Za'vi looked at him imploringly, and he shook his head, "I don't want to go," he said firmly, and she positively beamed. "Why would I want to leave? This is the only home I know..."

    There's a place
    I dream about
    Where the sun
    Never goes out
    And the sky is
    Deep and blue
    Won't you take me
    There with you

    Ohhh, we can begin again
    Shed our skin
    Let the sun shine in
    At the edge of the ocean
    We can start over again


    (Sha la la la la la la)
    (Sha la la)
    (Sha la la)
    (Sha la la la la la la)
    (Sha la la)
    (Sha la la)

    There's a world
    I've always known
    Somewhere far away
    From home
    When I close my eyes
    I see
    All the space and mystery

    Ohhh, we can begin again
    Shed our skin
    Let the sun shine in
    At the edge of the ocean
    We can start over again


    (Sha la la la la la la)
    (Sha la la)
    (Sha la la)
    (Sha la la la la la la)
    (Sha la la)
    (Sha la la)

    [Instrumental Interlude]

    Ohhh, we can begin again
    Shed our skin
    Let the sun shine in
    At the edge of the ocean
    We can start over again

    At the edge of the ocean
    We can start over again


    (Sha la la la la la la)
    (Sha la la)
    (Sha la la)
    (Sha la la la la la la)
    (Sha la la)
    (Sha la la)

    (Sha la la la la la la)
    (Sha la la)
    (Sha la la)
    (Sha la la la la la la)
    (Sha la la)
    (Sha la la)

    (Sha la la la la la la)
    (Sha la la)
    (Sha la la)
    (Sha la la la la la la)


    Ivy - "Edge of the Ocean"
    909d7cda93335d83bb43d3459b4dfcd5_zpsayiqcsfi.jpg
  • code743code743 Member Posts: 14 Arc User
    edited September 2016
    Prompt 2: Second Life

    You must never forget
    The essence of your spark
    All of that which defines you
    Is the essence of your blood

    The infection has been removed
    The soul of this machine has improved

    Look into my eyes
    And tell me what you see
    Someone real
    This is real
    What you wish to be

    You must never forget
    To modernize performance
    Malignancies on the system
    Will handicap slow up and rust

    The infection has been removed
    The soul of this machine has improved

    Look into my eyes
    And tell me what you see
    Someone real
    This is real
    What you wish to be

    Can you see
    Can you see

    Look into my eyes
    And tell me what you see
    Someone real
    This is real
    What you wish to be

    Open your eyes (open your eyes, open your eyes)
    Fear Factory - ‘Archetype’


    She Whom I Became

    Stardate 93593.88: August 21st, 2416
    System as yet unnamed, somewhere to the galactic east of Delta Alliance Space.

    Task Force 7 had now been in the Delta Quadrant for 6 months, shore leave inclusive. Following a major engagement against the Borg in the Calbriden System the previous November, they had been ordered here to investigate their latest re-emergence and the status of their war with the Voth. They had not been particularly successful thus far.

    Where they had made major gains was in enhancing the relationship of the Federation with the Delta Alliance. TF7, along with a rag-tag group of DA ships (all that they could spare) had succeeded in appropriating an unfinished Borg transwarp gate in an isolated system, which had subsequently been renamed Sonhadra. The Cooperative had installed another gate inside the Jenolan Dyson Sphere and thus the DA’s territory had been vastly extended. To that end, the expedition had been a major success. Even the Voth had come calling and despite their continued standoffishness and arrogant posturing, they had at least consented to a ceasefire and info sharing agreement... for now.

    With one flank secure, TF7s commander, Vice Admiral Desyox, had seen fit to be able to split his ships up a bit more to map out the area more quickly. Squadron 743 had been dispatched to what appeared to be an uninteresting system at long range; Standard red dwarf star, with 4 rocky planets in relatively close orbit - probably all that the small, dim star could hold on to. The largest planet was about the size of Mars in the Sol system.

    What they had found had been anything but uninteresting. As they had been passing the third planet of the four, a Borg diamond and an assortment of probes and spheres had suddenly emerged from behind one of its moons, and the battle was on.

    Aboard the USS Naberius, Captain Amber Stewart monitored the battle from the center chair. A holographic projection of the battle played out in front of her. Through its touch-sensitive interface, she was able to relay offensive orders without having to say much. This left her XO, Commander Svetlana Deltcheva, mostly free air to bark orders at the bridge crew relating to damage control and other defensive systems. Through an earpiece in her right ear she was also in touch with squadron leader Stephen McCode of the Orobas.

    On her display, a tier 1 sphere, labelled as ‘S2’ on the plot lit up with a red highlight.
    “Ops, shunt power to auxiliary. Tactical, when complete, fire the tachyon beam at target S2. Then paint it with target analysis and shunt back to weapons.”
    “Shield power to fore.” Deltcheva followed up. “I’m predicting this will get their attention.”
    The Rademaker-class vessel dipped its nose and began to accelerate towards its target. Moments later a silvery beam lanced from its main deflector. The sphere’s shields shimmered and sparked as they were drained. The sphere, not to be outdone, responded with a tachyon beam of its own, though being a low level sphere, it didn’t have much effect.
    “The sphere's facing shields are at 10 percent.” The tactical officer reported from behind the two liberated Borg senior officers.”Our own shields bottomed out at 68 and are regenerating.”
    On the plot, Amber could see that the Geryon and Lerajie were easing into formation either side of them.
    “Helm, get us to within 30 klicks and charge up the particle emitters. Let’s wipe that last 10 percent so the escorts can do their work.” Stewart ordered.
    “Aye, three-zero-kay.” The helmsman responded.
    She counted down the distance as they closed in. At 27 km, she ordered the charged particle burst fired, and the last of the sphere’s shields disappeared in a flash of dispersed energy.
    With that, the Maelstrom and Thunderchild class escorts added volleys of quantum torpedoes on top of their already firing cannons, and she saw the sphere disappear off the plot. Lather, rinse, repeat and then repeat again. She thought, But in times gone by, we could have done that on our own in that timespan. These Borg aren’t the same as the ones we were riding roughshod over a few years ago.

    Eventually, only the diamond remained and the squadron made its way to where two of the larger cruisers, the Guardian-class Obyzouth and the Presidio-class Saleos, had been keeping it occupied.
    The voice of Stephen McCode issued from the PA.”OK folks, scans show this a standard diamond-class as opposed to the octahedron command ship. You know the drill.”
    Indeed the squadron did. And even with the new-found strength the collective had found recently, the diamond quickly succumbed to the 12 Starfleet vessels.
    However, it had one last card to play. In its death throes, the diamond issued some sort of high energy EMP burst. Systems all over the squadron sputtered before emergency batteries kicked in. Even so, with inertial dampeners momentarily down, the squadron was dangerously exposed to the shockwave from the exploding Borg vessel.

    Aboard the Naberius, the deck suddenly tilted at a 30-degree angle. Bodies and sparks flew.
    Captain Stewart was only vaguely aware of these things though. Even as she fell due to the angle of the deck, the only thing that truly registered was a burning, searing agony in the left side of her head and behind her eyes, as if her remaining implants were suddenly red hot. She cried out in pain, distantly aware that Deltcheva was doing the same. Then she struck the starboard bulkhead, and blackness rushed in…





    Commander Amber Stewart waited for the end. Through the cracked and splintered viewscreen, she could see the massive bulk of an approaching Borg cube. Looking around the bridge, she could see that most of her bridge crew were either dead or heading that way. The Pacifican who had been at helm lay in a mixed pool of her own blood and the water from her aquasuit. Beside her, the Deltan ops officer was crumpled against the port bulkhead. Even from several metres away Stewart could see the dreadful concavity in the back of his skull; he had hit something hard. The Vulcan CSO was trying painfully to rise, but without success. It was likely he had a spinal injury; his top half was moving, but his legs dragged uselessly behind him.
    The inertial dampeners had kicked back in, so Stewart was able to stand. Her head swam and it hurt to breathe, meaning she likely had several broken ribs from where she had it the railing around the perimeter of the command area

    She made her way to the helm console. It still worked. If she no longer had enough officers to start the self destruct sequence, she would ram the cube instead.
    Let’s see the TRIBBLE adapt to that, she thought grimly.
    The ops console chirped. Stewart recognised it as a boarding alert. The Borg were coming to replenish their ranks.

    Suddenly, a drone from a species Stewart didn’t recognise beamed onto the bridge to her left. With a burst of adrenaline and rage, she picked up a sharp piece of debris and jammed it into the drone’s optical implant. The was a flicker of electricity and the drone crumpled to the floor, convulsing.

    The ship shuddered suddenly, causing Stewart to divert her attention back to the viewscreen; the cube had snared the ship in its tractor beam. Through what was left of the ship’s PA, she was vaguely aware of a senior officer (whose voice was strangely familiar, but she was unable to attach a name to it) ordering other ships to fire on the emission point of the beam. Phaser bolts and a couple of photon torpedoes impacted that area of the cube, shutting off the beam.

    Stewart had been too busy watching all of this, so by the time she finally became aware of movement just behind and to the left of her, it was too late. She felt a sting in the left side of her neck and whirled around to find herself face to face with another drone, which stared at her impassively as its tubules withdrew back into its arm. Stewart uttered a bray of high pitched, near-hysterical laughter and managed to blurt out “Now where did you come from big boy?”
    It was the last thought she had of her own mind’s voice began to be drowned out by millions of others...

  • code743code743 Member Posts: 14 Arc User
    She sat bolt upright in bed, breathing hard. It was all she could do to contain a scream. She ran her hands through her shoulder length raven black hair to find it was sopping wet with perspiration. There was a brief moment of nausea, but thankfully it passed.
    “F**king hell” she said to the empty room in a breathless and shuddery voice.
    Amber Stewart had never been one to have nightmares like that. She’d heard that dreams were the mind’s way of processing past events.
    The Borg though? She thought to herself, Janeway did a number on them back in the 2370s. They haven’t been seen anywhere near the Beta Quadrant in more than 3 bloody decades. Hell, the battle of Sector 001 happened years before I was even born…

    Even so, the details were already beginning to fade, as nightmares often do. Stewart looked over at her clock.

    Stardate 86063.64681633704
    January 24, 2409 Earth Standard
    0532 HRS, Ship Time: USS Hamilton NCC 83583


    The good news was that Alpha shift was due to start in less than half an hour. After that little episode, Stewart thought it might take some time to settle down enough to go back to sleep in any case. She went to get out of bed and realised that her bedclothes were also soaked. No time to do anything about it. She peeled the sheets off herself and headed straight for the ‘fresher. By the time she emerged from the shower, however, much of the horror of the nightmare had faded. The thing that stuck with her was not the assimilation by the Borg, but the voice she had heard just prior - presumably that of the senior captain or rear admiral in charge of whatever mess they had gotten into. Her rational mind insisted that she hadn’t heard the voice before, but a tiny voice in a dark recess somewhere in the back of her mind, was telling her she had.

    She managed to force down some breakfast despite not really feeling like it, then headed for the bridge, greeting both officers and noncoms alike as she went. This earned her a few strange looks, which struck her as odd.
    Is my hair sticking out? Do I have food around my mouth or something? Use of a wall panel as a mirror told her no.
    Upon reaching the bridge, she slumped casually into the centre chair and turned to her Andorian XO, LTCDR Shrothel Th'korrot.
    “So, which backwater are we surveying this week, Thel?”
    The thaan male looked at her as if she had asked the stupidest question ever, before tapping a few buttons on his armrest. An image appeared on the main viewer.
    “Er, well. System R97-P. It was given a cursory once over back in the 2340s but nothing since. It lies about 3LY west of our current position.”
    “Fine.” She raised her voice slightly. “Helm, set a course for the outer edge of that system. Warp 5. Engage when ready. Let me know when we get there.” She got up and headed to her ready room.

    As she sat at her desk, she noticed a small scale model of a ship near one corner of her desk. She was sure it hadn’t been there yesterday. She picked it up in order to study it more closely. It looked a bit like a vesta. Vestas themselves were not unusual - they had been in service since the 2380s and the USS Vesta herself was currently a lead ship in Task Force One stationed at Sol - but this ship had notable differences to the aft part of its primary hull and deflector assembly, not to mention forward-swept nacelle pylons.
    Turning the model around in her hands, she found she could make out its name and registry:

    USS Naberius
    NCC 98371


    Stewart frowned. Brand new ships were coming off the lines with registries in the mid 95000s. At current rates of production, this ship was from around 4 years in the future. She knew that some of her crew were engineers who had friends at shipyards like Utopia Planetia, Regulus IV or Aldebaran II, so maybe this was a concept design. Had one of them gifted this to her? If so, she appreciated the gesture, but it wasn’t something she had much interest in.
    All at once, a strange feeling of deja vu washed over her. Had she seen a ship like this before?
    Her combadge chirped, she tapped it and said ”Stewart here.”
    It was Thel. “Ma’am, something out here requires your attention”
    Without replying, she walked back out on to the bridge and took her seat. On the viewer was the face of a dark-skinned human of captain rank.
    “Top of the morning sir, can we help you?” Amber asked him.
    “Commander, my name is Jay Yim of the USS Khitomer. We‘ve had a report from a centaur class frigate on a midshipman cruise of bizarre readings in the Pollux system. I have about a dozen ships en route and am co-opting you to join us.”
    “With respect sir, we’re a science ship. What good would we be if things go sour? And what the hell is a museum piece full of cadets doing this far out?”
    Yim bristled. “The Discovery class is equipped with phasers and photon torpedoes, is it not? And for your info, the training ship had a run in with some Klingons and is being assisted by the Khitomer. Pollux, commander. Be there. Khitomer, out ” The link was cut.
    Stewart pursed her lips as if contemplating something. “Helm, get us to the Pollux System. Warp 9. ETA?”
    The Pacifican took a gulp of water from her aquasuit. “Pollux, warp 9, aye. ETA 57 minutes.”
    “Correction. Make that nine-point-five. I don’t want to TRIBBLE off Captain Yim any further. Engage.”
    Within thirty seconds of the ship going to warp, there was an annoyed sounding call over the bridge PA. “This is engineering. Where exactly are we going to in such a hurry?”
    “Don’t worry, Lieutenant, I won’t hurt the warp drive” Stewart replied brusquely, before cutting the transmission and adding “Much.”
    The ops and helm officers exchanged looks.
    “Thel, let the rest of the crew know what’s going on. Lt Ersin, see if you can get me info on the other ships heading to Pollux and send it through to my ready room terminal. If we’re going into combat I want to know who we can hide behind.”
    The Deltan hesitated momentarily, before responding “Aye Ma’am.”

    At her terminal, info on the other ships, along with head and shoulders images of their COs, began to appear on the screen. She was immediately struck by the familiarity of some of the faces. Stewart wanted to put it down to having attended the academy with some of them, which she had, but from far back in her mind a voice that sounded quite a lot like her own whispered;
    [Another time and place].
    Shaking her head as if to clear it, she focused on a few of the names in particular. Chief among them was a captain
    [rear admiral]
    of unknown species known as Mauris, commanding a Sol/Comet hybrid class combat support vessel, the USS Sonneillon. Mauris, however, was a thirty-plus year veteran who had at least twice turned down promotion to admiral. Everybody knew who Mauris was.

    Among the others, she also recognised Commander Ross McCode, who’d had been year below her at SFA. A cousin of his, Stephen, had also been there, but a year ahead of Amber. Ross had struck her as an arrogant, boorish womaniser, but she’d thought Stephen was quite cute. Ross had evidently done well for himself though; Command wasn’t dishing out Gryphon-class fleet escorts to just anybody…
    Another one that jumped out was Commander Christopher Hail, who captained the Akira-class ‘torpedo boat’ USS Memphis. The final one was a Commander Rihgo Yarune of the Stargazer Class Barbatos. Quite why he would stand out to her was a mystery - apart from variations in skin colour, she thought all Saurians looked the same.
    [You know that isn’t true]
    Thel’s voice, over the room’s PA. “Commander, we’re two minutes out.”
    She strode back onto the bridge, but not before giving a final glance and a frown to the Naberius model still sitting on her desk.
    “Take us to yellow alert, tactical - assuming you remember where that button is. Ops, patch us into whatever shared comms have been set up as soon as we exit warp. Helm, the Renown and the Khitomer are both assault cruisers. Put us close to one of them.”
    After another momentary pause, there was a chorus of ‘ayes’.
    Thel frowned at her. “Where is this coming from? You sound like you’re commanding an assault cruiser yourself all of a sudden.”
    [Not an assault cruiser]
    “I refreshed myself on combat preparedness recently. Just because we’re a couple dozen light years inside Federation borders doesn’t mean we won’t run to trouble.”
    Thel made a face but said nothing. At that time, the Hamilton decelerated from warp. Nearby, a cluster of about a dozen ships were gathered. Yim hadn’t been wrong; the training ship looked beaten up. Apparently it was also now captainless as Masc Taggart had been abducted and killed by the Klingons, according to the briefing info.
    Further off, a Nebula class with an elite sensor package was moving back and forth across the area.
    Ersin spoke. “The Renown is hailing us.”
    “Onscreen.” Stewart said.
    A middle aged Vulcan appeared and gave a cursory nod. “Greetings Hamilton. I am Captain Vo’Lok. Please assist the Ashton with the scanning of the System.”
    Stewart nodded assent and began giving orders to that effect.

    After nearly an hour of fruitless searching, both of the science vessels had to concede defeat. The Hamilton’s CSO had stated that ‘the system is as unremarkable as it has ever been.’
    Ross McCode’s ship, the Abaddon, had warped away without being dismissed and some time after that, Mauris had disbanded the temporary group.
    “Well, that’s brilliant.” Stewart had been heard to say.. “A bunch of traumatised cadets has us all jumping at shadows.” This earned her further sidelong glances.

    Stewart had announced at the end of her shift that she was heading to the armoury for shooting practise, causing more baffled looks among the bridge crew. She had only been there a couple of days previously and usually only visited once a fortnight, if that.
    Upon arriving, the petty officer in charge presented her with her usual pistol.
    “Not today, Swanson. I think I’ll go with a rifle this time.” Stewart told him.
    “I know you’re certified Ma’am, but is that entirely necessary? Rifles are usually used by security personnel who frequently go dirtside.”
    “Maybe I’m planning on going dirtside a bit more. Now, the split beam TR-112, please.”
    Looking bewildered, the young Terra Novan human handed over the rifle, then leaned over and turned to his colleague.
    “This might be good for a laugh.” he whispered.
    Stewart walked up beside a human woman in an ops uniform who was practising with a pistol. Considering the limitations of the weapon, Amber thought she was doing rather well and it was only at quite a high difficulty that she finally missed once too many times.
    “Not bad Lieutenant. It’s not often I see an ops specialist shooting like that.” Stewart complimented.
    “I’m a recent transfer from the security side, Commander. Long term injury.”
    “Well, if you’re as good in ops as you are at shooting things I’m sure you’ll do just fine… erm…” For the ease with which she was remembering names out of nowhere today, she couldn’t find this one.
    “Deltcheva. Lieutenant Svetlana Deltcheva, Ma’am.
    [XO]
    This time, the voice was accompanied by a flash of green numbers on a black background in her mind’s eye.
    Deltcheva waved her hand as if trying to get Stewart’s attention..
    “Ma’am? You zoned out for a moment there.”
    “Yeah. I didn’t sleep well last night. This might wake me up a bit though.” She activated the program, dropped to one knee and began shooting. One after the other the holographic targets began to fall, as did Swanson’s jaw. Two days ago, the commander had been struggling to get past level 6. In a surprisingly short time, she was flying through level 9. It wasn’t until 12 that she began to struggle - and that was were most security personnel began to struggle…

    She didn’t have the nightmare again that night, but she did the following night. Only this time, the had found herself beamed aboard the cube and surrounded by drones before waking up - and this time, she did scream.

    She was in her ready room - where she had spent most of that day - trying to find motivation to do menial tasks that she could have done in her sleep 4 days ago and not finding it. She kept picking up that damned model and turning it over and over in her hands. She was feeling increasingly as though something was supposed to have happened at a certain time and had not, though she couldn’t put a finger on what or why. The feeling had gotten progressively worse since they had left Pollux.

    Her door chimed, snapping her out of her mesmeric state.
    “It’s unlocked.”
    It was Thel. “Can I have a word, Commander?”
    Stewart noted he had referred to her by rank. Usually it was either ‘Ma’am’ or even her first name. She found herself somewhat on guard. “My door is always open, Thel.”
    “That’s the thing. In the past it quite often hasn’t been. Yet the noncoms and junior officers are talking about how you’re greeting them in the corridors. You never did that before.”
    “That’s hardly a sin, Thel”
    “I wasn’t finished. On the bridge you’ve been barking orders like you’re commanding a high-spec combat vessel and making implied criticisms about the abilities of the bridge crew and the importance of our mission.”
    Stewart was incredulous. “What? When?
    “Hiding behind the assault cruiser? Finding the yellow alert button?”
    “Oh my god. Those were jokes, for crying out loud!”
    “In the two years I’ve served under you, you’ve hardly ever made a ‘joke’ on the bridge and certainly not at the expense of the crew.” Thel countered. “Then there was the way you spoke about those cadets; yes, they jumped to a conclusion, but they would have been scared out of their minds at the time. Not to mention the way you spoke to Captain Yim as well. Questioning orders? The Amber Stewart I know doesn’t do that.”
    Stewart said nothing. She was starting to feel decidedly strange, as if her mind was trying to be in two places at once. Meanwhile, Thel was still going.
    “And don’t even get me started on that little display at the range. Swanson gave me the footage. You don’t just go from level 7 to level 12 in two days. It’s almost as though it isn’t really you any more.”
    Stewart still felt as though her mind was being stretched across two locations simultaneously, but managed to say “Are you accusing me of being an Undine?”
    “I’ve discussed it with the other senior staff and we agree that you should submit to testing as per Starfleet article-”
    Stewart burst out laughing. “Good one Thel. You almost had me there.”
    Thel’s expression remained deadly serious.
    Stewart’s eyes widened. “You’re not joking are you. Just because I’ve been a little off colour this week…”
    “That’s another thing” Thel interrupted. “Your skin looks paler than it did before. Its as though someone has tried to imitate you and it got it slightly wrong.”
    “You’re letting this paranoia around the Undine get the better of you. I thought you were smarter than that, Lieutenant Commander.”
    “So you won’t submit.”
    “You’re damned right I won’t.” Stewart said with finality.
    Thel sighed and tapped his combadge twice rapidly. Two security petty officers with holstered pistols walked to either side of her desk, looking to each take her by an arm to escort her to sickbay - or the brig.
    “You don’t know how wrong you are.” Stewart said, her anger and sense of betrayal bubbling to the surface. “You’re throwing your career away, Thel.”
    “If I’m wrong, I’ll resign my commission and Uzaveh will judge me.” said the Andorian.
    “So it’s mutiny then.”
    As the first security guard, a Benzite male, reached her she lashed out, still seated, with an uppercut to his jaw. He stumbled backwards into the bulkhead with a grunt and slid down the wall, looking dazed.
    Caught by surprise, the second guard, a rather stocky Bajoran female, hesitated momentarily. Stewart catapulted out of her chair and caught her with an elbow across the bridge of the nose.
    Seems those ridges of theirs are just for decoration after all, she thought as she felt cartlidge give and saw blood spray across the carpet. The petty officer staggered back, clutching her face and cursing in both Standard and whatever Bajoran dialect she spoke.
    Stewart turned her attention back to Thel. He had managed to get the phaser from the first security officer, which was set to heavy stun.
    “And the Amber Stewart I know doesn’t know how to fight like like that.” he said, before pulling the trigger.
    His aim was true. The blast struck Commander Stewart full in the chest, sending her flying into the cabinet behind her desk.
    Ow s**t that hur- was all she time to think.


    This time, she did not sit up. She did try to open her eyes though - and found she couldn’t. Her hands instinctively went to her face and found a device attached to her head. That was when she heard a familiar voice.
    “Easy Captain. You got knocked about pretty bad.”
    It was her CMO, her current CMO from the Naberius, Lieutenant Cheree Keesecker. Any relief she felt at that was quickly swamped by the fact that she couldn’t see.
    “My eyes” she said, managing -just- to keep panic out of her voice. “Why can’t I see?”
    Another voice spoke. “The EMP burst went straight through ship armour and fried anything that wasn’t highly insulated, including your implants. Liberated Borg officers all over the squadron started falling over unconscious.” It was Stephen McCode.
    “This is the part where you tell me I’ll make a full recovery, Doc.” she said.
    “You will, but you won’t look quite the same.” Keesecker replied.
    “What the hell does that mean?”
    “Well, your implants got so completely burnt out that it actually became much easier to remove them completely. It was like they were almost peeling away from the underlying flesh.”
    Stephen grimaced. “Ew.”
    “So, once we got you back to Allied Joint Command, they were able to remove your implants and dead nanoprobes. Your reserve nanoprobes have been replicated and introduced to your bloodstream and your optical implants have been replaced with something that looks a little more…”
    “Human?” Stewart finished.
    Keesecker chuckled, “Yes. We even managed to get very close to your old eye colour. They just need a few days to bed in. Sorry to say you won’t look as intimidating to the junior members of the crew any more.”
    “Hmf. We’ll see about that. Why did they bring us back to AJC?”
    “That sort of surgery is beyond my expertise. Being a doctor on a ship in a Numbered Task Force means being more of a trauma surgeon. Plus, AJC is the nearest place with the required facilities along with staff with knowledge of human anatomy. I’m here right now as less your Doctor and more a concerned colleague and friend.”
    “Plus, the squadron needed repairs to systems.” Stephen said. Then paused and added “And it’s not as though my shipyards are seeing any damned use otherwise.” in a gruff impersonation of Admiral Rexx’s voice.
    Amber suddenly tensed.”Svetlana. Where is she?”
    “Next room over. Don’t worry, she’ll make a full recovery as well.” Keesecker reassured her.
    “And the Naberius? Who’s in command?”
    She heard footsteps entering the room and then the voice they belonged to.
    “I figured Captain Dewyer could benefit from commanding a ship without a flag officer on it for a couple of weeks.” it said.
    “Admiral Mauris, sir. I’d come to attention but… yeah.”
    “Pfft. That’d be a first.” Mauris scoffed.
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,620 Arc User
    edited September 2016
    Prompt 3: "Vader, I Am Your Son".
    Brother on Brother, Daughter on Mother
    By StarSword-C, with Worffan101

    Benthan Sector, Delta Quadrant. 4 January 2411 Earth Standard.

    “Park, port one-three-zero, fifteen degree down! Tess!”

    “Locked and firing!” My blue friend hammers her trigger pad as Park yaws left and depresses the bow, and streams of light lance out from the dorsal and ventral phasers and finally batter down the Borg cube’s shields as the Benthan cruiser 150 klicks to starboard adds its fire.

    “Torpedoes!”

    “Firing, fore tube!” A volley of purple-glowing thunderbolts shriek from below the saucer and the cube’s transwarp drive detonates in a green fireball as we bank away.

    Bridge, Ordnance,” the basso voice of Chief Culyn announces over speakers. “Be advised, we are down to ten, repeat one-zero, neutronic torpedoes. After that you’re stuck with quantums. Over.

    Tess responds, “Don’t worry, Chief, I’ve kept count. We’ll have enough.”

    “Janacek, you still with me?” I radio.

    “I’m on your five o’clock low, Commodore!” the lieutenant commander on the Brandenburg answers in an inset on the viewscreen as we vector for the next target. Once again it hits me, the brown-skinned human’s young, too young. I was four years older than her when I got my first command.

    Phekk, I’ve got no room to complain: I know how fast I went from O-2 to O-6, and we lost so many trained officers in the Iconian War I’ll take all the help I can get. I’d rather not have given her another promotion but Commander T’Kel’s Laikan got caught between three probes on the way in, never stood a chance.

    “Form up your Defiant wing and prepare to—”

    “Captain!” Master Chief Wiggin interrupts. “I’m picking up a disruption in subspace. Looks like a transwarp conduit, about to open its aperture into realspace.”

    “Esplin,” I say through gritted teeth, turning to the newly minted JG at comms, “I thought you said that particle… thing of yours would block out any calls for reinforcements!”

    “It did, ma’am,” Wiggin quickly moves to defend the blueshirt. “This transwarp conduit is brand new: it’s not opening, it’s being built.”

    Wait, the Queen shouldn’t need to build any new conduits to one of her own bases, which means—oh, phekk. I key the comm. “All units, all units, this is Commodore Kanril. Take evasive action!”

    An enormous green glow blooms into existence from the black as our small force of Starfleet, Benthan, and Vaadwaur ships scatters. Behind us two cubes and a smattering of spheres burst from the new portal and immediately open fire on the other Borg ships.

    Please tell me they’re with your Cooperative, Kanril,” Commander Darva transmits from the VSW Revenge.

    “Not likely,” I answer.

    The comms echo with a single voice repeated infinite times, deep, but definitely feminine. “ Surrender your vessels. Your cultural and biological distinctiveness are immaterial. You will be assimilated into the whole and perfected. I am the Borg. Resistance is futile.

    “So One of One did make it out,” Biri remarks.

    “Sounds like,” I agree. “Good diversion, though. All units, form up and head for the objective, don’t let anything stop you. Connor, Gantumur, get your squads to the transporters. Full impulse, Lieutenant.”

    “Ma’am!” Stars wheel on the viewscreen and I have a brief sight of a tactical cube engaging One of One’s ships. Then a dirty brown planet with too few spots of blue and a huge splotch of dark gray swings into view. It’s amazing the planets the Borg will go for sometimes: to hear Biri tell it, this place is a proto-garden world where anaerobes have only halfway finished oxidizing the atmosphere. Next to impossible for there to be any native intelligent life.

    I spare a glance for the plot. One of One’s ships have outflanked the tactical cube, and naturally the Queen still somehow hasn’t learned how to split fire between multiple targets. Two spheres fire off a firestorm of superheated plasma from more weapons ports than any Borg ship should have, tearing through the cube’s shields in seconds. Kinetic warheads follow, and the cube shatters. “Prophets, that AI is good.”

    “And that’s bad,” Tess murmurs.

    “Esplin, request additional ships from the DJC. Recommend they send Hugh or Six of Fifteen, fight wraith with wraith.”

    A probe appears ahead of us but Tess and the tacscorts blast it out of the way in short order, leaving it a flaming wreck far behind as we close with the planet. “Begin orbital insertion.”

    “Geosynchronous in thirty seconds, ma’am,” Park confirms as we swing to starboard and bank, “leveling” the ship relative to the planet.

    “Tess, drop ventral shields.” I hit the intercom. “Assault unit, MACO 131, you are clear for immediate deployment. May the Prophets walk with you.”

    Confirm, ma’am, see you on the other side.

    Gaarra reports, “Transport commencing. Transport complete.”

    “Ventral shields back up,” Tess adds.

    I nod in acknowledgement. “Wiggin, maintain sensor lock. We get even a peep that the Queen or One of One is headed our way, scrub the op and bail.”

    “Understood, ma’am.”

    It’s all up to the gropos now.

    I hate this part.
    * * *

    Planet Delta-86017114-3, 35° 54' 17.684" x -79° 2' 48.888".

    I love this part.

    The face-to-face *sskicking part, not the being in Borg hell. The latter brings back bad memories. The former is why I went for MACO instead of regular Starfleet Security.

    The racket of my heavy-weapons man’s Omega Force-modified M2 Browning is incredible but I can immediately see why they brought back a nearly 500-year-old weapon: it puts huge holes in Borg.

    Watch out, Connor,” Aly Gantumur sends to my helmet over the noise of Luiz raking a cluster of drones with the big fifty-cal, “I’m picking up one of those assimilated Gorn headed for our position!

    “Time to break out the big guns, then,” I mutter, kicking open a crate and grabbing a gray tube, hefting it to my shoulder. They’ve upgraded the FGM-385 Pilum since I was assimilated but the basic idea hasn’t changed: aim, fire, forget. “Missile away!” I feel the slight kick of the launch charge and my visor automatically darkens ahead of the firing of the main fusion thruster.

    Kallio leans out from behind cover with perfect timing, a split-second after the anti-tank missile streaks past his position. The hulking form of the Borg superheavy combat drone is staggered by the explosion, but a DU frag round brings it to the ground, the left knee destroyed.

    “I’ve got this b*stard. Kallio, move back to cover Gantumur.”

    Yessir!

    The assimilated Gorn’s still trying to move for us, the chest a burned wreck thanks to the missile launcher, one arm gone with half the head and the crippled leg leaving the creature in a half-crawl. Poor b*stard. I slap the replicator on the FGM-385 to make sure it’s reloaded, aim, and fire again. This time the Borg collapses in burned fragments. Sorry, buddy. Better this way.

    That one’s Gorn,” Kallio cracks, to a collective groan over the comm.

    I lay the missile launcher back into the crate, unsling my Brown Recluse, and start firing off three-round bursts. “Lamont, you think they’re thinning?”

    We should be so lucky.

    Connor, I don’t need your sniper, are you sure you have enough support?” Gantumur’s voice isn’t worried, exactly, more common-sense stress in the tone.

    “I’m good, I’ve got Luiz, a machine gun, and a missile launcher.” Case in point, that machine gun Luiz is now carrying slung at his hip mows down another row of drones that emerge from a side passage, marching towards our little patch of ground in Borg hell. “What I’m more worried about is what the hell the Borg were doing here to set off the science guys like they did and attract that super-AI or whatever the f*ck it is!”

    We’ll find out soon enough,” the Welshwoman notes. “Hohenzollern, watch the flank! We’ve got the LZ, Connor; move out!

    Another wave materializes, closer this time. “Gantumur, they’re getting through our dampeners!”

    Sh*te. Roger that.” The Borg has a nearly infinite supply of drones, meat puppets for its AI. If a few of them get decohered by transporter dampeners, so what? It can afford the casualties to pierce our scramblers by trial and error—and we only have the one tech with us, since I left K’tar keeping the Borg off of the LZ.

    “Belka, keep the boltheads away from us!”

    Working on it, sir!” the new meat, Belka Saris, agrees, spraying rounds from her submachine gun down a side passage as we rush into the installation.

    “Luiz, back up,” I order. The big man starts a defiant response, but I shake my head. “Don’t argue, fall back towards Lamont and K’tar. I’ll…”

    Three Borg heavy combat drones, Talaxian-based by the looks of them, beam in around me. SH*T...

    My arms are pinned in less than half a second. I can tear out, but there’s the third drone with its arm already raised and tubules out. Not like this, not like…

    Wait. I’m supposed to be immune to nanoprobes, right? Not like I’ve ever tested it, but…

    Assimilation tubules breach my neck armor. My neck seizes up almost instantly, but I don’t hear a damn thing. If that crazy doctor was right, I’m still me, if not… I’ll take these b*stards with me.

    I yank my right arm from the first drone’s grasp, hauling myself around to pound the one that just stabbed me in the face. It crumples backwards, face concave and implants sparking.

    Still no voices.

    Luiz’s fifty-cal roars and the first drone vanishes in a hail of sparks and bits of metal. I flip the second drone over, rip my arm from its grasp, and stamp straight through its chest, then pull out my pistol and shoot it three times in the face. Gone. Still no voices. Pain in the neck, like acid, but no loss of mobility, no creeping voice or spreading paralysis.

    Kuna te nim!” I hear Gantumur yell something that sounds like profanity, then I hear the shriek of an anti-materiel phaser and something bounces off the side of my helmet. I look around in time to see the smoking remains of another tactical drone stumble to the ground behind Luiz.

    Sorry the delay, sir,her sniper, K’lak, comments in a near-emotionless voice. Sounds weird coming from a Klingon.

    “No apologies necessary,” I reply. Still no voices, and my onboard hypo hits me with heavy painkillers with seven blinks at my HUD. “I’m, uh, I’m OK. No voices, Borg must not have breached the armor.” It’s bullsh*t, but my armor’s health-monitoring systems suffered a convenient “failure” earlier, so nobody can call me on it. Or at least nobody should be able to. Lucky thing I was out of K’lak’s sight. “Luiz, let’s move before they get back.”

    Maybe next time you keep me around, sir?” Kallio snarks over coms. “You went to the effort of getting a Finn, after all.

    “Noted. Overconfident of me, stupid stunt. Chew me out later.”

    I can practically hear the little b*stard shake his head. “Crazy helvetin Americans. Probably never left the province before you went to the Academy.

    I ignore the comedian with some effort. “Side note, Gantumur, what the f*ck was it you just said?”

    Mph, not fit for polite company. Me mum’s Kurdish. Hey, watch the flank, damn it!

    “You’re talking to a woman who got written up three times at the Academy for cussing too much,” I note, grabbing the weapons crate one-handed and slinging it over my back. “Though I suppose we have junior officers on the line…”

    Think of the ensigns, aye?

    “Sure. Move up, move up!” I let the weapons crate drag now, better not to do obviously inhuman sh*t, not until we know this new petty officer they added to my team is trustworthy. She’s Bajoran like the captain, but that’s not much of a guarantee, and Gantumur herself isn’t aware of my existence as a walking war crime.

    Luiz fires off another volley. “Bolthead p*ta AI is f*cking persistent.”

    “Keep moving, almost there. Belka, stay with me, as in right f*cking beside me.”

    Yessir.” She moves up. At least she’s not too green.

    “Lamont, you good?”

    Watching both sides, we’re good.

    “Good man. We’ll try to make some noise. Vinculum shouldn’t be much further.” Godd*mn it I want to just charge ahead, use the bullsh*t levels of strength that I got injected with, avoid risking good men to a fate worse than death like this, but that means life in prison as soon as someone calls Command and none of the boys would let that happen. *ssholes. Probably they like having someone around to tank Borg drones, too. That reasoning I can understand, at least.

    Belka, keep that damn jammer up,” Luiz snarls as another group of Borg materializes, one decohering into slime but the other four marching forwards into Luiz’s machine-gun fire.

    They’re not exactly making this easy!

    “Almost there, keep it together…” I reach the corner and peer around. “Bingo. I read six tac drones, four heavy tac, and a superheavy infantry unit.” Missile time again. “Luiz, keep an eye out, I’m gonna clear the way.”

    Confirm, LT.

    The Borg’s tactics are remarkably simplistic. Scratch that, they’re f*cking infantile. The drones march forwards in unison, the AI supremely confident in its trillions of bodies. F*cking expendable. F*ck that f*cking AI.

    The Pilum, as expected, blows one of the heavy tac drones and four of the lighter models apart, but the rest of the formation spreads out. The tricky thing about the Borg is that it’s capable of adapting within certain parameters—it’s constrained, not outright stupid.

    “Luiz, could use that machine gun.”

    More drones beam in ahead, forming a cyborg wall between us and the target. Luiz heaves his Browning up to my left, taking aim and bracing his back against a pillar.

    Roger that, LT.

    That gun’s f*cking loud, but it works like a charm. Dunno why I ever doubted it, really.

    LT, you know that thing has a frag setting, right?

    The f*ck? I check the missile launcher. Well, hot damn. They updated this sonofab*tch in the years I was out. F*ck, I need to read my back issues of Jane’s. And how will I explain that to the subscription department—“oh, hi, I was dead for four years, legally speaking, now I’m back”? Nah…

    Oh, wait, the ship probably has them in the library. Never mind.

    “Thanks,” I chuckle. “Heh, this is gonna be good.”

    Luiz is getting a drink on me later. That frag setting is intensely satisfying, blowing away the rest of the formation in one shot. “Alright, gimme time to reload.” Yoyodyne Division engineering isn’t great at the best of times (hello, nonfunctional gun replicator that got me assimilated!), and I don’t want to be caught by surprise. Fortunately, it works this time. “Alright, let’s move! Belka, the charge!”

    Got it right here!

    “Good. Move!”

    We double-time it to the vinculum, Luiz downing a couple of drones as they beam in. “I think they’re running out,” he says disbelievingly.

    My comm crackles. “Connor, Kanril. Hurry up down there, One of One’s winning!

    “There’s your answer,” I mutter. “Belka, you’re up.”

    She runs up and starts feeling up the vinculum as we spread out to cover her; Luiz pulls a stack of landmines out of his pack and starts throwing them back the way we came like frisbees. “Come on, where are you—Aha!” She reaches into her belt and plugs something in.

    “How long do you need?” I may be immune to the Borg, but I don’t want to spend any longer than absolutely necessary in this sh*thole. I can feel the memories welling up—frozen in place as my hand is removed, being slowly stripped of my hardsuit by an unfeeling AI—and sit on them. Stay focused, Rachel. You’ve got a hero-worshipping nephew to get back to.

    I’m past what passes for security with this thing and I’m starting the dump. Come on, come on! Oh, wraithspawn.

    “¿Qué pasa?” Luiz doesn’t quite hide his worry at being stuck in this place with the Borg all around us.

    Nothing, sir. Well, not nothing: I triggered some kind of defense program but I killed the process before it did anything.

    Something about that rubs me the wrong way, the tone maybe? Part of the downside of superhuman senses, I can pick up a lot of little inflections in people’s voices but I can’t interpret them. A nearsighted housewife in the body of Jane Bond. Or something like that.

    “Good work. Finish it up and we’re out of here. Luiz, start on the charge.”

    Roger that.

    Connor, we’re holding the LZ, but the firefight’s moving into orbit,” Gantumur says, even tenser now. “Hohenzollern, I said watch the bloody flank!

    Poor Hohenzollern’s new, hasn’t even been through SERE yet. She’s some German royalty, 8th or 9th in line to the throne, and barely old enough to f*ck legally. Like what seems like half the crew now, she was sent out into space to be a warm body filling a role after the decimation of the Iconian War. Poor girl should be studying, or chasing boys or girls at some fancy ball or whatever the f*ck it is the Kaiser’s cousins are supposed to do.

    I snap off another burst, felling another drone scout. “Belka?”

    Just twenty more seconds, I swear—aah!” The tech flies backwards as a burst of light signals some sort of shock pulse from the device. She lands flat on her *ss, armor sparking. F*ck!

    Luiz bellows “Man down! Man down!” as he rushes over to her.

    Gah, ye’phekk maktal kosst amojan, I’m fine, just got a little fried. Lieutenant?

    Huh, I recognize that phrase. The Captain’s favorite curse. “How do I finish this?” I sling my rifle over my back and move to the vinculum.

    Get my PADD, hit the red key twice, then the green key, then blue, wait for the bar to fill, then unplug it and call for evac.

    “Ok…” I hit the red key once, twice, then green, then blue. As promised, a progress bar starts up, moving far slower than I’d like it to. “Ten percent...twenty…”

    Luiz guns down three more drones. “They’re coming back!” There’s a thunderclap as one of his mines goes off.

    “I f*cking noticed! Thirty-five percent... forty-five… set the charge if it isn’t set already. Cap, it’s Connor, get ready to yank us!”

    Copy that!” Captain Kanril answers. “The Cooperative just arrived and engaged One of One’s lead cube, you’ve got time!

    “Sixty percent… f*cking come on already…”

    LT, I’ve got Belka. We can leave the Pilum.

    “I can bring it, we might need the backup. Eighty percent… f*cking f*ck, hurry the f*ck up!”

    I hear somebody laughing on the comm. “What was that about ensigns and their tender ears?” Gantumur remarks.

    “I’ll put a credit in my nephew’s swear jar.” In response to Lamont’s questioning grunt over coms, “I made a reference to, uh, taking care of myself, while at a family dinner. Mom was asking why I don’t have a steady date yet. Amy was p*ssed, let me—ha! Done! Let’s move!” I stow the PADD and reach for the missile launcher.

    Luiz hauls Belka up, half-lifting her off the ground by leaning her on his shoulder, and she’s not a small woman. “Ready.

    I grab the Pilum and palm the activation panel on the quantum warhead with my other hand. “Let’s move it!”

    Energizing!” Transporter Chief Korbuhlo says, half into the channel, half out loud as Transporter Room One materializes around me. The Bolian waits a moment, then: “Bridge, Transporters, I’ve got them!” Then he looks at me and grins. “Hah, I’ve never beamed twenty people from two targets onto one pad before!”

    Kallio ignores him, racing for the intercom as the rumble of the main impulse engines shakes the floor. “Medical team to Transporter One!”

    I turn to Gantumur. Her blonde hair’s slicked to her head with sweat as she pulls off her helmet, and she’s breathing heavily. I shuck my own helmet, and grin. “Nice work, thanks for the sniper to cover Luiz’s big *ss.”

    “No problem—” Then her eyes widen. “Oh, sh*te, your neck…”

    I clap a hand to my neck. Something’s running down it—I pull up my hand. Corroded grey-and-green slime mixed with blood is leaking from my neck. I grimace, racking my brains for an excuse.

    “Must be lubricant fluid or something.” The holes will heal soon enough, the pain in my neck’s almost gone, but I need to cover my *ss fast. “A Borg tried to get me, but he didn’t get through my armor. Probably punched a line.”

    Gantumur looks a little suspicious. “You look like you’ve got a couple of holes on your—”

    “Yeah, I felt that. Splinters from the gorget plate, I guess. I know a guy who got killed by his own suit’s fragments once.” More bullsh*t, hopefully she can’t see through it.

    “Fine, you don’t want to tell me the truth, I won’t push it, long as the Captain knows.”

    Ah, sh*t, now I’ve got her suspicious. And Aly’s a good drinking buddy at the bar, too. “She does.” That part’s true, at least. “She and I are on the same page.” I keep my hand on my neck anyway as the skin starts to close over. “F*ck, where are the medics?”

    “Here,” that blonde Betazoid corpsman, Watkins, answers, coming in with the crisis-response team. “Who’s hurt?”

    “Belka, over there. My boys and I are good.”

    Belka grits her teeth. “Electric shock up my forearm, feels like the fingers are burned. OW!” she exclaims as Watkin unsnaps her gauntlet and slides it off.

    “Yep. Not so bad, second-degree electrical burns. Your armor stopped most of it but we need to get you to sickbay. Stretcher!”
    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"
    — Sabaton, "A Lifetime of War"
    9MUythl.png
    (Vaporware thanks to Foundry shutdown. Thanks a frakking bunch, Cryptic.)
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,620 Arc User
    edited September 2016
    Brother on Brother, Daughter on Mother (part 2)

    Captain’s Ready Room.

    “We’re… clear of the Borg, right, Captain?”

    I lower the PADD I’m composing my mission report on and look up at Lieutenant Rachel Connor, who has a pressure bandage on one side of her neck. I nod, then amend it: “So the Vaads said, anyway. According to Darva they physically can’t follow us through Underspace.”

    “Oh. Good.”

    “In case you’re nervous, I didn’t include anything in my report about having an assimilation-proof team leader,” I add in a sardonic tone. She glances up at me to see my lopsided grin. “That was a joke, Lieutenant, cheer up.”

    “I… wasn’t actually sure I was assimilation-proof, ma’am. The doc who made me was a f*cking moron, sixteen million-credit DNA or not.” She scratches at the neck bandage. “Also the rest of the team wasn’t cooked up in a lab with the body of a disconnected drone by a couple of hacks working for Section 31.”

    I wince, and change the subject. “How’s Petty Officer Belka?”

    “Her hand got burned. Won’t heal the way I do, but frankly I think that’s a blessing.”

    “Well, your bomb went off, good job on that.” Tess wasn’t sure what to make of having Chief Culyn cannibalize a quantum torpedo for an eighty megaton demo charge.

    “Thank you, ma’am.”

    The door chimes. “Captain, Master Chief Kinlo to see you,” Tess announces from the bridge.

    “Enter!”

    The white-haired Klingon strides in and throws another PADD onto my desk, then rounds on Connor. “Respectfully, sir, what are you trying to pull? That data dump is a joke.”

    “What the f*ck are you talking about? Did Belka scr*w up? She’s the one who did the hack, all I did was press the button to download it all.”

    “Well, she sabotaged us, Lieutenant. We got enough strategic information to clear the Borg out of Benthan space twice over, but all the scientific data from that installation, it’s been erased, and she made a damn good stab at making it look like it wasn’t there to begin with.”

    “The f*ck?” Connor looks p*ssed now. “That’s why she sounded funny! She knew that I know as much about hacking as I know about modern art, and she convinced me to leave K’tar behind! That lying b*tch!” Connor’s hands flex; doubtless she’s thinking of wringing Belka’s neck. “If she’s Section 31, I volunteer to deal with her, Captain.”

    “Kinlo, did you—” I begin.

    “I went to Lieutenant Korekh first, had him post a guard in sickbay just in case, but last I checked she was sleeping off Dr. Wirrpanda’s drugs.”

    The PADD stylus in my hand snaps with a sharp crack. I throw the fragments in the general direction of the replicator and reach into my desk for my sheathed bayonet, snap it to my belt. “Connor, with me! Master Chief, return to your station; I’ll take care of this.”

    We storm past a startled Tess and into the turbolift. “What the f*ck do you think’s going on, Captain?”

    “I don’t know, but Belka’s going to tell us. Something’s funny, though.”

    “You’re telling me?”

    I turn and tip my head down to look Connor in the eye as the turbolift car stops; for all of her muscle and augmented strength, I’m still easily a whole head taller than her. “She deleted the research data but not the information on ship deployment.”


    Her eyes widen in understanding. “So she’s a mole? Foreign, you think, ma’am?”

    “That doesn’t fit, either. They want us to kill the Borg but not learn about them? Why the phekk would a foreign state want that?”

    The MACO shrugs. “Either way, I can smell lies. Technically I can hear them, too, but I’m not as good with that.” She taps her nose. “Part of the package. We’ll narrow it down eventually.” Then she gasps. “Wait. What was it the science guys said? Something about tachyon readings? And why did the new super-AI show up in the middle of the fight? She was targeting the Queen’s Borg exclusively, didn’t hit us once.”

    “Not until Hugh and Justicar Morlen intercepted her, anyway,” I agree as we reach sickbay. “I’ll call you in if I need you.”

    “Ma’am.”

    We stride into sickbay past K’lak and McMillan. I nod my acknowledgement. Connor stops to thank K’lak for shooting something but I keep going, stopping only when I see Gaarra. “Gaarra, what are you doing down here?”

    “Checking on one of my lieutenants. What are you doing down here, El?”

    “Belka Saris. Come on, I need somebody to look intimidating who can’t snap her neck with a pinky.” Connor’s got good self-control, has to, to be a MACO, but better safe than sorry.

    “Can do!” he faux-cheerfully remarks, following me as I stomp up to Warragul, who recoils at my expression. “Where is she?” He wordlessly points into one of the rooms. “Thank you.”

    I throw back the curtain as the reddish-blonde petty officer jerks awake, a look of alarm in her green eyes as I recall what I know about her, or I suppose what Starfleet thinks they know about her. Age 28, born in Christopher’s Landing on Titan, granddaughter of refugees from the Occupation, started as a systems engineer but then went through MACO training at the base on Hellguard near the Romulan border. “Captain Kanril, what can I—”

    “Petty Officer Belka Saris, when did you last review the Starfleet Code of Military Justice? Recall for me Articles 92 and 106, if you please.”

    She recoils. “Article 106? You’re accusing me of espionage, ma’am?!”

    Now that’s odd. I’ve never met her before but I didn’t have to tell her not to call me ‘sir’. “Why shouldn’t I? You deliberately erased data you were ordered to retrieve while making it look like there wasn’t any.”

    “I did nothing of the sort!”

    “Don’t think of me as an idiot—”

    “Believe me, I don’t, ma’am.”

    “—because between you and Command Master Chief Kinlo, I’m going to go with the one who kept the systems engineer rating her whole career. Now, can we dispense with the chickensh*t? Do I need to bring Lieutenant Connor in here?”

    She groans. “No, you don’t need the living lie detector.”

    “The what?” Gaarra exclaims. “You know about—”

    “I kind of have to. She saved my life. Six times. Including once when she smelled a guy lying when he was about to shoot me and tore his arm off before he could pull the trigger.”

    “Wh—Connor—you—” I close my mouth and try to marshal my thoughts. “Petty Officer Belka, what in the Prophets’ unknowable names are you talking about?”

    She sighs. “My name isn’t Belka, Captain.”

    “I kind of figured that out already; who are you and who do you work for?”

    “Belka” holds up a hand. “Understand, what I’m about to tell you is classified above top secret. You are not to disclose this to anyone, especially Lieutenant Connor, under penalty of court martial. Close the curtain.”

    “Fine,” I snap, throwing the curtain across; I expected that. “Who. The phekk. Are. You?”

    “I’m Commander Reshek Taryn, Starfleet Intelligence Special Operations Section Eight.”

    Reshek?” I look at my husband. “Gaarra, I didn’t know you had any other relatives in the service.”

    “Neither did he, ma’am.”

    I look back over to the spook and raise an eyebrow in confusion. “What?”

    “Captain Kanril, I’m your daughter.”

    That sound you just heard was me trying to pick my jaw up off the floor.

    “And I’m honestly not surprised you caught me out, Captain,” she continues. “I never could hide anything from you.”

    “Wait,” Gaarra interrupts, “go back to the part… where you’re our daughter?”

    She nods. “I was—will be born in 2421.”

    “You’re a time traveler?”

    “Well, I’d kind of have to be, Mother, since I’m actually a little older than you are right now: I’m 33.”

    I just stare at her. Finally: “This is a joke, right?”

    She points out into the corridor. “Mother, go borrow a medical tricorder from Dr. Wirrpanda, one I can’t have messed with. Set it to scan my DNA and have the computer run a comparison with yours and Father’s.”

    I decide to humor “Taryn” and pick up the device. Takes two tries, I haven’t used a medical tricorder since my last first aid course, but finally I get the results. “Prophets. Gaarra, look at this.”

    There’s no mistake. She’s half me, half him.

    I just sit there staring at her for a moment, but then I start to see it. She’s got Gaarra’s long nose, my jawline. Her hair’s lighter than mine, more of a dark eichenberry blonde than my deep red, but those green eyes, they’re definitely from the Kanril side.

    Taryn. That actually makes sense. It was always what I said I was going to name my daughter if I had one, the old Kendran word for the species of hardwood that makes up most of the remaining primeval forests in the Kendra Valley. It was my great-grandmother’s name.

    “Okay, so you’re our kid,” Gaarra says uncertainly. “What are you doing on our ship a decade before you were born?”

    “Section 8 is Starfleet temporal intelligence.”

    “Timecops?” he queries. “Like the Department of Temporal Investigations?”

    She grins humorlessly. “DTI are timecops. We’re more like a temporal SWAT team.”

    “And you’re here to swat what?”

    “One of One’s attempt to gain the Borg Queen’s time travel technology. The technology the Queen acquired from another version of the Na’Kuhl.”

    “Who?” I ask.

    “Actually, I think I’ve heard of them,” Gaarra remarks. “Tzenketh Sector, right? Isolationists?”

    “In this timeline. There’s another branch that—” She winces. “Rrg, that timeline was a cesspool of nonsense, so many incursions in a multifactional temporal war, in an already shaky timeline, it became spatiotemporally unstable and wiped itself out altogether when two incursions collided. It’s hard to explain; it involved Abner Bowman and Enterprise NX-01.”

    “Who?” I ask again.

    “Abner Bowman. He was the captain of the United Earth Starship Enterprise, you may have heard of it.”

    “I thought that was Chen Hwai.”

    “Captain Hwai’s what was supposed to happen, but there was another version where—” She squeezes her eyes shut and presses a hand to her face. “Okay, let me start over; that’s a whole ‘nother story altogether. Prophets.” She straightens in the bed and grabs the water glass off the nightstand and takes a sip. “Okay, look. People think of time like it’s a strict progression of cause to effect, but that’s a really poor analogy. It’s more like—”

    “What, a big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff?” I raise an eyebrow. “Are you seriously going to quote Doctor Who at me?” Gaarra gives me a look. “What?”

    Taryn chuckles. “Well, it would fit you, wouldn’t it, Mother? But no, no, time… It’s kind of like a rope. Of infinite length.”

    “A rope?” That is genuinely one I’ve never heard of before.

    “It’s still not a perfect analogy but… Look, the rope fibers are probabilities, chances that particular versions of events will occur. Usually they’re so similar the difference is imperceptible, and time has an… inertia to it that tends to true up whatever small differences do occur so that nobody without temporal senses can usually tell. Even most actual time travel is deterministic—go back, you’ve already been back, within that particular strand, like the whale probe incident in 2286. But the rope can also be damaged.”

    “Which is the reason for the Temporal Prime Directive,” Gaarra surmises.

    “Exactly. Classic example: the mirror universe. It started as a similar timeline, albeit one where Earth’s Western Roman Empire took a little longer than usual to fall—Flavius Aetius overthrew Emperor Valentinian after the Catalaunian Plains and beat the Vandals in 455—and then the N*zis, Trumpers, Optimum, and the Krasnov junta were a little more successful.” She holds up two fingers close together. “Just a little bit, it doesn’t take much. But then import Borg from the future and—”

    “The rope, what, frayed?”

    “Exactly. Or take that mess with Ne—sorry, rambling again.” She coughs. “Point is, the rope doesn’t fray by itself. Major temporal incursions literally damage time, so our job is to intervene to stop frays where possible. You wouldn’t believe the damage One of One could do with time travel; it’s incalculable. She started as a medical AI, she wants to ‘heal’ all life,” she explains with air quotes.

    “Past, present, and future?” I guess.

    Taryn nods. “Ordering out Section 8 is the option of last resort. Ideally we don’t use time travel at all, it’s too risky, but this was one of those times. DTI detected major temporal incursions in the past and far future, all stemming from this Borg expansion into Benthan space. So we had to infiltrate USS Bajor because there wasn’t any other way to operate without phekking things up even worse, and I had to be the one to do it because my skill profile matched requirements the best.” She grimaces. “The other option was Captain Connor, your Lieutenant Connor, and despite the camo skin she can’t lie convincingly to save her life—I clean her out every time we play poker.”

    I snort at that. “Well, you got caught, so now what?”

    “Well, now you order the lieutenant and the master chief to leave it alone and write a report for DTI, and I’m out of your hair the minute we dock at the Jenolan Sphere. ‘Reassigned’,” she adds, making air quotes again.

    “Okay,” I answer. “Here’s a question. How do you know that by explaining all this to us you haven’t frayed the rope yourself?”

    “Oh, that.” She chuckles. “Remember, Mother, the rope fibers are just probabilities. There’s acceptable and unacceptable levels of risk. Acceptable level is, you and Father just do what comes naturally to you, let your future take care of itself and don’t worry about me. Unacceptable? One of One.” She shrugs. “Easy calculation, needs of the many and all that.”

    “All right, I’ll buy that. So you’re okay with this.”

    She grins. “Better than okay. Regs aside, this is the USS Bajor, the ship my mother, you, made famous. And I’m supposed to come and go without you ever knowing what you created? I know what the rules are for, but I don’t have to like ‘em.”

    And I crack up, I can’t help it. She’s definitely my daughter.

    I try quizzing Taryn on my future but she refuses to reveal anything more than she already has, so Gaarra and I leave her in the bed in sickbay a few minutes later. Gaarra stops to talk to Warragul as I join Connor and the guards outside. “K’lak, McMillan, stand down. False alarm.”

    “Ma’am,” the big Klingon grunts, and he and the redheaded human head off down the corridor.

    Which leaves Connor standing there gaping at me. “Ma’am, what? Ten minutes ago you were—”

    “That’s classified, Connor,” I interrupt matter-of-factly. “The research data was not erased, it was never there. Do we have an understanding between us?”

    …What??? Captain—”

    I hold up a hand. “Don’t worry about it! Look, I’ll throw you a bone: it turned out, Belka’s mission didn’t have anything to do with Section 31.”

    “What are you smiling about, ma’am?”

    “Um, Connor, you’ve heard of ‘classified’, right?”

    Connor shakes her head. “…Yes, ma’am. I trust you.” She turns, presumably heading out to hit the bar, or maybe the gym. “F*cking spooks…” I hear her mutter. “Give me boltheads any day… next time I’ll do the hacking myself, hafta learn the basics off K’tar…”

    Gaarra steps into the hall behind me and puts his arm around me. I lean into him. “So we’re going to have a daughter,” the big man murmurs into my ear.

    “Probably,” I whisper back, turning my head to kiss the corner of his mouth. “Remember, time is a rope.”

    He laughs. “That has got to be the silliest metaphor I have ever heard in my life!” He returns my kiss with interest and we start walking towards the turbolift, holding hands. “How ‘bout it, you wanna try making her?”
    * * *

    Grantham Memorial Hospital, Starfleet Headquarters, San’a, Greater Jordan. A possible November 2421.

    “One more push, Admiral!” the bright green Fuima attending orders.

    I half-roar, half-scream with effort and pain, and then I hear a new scream join mine. The masked Vulcan doctor between my legs pulls back and stands, a bloody towel in her hands. “It is a girl, Admiral Kanril. Congratulations.”

    “Lieutenant, I’m picking up a possible obstetric hemorrhage,” one of the nurses says from the monitoring station.

    “Protoplaser!”

    I’m barely listening, exhausted from twelve hours of labor, as T’Fel washes my daughter, then wraps her in a blanket and lays her down in my arms, wrinkled and red in the face and perfect.

    “She’s gonna give her brothers nine kinds of hell when she gets bigger,” Gaarra’s holographic image says, leaning over us. “Prophets, I wish I could be there with you, El.” His hand strokes my cheek, all cold pressure, no warmth, just an image and a force field, transmitted from the Bajor over subspace. Naturally he got sent out on a five-year exploration mission towards the Core, and only then I figured out I was pregnant again.

    “Congratulations, Admiral,” Tess chimes in from my right, sending her image from the USS Iconia. Captain’s uniform looks good on her. “What are you going to call her?”

    “Taryn,” Gaarra and I answer her simultaneously, without looking up.
    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"
    — Sabaton, "A Lifetime of War"
    9MUythl.png
    (Vaporware thanks to Foundry shutdown. Thanks a frakking bunch, Cryptic.)
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 639 Arc User
    hors Q d'oeuvres

    10 Hours Earlier

    Risa, Hotel Medical Wing



    "She was found by a Reman and an Orion woman on the beach, collapsed and face down," the Doctor says, looking at the Human captain pacing nearby, who peeked ever so often at the bed, "The Reman was a security officer on the Akkep, he found no evidence of an attack, and no additional footprints in the sand; he believes she was alone when whatever happened, happened." The woman shuts down the PADD, and hands it to the nearby nurse, who replaces it among the many instruments among a cart of supplies. "I've found no external injuries, and no apparent internal ones either," she continues, "Whatever it is could be technological, I'm no Borg specialist, but we're getting one from Starfleet Medical, a liaison with the Cooperative I've been told." Nodding, the Captain sits down in one of the chairs digging his nails into his pants fabric. The medical staff leave the room, and the human captain sighs.

    "There's nothing we can do right now but wait, eh?" Drake says, "Come on Nilona, why are you in a coma?" The white haired Romulan doesn't flutter her eyes, only her breathing and rise and fall of he chest alerted him that she was still alive. "They told me it seems like an artificially induced coma," he continues, "The trouble is, you shouldn't be having one... so why won't you wake up?" A beeping from his side causes him to pause, putting his hand to the communicator at his hip, kept secure by a hidden pouch in his palm tree trunks. "Drake here," he answers, "Rubia, what do you have?" The voice he hears is not his medical officer.

    "Sorry Captain," Elisa Flores responds, "Starfleet has requested our assistance regarding a matter developing in the Delphic Region, we're the closest ship with full armament, but the Freeman and the California will meet up with us as the next closest ships with the necessary firepower." He can hear the hesitation in her voice, but he ignores it, favoring his nervous habit instead. "Sir... our medical services are adequate, we can take her with us," she continues, "But it is up to you sir, I doubt we could..." He stops her before she can continue.

    "No, I'll leave her here, the DJC is sending a Cooperative specialist, they probably have dealt with this kind of stuff before," Drake says, "We'll pick her up when we return, meet the specialist en route, make it faster that way, for now let's see what's going on in the Sphere Builder's old stomping grounds, one to beam up." As he leaves, a light pulses on the Borg implants, flashing.



    \\\ Delphic Region, 5 Hours Later



    The I.S.S. Clockwork skims a gaseous cloud as it enters the former home of the Delphic Expanse, coasting into range of the area of interest. "Tell me it isn't the Temporal Liberation Front, attempting to open another Delphic Expanse?" Drake says half joking, "I've seen enough spheres that planets are starting to annoy me." Chuckling rose from a crewman on the bridge, Drake smiling in appreciation at the laugh.

    "It's not the TLF, sir, but something is... a Class nine Ion Storm is appearing off the port side!" Malcolm says from his position at helm, "I- I don't know how scanners didn't pick it up but- Sir, there's something at its center!" Looking to Drake he gives a nod.

    "On screen," he commands, as the viewer is filled with the magnetic, chaotic, swirling space phenomena. As soon as it appeared, it seemed the ion clouds were parting, bolts of energy sparking between them, revealing a mass at the center of the clouds. "Any ideas?" Drake asks, "Malcolm, Miss Ferris, can our sensors scan anything from the planet?"

    "No detectable soil or vegetation, and an extremely hot, toxic atmosphere currently being swept by tornadic storms, possibly attributable to the ion storm," Malcolm says, "No signs of how it got in this area though."

    "Iron-silica mix of rock and continuous volcanic action," Caroline Ferris responds, "Deadly to terrestrial and most other sorts of life without oxygen and life support, and not a clue to how it would be of benefit for the TLF or Sphere Builders to bring it here." Nodding, Drake studies the planet, a spark in his head going off.

    "Does that planet seem... familiar?" Drake says, "Does anything in our database match a planet we've catalogued like this?" He increases the view of the planet. "It feels so... familiar," Drake says, "Like I've seen it before... helm, take us in when the next opening shows, I want to be in orbit." Suddenly a bolt of ionic energy arcs from the clouds and towards the ship. "Deflector full power, EPS redundancies, make it happen!" he orders, as the bolt comes closer, "Move the ship people, we don't need our power to short out, or get any more time travel paperwork from the DTI." It was too late, as the ion trail seems to redirect itself towards the ship, blinding the bridge crew as the view screen cracks and sparks in a white flash.

    Groaning is heard from all around, until Drake notices it wasn't from any of his crew. Looking at the center of the floor, directly in front of him, a man lay in front of him, surrounded by scorch marks, yet appearing undamaged. "Who the heck are you?" Drake asks, as the man looks up, "Another one of Q's tricks?"

    "No, Drake Storm of Primal Earth, but I am Q too," he says, passing out on the floor. Drake gets to the man and calls for emergency medical transportation.



    \\\ Sickbay, 2 Hours Later



    "I can't find any signs of who he is, scanners show his biology is in flux between something resembling human, and a jellyfish, but that may just be the closest thing it can read," Rubia reports, "I get high metabolic spikes, and can tell his neural functions act at a higher level found in some of the various elevated races Starfleet has come across, but it seems to be decreasing as time goes on." Drake nods, standing next to her over the bed holding the Q. Q's eyes flutter open, and he grimaces as he sees Drake standing over him. "Glad to see you awake, ah...Q, but, uh, I believe you're either jellifying or becoming human," Rubia continues, "Please try not to exert to much stress, whatever you are going through is taxing all your 'biological' systems." With a harsh and wet cough, the elder looking man had tried to laugh, before grimacing in pain at the result.

    "I- I wish I had the time to see your readings Doctor, but I'm afraid Drake and I need to talk," Q says, before turning to face the Captain, "Alone, I'm afraid." Hesitant, the female doctor leaves at the nod of a head from Drake.



    "So, what do I call you?" Drake asks, "New Q, Quentin, Quinn, Qubert?" With a less hoarse sounding chuckle, the being claiming to be a Q, laughs.

    "I believe Picard once called me Q2, and it will do just fine," Q2 says, "I have come to tell you your time is up in this world, He has returned, and you must make a sacrifice once more, as you have done before." Drake pales, as old memories surface in his mind, before he tries not to panic.

    "No, you can't mean- I thought he was gone for good when he- he sealed-" Drake sputters out, "When I gave up my power, it was supposed to be enough to cleave my universe from that place, I cemented myself to this reality, I exist as a person of this reality now!"

    "The Continuum is being drained, Drastorm, Trelane is wresting control of it with new cronies, he's forcing us out of our own realm, while Q tries to distract him," Q2 says, "We collectively managed to steal Gothos from him, weakening him greatly, but he will find us, defenseless or dead by his unnatural planet, once he fully drains us of our power." The man looks Drake in the eye, and Drake falters for a moment in uncertainty at what he is saying. "My people are targets, he will hunt any Q down and kill them for their power, any time, any dimension in this part of the multiverse, but not when the power is contained," Q2 says, his eyes flickering to the unseen necklace under Drake's jacket, "And you are one of the few people in this universe who can both store, and direct, the power of Gods, so I ask you this now: Will you become our Hero, will you become a Q Incarnate?"



    \\\ 2 Hours Later



    "Send it as soon as she wakes," he says to the ensign, handing off the PADD, before turning to the standing Q, "I am ready." Nodding, Q2 motions for the necklace to be held out. Handing it out, the orange crystal seems to pulse to life as the Q puts his hand to the crystal.

    "Now understand this, you will be able to use your power twice before he can locate you, and once more before he can confront you," Q2 says, as light begins to shine and engulf the bridge, "In that time you must go after the beings I have listed to you, they will distract the minions he sends after you, before he personally goes after those you care about." Nodding, Drake stares at the swirling orb of light, orange and blue unhinged within an orb of light, which compresses back into the shard of crystal he has always kept as a reminder of his history.

    "And the other thing I mentioned?" Drake asks, "Would I be able to do that after?" Q2 nods, leaving Drake smiling. "Maybe I'll be able to solve a few of the current mystery's that have been cropping up after all," Drake says, "Now, off I go!" In a flash of light Drake is gone. Q2 is relieved, grabbing the handle of the chair, and lowering himself into it, winded by the expense of energy. The Continuum had all but given him their remaining energy, enough to power him to a level on par with some of Trelane's heavy hitters. Q2 just hoped it would be enough.

    Suddenly a black cloud pops into existence, sulfur and rot filling the air. "Oh, silly me, I'm late," a chipper voice says, belonging to a blue eyed, long-haired blonde girl, who seemed to be twenty in appearance, "Double drat, you already gave him your power too." With a soft pout, the woman puts her head in her right hand, as security forces surround her. "Ah, a party for me?" she squees, snapping her fingers and replacing the weapons with balloons and noise makers, leaving party hats on their heads in addition, "Too bad Trelane asked me to find him, otherwise I would stay for cake." Snapping again, darkness fills the room, draining light, before the emergency lighting comes on.

    'Oh, but I'll have fun with them," a voice echoes, as more light enters the room. The remaining on the bridge look to the source of the new voice and light, and blood runs cold at the Cardassian woman. "Oh?" she says, eyes glowing orange and fire in his hands glowing hot and bright, "I just want to show my love, the love the Pah-Wraiths wish to share with all of you."



    \\\ 2409, Undine Attack On Earth



    Linnea scowls as she opens the door to yet another sealed off area, force fields keeping out the vacuum, as yet another massive explosion rocked the station. She had been trying to meet up with the Admiral, when she was cut off and had to reroute to another area and reach its maintenance hatch. Now she heard skittering and pounding of heavy feet against metal, and she turns to look at three Undine warriors and a Psi-Master encroaching upon her, thinking her trapped. "The Weak shall perish," the Psi-Master announces, "You are Weak."

    "Oh, Species 8472, you should have kept moving," Linnea says, smirking at the four monsters, "You don't know a real psi-master, until you've met me, because I've met you before." Looking at the Psi-Master, she feels his grasp among her mind, until the Pi-Master releases her, sensing something uneasy in her. "Yes, that's right boys," she says, sadly now, "You never should have cornered me." Changing her appearance, the now short haired blonde woman stares the Psi-Master down, and all three warriors take their stance.

    "No, she is Strong, We are Weak alone," the Psi-Master says, "Leave her be for now, we are called, we will be Strong as One." Leaving her, the woman sighs as she tries to fix the now loose fitting clothing. In a white flash, a man stands before her in a Starfleet uniform.

    "Oh, what now?" she huffs irritated, "I've had enough surprises for now- wait, I recognize you... class of 2409, Drake Stormbaucher?" The woman stares at him, before he smiles in recognition.

    "Hello, ma'am, I've been sent on a mission to retrieve you," he says, "Your darker side appears to be causing havoc across the multiverse, Miss Kes, and you are our only hope to stop her." Kes looks at him oddly, before he snaps and fixes her clothing, making them reminiscent of her old ones she wore on Voyager.

    "Well, if Q's involved in this absurdity, lets get on with it," she says, fixing her hair into a wilder, longer style, "I'll have enough trouble trying to fix up the Admrial's schedule again as Linnea, might as well make sure the universe survives another crisis first as Kes."



    \\\ 1984, New York City



    The cream apartments were well worn down, years of neglect had left cracks in the paint, showing the brick wall underneath. Traveling up molding stairs, and careful to skip the one that looked like it was about to give out by the cracks in the old wood, he finally reaches his goal and is at the door of the man he is searching for. Knocking loudly, the brunette and his blonde accomplice wait, as thuds and cursing is heard over the television, which sounded like it was on a public broadcasting art program. They hear the blinds shutter against each other, the iron bars on the windows showing the divided form of the man they were looking for.

    Opening the door, concealed behind a metal door designed with to many small holes, so much so that it obscured the man behind the screen door. "Hello, sir, I'm looking for a Mister Russel, living at this address?" the brunette man says, "He wrote a book called Far Beyond the Stars, and I wanted to see if he would sign the latest copy of it I bought from Three Lanes Bookstore down the street." He can tell the man is studying him, and the blonde woman seems to catch his eyes. "My name is Nathan, and this is... Tes, we're sorry if its impolite," Nathan says, "But I'm a big fan, and I just wanted to ask him about the cliffhanger of an ending he put in his newest work, a character named Cerin Teresa."

    The screen door slams open, and an elderly man in his eighties, one Benny Russel, removes his glasses, and stares down Nathan. "Tell me what a monster like her has to do with what's going on outside," Benny Russel calmly states, "I may have patience, but be quick."

    "We need your help Ben-ny," Nathan corrects himself, "A man with power beyond our understanding has collected a bunch of miscreants together, and we need you to help us stop them." Benny Russle looks to him, before closing the door and leaving them stranded with an open screen door and no response. Disheartened and about to leave, the door opens to reveal a man without glasses, much younger than the man of eighty who had answered the door, and wearing an outdated Starfleet uniform. It was all the answer they needed.



    \\\ 2410, Elba II Facility



    "I have one final thing to teach you; one last thing you will need to learn," Drake says, "How to use your visions of alternate timelines to make sure you don't make the same mistakes." Drake pauses before continuing. "I ended a world in one of my parallel timelines, and if you can use this power to prevent something like that happening to you," He says, "Then by the Well, I will help you learn." Grabbing his crystal and removing it from its chain, he puts it to Gregs hands, the item becoming semi-solid in his grasp, before shining brightly and causing Gregs to blackout, then disappear in a swirling mass of blue energy.

    "He's a good kid, but when are you going to tell him?" The Other Gregs asks, "I keep your secret because you are that other Drake, or you were him at one point in your life, but I know you are just as flesh and blood as he is, otherwise he couldn't be touching that crystal of yours." Drake smirks, caught in the act after all this time.

    "You never did trust me after DS9, did you Gregs?" Drake says, "Who can blame you after years of false imprisonment, you spent your life training, while I was out fighting against a living conspiracy theory." He smiles, and brushes his hand through his hair. "He has a lot of potential to grow into someone like you, ya know?" Drake says, "A whole Sage Psychic master package rolled into one, if he manages to forgive me in the end." The other Gregs nods sagely, chuckling at his youthful cohorts wording.

    "Trelane is an understandable point of forgiveness, I think, he doesn't have anything worse to forgive, like being locked up for two decades," other Gregs says, "I mean, it's not like your actions are going to be causing him harm, you're just preparing him for when he helps the others face Trelane after all, are you not?" When he doesn't receive a response, he frowns, but it is quickly forgotten when the portal reopens. This time a flaming, orange storm erupts with electricity crackling through the air, with blue wisps coming out. When Gregs notices the ceiling and floor begin to melt and warp, he worries very much what is happening.

    "Damn it, I didn't expect that," Drake curses, "Tetryon energy is leaking through the event horizon, it's bridging our world with wherever he ended up, and it seems there is an active ion storm on the other side." Suddenly his hands are glowing, the electrical energy seemingly arcing toward him like a lightning rod, though the residual heat was intense enough to continue melting the force field emitters. "I'll seal the breach on this side, but to do that I'll have to go where he is," Drake says to Other Gregs, "Just promise me, whatever happens next, you lie, and lie, and never tell him the truth, he can't know, not yet, not now." Jumping into the portal, collapsing it behind him, Gregs watches it die. Moments later it flares to life again, depositing his other self, unconscious, but breathing, and Gregs watches it stabilize and close for the final time.



    \\\ Elsewhen, Far Future


    He sees the alien planet through the shuttles window, ionic storm frozen in time, as wisps of blue energy streak along the charges, normally unseen radiation giving off light from the strong ion storm, excited because the exotic energies clash together. He sees a younger Gregs, a weaker, less secure man then the one he has gotten to know since his return from this versions yet to be future. Grabbing the necklace from his hand, he takes the man and pushes him back into his own reality through the breach he had made, redirecting him to shortly after he had left.

    Now he was left alone with a mistake, one he hadn't foreseen. Hazari Tis-Singh is moments form heart failure, killed by being struck by lightning, imperceptibly moving toward her, as time had been slowed to less than a crawl in his haste to retrieve Gregs. And now he had a choice before him, an answer to one of his questions. Now he just had to figure out how she got to the 23rd century. Then Drake pauses, as he swears he hears something. Ignoring it he grabs his new charge bridal style, preparing himself to expend enough energy to keep both himself and Hazari alive long enough to receive help of some kind. Hearing the impossible again, Drake turns his head to see a frightening sight.

    Knocking at the window, ignoring the frozen chaos outside, a pink-eyed, blonde girl dressed in a short Kelvin Starfleet uniform, is waving at him cheerily. Blood running cold, Drake realizes this should be impossible, so he does the first thing he thinks of. He runs.

    (End Part One)
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 639 Arc User

    \\\ 2410, Risa ten minutes ago

    Milling around the dining room hall, various Captains and friends of Tekhav and Nali join them for an early dinner. It was catered by waiters and waitresses of various species among the hotel staff, a Xindi-arboreal, a Gorn, even a Na'kuhl was among the servers and chefs. Panl, a Tellarite Captain who served with Tekhav on the Tourmaline along with Hazari, looks at one of the wait staff in familiarity. "You- you look familair," he asks the young looking human, "Have we met before?" Looking startled, the blond looks like he was about to make an excuse, before the clinking of glass was heard, and he slips away when Panl isn't looking. Standing up among the assembled crowd, as salads and appetizers were deposited onto the table, Tekhav silences the talkative assembly.

    "Family, family is many things to many people..." Tekhav pauses before continuing, taking the opportunity to look at the assembled guests, noting the absence of Gregs and Berg, and Drake who had been called away hours ago, "Brothers, Sisters; through blood, or by bond, family, to me, extends to all of you assembled here, and that is why we have decided, you all need to know the -urggch!" Tekhav grasps for his throat, as a pale hand seemingly clasps it from out of nowhere. Like a Cheshire cat appearing with a wicked smile, Trelane comes into view, blue tailcoat prominently puffed out and trailing onto the floor like a cape.

    "Oh, you bore me with all this talk of family, puh-lease," Trelane says, "We all know Sarus is your favorite, that Hazari has lost her mind, Berg and Gregs were sent out on a goose chase, or should I say FNORD hunt, *snrk*." Slapping his hand against his leg, doubled over in laughter, the slick haired godling chuckled, as Risa security burst in, surrounding the intruder with phasers and other weapons. Detaching his hand from his sleeve, another hand appears, and with a snap, the security team was floored, knocked unconscious while their weapons fell to pieces on the floor, as if every attachment was removed.

    "Now, let's try this again, I came here to ask you all a question," he says, looking around to the others in the room, he sees them all pulling various weapons from their sides, "Tsk, tsk, not even finished with the hors d'oeuvres, and you are all chomping at the bit for the main course." Snapping his fingers again, the various weapons are replaced with hunks of meat, legs of beef and lamb, and quite a few chicken wings, some even buffalo style.

    "I don't know what a Q is doing here," Ace says from his spot, "But if you think we're going to stand for these hostilities-" He suddenly finds himself gagged and in a straightjacket, struggling for a moment before falling to the floor in a heap.

    "Please, I am no Q, I'm a god, no less than perfect compared to you flimsy mortals," Trelane says, "No, you barbarians can't even appreciate the labor I went too, to arrange all of this; implant a little suggestion here and there in the right heads, cause a little bit of chaos using expendable pawns." Sighing dramatically, he sees Sarus grabbing for a hidden weapon, and puts his hands in front of him. "Oh, no, you have me, I don't have the energy to- not!" snapping quickly, he disappears from view, and before Sarus can see it, he lands a flying kick to his face. Dusting off his riding pants, Trelane looks toward Tekhav and suddenly he has his grip around his neck again. Trelane hears the doors open, and smirks in satisfaction, planning his next move perfectly.

    Walking into the fray with weapons drawn, Gregs and Berg find Tekhav being held by his throat at the hands of Trelane, with Sarus limply reaching out his own hand in a feeble attempt to use the weapon in it to attempt to attack him. Firing off the weapon, it bounces off and shoots between Gregs and Berg, narrowly missing both men, and skirting Gregs' side.

    "Now, now, my friend... it's not nice to interrupt," Trelane says, bringing his heel down onto Sarus' hand, and kicking the weapon away, before turning to Tekhav, "You've all taken up enough of my time, now answer me, where is the incarnate wielding Q's power?" With a strangled gasp from Tekhav, Trelane lets him go, as planned, and dramatically sighs once more. "Pity you are of no help either, but you two... I don't know one of you," He says, turning to Berg, then to Gregs with a viscous smile, "But you Gregs... my, my, it has been awhile, but I'm surprised you haven't been killed by one of my agents yet." The alien Captain pockets his weapon, before slipping his hand around something stored on his back.

    "I knew there was a chance I would run into you again Trelane, and it's a good thing I came prepared," he says pulling out an elegant cane, "I know your weakness, you know mine; let's part ways, since I know you're too weak right now to do any harm beyond anything physical, so leave!" Grimacing, Trelane harrumphs, before snapping his fingers and disappearing. Sighing, Gregs leans on his cane, before sliding to the floor and ending on his knees. "I'm sorry everyone, it seems Trelane's ruined dinner with the in-laws," Gregs says, smiling weakly, "Maybe we should have stayed for that salad... could have prevented... this..." Collapsing to the floor, Gregs begins to bleed out onto the floor, knife sticking out from his side. Insane cackling fills the room, echoing through the dining halls.

    Suddenly one of the waiters is at Gregs side, looking over the mans wounds, before a strange look crosses his face, to the concern of those still awake from their encounter with their intruder. Laughing manically, the server, who had been knocked unconscious among the security team, rips the knife from Gregs' side, and looks at the dripping pool of auburn. "Oh, Trelane, thank you so much for this opportunity," the young human says gleefully, "I haven't inspired this much fear since... well, Whitechapel, I do say."

    "Not if we have anything to say about it Redjac!" a new voice says from the entrance.


    \\\ 2265, Outside the Neutral Zone

    Drake doesn't know where he is, or why specifically here, but he knows that it felt natural to build the Type F shuttle, it would blend perfectly in this situation, he would just have to make it look like some form of temporal displacement. He couldn't change too much of the past, but he knew to leave a few odd bits and ends of technology, to make it seem like she was from the recent future, enough that they would keep her alive without questioning her too much. He hoped ten years was enough to make it seem credible, and hoped her genetics wouldn't be to big of an issue, with her augments and the taboos this century was reminded of with Khan's rediscovery, he hoped she wouldn't end up in cold storage.

    Breathing in out a frosty breath, he realizes the ambient temperature would be inhospitable if he had left her, killing her nigh instantaneously, and he quickly remedied it, checking to make sure he added an atmospheric recycler to the shuttles environmental systems. Satisfied, he took one last breath, and phased outside the shuttle, headed to his next destination. Clenching his fists, he knew his time table was accelerating rapidly, it wouldn't be much longer until the others were dragged further into this, and Trelane nipping at his heels with the ankle-biters he was sending. He had one last person to find, before he would be able to face Trelane directly.

    \\\ Gamma Cannaris Region, New Bozeman

    Zephram Cochrane had seen plenty of strange things in his life, had lied about half of them, and was drunk for the other half, but when he met a different, younger, more brash man rather than the composed Jean-Luc Picard at the seat of that starship, Zephram knew when to keep his mouth shut when the Captain of the Enterprise came calling. He had shared this knowledge with the composite entity, the Companion may have know, but to Nancy Hedford, the host, this dangerous knowledge was all to new and overwhelming. But he couldn't lie to someone he loved, not Lily, not to those who saw him as an idol and laughed away the truth, and he wouldn't start lying now.

    So when the massive tear in reality ripped itself open above their makeshift home, he couldn't lie about how he felt to his new wife. "I'm afraid, Nancy," he said, "I don't know what to make of it." Nancy stared into the sky with her beloved, as the ominous red vortex, like the irritated sclera of an eye with an inky void at its center, pulsed overhead, radiating waves of unknown energy. It sickened the Companion, waves of dizziness crashing onto Nancy as a result, and she felt as if she was going to feel sick because of me alien and unnatural feelings she was experiencing. Zephram was succumbing to the alien energies as well, as he falls to the ground in convulsions.

    Then the crazed laughing began, echoing in their heads, haunting every portion of their mind and bringing unmatched terror with it, until the laughing was no longer coming from their minds. No, the deranged heckling was no coming from a physical mouth, from the prone form of Zephram Cochrane, who looks up with a crazed clarity. Nancy is disoriented still, trying to recover from the bout of -terror- it was called terror by her host. Shaking her head, she was one now, she felt terror, she knew fear and uncertainty, but this was more primal, instinctive not only to host, but to both her halves.

    'Redjacktheripperkillermurdereredrum' the instinct seems to scream within her, 'Murderfunkillbyfearfeastonfearlivedierun!' So Nancy took that in, threw it out the window, and proceeded to try and get to her Zephram.

    "Zephram, I know you can hear me, I know Redjac is trying to control you, but I need you to be strong," she says, inching closer to the man, as he seemingly backs away, and scrambles backwards on his hands, unsure. She reaches out for him, until he hisses and claws at her with fingers, scratching Nancy enough to shock her and draw blood from her. Stricken, she recoils in anguish, which was a bad idea as the reaction causes Redjac to smile, frightening her as he uses her beloved's face to do so.

    "Run," Redjac says, "Run!" With a gleeful mania his screams this, and unsure, Nancy Hedford hesitates, before steeling herself and reusing to give into fear.

    "No!" she says in return, throwing away fear and slapping Zephram and Redjac in the face, "I won't show fear to a monster like you, not when you hold something I love so dear." Confused and startled, wide-eyed at the outburst, Redjac is surprised and confused by the unorthodox reaction the feeble-seeming woman gave him. Looking blankly, studying this new information while Nancy begins to shake in anger at being ignored, he huffs and turns away, beginning to walk away. "Where are you going?" Nancy asks as Redjac leaves in Zephram's body, "There's no way off this planetoid, the ship was cannibalized, communications are beyond crude, and no one knows this planet exists, beyond Captain Kirk..." Suddenly whirling on the woman, she steels herself as Redjac gives off a crazed look.

    "James T. Kirk?" he asks, "Yes, yes this is perfect... hahahahhaaa..." Ending in mad giggles, Redjac returns to his walking, determined to reach somewhere. "Three lanes open, fear ends them all, all I need is a token, for them to take my call," Redjac hums to himself more than his straggler, "Redjac, Kesla, Beratis, three, all of them are the result of me!" Suddenly a man is standing at a fork in the path, and Nancy realizes she is in a part of the planet she does not remember ever letting grow.

    "Ah, Redjac, finding love more distasteful than fear?" the man chortles as Redjac approaches, "Don't worry, I think I have an opportunity for you to feast; let's take a ride to the future... I'll even let you keep your current host, let's let this pest die of a broken heart." Staring into Nancy's eyes, she sees age and terror and destruction in the mysterious mans eyes, and a feeling not to unlike the event that brought Redjac to their planetoid. Disappearing in a flash, quite literally, Nancy finds herself back at their compound, alone and quite afraid, as silence stretches on. Feeling a sinking pit in her heart, she knows she would search in vain to find Zephram, and cries out in anguish.

    "I hate to see you cry like that Companion, or should I call you Nancy?" a voice says from behind her. She turns and finds a man sitting at the table, along with two others. "I apologize," the one man who first answered says, "I didn't mean to startle you, but I am in a position where I can help you retrieve Zephram, and you can help me at the same time defeat Redjac." Nancy looks startled at this news, before she realizes that the clothes they wear have some alien resemblance to the Enterprise badge, and that one of them is obviously an human, while the main speaker is obscured by their hood, and the other is quite foreign and unknown to her.

    "Why would you help me like that?" Nancy replies, "What benefit would you gain from having me on your side, besides the fact I am powerless and mortal." The man smiles, and pulls back his hood to reveal human features underneath, putting her at ease. He opens his palm, and a sparkling field of green energy, not unknown to her, gleans in his hand.

    "What Starfleet officer doesn't want to help the man who started it all," he says, "What better way than helping the love of his life get him back and keep him from becoming a monster's puppet." Bringing the energy to his lips, he blows it away, the energy trailing in a massive cloud unlike the small sphere just held a moment ago, and it surrounds and encompasses Nancy, enveloping her until she breathes it in. Reinvigorated, glowing a healthy complexion, and feeling the thrum of energy beneath her skin like pinpricks, the Companion is renewed, and ready to help.



    \\\ I.S.S. Clockwork, Then



    As Cerin Teresa raises her fire to the crew of the ship, she feels the flames flicker. Turning, with a smile on her lips, she revels in the fear she had brought to this ship, and sours at the new revelation. "Oh, the Emissary himself, come to me?" she says in faux anxiety, swooning against the nearest panel, "Off your ivory throne in the Celestial Temple, come to the land of living purgatory, where the lost seek the love of the scorned, and receive the cold embrace of the false Prophets." Renewing her flame, she watches as Benjamin Sisko prepares himself for this epic battle.

    \\\ Elsewhen

    "Oh, fooey, Kes is already fixed, what a red herring!" the blonde girl states, watching as the Evil version Trelane had conjured up, releases her anger and returns to wherever she had come from, "It's a good thing he has me!" She giggles, disappearing with a snap, in a flash of white light.



    \\\ Risa, Now

    Staring down Redjac, the Companion and Drake stand united at the doorway of the complex. "Stand down Redjac, we're here to stop you!" Drake sasy, "Nancy, heal Gregs and the others, fix whatever Trelane and Redjac have done to them; I'll face him until you are ready!" Nodding, the Companion runs to the bleeding form of Gregs, healing him as best she can, before moving on to the next one, and the next one. Drake, staring down Redjac, lights his hand with energy, preparing to do what he must. Redjac pulls up his knife, and runs toward Drake.

    Grabbing for the knife, and encasing the hand holding it in a harmless sphere, hew flips the possessed human over his body, using the momentum built up against him, before landing a solid punch to Redjac. Charging an electrical field around them, he traps the entity within Zephram Cocherene's body, keeping them separate until they could set their plan in motion. Soon Nancy the Companion was done, while Drake strained to keep the enraged and crazed Cochrane from escaping his grasp, or hurting himself. "Are you ready?" he asks, and she nods, "Then prepare yourself Nancy, Zephram will be with you soon!"

    Releasing the energy field holding Redjac in, Nancy suddenly rushes to grab Redjac from behind, as Drake suddenly disappears in a flash of electrical energy. She begins to heal Zephram's body and mind, as other medical personnel arrive on scene, and begin to help the others recover. Gregs comes close to them, and recognizes and older man's face, the face of a legend, and realizes who this woman is next to him. "Zephram Cochrane and Nancy Hedford..." Gregs breathes in wonder, seeing where Drake had disappeared, leaving scorch marks behind, "What have you done?" Crying, Gregs can only hope that wherever he is, Drake is making a difference.
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 639 Arc User
    Second Chance Heroics


    Waking up in his bed, Nathaniel Mathaias Stormbaucher looks to his clock and sees the time as 6:45 a.m. The life of a superhero sucked when people were stupid enough to rob banks in the middle of a Rhode Island winter, around Midnight, and it had taken him an hour to unwind enough to fall back asleep. He may have had willpower to survive the attack of a supervillian and get back up, but he had enough common sense to know not to be a 'hero' while half asleep. Groaning at his internal clock, 'Drastorm' could wait until at least eight before he was needed.

    Once the first rays of sun shone in his apartment window, he took care of food and other necessitates, before suiting up. First on was his enhancement suit, which sped up his reflexes in the field, and allowed him to build and store his electric charges for his IDF power gauntlets to distribute. Powered armor pants, a teleportation belt, a heavy armor torso, arm guards, IDF power gauntlets, his Alpha eye-goggles, and duster on top. Then he decided to turn on the news, a rare event in his house.

    Seeing a headline pop up, he pays close attention to what it says as text rolls across the screen: Dark Storm, kills thirty in mass attack on remote Crey research base. Rolling his eyes, Nathaniel knows Drake better than anyone, he wouldn't have killed anyone, this had to be a Crey cover up. Hearing knocking at the door, Nathaniel quickly removes his equipment, and stuffs it back into its hiding place, as his bed returns to its proper position. Tossing his hair into a mess, Nathaniel answers the door in his pajama bottoms and a loose t-shirt, a great and quick thinking disguise. A woman in a red and white spandex suit with blonde hair in a ponytail behind her mask, greets him through the peephole in his door. She waves, as if she knew he was watching her, and he opens the door, but leaves the lock in place.

    "Mr. Stormbaucher, Nathaniel, correct?" she asks innocently, at which he replies with a nod, "My name is Mary Sue, at least as far as you know, and I work for a newly made task force dealing with... 'uniquely' powered individuals, and we beleve you can help us against our newest target, your only brother Drake, Dark Storm." Faking surprise, he strains his voice to convey the emotion.

    "My- my brother is Dark Storm?" he says surprised, "Are you- l-Longbow?" Nodding, the blonde removes an id from a hidden pocket. "A-alright, I'll help you out anyway I can," he continues, "Just let me get some things." Smiling sweetly, the woman patiently waits as Nathaniel returns to his room. She waits for a few minutes, until she gets impatient and knocks on the apartment door again, the door swinging open from the force. Looking inside, hesitating for a moment and making sure she was unseen from the hallway, the woman steps inside and closes the door.

    \\\ An Hour Later

    Drastorm is teleporting from rooftop to rooftop, until he reaches the meeting place he knew his brother would be hiding at. He had lost the fake agent at his burner apartment at least, his main home being a secret location far away from this city, and easily reachable within an hour of teleportation from the city. He figured she was Crey, because not even Longbow knows his brothers identity, if only because he never used his real name in any of his transgressions before he went vigilante. And finding his brother at the safehouse, he was glad to see the man safely sitting and watching television in civilian attire.

    Maybe he wasn't being targeted, because he doubt he would just be sitting there and not be- He then noticed a flicker, as the hologram was disturbed for a moment, and he feels the heat of a fiery fist at his neck. "Tell me the codeword," a gruff voice says, "I need to know if you are who you say you are." Sweating from the heat, Nathaniel swallows hard.

    "Dark Storm rules, Drastorm drools, and may I say, I always hated that codeword," he says, "We need to change it to something less insulting to both of us." Chuckling, Drake turns his brother around and hugs him, as he disperses the fire quickly. "Yes, yes, I'm happy to see you, but I need to know what happened," Nathaniel asks, "Some lady came to 'ask for my help' and I'm pretty sure she's realized I'm a superhero by now, and no doubt has wrecked my burner apartment." Nodding, Drake leads him a ways away, and sits down under a water tower.

    "It was a simple job, Longbow needed a Crey file, I intercepted the man who was carrying the info, a nasty psionic by the way, I believe he was either a natural or newly enhanced Crey test subject," Drake says, "He had some training, but he was sloppy and I got the upper hand, took a briefcase with some files, stole some computer information, and got out of there with my heels on fire, but somehow they framed me for the deaths of thirty scientists, of which there were none when I assaulted the facility, except for a bunch of security and non-combatant personnel I ignored."

    "What were they doing with this information?" Nathaniel asks, "Waht did they want so bad?" Drake shrugs, and continues on.

    "Some kind of high tech formula that would allow Crey to cross dimensions with ease, open up a whole new field of science at the same time," Drake says, "They corner the market on alternate realities, and sell their tech to science institutes, villains, the whole shebang." At this Nathaniel was confused.

    "But, what about Portal tech?" Nathaniel asks, "What about Praetoria, and Ouroboros, and the Rikti, what would that accomplish, when people already know about this stuff?" It was Drake's turn to be confused.

    "What are you talking about?" he asks, "Are the Rikti some kind of new band with a weirdly named singer?" Nathan is on high alert, and quickly begins to step backwards, hitting a solid object. Turning, he sees the blonde behind him, the woman he had met this morning.

    "Why did you have to question him?" Mary Sue asks, "Now look at him, he's dead by your hands." Turning, Nathaniel sees a bloody knife in his hands, and sees his brother lying in a pool of his own blood, gasping for air.

    "No, no," Nathainel says, shaking, "This isn't real, it c-can't eb real, I'm not evil, I'm a hero, I d-don't k-kill, not my own-" He stops, as his shadow seems to take form, evil red eyes peering back at him, a shadow clone with eyes of death and terror. Reaching out, hand taking the bloody knife from his now limp hand, the shadow seems to stretch and smile wickedly, bringing up the dripping knife over his head, and plunging it downwards. "NO!" Drake says, as he shatters the shadow, and the world begins to fall apart.



    \\\ Classified Temporal Anomaly, Designation: Tidepool


    Drake is sweating as he hangs in space above a raging battle, backdropped by the massive obsidian sphere made of an impossible god-metal, one which defied time and space by sheer willpower of its creator. The blonde is now unmasked and unconscious in his arms, a young woman of twenty or so years. She whimpers in her sleep, as she seems haunted by her own nightmares. In his other hand, encased with a sphere of energy, lies the remaining power of Redjac, the nightmare world having been his creation, and now severely weakened because of the expenditure of energy. Closing his fist on the energy sphere, the dying screams of the un-killable entity howls, as it is re-dispersed to its point of origin, echoing out into the void and lost in the sounds of battle.

    He was back here again, and he had one last enemy to face, one last chance to set things right, and one last chance to prove Q2 right, by placing his trust in him. First he had to figure out why this girl played by Trelane's rules. "Mary," he says, gently shaking her awake, "Wake up, Redjac is gone, he can't hurt you." Soft tears fall from her eyes as she awakens, as she sees the kind face of Drake. Panicking, she tries to get away, only to find her powers gone and returned to their most base state, as she realizes where they are.

    "Home," she says, terror lacing her words, "All of it for nothing, a second chance to become again, and I'm back in this void!" At this Drake is beginning to understand her motives, if not why she fell for Trelane's empty promises. "Why did you save me?" she asks, "Are you just going to leave me here and condemn me to my fate, like all the others did?" Looking at her in surprise, he was at a loss for words, before he finds his tongue again.

    "No, I want to understand why you helped Trelane," Drake replies, "Why trap me in a world of my delusions, why let Redjac feast on my fears?" Tears begin to build up in her eyes, as if she was ashamed to answer his accusations. "Did- did he promise you a life in our world?" Drake asks, "He won't deliver, he didn't help Cerin, he didn't help Redjac, Kes was always doomed to fail, and he won't help you out of unselfish motives, so tell me, who are you?" Balling up, she almost breaks down, before a calm breath and a cold response follows.

    "You think I didn't figure it out, eventually, after I saw you, after watching you face his challenges?" Mary responds, "I see him even now, just below us, that battle is his last stand, and from what I've seen, you were there before, and you helped them win once, you have a power that rivals his, and you can make a difference again." She has an emotionless mask, though tears seem to break it down. "Me, I'm just a forgotten mistake, a woman who never was," Mary says, "Ensign Mary Sue, she was just a way for me to interact with them, until she died and I remained, and they forgot, until He forgot me..." She sniffs, and Drake sympathizes with her.

    "You're right Mary, I can make a difference, but I think I'm going to need your help, after all," Drake says, "You aren't nobody, you're a Q, or at least on the way to becoming one from what I've seen of your power, so I need your help most of all, Mary Sue vs. Trelane, let him see you are no ones puppet." Smiling now, Mary Sue chuckles, as she leans in to listen to his plan.



    \\\ Above the Ouroboros Sphere



    The battle raged on, as timeship battled timeship, Chronus vs. Paradox, Titanite Vs. R'yleh. Gregs was somewhere below, instructing his past self how to use his version of the Pillar as a piezoelectric amplifier, tuning Gregs back into his whole self, fixing his temporal problems, and sending cementing his past self into continuing his role as Nathaniel 'Drake' Sotrmbaucher. Braxton had betrayed them once more, Vorrik had no doubt returned to his own ship to keep the R'yleh at bay in the ensuing chaos, and Trelane was no doubt once again gloating about his superiority, and that he knew what was going to happen next. In the mean time, his past self had no doubt by now hooked up the shard of Ice and Flame to the Kyana's temporal weapon which would theoretically send him into the past, before the beginning of this universe, along with the empty sphere which had caused this mess in the first place. All they had to do was rob Trelane of his power, then send him back in time. Simple, right?



    "No, doubt you think you've one, no doubt you think you have a slim margin of chance at winning against me," Trelane gloats, "You forgot my last line of defense, the last curveball I have to throw, you faced Redjac, Cerin, Typhon, my evil Kes, but you have yet to face... Mary Sue!" Breaking down into crazed, maniacal laughter, he watches as Mary Sue teleports next to him, close enough to touch him. "Now, what do you have to say to that?" Trelane gloats, "My last bit of Q energy, contained within a vessel of this pocket universe, and she will empower-whuh?" Suddenly he feels his energy being drained, as he notices Mary Sue touching his shoulder. "What are you doing?" he demands, throwing the woman away from him, and toward the assembled masses, "You thought you could drain me, you thought you could take MY power?" Laughing, he empowers his fist and shoots a beam of energy towards the Kyana. "Without this, you have no hope!" he shouts, "You wasted your last chance to kill me, you only tried to siphon my power away, you just didn't take enough."

    Suddenly Mary Sue is in the way of the beam, and is damaged as she is hit. Wincing, she shocks Trelane by her selfless act, as she begins to fade away into bubbles of raw energy. "You fool, I could have given you power, they forgot you, why would you help them, still?" Trelane asks, "Why waste your last few moments of life on humans, when you could have been my queen?" She smiles bitterly at Trelane.

    "You can't understand, you don't have empathy," she says, her voice hollowing, "I remembered who I was in the end, Trelane, I once was a Starfleet Officer, I once was kind, and forgiving, and good; I lost my way, I found it again, but your time is up, your chances are gone-" She fades away, and Trelane's anger boils again.

    "Well, what are you waiting for, attack me if you dare," he shouts in anger, a destructive aura rolling off in waves form the enraged man-child, "I am God, you are bugs, what do you think you can do to me?" Suddenly Trelane feels his arms being restrained, as he turns to see Drake locking him in, and feeling his energy being drained and expelled from both of them, Drake merely smirks at him.

    "They were a distraction, for me to do this," he says, pulling his grip harder, restraining him harder, "That way they could have a chance, no matter the cost." Suddenly they burning feels more intense to Trelane, as power burns away from the both of them, weakening him greatly.

    "What are you doing?" Trelane asks, "You're giving up godhood just to die by my vengeful hands?" Drake laughs excitedly.

    "No, I'm dying a heroes death, you pig," he responds harshly, "You were always going on about honor and valor, you were too blind to see you trudging deeper and deeper into the mire of selfishness and delusion." Trelane sees a glint of light in Drake's eyes, and a wicked smile crosses the heroes face. "And here is our ride, right on schedule," Drake says, "Fire now Gregs, give it all she's got, and don't you dare think you can save me.." The chroniton lance strikes out, harsh glow seeming to stretch out into eternity until it seems to freeze as it strikes Trelane, removing him from this universe. Drake smiles, knowing he couldn't do anything, knowing everything was going to be all right now. He hoped his crew would forgive him, he hoped Nilona was going to be alright, he hoped, and he hoped-

    And Natahniel Drake 'Drastorm' Stormbaucher, was-

    (End Part One)







  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 639 Arc User
    edited September 2016
    Second Chance at Happiness (Part 2 of ?)
    "Highwayman" by The Highwaymen

    "The Sound Of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel


    Hello darkness, my old friend
    I've come to talk with you again
    Because a vision softly creeping
    Left its seeds while I was sleeping
    And the vision that was planted in my brain
    Still remains
    Within the sound of silence

    In restless dreams I walked alone
    Narrow streets of cobblestone
    ‘Neath the halo of a streetlamp
    I turned my collar to the cold and damp
    When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
    That split the night
    And touched the sound of silence

    And in the naked light I saw
    Ten thousand people, maybe more
    People talking without speaking
    People hearing without listening
    People writing songs that voices never share
    No one dare
    Disturb the sound of silence

    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence

    And the people bowed and prayed
    To the neon god they made
    And the sign flashed out its warning
    In the words that it was forming
    And the sign said “The words of the prophets
    Are written on the subway walls
    And tenement halls
    And whispered in the sounds of silence”


    Hearing the last few spits of a radio sputtering out, Drake opened his eyes to the vast, blue sky. His eyes saw the last few seconds of cloudy shade, before feeling the burning desert heat on his face, as the sun shone bright and hot where he lay. He quickly realized he was laying on hot tarmac, and quickly brushed off the phantom burning sensation. Taking a look around, he realizes he is a stones throw away from an old gasoline station, with a drive-in diner across the street. The diner seemed to be one of those old ones, seemingly rebuilt and pristine, but definitely a look taken from the fifties.

    Where else would they get a name like the 'The New Continuum Drive-In: Breakfast, Launch n' Diner'. The name was built on a neon rocket, overlaid on a blacklight and neon, spiral galaxy; it was just too cheesy not to be inspired by an era immersed in science fiction.

    He hears a song pick up, this time Red Rose Cafe performed by Celtic Thunder, a favorite of his from when he saw their concert in '04. 'Home,' Drake thinks to himself, 'Haven't thought about it in forever; what I wouldn't give for a slice of Gramm's Cherry pie and her lemonade.' Shaking his head out of the clouds, he brushes the dust off his clothes, and makes his way towards the diner. "Maybe they can tell me where I am," he says to himself, "Maybe let me get a bite to eat, now that I think about it..." Walking past the row of parked cars, tinted windows obscuring any view of the people inside, Drake finds himself watching the waitress on roller skates, who zooms around him more than once to deposit her cargo of food.

    He wasn't sluggish by any means, but watching the lost art of waiting on skates, was like seeing an ice skater perform in person. He had grown up in an world and age of fast food or make it yourself meals, and had heard that there were still mom and pop Shoppe's like this, scattered across the country, though nowhere near the Rhode Island he had once lived in.

    Rubbing out a crick in his neck, he goes inside the dining area, intent on getting whatever they would offer him, if he had anything to pay with. Not seeing a waiter or any other patrons, besides a balding man reading a newspaper at the counter, Drake takes one of the menu's on the counter and sits down at a stool. Eyeing through the various meals, he decides on a chili-hamburger with fries, a cola, a slice of cherry pie and a glass of lemonade to wash it down. He then prepared himself to get whatever he could beg off them, as he realizes he doesn't have any money, certainly none whatever this era had, would except.

    "Food's on the house, hon'," he hears a sweet voice sound, as he hears the clatter of ceramic plates hit the countertop, and the sound of a soda tab filling up a glass of ice, clinking together as it is set down next to the plate. The blonde waitress, whose name tag read 'Amanda', had set down a plate of fries and the exact hamburger he had been thinking about, as well as the cherry pie with a glass of lemonade to the side, behind the tall glass of cold cola. He would have thought it strange and asked how she knew, if the waitress hadn't skated off and out the backdoor, continuing to deliver food to other customers outside.
    Not wanting to be rude and refuse the offer of food, he began to dig into his burger and fries with gusto, not realizing how hungry he was, wherever this place was. Slacking his thirst with the cola, he took the time to look around between bites of food, enjoying the atmosphere of the diner. He saw pictures of celebrities pasted across the walls, their names written underneath, and their faces familiar to him from his study of history. Idris Elba, Jason Mathew Smith, Fiona Vroom, Henry Winkler, Saul Rubinek, Brent Spiner, James Darren, Majel Barrett, and others lined the walls in collages. Finally his eyes landed on a jukebox in the back, pristine and shining in the back.

    Taking the time to get up from his food, wiping his hands on a napkin left for him, Drake gets up and approaches the music player. It appears to be able to play a mix of vinyl records and compact music discs, when he notices that the machine needs some form of token to play it. Disappointed, Drake goes to leave, when he notices a gleam from under the edge of the player. Reaching down, he grabs a shiny, golden coin. Examining it, he notices the token has the same spiral galaxy as the sign, on one side, and on the other the words 'Hominem te memento moris', which puzzles him, as his Latin is rusty.

    Grabbing a book of songs, and seeing he could remove it and take it to his seat, he decides to eat while contemplating how to spend this precious coin. Sitting back down, he notices his drink has been topped off, he hadn't even heard the woman skate back inside. Seeing only the other man, who seemed so preoccupied in his paper, Drake shrugged and went back to eating, before he gets curious. He noticed while the other man sipped at his coffee, his face remained obscured by the large pages blocking Drake's view, before then setting his cup down and grabbing for a piece of apple strudel, which sat on a small dessert plate nearby.

    The man hadn't acknowledged him once, which was odd since they had so few seats between him, as well as the fact it was odd to find him drinking hot coffee off a desert road, but all people had their oddities. "Excuse me?" Drake offers up weakly, trying to get the mans attention, "Do you happen to know when the waitress is getting back, I had some questions for her, about this coin, and let me know where exactly I am?"

    Sighing, the man sets down his strudel, before closing his paper, folding it up and setting it down on the counter. "Well, I can't say I didn't see this coming," the balding, older man says, "But you, Drake, are at a crossroads, of sorts." Drake has a fuzzy recollection of this man, but he can't seem to recall why he recognizes him.

    "I-I'm sorry, do I k-know you?" he asks, feeling the beginnings of a headache coming on, and the phantom feeling of burning in his right side. Quickly he snaps out of it, when he feels the other man put a hand to his shoulder.

    "I'm sorry Drake, I shouldn't have kept you in the dark, but I couldn't have you questioning too much, let alone leave you panicking," the man says, "We removed quite a bit of your memories, mainly to keep you happy, but I think it's time we allow you to remember..." Snapping his fingers, Q2 restores Drakes memories. Drakes face contorts for a moment, before settling into one of barely concealed rage.

    "What is it they say, Q?" He asks the older man, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions?" Q is straight faced as he sizes up the irritated man.

    "It's cold comfort, we know- I know," Q2 states, "But as your dear Vulcan Ambassador had always, famously stated: 'The needs of the many, outweigh the few, or the one '; paraphrasing I'm sure." Drake looks into Q2's eyes, seeing a mist of regret and pain, perhaps even sorrow behind them.

    "Tell me Q2, why are you really doing this for me?" He asks, "I made a sacrifice for the greater good, I pay the price, sure, but why give me this; why would the Continuum care that I die happy?" Q looks almost bitter, before his frown turns into a sigh, and he is massaging his forehead.

    "Their not, they don't care, they think my doing this is a risk unto itself, preventing your death for this long," Q2 replies, "I've only had three proponents that agreed to let me do this, sparing me enough of their attention and power to create this pocket of reality between time." Q2 puts his hands on the countertop, and grips the paper in his hands. "The Q- this whole event shouldn't have happened, Trelane is- was-" Q2 stops, trying to get the words out, frustration evident on his face, "Trelane- my 'adoptive' son, caused his existence to be caught in an endless loop, this version of Trelane, should have met the same fate..."

    "But he isn't, and now he's being- been outcast again," Drake says, "But why am I collateral damage?" Q2 looks at him, pityingly like a child who doesn't understand.

    "Because giving you a way out, while his focus and his power was all on you, means we could inadvertently open a new way for him to escape this fate," Q2 says, "We don't know what could happen if we tried to save you, and I couldn't get any of the others to agree to saving you, but I could make this, I could use this place, as a way to give you happiness in your final moments..."

    "Giving me a 'last meal', so to speak," Drake replies ruefully, "I give them back their power, stop Trelane long enough so he could be removed, watched as someone who I knew little about, who opposed me, sacrifice their own being to aid me; and the Continuum has the gall to let me die without a 'thank you'." Drake just digs absentmindedly into his pie, taking the motion to eat another bite, before setting down his fork. Standing up, he takes the lemonade and downs the rest of the glass, slamming it down, just enough to startle Q briefly.

    "Thank you for carrying enough Q2, tell Q and Junior thanks as well, since I'm sure they were the only other ones to care about me," Drake says, walking over to the jukebox, inserting the coin he had found, "Tell Amanda thanks for the food, the pie was exactly as I remembered it; not even my ships replicator could get it right, because there was no love put into making it."

    The song starts to play, and Drake doesn't even hesitate to head for the door as it warms up. "Tell the Continuum to not forget this sacrifice, tell them they should be afraid," Drake says, "Afraid their callousness and paranoia leads them down a path you 'enlightened beings' believe is bellow your notice; take a memo from a 'mere' mortal's perspective: you may just as well create the very thing you're afraid off, by trying to stop everything." Walking out the door, crossing the threshold between the sterile diner and the dusty desert road, Nathaniel Stormbaucher, leaves it all behind him.



    I was a highwayman. Along the coach roads I did ride
    With sword and pistol by my side
    Many a young maid lost her baubles to my trade
    Many a soldier shed his lifeblood on my blade
    The b*stards hung me in the spring of twenty-five
    But I am still alive.

    I was a sailor. I was born upon the tide
    And with the sea I did abide.
    I sailed a schooner round the Horn to Mexico
    I went aloft and furled the mainsail in a blow
    And when the yards broke off they said that I got killed
    But I am living still.

    I was a dam builder across the river deep and wide
    Where steel and water did collide
    A place called Boulder on the wild Colorado
    I slipped and fell into the wet concrete below
    They buried me in that great tomb that knows no sound
    But I am still around..I'll always be around..and around and around and
    around and around

    I fly a starship across the Universe divide
    And when I reach the other side
    I'll find a place to rest my spirit if I can
    Perhaps I may become a highwayman again
    Or I may simply be a single drop of rain
    But I will remain
    And I'll be back again,
    and again
    and again
    and again
    and again...

    (To Be Continued?)
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 639 Arc User
    edited September 2016
    Fair warning, gets a bit... descriptively graphic, and highly imagitive. No blood, but, umm, may weird some people out.

    Psyched for Second Chances

    "Where do you think you're going?" Q2 asks Drake, as he watches from the Diner's door. Drake waves him off and continues walking away from the Diner.

    "Anywhere but here," Drake responds, hopping off the pathway and onto a grassy lawn, "Fun fact, when brushing up on the Delta Quadrant and having the clearance of an Admiral, obscure logs tend to pop up when you're bored spending time hunting Underspace ghosts."

    Q's interest is piqued, and he walks from the diner towards Drake. "Like the trial of that Q imprisoned in a comet, wherein Janeway describes having visited a place very similar to this," Drake continues, "and it also mentions that the road, very much like this one, was said to lead right back to the beginning; essentially and endless road." Waving goodbye, Drake turns to continue walking away.

    "That road won't end well for you, once you reach its end, you're time here is up," Q2 says, "You think your logic works here, but your time has already been counted, and I'm sorry, your time here is failing fast." Drake is crossing a bush and walks onto the dusty road, before turning back towards the Q.

    "You think I don't know that?" Drake states plainly, "I can feel my veins burning, but I will defy this fate as long as I can..." Drake staggers, clutching his chest, beads of sweat on his brow, but defiance in his eyes as he straightens himself out and continues to walk limply. "I- I was a damn... mender of time, I fought gods and m-monsters of unimaginable size and power," Drake says, "With my friends, my enemies, and my allies by my side, I fought destiny to the end, I fought against the odds, and I will fight this..." Suddenly Drake stumbles, and falls into a shadow. Looking up weakly, he sees a man standing over him, looking down, as Q2 joins him.

    "Who?," he asks as the shadow moves, the mans face becomes clearer, and Drake chuckles, "Did anyone ever tell you, you look like James Roday?" Kneeling down, the man gives him a cold and blank inspection.

    "Your logic was sound, but you forget whose Continuum this is," the man, who Drake assumes is another Q, "Your presence here has already caused ripples, your part in stopping the abnormality is over, your continued existence here is wrong." Getting to his knees, Drake defiantly looks this James Roday look-a-like in the face and smiles.

    "Bite me," Drake says. The cold exterior breaks into a smirk, the Q stands up and chuckles softly.

    "You truly don't understand, do you?" the Q says, looking towards Q2, "You chose quite the stubborn inheritor, and he doesn't even understand how honored he should feel, for the Continuum to allow this farce to continue." Q2 grabs for Drake, and helps him to stand, as his body tries to buckle under him, the pain growing worse. "I speak for the Continuum, and the Continuum has made their decision, without your opinion Q," the Q says, "I was appointed to make this painless, but by keeping this event in stasis your timeline has been eaten away, your life has been unwound and frayed, unless this ends, unless this dream end."

    Drake stares at the man, looking in his eyes, before he looks down, spots of liquid eaten by the dust, where tears fall. "I will take that as a yes," the Q says, reaching out his hand where Drake's heart is, moving his jacket to the side, revealing a pulsing, black corruption, within an empty hole where flesh should be, "Your time is at an end, Drake Stormbauch, know the Q were not heartless, not all of them." Replacing the jacket, the Q moves his hand, and snaps.
    Drake's world turns white, as the ringing in his ears drown out everything, until even that is gone.

    \\\\\\\

    Risa, After Drake's Departure

    "No, no, Drake what have you done!" Gregs says, crying, feeling the memories fade away, trying to piece the void where his friend had once been, "I- why... why am I crying... I know... D- D-" Suddenly kicking the nearest object, splintering the chair his foot hits, ignoring the pain. He remembers a fuzzy afterimage, it was a human, he was male, he was tactical, he was his roommate during his last year at the academy... His name was, his name was...... Gregs feels the name slip away, the memories becoming fuzzy, but there, but they were failing and Gregs was sure he wouldn't remember the Captain of the... I.S.S. Clo-. He lost the name, it was- He couldn't remember, he-

    He had a name, he had... Nilona! She was left behind when they left, when... Shaking himself out of his stupor, and pushing away the medical team, Gregs watches as an Ocampa woman comes close to him, and he recognizes her, in the same blurry way he recognizes the man he was forgetting. "Don't worry, I exist outside of time, Drake made sure I could do this, for him, for his crew, for the sake of Nilona," she says, "My name is Kes, and I was brought here to let you know everything that has transpired over the past several months, ever since you came home." He looked at the woman like she was crazy, but who was he to judge.

    \ Medical Wing, Nilona's Room

    The Borg woman was currently in her coma, the specialist having just arrived at the same time Gregs and Kes had approached the room. With a bit of coaxing from the Ocampan, the medical team let them in, as the Cooperative specialist looks toward the new intruders.

    "I'm sorry," the liberated Beatzoid states, "Unless you are family, or receive a notary from Starfleet Command, I must ask you to refrain from intruding on my patient's privacy!" She attempts to push Gregs away, but Kes slips by and is at Nilona's side. "Hey, you can't-" she starts, before the monitors light up in a spray of information, "What have you done to her?"

    "I haven't even touched her," Kes replies, showing she had her hands were still by her side, "She is reacting to something else-" Suddenly Nilona's eyes flash open, and Gregs finds himself at her side, as she tries to mouth something.
    Leaning in, he tries to hear her words.

    "In- in- in-initiate defense protocol Ouro-b-b-boros," she whispers, "Temp- temp- temp-temporal sync, shields raised, incursion de- de- detected, This Unit will activate Sync, cycle started..." Suddenly her eyes close and she seems to go catatonic once more, as her heart rate returns to normal, and her implants seem to go into a resting mode. Gregs is disappointed he wouldn't get any answers from her, until he noticed REM movement behind her eyelids.

    "There's a rapid increase of acetylcholine within the hippocampus," the liberated Talaxian specialist states, as she returns the scanner to its place, "It appears your assumptions were right, she appears to have accumulated... this can't be right; she's accumulated twenty five years of memories, there's nothing that should account for this..." Suddenly Nilona gasps as she sits upright, Gregs standing by her side and the specialist looking at her in surprise.

    "Nilona to Highwayman," the Borg officer says staring out into space, "Initiate Ouroboros protocol, transport designate: Son'aire 01, First Officer Nilona, six cycles then establish temporary isolation protocol Delta." After a few moments of hesitation, Gregs reaches to ask her what she was going on about, before he feels the tingling sensation of a transporter.

    \\ An Old Hiding Place

    White was all he saw, harsh and burning, causing him to blink in pain, moistening his eyes. Then he saw the white had depth, and the light, was coming from above him. Sitting up, Drake sees he had been lying on a sterile table, in a concave, fully white, paneled room. Confused and disoriented from pain, Drake tries to stand, before the sliding of a door causes him to pause, and he notices a hallway, where a dark robed figure walks into view. Moving his hood down, Drake finds himself staring down a humanoid man, with serpent features, like a forked tongue and strange looking eyes.

    "Hello Drake Stormbaucher, allow me to introduce myself to you," the brunette man says extending his hand, "I am known here as Ophidian, but I was once known as the Being called Typhon, before Trelane interfered..." Drake looks to the man confused, before he remembers him, the man who was supposed to have been tossed out of time.

    "You, weren't you an Oracle, the last time I had seen you, old and greying?" Drake asks, his memories becoming less fuzzy, "I, thought Trelane killed you when he pushed you into the Nexus?"

    "In a way, he did," the Being responds, "But he didn't expect that same temporal event to recharge me, to lead me here, back to the beggining of it all..." Offering his hand, the Being leads Drake outside.
    Hobbling in a corridor reminiscent of the Solanae Dyson Sphere, Ophidian leads Drake to another door. "Where are we?" Drake asks, "When are we, besides 'the beginning'? Ophidian smiles before opening the door, revealing empty space ahead of him, as Drake stares in awe at the sight before him.

    "Welcome to Cronus' Admantine Sphere, Tartarus, the island of Mu, Atlantis, and many other names lost throughout our history, forged by a Titan using Omega as his power source," Ophidian states, "Held together by pure will, a sphere that could contain the monsters of the previous universe, unfit for life in the next, and the tomb of Cronus himself, traveler of time and space, Titan Primus, true progenitor of the Beings of our universe." Ophidian then points to the center, where a rainbow of energy cycles throughout the center, where the power source would be, arcing around a sphere of light. "And eternal prison of Trelane, would-be god and titan of lies," Ophidian states, 'This will be his tomb, as it will be mine."

    "Your tomb?" Drake says, "Don't you mean ours?" He laughs weakly at his own joke, before Ophidian leads him to the center of the platform, on a heightened platform. Humoring the human, Ophidian smiles, before he walks toward a console, leaning against it and smiling hard.

    "You're right, Drake, it is 'our' tomb, mine... and Trelane's," Ophidian says, as he pulls a lever on the console, and a screen of rainbow light surrounds Drake and the platform he was standing on, "You see Drake, my Father misjudged his own work, he made it to well, too perfect..." Drake is knocking on the shimmering forcefield, as Ophidian gives him a sad smile. "If this sphere survives the creation of the next universe, then its inhabitants will to, and I cannot stand to see this monster ruin more lives, to ruin your future because of your sacrifice," Ophidian says, now outright laughing at this, "It's ironic really, I always knew what my next cycle was, I saw him, he saved me and he brought me here, to help you."

    "What are you talking about?" Drake yells, "What is this, what are you planning?" Drake is confused, as Ophidian reaches into his pocket, and brings out a blue vial, which seemed to shimmer like an oil slick in the light of the sphere.

    "Devidian blood, the most dangerous thing my father had ever retrieved before his death, just enough to distill into the last serum he ever made," Ophidian says, as lights lash and energy surges at the center, "He knew this would happen, he knew I would follow him here, that Trelane would be outcast to this prison by your friends, that he would escape." Breaking the seal and tipping the vile potion to his lips, the Being drank greedily of its contents. "It's sad, that he foresaw all this and couldn't even return to let me know, he had left just enough charge to send one last person through the event and into the next universe," he says hysterically, as his face seems to contort, and his skin ripples, "And I'm using it to send you home.

    Suddenly spitting up a black ichor, the Being falls to the ground, hidden from view behind the console. Reaching up from behind the console a bulbous, misshapen hand, blue veins pulsing in a sickening, alien fashion, finds perch and pulls up the malformed body of the once-Being. Drake was to horrified by the sight he saw, as flesh pulsed with ichor beneath his veins, killing Ophidian and replacing him with some inhuman thing. Pushing what buttons he could, as the changes ripple across his body, with alien chitin bursting through skin and replacing flesh, the machine hums to life.

    The snake, having finally shed his skin, was then struck by a stray energy discharge, build up from the return mechanisms activation. Grey-blue turns brilliant, as Ophidian is powered and completes his transformation. "Ouroboros, the Titan of death and rebirth," Drake whispers under his younger, the alien figure glows in front of him, not quite any Devidian he had seen before, nor anything humanoid beyond form was left of the old Being. The approximation of the mouth smiles at Drake, before turning to the center of the sphere.

    'Prepare yourself, Drake,' the Titan says in his mind, 'Watch as my Father's work burns, torn asunder by a weapon of his own making, his own son.' Trelane was now fully awake, but it mattered not, as the Sphere itself was being torn apart piece by piece by the very prescience of the Titan. 'To undo the damage and return you to your proper world, let it be as Ouroboros decrees,' the Titan proclaims, 'This sphere must not survive, Trelane will not be alive, but you Drake, watch as the beginnings of your universe bring 'Ragnarok' to the last testament of the Being Cronus, and so end the reign of Titans.'
    The White was all consuming, as space, time, and nothingness collide, tearing apart the sphere, the colorful energy drained from the power source, and overpowered by the destructive forces held back by the will of a dead god, now consuming Trelane and the many things imprisoned within. Drake watched as Ouroboros took the force full on, laughing all the way, until it hit the energy field surrounding Drake. A bolt of rainbow light struck through, hitting Drake and blinding him in his left eye. His world was blurring, his vision fading, the laughter ringing in his ears.

    And once more, the white consumed him.

    / The End

    Waking to the void, where the sole, inky-black remnant of protomatter and stardust, collapses and forms a black hole, where Ouroboros awakens anew. He feels his energy leaking, bubbling out, weakening him until he just keeps cohesion, returning toward the colorful rainbow of light, just beyond his view, a ribbon of hope. He was alive, though below he feels the chaos trying to escape; white bubbles of anti-time trying to assert itself and separate from his new prison. It was as if It were alive, trying to assert entropy and yet remove it all together, to form some thing... Perhaps it was the last vestige of Trelane's will, trying to renew itself. Ouroboros had partly failed, this he knew, but perhaps this would be a fitting penance; after all he still had his past self to guide. He would hold the weight of time on his shoulders, and keep Trelane from ever returning, no matter the cost. No matter how long it took.

    / Highwayman, In Orbit of Risa, Present

    "Luciem, Mr. Zero, good to see you here," the Liberated Romulan woman says, to the Hologram and the 0718 Model, "Gentleman, isolation protocols are in effect, monitor temporal foam readings, we need to know what happened to Drake." Turning to Gregs, Nilona stares at him for a second, studying him. "And you; you and I have to talk," she says, ending all conversation. She leads the alien captain away, towards a door, which leads to a furnished Captain's quarters. She sits on the edge of a desk, and offers the nearest seat for him to sit at.

    "I don't understand, how did you become First Officer of this ship, who is Drake?" Gregs asks, "And why do you want to talk to me here?" She looks off to the side, towards a picture faced away from Gregs. She reaches out and handles the picture, smiling favorably at its contents.

    "In the year 2837, my Father was assigned to build a ship, he was an Engineer by trade, his work took him to the year 3012, where he helped make a single piece of history, a part crafted for use in a ship like this," Nilona says, focusing on the picture, "In this case a high powered bio-neural circuit, one of many used in the unique molecular reconstruction this ship requires to cycle through defensive, offensive, and regenerative power; which can be used in a molecular deconstruction beam that will heal or harden this ship, or make it easier for us to destroy our enemies." Gregs is puzzled at this knowledge.

    "Should you- be telling me this?" Gregs asks, "I mean, I don't really see this point-"

    "Bio-neural circuitry, like many things, has changed, it- it means more than it did in your time, these ships are more than just mindless vessels," Nilona says, "The chip my father made, it became a piece of the ships temporal core, a connection of memories and stored logs of people who lived on the ship; a living brain that could store memories outside of time and never forget." Taking the photo out of the picture frame, she flips it over and hands it towards Gregs, who takes it cautiously. "It's the last memento we could save from the Clockwork, before Drake's command of it was erased upon his removal," she says, while Gregs inspects it, she chooses to continue speaking, "It was taken back in '06, just before your final exams and placement on the Blazing Ion, as you knew it."

    Gregs sees himself in his academy dress gear, next to a fresh recruit in scrubs that suggested he had just come from combat practice of some form. Blonde hair, obviously dyed as brunette hair showed at the roots, and green eyes shining with laughter, as he hangs his arm around Gregs neck. Gregs is sad to say he doesn't remember this event ever happening. "I- I don't remember him," Gregs says, as he moves his hand to his eyes, feeling a tear, "W-why am I crying?" Nilona looks pityingly at him, sadly taking the picture back as he offers it to her.

    "It's a psychological effect caused because of the picture, you're in tune with time, remember the piezoelectric tuning?" she says, "You won't remember everything, but you'll gets spots of memory back, here and there, as your memories sync back up; it wouldn't have been possible if I hadn't taken you before time solidified, when the temporal alterations became permanent once Drake was... removed."

    "Because we stopped Trelane, because he kept him busy," Gregs says, "When the Kyana removed them to the past, to before..." Nilona smiles.

    "Beginning to remember are we?" she says hopeful, "I had thought it would take longer..." Gregs stands, as he begins thinking, brushing off Nilona's comments. He moves to the back of the desk, noticing something odd.

    "Has this always been here?" Gregs asks, talking about a paperweight on the desk, a small rock, "We were talking, and I had looked here, this wasn't here, and now it is." Nilona looks at the paperweight, seemingly unimpressed.

    "I don't think so, I would have remembered something like this being here, let me check my internal files," she says, zoning out as she searches her recent memory, "Hmm- you're right, this wasn't here when we entered the room."

    "Oh, hum, any other boring observations you want to make?" a new voice adds, as both officers jump at the new presence, "I mean, we could continue this endless drivel, but really, let's jump to the meat of the issue: where is Drake Stormbaucher?" The new man was young and scruffy looking, but Gregs seemed to recognize him.

    "Why do you look like James Roday?" Gregs asks. Suddenly a balding man appears at the doorway, which shifts open and draws their attention to him.

    "Because this Q likes cameos, but never mind that, he rudely interrupted your conversation, because he is impatient," the balding Q says, "Nice to meet you Gregs, Nilona, I am called Q2, I'm afraid we're here because of the Continuum."

    "Yes, the vaunted, highly omnipotent order of beings your simple minds could hardly fathom," the other Q states, "Has noticed a shift and have come to... correct it." Q2 is rubbing his forehead, as he just looks at the other Q in disbelief.

    "Do you- are you really serious right now?" Q2 says, walking up to the other Q and slapping him upside the head, "That kind of thinking is what got Q banished, why would you be talking like that?" The other Q looks hurt, pouting, until Q2 turns to the confused officers. "I- I apologize for the young Q's outburst," he says sighing, "We're here- now that we've interfered- to tell you Drake has been returned to the universe, albeit in an unconventional form, and that you need to act fast to restore him, before he is lost to you forever."

    "25 years of accumulated memories!" Gregs says, suddenly dawning on him, "The Cooperative specialist said you had the acetycholine levels that were equal to gaining 25 years of memory, and you were in a coma..." Nilona is puzzled, before she puts her hand to her implants.

    "I have a cortical implant though, it couldn't, it shouldn't be able to handle a massive input like that, it would have blocked and rerouted whatever memories- I have a temporal circuit, meant to store massive amounts of data," Nilona says, "It would have rerouted it to there, store it so information could be dumped and sorted through later through a vinculum; it was a vestige design from the old Borg Collective, no one had ever encountered a need to use it before..." Gregs faces Nilona, and looks her in the eyes.

    "Could we extract it, the memories, separate his consciousness from yours?" Gregs asks, "Transporter duplication, or holographic interface." Nilona's eyes light up with a smile.

    "I can do you one better," she says with delightful mirth. Q and Q2 both smile, and blink away in a flash of light.

    \Later

    Nilona is standing by the transporter controls, Gregs standing nearby, as the holographic emitter on the transporter pad sits idle. "Transfer complete, information has been backed up from my cortical node into the emitter," Nilona states, nodding towards Gregs, "Initiate transporter, isolate buffer patterns, and separate Drake from the emitter, and materialize; it's simple." Nodding, unconvinced, Gregs initiates his commands, while Nilona begins the process. "Initiating transport- now!" Nilona says, as the beams shimmer and dissappear, "Isolating patterns- strengthening integrity of buffer, temporal core backup transporter file found and active, initiating sync- there, reinitializing transport!" Suddenly the rainbow hue of the transporter begins, until it flickers.

    "Cohesion is failing, temporal synchronization is in flux, the pattern is bouncing between two separate signals," Gregs announces from his console, "Compensating, strengthening signal, separating the redundant pattern, and - we're good!" The transporter signal strengthens, and Drake appears on the pad, falling to the ground as he laughs in relief, seeing Nilona and Gregs in front of him.

    "You- you brought me back!" he says, before falling to the ground, unconcious. Running to his prone form, Nilona checks his vitals, and sees a scar marring his face.

    "Drake..." she says sympathetically, "What happened to you?" Suddenly she heard a groan from behind.

    "Oh furies be damned..." the new voice says, echoing, "What in the Statesman's name hit me?" The holographic form of a blonde man with green eyes is sitting on the transporter pad, rubbing his head in pain. Nilona's eyes open wide in shock, as Gregs states what everyone is thinking.

    "Drake?" Gregs asks, the holographic man looking up, "What the &#%$?"
  • antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,376 Arc User
    edited September 2016
    Desert Blossoms

     

    By antonine3258

    Inspired by the “I am your son” ULC 27 prompt on the main forums.

    Timing: Sometime between ‘The Temporal Front’ and ‘Time and Tide’

    *

                    As an agricultural colony, it had been forgotten at best, a home safe from the chaos erupting from the Star Empire’s corpse.  The breakdown in authority had actually increased its importance – good leadership making it gradually a trade hub.  But independent effort had not been rewarded in the Empire’s last days, and so Virinat had been ravaged by the Elachi, abandoned.

                    But the world itself was unspoiled – dozens of small mining colonies could benefit from food deliveries.  This instream of minerals made it a useful refitting point along the uncharted wilds of the Arucanis Arm, and politics had certainly improved.  Existing colonies had been stabilized by the Republic, and trade possibilities were opened that had never been dreamed, thanks to the miraculous Gateway to the Solanae Sphere and the strange wonders of the Delta Quadrant beyond, along with peace, miraculous peace, with the Federation and Klingon superpowers.

                    Virinat’s abandonment had protected it from the damages and ravages of the Iconian War, and so when the Republic declared it open for resettlement, the Colony Corporation had plenty of prominent backers and large investment.  Situated well for local transit from the transwarp hubs, it saw plenty of visits from the Republic Navy, bringing order and justice.

                    These visits were always appreciated, but rarely worth a festival.  But the Seventh Attack Wing was different.  Its commanding officer, after all, was a native daughter.  So she and her flag captain (also an old resident), had beamed down for more than the usual showing of the flag.

                    Admiral seh’Virinat raised a glass to the Maiori at her left, now that diner had started, covering to look around.  The new colony had been founded on a different site, away from the old wreckage, so she’d been able to ignore any similarities earlier. 

    This colony was founded on rolling hills, using better water purifiers and pumps to be able to sit on better farmland, but with a deeper aquifer.  No need for the old windmills.  The construction methodologies were a bit different, so the aesthetic had changed, but now, the sounds and lights brought her back, and made her breath come short. 

                    “A Tapping on Virinat,” Tovan Khev said at her right, murmuring.  “I never thought we would see it again.”  An’riel nodded, not trusting her voice, the way it caught in her throat.  The people were different, the place was different, but Elements be praised, it was Virinat, that soul having been brought back from the dead.  She’d never thought it possible when she’d heard they were looking for backers.

                    She brushed at her eyes, briefly.  She had settled her debts, she thought, years ago to this place, in fire, danger, and blood.  This was indeed an investment, in comparison. 

                    “I drink to that,” she said at last.  She swished it around appreciatively.  It wasn’t the same, of course.  Probably less heavy mineral content.  The flavorings were a bit richer, as well. 

                    “Did you like it?” the Mariori asked, nervous.  This was, after all, still a young colony.  A negative review could be very poor.  “We were able to find DNA traces and re-create the old base.  We looked for it, but the names may be gone.” 

                    An’riel nodded.  The old hybrids had probably been completely superseded.  “There was not much left of the colony databases – this is an impressive recreation,” she praised. 

                    “It was a huge team effort to get the plants to take at all here,” Tovan said.  “Being able to brew ale was a huge symbol of the colony thriving.” 

                    “Fortunately, team efforts are I much easier now,” the Maiori said, and raised a glass to a group of Ferengi and Rigelians talking amongst themselves.   “With the Federation desperate to rebuild its spaceborne infrastructure, the topaline trade is rushing right over our heads.”                 Tovan spoke, sounding fascinated, “And all those Klingon mines with stolen Federation refineries, flooding the market?”

                    “Well, they’re apparently offering a very competitive price to avoid restitution litigation,” the Maiori admitted.  “We are trying to moderate our heavy industry to keep the biosphere intact, but it’s letting us build a reputation for hospitality with allied traders.”

                    “That will certainly outlast the mineral boom, Maiori,” the Admiral assured.  “The safety of intercolonial spaceroutes is one of the Navy’s top priorities, behind only the protection of the Republic’s people on our worlds.  If this also boosts exterior and transshipment trade through our space, so much the better.”

                    “And helping us build up a bunch of small shipyards so we’re not critically dependent on the Solanae?” the Maiori asked.  “It’s certainly win-win, especially as long as the Klingons have to keep paying for their Federation replicators.”

                    That got a chuckle.  Dinner passed primarily with continued small talk on the trade situation, and comfortably.

                    Afterward, as night fell at the latitude, the Maiori invited the colony populace to a fireworks display the fleet provided via some orbit-dropped pyrotechnics.  The crowd was mainly young, as colonies were wont to do – with lots of children, with the energy An’riel had never seen in her childhood.  But then, her childhood had been loyalty oaths, a fetid government always questioning its citizens.

                    “You’ve got that poetic look,” Tovan observed.  “Thinking about the past?  More children than I ever remember.”  An’riel nodded.  The two were carrying more drinks as they helped set up chairs.

                    “Impressed at the difference a generation makes.  The terror of abduction, or destruction, these may remain.  May they never know the fear of informants, of an obsession with a dry, useless planet that consumed lives, wealth, and our people’s honor,” An’riel said.  Tovan nodded at that.

                    At that point, a Warbird landed in her lap, to her surprise, especially as it was faintly humming.  Tovan snatched it away, turning to shield her, then relaxed.  “A toy,” he said, holding it out.  “They come pre-sealed, not assembled.”  It was, in fact, a tiny T’liss, with humming small antigravs.   An’riel looked at with some amusement.

                    “That’s mine,” said a small voice.  Her skin and hair was dark in the rapidly fading light, but she held a hand out insistently.  “Er, Admiral.”

                    An’riel looked around, and found what she expected – another small clump of children standing just in earshot.  “I take it you did not set the course?” she asked.  The child looked confused.  She pointed.  “Did they put you up to this?  To risk your toy to meet the Admiral?”

                    The child nodded, “How did you know?” she asked, breathlessly.  An’riel, meanwhile, pulled a stylus out of a pocket, and signed hastily across the lower side of the wing.  It was getting hard to see, but a signature was easy – the fireworks would begin soon.

                    “There – now because you did come forward, you have something,” she said.  “And I am glad you are less afraid of me than your peers –what is your name?”

                    “Alllise,” the girl replied.

                    “There then,” An’riel said, “To: Alllise, who strode into the unknown.  That should make them jealous.”  The girl laughed, and reached out.  An’riel handed the drone over as the fireworks began.

                    Tovan gasped – dark-skinned, henna hair.  The face was different, but they were painted with the same brush.

    *


                    An’riel was less surprised after Tovan was able to explain.  An hour later, they’d retreated to the Maiori’s office with the trade representatives for synthehol aperitifs.  The fast metabolizing helped burn regular alcohol from the body faster, one of the more delightful hangover cures.   

                    “Crèche children,” the Maiori said.  “It’s one of the better parts of the House structure, and so many have not had the opportunity to have children in these recent years who would.”  Tovan nodded at that.  It was an old technology, artificial wombs.  The Sundered on their way to being Rihannsu had used it to improve the population and genetic diversity once they were free from the generation ships.

                    “So Allice isn’t some sort of clone?” Tovan said.  “Recovered from some Tal Shiar lab?  They have some history of that.  The Admiral is a special target.”

                    The Maiori was silent for a while.  “I am glad that world is ending,” he said at last.  “No, the genetic list was anonymous.  They are children of the world, the metabolisms are accelerated to move to the long childhood out of infancy, but no sort of planned super-maturity.  We could do a genetic scan if you like – there is a striking similarity.”

                    “I did release my genetics,” An’riel said, “But I have been in space for a long time, with exposure to many unique conditions.  I had not considered myself, fit, for children, given that and my situation.”

                    “Genetics are not… and I say with some experience given what we are hosting,” the Maiori said, “Genetics are not always the most recent scans, when people are selected.  I can say honestly we intended no tribute, but someone higher up the chain in Medical may have done so.”

                    “It could be a coincidence, the genes being selected come from a sample size of millions.  Hair outside the black range is a recessive, but not completely unusual trait.  There are billions that it could be picked from.  Statistically,” An’riel said.  Tovan snorted. 

                    “True,” An’riel said, “My life rarely operates that way.  But immaterial.”  She stopped, considering. 

                    “Would you like to talk to her?” the Maiori prompted.

                    An’riel was silent for a long moment.  “No,” she said, “I am not sure that would be fair.  She was not intended to be kin – there could be sons of Jarok in her playgroup, or even yours Tovan.”  That had her first officer suddenly look reflective.  “Let all Virinat remain my godchildren, and leave it at that.  If I am sought out in the future, so be it.   But let their bonds be to this future and what they are made of, instead of the past relationships.  This is a good home, better than mine was, by the end.  It is nice to think some piece of me is here, and I intend to cherish the illusion.”

    *

                    Later, An’riel caught Tovan in the officer’s lounge off-shift.  Outside, the majesty of warp-streaked stars went by silently.  They were back on patrol, Sparrowhawk’s staff keeping a wide net cast for danger.

                    “Not going to the poetry reading?” An’riel asked, curious.

                    Tovan sighed, “Would rather be alone with my own words, instead of some old epic.”

    “I am starting to regret getting that for Hiven,” An’riel admitted.  Tovan wasn’t immediately speaking, so she prompted.  “Virinat was quite the shock.”

    Tovan turned back to the window as he spoke, “All that work and the miracle of finding Rinna, and the Republic has been adding more to the family.  This was never something I saw coming from peace.   In at least one sense.”

    “I have found myself studying the program much more closely since we beamed up,” An’riel said.  “It is not full crèche living, parents and structures.  Adoptions have always been common, as a way to a better life.”

    “Not quite the form adoptions ended up taking,” Tovan noted.  He tapped the glass irritably.  “Did you find out why?”

    “I do not think anything ill-meaning originated from it,” An’riel said.  “I am only a private citizen from that department, but I think it was some sort of tribute as the department was just being set up.  Remember, even with some metabolic boosts, the children we saw were born after the new homeworld was settled.”

    “So not cultured up for us to see on Virinat,” Tovan said with some relief.

    “Would you like some advice I have been meditating on?” An’riel asked, moving to stand next to the glass.  Tovan did not look, but did nod.  “Virinat has always taught me that the people there were family, and that a new family could be made if blood was shattered.  Virinat is growth.

    “They were happy times, weren’t they?” Tovan remarked, with a faint smile.  He finally turned.  “You’re right.  We may have kin there, but we have a lot more than we’re related to.  But that isn’t the only filial obligation you’re reminding me of.”

    “Hiven will be very displeased if we do not come simply because we find the subject material tediously familiar.  There is a definite artistry to his dictation, but even if there were not,” An’riel said, chiding.

    “Fair enough, but next time, just when giving gifts next year, by the Elements, remember you’re the Admiral and you can cheat when you get the gag gift slip,” Tovan pleased.  An’riel chuckled and ushered Tovan out of the room. 

    She took one last glance around – it was temporarily empty, but would fill up again.  Sparrowhawk flew on, Virinat behind only physically.

     

    *


    The prompt was for an alt-universe meeting, necessarily, but it prompted some thoughts – The Romulan Way by Diane Duane indicated the Sundered had utilized cloning techniques to help out after landing with genetic diversity.  Given the chaos after Hobus, I can see D’Tan dusting them off.
    Post edited by antonine3258 on
    Fate - protects fools, small children, and ships named Enterprise Will Riker

    Member Access Denied Armada!

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  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,073 Arc User
    edited September 2016
    The I.K.S. Baetal sat out in deep space, plotting its next big celebration. Captain Sigon paced the Bridge, trying to narrow down his list of venue choices on a PADD.

    "Did we ever conquer the Cardassian homeworld? I seem to remember it being taken in a Klingon attack?" Sigon asked.

    Gozer replied, "No, that wasssss a Dominion War battle, which we shared with the Federation."

    "Ah. It's probably full of bubbly Federation babies of the chubby variety and whatnot. Definitely not party material," concluded Sigon. "Scary, though."

    Lieutenant Tenogh looked up from his operations console. "Captain, I am detecting a surge of lens flares coming from within the ship!?"

    "Quickly, Tenogh, lock out the main computer!" Sigon snapped.

    Tenogh looked at him quizzically. "Is that a human British accent, sir?"

    But before Sigon could reply, the entire Bridge flashed with naked Q bodies everywhere. One of them stood up and brushed himself off. "Sorry," he said. "The Continuum just sneezed us out."

    "It's a Q??" reacted the Captain. "I have always vowed to catch one of you, steal your latinum and make you grant me three wishes."

    The naked man held up his hand. "Uh, the name is Qu. It sounds the same but is spelled differently. Also, that myth is only true during Earth's St. Patrick's Day for some reason."

    "Why were you deposssssited on the Baetal considering the U.S.S. Ragnarok is in the next Sector?" the Gorn tactical officer asked.

    Qu rolled his eyes. "We were aiming for them, but it's not exactly easy when omnipotent mucus is in your eye. Anyway, several groups of Q have been plopped onto various ships this passed month. It seems some hyper-Q called Admiral Nat is bloating over-poweredness until nothing makes sense anymore."

    "Have you tried a Civil War motif?" Sigon asked.

    Qu spun around, flailing his nudity. "That was the first thing we tried! Alas, the only thing left to do is wait for the resulting omni-snort, which will bring us back in."

    "Ugh!" Sigon recoiled at the nakedness. "At least you people could materialize with some clothes?? Even Picard's people maintained properly adjusted attire after their 'youthening' from a molecular reversion field."

    The omnipotent being snapped at him. "Hey! We trot around all eternity like this, in our realm, completely comfortable with who we are. It's your backward mortal society that demands everyone be dressed all the time. And what is up with your uniform having no discernible updates? Even Starfleet got the Odyssey uniform which no one follows?"

    "We do, as a people, place over-bearing social exssspectationssss on everyone for various things," Gozer admitted.

    Sigon nodded. "Even the Empire's rules are hard-demanding compared to other cultures. Perhaps we can learn something from the Betazoids, and their naked weddings."

    "Well, I'm glad we the Continuum could help open your eyes," Qu said as he and the rest began to feel the rising pull of the universe on their backs. "Looks like our realm's respire is immanent! You might want to scrub the extra-dimensional mucus off your hull before it hardens! Qu out!"

    And, with that, all the Q flashed away in an odd form of love and togetherness, back to the Q Continuum where they came from.

    Sigon began taking off his uniform. "New rules for the ship! We must all be clotheless during duty!"

    "Captain, wait," Gozer interrupted, placing a hand to stop his commanding officer. "The Cardassians employ nudity in their interrogation proceduresss, and they may misconstrue our dominance if we ever encountered them."

    The Captain stopped. "Oh, right. Well, what's that planet with all the weirdly dressed, half naked people? Rubicun III, right? The Edo? Let's go there!"

    "Yes, Captain," Gozer conceded. He would have to work out before their arrival. Suddenly, all the crew on the Bridge eyed each other, untrustingly, in immediate competition for gym time. It begins, the Gorn realized.

    The Baetal then turned in space and jumped to warp.
    Post edited by hawku001x on
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  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 639 Arc User
    edited October 2016
    Reflective Facets

    Stardate 2263.56
    Lieutenant's, Junior Grade, Log
    Mary Smith
    Post: U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-A


    Ships xeno-ethnogenest, ethnologist, amateur student of xeno-historiology, and xeno-folklorist on the side.

    Stop me if you've heard this one before: you're a young cadet out on a tour of the fleet's number one starship, you've graduated at the top of your class in sciences and in recognition get to see the inner workings of a real live starship. Its crew, its exploratory equipment, even its Captain...

    And then you get to talk to said captain and you get, not a 'hello', not a 'you look familiar', not even a 'hey, I remember that night in the bar, didn't I buy you a drink?'. No, the Captain asks you for your name, you tilt your head confused and blanking before you remember in a panic, and you give it as Mary Smith, and he then dismisses you, apologizing for taking up your time. It... It was strange, but from that moment you were smitten with him, and at every opportunity you spend the time trying to find him, talk to him some more, because those things flying in your stomach are butterflies, and you just... forget how nervous you should be. You work so hard, you do your job perfectly, and study hard, and wish, and hope, and pray you get assigned back to his ship.... and you don't.

    Instead you spend the better part of three years attempting to do your job on a science ship, until you hear that they need people on the frontier, people with varied science and medical training, for an experimental new space station, the Yorktown. Then you get your post, you get an assignment, and then... Krall. Chaos, fighting, phasers and death. The number one ship in the fleet ruined on some backwater alien planet, people dead and lost to an enemy who was once like you, and then he comes in and saves the day again. Kirk, he saves the station from a deadly nano-virus and nearly dies in the process. Then the Yorktown does its job, and in a matter of time the new flagship is up and ready, a new Enterprise, a new crew.

    And you just happened to transfer aboard in the meantime, getting a small time niche as a specialized xeno-scientist, and nurse training on the side, because who knows what you will face on the frontier, and you need to be prepared- For anything.

    No, no this isn't right, I can't say this...
    Computer, delete file and begin recording a new one...

    Stardate 2263.56

    Lt. Junior Grade, Mary Smith

    I can feel it, today is the day.
    Everything changes for me starting today!

    //////

    2410, Uncharted System

    The Solanae facility is destroyed, as the Medina appears behind the nearest Quas ship, which the Enterprise-F had already been engaged with, when the Medina appeared to help. "Looks like intel on the Solanae facility was correct, T'Ket tried to bring her own scientists out of subspace where they could do more damage for her," Hazari says over communications with Va'Kel Shon, "We've gotten better since the Iconian War ended, now if only T'Ket would realize this and give up such a petty grudge."

    "Agreed, while we need to stay sharp, I doubt we need anymore reason for the Iconians to get involved with us," he responds, "I doubt our descendants would be happy if the Iconians went to war for a second time, because of the actions here and now." Smiling, Hazel laughs, until a warning beacon is sounded off.

    "Report!" she orders, "What's triggering our sensors?" She looks to her science officer and tactical crewman expectantly.

    "Sir, the Vonph that had initiated contact with us, while we were engaged with destroying the station; it seems to have been carrying some unknown technology within it," the Caitian at the science station says, "It's destruction, enhanced by the stations unique radiation and energy properties, seems to have opened some kind of anomaly, giving off massive temporal and spatial readings from it; and it seems some Mir Fighters and a Iadon are heading for it."

    "Are we sure that station was built to just alter subspace?" Va'Kel questions from his own command, "Sela said the Iconians couldn't time travel; could the same not be true of their own forces?" Hazel didn't like this, but it seems that while the Iconian's dislike of time travel was built in, perhaps the Heralds were not so limited..

    "Enterprise, we'll head in after the ships, we need to make sure they don't alter anything," Hazel says, "You return to command; see if anything has popped up on DTI or TIC records, send someone after us, you're needed here more than ever."

    "Not a chance Medina, an Iadon may be a piece of cake in a fleet, but one ship against a carrier with who knows how many Mir fighters?" The Andorian captain responds, "We'll go in together, we'll stop them from altering things if that leads into the past, then we'll both get back home."

    The Guardian-Class and Odyssey-Class both shift their attentions to the gaping hole in space and time. Preparing themselves for whatever, they go in shooting, following close to the enemy carrier.

    \2263, Frontier
    Near a Binary Class-G/Class-M Star system
    Iccobar


    "The Iccobar are quite fascinating," Mary says out loud to her recording equipment, "I've been given a section of their recorded texts, and I've been using a linguistic translator to help me decode the pictography that accompanies it, but I've run into some interesting revelations regarding a 'prophecy'." She uses a PADD, set up and decoding more text, then writes down more information and pins it up on a board in her section of the lab. Pinning this new piece of text below the blown up picture of the stone figurehead with six eyes, she goes back to researching the interesting bit surrounding the statue.

    "These 'Demons', as the records call them, they're matching up with records found by survey teams across this quadrant, the Dinasians and other ancient, dead cultures," Mary says, "Except the Iccobar, the others are dead, those these Iccobar, are far from the culture they seem to have once been, records of a warrior race, overturned by centuries in darkness, natural disaster, which returned their civilization to something pre-warp like, and has taken over a hundred thousands years to conquer and bring them here..." She brings up more information regarding the ancient catacombs, which the Iccobar had found in sunken ruins buried beneath artificial hills, created long after by advanced, scientific means.

    "While the Iccobar have just now allowed us to approach them in peace, after the past three centuries since the Iccobar had ever had contact with outer powers, they seem quite friendly on the surface," she continues, "Of course, it had helped that we had stopped the Artificial Intelligence that had been striking fear into them with the fake 'Iconian' ship; a masterpiece of work that some ancient Iccobar scientist had built to dissuade their species from ever searching the stars again, warning that 'past mistakes' would find them again."

    She sets down the pad and sighs in frustration. "And that, is why, I was given this section of the 'prophecy' that the scientist had mentioned in his works," she says, huffing once more, "But all I'm getting is that they warned 'Not to draw their attention again', which seems to have been the last recorded warning ever taken from one of these 'Demons of Air and Darkness'; an Iconian warlord, as far as I can tell."

    Flipping the board back into the wall, now smooth metal that matches the interior of the ship, she presses it into the wall, securing it. "Computer, End Log, date, file, and send a copy upwards through the chain," she says, the push of a button confirming it, "And now, time for a shower, get some food, and rest." Rubbing her neck, the blonde yawns and looks to the clock, which reads a time she knows is way too late for her to be staying up to get up before her next shift. "Mrrgh," she says, "Guess it just means an extra cup of black coffee to wake me up in the mornin-" Suddenly the ship shakes, as Mary stumbles and her head slams against the wall. Trying not to cuss, the blonde looks up through tearing eyes, as the red alert klaxon goes off.

    Hearing the scuffle of crew through the wall, she tries to stand and head towards the medical bay. She knew that the medical staff would be in need of fresh hands, and she hoped some stimulants would be on hand for the half-asleep. Heading down one corridor, she begins to walk slowly, until a security crewman stops her and grabs her arm, pulling her back in the way she had come from. "Sorry lass, we've been boarded, down there is a ship impaled in our hull, unloading some nasty looking inhumane things," the black haired man says, "I recognize you- Mary right?" She nods, as she clutches her head as she is moving too fast, and beginning to feel nauseous.

    "Well, you're coming with me to sickbay, the Doc will fix your head up," he says, "Then we'll get you to work, we need all the hands we got." Nodding, she walks into the turbolift with him and a few other crewmen.

    \\ Outside

    The Enterprise was barely dodging the Herald ships antiproton weaponry, and the swarm of Mir ships was currently engaging all three of its targets, while Iconian Probes swarmed, targeting the Enterprise, both A and F, while the Medina was busy taking them out with it's own weaponry, sending out automatic Scorpion fighters out to help confuse the Herald forces. Suddenly the Iadon sent out an Emp, while opening another gateway, this one shining brightly as the Oblivion Gateway spewed out its energy across the port nacelle of the Enterprise-F. Blinking in and out in the space of a moment, the Medina destabilizes the gate before it can do anymore damage.

    The Herald ship moves to target the other Enterprise, before the Medina launches a cascade of conical plasma, taking out a large chunk of the ships fighters, and taking out a good chunk of the Herald ships hull. Suddenly more fighters are launched, all aimed towards the Enterprise. Most are destroyed by torpedo volley's, while more puncture the ships hull.

    \\ Medina's Transporter Room

    "Let's go, let's go people," Hazel orders from her place at the side of the transporter, "One more team, then we launch to help clear the 'bots and 'porters from that ship; we don't want any unnecessary casualties today!" The next security team beams out, as Hazel loads her own away team onboard, consisting of a human security officer, a Tellarite medic, a Vulcan security officer, and a secondary Vulcan explosives officer. Hazel was packing her Delta Alliance armor and phaser rifle, readying her kinetic and electromagnetic pulse devices equipped on it as well. Transporting over in a swirl of yellow, the familiar feeling swept over her.

    \\ Deck Five, Near Turbolift

    As soon as they touch metal, the harsh blare of red alert klaxons and feeling of explosions shake below her feet, as weapons fire is being exchanged between the hallway they had landed in. Taking the closest defensive position, and putting up a force field once she had found where the Herald forces were, she begins shooting at the many constructs that seemed to swarm the halls, taking out a Herald soldier before it could teleport behind her. She noticed that there only appeared to be constructs left, and she makes her decision.

    "Jacobs smoke grenade, obscure their vision, T'Met, Seth, cover fire, I'm going in!" she orders, as the two security officers and the engineer prepare themselves, "Now!" Throwing the grenade, with the constructs continuing unimpaired, but unable to see her quick approach, she activates an emergency shield buff and gets in range, ducking and hitting the electromagnetic pulse, disabling the cluster of enemies. "Let's move on, there may be wounded on this deck, they were probably caught in the crossfire when these constructs showed up," she orders, "Tallan, get you scanners ready, this ship will probably need help getting people up and at 'em." Nodding, the Tellarite flips out his medical tricorder, as they press on.

    Finding a group of downed officers, who wore unfamiliar dress and garb than the common dress of the twenty third century. "Crud," Hazel says, "I think we crossed more than just time.." She leans down to the nearest officer, an ensign... no, junior lieutenant, while the others were being looked over by the rest of her team. She checkas and finds a pulse, and notices very little bruising or cuts, meaning the woman had just had a nasty fall when the ship had been hit, either by weapons or boarding parties. HEaring a low moan, Hazel smiles, and tries to get the woman's attention.

    "Do you know where you are?" Hazel asks the blonde woman, who groans in response, "Can you understand me?" The woman tries to move, but Hazel gently pushes her back down, trying to steady her and keep her from getting worse. "My name is... Hazel, Hazel Mir Kaur, Captain of the U.S.S. Medina, and you, Miss, are hurt and potentially have a concussion, so let my Doctor take a look at you." The woman nods numbly, trying to stay awake, as the Tellarite medical officer takes her vitals and begins to fix what was wrong.

    "She should be fine now," the medical officer says, "I've got in touch with the medical staff on this deck, they've got about twenty other cases on this deck alone; the Heralds were brutal when they came through here, and the Enterprise medical staff doesn't have enough people to go around." Nodding, Hazel helps the woman stand, as the woman's mind begins to clear.

    "Thank you," she says, "I'm Mary Smith, Lieutenant Jr. Grade; xeno-historiologist and amateur mythologist." Forcing her hair back into a wearable state, Mary Smith stands and shakes off her stupor, saluting the other Captain. Hazel smiles back, when a nearby security officer from this Enterprise came towards her. She looks up, as the man salutes her.

    "Sir, I believe the aliens were attempting to retrieve a device we picked up on our last planet fall, a sphere of unknown origin that had piloted a drone ship," the officer says, "We can't seem to reach the bridge right now, too much jabber on the comms, but it seems we're pushing them out; there's a hold out on the deck where we stored the device, and it seems some of these 'constructs' have the device." Nodding, Hazel follows the man as he takes her towards the turbo lift. "We don't have an EMP like you, and not enough time to rig one, in case one of those teleporter's manage to take the device away and escape," he says, "Do you have another device that could take them out?" Hazel checks her suits charge, and smiles as she sees it's refilled and ready to go, before checking another pocket for another device.

    "Not only that, but we're lucky that I brought my subspace jammer, we can keep any of the... 'teleporter's' from reaching that device," Hazel says, "Now, which deck is it?" Mary stops the turbolift, and rushes inside, a phaser in her hand. "Why-" Hazel begins to ask, before Mary stops her.

    "Iconian's," she says seriously, looking at her leveling her gaze, "Those- things, they're Iconian, or Iconian made; especially if they were after the Iccobar device, if my hunch is correct." Hazel licks her lips, as the turbolift whirs to a start, moving to the deck the security officer was told. "I was given a portion of a text, a 'prophecy' made by an ancient Iccobar scientist, who warned his people to leave the stars to themselves, to not attract 'Their' attention," she continues, "They were attracted by this device, it's probably Iconain, am I right?"

    "Perhaps, I won't know until I get it in my hands," Hazel replies, "But... if it is like one of the devices I've seen before, it could quite be why they came after you." As the turbolift halts, Hazel readies her weapon and follows the security officer as he nods the all clear, followed in turn by Mary. "But now, let's get them clear of this ship, make sure everyone is safe," Hazel says, "Then I may answer your questions." Smiling, Mary is ecstatic, until phaser fire and Herald antiproton weaponry is heard coming from the next turn. Finding men pinned behind boxes, as the Constructs covered an open door, where a Herald had just entered, Hazel draws her own weapon and fires a shot that hits and disables one drone, while the other is taken down by three separate attacks from other directions.

    Quickly running into the room, she dives in and sets up a force field, while the Herald is startled by the unusual intrusion. Activating the subspace jamming device, she simultaneously activates her concussive tachyon emission, throwing back the Herald, as the wave rolls through the shield. Just as she was about to fire a disabling pulse, teh security officer and Mary come in to back her up, the Herald takes the momentary distraction to throw a hit towards both people. Before she could even react, Mary was hit in the shoulder, the weapon arcing off of her and towards the security officer, who stumbles outside the room. Hazel notices this and shoots the Herald to disarm it, before running to Mary's side to check on her.

    With the hiss and feeling of cold air in the room, Hazel turns back to late to see her device had become inoperative due to the tachyon burst, and the Herald handling the device as it leaves into the gateway. In turn more Constructs appear in the room and surround Hazel, the hurt Mary, and the security crewman. She had to act fast, and before these constructs took their bearings. Activating her EMP once more and disabling the constructs, she taps her combadge and alerts her crew. "Emergency beam out on my signal, target my bio-signs and my badge, which I'm pinning to a critically wounded woman hit by Herald weaponry," she says, "She's a native, but we have to risk it; I don't think this ships medical crew will have the necessary knowledge of dealing with this kind of damage." With a beep of acknowledgement, the whir of a transport consumes all sound, as another portal opens in the empty room.
  • cmdrscarletcmdrscarlet Member Posts: 5,137 Arc User
    A Mother's Love - Prompt 3

    Pushing the hood of the long cloak from her head, Kathryn looked over the blue fruit and applied some pressure. The skin turned yellow where she squeezed the melon, then slowly reverted to blue when she released. Smiling, she looked to the vendor and nodded. The Ferengi grabbed the melon from Kathryn’s returning hand with a toothy grin and placed the fruit in a bag. Both exchanged the product for hexagon shaped cards.

    Kathryn pulled the hood of her cloak over her head and turned away when she bumped into a small girl. “Oh, I’m sorry!”

    The girl looked up. Slight ridges on her forehead strongly suggested she was Acamarian. Her dirty face was streaked with clean lines flowing from her eyes to her cheeks. A worried expression slowly transformed to joy. She then looked back into the shopping crowd.

    Kathryn looked up. Nothing seemed out of place for a bustling marketplace. Then Nimbus III revealed its nature as a burly male Cardassian with a determined look on his face caught her attention. He was the only one who was sternly winding around intervening pedestrians and soldiers from the many races in the market with a fixed stare toward Kathryn. She knew there were a few choices available and Kathryn took the protector route: pretend to know the girl on the chance she needed help. The signs looked likely; truthfully keeping a distance from the girl may cause problems. When Kathryn looked back to the girl, she knew there were only seconds before the Cardassian reached them.

    Under the cloak, Kathryn pushed up the sleeves of her Starfleet uniform, and then reached to the girl to give her an affectionate hug, smothering the child’s face into the robe. She hoped the bagged fruit in her right hand would serve as a one-time club if necessary.

    The man stopped near Kathryn, his scowl fixed. “You there, let go of that little thief.”

    The girl pushed away to look up at Kathryn again. “I’m so sorry mother! I was just trying to surprise you, since you love Regova Eggs!”

    Kathryn was instantly relieved the girl played along, yet was also aware that without prompt, she played very quickly into the part. Kathryn also had to force from gagging at the thought of the 'delicacy'. She looked from the girl to the Cardassian and back, easily figuring out the peripheral story between the two, assuming it was legitimate. “It’s fine, sweet ... tee,” her mouth dried from the pause. “What happened?”

    The girl started, “Well, I –“

    “Stole an egg from my table,” interrupted the vendor, clearly still angry. “Wait, this girl is your daughter?”

    Trying to avoid looking derisive, Kathryn replied, “Adopted. Regardless, I apologize for my daughter’s behavior. Can I pay for your loss?”

    The Cardassian looked between the girl and Kathryn with suspicion. After a few more seconds, the Cardassian snarled. “Ten chips.”

    Even though the Federation had no use for currency, Kathryn only had two chips in the local currency left and was genuinely surprised. “I could buy ten Eggs for that! Two chips.”

    “That’s a fee to not report your child to the constable. You know the penalty for theft.”

    Kathryn stayed friendly but guarded. “Sir, my child did break the law, but it was well-intentioned. We don’t have much.” She was starting to want to disengage from the situation but was committed to the game being played now.

    The man looked around, crossed his arms and whispered. “Selling food is how I make a living, woman.” He looked down to the girl. “But living doesn’t always mean standing behind a cart of fruit.” He smiled mischievously. “There are other ways to pay, of course.”

    Looking between the two with growing dread, the girl seemed to take the situation she put herself in more seriously. “M-Mom?” She kept playing along.

    Kathryn's mood darkened. The vendor’s position obviously changed. “It’s okay, sweetie.” Kathryn pulled the girl to her left, and then looked side to side at the bustling crowd as she spoke. “It’s just a Regova Egg. I’m sure this fine gentleman is willing to negotiate a fair price.”

    Looking around as well, the Cardassian nodded, “Indeed. We can discuss details in a more discrete location. Follow me.”

    After he turned away, Kathyrn started to size up her prey while formulating a plan of action. She took another chance and showed the girl the sleeve of her Starfleet uniform, then put a finger to her lips. The girl looked relieved and nodded.

    They followed the vendor around the crowd back to a stall where another Cardassian male was busy making a sale. He noticed the trio and nodded his head toward a nearby alley, where the first vendor started leading Kathryn and the girl.

    Once they passed the vending area, Kathryn tapped her badge within the cloak and spoke to the vendor. “Bur’ar, was that your name? Is this alley the best place to negotiate for the food?” Kathryn hoped her Security Chief aboard Solaris above Paradise City would not diligently respond. She didn’t plan to need an escape from the surface and was asking a lot from the Klingon to play along in a rather dangerous game Kathryn had gotten herself in.

    “I didn’t give you my name,” the Cardassian replied over his shoulder.

    As they walked into the shadows between the two buildings, Kathryn could tell the alley ended in a dead end. She stopped walking and put a hand to the Acamarian girl’s shoulder. Depending on the next few moments, she may need to shove the girl out of harm’s way. “I think that’s far enough.”

    The Cardassian stopped a few paces further and slowly turned to face Kathryn and the girl. “You think so?” He licked his lips.

    Speaking slightly louder for Bur’ar to hear through the communicator under the cloak, Kathryn replied, “Look, we don’t want any more trouble. Take the chips and we’ll be on our way.”

    The vendor chuckled and looked both ways along the alley, and then unzipped his tunic. “I said ten chips.” He reached into the shirt and pulled a short knife from underneath. “But there’s always room for negotiation.”

    Kathryn started to worry Bur’ar had not received her attempt to communicate with him. It was a gamble. She gently pushed the girl away. “That’s not a good idea.” She decided to play her only hand and dramatically flung the cloak over her shoulders revealing her Starfleet uniform. Pulling down the sleeves filled her with more confidence. “I am Kathryn Beringer, Captain of the starship Solaris. I’m not here to cause an incident. We can quietly go our separate ways and forget all this happened.”

    The Cardassian was surprised by the transformation initially. He slowly adjusted into a combat stance. “Feddie, you just made it worse for you.”

    A shimmer from a transporter beam erupted behind the Cardassian, its blue and golden hue a giveaway from its origin while lighting up the alleyway. The vendor turned toward the light.

    Kathryn took her chance, dropped the bag of fruit, and charged the Cardassian, leading with a front kick toward his torso. She connected as he returned his attention to Kathryn. With a grunt he was kicked to the ground in front of the coalescing figure and tried to stand before the it finished teleporting.

    Bur’ar appeared, quickly realized he was in danger, and then took a few steps backward. The Cardassian swiped the blade trying to catch the Klingon’s waist but missed. He continued spinning to face Kathryn again and lunged.

    An orange lance struck the vendor’s back and he crumpled to the ground before reaching the Captain.

    Kathryn relaxed and nodded to her Security Chief. “Good timing Commander.”

    Bur’ar looked around before holstering the phaser pistol. “My apologies for not coming sooner, I thought monitoring the situation was prudent.”

    “Indeed it was.” She looked back where she left the girl. Kathryn saw her still cowering against the building and slowly walked to her with a hand reaching out. “I’m sorry about that. Are you okay?”

    The girl’s fear ebbed. “Yes, I think so.” She accepted Kathryn’s hand and stood. “Thank you so much! I’m sorry to put you in danger like that.”

    Kathryn smiled as she brushed a lock of hair from her face. She lifted the fruit bag from the ground and then handed it and the currency to the girl. “It seems you were lucky today. I wouldn’t depend on luck around here. Do you have any family?”

    The girl nodded solemnly. “Only my brothers, on the outskirts of town.”

    “We need to go,” interrupted Bur’ar. “What shall we do with him?”

    Kathryn thought for a few seconds as she looked from the girl to the vendor still unconscious from the phaser stun. “Nimbus III will deal with him,” she snarled. Turning back to the girl, Kathryn asked, “May I meet your brothers?”
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