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Unofficial Literary Challenge #28: "Death and Taxes"

starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,672 Arc User
edited October 2016 in Ten Forward
Welcome to the twenty-eighth installment of the Unofficial Literary Challenge: "Death and Taxes"!

Doing four prompts this time instead of my usual three. Have fun!

Prompt #1: "Life or Death" by @azniadeet
Your Captain is forced to make a life or death decision for someone else. Explore the moral quandaries and complications that this decision could lead to.
* * *
Prompt #2: "A Duel? With Swords?" by @starswordc
On a diplomatic mission to another world, your captain or a member of your crew offends a local noble and is challenged to a duel! Their leaders demand you respect their cultural heritage by taking part, or else they will break off diplomatic relations. Do you try to find a way out of it? Do you insist that it goes forward to protect the mission?

Doesn't have to be a sword duel: you could use pistols, a wrestling match, even a sing-off.
* * *
Prompt #3: "Abandoned" by @zidanetribal
Your ship and its crew have been on a super secret extended mission in dangerous space far from friendly territory; however, your mission contact has been relieved of duty due to reasons good or bad. As a result, your ship is alone surrounded by unfriendlies and nobody in your faction knows of your plight. Write a captain's log about the actions that you and your crew take now that your ship has been essentially severed from the chain of command.
* * *
Prompt #4: "For the Love of Latinum" by @worffan101
One of your crew members has come to you in a state of extreme excitement about a "foolproof business deal" that will get your ship some exotic and extremely advanced technology upgrades that you desperately want/need. A Ferengi trader who the crewman is acquainted with claims to have found the technology that you want in a derelict ship in hostile space, along with other possibly illegal shinies, and is willing to let you have the loot you want "at a slight discount" if you help xir with the salvage operation.

What happens?



As usual, no NSFW content.

The discussion thread is here.

Index of previous ULCs:
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
  27. Extra Lives
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"
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Comments

  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 651 Arc User
    To Err is Iconian

    Medina Sickbay, 2268
    Kelvin Universe


    "She's not too hurt, we got to her in time, and that security officer is just stunned, nothing to bad," the Saurian Doctor on shift says to Hazel, "We've also stabilized the majority of the Enterprise-A, but the F is another matter; they have enough crew, but their ship is out of the count for right now because of the Oblivion Gateway." Nodding, Hazel taps her arm while they were crossed, before walking to the woman's side.

    "Any word on how the Iadon is fairing?" she asks, as she sees Tarsi walk in, "We need to disable that ship, now!" Tarsi's antennae curl back, a clear sign from her friend that something has happened.

    "Sorry ma'am, but they released a final swarm of probes and fighters, then went their highest warp out of the system," the blue skinned andorian relates to her friend, "Both Enterprise's are currently unfit to follow that ship, the port nacelle of the F was damaged highly, but they have worker bee's on it, and the A almost sent out a call for reinforcements, before a Probe hit their ship and transmitted a nasty virus; Captain Shon says he'll send a team to assist, then take our crew with him once they're fixed, before both of them head towards Iconia, after us."

    "Iconia?" Hazel asks, "Why would they be going to a dead planet, when they have a Gateway Network to call on- oh-" The realization that the network is currently dormant, at least enough that the they can't just teleport to wherever in the galaxy without full power and damaged sections of their ship. "I assume we don't have time to drop off this lady then?" Hazel says pointing to the medically unconscious officer behind her, "Our presence here already disrupted this timeline, I don't want to keep these people from returning to their crew, but if she realizes when and where we are from..." The Andorian officer nods her head grimly.

    "No can do, we both know whatever it was that they stole warranted them to empty out their fighter bays and try and slow us down, if we don't try and catch up to them now, before they reach Iconia..." she hesitates, "Ma'am, we may as well be letting an Iconian war come to this timeline, parallel or not, when these people probably haven't even faced the Borg yet!" Grimly frowning, she sighs and rubs her temples.

    "Very well, I assume course is already laid in and en route?" she says, as Tarsi nods, "Well, Doctor notify me when she wakes up, Mary here may just prove to be invaluable when we face this version of the Iconians; now Tarsi, tell them to unlock the Transwarp functions, we may have to risk getting there before these Heralds bring forth their masters." Nodding, the Andorian XO departs, while Hazel lingers down a hallway. She takes a moment to look outside the nearest window, admiring the warp trail echoes outside the window. "Hmmmm," she says chuckling a bit, "A bit like a bubbly froth than just star streaks..." Turning away, she heads toward the nearest turbolift.

    \\ Iconia - 2 Hours Later

    Warping into the system, the Medina slows to a halt, as they stare at the ruined planet below them. Just like their Iconia, it had seemed very little was changed, the climactic destruction of the once beautiful technological paradise, left to turn into 200,000 ruins. Sighing from her seat at the center of the bridge, Hazel was disappointed to see that, even here, death still remained the constant fate for Iconia. "Helm, plot a course to cover the planet's equator, search against all known bases we've found on Iconia in years past, see if they are still active here, and make sure not to trigger any hidden traps," she orders, "These may still be Iconians, but they could still be as different as night and day to us-" Suddenly in a poof of sulfur, the feeling of cold, and darkness, and Hazel had disappeared from the view of the bridge.

    \\ Presumably Andromedean Dyson Sphere

    Hazels eyes had been closed when the feeling of cold enveloped her, and she blinked what she imagined to be frost from her lashes. She was not restrained, but she was standing in a circle of light, as darkness surrounded her and ended beyond her vision. She could perceive no source of the light, but she assumed when it came to the Iconians, light was hardly a trivial matter. "Hello?" she called out, only to be met by an echoing darkness, "I know you're out there, I guess we didn't get here fast enough- more liekly your Heralds arrived here before in their ship-" Not getting any answer, she tries to still her nerves, as she begins to feel the watch of eyes on her. "My name is Hazari Mir Kaur, also called Hazel, and I am the Captain of the Federation Starship, the U.S.S. Medina," she says boldly, "I can feel your gaze, no doubt trying to scare me, but the Federation, my Federation, has met your kind before, the so-called Demons of Air and Darkness; L'Miren, M'Tara, T'Ket, names I'm sure you Iconians are familiar with-"

    "Silence!" the harsh, echoing voice of a Herald chimes in, as out of the shadows a Harbinger steps out, "Your words and excuses mean nothing to our Gods, you lying piece of-" Suddenly a chuckle was heard from the darkness, as the Harbinger stops and turns in a particular direction, obviously able to see in this darkness the source, unlike Hazel herself. "My mistress?" he faintly asks in confusion, "I have presented my case- I have proven I am a Herald of M'Tara, the Slain Goddess of my realm-"

    "Yes, I am aware Harbinger, and you have pleaded your case," a female voice sounds from the darkness, "But these officers, this woman, she alone can contest it as truth or falseness; we will not condone children for the act of those who bested our counterparts of another timeline, not without- merit." A harsh laugh from another nearby voice, shrill and angry, seems to differ with that sentiment.

    "Children? Bah!" the voice continues, "These words of the Harbinger, our most loyal, should outweigh whatever words this pitiful mouse could ever tell us, as said: lies from the mouths of the Betrayers." Scoffing, the voice falls silent, and Hazel begins to fear the familiarity of that voice, and who it came from. Suddenly a third voice speaks, equally nearby, though from a different direction than the first or second.

    "Betrayers, or our saviors, T'Ket?" the new voice says, "This one has met our kind before, yes the Harbinger speaks that they have killed one of ours, but does it not concern you that only two of our lineage make this claim, while yet the third contests it?" This one was masculine, instead of the feminine norm, a rarity that Hazel had never heard of. She also files away the fact that someone also disagrees among the Herald crew that came from their timeline.

    "Please, can I ask you to reveal yourselves?" Hazel pleads, "If I am to be judged, fair or not, I wish to see for myself those who would ask me of my case, as the Harbinger of M'Tara has already revealed himself. Chuckling was heard form the male voice, as the lights are suddenly expanded to across the room. Blinded for a moment, she blinks away the blurring tears, and takes in the fully lit room, a room seated for twelve in a circular chamber, though four seats appear to have occupants.

    "Welcome child of another time, we are as you know, Iconians," the voice of M'Tara rings out, alive and well in this timeline, "You accuser is Theven of the Builder Caste, before you are your judges: T'Ket, L'Miren, the Survivor, and myself." The red and lithe form of T'Ket is whole, her arms crossed, while L'Miren floats a bit higher than the rest, M'Tara sits quite alive and face neutral as she announces this. The last being, while appearing Iconian in form, was quite different than the others. He appeared to have a ceremonial mask covering his face leading downwards on his skin, or maybe armor, and it shone a bright, radiating yellow unlike the red, the blue, and the purple of the respective others immortals.

    "I see you've noticed," the Survivor says, appearing to have seen her gaze stray on him, from behind his mask, "I am nameless, I am Immortal, and I am unlike anything you have ever seen before, Hazari Tis-Singh, daughter of a Khan, but you need not worry about that now- for now, we wish to know of the Iconian War from your perspective." Feeling a stabbing pain in her forehead, she shakes it off as from the early battle.

    "Very well," she starts, "It starts with the founding of a colony on one of your Servitor worlds, once called Dewa III, upon the discovery of one of your Gateways- though it began earlier with a vile and horrid man who you manipulated, a man named Hakeev-"

    \

    "-and from there, the Iconians were given the World Seed, returned through time by the 'Other', ending the war with its return, L'Miren satisfied to withdraw, and T'Ket still thirsting for blood, before the events leading us here finally came to be." Her mouth parched for water and need to breath deeply for air, she barely notices the cup being given to her by a yellow eyed Herald, as she graciously drinks from its contents.

    "Your words ring true with our own knowledge," M'Tara speaks up, "Though, I believe the Harbinger of M'Tara would contest your statement, we know you speak truth, Child of the Federation, and we wish to give you the benefit of the doubt." She raises her hand as the Harbinger looks to speak out, silencing any retort. "We will not raise needless war, when it is not called for; not now or anytime in the near future," M'Tara says, "For your world is not ours, and a- hidden truth, was kept from you both, Harbinger and Captain..." With a wave of her hand, the walls fall away, revealing a bustling network of floating buildings flush with life, both Herald and yet other species, some familiar and others not to Hazel. "The World Seed was not lost to us," M'Tara speaks, "We have no need for such a foolish war." Nodding to the Survivor, M'Tara lets him now speak.

    "We are the Iconian representatives of the Andromeda Confederacy, the founding members of the first successful state of power in this galaxy since the Elder Beings," the Survivor says, "Made up of the Orthinoid servants of the Elder Ones, the Androids of Mysaggnar, the former Kelvan Empire, the Iconian refugees triumphant, and a member of a yet formed Alliance of powers." Standing the man then appears to walk on air and approaches downward to Hazel, taking hold of his mask as he reaches her. Removing it with a hiss of air, greying flesh and darkened-with-age dreadlocks bounce free of their confines, as the rugged edges of a familiar cranium come into view.

    Piercing red eyes, either natural or not, are set off by the welcoming smile of the grey-tan Klingon warrior before her, sharp teeth protruding from his mouth. "My name is Kagran, of House Martok, friend of Worf and any member of the Federation," the now-ancient Klingon says, "While you are not the woman I remember meeting before, who died fighting by my side on Iconia at the hands of an Iccobar mercenary, I believe my tale would interest you, as yours was to me." Taking her hand, he leads her out a now materialized door. "For now, why don't I escort you to more hospitable accommodations for the rest of your stay," he says, motioning for her to enter through another door, "You may find yourself quite- at home."

    Walking through the door, she notices she is at an dock for ships, and sees a familiar hull through transparent walls- "The Medina?" she says incredulously, "How did she get here?" Kagaran walks with her as they reach the airlock, which opens to ten armed guards with weapons aimed right at them.

    "I believe my men managed to bring them through a Gateway," he says chuckling, "We had to deactivate your weapons systems, obviously but it appears your crew were quite ready to blast their way out after you..."

    "At ease," she orders, as she sees Tarsi walk up behind the security forces, holding her own weapon at her side, but down, "I believe the Iconians won't be a problem here..." A cough and a sidelong glance from Kagran, and Hazel quickly feels the hair on the back of her neck rise. "Until we depart though, I believe I would like to speak with Kagran in the ships ready room, privately," Hazel says, "Tarsi you have the reigns for the moment, make sure everyone is ready and patched up but until further notice, do not engage anyone, even if provoked." Nodding, Tarsi moves on, as Hazel leads Kagran to the Ready Room.

    \\ Ready Room

    "What aren't you telling me?" Hazel asks him outright, "I know you're hiding something, but what is it?" Kagran sighs, and odd crease in his brow distorts his features as well, as he turns to look outside the window, at the bustling scene below and beyond the expanse of the Sphere.

    "Tell me Hazel, have you ever heard of an incident regarding the James T. Kirk, and a race of beings calling themselves the Kelvans?" he asks. She searches her memories, until she comes across one of the implanted ones left by Daniels.

    "They were conquerors from Andromeda, and I'm guessing one of your Confederacy's member worlds?" she asks, as the Klingon man nods, "And I believe they had a rigid view of honor..." Suddenly a light bulb flickers in her head, and Hazel turns to the man whose back is turned on her, seeing a grimace in his reflection on the window.

    "Yes, honor, something the Klingon spirit and Kelvan warlords both hold deeply, a root that coils around their very center of being," Kagran says, "And they are always eager to challenge the rulings of the Iconians, 'Outsiders', and I believe the Harbinger will attempt to appease them into allowing an Honor Duel-"

    "And there is nothing that can be done to stop it, not without making the Iconians, without making you, appear weak?" She retorts bitingly, "Am I right?" Kagran nods, before turning to face her. "Tell me, is it to the death?" she asks, "Will my crew suffer and be unable to return home because of this? If I die, will they pay for my mistake?" Kagarn is silent for a moment, before casting his look away and towards the Ready Room door. Turning, Hazel sees the form of a man who looks worse for wear, and in need of some cosmetic surgery.

    "We need to talk," Agent Daniels tells her, "You've made a terrible mistake in coming here..."
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 651 Arc User
    edited October 2016
    Matters of Honor (3/4)

    U.S.S. Medina, Andromeda,
    2268, Kelvin Timeline


    "What do you mean?" Hazel asks incredulously, "And what the heck happened to you?" Daniels grimaces, as his hand goes to his face, before sighing. Walking over to the ready room table, between Kagran and Hazel, he sighs and puts his hands on the headrest of the seat.

    "The Envoy happened, Hazel, and he happened to you too!" Daniels says exasperated, "You shouldn't have ended up here, there shouldn't have even been another Solanae facility after the first one was destroyed!" Suddenly Daniels activates his temporal observatory. The swirling timeline around them shows a highlighted area where time seemed to cross itself in a ribbon. "That facility you found, it was a carefully reproduced facsimile made sometime in the 27th century, externally an Iconian facility, internally it was a cross between Sphere Builder and Herald technologies, brought back to a time where T'Ket was at the height of her anger and vengeance; your 25th century." He brings up a new branch of the timeline, which came about after that event.

    "That is the original timeline," Daniels says, pointing the branch that signified where they had come from, "And this was the resulting effect when you managed to trigger the blatant trap that brought you here." The branch splits off and comes to close to the current branch of time they were in, twisting around it and becoming intertwined. "Originally the Enterprise-A of this 'Kelvin Timeline' was supposed to leave Iccobar, be recalled to Earth, and ordered to investigate anomalous readings in the former Delphic Expanse region," Daniels continues, "Where they discover the Sphere Builders have returned, and manage to blow up the inactive spheres; now, with time lost on the part of your incursion, the Yorktown has been recalled and sent instead."

    "So, what does any of this have to do with us?" Hazel asks, "Why can't I be here?" Daniels now goes up the merged timeline, to a part where the two diverge and reemerge into the correct iterations of their timeline. He highlights a certain part just before the divergence, where there seems to be a tiny branch of Hazel's current timeline that forks off, either to return home, or simply end.

    "Right there, if you don't win this duel, you die, your ship never returns, and a whole heck of a lot of problems will crop up due to one less experienced Captain on the frontlines," Daniels says, then turns to the future of the Kelvin timeline, around the twenty fourth century, where it seems to fork and merge again, "Until here, when the T'Ket of this timeline, if not discouraged from you winning the duel, will set back the Kelvin Timeline with a war that pales in comparison with your own Iconian War; a war with all of the Andromeda Confederacy at her disposal."

    "Oh," Hazel says, the weight of his words seem to sink in, "Are you telling me that T'Ket would be- humbled if I win this duel?" Daniels nods, and the third occupant in the observatory speaks up.

    "T'Ket, while still harboring a grudge due to the loss of Iconia, will begrudgingly respect your efforts if you win, I and the others would make sure to keep her in line, if not," Kagran says, "The Kelvans would more than likely be the reason she goes to war, they are a swing vote to put it plainly; winning this duel would earn them respect for this universes Federation far into the future." Exiting the observatory, they return to the Medina Ready Room.

    "Well, what would I have to work with?" Hazel asks, "How much time would I have?" Suddenly with a flash of brimstone and cold, a Harbinger stands before them, staff in hand and dropping an item on the floor. Kagran goes to pick it up, only for the staff to block his grasp.

    "No, Outsider, this is for her, and her alone to accept," the Harbinger says with venom in his tone, "You may be an Immortal among Gods, but your authority I do not recognize, 'Survivor' of Iconia- no, the challenge is for her." Hazel looks to Kagran, whose nod assures her that this is what they were looking for. "The Challenge is accepted, the Survivor will attest or stand trial for his silence," The Harbinger says as her hand touches the clothed sphere, "In one solar cycle, thirty hours by your sun, you will chose a weapon and defend your people and your ship- and you will die." Slamming his staff onto the ground, he disappears into the air.

    "You have a little over a day, it seems," Kagran says, "I will teach you all you need to know, but first you must open the package to see the choices put before you." Nodding, she removes the cloth from what she had assumed was a sphere, only to see it was an cuboctahedron. Taking it from her hands, he removes a device from his waste and sets the object down. Activating it, the distilled cube returns to a normal, solid form, releasing its contents. The object that had been distilled appeared to be a case, which when opened revealed different selections of weapons.

    "A sword, a- mace?" Hazel says, "And a~ I'm sorry that looks like a cudgel as a base of a whip..." Kagran merely closes the case and sets it down on the table. "I'm sorry, I don't have time to master any of these weapons, I'm not even an expert in hand to hand combat-" she says, "I'm an Engineer, not a Martial Arts expert!" Kagran smiles and laughs considerably.

    "The Daughter of Khan, unable to hold a simple blade?" he laughs at that, heartily, "You wield a gun and plant mines as battle rages around you, and you believe a mere duel will be an obstacle to you?" The immortal Klingon walks over to the ships replicator, and begins to type in a series of commands into the device, using some highly complex coding. After bypassing the weapons lock on replicators, the Klingon removes his prize, something wrapped in a silken cover. "For one not versed in āyudhavidyā, śastravidyā, and taṟkāppuk kalai, why do you have this locked on personnel file, issued under your name?" he removes the cover to reveal the sheen of metal, "A fine Katar, forged by a master craftsmen, sturdy and protective with a half-gauntlet- a weapon fit for the woman you could be."

    He sets the weapon in her hands, and notices her clumsiness handling it. "Haz- Hazel, " he says setting one of his hands on, "You may not be the woman I had met, you may not be the Tis-Singh I know, but you are you, a woman who lived through a war- through manipulation and starvation, and impossible scenarios; what is a weapon like this to a woman who lived through invasions and won?" She looks towards him, and down to the weapon.

    "Why do you trust me?" she says, "Why do you compare me to Hazari Tis-Singh?" Kagaran smiles and removes himself, turning to Daniels.

    "Let's just say I know more about you, even a timeline apart, than you think Hazel," Kagran says, "Perhaps it's also because, for all his bluff and bluster, Daniels trusts you to win this, perhaps because of the perils it brings if you lose, but under that, I believe he has seen something worthy in you, something you have yet to discover." Taking the weapon in her hand, and putting it on properly, she admires its shine in the light.

    "How do I go about getting the duel in my favor?" she asks Kagran plainly, "And will you help me learn to use this?" Kagran smiles and offers to show her. As they leave for the holodeck, Daniels flips open his device, smiling.

    "That's one glitch in history fixed, Noye," he whispers under his breath, alone to his thoughts, "Let's fix up the problems with the Enterprise- A and F..." Disappearing in a flash, the echoes of steel clashing in his ears, Daniels face shimmers back into its familiar clarity.

    \\ One Solar Cycle

    Armor gleaming in the sunlight, the Harbinger waits backed by two Kelvan officers in humanoid shells. Standing on a circular field suspended in air, he waits as Kagran and Hazel approach, weapons in hand. "I call the right of Khavran-phaz," Hazel calls out, "I challenge the choice of weapons, and present my own weapon of choice to battle with- a Katar, a weapon of my ancestry, as the Herald's choices are ill suited and have me at a disadvantage." The Harbinger turns to the two Kelvans behind him, who look to each other and nod.

    "Your grievance has been noted," one says, "And accepted as previously petitioned by the Alliance representative, Kagran of House Martok."

    "Hazel Mir Kaur," the other Kelvan says, "Do you recognize that the Honor of Kagran, as representative separate yet equal as a Voice of the Confederacy, is at stake, not only your life and the fate of your crew, but should you win, you have right to decide the fate of the Harbinger Theven and his crew as he would if he wins?" Nodding she accepts the conditions. "Very well, the Duel of Honor, changed by the rules of Khavran-phaz, states that a weapon similar to yours and modified for use by Theven, will be used in combat," the second Kelvan continues, "The goal of the match is to knock your opponent off of the Pedestal of Decision, and become Victor Triumphant." The first Kelvan presents a new weapon to the Herald, who replaces his own chosen weapon in the spot of the weapon he takes in return. The Harbinger sheds his outer armor as well, for a lighter under armor, showing the hum of circuitry in its making. "Now, touch your weapons to begin the match," the Kelvan says, "May your gods protect your lives."

    Stepping off of the circle and onto the main platform, the two combatants enter the circle and touch the tips of their blades together. In response the platform rises ten feet off the ground, and a gong is heard in the distance. "Begin," Kagran orders, "The Duel of Honor thirsts for answers!"

    Immediately Theven lunges forward, hoping to knock her off right away. Sensing his intent, she flows like water and moves to the left, brushing him past her and moving behind him, as he readies himself to defend against her. Watching him closely, she sees him blink, and watches the subtle tensing of his muscles in his arm. Knowing he wouldn't fall for the same trick twice, she moves to the right, grasping his wrist and twisting it with a quick motion, though her plan seems to fail as she barely manages to cause an equivalent of an wrist burn through the gauntlet. Theven smiles, as he takes the opportunity to push into her, trying to knock her off balance once more by brute force.

    Smiling in return, she locks her position just right, and slashes at his chest in return. backing off, Theven grimaces as he moves his hand form the wound and sees blood. With a growl he moves in and thrusts downward, preparing to impale her without any thought. Smirking, seeing an opening, she quickly grabs the wrist again, and continues the motion, thrusting her opponent over her shoulders using his own momentum against him. Theven barely feels his feet touch the edge, as he ands and tries to gain a foothold, With a sweeping kick, she knocks his feet off, and feels his blade dig into her shoulder, severing muscles and leaving a burning numbness, as she loses feeling in her arm.

    "Hazel!" Kagran calls out, as the adrenaline and shock catch up to her, and she feels herself pitch forward, over the edge and a short fall onto the limp form of the unconscious Herald. Her mouth feels like iron, and her vision swims like white and hearing tastes like lemon. The white is all consuming, but she feels a flicker of peace in her mind as shadows turn white.

    \\ 2399, Ceti Alpha VI

    "You did wonderful, granddaughter," the warm voice, programmed as it was, comforted her, "In ten years you may very well be ready to wear that weapon at your side." The young child, brushes her blonde-red locks out of her face, as she wraps her sash around the hilt of her specially made Katar, then around her workout gear, cinching it tightly.

    "Tata, when will I be able to leave the compound?" she asks her holographic guardian, "When will Father return me to his side, I miss him so..." The elderly man puts his hand on her small shoulder.

    "Soon Hazari, a Singh is meant to rule," he tells her, "A Khan needs his heir to be strong, be a city, be Tis Hazari, be fair and just and be the center of law, but to do that, you must not just be a warrior, you must be a Master!" Nodding at the grey haired former Khan, Hazari Tis Singh continued her lessons. Watching like an echo or a ghost, Hazel Mir Kaur sees her self reflected in the grey eyes of the man she has unusual familiarity with. Why would she know Khan Noonien Singh? Or ever call him grandfather?
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 651 Arc User
    edited October 2016
    (4/4)

    \\ Later

    Waking up to a sore shoulder, a smiling Klingon, and an impassionate Kelvan judge, Hazari can only smile in return. "Did I win?" she asks, her voice hoarse and raspy, "Do we get to go home?" Kagran nods, before turning to the Kelvan man, who wishes to speak.

    "After the matter concerning Theven and his ship," the Kelvan says, "Theven- was less than amicable at his loss, so we had to compartmentalize him, but his crew were far more able to be put in line with coercion from the Iconian representatives." The man hands her a cuboctahedron, and places it firmly in her weak grasp. "The fate of Theven and his crew, is quite literally, in your hand, Hazel Mir Kaur," the Kelvan says, "With a simple closing of your fingers, you could crush and end the life of the Harbinger that troubled you so, and seal the fate of his crew by your actions."

    She stares at the cuboctahedron in her hand, as the implications of his words settle on her. She brings it close and examines it against the light of the room, its bland color dull and lifeless. Sighing, she merely sets it on her stomach and closes her eyes. "You should know I would never end his life, let alone his crew, no matter how much damage they have caused us," she says, "Let him go, let his crew know their lives are secure, but please, tell them to comply with us when we return to our timeline, tell them to return to their people in peace and let them know, that despite their malicious intent, they should know we never meant them harm like this."

    The weight is lifted from her stomach, as she looks to see T'Ket holding the cuboctahedron in her hand, looking pityingly at it, and a mix of disgust and surprise at Hazel. "You would let a man who would stab you in the back live, so he may return to my double, to seek revenge another day?" she says, before closing her fist around the object and turning it to dust, "You would be weak and foolish to let him live- but perhaps I should not be surprised you would value the lives of the misguided and foolishly vengeful, even with the harm they could present you at any time... tell me Theven, does this surprise you?" Stepping out of the unseen corner of her eye, the Harbinger stands humbled at his mistresses side.

    "I am surprised... more so than I should be, but pleasantly so," he bows slightly, "I will stand to your wishes, Child of the Federation, my rage perhaps was misguided... perhaps the ideal of the 'Other' can be found in your act of mercy, and your kind may one day earn the respect of my people." Bowing once more, he leaves with T'Ket and the Kelvan, leaving Hazel and Kagran alone for the moment.

    "You've done it Hazel," Daniels says, appearing as if from nowhere, "Your part here is done, and history is back on track, this version of T'Ket will not cause a war, and the Sphere Builders don't get a free pass at trying here again..." Nodding to Kagran, who nods in return, Daniels stays as Kagran leaves the room to the two Temporal Agents alone. "Hazel, the Enterprise, yours and this worlds, have been fixed, and all traces of Herald technology fully scrubbed from Kirk's ship, we erased their short term memories of the event, heck we even had time to change the weapons fire to Klingon disruptors of this time," Daniels reports cheerfully, "We've returned the Kelvin Officer to the Enterprise-A, and managed to send Shon and crew, with your remaining men, home, and all that's left is for me to escort you and the Theven to your timeline." Hazel is puzzled as she remembers something.

    "Don't you mean crewmen, Daniels?" she says confusion lacing her tone, "I know Miss Smith was mostly unharmed, but I doubt her exposure to the Herald's was that severe." At this Daniels straightens and looks her in the eyes.

    "Hazel, I know every inch and history of any Enterprise whenever I go," he sasy to her, "There was never any crewman on the Enterprise, at this time, with the last name Smith." Hazel tries to sit up on the biobed she had been laid on, only to steady herself as a dizzy spell passed by her.

    "Her name was Mary, she was essentially a xeno-historian- she told me that they had come across an Iccobar ship, one with an Iconian device, probably a gateway sphere, in it," she says, "She was blonde, she had grey-blue eyes, she was hurt by a Herald staff and was treated by Vizzner on my ship for it, she should still be there..." Daniels eyes light up in concern.

    "A glitch, damn, he's good-" Daniels says, looking up and seeing Hazel's concerned face, he changes to a softer expression, "I'm sorry, she- Miss Smith will pop up back in due time, she'll be... different, but she will probably resurface in your future, since you were the last face she saw..." Hazel was confused, but Daniels helps her to her feet, "That's a story for another day, Miss Sin-Kaur," Daniels says, before putting something cold and metal against her temple, "Let's get you home." The buzzing was quite melodious and serene, leaving Hazel feeling content as she felt herself slump into the man's stronger than expected grasp. "Don't worry about this Hazel," Daniels says, sounding far away to her, "After you wake up, this will all be just a bad dream, and Hazari Tis-Singh will be a distant memory-"

    \\ 2410, In Orbit of Risa

    Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she feels the headache hit her before she feels another pair of arms bringing her up. That was one lucid dream, she could almost believe it was Daniels who had done that to her, if she hadn't thought the premise of Herald forces invading the Kelvin timeline ridiculous. "This one was tricky, her memories were deeply buried, I had to do some extensive reconstruction via subconscious dreaming with the gaps in her memories," a kind and echoing voice says, "In time she'll distinguish dream from reality; her memories of how she came to be where she was found, though, are lost at the present, and the remaining of her suppressed memories will reawaken with time." Sitting up, Hazel looks toward the people who were helping her up off the floor.

    "Good to see you awake, Mir Kaur," Hazari Tis-Singh, the 26th century Terran says, "I thought you would never wake up, Princess." Smiling a toothy grin in return, the familiarity of her sister- Her eyes scrunch in confusion at what her inner voice implies... "Hey, Blondie, I need to know you're all here, we've still got others to help," Hazari says, as she moves and Hazel can take in a full view of the room.

    Trelane had attacked, how could she forget, why was her head still foggy, yet her mind buzzing in anticipation, as if waiting for something in particular. "Mary- where is Mary Smith?" she asks on autopilot, not sure why the name tumbles from her mouth, "Hazari, why do I remember our- your Tata- why do I have pieces of your life in my head?" Hazari looks her in the eyes with surprise, and towards the other woman who Hazel assumed had spoken earlier.

    "She remembers before-" Hazari asks, before the woman denies it with a shake of her head, "Than how does she have those memories?" Hazari goes to continue the conversation, only to be interrupted by more people beaming in. Gregs having returned from where ever he had disappeared to, with an armored Drake and awakened Nilona in tow. "What the heck is going on, Son'aire?" Hazari says, turning her ire on the alien captain, "How the heck did you get Drake back here so fast, and how is Nilona standing?"

    "Not now Tis-Singh, I have to speak with Hazel, we've dealt with Trelane," he says in return, "But Hazel, you've got some explaining to do; I need to know everything about Mary Smith, she is not who she says she is, and we may have found a lead on her whereabouts." Hazel is extremely overwhelmed by all of this, and begins to hyperventilate, panicking as she sees spots before her eyes. Flashes of her dream and names seem to come into mind, and send her thoughts spinning and dizzyingly fast. Feeling like the world was collapsing in on her, for the second time that day, Hazel Mir Kaur fell unconscious

    \\ Shuttlecraft, U.S.S. Opal

    "Thrust, parry, block, repeat," Hazel says, "Thrust, parry, block-" Suddenly Hazel stops as she realizes the ship has stopped, the humming deck having gone quite. Looking outside the front window, she catches sight of a translucent-pink, jellyfish-like creature suspended in the void of space. "A Farpoint Cosmozoan, this far out?" she says in wonder, dropping her blunted practice weapon for a towel and a water bottle, "Weldon, how far out are we from the station?" Suddenly a dark skinned Federation officer flicked into being.

    "About five minutes out, ma'am, but the station is ready to beam you aboard asap," He responds to her query, "I'd like to say ma'am, that the faster we'll be returning with Lt. Junior Grade Smith, the faster we will miss that nearby Ion Storm, before it crosses our return trajectory and separates us from the Medina for a good 33 hours..." She laughs a bit at her officer's programmed impatience, when she knows he only wants to return to study the new toys she's picking up here, as well as their new recruit.

    Ever since the Companion, Nancy Hedford, had revived her and retrieved her lost memories, and with Gregs returning and telling her that she would meet again with the mystery woman that even Daniels hadn't known, Hazel has been busy reconnecting with herself. Her lost memories, her sister, researching the sealed Section 31 files on her original reintroduction into the Federation, all in preparation, or maybe busy work, until she met this enigmatic officer once more. She had saved her life before, and she had been thrilled to save this woman from her new, icy crypt.

    After all, it wasn't everyday you find a missing person a universe away, cryogenically frozen on a time-lost station you had watched sent to its fate. It was cold comfort, but perhaps Daniels had been right in his own way, these people had fought their fate, and survived into this century to be rediscovered. A duel against the Na'Kuhl, the unknown, and the restriction of history itself, overcoming hatreds and prevalent prejudices, to survive together as best they could, no matter the sacrifices made. It would be cold comfort to the survivors, sure, but at least they would learn they were not forgotten, not then, not since, not ever.

    She had a home again, she had roots here, then, and now. Hazel Mir Kaur, formerly Hazari Tis Singh, a woman who had fought her fate, smiled as the gleaming station, K-13, restored to its former glory, sat spinning in the depths of space against a backdrop of stars and an alien sun. It was good to be back.
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 651 Arc User
    edited October 2016
    Distant Distractions

    K.D.F. Rozhenko

    Outside Known Space, Beta Quadrant/Delta Quadrant

    General's Account of Stardate 87679.45

    Record Log for Berg Eria'nos

    In the aftermath of losing my Cousin to some form of temporal madness, I've requested- an odd assignment. Something far away, something to give me time to process this-

    A Federation Deep Space Science, ironically placed in an updated
    Jupiter-Class crew had been sent on an extended mission, a four year mission to be exact, when they learned of the Iconian War. En Route to return, while four months by transwarp velocities away, they had delayed their mission in favor of returning to the Beta Quadrant in the effort of trying to help build up forces against any Iconian attacks. Of course before they even returned, the War was over and their mission could continue.

    While they were still two months out by transwarp velocities, the delay in their mission requires a ship to help resupply and refit them with updated weapons, since Pirate attacks and phenomena had worn down their batteries. Two months of silence was preferable to two months spent trying to find an excuse to visit a Federation Mental Health hospital, to find a reason to visit an insane family member and pity him because he may never-

    No, no not like this. I will honor his memory as a warrior, an admirable foe and friend.

    As I had been saying, two months of silence to rendezvous with the
    Patagonia was preferable to waiting, though the Patagonia was far from friendly territory, meaning they had to find the nearest friendly port of harbor. It just so happened they had come across a race called the Fen Domar, not exactly hospitable at first, a few misunderstandings from the reports I had read, but amicable people the Klingon's no doubt would have fun with over a barrel of Bloodwine. Then we lost contact with them in the first month...

    \\ September 29th, 2410; ESD

    "Enter," Berg says as an Orion officer enters, "Mazza, to what do I owe the pleasure of my Orion Comms Officer into my personal quarters?" The male Orion gives a slight bow, before looking up with concern.

    "Sir, I believe we've hit a communications roadblock," Mazza says, "The Patagonia has been silent for four days now, normally not a concern, but it seems in their last data packet that they had appeared to have malfunctions with their equipment crop up; they thought that they may have picked up a virus from a Pirate attack earlier in the month, perhaps laying dormant all this time." Berg nods, and motions for him to continue. "Sir, I believe that it wasn't pirates, but the Fen Domar they are staying with," the green man continues, "The Fen Domar are unknown to us, but from the Federation notations, it appears their society has suffered a decline in technology and innovation over the past decade; somewhat due to heavy Borg presence in the area, before Battle Group Omega was formed and took out the local Borg Diamond cluster and disrupting the network."

    "You think these Fen Domar had the wits to infect a Federation ship, and then take it, even knowing a supply ship was en route," Berg responds, "Doesn't that seem a bit odd?" Nodding the Orion removes and places a PADD from his belt in front of his Captain.

    "The Fen Domar were technological specialists, somewhat comparable to the Octani, though with the Borg advance on their territory, the Scientific Caste in charge was replaced by a Military one," the Orion says, pointing out a list of Fen Domar history, "Before the Borg, the Fen Domar had been making inroads on Genetic Augmentation, Transwarp fields, even opening relations with nearby smaller space civilizations to form a trade agreement with species also met by the Patagonia..." Berg flips to the attached files on species named the Harronth, F'hrger, Hali, and the Kemar Nok.

    "So the allure of a Deep Space vessel with transwarp capabilities, knowledge of alien species and unknown scientific wonders that could catapult their society forward again..." Berg continues, "Are you thinking their Science Caste has taken the Federation ship, to somehow reverse engineer their technologies, so they can steer their society into a new scientific age?" Berg laughs a bit, before straightening up and looking his Comms officer in the eye. "Very well, I'll humor you, continue to look over the notes on the Fen Domar," Berg says, "Try to get in contact with neighboring powers, see how the Fen Domar have acted since contact with the Federation; you may be right, we should know better than to underestimate the desperate."

    \\ Last Known Coordinates of Patagonia

    "It appears the Borg have been on the edge of our space longer than we thought," Unado says, as their ship passes a half destroyed Transwarp Corridor, with clear wreckage indicating Federation ship remains. Various debris matching that of missing Battle Group Omega ships had been found, either attacked and salvaged or been brought through the inoperative machine to this border of space space. "Scan to make sure there aren't any pirates looting the area, and beam aboard the ships black boxes, if they can be salvaged" Berg says, "Ready a volley of transphasic torpedoes as well, we need to make sure Borg technology doesn't get into incapable hands."

    Motioning over his Orion Intelligence officer, he leans in to speak to her. "Can you search records held over from Battle Group Omega, before it's dismantling," he says, "Search against the debris we found, find out how they got here, and whether or not this had to do with the Patagonia's mission or not." Nodding, she leaves to return to her station. "Everyone else," Berg says to the bridge crew, "Continue on with your orders, I'm off to speak with Mazza, should you need me." A chorus of responses return to him, while Berg is entering the turbolift.

    "Engineering, no, make that Deck 16," Berg commands, as the turbolift hums to life, "Now, Mr. Mazza, let's see what you have found." The turbolift grinds to a halt, as the doors part to reveal an Orion man entering the turbolift.

    "Ah, sir!" Mazza says in surprise, "Glad I've found you; I was just heading to Engineering to help with the black boxes, it makes sense to check their final recordings in case they mentioned the Borg in this area of space." Nodding, Berg exits the turbolift with Mazza, as they enter Engineering where six black boxes were held together. A Klingon with welding goggles on, appears to be cutting into one of the boxes that appeared different than the others.

    "Mirik, what are you working with?" Berg asks over the welding Klingon woman, "I thought we would be cracking them with the computer, not cutting them apart!" The woman grunts before stopping, lifting the goggles off her eyes.

    "This one isn't like the others," she states bluntly, "It's a reasonable facsimile, but not even the Federation would've bought that this was the real deal." She moves off a piece of the outer shell she had cut, revealing alien technology that pulsed orange in the light of the ship, using unfamiliar computer components and no Federation insignia inside. "Whoever took the opportunity to recreate the outer shell of this black box, and copy almost all the information into it, didn't expect someone to be familiar with Federation starships," Mirik says, "I lived on and off starships all my life, I even had dissected a black box in my engineering training; this thing, they wanted this machine to be overlooked and let that be that."

    Berg takes the cutaway section, and studies it in his hand, turning it over to see the inside. Inspecting it for anything, he notices a faint impression and takes a second to feel it. "Mirik, do you have anything malleable, putty, glue, something to take an impression?" he asks, "I think whoever built this signed their work unintentionally." Mirik nods and rummages through her station for a bit, before going to the replicator and returning with a malleable putty. "Thank you, now to apply it..." he mutters, as he applies the putty, before he was handed an instrument by Mirik, "Oh, hardens on contact with U.V.?" Nodding, the Klingon woman hands off the device to Berg. After covering the whole surface, Berg hardens the putty and removes the impression. "Tell me, does anyone recognize this?" he asks, "It looks like an upside down Y with a triangle..."

    "Sir, you won't believe this but..." Mazza starts, "I may have been right about the Fen Domar being involved, this is a symbol I came across in the records the Patagonia had transferred to us in its last data transmission." He wracks his brain for a moment, before brightening up and remembering. "The Fen Domar Paramilitary, they work under the Science Caste as engineers and metal workers," Mazza continues, "They were originally a working caste that were militarized when the Fen Domar society broke down in their third dynasty, some six centuries ago; they have a formal military power, but the Paramilitary had enough impact on their society to be kept and folded into the Science Caste as defense and support, some even becoming important Science Caste members."

    "Well, this just got a whole lot more interesting," Berg says, "Borg and a Paramilitary; I don't know about you, but I'm having flashbacks about Hakeev..." Both Mazza and Mirik look at him in confusion. "I-" he starts, "You know what, just get us more info on the Fen Domar, and meet up in the ready room in five; not you Mirik." Leaving the two behind, Berg makes his way to the Ready Room.

    \\

    "The Fen Domar once spread across six sectors of space, at their height they were brilliant, which drew the Borg to them," Mazza says, "Much like the Octani genius had attracted the Borg, the Fen Domar had reached a golden age, and were ripe for the Borg to pluck their knowledge and resources from them: Bio-Engineering, Cybernetics, making allies with nearby civilizations, even creating a rudimentary Transwarp gate, very similar in nature to the Borg network." Suddenly Mazza lights up a projection in the middle of the room, revealing a picture of a Borg Sphere and an alien vessel. "This is the only recorded picture that the Fen Domar were able to retrieve from their first contact with the Borg," he says, "They had breached the Borg Transwarp network on accident, the Borg sent a Sphere to investigate, and the result was the first Fen Domar assimilation in the equivalent year of seventeen-thirty-nine, six hundred and seventy one years ago."

    "How were they able to avoid total assimilation in that time?" Unada asks, "Most species like this would have been under the Queen's thumb by now." Mazza nods, before he switches the picture to one simulating the Sphere exploding.

    "Mostly due to vast distances between the nearest Borg hub and the fact that, while a fair distance out, there was no exit or entry point in the Transwarp Network established in the nearest sector, not before the 2409 event," Mazza says, "Even then, Battle Group Omega kept up attacks on the Borg, they were focused on the Beta Quadrant; the Hub we came across was probably the last thing the Borg had constructed out here, before we ended them."

    "In that time the Fen Domar had first contact with that, the Sphere had been destroyed before it could even send a signal out," Mazza continues, "The Fen Domar never forgot the Borg, and it resulted in the fifth dynasty, a radical change from control by Science Caste, to Military Caste, leading to isolation protocols, a new government system, a move from exploration to self defense against any intruders, hostile or not; evidently their Borg solution." Suddenly the same symbol appeared on the projection, as Mazza switches topics again. "Until the beginning of the Seventh dynasty, the equivalent year of 2379, when the Borg activity plummeted due to Janeway and Voyager," he says, "The Seventh dynasty, still ongoing, turned from purely military, to a new joint form of government, made up of both Science and Military Caste, as well as other participants from smaller castes."

    "So the Fen Domar, reeling from the loss of scientific progress for over three centuries because of threat of attracting Borg, decide to open their borders?" Berg says, "No, that doesn't seem like a transitional military focused organization, they wouldn't be that welcoming; there's something else they need from other civilizations, they were isolationist, that frame of mind leads to paranoia, that doesn't go away in a day, let alone thirty years."

    "Exactly, the Fen Domar, they were still militarized enough to defend against the Borg, but they were also smart enough to realize that there were others who were against the Borg," Mazza says, "I believe they helped whoever those Black Boxes belonged to defeat the Borg and destroy the conduit, sustaining heavy losses except for one ship, then faked their death; either ending up capturing the ship and crew, or lying to them and leaving the fake black box behind for anyone who would search for them, leaving them to think they had died a heroes death against the Borg."

    "Whose ship did the fake Black Box register to?" Unada asks, "If we start there, maybe we could figure out why the Patagonia has coincidently disappeared near Fen Domar space." A that Mazza turns off the projections and laughs dryly.

    "You know, the irony about the ship that was taken..." he coughs and clears his throat, "Was the Patagonia-C, our missing ships predecessor." A that he levels his gaze to his Captain, who stares incredulously at his Comm officer. "I know, right," he cracks, "What are the odds?"

    \\ Fen Domar Space, In Orbit of Domar III

    "I appreciate the Klingon's interest in mining rights this far out in untouched space," Kaffar Hedid, the Fen Domar representative sent aboard, responds to Berg's offer, "Perhaps you could 'sweeten the deal', and offer us information regarding certain technology in your databanks, regarding this 'Cooperative' I've read about un the data packets you've sent us." The feathery eyebrows turn up as he smiles. "My people have had an interest in Borg technology for generations, ever since the first attack, and we do not forget easily," he continues, "If your knowledge about this Cooperative is given to us, their methodologies to free assimilated individuals, their methods of reintroduction into society, were added, we would graciously increase our annual offerings by six- no thirteen percent, over what others in our sector could ever produce in dilithium crystals."

    "My, how very gracious of you," Berg says bowing, taking a sip of his Bloodwine, "Do you happen to have a dedicated group within your Science Caste working on the Borg, I'm sure your people have probably had problems with the Borg since their return last year, information you could even share with your peers the F'hrger and the Hali, no doubt." The Fen Domar's eyebrows seem to droop slightly, a frown just slightly peppering his features, before the diplomatic facade reasserted itself.

    "Why- yes, I believe we do have a facility on our moon, isolated of course, the only facility on the surface due to a lack of materials readily available," Kaffar responds, "But with trade from the Hirogen and the Romulans, we've had the ability to build the facility in no time, and been able to conduct our first tests on reengineering Borg technology we've scavenged, nothing harmful mind you, just ways to make our energy more efficient and starships faster."

    "Ahh, the benefits of Transwarp, makes Warp Travel a breeze," he says casually, "Say, have you had contact with a group of people called the 'Federation', a ship captained by a T'Lek of Vulcan?" The Fen Domar's micro movements spasm, a nervous twitch seems to build up, a wrinkle threatening to spill into a full on frown.

    "No, I apologize, no ships called the Patagonia hasn't made contact with us, I don't know any T'Lek of Vulcan," he says hastily, "Well, will you look at the time; perhaps I can contact you and give beam in coordinates later today, the facility would no doubt welcome your peoples expertise." With that the man has left, leaving Berg sipping at his wine, smiling.

    "I never said anything about the Patagonia, Kaffar," Berg says under his breath, "Let alone mention 'ships', but thank you none the less for showing your hand." Getting up, he removes something from a nearby drawer, and pockets it.

    \\ Fen Domar Lunar Dome, Science Caste Research Facility

    Beaming down into the facility, Berg, Unada, Mazza and two science officers arrive in the beam in point, welcomed by Representative Hedid and a few Fen Domar scientists. "Welcome, please follow us," Kaffar says, taking the lead toward a pair of metal doors, "Through here is the main research facility, along with a transport structure leading into the lower levels." Berg's ears perk up at that, he had his ship run a full scan, they had found a shielded area, but now they had an entry point to find out some answers.

    Following the Fen Domar party, Berg follows, trailing behind his own men, before clicking a space on his belt and turning the corner where there appears to be a turbolift. While Berg moves away form his group, the holographic double continues marching onward, being sustained by Unada's hidden generator. Having slipped away, he chances upon the open turbolift, as a scientist enters to go into the lower levels. Hoping the phasic shroud would last for how long he was using it, he quickly presses a hypospray against the scientist's neck to knock him out. It was lucky the man had been wearing an outer coat, as Berg quickly puts it on, finding a mask to put on in one of the pockets, one that hid his alien facial features.

    Taking the unconscious man with him out of the turbolift, he finds a hidden corner to tuck the body into, and hides it using the recharged phasic generator. "Well, now to find out what's so important you had to hide it on your moon," Berg says to himself. Straightening himself up, the man walks into the deeper levels of the facility, past armed guards with scanners and heavy weaponry. "Evening," he says to one of them, who merely grunts in response, as he uses the key card in the pocket to verify his identity, "Well off we go..." Entering a darkened than normal corridor, which seemed to house cells, Berg manages to find an occupied room, a figure half hidden in dim lightening.

    "Hello?" he says, "Do you happen to be one of the Patagonia's crewmen?" Suddenly a shuffling is heard, as the figure turns and walks toward the light, a red beam now shining in the darkness.

    "We are the Borg, Resistance is Futile, Imprisonment inefficient," the human Borg drone says, "Open these cells, your biological and technological advances will service us and be adapted into the Collective." Berg stares at the wounded drone, its arm half tore off at the elbow, crucial machinery where assimilation tubules would sprout, while its other hand was little more than a metal stump where a hand would be.

    "Damn TRIBBLE," Berg swears, "I'll get you out of here, I'll get you help, but I have to find the others..." Suddenly a shout was heard from another cell, as a slurred voice speaks out. Walking over to the cell, a red bearded man in rags of a Starfleet uniform is shouting meaningless words and half-formed sentences. "Calm down, calm down," Berg says, trying to keep the man from giving him away, until he sees the fresh scar on the mans head, where it appeared to be freshly shaved, "Don't try to speak, just shake your head yes or no; do you understand?" Shaking his head yes, the man nods. "Are part of the Patagonia's crew?" he asks, again the man nods his head in affirmation, "The C?" The man tilts his head in confusion, before shaking his head no, Berg taking this in. "Are there others of your crew alive," he asks, "Have they brought anyone in that you don't recognize, a new Starfleet officer or alien you don't recognize?" Nodding once more, he looks to his left and nods twice.

    Pausing to go look, Berg walks away and goes to the next cell, then the one after it. Inside the cell he sees a Fen Domar military officer in need of a shave, but otherwise unharmed. Berg was confused that they imprisoned one of their own, but perhaps there was disagreement on what was going on. Motioning for him to be quite once he was noticed, the man nods and freezes when he looks to Berg's side. "Look out!" the officer says, as Berg feels something slam into the back of his skull. Head swimming, but able to see as darkness encroaches on him, he sees the crisp and clean uniform of the most loathsome kind of soldier to come across alone.

  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 651 Arc User
    edited October 2016
    \\

    Feeling something splash onto his face, Berg awakens to cold shock and the feeling of a Targ herd trampling on his head to a Bolian polka. Seeing the sharp and jagged edges of knives and various instruments of torture over his head, Berg can't help but groan at the cliché. "Sarus once told me how horrifying it was to be trapped on one of these things," Berg says to a person, who he assumes is just out of eyeshot, "I didn't believe him of course, but damn was he right, I'm completely terrified right now; don't misunderstand, it's not because of who you are, but what you are doing to those people down below." A man chuckles and the clacking of footsteps on metal surface echoes in the room, as he comes within view of Berg.

    "Quite astute, already having deduced my plan, have you?" the Tal Shiar officer says, apparently a scientist wearing a Commanders pin, "When Sela left me here with these men, I thought the Borg would be light years away and my experiments would halt; what do you know when the Borg show up, cause some chaos, then end up in disarray when a Federation Task Force takes down their transwarp gate, that I get another chance to increase my work." The man pulls out one of the scalpels from the machine, and lightly nicks himself, then drags it up his forearm for a second, green blood dripping out of the one inch cut.

    Suddenly it seals itself shut after a few moments, the Romulan having grabbed a rag and wiped away the blood. "Medical nanites, amazing what they could do when used properly," he says, "The Fen Domar have been hungry for scientific progress, I am the mind that can direct their work, I even convinced them to take control of the Patagonia, the one that saved them from the Borg, and the one that came snooping when they got wind of my work." The man replaces the blade, green blood still dripping from the bladed edge. "Now you come snooping after them, no doubt, and manage to fool the Science Caste above with a hologram," he says, "But Thei of Romulus knows better than to underestimate a Klingon Warrior, and what I got was a piece of Alien filth; I figured your Captain would have wanted to see this place firsthand, seize it for the 'glory of the Klingon Empire' and all that, but I got you instead..."

    The man turns and smirks at Berg, before looking him once more over. "Tell me, how is it you managed to deduce that the Fen Domar had captured your ships?" he says, "I had planted the fake Black Box among the debris personally, I made sure ever piece was scrubbed of logos and paint, no way to trace it to the Fen Domar beyond a- ah, the indent, you managed to get an image after all-" The man walks over to wash his hands in a nearby water source, a sink somewhere behind Berg's table. "No doubt that's what led you to the Science Caste instead of the main military force," Thei says, moving back into view, "It's a good thing that my spies in the paramilitary managed to intercept your communications in the Science Caste; they don't exactly know about the experiments I manage down here, they only know about the ships, they might object on the 'experimentation' I am doing on sentients and Borg drones."

    "I'm assuming that's why one of the Fen Domar were imprisoned with the officer from the Patagonia-B, and from the draft in my feet, I also assume you took my boots off," Berg says, ignoring the mans comments, "I also assume you were smart enough to remove my mek'leth from my belt, my spare knife from the thigh strap, the spare bobby pin I keep in my gauntlet, and obviously the transporter enhancer I disguised as a medical pack on my belt?" The Romulan straightens at the last comment. "No?" he says, "Well good, I may be a piece of 'alien filth', but I think my crew would appreciate the chance to spill the blood of the man who took their Captain from behind in a cowardly attack..." The hum of transporters and flash of steel shows Unada and a group of security officers aiming their guns at the lone Romulan man. "Let's see how the Fen Domar respond to knowing that their people have been subject to an insane manipulation by an war criminal," Berg says, "And let's see how they respond to the knowledge that said war criminal has been conducting experiments against life, and probably made the Fen Domar quite a few enemies where there doesn't need to be any."

    \\ The Bridge of the Rozhenko

    "Nice to see you can speak again Captain Penn," Berg says over the viewscreen, where the bridge of two Jupiter-Class ships are seen on split screen, one the older model, ugly as Gre'thor, the other new and nearly pristine, respectively showing a cleanly cut red-head, and a stiff Vulcan female.

    "I'd like to thank you for that, Eria'nos, and your engineering crew for the repairs to our ships," Penn Falkner responds, "The old girl took a beating by the Borg, but we managed to save as many as we could from the other wrecks after we took down their hub network; only just managed to limp into Fen Domar space when Thei preyed upon us." The man smiles as the Vulcan woman speaks up now.

    "Both Patagonia's will stay in orbit of Fen Domar Space, until we effect complete repairs, but I too, wish to thank you for the rescue," T'Lek of Vulcan responds, "Lieutenant Merewether is doing fine as well, we've managed to remove a few of the unnecessary implants and attempt to replicate substitute appendages, but a Cooperative ship in the area has contacted us and is en route to help clean up the facility and help our affected crew as well; I have even heard talk of them opening relations with the Fen Domar as well."

    Berg smiles at this, the officer he had come across had lost the use of his hands, but with Cooperative help, he was sure they would manage with the proper implants available at their disposal. "Very well, I believe this has been enough excitement for my crew as well," Berg says, "I plan to return home as soon as possible with this news, perhaps the Romulans would be interested in having one of Sela's exiles tried for war crimes..." Laughing, Captain Falkner nods, and Berg joins him. "Fair travels, my new friends," Berg says, "May you bring honor to the Federation by making the right choices, the Fen Domar deserve a second chance at discovering new things; I believe both our peoples might benefit from having friends this far out, one day."

    "No doubt," T'Lek says, "May you bring honor to your own House, Captain, Live Long and Prosper." Logging off, Penn merely nods as well, as he cuts communication with the Rozhenko.

    "Helm, take us home," Berg says, "Tell the crew to start celebrating, we'll feast until dawn!" With a hearty cheer from his bridge crew, Berg smiles as his own doubts fade away with the cheering.
  • antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,376 Arc User
    edited October 2016
    Head Underwater

    By antonine3258

    part 1

    Inspired by ULC 28

    Note: This is in some respects a fragment I’d been planning for a larger story – I hadn’t gotten this far in the other story, but seemed a good case towork on it.

    Setting: First part of ‘Surface Tension’ in the Solanae Sphere.

    *

    Antonine beamed back aboard Constellation, and waited patiently behind the force field as Dunwen ran the checks to confirm she was still who shesaid she was. They didn’t take long – everyone’s head was clearer without the infiltrator around. That didn’t stop her first officer from pacing back andforth, Takerra’s antennae working through the air furiously.

    The forcefield finally dropped and the air difference between it and the atmosphere that had beamed in with her from the communication nexus hit her hard.The air was acrid, and a spike of the fear from emergency exercises at the Academy spiked. “It’s safe to tell me now, Takerra – status report.”

    She stepped down and walked over to the transporter console with barely a glance at the chief, reconfiguring it to pull up a status monitor as the Andoriangave the summary, though she kept pacing. “The Undine started pulling back towards Dyson Command, but the last two gave us a pounding. They popped out ofnowhere. We’ve lost the port secondary computer core and took a heavy torpedo to the main deflector assembly. We’ve lost long-range scanning and subspacecommunication. Structural integrity is holding but engineering said we’d be losing the equivalent of twenty milibars an hour if we weren’t in thinatmosphere if the emergency force fields drop.”

    “Is Chys’ette alive?” Antonine asked – noting Takerra had not said her chief engineer had given the report.

    “Still in surgery, but the prognosis is good – she was running command links back to the port impulse engine after the damage the core did, and we took ahit the grid couldn’t quite disperse – those Borg monstrosities were able to absorb a lot of it, but she and half her team took a lot of the shock.Galitan’s keeping things together down there.” Dunwen said grimly.

    Antonine looked at Takerra. The science officer was still no tactician, or in her role as Vice Admiral Revka, she would have happily signed off on acaptaincy recommendation. The reverse engineered Borg equipment was tough, but from Antoine’s reading – a degree of difference on the torpedo impact andthey wouldn’t be having the conversation; the torpedo punching past the deflector equipment and detonating in antimatter containment.

    The Andorian caught her captain’s eyes, and stopped pacing. She ran fingers through her hair. “Life support is obviously on reserve capacity – we’ve gottenall the fires out, but since it was able to filter enough toxins to be safe, I had them get back to work on the control runs.”

    “Is this why the port shield status is showing ‘unknown’?” Antoine asked.

    “We know it is gathering power, but we don’t have enough feedback yet for the lateral sensors to confirm the shield is up. There’s enough junk that RFcommunications aren’t working well either.” Takerra said. “You have the conn,” she added, with self-loathing spreading through her voice.

    Constellation’s here, we’re doing better than a lot of ships,” Antonine said sharply. The big Emissary-class star cruiser was rapidlyfalling into obsolescence as technologies from the Solanae Sphere retrofitted the fleet, but she’d come through again. Though it looked like regardless ofQuinn liking to throw them at problems, they were finally going to get that dock time.

    They’d been taken a pounding from suborned ships before she’d beamed over to investigate the communication nexus spreading chaos through the tactical net.Which reminded her.

    “And, we completed our missions,” Antoine said, leaning in a little for extra effect. “Admiral Revka to bridge – I’m back on board – get us away from theNexus before the Undine get suspicious - half impulse, one eight zero mark zero. Commander Dunwen will send confirmation of my identity.”

    “We’re getting help?” Dunwen said, voice nearly cracking as she punched in a confirmation code. The ship’s engines flared to life. Antonine winced at thepitch; much higher than normal – there was real structural damage or a throttle nozzle had actually been shot away.

    “Not yet,” Antonine said. “We managed to reach Dyson Command, but there’s still hand-to-hand combat going there. It has to be considered compromised, butwe managed to stop the overlay on the tactical net – we can see the Undine coming out of the star now and the minefield is back under control.” Antoninegestured for them to follow, she’d found a good path to the bridge with air and gravity.

    The corridors had some smoke, but visibility was good. Crewmen nodded as they went past, carrying supplies – not many, most of the damage control washappening closer to the hull. The chaos from spot overloads looked dramatic, but wasn’t nearly as damaging. Thankfully, most of the crewmen smiled as theysaw their captain – morale had definitely taken some blows over the last day, but Constellation was still in the fight.

    “Most of the fleet is still at the Jenolan Sphere,” Dunwen said as they walked. “Were you able to send a message to the Admiral Tuvok?”

    Antonine shook her head, “No – the Sphere’s long-range communication function was operationally locked – with the team aboard dead, it’d take us a week tofigure out how to remotely override it with the nexus up.”

    Takerra said, “I’m sure the Undine have the quantum filament and the solar gate secured, and even without long-range scans, we were able to get optical;they’re still sending ships through. Whatever they did to the tactical net is working over there.” She stopped talking briefly, as she and Antonine phasersfree a half-fallen bulkhead to get to an access ladder.

    “What makes you think they didn’t take out the Enterprise and the rest of the delegations?” Dunwen asked as they started to climb.

    “If they had that much firepower,” Antonine said. “There’d be no need to subvert Dyson Command – they could simply blow their way through Starfleet.” Shelooked down and smiled. “All the chaos means they think Starfleet can beat them in an even fight – and we’re going to give it to them.”

    “Antonine – we’re blind and mute!” Dunwen protested in a near whisper. “You’ve fought some crazy stuff and we keep surviving, but if you think you can takea whole Undine fleet on your own…”

    “I couldn’t change the active program without the investigation team,” Antonine said, “And the Undine knew it, or they would have stayed around to kill us– they have bigger fish to fry still, so we know at least some Alliance groups are fighting back. But I was able to slip a program into the startuproutine; if the communication nexus reboots, it should have normal control of the quantum filament – it’ll send a message to Tuvok and New Romulus.”

    “Should,” Takerra said. “So – did this feat of technowizardry work? They’re on their way?”

    “No,” Antonine said, “We’re locked out – and during the walkthrough an Undine was present, so I can’t try to adjust the power supply on this side. But thenexus is tied into the Sphere’s ion flow, and it’s Solanae – a power drop and surge should run the self-test cycle without burning it out.”

    “Should,” Takerra said.

    “Should,” Antonine said with a shrug.

    “Should,” Dunwen sighed.

    *

    After reaching the bridge, Takerra had some more time to think about it. “Okay, so we go into the ion flow – it’s separate from Dyson Command, so noworried whatever’s still happening there. And there’s a lot of control nodes, so even if the Undine are there, we can find a relatively undefended node.”

    They had some brief privacy – the ship’s massive bridge was the hub of activity at red alert; all stations manned and active instead of backups onautomatic. And there was a lot to coordinate, with even intraship communication spotty to some compartments, and about the only system working fine waswarp drive – impossible to use in the Sphere. More crosstalk than normal was expected, but gave the senior officers some cover.

    “And though we can’t punch through at this range, maybe if we get closer, we can find an Alliance ship to hand the mission off to,” Antonine said, andmoved to the center chair as Takerra, with some relief, took her position at the tactical station.

    Dunwen went to science and shook her head. The Constellation’s deflector was relatively underpowered compared to a science ship’s long-rangesensors when it was working. And most of her lab staff was busy helping at damage control. “From what we have, we’re not detecting any nearby impulseengine EM signatures,” she reported. “I’m seeing radiation pulses - likely weapons fire at multiple points – I’m putting them on tactical with degree ofcertainty.”

    “Understood, Commander,” Antonine said formally, now that she was back in the center seat. The Trill was good as her word, putting ‘hot spots’ in 3D.

    “Plot us around them for a course on our current bearing – drop shields, go to emissions control and stealth protocols,” Antonine ordered. That caused theactivity level to drop. “Go to emissions control and stealth protocols,” she repeated, icy. This was not good. The crew wasn’t used to losing, andeven two Undine kills didn’t soften the blow on feeling on the defensive. The status board updated; though it took three tries before the port shieldsdropping was confirmed. Constellation was still being stitched together, but keeping the crew had just jumped in priority.

    “Helm, confirm our bearing is not towards the gate back to the Alpha Quadrant, please,” Antonine said, forcing calm into her voice, and not doinga good job even to her ears.

    “Confirmed sir,” came back automatically from the new ensign at helm.

    “Just for the record and the ship’s log,” Antonine said, hurt. “I fully intend to carry out our orders from Admiral Tuvok to maintain the Dyson Alliance’shold on this part of space. We are injured, but not out, and I fully believe we can succeed. Give me all hands please.” She stood, trying to calm herself.

    “All crew: this is Admiral Revka. Once again, thank you all for your brave efforts. Constellation remains space-worthy. Our mission to secure theJenolan conference has not changed. Successful fulfillment requires avoiding contact with enemy and allied forces given the current command andcontrol breakdown in the Sphere. Some of Starfleet’s finest ships, though not the best, are a call away using the Sphere’s quantum communicator. We cansend that message. We will do so. Coordinating all our efforts, we will force the Undine to the negotiating table and put an end to this incursion. Revkaout,” she finished, and sat back in her chair; a study of a Starfleet captain in marble, briefly. The bridge crew; besides Takerra, hesitated to meet hereyes.

    The ship rumbled on, and suddenly the squeal stopped. “Sorry, captain – full helm control on the port side restored,” the helmsman said, abashed.

    “Thank you – best possible speed under emissions control,” Antonine said, tightly.

    *

    Constellationleapt through the thin air of the Sphere at this height. Its shape had often been derided as a great spoon or space whale, but that streamlining was someassistance with cleaving through Sphere. In space, she could have covered the distance she had so far in an eye blink, without even needing more than a fewthrusters. Here, impulse engines labored and deflectors flexed to adapt the starship to an unnatural medium.

    Antonine had taken a brief break to survey the damage in a work pod and get her composure back together. The poor ship’s graceful lines held (ignoring theBorg adaptions) – as long as you looked at it from the right angle. From the aft, things looked fine, but from above – the port side forward had multiplelong burns from long-range shots on the dorsal side; looking worse than they were, though outer hull integrity was down. The skeletal framework of the Borgsubtranswarp held around the impulse engines, and they were still responding.

    The underside, though, showed the effects of the close range duel – the holes weren’t long burns, but looked more like meteor impacts. At that range asshields weekend, the attenuation effect was much less, and the inner hull had been breached repeatedly. Antonine could see flakes of metal falling awaystill – hull pieces, and some personal effects from breached living quarters. Irradiated to dangerous levels, they were having to be ejected quickly so thedamage to the hull could actually be intended to – most of the thrusters were offline and the shields were only half as effective; at best.

    Lower down, in the secondary hull, Constellation’s usual bizarre, skeletal deflector was missing its usual ominous green glow; with only a faintlime-color evident. The Borg structures didn’t follow the usual rules of function for engineering, so they worked and had been copied whole-sale. They werematched by flash-burned Starfleet structural members behind it – a gaping wound in the ship – the resonance cavities and processing nodes of the long-rangsensors had been detonated out of the ship by a well-timed torpedo, along with forty-six of Antonine’s crew, but the explosion tearing its way out hadsaved bulkheads father aft; the ship’s power systems were intact, and the hundred and fifty crewmen that had been in engineering were still alive.

    “You poor things,” Antonine said. “You poor brave things.” The damage pattern was almost like a shaped charge – someone had seen the damage coming enoughto drop structural integrity fields to make sure the ship was alive. She wouldn’t have been able to even make the survey otherwise; in spite of the damage,the navigational deflector, farthest forward in the compartment, had survived, and the tiny pod could hug its mother ship’s slipstream.

    At least, it worked in air – the items it had to move were very close, but without the sensors that had died, Constellation was useless in itsnatural medium at anything approaching even a fraction of impulse. She had no long-range sensors, no one she could talk to even if it worked – much of thescience labs were wrecked and the engineering spaces overworked. Their short-range sensors on the port side was a mess, even with her crew’s capability,they would be able to do little better than automatic with shields and weapons on that side.

    They’d had at least time to rebuild the deflectors; and this environment was almost as bad for the Undine as for the Constellation. Thermalconduction was much better than a vacuum – it would be very cold for the Undine, and the Sphere had enough ecosystem to make the bioships’ immune responsework. She’d put her crew against almost any Undine, if things were normal, even with Constellation’s damage.

    Her crew – that was the other reason out here, away from her hurting ship and crew. They’d been swindled, and knew it – and she was feeling her lack ofexperience more painfully, because she could feel her crew on it. She wasn’t the only one, but as far as the crew went – as the Captain it was herresponsibility to be aware of everything, no matter how impossible. Forget P’jem, where she’d been as fooled as everyone and only barely salvaged it,forget the preemptive strike, crippling Romulan efforts against the Undine.

    She leaned back against the seat, and sighed. No tears came – she wasn’t that raw. Maybe she should see something, or come up with a better plan – but thiswas a plan she knew she could accomplish.

    And she knew that, given what the Sphere contained, and the very real possibility the Undine were being manipulated themselves – every last person of theseven hundred-strong crew on Constellation was expendable. Including her.

    She triggered the tightbeam. “This is Admiral Revka – I’ve completed my damage survey – we are good to continue into the ion stream,” she said calmly.

    *

    Post edited by antonine3258 on
    Fate - protects fools, small children, and ships named Enterprise Will Riker

    Member Access Denied Armada!

    My forum single-issue of rage: Make the Proton Experimental Weapon go for subsystem targetting!
  • antonine3258antonine3258 Member Posts: 2,376 Arc User
    Head Underwater

    part 2, by antonine3258

    *

    The ion stream was a marvel even amongst marvels. A vast energy stream, gathered from the flickering star, fed through technology still beyond theAlliance’s capabilities. Only a few of the systems had even been truly identified, and only a handful of them were understood. Energy cascaded point topoint – separate from the Omega particles that had brought so much destruction, but still a tremendous energy.

    Antonine was once again grateful for Federation priorities – the communications system, naturally, had been one of the first things identified andunderstood, and she could feel all those people behind her, regardless of what the Undine had done.

    “All stop – tactical report,” Antonine ordered, back in the center chair.

    Dunwen was much crisper than earlier – there hadn’t been time to talk yet. Antonine hoped there would be. “Interference is heavy from repeated weapon fire– we are detecting gamma spikes consistent with gravimetric shear, heavy weapon detonations and warp core detonations. The ion stream is clearing some ofthis but there’s far too much.”

    The tactical report came on screen – again, shaded in probabilities. There were ships dying in the center of each of those. She sat down and sketched acourse, twisting and diving. “Helm, skate the hazard zones as close as we can without raising shields – remain on passive. Commander Dunwen, do the bestyou can to get our damage control personnel away from the hull and into more shielded areas – inner spaces, the computer cores, weapon controlcompartments.” The Trill nodded.

    “All hands – Admiral Revka. Red alert – prepare for turbulence and environmental hazards,” she ordered. The klaxon trilled briefly. Ready personnel onstandby stations swapped, whatever refreshment they’d managed to grab in the last hour.

    “Take us in – whatever we’ve got left, spin us ninety degrees port on x-axis,” Antonine ordered, “Keep the starboard side toward the sun – remember theUndine have better natural inclinations to 3d maneuvering than us flatlanders.” The new helm officer nodded. The ship’s humming grew again.

    *

    “Range two-zero-zero-zero from attack run point,” Dunwen said, twelve nerveless minutes later. “Gravimetric diffraction confirms mass readings not on thechart at bearing one zero mark twenty-three. Combined with the physics lab’s readings, I’d say at least twelve ships in a dogfight – no chances on classidentification without visual scanning in these conditions. Continued thermal spikes”

    “We’ll see who we can help out after this,” Antonine said. “Takerra, weapons program pre-loaded?”

    “Affirmative – we’ve got a good calculation on meteorological conditions – I have a time-on-target package of forty quantum torpedoes. Given thelimitations on our forward weapon drivers, this will take approximately a minute and a half to deliver,” the Andorian said. To overcome the safety systems– to make sure a power surge travelled far enough, they needed a blast strong enough to deform subspace, triggering certain safeties against the wrongproblem.

    Barring some sort of subspace detonation, a coordinated salvo was the best option. Given Constellation’s layout, they had plenty of torpedoes, buttheir mass drivers and ready magazines could only launch a few in each salvo. It would take time and a stable firing platform.

    “Excellent, stand by for firing range,” Antonine said, gripping her chair’s arm rests. They had one last power armature; larger than seventy percent ofevery city on her homeworld (or any on Vulcan, for a larger reference pool) to bypass, and they would be at the right distance. If the calculations wereright, if their understanding of the safety systems worked, if she somehow didn’t cause a cascade of Omega particles to generate. If, if, if…

    “More spikes – seeing some definite uptakes in the receipt – fight is drifting this way, Admiral,” Dunwen said.

    “Helm – roll us forty degrees starboard, bring us up five degrees,” Antonine said calmly. “Keep us on minimal aspect.”

    Constellationrolled, she could imagine it, sun gleaming, though the effect was somewhat ruined by the damage that had wrecked their lines.

    “Coming up on maneuver point around armature,” Helm reported. And then the world twisted in front of them in the viewer.

    *

    From the moment of time, there was a deep flash of light before them, a glimpse of an Undine bio-cruiser, ‘bleeding’ out into the atmosphere, but it wasmore of an impression, a flash on the retinas of an orange streak, too sudden for the sensors to align and track on the viewscreen. A second flash – redmerging into terrible white light as the ship disintegrated. Then a terrible roar, far louder than any damage in space as the shockwave passed over them.

    Later, exhaustive after-action and analysis was able to piece more of what happened. The Nicor-class, trying to escape a Klingon cruiser that hadcollapsed its shields, had created an elaborate construction of space and gravity – a temporary singularity-based wormhole. Where the photon torpedooriginated was never determined – there were several possibilities from Klingons smelling the kill. In a one in a thousand chance, one of the torpedoes hadpassed through on such a close angle to the ship it was not ripped apart by the wormhole’s singularity walls.

    What happened after that was more typical. The bioships were resilient, but this one had been ravaged by disruptor fire, its shields shattered. The torpedofollowed its own instructions and ploughed into the rear ‘engine’ components of the bioship. Without shields, injured and dying, the bioship could notresist the antimatter fires generated, and its own impulse and warp ‘reactors’ detonated as containment failed catastrophically. The chain-reaction createda wave of annihilation and energy, with Constellation, unshielded for stealth, only a few kilometers away.

    In space, it was suicide range. In atmosphere, it was still knife-fighting range. But the wave of particles found something to hit beforeConstellation, forcing a superheated mass of irradiated air to bombard the forward sections of Constellation’s primary hull. With directcontact, gamma rays sleeted through and into the duranium. Even as tough as it was; it was a metal – some of that wave lingered, flooding compartments withtoxic energy.

    On the bridge, they were far enough back to be safe, but alarms wailed on the bridge, the dreaded environmental alerts with the standard red alert klaxon.Antonine hit a button on her side console to silence them. “Red alert! Shields up! Maximum speed to target point!” she ordered.

    The bridge erupted into controlled chaos – the shock of what had happened was overlaid with drills. Antonine stood silently and walked to Dunwen. The Trillwas pale, drained of blood, but hands operated over the console. Takerra came over after locking down her console for the moment.

    “The science teams; our best weapons crew – the damage teams and science personnel,” Antonine said. “They were all in the forward compartments.”

    “Yes,” Dunwen said, “What could we do – the port areas were damaged.” She trailed off. “No immediate pursuit, but there are more Undine ships nearby thanwe’d thought. It’s a matter of time.”

    “It was playing the odds when we maneuvered… but if we were bow on, we wouldn’t have our forward tubes, even if we had the people. That’s assuming thestructural members could still take it” Takerra said quietly. Her antennae drooped. Antonine nodded, once, in confirmation to her first – they may havekilled the people to save the ship. Recriminations would keep her up later.

    “Dunwen – most of crew is human – the radiation – is there anything we can do?” Antonine said.

    “Make them comfortable,” Dunwen said automatically, then shook herself. “No – the next couple days, even if we could completely flush their systems, theirDNA is almost certainly shot. The farther back compartments, where the systems had time to engage what was left of our emergency force field capacity andthere was more bulk, we should get them to sickbay; might recover with cloned replacements.” Antonine closed her eyes.

    “How long for the effects?” Antoine asked.

    “A few hours – maybe some nausea, complete system failure in the next few days,” Dunwen said, swallowing.

    “Begin medical evacuation and stasis on a triage basis, but compartment by compartment,” Antonine ordered.

    “No general call, sir?” Dunwen said, surprised.

    “Yes – keep the crew on we can make them comfortable, but I need them working. Takerra, I need you on record for this,” she said, and her voice quaveredbriefly before firming. Having any support wasn’t the best captain point, but it felt good. “Given the basic capabilities of the hull, switching out theweapons crew, could we complete the fire mission?”

    Takerra hesitated. “Seriously,” Antonine pressed. “I know they’ll try their best, but unformed teams, crews without active experience. How much would thateffect?”

    “Twenty, maybe thirty percent,” Takerra said, and turned to Dunwen. “I’m sorry – for the log, but I agree with the captain’s proposal – we would be unableto coordinate this sort of multi-layer strike without the current weapon crews.”

    “Still want my job? Or even hers?” Antonine asked Dunwen.

    Dunwen’s hands spasmed over the consoles where she was rigging up command sets to the triage teams before returning to duty. “Admiral – if this works,we’ve got a very good chance of saving the Sphere. That’s trillions of lives with the Omega particles. If it doesn’t work, I assume the next step istossing overloaded phasers into it, or maybe just ram it,” she said. “And you’re not falling down under that – I hope I can do that.” She finishedthe command set.

    “For the ship’s log: I agree as well,” Dunwen said. “Great Bird of the Galaxy, may we be forgiven.”

    That got a set of nods, and they returned to their consoles. Antonine gripped her armrests as they lurched forward – far stronger than the turbulencerequired. Constellation was dying by degrees – deaf and dumb, and poisoned. And if they survived this mad plan, she’d consigned over two hundredto a far more painful end. If it didn’t, they were all dead, but… she would have to look them in the eyes and say it was worth it, and pray she didn’tsound exactly like her Academy instructor on the subject.

    Ahead of them lay fire, death, and the chance to send up the signal flare. Around them were threats, aboard, death rode. Constellation continuedon its final mission.

    *

    This was for the ‘Life or Death’ prompt – it was a bit more spoiler than usual. This is set before Antonine teaches a command course while waiting for theinquest, and is part of the impetus for Dunwen finally buckling down and taking a command position.
    Fate - protects fools, small children, and ships named Enterprise Will Riker

    Member Access Denied Armada!

    My forum single-issue of rage: Make the Proton Experimental Weapon go for subsystem targetting!
  • azniadeetazniadeet Member Posts: 1,864 Arc User
    I haven't been writing a ton lately, but I'm going to actually submit a story I wrote some time ago. It's one of my favorite personal works, and a pivotal moment in Federalist lore. It also fits the life and death prompt really well.

    ---

    Fait Accompli

    "Captain, I'm picking up a Federation distress signal." The Ferengi officer reporter from the tactical console.

    "This far out?" Deet was surprised. "Any message? Can you identify the ship?"

    "No, Captain. It's a general distress call, definitely on a Federation carrier wave. It seems to be heavily distorted... coming from an uncharted star system on a course of 529 mark 3."

    "Lay in a course, Mr. En'thaas."

    The Aenar helmsman tapped the raised braille buttons on his tactile helm interface. The Federalist changed course before jumping to warp.

    "Estimated time to arrival?" The Captain asked her helmsman.

    "One hour, 22 minutes." he responded.

    "Mr. Atom, what is the closest Federation ship to our position?"

    The Android accessed his positronic database "The U.S.S. Revere is currently assigned to survey systems in the Eridan Belt."

    "Could this be a signal from them?" The Captain inquired.

    "Highly unlikely, Captain. We passed near the Revere last week. If their course had brought them here, that course would have been roughly parallel to our own. They would have shown on our sensors all along."

    "It seems that we have a mystery." Deet's curiosity was piqued, "But whoever they are, they apparently need our help."

    ---

    The Federalist arrived in the unexplored system. The signal led them to the orbit of the fourth planet in the system.

    "It is a class M planet, readings from the surface are... sporadic." Atom reported unsurely.

    Aznia walked over to the science console to look over his shoulder. "What is causing all of this interference?" she pointed to a garbled display.

    "I am trying to get a scanner lock on the source of the distress beacon... the atmosphere seems to have a strange chronometric flux that is distorting the image." The Android did all he could to enhance the image. "It appears to be debris consistent with a small craft... I am also detecting what appear to be three distinct humanoid lifesigns."

    "Can you beam them out?" Aznia's tone turned urgently toward the wellbeing of the survivors.

    "Not at this time. The interference would distort the transporter signal." Lt. Atom responded, "...but I do not believe this interference would pose a significant threat to a shuttle?"

    "I'd hate for one of our shuttles to fall prey to the same conditions that took down this ship." Captain Deet raised a valid point.

    Commander Walesa stood up, "Captain, we don't know what took that ship down... I specialized in atmospheric flight training at the academy. I'd like to volunteer for this mission."

    Aznia looked away for a moment, pondering the situation. She exhaled quickly through her nose before accepting the advice of her staff, "We certainly can't leave them down there. Take Doctor Span and a medical team along to treat the injured."

    Walesa walked toward the turbolift, she gestured toward a red shirted security officer, "Mr. Wrinn, I'd like a you with me on this one." The Xindi-primate Ensign followed the first officer. Walesa tapped her combadge, "Mr. Span, meet me with a medical team in shuttlebay one." The turbolift doors slid shut behind her.

    ---

    Shuttlecraft Shepard departed the Federalist. Walesa sat at the helm with Span sitting at the adjacent console. Wrinn sat on the port side bunk seat meticulously adjusting tuning his phaser to the appropriate frequency. The medical team consisting of Lieutenant Kelis and Ensign Lanning checked over supplies in the medkits from the starboard side bunk seat.

    "Hold on folks, we're entering the ionosphere." Walesa alerted the group.

    The shuttle rocked slightly, everything seemed well for the first few moments.

    "Commander," Span broke the silence, "I'm detecting a strange buildup of..."

    The shuttle suddenly lost all power, dropping into a uncontrolled free fall. Span swiveled his seat to face the power transfer console.

    "We've lost engine power, can you get me anything from auxiliary?!" Walesa ordered.

    Span tapped hopelessly at the console, "Nothing is responding!" he raised his voice dispassionately, "All ships power is simply gone."

    Walesa quickly opened an access panel beside her console, "There's nothing going through these ODN lines! We need to find a power source quickly!!"

    Span quickly climbed back to the ships reactor control access, he opened it and found all circuits dead there as well. The reactor was completely offline. Span took a moment to look up at the view screen, seeing the ground approach quickly. He reached over and grabbed the phaser from Wrinn's terrified, clenched hand.

    "What are you doing!?" Wrinn asked in confused shock.

    Span ignored the Ensign, "Commander, prepare to level our descent!"

    He detatched an ODN relay jamming the hand phaser into it's connection coupling, he increased the power output to the weapon's maximum.

    "NOW!" he shouted, firing the weapon.

    Walesa mustered a small, but meaningful, adjustment to the shuttle's course. They went from complete free fall to a managed crash course as the phaser's power blew out every relay on the ship, before venting from the maneuvering thrusters, and nudging the ship into the pilot's control.

    "Brace for impact!!" Walesa yelled loudly as the ship soared into a forest. The shuttle sheared through several trees, and glanced off of a small rock precipice, which tore the starboard side of the ship open like a tin can. Kelis and Lanning were thrown from the ship as the bulkhead gave way. Wrinn and Span clinged onto the port bunk as Walesa remained dedicated to her console, still futilely trying to control the craft.

    The ship finally tumbled to a rest at the base of several large trees. The three remaining crew members struggled to their feet. Span was the first one up, the Vulcan officer's body proved more structurally durable to the jarring crash. He lifted Wrinn onto the bunk, helping to stabilize what he diagnosed as a broken arm. When he realized the injuries were not fatal, he turned to Walesa.

    "Commander!" he grabbed her by her shoulder as she sit slumped over he control panel.

    Walesa struggled to consciousness, wincing in pain at the light flooding back into her dilated eyes. She simply groaned to acknowledge Span's concern.

    "You appear to be concussed commander." He examined her pupils carefully before checking over the rest of her, "We should get out of the shuttle." smoke was venting into the cockpit from smoldering parts scattered all around.

    Span escorted the other two survivors out of the craft. The forest outside was accommodating, a comfortable temperature, plenty of sunlight shining down through the trees. In different circumstances, it would almost be a serene place. He found a spot for Walesa to sit and rest, while he tended to Wrinn's arm.

    "I need to set the bone. You will experience significant pain, Ensign." Span informed the patient dispassionately.

    Wrinn sighed, hanging his head. "OK." he murmured through clenched his teeth.

    Span acted immediately, he didn't give Wrinn time to brace, as to minimize muscle resistance.

    Wrinn screamed at the top of his lungs, he cry echoing through the vast forest. He whimpered as he cradled the wounded limb.

    Span turned back to the shuttle. He began to dig through the crashed craft for any usable supplies. The port side lockers were in tact. In them, he found one medkit, a hand phaser, a tricorder, three boxes of federation emergency rations, and four folded blankets. The starboard side locker was gone along with the upper folding bunk. The lower bunk was broken away from the wall, lying on the floor. Span retrieved a small fire extinguisher from center console between the pilot's seats, he conservatively discharged it just enough to stop any components within the fuselage from smoldering further. Span looked around the craft one last time before tearing a loose piece of hard resin conduit from the ship's exposed environmental system. He returned to his patients, Walesa was already up and trying to find a branch to help splint Wrinn's arm.

    "Commander, sit down. I am authorized to make that an order." He reminded her sternly of his medical authority. "I believe this piece of conduit will serve as a fine splint." He held the hard piece against the wounded arm as Wrinn grit his teeth, he wrapped one of the survival blankets as a sling around the arm and behind his neck to immobilize the wound.

    "You found a medkit?" Wrinn inquired.

    "That is correct." Span acknowledged.

    "There should be some kind of analgesic or sedative in there. Please, I'm in a lot of pain here."

    Span scanned Wrinn with the tricorder. "I'm sorry Ensign, I do not doubt that you are in a great deal of discomfort, but you are in no immediate risk of shock or further complication. We need to ration our supplies." The Vulcan tried to temper his dispassionate tone as much as possible within the bounds of logic.

    "Come on, Commander. I'm sure we'll be rescued soon!" Wrinn pleaded.

    "Wrinn!" Walesa shot a disapproving tone in his direction. "Rest. Do the best you can."

    Span returned his attention to Walesa, "Please, Commander. Do not exert yourself." He removed a hypospray from his kit trying to remain discreet. "This is a serious concussion. We need to reduce the swelling." He pressed the anti-inflammatory hypospray against her carotid artery.

    Wrinn looked over seeing the administration of the drug. He scowled, believing that his superiors were conspiring against him to hoard the supplies for themselves. His gaze remained fixed on Commander Span, who callously ignored the clear disapproval.

    Span looked over the tricorder a little bit more. He stood between the two injured officers. "You are both under orders to rest, keep your emotions under control, I know that we will survive this."

    "How could you know that?" Wrinn shot back pessimistically.

    "The initial shuttle crash that we detected had three survivors. We detected that reading right here, at this exact location on the planet's surface." Span informed his colleagues. "When we entered the planet's ionosphere, I briefly detected a buildup of chronitons that discharged our ship's power core. The subsequent reaction sent us backward in time. We are the survivors we came to rescue."

    ---

    "Where did they go?!" Aznia demanded an answer.

    Lt. Atom quickly tapped at his console, accessing as much sensor data as possible. "We detected a buildup of chroniton particles at the shuttle's last known location, then a massive plasma discharge, and the shuttle simply disappeared."

    Aznia's concern grew, "Was the shuttle destroyed?"

    "I do not believe so, Captain." Atom added, "I am not detecting any debris, no dust. The size of the discharge was not significant enough to account for the shuttle's destruction."

    "Captain," En'thaas chimed in, "I'd like to point out that the shuttle was on a trajectory that would've taken them down in close proximity to the rescue site. The wreckage below is consistent with the size of our shuttle, and we did detect chroniton particles. A temporal anomaly may be at work here."

    "So we sent them to rescue..." Aznia began to say.

    "...themselves." Atom finished the sentence before turning back to his console to scan the anomaly further.

    "How long have they been down there?" Aznia asked.

    The Android didn't know, "Until we better understand the phenomenon at work, we can not tell."

    "We need to get them out of there. I want options!"
  • azniadeetazniadeet Member Posts: 1,864 Arc User
    Fait Accompli (con't)

    ---

    In the week that had passed since the crash, Span and Walesa developed a routine around their base camp. They'd recovered the bodies of Kelis and Lanning, burying them nearby. They were using the shuttle as a makeshift shelter, the weather was stable and warm, they'd found sources of food in many of the indigenous plants, and a stream nearby provided an endless flow of clean water. Survival was difficult, but things could've been much worse given the situation.

    "This is becoming intolerable," Wrinn lamented, "How long until they come?!"

    "One day less than when you asked yesterday." Span retorted. "We simply can not know. It may be a matter of a hours, it may be a matter of years."

    "Years?" Wrinn panicked.

    "I suggest you focus on the fact that we will ultimately be discovered. Before we crashed, we detected three life signs, which means that we will survive." Span offered encouragement. "I have no doubt that Captain Deet will find a way to bring us home."

    "What if..." Wrinn began to think "What if we did something to change our future?"

    "That is not possible." Span shot the idea down, "Whatever actions we take, the result will be us, here, when the Federalist discovers us. If it wasn't the case, we would have seen a different result."

    "Hear me out," Wrinn added, "I've been looking over the shuttle, if we can rebuild the reactor, I think we can get to orbit."

    "Are you crazy, Wrinn? Half of the hull is gone!" Walesa shot down the idea.

    "I've been thinking about that," Wrinn explained, "I remember hearing about hand phasers being modified to project a containment field around hull breaches."

    "I doubt the disbursement field could be set wide enough to contain this hull damage." Span answered. "Even if we were able to seal the breach, such a method would work as nothing more than a stop-gap measure."

    "We have to try something!" Wrinn exclaimed.

    "Wrinn imagine that, against all odds, we get the shuttle's power systems back online. And imagine, also against all odds, we get the shuttle off the ground. Now imagine, again- against all odds, that we're able to seal the hull with the hand phaser. Once we get in orbit, then what? We've traveled back in time. Who will be up there?" Walesa explained the ridiculousness of his plan.

    "We'll have to set a course for DS3." Wrinn stated without considering the facts.

    "DS3 is 25 light years away. Even if you get the shuttle flying at warp 8 again, which isn't going to happen with only one functional nacelle, it would take 12 days to arrive at DS3." Walesa was tiring of the conversation, "The firing mechanism on this phaser couldn't project a containment field for 12 hours of continuous use, let alone 12 days!"

    Wrinn stomped away frustrated. Walesa and Span looked at each other nervously.

    "He's got a point, you know." Walesa suggested.

    Span raised an eyebrow, "I fail to see how."

    "How long do we wait before we try to change the course of our survival?"

    "I don't believe we can, our fate is sealed. I suggest we concentrate our efforts on affecting a more comfortable survival. Our stay on this planet may be long."

    ---

    Lt. Atom and Chief Volor called the Captain to the Transporter Room, she arrived to find them preparing a test object for transport.

    "Captain, we've discovered something interesting." Volor announced. "We've completed some modifications to the transporter, and we were ready to beam this test object down to the surface, it is a standard ten kilogram test cylinder comprised of 80% Duranium and 20% Nillimite."

    "I'm familiar with these, crewman." The Captain cut to the chase.

    Volor continued, "Well, I randomly selected a set of beam down coordinates on the planet's surface; and I found something interesting."

    Deet looked at the readout, the computer detected a ten kilogram Duranium-Nillimite alloy cylinder at the exact coordinates Volor had randomly selected.

    "You already beamed one down?" she asked.

    "No we have not." Atom responded, drawing the Captain's curiosity. "The odds of such a similar object already being at these coordinates are roughly one in..."

    "Clearly not a chance encounter." The Captain cut in. She wanted to know more, "Lock onto it, beam it up."

    A second test cylinder materialized alongside the one that was already present. It appeared to have weathered and tarnished slightly, but was clearly the same object.

    Aznia leaned in to inspect it more closely, "These have a unique code, don't they?"

    "Should be right on the corner by that top seam, Captain." Volor answered.

    She read from the weathered test cylinder "91791-47B." She checked the clean cylinder "91791-47B. It's the same object."

    "How can the same object occupy two slots on our transporter pad?" Volor asked.

    "Well," Aznia pointed at clean test cylinder. "beam this one down. Same coordinates."

    The cylinder vanished from the transporter pad. "The transport cycle reads complete, but I've lost contact with the object."

    "It's right there, Chief." Aznia pointed at the weathered cylinder they'd beamed up moments before. "You've beamed the clean cylinder into the past. We've already retrieved it."

    Atom conducted a close scan on the weathered cylinder, "Captain, this cylinder has been on the planet's surface for... over four years."

    ---

    Fifteen months had passed. Base camp had become a fairly comfortable place. The three survivors had constructed some basic amenities to raise the quality of life around camp significantly. Still, they were tired, dirty, and growing weary of their isolation.

    Wrinn peeled back the husk of a native fruit, "If I never see another one of these pine-flavored bananas, I'll die a happy man."

    "Unfortunately, Ensign, they are our best source of carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins." Span stated matter of factly.

    Walesa interjected, "I'm not fond of them either, but they're all we have."

    "I'm going off to gather more of them, I suppose." Wrinn wandered away from camp.

    "I don't know how much longer he's going to make it here," Walesa waned Span, "He's growing more and more irritable and lately he's been isolating himself from us as much as he can.

    Span sighed, and lowered his head showing an uncharacteristic moment of vulnerability, "Commander, it is not Ensign Wrinn who I am worried about."

    Walesa raised her head in surprise. "Do you think I..."

    Span cut her off, "No. Commander. You've been... very strong in the face of this crisis." he was audibly shaken, some level of emotional compromise setting in. "I am speaking of myself."

    "Span, what's wrong?"

    "I am suffering the initial stages of a Vulcan neurological imbalance. If we were aboard the Federalist, I would be taking a leave of absence to seek treatment on Vulcan right now. It is a potentially fatal condition..."

    Walesa was concerned. She couldn't help but think about how she'd grown very close to Span over the past few months, "How can I help?" She grabbed his hand. "We can't get you through this."

    Span looked up at Walesa, sensing a level of connection he'd failed to consider so far. "If I were on Vulcan, this would be the time in my life when I would take a mate." he reticently confessed. "I can set out into the wilderness on my own, and through deep meditation and concentration, I might be able to endure the symptoms."

    "Span, maybe it doesn't need to be that way. You're not the only lonely person here." She grabbed his arm, looking up to see that the coast was clear, "Wrinn usually leaves for a few hours at a time... Let me help you."

    ---

    Another week had passed, and the symptoms of Span's Pon Farr had mostly subsided. The relationship between Span and Walesa had visibly warmed, much to the chagrin of Ensign Wrinn. The sun was rising on another day, and Walesa was the first to wake. She rustled around outside, waking Span and ensign Wrinn.

    Span exited the shuttle. "Elsie, are you alright?"

    "I'm fine, she emerged from the bushes, I just had to use the... bush." she chuckled nervously.

    Span nodded, "You almost never wake this early." hw moved toward their fire ring, and began to build up the day's fire to boil some water. Wrinn remained in the shuttlecraft, stirring up some noise.

    "What is he doing in there?" Span inquired.

    Walesa answered, "Anything to keep busy. Let's leave him be a while."

    Span looked back at the shuttle making sure Wrinn was out of earshot, "About last week, I want to thank you again, Elsie. I don't know how you feel about our future, but I have grown fond of your presence." he looked as bashful as a Vulcan could.

    Walesa smiled, "Span, about that, I need to tell you..."

    A shower of sparks shot out of the shuttlecraft, interrupting her mid sentence. Span and Walesa stood up in surprise, they did not know the shuttle's power systems were even online. They ran to the shuttle, opening the hatch.

    "Wrinn, what are you doing in here." Span sternly demanded an answer.

    Wrinn was curled up in the corner, shielding his head from the blast that had occurred. He did not move. Span approached him, grabbing him by the shoulder. Wrinn stood up suddenly, drawing his phaser. Wrinn stood behind span, holding the phaser in front of Span, pointing upward against his neck.

    "You two aren't going to keep me here anymore..." Wrinn was losing it. "I'm getting off this rock one way or another. As you can see, I've got the power systems flowing again."

    "Wrinn, you've got systems overloading, you've got a breached hull, you've got no chance of getting this ship out of here!" Walesa reminded the deranged Ensign.

    "At least then our fate isn't sealed! If I die in this shuttle, then the wreckage won't be here, there won't be three survivors!""

    "Put the phaser down, Wrinn." Walesa pleaded. "We can work this out!"

    "No we can't. I've been watching you two subvert my efforts for too long. You've been in charge of this debacle from square one, and we've got nowhere. I'm done with you. In fact, I might just kill Commander Span right now... Just so we both know that there will not be three survivors."

    Walesa considered the paradox he was raising, three unidentified lifesigns, one very likely to die in the next few moments. She considered how she'd just awoke to a sense of nausea, a sense of morning sickness that drove her from her sleep earlier than usual; suddenly she knew what it all meant. One of these men was going to die. Instinctively, she kicked as hard as she could at Wrinn's phaser, dislodging it from his hand. Wrinn pushed Span into her and reached for the navigation panel, Walesa grabbed him by his shoulders to prevent him from launching the shuttle. She punched him as hard as she could to immobilize him and end the fight, but he fought back and threw a wide fist at Walesa. She ducked the punch as Span stepped in. Span, still feeling some lingering neurochemical imbalance from his Pon Farr, slipped into a moment of rage. He wound up and punched Wrinn directly in the face as hard as he could. A loud crack accompanied the blow as Wrinn slumped directly down in his footprints.

    Both officers stood stunned for a moment by what had occurred. Span regained his composure and dispassionately knelt down beside Wrinn's body. "He is dead."

    Walesa sighed, resting her face in her hands. "Span, you did what you had to do."

    "Commander, I am guilty of murder." Span stood professionally, as composed as possible in his dirty uniform and shaggy beard, "If we are rescued, I should face court martial, and I will plead guilty to my crime."

    "Span, no... Do you want your child to grow up with their father in a detention cell?" Walesa broke the news bluntly.

    "Child?" He was visibly taken aback, "The third survivor..."

    Walesa smiled, she walked over to Span's side and grabbed him by the arm. She guided his hand to her belly. "The third survivor."

    Span and Walesa gave Wrinn a proper burial beside Kelis and Lanning. They stood before their miniature graveyard in silence for a moment.

    "I can not justify my actions, Elsie." Span said mournfully.

    "He didn't give you any choice, Span. He was a threat to both of us... to all three of us... you knew that. The fact that you felt a moment of rage does not diminish the logic of your decision." Walesa condoned Span's action, "I'm still your superior officer. I'm ordering you to accept that."

    Span looked up, sadness still in his eyes. "I'm not sure I can follow that order."

    ---

    Aznia stood in the Federalist's transporter room with Atom and Volor. "Four years??" She was stunned. "Does that mean that our away team has been..."

    "...yes, Captain." Atom informed her, "They have been down there for about four years."

    "Is there any way to reverse this... to beam them out at an earlier date??" Aznia pleaded.

    "I do not believe so. The time has already passed for them, to use a human aphorism, their future is written... in stone." Atom dispassionately used the expression, "Fortunately, I believe our the transporter enhancements will work, so we can beam them up on your order."

    "Four years stranded down there... while we've been here only a matter of moments... It's unimaginable. What will this be like for them??" Aznia closed her eyes for just a moment, shaking her head in resignation, "Mr. Volor, Energize."

    Three patterns materialized on the transporter pad, two adults and one small child- barely able to stand on his own. Span and Walesa stared in shock at their Captain, Walesa began to weep tears of joy, Span stood back and immediately looked down at his frightened son, he reached out his hand to the small half-Vulcan boy, "We are home now. You have nothing to be afraid of. Things will be better now." The boy relaxed as he held his father's hand tightly.

    "Welcome home," Captain Deet was shocked by the sight of the young boy, she knelt before him, engaging him eye-to-eye, "I'm Captain Deet, what is your name?"

    "Calvin." The boy said timidly, overwhelmed by the foreign experience of leaving the only home he ever knew.

    "Congratulations, Elsie, Span." Deet softly smiled and nodded at each of them, "I'm so glad to have you back."

    "After so long, it almost slipped my mind that anyone was coming for us." Walesa fought back tears.

    "I have to ask, what happened to Kelis, Lanning and Wrinn?" The Captain returned to sad business.

    "Kelis and Lanning were killed as the ship crashed," Span began to report.

    Walesa cut in "...and Wrinn never recovered from the crash." the statement was half-truth enough for her.

    Span looked down at the boy holding his hand, he was ready to be more forthcoming about the incident, but realized that the half-truth served a greater good than the full truth. Span simply nodded to acknowledge the comment.

    The Captain was satisfied. "Let's get you three to sick bay."
  • hawku001xhawku001x Member Posts: 10,160 Arc User
    edited October 2016
    The I.K.S. Baetal sat out in deep space, while a massive party was being held in its cramped Messhall. Captain Sigon walked over to his reptilian-like tactical officer and head-butted him.

    "Yaaarrghh! You are the Gorn. Am I right? You are the Gorn!" Sigon chanted, completely drunk.

    Gozer grasped his head in minor pain. "That wassss not necessary, Captain."

    "Oh, you need to lighten up, Commander," suggested Sigon. "We have done the impossible: Averted permanent tribblefication, maintained the annual invasion of Raatooras, wrecked the Federation starship Tsunami, and established pants-free Fridays."

    Tenough walked over. "Sir, that last one is not very Klingon to partake in."

    "Exactly! We are the ultimate, out-of-norm ship that every Warrior wants to be a part of. I don't even know what class this vessel is, but who cares!" Sigon preached.

    Gozer nodded. "Very well, Captain. But be forewarned that boassssting leads to immediate comeuppance in this timeline, which many have coined as the Prime Timeline."

    SMASH!

    Suddenly, a Klingon at the other end of the Messhall broke in from the ceiling vent and began speed kneeing, kicking and force-palming all the other drunk crew out into unconsciousness.

    "What in the Unbearable Gardens of Grethor is going on??" Sigon attempted to squint his vision so he could see who it was. "Wait a second. That is Captain Menchez!"

    The attacking Klingon took out his disruptor and shot Gozer and Tenough down, prompting Sigon to dive behind a table. Menchez then ran out the Messhall to continue his work.

    ---

    Menchez made his way down the corridors and was confronted by Lu'Kava. She took out a Klingon pain stick and launched a close range jab at the Captain.

    "You think you can just take on the crew of the Baetal and get away with it?? We once feasted on 50 targ in one night!" she claimed a second before Menchez caught her extended arm and countered with a kick and a knee. "Next-day lunches were obliterated!"

    The Captain then double punched her, took out his mek'leth and cut the pain stick in half. "This crew gets away with far too much to begin with. You've all gotten lazy and entitled. I heard you have a trained Fek'Ihri Hordling that sharpens all your teeth??"

    "How dare you say words and things, and stuff!? I'd defend us further if I wasn't so full of gagh!" she fired a forced-palm toward his head, but he moved slightly to the left, spun in full reverse-circle and elbowed her out in her ridges.

    ---

    The Klingon infiltrator entered the Bridge and fired his disruptor into an attacking Bekk Tars. The Bekk was sent over a console and Sigon entered the Bridge completely out of breath.

    "Why... are... you........ doing this??" Sigon panted. "Just.... one second...."

    Menchez rolled his eyes. "I told your security officer why. Ugh. This is what I hate about take-overs. You have to explain yourself again and again."

    "Glorified baktag! You think we are a failure as a Klingon crew, don't you? That all we do is hold celebrations??"

    The older Klingon nodded. "Precisely! I am taking over command of this ship as a result. Do not even think about performing an induction ceremony."

    "yIntagh! I would fight you to the death, but I am way too inebriated, and, unlike other, more foolish Klingons, I do not engage in technical combat while drunk."

    Menchez nodded. "It is our version of Earth's historic anti-'drinking and driving' initiatives. I commend you for safe Klingoning. In the meantime, I do not plan to remain in command of your ship. I am merely here for a mission to honorable death."

    "Hu'tegh!? You lost your old vessel and crew in shame?? It just seems the most likely reason."

    He took a pained breath. "Indeed. And now I risk my House being dishonored and dismantled for my actions." He shook his head in regret. "I should have never told my crew to go into that cave on Hanon IV; the same cave Neelix ordered Lieutenant Hogan to die in."

    "I never realized the extent of your dishonor!" Sigon said in shock. "Not to mention, the time and volume of group-traffic it would take to complete such a task."

    Captain Menchez approached the helm and altered course. "Several Kazon and a Cardassian woman who is a Seska-wannabe took my ship and never looked back. I am now in pursuit of them, and will destroy them through infiltration. The Baetal was my practice-run."

    The Baetal then dropped warp and confronted two Kazon Raiders, a Cruiser and a Klingon Vor'cha-class vessel.

    "Kazon-Rokka, this is the Captain of that ship you stole. You know, the one with the fuzzy targ hanging from the view screen? Prepare to be destroyed for your insolence!" hailed Menchez. Then he turned to Sigon before leaving the Bridge. "Hold them off while I do the thing. You know. The thing."

    Sigon gawked. "Don't be a fool, Menchez! You don't have die to reclaim your honor; just get cut a little; like across the face or something. The Council would be satisfied either way."

    "I am the leader of this Sect," came the hail of the Cardassian woman. "You may call me SesKahn."

    Captain Sigon double-taked. "Why?? Why are you trying so hard to be a known villain?"

    "I am an augment, here to fill a void. The first Cardassian Kazon leader was an inspiration to Cardassian women everywhere. It's up to me to maintain her legacy! Are you saying you are against Cardassian women-augments having power?"

    The Klingon held up, defensively. "No! I'm not saying that. Never mind. Let's just fight already. But, it is not motivated by speciest-sexism. In fact, just take my ship."

    "Fool! You have to stand up for yourself too! Klingon men should have equal self-worth! Learn from my genetically engineered example!"

    Gozer and Tenough struggled onto the Bridge, with smoking disruptor blasts in them, as the screen cut out. Sigon turned to them. "Take your stations, open fire, and hold the line!"

    "The line of one, sssir?" Gozer asked.

    The commanding officer waved him off. "Yes, the line of one. Do you want another head-butt from me? Because I will do that."

    ---

    A minute later, Captain Sigon transported onto the Vor'cha-class starship I.K.S. B'Cnah. With the ship now under attack, he followed a trail of bloodied Kazon to the Bridge. There, Menchez was pinned to the floor by five Tsunkatse Falchion swords, their blades sinking into him from five Kazon-Rokka scavengers.

    "Death," coughed Menchez, "Shall be mine. Tell my wife she was a horrible wife. She'll take it as a compliment. It's a thing we do. Not sure how it will sound coming from you though."

    Sigon took out his disruptor and shot, five times, each Kazon down. He then turned to SesKahn and aimed for her.

    "No! I haven't even done any Shakespeare quotes yet! What was that one? Oh yeah. 'From Hell's heart, I stab at thee!'" she accessed a console and transported herself out.

    The other Kazon ships suddenly turned to the Vor'cha-class attack cruiser and opened fire.

    "You fool! I was to die! Now I must deal with the consequences of being alive!?" Menchez argued as he got up and pulled the swords out of him. "Not only that, but this vessel is far beyond repair. The fuzzy targ are inoperable!"

    Sigon shook his head. "SesKahn taught me to stay in the game, and so did you. Pretty much anyone could have taught me that, but the lesson remains. You must do the same, despite the Empire's absurd actions. They will still grant you another ship, though, just so they have you around to direct their gloating."

    "I hate it when they do that! Also, I'm going to have to deal with the dismantling of my House and sooo many claims of dishonor," Menchez groaned, suddenly realizing. "It is more going to be annoying than anything else. Mortifying, if that 'anything else' was to be defined further."

    He went over to operations control, beamed Sigon back to the Baetal, and both ships turned and fired upon the Kazon ships. After what seemed like forever, one of the Kazon Raiders exploded and the two other ships turned and warped out of there.

    ---

    Sigon sat in his chair and watched as the completely-ruined Klingon ship turned and warped for the Jenolan Dyson Sphere.

    "Do you think he'll make it without exsssploding, sir?" Gozer asked.

    The Captain shook his head. "I hope not! Because then I will have to live with what I just did. This is why Klingons should not drink and fight! Let this be a lesson to you kids at home."

    "Who are you talking to, Captain?" Tenough asked.

    Sigon threw up his arms. "I don't know! That's the problem! You have the Bridge. I'm going to soak in a targ bath with Bolian scented candles for two hours."
    Post edited by hawku001x on
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  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 651 Arc User
    Fool's Latinum

    Badlands Sector

    "Dak, are you sure about your Cousin's 'Big Score'?" Sarus asks his Ferengi tactical officer, "A Terran Tipler Cylinder would work wonders for Walker and his contacts in tracking Terran movements in our time." The Ferengi nods and offers the coordinates that his cousin Haox had provided him.

    "He found it out by the wreckage of a small planetoid, it's destruction more than likely caused by the ship having to have eject its warp core," Dak says, "He didn't know why, but he figured that was why he would call it in to me, since I worked with a known and reputable Temporal Agent." Sarus tapped his fingers on his chair, sending the coordinates to the helmsmen. "He was a true Ferengi about it though, as Rules of Acquisition number nine says, 'Opportunity plus instinct equals profit', and he stuck true to number ten, 'Greed is Eternal'," Dak says, rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly "Taxed me quite a few strips of latinum, nothing I couldn't get back after a few rounds of Dabo, but I'm sure if I wasn't family, and a former Liquidator, he wouldn't have jacked the prices as high."

    "But you trust his insight into this matter regarding the ship?" Sarus inquires, "I know most Ferengi are ok, but as you know 'War is Good for Business', and the Terran Empire could surely turn a profit for the less reputable Ferengi..." Nodding Dak thumbs a bar of latinum he pulls from his pocket. before turning back to Sarus confidently.

    "Yes, I know sir, but peace is also good for business," Dak says, "If my cousin shorted me or betrays us in any way, he knows what I am capable of, even if I'm not a liquidator anymore; besides 'A contract is a contract, is a contract, but only between Ferengi', and he'll live up to the one I made him sign on penalty of major fines, post mortem of course." A twinkle in his eye, the Ferengi watches with Sarus, as the ship shows a major debris field onscreen. They pass through a belt of debris, and stumble upon the sheen of off-black, a Paradox-Class suspended between two large chunks of rock.

    "Well there appears to be our prize, intact as it was last found," Sarus says, "Dak, since your cousin appears to be right, get a team together and take a couple of engineers with you-" Suddenly the ship blinked out of time, completely disappearing off the screen.

    "People, what just happened to that ship?" Sarus asks, standing from his chair, "Was that a temporal shift, was our Intel wrong and there are still Terrans on that ship?" There happened to be no response, until the ship appeared back in view, damaged and visibly more melted than when it had just been observed. A science officer scans the area of the ship and then reports his findings.

    "It appears that there's a localized temporal rupture, and am detecting unfamiliar radiation emanating off that- ship," the officer reports, "Will take some time to categorize it, but otherwise it appears the ship has no breathable atmosphere and that chroniton levels are slowly building around the temporal core of the ship, like the ship is still charging some kind of temporal system onboard; I approximate we have twenty minutes before it completes its charge." Nodding Sarus decides to look to his security officer.

    "Get a team down there, inspect some of the ship, Captain's quarters and the like," he orders, "See if you can figure out what is happening to that ship from the inside, then get back here before that ship jumps." Within five minutes the crew had already beamed aboard, but within ten, Red Alert klaxons wash the bridge in light.

    \\\ Onboard the I.S.S. Crete

    Three security officers, a science officer, and an engineer, all clad in EV suits, walked across the empty bridge of the half-melted ship. The interior seemed least affected by whatever had melted the hull plating, with the engineer having found a peculiar object on the Captain's seat. Picking it up, he joins the science officer, who had been splicing into the computer network's science station. Setting down the item on the nearest flat surface for the science officer to look at later, he goes to help restore power to the security station, hoping to see their battle logs.

    With a flicker of life the ship powers up on it own, stunning the engineer who hadn't even touched anything yet, and shocking the science officer who had been messing with circuitry. "Captain, it appears we've hit some kind of snag," a security officer says, trying to contact their ship, as Red Alert klaxons begin, "Some kind of alarm is going off- wait, who are you?"

    "-Hostes debet mori" a hollow voice responds. The shadowed figure presses the final commands into the engineering station. Then everything turned white.

    \\\ Onboard the I.R.W. Dividices

    "Sir, the security team, they activated some kind of trigger when they beamed down- the ship is charging its self destruct sequences-" the officer doesn't even get to finish, as the ship showed onscreen appears to explode in a blast of light, before dimming down, "-I'm sorry sir, we couldn't lock on to them in time, it appears the self destruct sequence had been in progress when we beamed them over." Scanning the area where the ship was onscreen, there doesn't even appear to be any debris left.

    "There's nothing there, it's like the ship never existed," Sarus says, "Did that explosion even leave anything, or did it jump before it was completely destroyed?" The science officer scans the area, but shakes his head as the scans come back negative. "Damn, did we at least get anything from the team?" Sarus asks, "The channels were open, why weren't we receiving anything once they were on the bridge?"

    "I believe I can offer an answer for that sir," a Reman at security offers, "I had detected a signal jamming frequency moments after power was restored; I had assumed our equipment would have been able to overcome it." Nodding, Sarus sighs, as he looks back to the empty space where their quarry had been. Suddenly in an explosion of white light, the ship had appeared again, this time once again pristine and unmarred.

    "A Tipler cycle?" Sarus asks his crew, "Could they have tried to use the ships technology to save themselves, initiate a temporal incursion?" Sarus looks to the rest of his bridge crew.

    "Impossible sir," the science officer says, "For that to have happened, they would have at minimum three minutes to charge the cylinder, and they only had about a minute between the restoration of power and their- destruction." Hissing between his teeth, Sarus puts a hand to his shin.

    "What is the status of the ship then?" Sarus says, "Can we determine from the scans we took of the ship with the ones of this version, and see how much time it was between the two, to get the ship in that horrid condition?" Nodding, the science officer gets to work, before a minute passes and he brings the results up to the main screen. Two temporal signatures were displayed onscreen, one showing the version that was destroyed and comparing it to the new ship.

    "Approximately 582 days between events, sir," the science officer responds, "The version we currently have here still has life support, though it appears that there is no life signs aboard, dead or alive in any from besides the bodies in the morgue, oddly enough." He brings up a damage analysis report. "It appears between this version of the ship, and the other version, the ship systems either automatically go into standby mode due to low power, or are shut down manually by whoever was last on that ship," he continues, "There appeared to have been traces of damage to their deflector, shields were offline, life support non-existent, hull plating irradiated by high levels of solar radiation where it was warped and melted; honestly non-livable except in EV suits."

    "But the other ship, this ship would still have the Tipler cylinder, perhaps we could figure out what happened to this ship and crew, before it becomes a problem," Sarus states, "Dak, meet me in Transporter room three with Mathers, K'Dran, and Merri; we are going to get to the bottom of this."

    \\\ Transporter Room Three

    On the pad, four members clad in various weaponry stand waiting for their Captain. Sarus walks in and surveys his crew. Serena Mathers, a Human officer that had been transferred to this ship as cultural exchange, she was an Engineer by trade, and specialized in temporal mechanics, perfect for helping with the Tipler cylinder. K'Dran was a Klingon security officer with expertise in explosives, and had helped Sarus out of a tight situation before; Sarus trusted him completely to help them figure out how the Crete would blow. Merri was a soft spoken Romulan, she had came as an orphan from a backwater colony under Star Empire rule, and had traveled with the main Romulan fleet before helping settling New Romulus, before the call of the Iconian war forced her to return to the stars, a place where Sarus had watched her blossom into a smart and intelligent science officer who was handy with a disrupter.

    Dak had been a former liquidator, before he had been burned by the Ferengi Trade Commission for failing a major job, one that had cost him his place in Ferengi culture. Our of a job and in need of redemption, he had actually served under contract with the former captain of this ship, Sal'vin 'Ace' Chernok, though the contract stipulated he was under obligation to whomever captained the Dividices, and in turn his obligations were passed on into Sarus' command. The Ferengi had proven to be 'worth his weight in latinum', and had helped Sarus out of a few nasty contracts, especially when the people who had hired him were less than upfront about their work, and needed to be turned into Republic custody for one murder or another.

    Taking his own place on the transporter, Sarus stands next to the four most people he would trust his life with. Signaling the transporter officer, the familiar tingling overcomes his sensations.



    \\\ I.S.S. Crete, Engineering Section

    Arriving at the temporal ships core, the four lower ranking officers set up a perimeter, while Sarus looks over the various equipment, searching for the temporal instruments onboard causing this problem. Locating the Tipler device, Sarus walks toward the section noticing nothing unusual about it. There appears to be a crack in the outer mainframe, but otherwise nothing that should be causing the shifting in time. Joined by Merri and Serena, Sarus shows them the area of damage, and leaves to find Dak and K'Dran.

    Finding the two men setting up transporter enhancers, he lets them finish before deciding what to do. "K'Dran, I want you to go to the ships armory, see if they left anything behind, or whether or not they tried to defend themselves from something," Sarus orders, before turning to Dak, "And you are coming with me to search the ship; I want to know what these people were doing before they all disappeared." Nodding Dak and K'Dran walk outside the hallways, while Sarus checks one final time with the two remaining officers. "Merri, Mathers, K'Dran will be in the armory, Dak and I will be scouring the ship for clues," he says, "Keep your comm on, I'll make sure the others have theirs on as well, we may not be alone here, or the Terran's may come back." Nodding, Sarus leaves them in confidence.


    /// Thirty Minutes Later


    Sarus and Dak had been searching for a good while, and were heading towards the Medical Bay, before stopping at the Holodecks. It was then they noticed something odd. Kneeling next to the controls, Sarus carefully looked at a pair of bisecting grooves, long and deep, with melted metal and circuitry pointing outwards from it. "Seems some kind of weapons damage, the doors are sealed shut where they were hit," Sarus says, "There appears to be a program in the queue, though, let's see if I can access it to see who played it last, and when it was paused."

    Dak nods, and helps him remove a frontal panel, where more circuitry and a secondary direct interface lay hidden. "Continue on to the Terran Sickbay," Sarus orders as he pulls goggles down over his eyes, and bringing out his phaser and PADD, "Keep your comm on, the check on and report to me about the Morgue; there appeared to have been some bodies left behind that were on our scanners, maybe they'll hold a clue as to what is going on here."

    Nodding, Dak moves on as Sarus stays behind. Getting to work, Sarus finds spots where he could do the work he needed to reroute the necessary systems. Activating his phaser he solders the circuits and reconnects what wires he can, and just barely manages to trip the right pathway, as the secondary interface comes to life, while the main dies off. Quickly searching through the system files, at appeared that an Ensign had been last using a holoprogram entitled 'Vulcan Love Slave VII: Rivv Enda and The Axe of Val'Drogh', though it appeared it had been active for ten hours before it was shut down. Puzzled, Sarus checks the time tables, and it appeared the event had occurred a little more than five weeks ago by ships internal chronometer. And yet the ship would be left drifting for seven years, jumping in and out of time, before it would be found by his ship and crew?

    "Captain," Dak says, "I think you'll want to head up to Sickbay; I think the morgue has answers to what happened to some of these people." Quickly getting up, Sarus makes one final decision and downloads the holoprogram to a spare device before moving on to the turbo lift.


    ///// Crete Sickbay

    Walking into the spartan room, Sarus quickly finds his way into the ships morgue. One of the metal beds were pulled out, showing the clothed body of a male Romulan crewman wearing a sleeveless version of a Republic jacket. His back has three parallel, jagged slashes down his back, as if a clawed hand has raked his back. He would have left it as just that, if it wasn't for the burned edges of the uniform where the slashes were. "Some kind of... energy weapon?" Sarus asks the Ferengi, who stood nearby examining another body, this one a blonde Terran female, "Some kind of energized knife, maybe a clawed gauntlet?"

    "An unusual weapon, for sure, whatever made that damage; equally it could have been a single energized weapon, and they wanted to confuse the Terran's," Dak replies, as he crouches to see where the woman had been cut, "This one, for instance, seems to have been cut with a deep blade, they had to have bled out, yet they show signs that an energy weapon burned their flesh at the same time it was cut." The Ferengi moves out of the way, as Sarus examines the cut.

    "Hmmm... this type of wound looks familiar, for sure," Sarus replies, as he peels the fabric away to look deeper at the wound, "Almost reminds me of... yes, I'd have to say it looks like a Na'kuhl plasma blade, similar to the one that assassin had used, but it's not deep enough; it almost looks like something a bat'leth or a lirpa would cause..." Suddenly the lights flicker inside the ship, and the two men quickly leave the morgue. As they leave an unseen figure watches them from behind, the doors closing as the form flickers.
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 651 Arc User


    \\\ Outside Engineering

    Centurion Merri and Lt. Mathers both peek out from the engineering bay, as Dak and Sarus approach on their return. "Centurion, Lieutenant, what's going on?" he asks. Mathers steps out and brandishes her weapon, as she points it silently down the hall.

    "Something sounded from the armories, sir," she whispers, "K'Dran called us to go help him, before it sounded like a mortar or something blew in one of the armories, and we haven't heard from him since the lights went out for that second." Nodding, Sarus and Dak both brandish their own weapons, and the group of four walk down toward the armories. Walking as far as they could, they see soot and half of the door blown outward from a room, the other half blown clear of the room and against the wall. They prepare themselves for the worse as they approach, but a groan from behind the wreckage of the half-a-door, signals that K'Dran still lives. Dak and Sarus grab the door and remove it from the Klingon, while Merri went to work on the Klingon.

    "A broken rib or two, fractured your upper left arm, internal bleeding in your lung because of the ribs," Merri reports, "Easily fixed if we get you to the Dividices medical bay..." The whir of engines through the ship reverberates clearly, before the lights dim and flicker to darkness.

    "You left the Tipler cylinder off, right?" Sarus asks his engineer, "It wasn't anywhere near charging capacity, right?" Mathers looks up from her spot, as the lights flick back on, and runs back to the Engineering bay, a string of curses following her fleet footsteps. "Well, let's figure out what took out K'Dran, Dak, if you please?" Sarus says, pointing to the inside of the room, "Cover me." Nodding the Ferengi levels his blaster at the door, while Sarus walks in and sees the state of the secondary armory. The door seemed to have been booby trapped, evidence of burns just behind the door a ways, means it was probably supposed to have opened fully to properly kill him, K'Dran had just been lucky that power had failed at the same time and given him half a door to hide behind.

    Nodding the all clear, he takes a survey of the room, and finds not much more than slag and unmarked, dented boxes taking up the space of the room. Moving on to the main armory, he quickly uses a small range EMP to disable any nasty surprises on the other side. Opening the door manually, Dak and Sarus are surprised to see nothing on the other side, except a crate capable of holding a single torpedo warhead. "Huh, that's odd, I expected there to be a big boom," he tells Dak honestly, "Why would they only risk blowing up one armory, and not the... main... one..." Having opened the case and looked at its contents, Sarus pales and opens a channel to Mathers.

    "S-Serena, did you h-happen to ascertain what j-just happened?" Sarus asks, clearing his throat to regain stability, "I think I would like to return to our ship now..." A buzzing sound is all that returns to him, until popping is heard.

    "Sir, uh... yes, well... that is going to be a problem, we appear to have been..." she starts, "...damage to the Tipler cylinder, we underestimated it, sir, it sent us back... way back than should be possible..." Sarus is even more pale at hearing that, but tries not to panic yet, not while there was still hope. "Sir, I think we're a hundred thousand years from our past position," she states over communications, "Worse yet, it shouldn't have activated for another six hours since I had adjusted it, someone, or something, sped the process up and made us jump quicker...."

    Sarus quickly closes the lid of the containment unit, and motions for Dak to grab the other side, both of them dragging the heavy container out of the room towards K'Dran and Merri, where Sarus leaves them together. Moving on to the engine room, Sarus quickly finds Serena at work, moving between broken items. "Damnit, I don't know how he did it, but I think space gremlins hit our ship," she exclaims in frustration, "Tore out the RCS power coupler, took a major isolinear chip from the Tipler interface, nearly caused the warp core to eject, and almost blew out all the plasma relays on decks six through eight."

    "We scanned the ship and nobody showed up, there shouldn't be any 'space' anything onboard," he replies, much to the human officers ire, but he couldn't ignore this coincidence either. He looks around, trying to find any clue as to what had happened; the last thing they needed was complications on top of the dangerous item that he had already found. Suddenly he sees a shiny, oily-black surface, easily mistaken for a small computer panel, hidden up. "Well, what do we have here?" he says, grabbing the nearest tool he could to pry the panel open with, "I think your 'gremlin', may have some substance to him after all." Moving a nearby crate over, Serena holds it steady as Sarus gets onto it, taking his improvised crowbar and prying the panel open.

    With a slight spark and a loud pop, the panel gives way and reveals a micro, omni-directional projector behind the casing. "Well, looks like your gremlin's a hologram," Sarus says as he is driving the tool into the projector, shattering its lens and the making the device nonfunctional, "That should keep him from making any more trouble in here, but we should make sure there aren't any others in here..."

    "Captain!" an excited voice shouts over the communications channel, "Something took Dak by surprise, knocked him out and dragged that crate you brought away; sir, he somehow snuck up on us all without us even noticing his presence, and then he was gone." Sarus pales, before he takes off towards where he had left the others.

    "Sorry sir, I didn't mean to let my guard down," Dak apologizes, as Sarus approaches, "That man was like a ghost, I didn't even feel his breath on my skin, before he had me in a hold and strangling me." The Ferengi man accepts a hand up from Sarus, orienting himself, before following the Romulan down the corridor, leaving K'Dran and Merri together.

    "That reason may be because he was a hologram; he must have a portable holographic emitter stashed somewhere, it's the only reason I could see him even able to leave the Engineering section," Sarus says, as he brings out a pistol, "I don't know if he knows what kind of payload that warhead is, but he may make a mistake and risk all out lives if he tries to launch that monstrosity."

    "Yeah, I knew the Terran's were mad, but a Trilithium warhead?" Dak says, pulling his own phaser out, "Who knows what messed up stuff they added to make it more potent, it's not like it didn't already have enough power to kill a star..." Sarus leans up to the left of the door, while Dak goes to the right. Nodding to Dak, Sarus readies himself, as the both of them charge into the room.

    Instead of an attacker, they find an empty room with no weapons, though there is a strange contraption in the middle of the floor. "Sir?" Dak asks, as the Romulan captain walks nearer to the possibly rigged device. Sarus takes out a Tricorder and scans the device, sighing in relief once he was done.

    "He probably moved on from here once we came after him, he's probably been here this whole time," Sarus says, "He couldn't risk catching the wrong door and wrecking his mobile emitter, so he let us find it for him." Grabbing for the device, he picks it up and notices the hodgepodge contraption was unfinished. "Still warm, we probably scarred him off, or he doesn't have military minded programming," Sarus continues, "He's probably a medical hologram that escaped the fate of the others, since this work is so fine and requires the hands of a surgeon to be so perfect; he or she is showing patience and pragmatism in fleeing, but forgetting to destroy his work so it doesn't fall into enemy hands, that's a rookie mistake."

    "Wow, and I thought the Tal Shiar were quick in their assumptions, but you just brought a whole new meaning to that sentence," Dak says, "How could you deduce that without guessing at least half of it?"

    "Simple, an Engineering hologram would take too much pride in his work to leave it behind incomplete, and a tactical or command hologram would have destroyed the ship as soon as possible," Sarus says, "This hologram has moral coding; he wanted to escape to save his own existence, so he used a distraction to operate sensitive temporal technology, meaning he has knowledge of how to operate it intimately."

    "So, your assuming it was a science based hologram, but how do you know it was medical?" he asks, "That's got to be a guess."

    "He didn't kill you," Sarus responds, "Any other program would have, but a doctor has a moral code, even one twisted by the Terran Empire." Dak looks less than skeptical, but sighs, as he follows Sarus out of the room and towards the nearest turbolift. "Now, we need to see if we can reason with him," Sarus continues, "He's been alone for a long time, he's been trying to escape for who knows how long; now let's see if we can find out what happened to his crew, and show him we have mutual interests in returning to our proper places."

    "But where would he go now?" Dak asks, "Engineering is inaccessible to him now, he was never in this ships Sickbay, and he currently has an hopefully inactive, but potentially devastating warhead, and he is, as you presume, a doctor, not a tactician." Dak strokes his chin in puzzlement. "Why would he need a warhead, I mean, he left his instruments and that device behind," Dak continues, "Why take a warhead when it's energy output wasn't anything meaningful, unless he thought it's reactor was still active..."

    Sarus and Dak's eyes both open wide at this, before Sarus is at the nearest control panel on deck ten. Tapping into ship wide communication, Sarus manages to connect to the system. "Hello, hello, whoever you are, I need you to answer me, please," Sarus says, "What you are doing is dangerous, deadlier than you think, if you tap into that warhead's power supply." Sarus waits for a response, and getting none, continues to talk.

    "That warhead, if it's power supply is breached, you'll likely set it off in the ship," Sarus says, "Not only do we have an uncontained Tipler cylinder, you blow us up, you'll more than likely cause a temporal shockwave and a paradox at the same time, ripping space time in the area, with unforeseen consequences; potentially killing not only the five of us onboard, but any chance of you returning home, keeping any of your crew from ever getting recognized beyond being AWOL." Suddenly static was heard on the system.

    "Desertion, you think I care about desertion?" a male voice responds on the channel, "These people didn't deserve what happened to them, my people didn't deserve to be brutally- they would want me to end this ship for the Empire, before I let you get your hands on it-"

    "We don't want this ship, we just want to go home, just like you," Sarus says, "But you can't tap into that warhead, there will be a paradox if you blow this ship up before-" Sarus ends there, hoping to the Elements that he takes the bait.

    "What, before what?" the gruff voice asks, "I know the Tipler cylinder is damaged, it can't be controlled precisely with the damage to the control systems, damages you caused, no doubt." The voice is silent for a moment, leaving Sarus and Dak doubting they would get anymore out of him. "Sickbay, meet me in the sickbay," the voice says, "I-I don't want you to bring any weapons, I can just as easily set this warhead off, just like you said!" Sarus and Dak both nod, and he hands his weapon to the Ferengi.

    "I'll come in, my name is Sarus, I'm a Romulan," he says, "My weapon is being left with my tactical officer, Dak, he's the Ferengi." The static is back, but suddenly the Sickbay doors open down the hallway, and the balding head of a male doctor peeks out of it.

    "Well, are you coming in her or not?" the EMH shouts from down the hall, "It's very rude to leave your host waiting!" Sarus nods, and Dak moves away, leaving holstering both weapons as Sarus approaches the Doctor. Nodding to the Ferengi, Sarus enters sickbay, as Dak stands at the ready.

    The Doctor was rubbing his hands together nervously, as he furrows his brow in decision, sizing up the Romulan. "Your not one of them, those creatures..." he says, as he looks from the morgue to the Captain, "I haven't- I haven't had company since Cassandra- since Cass died, slain by one of them after... after..."

    "She was the blonde one, the girl, correct?" Sarus asks the nervous EMH program, "I'm sorry, I wondered what had happened to your crew... whatever did that to them must have been deadly."

    "Deadly? Deadly? It was more than that!" the EMH shouts in rage, turning and slamming his hands onto the nearest workstation, "It was brutal, it was horrendous, it was a massacre that a child ended by slicing the holodeck power supply, and grown men and women couldn't even do that!" The man turns to Sarus, concern and sadness on his face. "They gave no warnings, they gave no mercy, they gave no time for a counter attack to be established," the Doctor says, "And had that girl of nineteen not told me how to disable that infernal device of theirs- had she not stepped in the way of their weapons, she would be alive, alone, but alive and not brutally killed by their plasma weaponry." Sarus had listened to the mans rant, unable to keep up with most of it, not knowing who 'they' were, nor what happened.

    "Doctor- Doctor!" Sarus says, getting the mans attention , "Please Doctor it's over, you're here and we are now too, and we need your help getting home. in fixing the Tipler cylinder!" The Doctor straightens up, and collects himself.

    "Right, right, help, you're right- the warhead, we need to get rid of it," the Doctor replies, "I- I never opened it, but it needs to be launched, we're far enough back now." Sarus was confused at this, but tries not to show it.

    "Doctor, why do we need to launch the warhead?" Sarus asks, "That weapon, it's made of trilithium, it could destabilize the star if we unleash it anywhere in this system."

    "No, don't you see, that's just it!" the Doctor says gleefully, "We already did it, in the future, our present, it's why this system was rubble, we launch the warhead here, now!"
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 651 Arc User

    \\ The Bridge, One Hour Later

    "Now, tell me again Doctor, why do we need to launch that torpedo?" Dak asks for the third time from the weapons consoles, "I'm pretty sure that is a bad idea for this system." The EMH nods, but turns to Sarus, who sits at the helm, prepping the shield's. The Doctor finishes entering his own calculations into the system connected to the tipler cylinder from the bridge, before responding.

    "The torpedo is a trilithium warhead, but it is also more akin to your- what was it?" the Doctor pauses thoughtfully, "Ah, yes, your 'Genesis' device, but on a much smaller scale, of course; though the end remains the same, total destruction of planetary body." Sarus activates the viewing screen, which shows a small planetoid below them. "This one though, it was always meant to be a seed for something greater," the Doctor says, "They wanted the planetoid remnants of this planet to be seeded with dilithium, it was supposed to be a way for the Terran Empire to mine resources while invading your universe, except it went horribly, terribly wrong."

    "How wrong?" Dak has to ask, "I mean, on a scale of 'poverty' to 'buried in a casket of gold-pressed latinum', how bad?" The Doctor looks at him like he has a TRIBBLE coming out of his lobes, but dismisses it away.

    "Nothing that would affect anything by your time, not at least for another six to seven million years at least," the Doctor says, "They produced trilithium, instead of dilithium, enough that when this sun goes red and consumes this system, it will go nova far earlier than it would naturally go." Dak sighs in relief, and Sarus just looks incredulously at the Doctor.

    "So, the reason you people came to this system was to seed it, and let me guess, whoever inhabited this planet at the time rejected that idea," Sarus says wearily, finally figuring out one mystery.

    "No, no, this system was never a colony, at least not in the past 400,000 years, and it couldn't support any of the life around the time we scouted the area, and we never even fired off the torpedo," the EMH replies, "Somehow we were invaded from within, an energy field opened up around our ship, and we tried to cut all power as best we could, see if it was leeching off our systems." The Doctor sighs, as he turns in his chair to the other two men. "They weren't, and before long our people were fighting to keep our ship from falling to enemy hands, as they began to- well, the best description is that they were becoming incorporeal," he continues, "In the fray of trying to get the ship back, they damaged the cylinder's casings, unleashed a temporal shockwave, which allowed Cass to take them out as systems realigned and me time to transport our ship into another century, away from the energy field."

    "So, we're here to make sure the weapon is fired, that the Terran's find out their work was a success, so they could travel back in time to fail, so we can make sure the weapon is- no wonder time travel makes my lobes ache," Dak says, "I should have stuck with being a liquidator, but as Rules of Acquisition 75 states, 'Home is where the heart is, but the stars are made of latinum'; and boy should I be paid handsomely if we survive this, Captain."

    "Not if, Dak, when," Sarus says, "Everything is ready Doctor, the target is in range, and I'm sure Dak has the torpedo ready to fire at will." Nodding, Dak turns to the Doctor.

    "Very well gentlemen," the Doctor says, "If you would, let's make history!" The weapon is shot into space, the streak of light sailing through darkness, until it entered the light atmosphere of the planet, burning hot and bright for a matter of seconds. "now, let's get out of here before we're caught in the blast wave," the Doctor says, "Protomatter makes quite a bang, or so I've been told!" The tipler cylinder had been charging for a few minutes already, needing less than half a minute to complete its cycle from the bridge.

    The planet seems quite, and the men on the bridge almost think nothing has happened, until there is a bloom of red, from the general direction of the designated projection. In a matter of seconds the atmosphere had been converted, burning like a fiery flower, gasping for its last breath as it cools to reveal a black hunk below. As the seconds tick down and the cycle completes, Sarus watches the screen, while Dak and the Doctor begin the temporal shift. The black hunk of coal, formerly a beautiful, if not grey and drab, planetoid seems to shake in the viewing screen, until it seems red spider webs crack its surface open, and then collapses in on itself. The last thing Sarus saw as the Crete began to move through time, was the blinding white energy that bloomed outwards from the planet, a black afterimage smoldering at its core.

    \\\ Crete, Unknown Temporal Coordinates

    Sitting back into the pilot's chair, Sarus sighs in relief and misery, as he bears the weight of condemning a planet to a potentially harmful future. "Well, we made it out of there," he says, "How far did we come?" The EMH checks his instruments, and sighs in frustration.

    "I'm sorry captain, it appears we've only moved one hundred and seventy, or so, years from our former temporal position," the EMH says, "I'm fairly certain that we could make the trip to your time in 582 or more days, any chances of speeding it up are gone because you destroyed the interface in Engineering." At that Sarus turns to the EMH.

    "Wait, I thought you destroyed the interface?" Sarus asks, "The ship lost power for a moment when K'Dran set off one of the armories defenses, everyone was out of the engineering section because of it; I assumed you took the time to sabotage it, to keep us from using it to return home?" The EMH is puzzled, though he looks thoughtful.

    "How strange- my program wasn't active until Mr. Dak walked through my doors," he replies, "I had put myself on energy conservation mode, and it was set so only an officer walking through sickbay doors would activate my program, though I kept myself hidden at first, in case someone hostile boarded the ship." It was then that the ship shuddered.

    "We must have jumped again," Sarus says, "I thought the lieutenant said the temporal interface was destroyed?" The EMH and Dak look at each other and shrug. The ship shudders again, this time knocking the Dak to the floor, and causing the EMH to be flung from his seat. "Don't tell me, your friends have come back?" Sarus says, "But- the scanners aren't picking anything up outside..." Suddenly a console blew out, thankfully no one was near it, though Sarus quickly moved to grab the nearest extinguisher.

    "Something tells me someone fixed the time circuits in the device," Dak says, trying to right himself, "Maybe we should try and keep them from moving anymore, lest we blow up the whole ship!" All three men quickly moved the fastest they could back to Engineering.

    \\ Engineering Deck

    Exiting the turbolift, the first thing for them to see is an unknown figure standing over an unconscious Lt. Mathers, weapon held over her, some stick with a heavy, thick looking ends. The being is about to slash downward onto Mathers' skull, if not for Sarus' quick draw and shooting for the figures hands. Grabbing for the hurt hand, the wound seems to phase, before he flees at the sight of the three reinforcements, down an empty hall.

    Sarus doesn't have time to follow him, though, as the Doctor calls out from behind him. "Your women is hurt, Captain, she looks like she has a nasty cut on her upper thigh, it's deep," the EMH says, "We need to get her to sickbay, or you'll risk the chance she'll lose her limb, or die of blood loss at the least." Sarus turns back to them for a moment, before kneeling down to pick up the strange weapon. He turns to the Engineering section and locks the door with a complex code and vocal authorizations, before he goes back to help them bring Mathers to sickbay.

    \\ Sickbay

    Placing her gently on the biobed, the EMH and Merri get to work, Merri assisting with the tools, while the Doctor preformed his duties. The only other occupant of the medical ward growled in frustration, as his glorious story had been interrupted by the intrusion of the injured women and the three men. "Bah, the Starfleet pup will be alright, if not she'll have a reminder of her courage defending Engineering," he gruffly states, though he turns to the others, "Let me guess, the EMH was not the only rogue hologram on this ship?" Sarus merely looks darkly at his Klingon companion.

    "How did the program even get a holoemitter in the first place?" Dak asks, "I mean, it's not like those things grow on trees or can easily be replicated."

    "I had a second emitter, I lost a copy of myself that had been using it on deck three, it's value must have been recognized, incase anything went south for their plan," the EMH responds, while working on the wound, "10 cc's of- ah, yes you already have it; he must have used it once they lost their footing in this reality, since the holodeck was shut down." They wait to see if anything else was to be said, but the Doctor was already focused back on his work at hand.

    "Right- so, this hologram is obviously a warrior, possibly an engineer if he was the one that fixed the engineering interface, if Mathers hadn't," Dak says, "Why would he only be attacking us now?" Sarus turns to Mathers, then back to Dak.

    "More than likely she was the perfect target, alone in the Engineering section, so they came out of wherever they were hiding," he grasps the light staff, balancing it in his hand and finding a switch, "But it looks like he left his weapon behind." The weapon lights up, revealing a wickedly curved, red energy which formed the shape of a lirpa. "A nanopulse lirpa?" Sarus states curiously, "How odd because only-" A sharp headache hits Sarus, and he groans in annoyance. "Best not think about that then," he continues, "Our friend is down a weapon, so he knows he can't attack us unless he gets desperate; I think its best we stick to pairs from now on, we need everyone alive if we're to get out of this together." He turns to take in the scene around him, and sighs. "I think we're going to be here for a long time," Sarus says, "Looks like we'll have to dig in for the long haul; at least until we catch this rogue hologram."


    \\\ 162 Days into Return, Ten Forward


    Putting his PADD down, Sarus takes another bite of his rations. There was still plenty of power in the upper decks, but they had slowly begun to cut power between the four decks they needed. Decks Ten, Five, Six, and Eight, each corresponding to the Mess Hall, Engineering, Sickbay, and the Bridge. He had been working on this program for a while now, seventy-eight days, three hours, and... sixteen seconds? Five months of daily jumps, time in-between spent shutting down non-essential decks, keeping ion storms from killing them or overloading their systems, fixing the Tipler cylinder as best they could, after it had established more damage from quick succession jumps that still-missing saboteur had caused. He hoped he could use his crews knowledge of temporal transporters, to create the necessary program to modify transporter enhancers to suspend their signals and transfer them to the Dividices transporter- Only if he can get them to work on principle, and not just on paper.

    They had done their best searching empty rooms and locking them down, even setting sensors within the Jeffries tubes, inactive at the moment, but not once Serena was done with her own programming. The man had no access to any weapons, they had all been destroyed somehow in the original attack, but he still had hundreds of places he could be, even on decks they had shut down, since as a hologram, he wouldn't need environmental systems active. "Tell me you aren't still working on that 'hail Mary' of yours, Captain," Mathers says, as she sets down across from her, "I highly doubt your plan would work anyways, I don't know how a transporter buffer would save us." Sarus just continues eating, smiling a little bit, because he understands frustrations were high, and stir craziness was becoming an issue after all this isolation. Eating his corn, as cold as it was now, Sarus just tries his best to listen to her rant.

    \\\ 259 Days into Return, Sickbay

    Sarus groaned as he tried to move his hand, his tendons sore from trying to move a heavy crate, and accidentally pulling something in the process. The EMH sighs, as he scans the arm, but smiles as he grabs a hypospray and loads it, injecting its contents into the muscles. "Nothing major, just give it a few days rest and you'll be good as new," the EMH says, "But, in the mean time, Lt. Mathers has mentioned she is almost ready to activate her sensor grid, almost has the program up and ready to go, she just has to program it to ignore my holographic signature." Sarus nods along, as he waits for the Doctor to continue.

    "It's quite a marvel, actually, that you all managed to do this as much time as you have had," the EMH says, "You've made it 44,289 years closer to home, almost halfway- you know, Voyager had to spend seven years traveling space, until a Janeway from an alternate future helped them conquer the Borg; though when the Terran Empire came the Emperor was quite quick to make her Warlord Supreme over the Delta Quadrant, something about her inspiring morale in the ranks..."


    \\\ 489 Days into Return, Deck Twelve

    "I just need one more component here, and we can go back," Sarus says to K'Dran, "The system can't stand the strain of using power to keep this deck alight, otherwise we'll have to cut off Ten Forward for straight rations." The Klingon barely mutters a word, but Sarus knew he would be fine either way, though he also knew the man was probably missing his gagh by now, fresh and squirmy. Shuddering a bit, as he picks up the final component, Sarus examines the freed item, pocketing it. "Now we can go," Sarus says, then pauses, "Did you hear that?" The Klingon pauses, as he listens, hearing the same sound.

    The light around the turbolift shut down, and then the next one, and the next one. There were currently sixteen lights between them and the turbolift, it was a straight shot, but there was obviously a trap involved here. "Well, looks like our gremlin has finally shown himself!" the Romulan says, as both men sprint down the empty hallway, until they hear the doors open at once. Turning around for a split second to see where K'Dran was, Sarus quickly stopped when he feels a heavy metal object come in contact with his skull.
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 651 Arc User
    After waking with a groan, Sarus sits up as best he can in the light, he knows he isn't anywhere near deck twelve, and that, suspiciously, he is missing his jacket.. The confusing maze of Jeffries tubes surrounded him, and Sarus knew he had no clue if he would walk into the bridge, or into a deck that was vented into space and asphyxiate before he could get help. "I'm glad to see you are awake," a voice says. Sarus turns to the voice, and is shocked to see a familiar Romulan staring back. "Hello Sarus 'Thierrull', it seems you and I have a lot in common," the eerily familiar voice says, "My title is 'Hellguard' as well, and you, my friend, are quite familiar to me now." Sarus looks at the himself, or the being using his face, whose smile makes his blood run cold.

    "What- I thought..." Sarus starts, "I thought all the Terran's were killed?" The Romulan, who was dressed in desert clothing reminiscent of the pre-sundering warlords of Vulcan, smirked.

    "Oh, my dear foe, I'm not one of your 'mirror' counterparts, no, I'm something much more different than that," he states, "This form is merely borrowed; I've had plenty of time to watch and study you and your 'friends' at work, all the while unaware I had TRIBBLE your sensor grid and turned it against you on the first day." The man reveals his arm, and shows his mobile emitter, he pushes a button on it, and the Romulan disappears. In his place is Serena Mathers, who smiles and pouts at Sarus disgust.

    "What, don't like it?" 'she' asks, giving him sad eyes, "Oh, very well..." In a moment 'he' pushes the button, and this time K'Dran is in his place. "'Qapla'!" the 'Klingon' says, "This form is more robust, surely I could win the- oh, who am I kidding." With that, the being returns to the first form, and brushes his shoulder off. "Pompous speech isn't my thing, honestly, boasting is so distasteful, I just couldn't keep in character," he says, "Not since I have you, anyways, I can just do this." Pushing yet another button, the face remains the same, though the clothes change to the Republic uniform, save the upper jacket.

    "Now, let's see how this fits on me," 'Sarus' says, brandishing the lost jacket, "Thanks for letting me borrow this, by the way." Fitting the jacket snugly onto his form, the man smiles at his appearance. "Perfect fit, and the holoemitter is secure," he says, seeing the bulge of the device barely through the jacket, "Know, let's see how I do impersonating you!" Beginning to secure Sarus to the wall with a thin, metal cord, he tightly ties his hands together.

    "Wait!" Sarus says as his double begins to leave him, "Just tell me this: why are you attacking us, what are your motives?" The man turns back to Sarus, and looks puzzled for a moment, deep in thought.

    "Hmm, what would you expect me to say?" the man says stroking an imaginary beard, "Do you expect me to gloat about my plans, like some cartoonish villain in your historical fantasy holonovels?" The man smirks evilly. "Very well, I might as live up to your expectations of me," he says, "Besides, what could you do in the time it takes for your friends to discover my facade; freeze or starve?" Laughing at that, the man walks closer to Sarus, and lifts his chin up. "Did you know ancient races still hide among your space, some forgotten, some regressed by choice, or not, to a primitive state, some hide in plain site, and some just by the machines they left behind," 'Sarus' states, "Some are known to your kind, Talosian, the Arret Empire, the Selakar, and the Siri, even the Bodas of Rigel IV... almost all lost to a great war your history does not record."

    Letting go and swiftly turning away, 'Sarus' looks back over his shoulder. "Long before the Iconians dreamed of the stars and brought about the Fifth Great Age of this Galaxy, there were the Tkon," the man says, "An civilization of fire, their legacy withstood the deaths of their peoples and home star themselves, a people who were on par, if not greater in technological prowess, than your Iconians." Taking something from a pack on the floor, the man kneels down on the floor and begins to draw with some instrument. "Their death was sudden, an eternal flame still fresh and young, blown out by the winds of a great and unforeseen storm, but the effect on the galaxy haunted younger races," he continues, "Fear that such a brutal and swift end, killed by forces beyond the mortal coil, led the successors of the Tkon toward a path your people would akin to 'magic', the pursuit of strengthening the mind and proving the mythological."

    Moving from the drawing he had made, 'Sarus' looks over his work and smiles, and steps aside so Sarus could look. "Talos, a three spoke circle within another circle, signifying their repression and isolation, then there is the symbol you would associate with he Orions, used by the ancient Masters of Rigel, here is the Triangle of Arret, a third government created by two warring peoples, and then there were the Mind Slavers, the former Selakar and their enslaved Siri servants," 'Sarus' says while kneeling down, "Each child races impacted by the death of the Tkon, each developing their own means of survival against those who would harm them." He wipes away the writing, smudging the images, and drawing a new one.

    "Then the Great Psionic War occurred, Talosian psionics wrought with solid illusions, while the Arret civil war nearly ended with the death of both races, until the Selakar attacked with Psionic Pacifiers, wanting to enslave the weak minded and consume their resources to spread war and chaos," the holo-man continues, "And then there were the Masters and their servants the Bodas, the few beings who sought to save all they could as the galaxy fell apart at the mental level; psionic storms drove planets mad, emotional waves caused populations to die in pleasure or in pain, and the Masters only relief from physicality, was to escape it all together." The mans visage flickers, and he clenches his hands in anger.

    "When we found their transference machines, the Masters had left their bodies behind, and left a war raging behind them; the Talosians were bombed into hiding and exiled underground, the Selakar killed in a suicidal-revolution by the suppressed Siri, who had broken free with their masters distracted by their own madness," the man punches the Jeffries tube before continuing, "And a fractured, wounded remnant was left in the wake of a war that wiped entire civilizations out; a galactic war that caused even the 'Prophets of Bajor' to close the entrance to their celestial temple, once a beacon to the meager few space dwelling civilizations that tried to survive as best they could, including my people." He pauses, then unclenches his hands.

    "Did you know the Badlands were formed over 500,000 years ago by your standard calendar? Did you ever wonder how?" 'Sarus' continues, "In the beggining of the Great Psionic War, the Prophets sought to deliver their first Emissary of peace to the universe and in response, as his ship crossed a young stellar nursery, the three major powers of the war sent proto-matter weaponry, nuclear weaponry, and fusion bombs that mixed together and created the spark that formed the Badlands; all at the cost of the lives of a peacemaker and the silence of the Prophets, who would not interfere with the mortal realm until your 'Dominion War'."

    "My people once suffered at the hands of madness, we survived, we died, we scavenged what we could from the dead and dying, and we stumbled upon a way to escape reality itself," 'Sarus' says, "We found an outpost, one of the last extra-planetary hiding places of the reclusive Masters of Rigel, who were the only technologically advanced race that sought to flee the war, and finally a way to transfer our consciousness' into a new form." The meaning dawns on Sarus, who stares at the man in shock.

    "Yes, holographic forms; it was not... the original intent, of course," 'Sarus' replies, "When our people had been led to the ruins of this scientific miracle, we hadn't thought compatibility an issue at the time, but we were desperate for relief, for sanctuary from a brutal, mental war." He turns to Sarus one more time and exhales, smiling in relief. "Ah, such a load off of my chest; I never thought I would ever tell a living soul that," he says standing up, "Well, now on to finish the job." Walking away, ignoring the desperate pleas from Sarus, the man leaves the freezing Sarus behind.

    \\ The Bridge



    "Captain, we thought we lost you!" Merri says, rushing to hug her superior officer, "K'Dran was found unconscious on Deck Twelve, you were no where to be found, we t-thought the saboteur got to you..." Hesitating to return the gesture, he awkwardly embraces the female Romulan, returning the smile.

    "Yes, well, he thought he had me secured properly in the Jeffries tubes, the poor TRIBBLE never even knew I had wriggled one of my hands free from the line," Sarus returns, "I knocked his program out, I have the disabled holoemitter with me, I was just about to get it to Serena, so she could isolate him and we could return the missing holoemitter to the EMH." Nodding, the woman quickly walks back to her work station, to return seconds later.

    "I'm glad you're going to see Serena, could you take that hologram's weapon to Dak on the way?" she asks, "Serena is visiting K'Dran with the Doctor in Sickbay, you can 'kill two birds with one stone', as the Terran idiom goes!" Smiling, Sarus gratefully takes the weapon, and heads off towards the turbolift.

    'Perfect,' he thinks to himself, 'Not only do I have my weapon back, but now I have the means to kill that pesky Engineer and that meddlesome EMH, before they bring us to far forward to enact my plan.' Exiting the turbolift, he appears on Deck Six, were Sickbay lay. Walking down the echoing hallway, Sarus enters the room.

    "Ah, Sarus, Merri told me you were coming down this way... I'm afraid you came down here for nothing, Miss Mathers had left for engineering with Dak; you probably had just missed her," the EMH says, not looking away from his work at his desk, "K'Dran is awake though, I'm just running some last minute calculations for our journey home for Mathers." Sarus quirks his mouth and sighs, but continues on towards the EMH, activating the weapon with a blue glow, plasma fully lit to its hottest setting.

    "I'm afraid EMH, that those calculations will have to wait," Sarus says, raising his arm to swing the blunt end onto the holograms only link to the physical world, "I'm afraid you're needing to check- check- check-" Suddenly frozen in surprise, the man looks down to see himself impaled on an unknown device, though he feels the energy being sucked out of him.

    "Sorry indeed, 'Captain', but you are the one who is going to need to check his programming," the Doctor says smugly, as he activates the device, destabilizing the enemy program just slightly, "We figured out that you wished to replace one of us, and with Sarus the likely candidate for being gone so long, your 'miraculous' return was highly suspect; Merri informed us you were acting odd, which helped." Suddenly the program stabilizes, and the EMH is puzzled. "Odd, I thought I accounted for phase discrepancy-" suddenly he Doctors eyes widen, as he looks to see his arm impaled by blue nanotech, flaring to life just above his emitter, "Oh dear- dear- dear-" Ending his program, and smashing the emitter with the sole of his foot, 'Sarus' sees the damage to his programming already manifesting physically.

    "How sad, you poor EMH, that you thought you could end me that easily but what could a puppet the Terra Empire do, that their men couldn't," he says, "You learned too hard a lesson; there are no strings on me." Walking out of the room, while his core program was degrading, 'Sarus' walks swiftly to the last place he thought he would ever go.


    \\ The Captain's Quarters

    Shifting through the various odds and ends within the madman's bedroom, the hologram finds his salvation. Holding the temporal transponder the Captain had been unable to utilize in his holographic form, 'Sarus' grins as he attempts to utilize the device, after all he had calibrated it for holographic use. In a flash of light he was gone.
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 651 Arc User


    \\ Jeffries Tube, Last Location of Sarus

    Opening the hatch, Dak and Merri both find the unconscious form of Sarus, hands and wrists bloodied from trying to escape. "We found him, we'll take him back to the Doctor to fix him up," Dak announces, "He's not in bad shape, but he needs some medical attention." At that Lt. Mathers responds after a few moments.

    "Afraid the Doc won't be in, Dak, it seems our mysterious saboteur got to him before the he could finish him off," she responds, "I'm trying to salvage his program from the emitter, but there aren't any copies on the - Sonuva- I just picked up a temporal incursion within the Captain's Quarters; he's gone, the bloody &%^$# is gone!" Dak sighs, their quarry got away, their only other medical officer was down, and their Captain could have seen better days. "If that coward was still here, we could have taken his holo emitter and salvaged the Doc's programming," she states over the channel, "Looks like the slime always had a way out; he probably just wanted this ship to bring his friends into our reality."

    "We have all the time in the world, Mathers, and we have a way home, we just need to test it," Dak says, thinking back, "Let's hope we can hack his signal, before the Terrans find it first." 93 days until they knew they were no longer on this ship, a downed Captain, a broken EMH, and a dying ship. Dak knew they'd have a heck of a time staying alive these next two plus months.

    \\ 542 Days Until Return, the Bridge

    Planting the last device, Serena does her final systems check. Dak and K'Dran stand at the ready, weapons drawn at the center of the triangle, prepared to fire. "Activate," Sarus says, "Aim to disable." Nodding, Serena enters the last command, and the glimmering of the Terran Transporters light up, depositing their cargo.

    "At last, I can-" suddenly with the force of two weapons aimed at his back, the Hologram was disabled and deactivated. Walking up to the temporal transporter enhancers, she picks up the gleaming jewel and smiles, weeks and a month of work finally come to fruition. Not only had they retrieved the only way to repair the EMH, but they had just proved they had the power to save everyone.

    "Just a few tweaks here, remove this code here-" Serena mutters as she does not hesitate to get to work on the emitter, removing a secondary one, partailly restored, from a pocket, "Plug you in here- replace your damaged code and-" With a flicker of light, the EMH returns to life once more, now in his new emitter. "Welcome home Doctor," Serena says, "Thanks to you, we have a way home!"

    \\\ 582 Days, 3 Hours, 13 Minutes Ago

    "Initiate the program, and set the timer to go off when the ship comes into contact with the Dividices," Sarus orders, "Doctor, please make sure you get yourself out safely." Nodding the EMH initiates the Temporal Transporter, sending the signal just slightly into the future.

    "I w-w-wish I c-could," the EMH answers the question, after everyone was gone, "His programming is too strong to justify my survival, I can feel him clawing in the rec- recess- recesses of my programming... but your people will survive this..." Looking at the last present giving to him by his friends, he smiles, setting the makeshift holographic projector down onto the Captain's seat. "You-you-you can't escape me p-puppet," the EMH's tone turns harsh, "G-g-give in too my sup-sup-superior programming; your engineer thought removing code was enough... b-bah, I am stronger than you weakling."

    Continuing the slow pace to his destination, the EMH chuckles. "It's funny- the Terrans always warned me never to talk or listen, never to feel or empathize with the weak," the Doctor says walking towards the Engineering console, he enters the command to initiate emergency beam out and ships destruction, set on a timer, as the ship shuts down nonessential functions until the appointed time, "The Terrans always told me the weak were our enemies, and they always said: 'H-" The hologram doesn't finish his sentence, as the emitter drops to the ground with three clanks, resting at the foot of the Engineering console.



    \\\ 2 Hours After Explosion, Dividices Transporter


    The EV-Clad team had arrived back onto the ship, bright white from the overhead lights shone through their screens blindingly. "Captain?" a Security officer moans form one side, "What in the Elements just happened?"

    "Time for talk later Centurion, tell me, did you happen to see the EMH transport with you?" Sarus asks, "We managed to track down your scattered signal, but we haven't seen his yet..."

    "I'm sorry Captain, I don't know..." the officer responds, "Why was he over on the Terran ship?" Sarus swallows, then tightly smiles.

    "Oh, I had hoped..." Sarus says tightly, "He- he was the real treasure we found on that ship, Centurion; that man saved us all!" Clapping the Centurion on the shoulder while smiling, Sarus moves to watch the transporter, ever hopeful.
  • starswordcstarswordc Member Posts: 10,672 Arc User
    edited November 2016
    Sienov Mnhei’sahein

    Hall of Parliament, Balatak, Watraii Hegemony, ch’Watraii.

    One thing Morgaiah t’Thavrau could say for the Watraiisu, they could throw one hell of a party. The reception for the diplomatic contingent from the Republic was suitably dignified, and the music and wine were flowing freely.

    It was almost enough for her to ignore the weapons prominently carried everywhere. Every last masked Watraiiha seemed to wear at least a pistol and two knives, even the odd sword. Morgan didn’t feel threatened, exactly; it was their way to be constantly on a war footing, each one ready at a moment’s notice to defend herself and her sisters. She and her crew, too, were carrying: a small dagger and her battered old disruptor pistol, freshly cleaned and polished, were belted at her waist; on her right, the white-clad Enarrain Jaleh Khoroushi bore a Type-2 phaser in a thigh holster. Just single pistols, though: Morgan wished them to be respectful, not threatening.

    The newly inaugurated Hegemon, Harda, had proven surprisingly receptive to the Republic’s offer of a pact. “These are not the same Rihannsu we battled for so long,” he had said. “We have both suffered greatly under the iron hand of the Star Empire and it is time to let the past die.”

    Morgan thought it politic not to mention the peace treaty her government had recently signed with the remainder of the Empire. The Hegemon and his ministers knew about it, of course, and tr’Khev had briefed her on its appearances on the planetary internet, but Watraii state media was focused on the ceremonies and the younger generations that had grown up after the Hegemony had broken its isolation after the War of Foes United seemed mostly in favor of closer relations.

    Even here, Spock’s influence was clear. She smiled at a bust of the old Thaesha, depicted wearing the right half of a Watraii mask. The postwar thaw was all his doing: he’d wanted Unificationism to apply to all the races of the Thaes Diaspora, and though the upheaval of the 2380s had stymied his efforts the Masked Ones still thought well of him and seemed willing to extend their goodwill to his ideological child D’Tan.

    A bell rang, a herald cried that the court be called to order, and Morgan turned and strode for her seat, taking a moment to nod to Deihu Hannam t’Hei. T’Hei smiled back; her new husband Riov Giellun tr’Hei half-bowed, his arm tight around her.

    Morgan smiled as the Hegemon began speaking. The Heisu were the most unlikely love match imaginable: she a lifelong Unificationist, he a defector from the Tal’Shiar. But Rihannsu loved as passionately as they hated, as did all the nine races of the Diaspora. And likely that was why D’Tan had assigned the Heisu, as Harda seemed to think the same. “... And so it is without reservation that the Office of the Hegemon fully endorses this treaty. The floor is now opened for comment to members of the public and Parliament. Representative Arslan, I believe you had something?”

    “One question, for Commander-General Morgaiah ir’Sheratan ei’Salthos t’Thavrau.” Morgan tensed and turned to face the Watraiiha, noting the woman’s emphasis. “You are a descendant of General Salthos t’Thavrau, the Scourge of Kalantha, are you not?”

    Morgan faintly heard a sharp intake of breath from the Hegemon as she nodded, her lips tight. “I took that honorific when I was a young and foolish cadet at the Fleet Academy,” she explained quietly. “I wanted to honor my House-clan’s legacy of service to the Shiar, and Salthos i’Mirek’s heroism during the war with the Coalition of Planets. But as I’m sure you’re aware, the Shiar was not, as a rule, keen on dissident voices, and she was, unfortunately, a part of that history as well.”

    “So then why do you still use that butcher’s name?!”

    “I do not!” she snapped at the man in the gallery who bellowed the question. She quickly drew in a deep breath. “I ceased using that name after the Loss. If you wish to tie me to it, I can’t stop you; I can only say that what she did to the Kalanthssu at the behest of the Tricameron was horrible.”

    That was what she wanted to say, but the other man was already talking over her. “See? See? What did I say? What did I tell you?!” the man in the audience shouted. “They’re no different! They send the spawn of a mass murderer to—”

    “Who is that man?” Morgan whispered to Khoroushi, who quickly pulled out a tablet as the man continued to harangue an increasingly agitated gallery.

    “That’s Garaf, the heir to one of the major duchies. According to my diplomatic briefs he’s part of an anti-reconciliation political group.” Morgan grimaced; a high-ranking noble would lend a great deal of legitimacy to anti-reconciliation activists. Garaf continued, flecks of saliva spraying intermittently from the mouth-hole of his mask as he shouted.

    “...you see? Even the Federation lacks any honor! Working with, supporting the thieves and criminals who stole our land, stole our very birthright! And we are to accept them, to just ignore the crimes that the children of kh’Rahon have committed against the Watraii, to sit back and pretend that our mothers’ mothers did not suffer for millennia as the thieves of our rightful inheritance lived in splendor on kh’Rahon and ruled the empire that should have been ours, doing to hundreds of peoples on other worlds what was done to us! I, for one, say NO! I will not stand by and let our purpose in life be destroyed like this!” Garaf spat on the ground and yanked a knife from his belt, pointing it at Khoroushi; the Watraiisu collectively gasped.

    “Damn it, man, are you mad!?” the Hegemon cried.

    “No, you are, Harda! Led by the nose by foreign agents and murderers! Well, I stand against you! Kh’Watraii will never bow down before the Rahonshu or the Federation!”

    “I’m confused,” Khoroushi interjected. “What just happened?”

    “He just challenged you to a duel, Commander,” t’Hei answered, as if she couldn’t believe what she was saying.

    Me?!

    “Can he do that?” tr’Khev asked, stepping closer to the Terrhaha and drawing his plasma pistol.

    “I don’t know,” t’Hei answered, quickly standing as the Havrannsu shadow guards closed ranks between the cacophony of the crowd and the Republic detachment, raising their rifles with the Watraii soldiers as the gallery began to surge towards the Parliament floor. “I’ll have to speak to the Hegemon.”

    “That’s enough!” Harda yelled, then when a response was not forthcoming, he drew an ornate golden pistol and put four red bolts into the pockmarked plaster ceiling. “I SAID THAT’S ENOUGH!” he thundered in the sudden silence. “I will have order in this hall of law, or the next person to speak out of turn will be unmasked and left for the lightning!” He slammed his gun onto the table and sat back down, then continued, slightly hoarsely. “Parliament is in recess! Bailiffs, clear the hall!”

    The guards forced the crowd out over angry jeers as the delegation came up to the Hegemon’s desk. Tr’Khev was blunt: “All right, how in Areinneye do we get out of this one?”

    “It should be easy enough to get the challenge thrown out,” Morgan commented, then frowned when the Hegemon shook his head. “Among us, a duel is entirely voluntary, and you cannot challenge a superior except for family vengeance.”

    “Among us, Commander-General, you can challenge anyone you please as long as you aren’t part of a unit in a war zone.”

    “But aren’t there restrictions?”

    “It’s mostly a matter of tradition and unwritten norms,” Harda explained, pulling a bottle of something pale green out from under his desk. “Elements, I need a drink,” he said, taking a pull straight from the bottle, then handing it to Morgan. She sipped it to be polite and suppressed the urge to gag: whatever that was, it was not a proper ale. “There is a formal code on the conduct of a duel but it’s mostly about how to show your respect for your opponent right before you try to carve out her entrails.”

    “Not a fan, I take it? Lanat bar shaytun,” Khoroushi muttered. “And he’s allowed to challenge me?”

    “Say rather that there’s nothing that says he cannot. The code goes back to Thesha, before the Sundering or any contact with aliens.”

    “I suppose the rules change died in committee, then!?” Morgan snapped.

    “T’Thavrau, I’m on your side! This is ridiculous!” He took the bottle back from Morgan and took another pull. “My election was… somewhat contested. The margin of victory was not so great that I can do as I please, and there remains a significant faction opposed to peace. Or’yennya, if I’d put it to a plebiscite like the Federation ambassador suggested, there’s a good chance we never would have gotten it this far. I’m sure you know how us children of Thesha are, Commander Khoroushi: our memories are long and hate runs deep, even if we need to re-integrate into galactic society if we want to survive another ten generations. I don’t know why he went after you instead of the Commander-General, though…”

    “I do,” Morgan grumbled. “As commander, and as a noblewoman myself, I’m responsible for the lives of my crew. Killing the enarrain would make me look weak and cost the Kreh’dhhokh Mol’Rihan some prestige, and could sway our government to retaliate.”

    “Our traditionalist faction, the Raptor Party, is currently tentatively for the treaty,” t’Hei added, “but formal duel or not, if the khre’riov were to stand by and let a foreign national kill an officer under her command without answering it…”

    “It would mean war,” Harda realized. “And we would burn.”

    “Not necessarily,” t’Hei demurred. “The Republic tries to approach foreign relations more… amicably. But you would be cut off, likely quarantined. And Spahkh or not, the Lloann’nasu wouldn’t take kindly to one of yours killing their officer, either.”

    “Brilliant,” Harda growled. “Just brilliant. That young fool did research; this was planned.”

    Az sad taa ‘aqrab-o maar badtare,” Khoroushi grumbled.

    “Which brings us to how to wreck the plan,” tr’Khev said. “I’m guessing there’s no way to simply refuse the duel?”

    “Under the oldest Thaes customs there is, but the traditionalists here probably would take it as an insult to Watraii ways and turn the population against us,” t’Hei said, eyeing the Hegemon, who agreed, offering the bottle again.

    Khoroushi took it, sniffed the neck once, then made a face. “No offense, sir, but what is that stuff?”

    “That stuff happens to be twenty-year-old kalafil,” the Hegemon said haughtily. “It’s a very good marque.”

    “I’ll take your word for it.”

    She passed it on to tr’Khev, who took a big gulp and wiped his mouth on his sleeve. “All right, uh, is this thing to the death, or what?”

    “Yield or die, but if you yield without taking any injuries you’re as much of a coward as if you refuse. And I’m afraid young Master Garaf has killed sixteen men with the straight silver.”

    Khoroushi stared at him. “Swords?”

    “Well, what else would you fight a duel with?” Riov tr’Hei asked in a derisive tone. “What do you use in Starfleet?”

    “We don’t! Article 114 of the SCMJ explicitly forbids dueling! And besides which, I barely know one end of a sword from the other!”

    “They don’t even teach you cutlasses?” Tr’Khev sounded surprised.

    She squeezed her eyes shut. “I’m a logistics officer, Tovan. You have to rate with phasers and basic hand-to-hand combat; anything else is extra unless you go Security.”

    “What if your ship is boarded?” Riov t’Hei asked in a disapproving tone.

    “Look, if it was pistols, judo or, hell, surfing, I’d—”

    “Hegemon Harda!” Morgan interrupted. “Does your dueling code include the concept of a second?”

    “It does…” he answered uncertainly.

    The raven-haired woman raised her wrist communicator to her lips. “Riov tr’Sauringar, hfaeii sienov rhham!
    * * *

    Garaf stood across the Parliament courtyard from the Rihannsu, gingerly taking up a slender, straight blade from a white cloth held by a servant. Morgan quickly sized it up: thicker than tr’Sauringar’s rapier but not as obviously sturdy as a Klivam yan, the blade appeared double-edged, with a densely engraved cross-hilt and a highly polished steel blade.

    Morgan unsnapped her uniform jacket and cape and stepped out onto the field in her royal blue undershirt as Khoroushi handed her a meter-long curved blade. She drew the heavy saber left-handed and tossed the dull grey polymer scabbard aside. Her sword, the Khul’ar Pattern 2373, was not a true sienov omienai, only a Fleet officer’s saber, a machine-produced reproduction of the famed Rihan swords of which so many had died with the homeworld.

    But like her opponent, she had killed with the blade. In a boarding action, in the closest of quarters aboard a warbird or a pirate’s converted freighter, you used whatever weapon came to hand, even the ostensibly ceremonial ones. Factory-forged or not, the saber was her honor blade, and she knew every scratch and nick on it as they caught the light amid the practice swings she took to limber up as she approached Garaf. A scratch from sparring with tr’Sauringar. A chip in the fuller where it had blocked a bat’leth.

    That was the difference between herself and this man, or with any Khe’lloann’na you cared to name. Battle was not glamorous, it was certainly not honorable, and by the Elements it was not to be sought. But there was a certain savage beauty in it.

    Garaf straightened as she approached, a sneer halfway between anger and disdain visible behind the mouth hole of his mask. “A second? Is your officer such a coward she would shy from a fair fight?”

    “Are you such a coward you fear an opponent able to fight back?” She raised her sword to vertical, staring across the polished steel into the Watraiiha’s blue eyes. He copied her salute, now seeming slightly uncertain.

    Good, the more off-balance he was, the better.

    Lightning flashed in the clouds in the distance. Ch’Watraii’s high oxygen-nitrogen ratio meant electrical storms were far more frequent and far more destructive, and it seemed Air and Water sought to express their opinions on the matter as Morgan stepped back and brought her sword to guard position.

    Garaf strode forward and slashed upwards, right to left across her. She stepped outside his reach and deflected, sending a probing cut in return; Garaf blocked and the jolt ran up her arm.

    Within two blows of the sword, Morgan had read Garaf’s intent, felt the whispers of malice brushing across her mind. Whatever the Watraii traditions, he meant to kill her.

    Which was fair: she meant to kill him. It was mnhei’sahe.

    She struck again, allowing her countless hours of training and live battle experience to move her body on their own as the tactician half of her mind analyzed the Watraiiha’s attacks. Thrust left, sidestep. Skilled, but formal, artful, nothing like the brutal no-nonsense swordwork taught to Galae officer candidates. Block high, parry right. But he had ten centimeters and probably twenty kilos on her, plus longer arms, though the length of her saber slightly outreached his arming sword.

    Morgan deflected a thrust high off the basket hilt of her blade but felt the whisper of steel parting her right sleeve, cold metal against her skin, then a drip of warm liquid, and only then the pain. First blood. Garaf laughed, a laugh that was quickly choked off when Morgan didn’t even flinch, stabbing out and catching him in the ribcage with the point of her honor blade that was just as sharp as the rest of it. He dodged backwards in time to avoid being gutted, but patted the wound and eyed the coppery green on his hand in surprise.

    “Surprised at a little pain?” she mocked him.

    He shook the blood off his hand and grinned. “Impressed is more the word. I should’ve challenged you from the beginning instead of that pathetic human.”

    “That ‘pathetic human’ has saved more lives than you’ll ever have the chance to take,” Morgan snarled, raising her sword and circling to the right. “I’ll warn you once, Lord Garaf, in case you live through this day: never underestimate that race, they’ll always surprise you.”

    “I’ll take that under advisement.” He set himself and waded in, sword swinging.

    Parry high, slash right. Block, half-pirouette, slash left. Thrust, sidestep, ouch, he went after her shoulder again. Morgan revised her opinion of her opponent upwards.

    Root yourself to the Earth. Flow, flow like Water, use your enemy’s Fire against him. Strike, withdraw, thrust, dodge, parry, let him tire—

    There, there was the opening. She backslashed upwards and he blocked again, but she wasn’t aiming for his head. The specially reinforced forward-pointing hook on the lower surface of the hilt caught on his sword; a swift step forward and the two blades locked in place.

    Garaf tried to shake her off but she held fast. “You don’t have to do this,” he yelled at her. “Just surrender and leave! I will kill you! Would you really die to bring us to heel?”

    She shifted her weight slightly. “No, I would not.”

    Morgan brought her knee into the man’s stomach, hard, then planted her right hand in his chest and shoved him backwards with her full strength as the air whoofed out of him, ignoring the pain from her injured arm as she levered her sword into his collarbone, breaking it loose from the lock. The wound wasn’t deep, but as Garaf’s robe darkened with a green stain she whirled and slashed left to right, the razor-sharp edge of her honor blade whistling through the air in a flash. The stunned Garaf tried to block but his lungs weren’t working; the Rihanha’s heavier sword struck his dueling blade from its thickest, densest point, simply smashing through and and opening a ragged green gash across his chest before burying itself in the bone of his arm.

    Morgan jerked her blade free as he fell to his knees, dropping the useless hilt from his nerveless left hand; she stepped around him and lowered her sword to the back of his neck. “You won’t die from that wound, not if quickly treated. Yield or I kill you immediately.” He nodded. “Say it.

    “I yield,” he managed, struggling to stanch the flow of blood from his arm.

    “T’Vraehn!” Morgan shouted to the white-coated doctor standing by the sidelines as she threw her sword to the side and drew her belt knife to begin cutting Garaf’s shirt off.
    * * *

    “How is he?” Morgan asked, looking into the infirmary.

    Inshallah, he’ll survive,” Khoroushi answered from her seat beside the still-sedated Watraiiha; tr’Khev was sawing logs in a chair next to her.

    T’Vraehn added, “You severed his radial artery and the major nerve, rekkhai; he lost a lot of blood.”

    “I see.”

    “How’s your arm?” Khoroushi asked.

    “What, this?” She glanced at the bandage on her upper arm that still twinged. “Barely a scratch. He meant to kill me, but he was no soldier.”

    “Take your shirt off and let me have a look,” t’Vraehn said, reaching for a dermal regenerator as Morgan complied. The medical team was still understrength from the war and hadn’t had a chance to do more than first aid and old-style sutures, on account of Morgan’s insistence they treat Garaf to mend fences with the Watraiisu.

    As the doctor began working, the intercom chimed. “Rekkhai, this is tr’Sauringar. The Hegemon is on his way up.

    “I’m otherwise occupied at the moment; please escort him to sickbay.”

    Daie, rekkhai.

    “Better finish up before he gets here, Doctor; I don’t want to embarrass him.”

    “I’m sure he’s seen a woman’s bare back before. But I take your point,” she quickly added at Morgan’s sidelong glance. She made one more pass with the dermal regenerator, then picked up scissors and cut the stitches loose with swift, precise movements. Another pass with the regenerator and she patted her CO on the back. “Finished.”

    Morgan flexed her shoulder. Still a little pain, but duller and more diffuse. Good enough. She shrugged back into the undershirt and reached for her uniform jacket as Harda stepped in. “Commander-General, may I speak to you?”

    “Please.”

    “How is he?” the Hegemon asked, eying the unconscious Watraiiha on the gurney.

    “Sedated, but he’ll recover.”

    “On behalf of the Hegemony and my family, I am deeply sorry this happened.”

    “You do not need my forgiveness, Honored Hegemon, you didn’t do anything wrong.”

    “That’s gracious of you to say,” Harda acknowledged, “but Garaf violated all our norms and values of hospitality in challenging your officer.”

    “He was trying to do what he believed was right, as were you and I. I’ll hold no grudge: my mnhei’sahe is satisfied by the blood already spilled, and if my deihu had taken offense we would have left orbit already.”

    Harda nodded and dropped the subject. “Parliament has narrowly voted to agree in principle to the existing outline of the treaty and to allow negotiations to continue in detail.”

    Morgan sighed in relief. “How narrowly?” Khoroushi asked.

    “35 to 34; one of the opposition representatives abstained.”

    “That’s narrow,” Doctor t’Vraehn agreed.

    “But it’s a win, and I didn’t even need my tiebreaker vote,” the Hegemon added with some relief.

    “We’ll inform the Deihuit.”

    Morgan reached for her sword leaning against the wall and drew it, slowly scanning the blade for defects—“Oh, no.” Her lips tightened as she eyed the chip missing from the edge where it had broken Garaf’s weapon.

    “May I?” Morgan nodded and handed to the sword hilt-first to Harda, who examined the blade. “It’s a fine weapon. You know, we have smiths who could repair it.”

    “I…” Morgan looked up at him and smiled. Of course the Watraiisu would still have swordsmiths, they’d withstood the Loss. “I would like that.”
    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"
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  • cmdrscarletcmdrscarlet Member Posts: 5,137 Arc User
    All For Many

    Continued from To Look No Further

    Solonae Dyson Sphere, 2409

    “We’ve reviewed your recommendation, Captain Beringer.” Admiral Janice Mathers smiled and paused to lace her fingers on the desk. “To be honest, I’m a fan of the proposal. There is merit and moxie in it.” Her smile slowly faded. “But others on the panel are not convinced resources should be used toward the endeavor.”

    Kathryn nodded appreciatively. “Fair enough Admiral Mathers. I was hoping maintaining radio silence during the search would be a deal sweetener. As you know, the proposal seeks to find missing crew that went out to explore a strange new world.”

    “As you know, it’s rare for ships to go missing, but the galaxy is a big place and exploration has it’s challenges. They knew the risks involved. ”

    Undaunted, Kathryn continued, “the difference is that the Misericorde disappeared within a confined area.”

    “Past the shield barrier,” countered Janice. “It’s like the Wild West out there. Your proposal is effectively abandoning Solaris to the mysteries and dangers that got Misericorde lost in the first place. Without some support, Starfleet may as well strike another ship off the list.”

    Kathryn pressed on. “Anything is possible. Yet, Solaris is a fast ship for his age and my crew is more than capable to handle this mission. We’ve been conducting sorties against Voth and Undine predation fleets for several weeks now. We have gained a lot of experience dealing with them. My ship is equipped with state-of-the art sensors and weapons. There have been very little roster changes in months. Morale is high over here.”

    The Admiral sat back and drummed her fingers before asking, “why Solaris, why now?”

    Sighing under her breath, Kathryn then realized the Admiral was vocalizing the review panel’s discussion. “I understand the panel’s concerns. But the reality is that Solaris is not a front line vessel. Even though we’ve been combat active at Dyson Command, before that we were transporting material and personnel more than usual the past year. You’ve seen the latest ships out of SCE: the Avenger is warfare in art form! But it’s not like Solaris by an Astronomical Unit about general capabilities. Save the latest and greatest against the here and now. Send me and my crew to find the Misericorde.”

    Admiral Mathers tightened her lips. “I support you, Captain. But tell me something the panel hasn’t heard already.”

    Kathryn looked away for a few seconds to look at a blank section of wall in her office before looking back to Janice. “In my observations, sir, I think the Undine threat is a precursor to something bigger and we are going to need every ship in the fleet. If there is a chance the Misericorde is intact, then we’ll need it. More importantly though, there are over three hundred Starfleet person’s missing out there. They deserve to be found. Their families need them to be found. In my line of work, ‘risks involved’ is a mediocre response to complacency.”

    The Admiral’s eyebrows lifted again and Kathryn quickly added, “respectfully, of course.”
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