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Literary Challenge #47 : "There are 47!"

pwebranflakespwebranflakes Member Posts: 7,741
edited June 2019 in Fan Creations
Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges! :cool:

Today we start the two-week run of the forty-seventh Literary Challenge: "There are 47!"
"There are 47!"

47 of what? Let us know...

((The number 47 was often used in numerical references throughout the various Star Trek series and movies as an Easter egg of sorts. Reference to the number 47 can also be found throughout STO.))

This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.
The Discussion Thread can be found HERE.
We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.

The rules may change from one challenge to another, but I'd like to remind everyone what the base rules are. These may grow as we move on, so also feel free to give feedback!
  • Each Challenge will run for two weeks. For 2 weeks we will sticky the challenge and let you make your entry.
  • There are no right or wrong entry.
  • The background story, questions I ask, and format requested are only to serve as a platform that you can start your writing from. Feel free to change up the back-story or the way you deliver, as long as the entry stays on topic of the original challenge.
  • Write as little or as much as you would like.
  • Please keep discussion about the entries in the appropriate Discussion Thread.
  • In the Discussion Thread, feel free to write what inspired you and what your thoughts on the topic are.
  • A few other important reminders:
    • Please heed the rest of the forum's rules when submitting your entry! All of them apply to these posts.
    • Each poster can have one entry. Feel free to edit your post to fix typos or add/ remove content as you see fit during the next two weeks.
    • After two weeks time, the thread will be unstickied, as we move on to the next challenge.
    • We'll have two threads: One to post the entries in and one to discuss the entries. **Cross-linking between these two threads is acceptable for these challenges ONLY!!**
Post edited by wingedhussar#7584 on


  • mattias078mattias078 Member Posts: 2 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    47 augmented self-conscious dolphins which live in super cool pool at Memory Alpha. They are the brightest scientists around.
  • sharpie65sharpie65 Member Posts: 679 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    Captain's Log, stardate 93547.98:

    We have rendezvoused with ships from the Klingon Empire, the newly-formed Romulan Republic, and the Federation - a task force comprised of a total of 47 ships to combat the alliance of the Iconians, Tholians, and the Borg. Admiral D'Vak of the USS Victory, Captain P'tor of the IKS Chang, and Admiral Kererek of the RRW Saeihr, have met in the former Romulan-Klingon-Federation Neutral Zone in the Tau Dewa sector block.[/I

    "Greetings, P'tor. It is...good to see you again."

    "Qapla', D'Vak. The Empire sends it's greetings, to both you and Admiral Kererek. Thank you for allowing us to meet aboard your ship, Captain Aubrey. It truly is an honor to be aboard the renowned USS Retribution, although not as much an honor as it would be fight you in battle."

    "Captain P'tor, I don't believe that fighting Captain Aubrey at this time would be beneficial to any of us, given the gravity of our present situation.

    Thank you, Admiral Kererek. Now shall we get down to the business that is at hand? Subadmiral Sal'is Arrai and General Sai Aranor will hopefully be joining us shortly to provide their support. The Klingon Empire and the Federation are at war, as you all know.
    However, as you all know, there is a ceasefire order put in place by both our governments in times of extreme threat. I tell you now, that we are in one of those times. The Iconians have allied themselves with the Borg Collective and the Tholian Assembly. This could potentially devastate the entire galaxy as we know it.
  • grylakgrylak Member Posts: 1,572 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    Xui Li was working in the science lab, helping to calibrate the sensors with Panuu.

    Panuu was puzzled over one of Xui Li's little hobbies.

    "I still do not understand what your fascination with them is."

    "It is simple. As pets, they are the perfect specimen. They do not require feeding, they do not create a mess, and they are completely self sufficient."

    Panuu frowned a little.

    "But they don't do anything."

    "Actually, they have been found to greatly lower stress levels and provide a calming influence on humanoids."
    "But are they not considered a menace?"
    "No. Not when, ah, proper procedures are observed."
    "I am still surprised the Captain lets you keep them."

    "Captain Stunshock understands and respects my position. And I, ah, have agreed to observe all protocols. There will not be an outbreak."

    "I hope not. I have read the stories of what happens."

    Xui Li closed the sensor panel and carefully put her instruments away.

    "If you would like, you can come to my quarters and see them."

    Panuu nodded respectively, having learnt some of the ways of Chinese culture.

    "I would like that very much. Allow me to finish this diagnostic."

    Xui Li patiently waited for the Deferi to finish, then left the lab.

    "I have yet to find anyone who did not like these creatures. I'm sure you will find them most wonderful."

    "You said you have 6, correct?"

    "Correct. Part of the protocols is that their numbers must be kept no higher on any one ship."

    They approached the door to her quarters and opened it. Xui Li let out a gasp and Panuu raised an eye ridge. The main part of her quarters was buried under a furry blanket of tribbles.

    "How many did you say you had?"

    "I do not understand. This should not have happened. I was very careful."

    Xui Li entered the room and tried to pick her way across the carpet. It was impossible to tell where her original tribbles were.

    She whipped out her tricorder and scanned the room.

    "I appear to now have 47 tribbles. This is most troubling."

    Panuu picked his way across the carpet to the table. He could smell something under it. Kneeling down, he started digging into the tribble mound, extracting a half eaten sandwich.

    "I believe this is what caused it."

    "nǎo can. I forgot that was there when I was called to the Bridge during this morning's Yellow Alert. The rocking of the ship must have knocked their habitat cage open and they were able to feed."

    "We really need to get this cleared quickly."

    Xui Li tapped her commbadge.

    "Xui Li to Commander Kazzur."

    "Yes lieutenant?"

    "I, ah, appear to have had an accident with my tribbles."

    "They bred?"

    "Yes Sir. They bred."

    She quickly ran across the room to scoop one up that was escaping out into the hallway.

    "I'm sending a biohazard team to your quarters. Make sure they don't escape, or eat any more."

    "Yes Sir."

    Xui Li re-entered her quarters and noticed Panuu was cradling a tribble, softly purring at it as it purred at him.

    "I believe I understand why you like to keep these pets, despite the obvious risks."

    "I am pleased at least something worthwhile has come out of this."

    She looked around her quarters, wondering just how they were going to get all these tribbles off the ship.

    A Romulan Strike Team, Missing Farmers and an ancient base on a Klingon Border world. But what connects them? Find out in my First Foundary mission: 'The Jeroan Farmer Escapade'
  • masopwmasopw Member Posts: 157 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    It has been too long since I've seen my old friend...far too long.

    I wish it could be under better circumstances.

    He sat in the shade, staring out to sea. There was zero surf...and in my mind I heard his voice from the past describing it as, "glassy, brah. Not pumpin' today." Surfing is what cemented our friendship...got me out of my shell, got him relaxed enough to not worry about making, then leading, Omicron Group.

    Omicron Group...the sub-division of Red Squad that nobody in the Academy was supposed to know about.

    Pffft....worst kept secret, with us yelling "OG" while catching the waves. God, that was years ago.

    So much has happened between now and then.

    He didn't hear me walking up, so, disguising my voice with an accent, I muttered, "Nice view. Better than Papailoa Beach on Earth."

    "Get lost." There was venom in his words; he didn't recognize my voice, and I knew that his tone meant he was *not* to be disturbed. He didn't move a muscle.

    I dropped the accent, hoping to defuse the situation. "Come now, old friend...is that any way to talk to an OG?"

    His head turned slightly. "Hearing going in your old age? I said get lost." But the venom was gone, and from my vantage point I could see the edge of his lip curling up in that smirk of his.

    "Chill, brah. No stay huhu." It always cheers him up when the 'uptight Vulcan' drops formal speech and delves into Pidgin.

    But I could tell that things were really wrong when his head sagged down as if gravity just tripled. "Sit down, Sotek. If you're here...well...somebody's told you. I'm losing my mind."

    I had not seen him this way since the loss of the Yorktown.

    "That is not what I had heard," I lied. "The Honolulu is due for an upgrade on her nacelles. Six weeks in spacedock...so I granted my crew shore leave for the duration once I knew which berth we would be in. You know how the SCE's in Drydock 47 get when a ship comes in...they demand that the entire crew beam off so they can "fix" the ship and bring it back to stock configuration." I sighed heavily. "You said years ago that having an all Vulcan dock crew would prevent them from accepting that any variance from standard specifications was permissible. You were right."

    There was little emotion in his voice as he spoke. "Took you a long time to admit that. Jax had the Ajax in 47 a few months ago. That rumble on deck 6 that their Chief Engineer resolved by branching the secondary inverters...well, they restored the system back to specs...and Jax hasnt slept a full night since. Hmmph. Vulcans...Andorians...Humans...hell, any race...you isolate them from other cultures, and they will revert to their worst traits. You pointy eared walking tricorders have this tendency to go strictly by the book. And you get all formal with communications. It's annoying. That...and there's the fact that every 7 years, nothing's gonna get done." He paused. "And you still can't lie worth a damn. Why are you here?"

    I knew that it was wrong to try to deceive my friend. "We are worried about you."

    He sighed. "I just can't put it past me. You know what happened. Don't you dare say otherwise...all of 'OG' knows. I just can't put what happened aside. That...that..." He dropped his head into his hands, tears starting to come out.

    I only saw him cry a few times before. Sara & Arky's wedding day. At Jen's birth. Alex's first recital. The day the nightmare of the Yorktown court martial ended, and when they gave him the Bonaventure. I knew he was hurting.

    "I can't get over it," he sobbed. Everything that's happened...has happened. And yet it hasn't happened. And it will happen again!" His voice turned to ice. "Death. We're all dead."

    Pain radiated off him.

    "Let me help you, my friend," I calmly spoke. "Please."

    He nodded sadly. "Try," the single word coming out no louder than a whisper.

    I tried for a small joke. "Do or do not, there is no try." It was from a favorite film of his, one which we watched many, many times after a day on the waves. But what usually brought a smile to his face had no effect whatsoever.

    I knelt by his side, moved my hand to his face, and uttered the words tradition mandated. "My mind, to your mind...my thoughts, to your thoughts."

    It didn't matter how many melds I had partaken in. Didn't matter how much meditation I have done. Years of dedication to the mastery of emotion....none of it could prepare me for the pain he felt:

    <Pain> {Death} Rebirth (NOOO!!!!) {Help me L'naa!} <How!?!> B'Tran Cluster {Sotek, look out!} (Arrgh!) <Why, Q? Why are you doing this?> {I HATE YOU} Resistance is Futile <<Abandon Ship!>> (No time!) {Brace for impact!}<<WHY?!?!>>{NOOOOO!!!!}

    My hand shot away as if I had touched a live wire.

    He had passed out.

    My head was screaming with thoughts...this is what he's been living with? It was bad for the one year, one month, two weeks, and two days from the time the Yorktown was destroyed to his being absolved of any blame.

    But this was an infinite order of magnitude worse. Something had shattered the boundaries that divide the multiple universes, and his mind had seen 47 versions of them...each one worse than the last.

    I tapped my combadge, gasping out, "Sotek to any station...medical emergency...immediate transport for two beings required."

    My mind started to go grey, as if a fog had jumped in from the sea. It was overtaking me fast, worse than wiping out at Pipeline. I was drowning in pain, and I recognized the signs of blacking out. I had no idea where I could even start to help my friend...but knew that all the 'OG' would have to be a part of it. Of that, I was sure.

    I was too dizzy...even on my knees. The sky was no longer blue, and the emerald jungle faded away. I dropped on my back, faintly hearing a distant chirp.

    "This is the Endeavour...we have you, Captain Sotek, energizing now."

    The familiar blue sparkles poked through my clouded vision...and just as the blackness started to take me, I recalled a small whisper from the screams in his mind:

  • whoami2whoami2 Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges! :cool:

    Today we start the two-week run of the forty-seventh Literary Challenge: "There are 47!"
    "There are 47!"

    47 of what? Let us know...

    ((The number 47 was often used in numerical references throughout the various Star Trek series and movies as an Easter egg of sorts. Reference to the number 47 can also be found throughout STO.))

    This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.
    The Discussion Thread can be found HERE.
    We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.

    The rules may change from one challenge to another, but I'd like to remind everyone what the base rules are. These may grow as we move on, so also feel free to give feedback!
    • Each Challenge will run for two weeks. For 2 weeks we will sticky the challenge and let you make your entry.
    • There are no right or wrong entry.
    • The background story, questions I ask, and format requested are only to serve as a platform that you can start your writing from. Feel free to change up the back-story or the way you deliver, as long as the entry stays on topic of the original challenge.
    • Write as little or as much as you would like.
    • Please keep discussion about the entries in the appropriate Discussion Thread.
    • In the Discussion Thread, feel free to write what inspired you and what your thoughts on the topic are.
    • A few other important reminders:
      • Please heed the rest of the forum's rules when submitting your entry! All of them apply to these posts.
      • Each poster can have one entry. Feel free to edit your post to fix typos or add/ remove content as you see fit during the next two weeks.
      • After two weeks time, the thread will be unstickied, as we move on to the next challenge.
      • We'll have two threads: One to post the entries in and one to discuss the entries. **Cross-linking between these two threads is acceptable for these challenges ONLY!!**

    What do u mean? I dont get it
  • whoami2whoami2 Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    nvm I found out :P I didn't read it correctly
  • marcusdkanemarcusdkane Member Posts: 7,439 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    The Forty Seven Steps

    Romulus, 2374

    Captain Marcus Kane sprinted down the steps of the senate building, his long-legged strides taking them four, five, six at a time. Disruptor beams hissed out of the foyer behind him as the guards tried to bring him down, but his speed and motion kept him just out of their aim as he continued his frantic dash for the causeway.

    I hope Paige got out okay... he thought, jumping down the final flight of stairs.

    The last he had seen of the Photonic operative, she had increased the thermal output of her holomatrix, causing the archive to burst into flames.

    A disruptor beam clipped Kane's right shoulder, throwing him forward and off balance. Fortunately it was not set to kill, and rolling to maintain his momentum, he came smoothly to his feet and continued his sprint, ignoring the tingling sensation which radiated from his shoulder to his fingers as the damaged nerves regenerated themselves.

    An aficionado of parkour, Kane's eyes constantly scanned the terrain ahead, for possibilities and options, when he saw the troops approaching from the other end of the causeway, blocking his planned escape route into the capital.

    "Move! Get out of the way!" he yelled in Romulan, as he darted through the crowds of people wandering across the causeway. Of course, they responded as he had anticipated -- freezing on the spot, and looking in the direction of the shout, saw a bearded Human in heavy-duty light blue pants and a black synthleather jacket racing towards them. But it was enough of a pause in the pedestrian flow, that Kane could see another option. Still sprinting as hard as he could, he veered towards the edge of the causeway, ignoring the lactic burn in his lungs and thighs as he pushed himself over the edge of normal Human endurance.

    A running leap brought his foot down on the concrete bench, giving him height and leverage, another put his foot on the upright back of the bench, and the next jump put him on the wall of the causeway. Without hesitation, he dived forwards, plummeting headfirst towards the green waters of the harbour fifty feet below.

    He broke the surface in a clean dive, continuing to swim deeper down with powerful strokes. Disruptor beams continued to seek him out, molecular excitation causing the water to boil around the needle-like green beams.

    Reaching into the pocket of his jeans, Kane's fingers closed round the delta-shape of his comm badge, and he squeezed it three times in quick succession, almost immediately feeling the shiver of a transporter beam run through him.

    "Captain, are you alright?" Paige demanded, as Kane coughed up water and pulled himself into a sitting position on the transporter pad, several litres of water sluicing onto the deck.

    Clearing his lungs as they made the transition from liquid to atmospheric respiration, Kane nodded.

    "I'm fine," he assured the photonic active intelligence gathering engram as she helped him to his feet. "Take the helm and get us out of here, I need to transmit this information ahead of us." incase we don't make it... he had not needed to add.

    Crossing to the ops console, he pulled his tricorder from inside his jacket, and synched it to the mainframe of the runabout Tigris. A moment later, the information had been uploaded, compressed and encrypted, then sent in a burst transmission toward the USS Endeavour, which was holding place on the very edge of the neutral zone.

    "We've cleared orbit, coming up on Remus now," Paige reported from the helm. "Sensors are reading two D'deridex class warbirds, and four T'liss class cruisers ahead. Should I ready weapons?"

    "Negative," Kane insisted. "Maintain your course, I'm bringing the deflector modifications online, which should scatter their sensors. I don't want to fire unless we have to."

    "Aye, Captain," Paige acknowledged, plotting a course which would take the runabout between the two massive warbirds, ensuring that any hostile fire would present as much risk to their companion vessels, as the Federation ship.

    The warbirds loomed on the viewport as the Tigris drew closer, and Kane's hand hovered over the tactical systems control, ready to bring them online immediately that they be fired upon.

    Time seemed to stretch into eternity, as the runabout glided past the Romulan ships, before heading for the neutral zone and jumping to warp once clear of their sensor range.

    Releasing the breath he had unconsciously been holding, Kane looked over to Paige.

    "Mission successful," he announced, relaxing back into the chair and watching the stars streak towards them.
  • knightraider6knightraider6 Member Posts: 396 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    USS Sarantities, Wells Class Temporal Science ship

    "What the HELL Happened?"

    Lt Leah Stone tried not to fidget, but while standing at atttention wasn't hard...keeping her tail still on the other hand was. She'd never seen the Captain so angry, of course he had a reason to be. the list of temporal violations that had been comitted in the last fifteen minutes were longer than she was tall. Still..she was the one that pushed the button "Sir, it was my fault-"

    "no it wasn't! Captain, she was being McFly'd, that is what triggered the Red Alert-the automatic safeguards."

    "Velma, confirm?" Captain Dodson asked the ships AI, seeming to calm some, though the short bald human always seemed to be agitated even when he was asleep. Of course, commanding a time ship on a deep survielance mission hundreds of years in the past did tend to keep one's nerves going.

    "Confirmed. Lt Stone was being erased from the timeline, when I engaged automatic safeguards under Temporal Directive 287.6."

    "damn, at ease Lt. " he said.

    "Sir, I thought I did hit the button"

    The holographic AI, who for some absurd reason today was using an avatar that looked like a humanoid Koala shook her head "no, you were .000027 seconds too slow. So Lt Stone is blameless captain."

    Ira Dodson nodded "very well...now will someone please tell me WHAT happened?

    400 something years earlier, USS Agamemnon

    It was bad. Very bad. Rhonda Evans listened to the panicked chatter on the other side of the border, something nasty was hitting the colony just across the border from them, the screams over the com had been the most unnerving of all. Klingons didn't scream like that. true, they were civilians but still.. "any response?

    "It's faint...but I'm getting something from the IKS Shy'Joq..boosting the gain." she blinked "it's a distress beacon. I didn't know Klink ships had them."

    Her tac officer, a Denali colonist named Sachen drooped her ears "they do, but it's different. it's not so much a call for help..but a warning and a call for vengance." she punched a couple more settings on the console "there we go, on screen Captain.

    Rhonda thought for a second that she was seeing a red colored Ferasan-then realized it was blood the KDF captain was covered in. one ear was mostly missing, and it looked like she may lose an eye as well. "-massive Fek'Ihri attack on both the planet surface and in space. The Governor has ordered a civilian evacuation. We have taken damage, weapons and drive are out, and are still dealing with boarders."

    Seeing the look in her eye, her Andorian first officer spoke up "Captain, under Current regulations we have to get approval from at least one flag officer, plus fleet legal and Federation State Ministry before offering assistance."

    "Noted. Besides, whats the worst they can do, fire me?" she nodded to the com tech who opened a hailing frequency "this is the USS Agamemnon, Rhonda Evans commanding. What do you need us to do?"

    she could see on the screen the doubt, and indecision on the Feresan's face. It was bad enough there was a battle on that they could not take part in...worse shame still was to have to be rescued. But in the end, the Empire's military was known as the Klingon Defense force...and there were elders and children in danger of being food for the Fek, a fate no soldier of the Empire wished on their worst enemy.

    "Agamemnon, General Kaikala of the Shy'joq. Do not worry about us, we will defeat the boarders and repair as quickly as possible. But there are 48...no..now 47 transports with kit's and elders attempting to flee the system. Protect them!"

    As soon as the words were spoken, the Agamemnon shot across the border, the Galaxy dreadnaught's quantum slipstream drive cutting the time to the colony down to a few minutes. As they dropped out of warp they saw the Shy'joq, one of the KDF's Vo'quv carriers...at least it was at one time. there were close to a dozen wrecked and shattered Fek'Ihri ships about it, one had bodily rammed the Vo'quv, the carrier itself on fire. It was a testament to the tenacity of her crew that they had not fallen. Ahead, they could see the transports breaking atmo, trying to get high enough to go to warp, and around them...from a distance it looked like a cloud of angry bees. Fek fighters and small craft, trying to get to the helpless civilians.

    "Mr Sachen. Get their attention."

    For the first time, the Agamemnon's Phaser spinal lance was fired in anger. The beam, half a kilometer wide by the time it reached the Fek'Ihri frigate, overwhelmed the shields..punching a nice round hole through the ship, before it detonated, taking several of the fighters with it. almost as one the remaining ships ceased their attacks on the transports, and closed on the federation ship.

    "I think we got their attention Captain..."

    USS Sarantites

    "I think that was a mistake."

    Captain Dodson stopped the playback from the surveilance file, and looked at the Ensign who spoke up. He had been an instructor in the Academy before his current post, and encouraged his officers, especially the junior ones to ask questions and make comments "why is that Ensign Thomas?"

    "If i remember correctly, both the Vo'quv and the Galaxy vessels , while formidable, were extremely vulnearable to attack from smaller, more agile vessels. The Vo'quv was reliant on it's fighter wing, and the Galaxy class never went into combat alone if it could help it when vastly outnumbered."

    "correct Ensign. While a ship like the Agamemnon could handle several captial ships, a swarm of fighters without escort of their own could prove disaterous..."

    USS Agamemnon

    They were holding, but just barely. Three more Fek frigates had joined the first one in a cloud of sub atomic particles, and there were only five transports left to jump to warp. Question is would they be around to see it. Desipte rotating the shield frequencies, the Fek'ihri managed to swarm the hull, claws ripping through the alloy untill her new Chief Engineer, a shaven headed dark skinned human from Alpha Cent named Danny Putty re routed power from the engines to the hull. There were charred fek corpses clinging to it...and inside. The shields could not take the pounding from the antiproton cannons, causing the shield realays on deck 17 to explode with enough force to breach the hull. There were sparkling beams of light appearing through the ship as Fek'Ihri beamed aboard.

    Sachen diddn't even pause in her firing the few remaining working weapons at the attackers from outside, drawing a phaser with her free hand and firing at the...thing. it looked Klingon, female-if you gave it teeth from a worg and diddn't bother to dress it. It shrieked as it disintrigated, one down..at least fourty seven of them on the bridge it seemed, the females, small...things..and even bigger things. Something knocked her out of the chair, dozens of small clawed hands grabbing at her, ripping through the uniform and skin. There were screams elsewhere on the bridge, from out of the corner of her eyes she could see one of the larger ones biting Ensign Sauer's arm off, slick blood gushing out across the deck plating. There was another scream from
    the helmsman, then thundering crashes, over and over, as she fought to get to her feet. She kicked hard, breaking the neck of one of the hordelings, then lashed out with her own claws, the long knives she kept tucked inside her uniform sleeves.

    She managed to get up on the console, half the panels now dark as the Fek'ihir were hitting engineering too from the shouting and weapons fire coming over the com. She saw the Captain, Rhonda was standing on her chair, still using that antique type 2 phaser she had picked up somewhere- fortuantely it's output was far increased to what it was when it was produced, cutting down hordelings as fast as she could draw a bead, in the other hand the even more ancient Sig P226 that her father gave her. The two large ones however were..what the hell? They were vomiting on the cieling.

    "oh Greatmother" she muttered...it was acid, eating through the hull. The Fek could probably survive if they vaccumed the bridge, the crew on the other hand..She shouted to the two MACOS by the turbolift, who were busy firing as fast as they could "Vasquez! Michaels! Get the Captain out of here!"

    Rhonda shouted something in protest, but it went unheard in the firing and screams of the invaders. Sachen felt a sudden pain in her side and brought the blade down-too late, the fangs of the female Fek sunk deep into her side. The battle knife severed the head, but she could feel muscles tensing up, some kind of paraylitic posion...She saw Rhonda screaming something as Vasquez bodily picked up the Captain and tossed her into the turbolift, Michaels falling to another of the ravagers as the lift closed. Two more were coming towards her, the hull above begining to groan from the acid weakening it.

    She dropped her blades...one hand diddn't work anyway now, and the other, well only needed one hand for that. As the Ravagers and hordelings closed inon her, she thumbed the contact detonator on the photon gernade and smiled at the Ravager "Fire in the hole."

    It was a nightmare. she'd lost friends before, both as a hero , and in the fleet, but this. She was half torn by grief and fury as the MACO threw her into the lift.. Seconds later the entire ship shook, the turbolift dropping several decks then being pulled back up by the suction of air from the breached hull before the emergency forcefields snapped into place "are you allright Captain?" Vasquez asked, blood running down his face as he slumped back against the wall of the lift.

    "I been better "she said, damnit she diddn't have a tricorder with her, and the nearest aid kit was back on what was left of the bridge. He did not look good at all..his breath starting to wheeze "wa...watch out for the females Captain...their bite...." there was a rasp as his breathing stopped, the posion spreading through his body.

    "NOOO! Damnit!" there was nothing in the lift, all she could do is roll him onto his back and start CPR untill the lift started down again, back to the Battle bridge. It was empty. It shouldn't have been, especially under battle stations-no, there was a body behind the console..so there had to be something-"


    She whirled, it was one of the females. She went for her phaser, bringing it to bear at the same time it's fangs sunk deep into her left hand. She fired repeatedly untill it had fallen to the deck with a meaty thud...too late though. She could allready feel the numbness spreading in her hand. There were only seconds.. where was it..there. She broke open the damage control locker, hard to manipulate with one hand. It was starting to spread above her wrist, as she laid her left arm on the console..then closing her eyes, swung the emergency axe towards her left arm. She screamed and almost blacked out...fortunately she was able to grab the emergency cauterizer, and after two attempts that charred the bloody deck, sealed the wound. She fumbled with the hyprospray, dosing her with stimmies and painkillers..then sprayed the end of the stump with synthskin to reduce the chance of infection..not that she thought she'd live long enough to worry about that.

    She sat down, wiping the blood off the console and activating the security force fields "all departments, damage report."

    "engineering, we drove them back but there's some things that were chewing on the eps conduits. Not sure how long we'll keep the lights on without repairs. no warp, have impulse, no weapons.

    "Sickbay...we're swamped here Sir, we had to use emergency forecefields to keep them out, but we can't get more paitents in."

    The list went on and on...they could clear the ship shortly, but in the mean time they were out of the fight, and there still were others out there. or were there? Sensors were damaged, hard to tell. Com was still up

    "Shy'joq, Agamemnon. Hope you're in better shape than we are."

    IKS Shy'joq

    General Kaikala took no joy in the misfortunes of the starfleeters. There were still five transports left, and with the Dreadnaught disabled, the Fek ships were turning back for the targets full of more..tender prey. "our weapons are back, but they are out of our range. Drive is still offline."

    USS Agamemnon

    Rhonda managed to get bio sensors working, she could tell where the Fek ships were...as well as the five remaining transports-the bio signs on them mostly children.."not today" she muttered. "Shy'joq-you take care of my people. I'll take care of the Fek'Ihr." She took a deep breath, before issuing a command she hoped she would never have to use

    "Attention all hands-abandon ship. Repeat, abandon ship" she said, before turning to the computer "destruct sequence-set for one kilometer from enemy ship."

    "Paramater set-authorization code required."

    "one. Eight. Zero .Zero. Foxtrot. Uniform. Bravo. Alpha. Romeo."

    There was a far too cheerful beep from the computer "Destruct Authorized."

    "plot intercept course."

    "Unable to comply-automated systems offline."

    She just shook her head "of course it is. New command, manual control, my station."


    IKS Shy'joq

    The transporters were at least working, once the escape pods from the Federation ship got within range. The pods were being brought whole into the hangar decks..with no fighters at the moment they weren't much good for anything else.

    "Well General, if nothing else, we'll have a fine cargo of slaves to sell at-aacck!"

    Her weapons officer was cut off in mid word, as her arm shot out. clutching the Orion by the neck, her claws digging into his jade skin "those people fought the Empires ancient enemies..with no thought for themselves. They bled and died for our familiess. They will be treated properly, and returned to their own people, AM I CLEAR?"

    He just gurgled, blood leaking down the front of his chest untill she released him, turning back to her second, now first officer "status on the last transports?"

    "They're fourty seven kelikams from the Fek, the Federation ship is closing with them..." she tilted her head, listening to the com in her ear "I'm getting a signal, audio.

    "lets hear it."

    USS Agamemnon

    Deja'vu, is what it was. It was a simiar situation, many many years ago. She and the others in her team were defending a middle school near Atlas Park, when one of the summoned demons landed. She was only fourteen, had almost wet herself she was so scared, then Kelly was there. Barely a meter and a half high, could bench press a locomotive...loved music and hated fighting. Still she did it, because others would be hurt if she diddn't. She had landed, gave Rhonda a reassuring hug, then stepped out, polished hooves clippping on the rubble as she hit play on her iPod, then flew into the fray, singing along with the music, even though she knew she would most likely die.

    Rhonda diddn't have hers, it was on what was left of the bridge but she remembered the lyrics perfectly. The crippled cruiser groaned and shuddered, systems failing, the impulse engines giving just enough speed, as she hit the transmit switch, and began to sing.

    "I see a dark sail, on the horizon.
    set under a black cloud that hides the sun.

    Bring me my broadsword and clear understanding.
    Bring me my cross of gold as a talisman.

    Get up to the roundhouse on the cliff-top standing.
    Take women and children and bed them down.

    Bring me my broadsword and clear understanding.
    Bring me my cross of gold as a talisman."

    There was a streak of light, then another, and three more. The last transports were away. The Fek'ihr shrieked in fury at losing their prey, but there were still two other ships they could finish off...first the Federation interloper, then the Klingons.

    She saw them change to intercept, the destruct was set to proximity. She closed her eyes, and kept singing

    "Bless with a hard heart those who surround me.
    Bless the women and children who firm our hands.
    Put our backs to the north wind. Hold fast by the river.
    Sweet memories to drive us on for the motherland"

    As the lead Frigate closed within one kilometer, the interlocks keeping the matter and antimatter seperate opened. She felt the bright light and a familar tingle..then nothing.

    USS Sarantities, 29th century

    "and that's when Velma triggered the McFly protocol."

    Ira sighed tiredly, running his hand over his face "we have to send her back" he said, looking through the window of the isolation ward of Sickbay, then back at the projection of the council on the wall screen. "she's three weeks pregnant, and we know what her son will do. That has to happen. But to where? and how would we cover it? she wasn't in transporter range of the Klingons."

    "maybe say there was another cloaked Klingon ship?"

    Lt Stone shook her head "the Klingons of the time were just as honorable as they are now. there is no way if a ship was there under cloak, it would have sat out the battle."

    "we could always blame Q, we know he likes her." said a female Caitian council member.

    "oh sure, blame ME." Q was sitting next to her "Schrodinger, do you want me to turn you into a house cat again?"

    The Caitian just smiled "oh would you? it's so relaxing, all I'd have to do is lay around and sleep all day."

    Q just rolled his eyes, the things he had to put up with for the safety of the multiverse. "fine, I'll be your villian. Should I twirl my moustache too?"

    Leah spoke up "Sirs, Govenors, Q, I think we're overthinking it."

    One of the humans on the screen, a rugged looking red headed human, stroked his chin as she continued "she allready is familar with temporal travel...and the historical record does list her next command as a Wells class recovered from the Tholians."

    Admiral Bronson pondered that "we do have one that was recently recovered from them. Velma" he said, adressing the AI "could you twin yourself into that ship, but leave out any memories of dates past her current local time?"

    "it would take about eight point seven hours Admiral, but yes, I would be willing to. that would also give time for repairs to the recovered ship"

    "it's not a perfect plan, but good enough." said the Admiral "do it."

    Sickbay, USS Sarantities

    Waking up was the last thing Rhonda expected. That and being naked. The latter she could handle, the first..She sat up and gasped as memories came flooding back, her hands going to her head...wait, hands? She looked close, her left hand was there, with no scarring..which meant she was dead. no wait..there was no scar, but there was a visible line around her forearm, where the fur was shorter than the rest of her arm. as if it hadn't grown as much. Cloned replacments? She knew scientists were working on that, but that was about fifty years away from being ready. As she swing her feet to the floor of the all white room she could feel vibrations in the floor, no, the deck. This was a ship.

    "where am I" she asked as she looked around, an answer was the last thing she expected.

    "you are aboard the USS Sarantities, current date is July 26, 2847."

    The owner of the voice stepped out of a door that had opened in the wall. She was wearing what could be a starfleet uniform..and looked just like she did. or close anyway, Rhonda diddn't have a white stripe down her nose, or a tail either "I thought that the temporal prime directive prevented contact, unless you're keeping me here.."

    Leah just shook her head "not when there's a pre destination paradox involved. If we don't send you back...my grandfather and his siblings never get born."

    Rhonda was both stunned and confused "Why the hell are you telling me that?"

    "Because what happened wasn't supposed to happen. The Klingon ship was sabotaged from the inside. They don't know that yet, and we don't know who did it."

    "so my people, and the civilians who diddn't make it to the transports, died for nothing?"

    "no.."leah said, looking down. "they still would have died-but your ship wouldn't have been destroyed. what was supposed to have happened, is the IKS Shy'joq would have gotten it's engines back as well, and the two ships destroyed the last of the Fek'Ihir. That would have made a serious impression on one of the chidren on the last ship out-who will grow up to be the Chancellor that makes a permanent peace. Fortunately, the events played out in a way despite the sabotage that should still have that result."

    Rhonda calmed for a moment, thinking "you know, it diddn't make sense. The Klingons were crippled..but instead of finishing them off, they went after the transports. Then we showed up, as soon as we were out of the fight their ships peeled off again for the transports again."

    Leah nodded "we would have saved everyone if we could. But we could only do what we could do."

    She recognized the saying...something she said more than once "that ain't fair, using my own words against me."

    "well they're good words, and it's true."

    Sighing, Rhonda sat back down on the bed "so how many did I lose?"

    " one hundred and fourty seven, but they took out over three that number of fek. Their attempt at a 'human wave' backfired, they were so packed in they couldn't fight with the mobility they were used to having in tight quarters."

    "it wasn't a picnic for us either...am ah the only one that made it off the bridge?"

    The other woman nodded sadly.

    She felt her eyes watering up 'damnit, not gonna cry' she muttered, too late.

    Leah diddn't know what else to do. she stepped forward, letting her great great grandmother cry on her shoulder.

    A while later, she had regained her composure. Leah had gotten her something that looked like her old uniform out of a compartment on the wall, the white door hard to see in the white room. She led Rhonda through the ship, chattering on as they entered a conference room. "Before your kids no one thought Caitians could interbreed with anyone, of course your mephit mutated dna helped. one even became a religious figure, my great uncle Samuel was the one who finally sealed the rift between Caitians and Fereseans-"

    Rhonda was torn between amusement and concern "should you be telling me any of this?"

    "she's telling you because we're trying to recruit you" She looked over, the man looked human, bald, and a bit nervous, but the smile was genuine enough. "Ira Dodson, Captain of the USS Sarantities." he said, holding out a hand.

    She shook it and sat down in the offered seat "Rhonda Evans. You know that I'm bound by the Temporal Prime Directive."

    "which also requires you to maintain the timeline and prevent history from being altered-which someone is already doing."


    "Besides, it's not the first time you've dealt with past timelines..the Menders of Ouroboros for example."

    "how the HELL do you know about that!"

    "you're not the only refugee from your dead timeline that we've run into. Look, we're not asking you to be an agent or anything. Just keep your eyes open. your ship's AI will be able to contact us if you find something."

    "my ships what?"

    He touched a control on the table in front of him, part of the wall changed to a display "Wells class Temporal Science ship. There are several of them all ready in your timeline that have been stolen by Tholians, then recovered by Starfleet in your time and used."

    She nodded "I've seen a couple of them around...though how will I explain showing up from the dead in a ship from the future?"

    "Temporal investigations works with us" Ira grinned. "how else do you think they keep things straight?"

    "why am I not suprised."

    Starbase 147 operations, present day

    Ironicly the closest refuge for the displaced civilians was the Federation outpost a dozen light years on the other side of the border. One of the hazards of being a colony on the rim, sometimes the closest help isn't your own. They let the transports use the main hangar bays, as well as letting the Shy'joq dock outside the station for repairs, after all there was technically a cease fire and they did have several hundred survivors from the Agamemnon to off load. General Kaikala did her best not to show her fangs too much to the human commanding the base. As much as she loathed admitting it, they needed his help to get the refugees to safety, and to get her ship repaired enough to protect them.

    "I've got our engineers working fabricating the parts you need for your main drive General, should have you back operational by the time we get the transports duterium topped off."

    She nodded a curt thanks. She normally diddn't care too much for humans, weak, sentimental-yet when there was something to be done, they were industrious to a fault, and when there was no way out but death, they could sing in its face while bringing ruin upon the enemy. "what of your defenses Commander? Something has stired the Fek up badly."

    "someone definetly poked a hornest's nest with a stick somewhere." Commander Quinten said in agreement "The USS Kodiak is due in seven hours, two more ships an hour after that."

    "we should be done with our repairs and refuling in four hours. If you do not mind, we will wait for them to arrive before departing."

    He looked a bit relieved "thank you General, we're a scientific research station. We're not equipped to fight off hardly anything to be honest."

    She just nodded, she knew that . it's one of the reasons why she cancled an attack on this outpost before the cease fire. Warriors should fight warriors, they gain no honor fighting scientists studying Quasars.

    One of the ops officers stiffened, and turned, shouting "Incoming unknown ship signature!"

    Both Kala and Quinten ran over to look at the screen, her good ear flattening back against her skull "Fek...a Kar'Fi carrier." her ship was offline for repairs, she had no fighters, the station had no weapons to speak of..today was looking to be a good day to die after all.

    "they're hailing us."

    Quinten knew the situation as much as she did. He squared his shoulders "on screen."

    it looked sort of like a Klingon..if they had greyish purple skin, and teeth, lots of needle sharp teeth . It seemed to laugh, before speaking "today, your future dies..."

    "Sir, we're getting a large chroniton signature!"

    "from the carrier?"

    "No sir! From behind it!"

    they cut the transmission from the Fek'Ihir, who looked as surprised as they were. There was a flash, something coming into the system, before the bow of the bogey erupted in a spread of Chroniton torpedos and antiproton beams. The beams burned through the Kar'Fi's shields, torpedos impacting the hull. within seconds the Fek ship was an expanding cloud of sub atomic particles, the unknown ship doing a barrel roll through the expanding cloud.

    USS Heinlein

    Rhonda muttered as the starfield outside spun "showoff."

    There was a giggle, the AI in her new positronic interface unit sitting at the helm "Just have to make sure evrerything works Captain. and you still need to name me."

    "why me?"

    "tradition mainly. It's considered bad luck to pick our own names." she said, well sounded like a she anyway, it looked almost totaly featurless still.

    "well, the ship is named the Heinlein....how about TRIBBLE?"

    "as in Deciever?"

    Rhonda just chuckled "we'll leave that part out. Contact Velma, let her know we made it back ok, then hail the station."

    "message sent, on screen Captain." TRIBBLE had shifted, looking like a red headed human ensign in her early 20s. On the screen, the commander and general looked back stunned. Rhonda just grinned sheepishly "Sorry ah'm late."
    "It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion, but it is better still to be a live lion. And usually easier." R.A.Heinlein

    "he's as dangerous as a ferret with a chainsaw."

  • rextorvan36rextorvan36 Member Posts: 150 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    In the end, when we were back in the ready room, Jenn won. She convinced me to give the planet Risa a try. That was when a new circle of problems reared its ugly head. "I'm not sure on how to tell you this, Jenn, but I think I've got nothing to wear."

    The look of utter stunned amazement on the face of Vice Admiral Jenn Torvan was something I considered to be mildly hilarious. Her response was anything but. "Eris, there are 47 streets filled to the brim with everything that's fashionable on Risa." There was a wink and a smile that unsettled me.

    I was too young to have known anything about the homeworld and what went on there fashionwise. On Virinath, just like on the Decius, I kept my outfits more ready to rigors of service. Basically, my style was a little more utility like. I wasn't worried about standing out on Risa, after all, after dealing with a certain Tal Shiar colonel I was sure to stand out like a spot on the New Romulus sun. Not 5 seconds later I was mentally chiding myself for saying " Alright alright, I'll go down to Risa with you." I felt the familiar tingle of a working transporter not all that much later.

    We rematerialized on a transporterpad in the middle of a square, surrounded by what looked like a few hundred shops the shapes and sizes of which I had never seen before. I also felt the sun, it was burning just a little too much and I had to put my hand over my eyes to shade them.

    Jenn noticed it too and pulled me in the direction of one of the shops. We left it not 5 minutes later and by that time, I was sporting a type of sunglasses that Jenn told me was quite popular on Earth. They were known as 'aviators'. I liked them immediately. Jenn told the Cardassian that seemed to run the store to put it on her account. Although we weren't in that shop long, there was something else that caught my eye.

    Rows and rows of booklets. Some of them were rather obvious, like Risan fashion and things to do and not to do when on Risa and those didn't draw my attention like the ones that mentioned that were 47 things to have seen on Risa, 47 places to have stayed and 47 things to do on Risa. Whoever the Ferengi was that came up with that idea did deserve some kind of award for original thinking.

    I left the guides for what they were as we headed over to next store.

    Maybe it a was a stereotype or maybe it was something else but we ended up in a tailors shop, run by an older Cardassian woman. And Jenn knew her "Ah my dear Evram, so good to see you." The Cardassian, who seemed to have smaller ridges then I thought, smiled rather amicably, as she strode forward.

    "Welcome Admiral Torvan and...friend." Not only could I feel a certain lack of respect radiate from Evram I could also see her eyes inspect me and it was clear the Cardassian seemed more then a little annoyed at my presence in her store. I could almost feel as if she was really wishing me to go away instead. I wasn't feeling to happy either. I missed part of the conversation between her and Evram as well "You haven't heard the last of this, Evram." Jenn motioned me to follow her out of the shop.

    "Sorry about that. It seems Evram doesn't trust the Romulan republic yet." It seemed like a believable apology from Jenn.

    I said nothing in response and looked down the street. The other shops and stores that I could see were bustling with rather crowded activity. I briefly wondered if there were any more Evrams about. Jenn noticed my discomfort too. In a way she would be right. I already had enough of Risa, and, I was pretty sure there wer at least 47 other things I could be doing aboard ship.

    “I'm sorry Jenn, I cant do this.” I wanted nothing else then to be back on the ship. For some reason, which I didn't quite comprehend, it just felt better up there, amongst the stars, with a group of fellow beings I could call friends. Risa felt more like a planet for an 'in crowd', and that was a group of beings I didn't identify with.

    Jenn sighed briefly, a small trace of failure present in the sound. “Are you sure you want to head back?”

    I nodded “Positive, Risa isn't my thing.”

    “Alright Eris. I hope you don't mind, but I do have some things I want to do on the planet..”

    I raised a hand and signaled Jen to stop talking.” No problem, I'll beam up to the ship from here.” It was a simple couple of taps on the com bracelet and I was gone.

    Back on the ship I exhaled deeply hoping that the tension would at least flow away. The Uhlan on transporter duty saluted me as I left the platform. I returned the salute and left the room.

    “ Admiral, you're back?” It was Veril, the young Reman woman that served as the chief engineer, And she was definitely surprised to see me. And I was surprised to see Veril. She was wearing the same kind of aviator sunglasses Jenn had bought for me on the planet. Instead of the tradional Reman work garb she would normally wear Veril was now in some sort of green coveralls and wearing a matching and elegant looking leather jacket.

    “Where are you off to, Veril?”

    “The engineers on Earth put in a small holodeck and Tovan is taking me flying through a program called top gun.” I was a little surprised at her statement. Veril had a good head for mechanics. Why was she interested in flight all of a sudden?

    The thought subsided as Veril turned a corner and went out of sight. I figured things would be well in hand on the bridge so I headed for my quarters. I was pretty sure there was some stuff I needed to read there.

    I found two mini holo novels about about frontier colonies and one book from Admiral Tomaluk waiting for me. I tossed the book by Tomaluk aside and took one of the frontier colony novels.

    Less then 10 minutes later I was paged to the bridge.

    The centurion that on comms duty when I had left for Risa was still there. “ Good to have you back so soon, sir. There's a message that has a your eyes only code waiting for you in your ready room.”

    I nodded my thanks and headed straight for the room.

    Not 5 minutes later, I had an astounding message that needed to be dispersed to the rest of the crew and to a certain commanding officer of a certain Vesta class Cruiser. Then I had a ship to prepare.

    Two days later,

    Unlike the crew of the R.R.W. Decius, the crew of the USS Limburg-A had used the opportunity to visit Risa for some shore leave quite well. The admiral was no exception. Jenn Torvan had run into a couple of old academy class mates and enjoyed her time off by walking along the shore and finding a few 'other' leisurely activities to participate in along the way. But, all good things come to an end, and this one was no different. The admiral did have to swing by her quarters to pick up her duty uniform but other then that nothing seemed out of the ordinary, until she got to the bridge.

    The regular bridge crew had not yet returned to duty she saw. One of the new batch of recent assignments got up from the center seat and walked up to her, carrying a padd.

    “Nothing special to report, sir. There is however one message from admiral Shalvon, addressed to you personally.”

    Jenn thanked the lieutenant as he gave her the padd. She scanned it briefly, paying particular attention to the last couple of paragraphs. Later, much later, a rumor would run around the lower decks that the admiral who would normally never be seen smiling on the bridge actually did smile that one time.

    In the meantime Jenn looked around the viewscreen until she found the general direction to the Tau Dewa sector. “May the stars tell you all their secrets, Eris Shalvon.” Then she returned her attention to the bridge. There was a ship to get ready for a new mission.
  • shevetshevet Member Posts: 1,662 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    Personal log: Tylha Shohl, officer commanding, USS King Estmere NCC-92984

    "How many?"

    "Fourteen," Amiga repeats. The android's voice, over the com link, sounds blurry and distorted. I take a firmer grip on my phaser pulsewave rifle and pick up my pace, hurrying through the darkness and the ruins.

    "Do you have a fix?" I ask.

    "Not precise. We are working on the jamming - our first priority, though, is to establish a transporter lock on you."

    "Make sure it's good," I mutter, as I come to a halt, crouching behind the vast basalt bulk of a fallen pillar. "I don't want to get scrambled." My antennae twitch, tasting the air, feeling the currents and the presences within it.

    Somewhere out there in the dark are fourteen Nausicaans, hunting for me. They must know, by now, that their first trap failed. I'm stupid enough to accept an invitation from an archaeologist to "view a new discovery" at the temple ruins of Dalaria IV... but I'm not stupid enough to go without my standard armament and equipment. And, when I found the Dalarian archaeologist at our meeting site, dead, with unmistakeable disruptor burns on him, I wasn't stupid enough to move the body, so when my tricorder scan set off the explosives beneath it, I didn't die.

    But still being alive and armed is my only asset. The jamming field over the temple ruins is blocking transporters and orbital strike targeting - shuttles and fighters from King Estmere are inbound, but fourteen Nausicaans are a lot closer.

    Movement up ahead. I freeze.

    There are shapes moving in the darkness - moving quickly, with confidence. They must have low-light imaging gear. I grin. Light amplifying equipment is a big help to diurnal species, in the dark - but it's very hard to read a tricorder through it, which means they won't be running precision sensor scans. And, though they can see in the dark and I can't... I am Andorian, so that's not nearly as big an advantage as they think.

    Boots scrape over ancient stonework, and my ears, my antennae, triangulate on the sound, fix its position in my head. I move, fast, swinging the phaser around -

    For a moment, there is plenty of light, bright orange light, the cone of the pulsewave discharge splitting the darkness.

    Three Nausicaans. One of them catches the main force of the blast, falls in a scorched heap; another is knocked back, his head hitting an outcropping of masonry with an ugly sound. The third is dazzled, pummelled, but still standing, and his disruptor rifle spits sick green light back at me. One bolt misses me; a second slams into my torso. It stings, but my Nukara-rated personal shield takes it. His shield doesn't stand up to the phaser beam I snap back at him; he flares and burns and vanishes.

    "Now reading eleven Nausicaan life signs," Amiga's voice says in my ear. "The downside is, they will almost certainly have triangulated your position."

    I heft the phaser in my hands. "Is that a downside?" I can feel the traditional Andorian bloodlust rising in me. Let them come to me. Let my enemies come to me, and die.

    They are coming. I can hear them, feel them, through the night.

    I clamber up a fallen stone block, a titanic cube several metres on a side. Disruptor light sizzles through the air, aimed nowhere near me. Firing at shadows. I raise my gun, prepare to fire back -

    - and blue light dazzles around me, and the air changes, and suddenly I am in King Estmere's transporter room, and just have presence of mind enough to take my finger off the firing stud before I blow a hole in the wall.

    "Thanks," I say to Amiga. "It wasn't quite desperate, though."

    "I could see you had them surrounded, sir," the android says dryly. Standing beside her at the controls, my exec, Anthi Vihl, looks worried. She doesn't often look worried. "What's the situation now?" I ask.

    "We arranged a swap," Amiga says, smugly. "When we beamed you out, we beamed in Commanders Hyhr and Sirip with their assault squads."

    I nod. "Got comms to them?"

    "Of course."

    "All right. Nozys, Sirip, try to take some of them alive if possible. We need prisoners for interrogation."

    Over the comms link, Nozys Hyhr says some choice phrases I first heard from fungus tenders in the wine tunnels. "We'll try, sir," she replies. "It's getting a little busy down here." I can hear phaser and disruptor fire in the background.

    "We need to talk about this, sir," Anthi says firmly. "This is the second time Nausicaan assassins have targeted you, specifically -"

    "I thought, the first time, they were just working through a list of senior officers," I say. "And the business on Gimel Vessaris probably bumped my name back up that list a few places." I try to give her a reassuring smile. "We'll find out when Nozys and Sirip bring their prisoners back on board."

    Anthi takes a deep breath. "I hope so, sir. But, frankly, I'm concerned."

    "If you really want to worry," I say, "think about the diplomatic protests we're going to get. Those temple ruins are going to be a lot more ruined once we're through, and the Dalarians are going to be upset."


    In the interrogation room, the senior surviving Nausicaan officer is strapped into a chair, his gnarled paw resting on the disc of a verifier. His yellow eyes glare contempt at me. He doesn't speak.

    "All right," I say, slowly. "You're part of a targeted assassination squad operating in Federation territory. That excludes you from some of the normal legal protections afforded to prisoners of war. And I want some answers."

    His fingers drum on the verifier disc. People in the 23rd century had a lot of simple-minded faith in verifiers... unfortunately, processing counter-factuals is pretty much ingrained in every sentient species' linguistic development, so it's easy to develop techniques that will defeat verifier scan. Some cynics even suggest that the only reason children learn language is because they see the social advantages of being able to lie.

    "I'm sure you can beat a verifier," I say. "And even in your case, I wouldn't be allowed to use torture - and anyway, I know you could stand any amount of pain. Pity I can't use telepaths, isn't it? My security commander is a Betazoid, but she's constrained by ethical guidelines, like so many telepaths. Her own guilt feelings would confuse her, make her scans of your mind useless."

    The Nausicaan's face moves in what might be a smile. It isn't pretty. I smile back. That isn't pretty either. I go to the door. "Come on in."

    Zodes is the first one to enter. She turns filmed eyes towards the Nausicaan, and there is a faint smile on her ghost-white face. "Good day," she says. "My name is Zodes Andeteph, and I am an Aenar, if you are unfamiliar with my species. We are strong natural psi talents. Mostly, the talent is fostered in educational institutions which inculcate a due sense of morality." Her smile broadens and becomes less pleasant. "I, however, was born on Sataris III, a planet devastated during the early stages of the war. I grew up scrabbling to survive on a ruined world, until I was lucky enough to find a Federation relief mission. My psi abilities are entirely self-taught."

    The Reman scientist, Temerix, is next. He doesn't say anything, just grins with his gargoyle features and licks his lips. He doesn't need to say anything. Everyone knows the only Remans left are the ones who will do anything to stay alive.

    There is a faint creaking sound from the chair as the Nausicaan strains against his bonds.

    Kluthli is the last one in. The statuesque Orion saunters over to the Nausicaan, stands over him, looking down at him with her sparkling eyes. "My House was ruined by the pro-war factions," she says, "forced into poverty, disgrace, and exile. By people like you. But that doesn't matter now." She is positively purring as she brushes her fingers across his face. "Because you and I are going to be such good friends, aren't we?"

    I look the Nausicaan in the eye. "I think I'll be going now," I say. "Unless you've got something to tell me."


    Firelight flickers, dim reflections sparking on ice-rimed walls, on the upraised ushaan-tor blade, on the many eyes of the monstrous grah'haurrh tunnel-beast. The creature's mandibles clash together as it skitters forward on its many legs, towards the grim figure of the Andorian warrior -

    "Holodeck. Pause program."

    My uncle grimaces, lowers the ushaan-tor, and turns away from the suddenly motionless monster. "Hope this is important, little Tylha," he says.

    "Sorry to spoil your fun, Uncle Kophil," I say. "But, yes, it's important."

    Kophil Phohr lets the blade drop to the ground. "Well, let's not have any distractions then. End program." The tunnel walls fade out, become the bland grid-lines of the holodeck. "Your Nausicaan talked, then?"

    "Extensively." I let him talk. Then I let Zodes, Temerix and Kluthli make quite sure he was telling the truth. I don't feel guilty about that - he must even have enjoyed some of it, after all.

    "So, then," Kophil rumbles, "why don't they like you, little Tylha?"

    "That's the surprising thing," I say, "and it's why I need to talk to you. It's something to do with my family - Uncle. There is some ongoing project to take out relatives of Thiran Shohl." My thaan-father. It seems strange, now, to say his name - at least, in this context. It's all a matter of context.

    "Thiran?" Kophil seems as baffled as I am. "He was - well, he was a good guy, I always thought. You know, don't you, he was one of the leading lights of the whole Gimel Vessaris plan...."

    I frown. "He never held office on the colony council... as far as I remember."

    "No," Kophil says, "but he was one of the core group who got things moving. All that stuff about environmental sensitivity, about using traditional low-impact methods for farming and mineral extraction - all the hippy stuff - that was mostly down to him." He shakes his head. "I never agreed with him, much, but one thing I know, he believed in what he was doing. He was a man of strong views, and he had my respect for that. I think, even, he might have made it work - if the Nausicaans hadn't come in and stamped the whole colony flat."

    I'm still frowning. "No," I say. "No, it can't be that. Gimel Vessaris... the planet's position, in space, makes it a logical strategic target in the event of war. That's why we took it back. My father can't have been the primary target...."

    "He might have been a fringe benefit, though," Kophil says.

    "Even so... it doesn't make sense. I'm not carrying on my father's legacy." I'm a lot of things he would have disapproved of, in fact. My thaan-father never succumbed to the lure of militarism.... "Except genetically, of course."

    "News to me you were doing that," Kophil says with a laugh.

    "It has to be - something in our family history." I shake my head in bafflement. "I didn't even know we had any family history."

    "Well." Kophil is serious. "If it's worth killing over, we'd better find out what it is."


    Having a Nausicaan prisoner mind-violated doesn't bother me much. What I'm about to do now, though, makes me feel really dirty. I look at the console screen, take a deep breath, and tap in the code.

    The screen stays blank for a long time. Then a face appears on it; a human face, with sly eyes and sandy hair, and a very visible, obvious scar.

    "Hello, Vice Admiral," says Franklin Drake. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

    For an instant, I can't say the words. Then I force them out. "I need your help."

    "Of course." The public - or, at least, the only visible - face of Section 31 breaks into a smile at that. "That's what we're here for, after all."

    "I'm being targeted by Nausicaan assassins, and for some reason it's linked to my family. I'm transmitting a transcript of an interrogation session -"

    Drake remains silent for a while, his eyes flickering as he reads. "That's... interesting," he says, eventually. "I like your methods, by the way.... What do you need from me?"

    "Deep background. There must be something - this project, whatever it is, involved my father, who's been dead for decades. Something that's run this long can't have done so without traces. Your - organization - may have come across some of those traces. Almost certainly must have."

    Drake nods. "We have a huge wealth of raw data," he says, "but much of it is valueless without a context to interpret it. Knowing that your family is a target - well, that might provide the context we need. Interesting. Yes, I will have my people look into this. Incidentally, you realize the answer has to be something to do with genetics?"


    Drake tuts at me. "Your career shares no characteristics with your father's - well, except the general one of service to the Federation, which is so general that it's meaningless. And your uncle - your zhen-mother's brother - isn't a target, or the Nausicaans would have been swarming all over you while he's been on your ship. I'm right, aren't I, about Andorian family genetics?" He's right, of course. Biologically, the zhen-mother is just a host for the developing foetus... I suddenly remember that I haven't spoken to either of my mothers since the first rush of triumph over the reconquest of Gimel Vessaris. Now that makes me feel guilty.

    "So," Drake muses, "we need to look for a long-term project that involves Nausicaans and Andorian genetics... yes, this is going to be interesting. Thanks, Tylha. For the challenge. And for thinking of us." The screen goes blank before I can think up a comeback.


    "It doesn't give us much to go on." Samantha Beresford runs her fingers through her long dark hair. Behind her, in the biology lab, Zodes is seated at a console, her hands resting on the flowing surface of a haptic display, assessing the results of yet another genetic scan on Kophil and me. The Aenar is a talented biologist, in addition to her... other abilities.

    "So far," my chief medical officer continues, "everything we've got is negative. We've confirmed there are no significant genetic links between you and Kophil, we've screened both of you for potential gene-related conditions - pretty much negative -"

    "Good to know, anyway," I mutter.

    "- and we've found no signs of genetic modification. Or nothing I can detect, anyway." Samantha sighs. "Maybe a specialist Andorian geneticist might find something I've missed...." I'm inclined to doubt it. Samantha knows Andorians - she's glued me back together often enough - and she's thorough.

    Something beeps in the lab. "Next batch is ready," Samantha says, and heads off to her console. I go over to where Zodes is sitting. She continues to study the data, her face composed and intent.

    "Are you all right?" I ask, in a low voice.

    She turns her blank eyes towards me. "I'm fine, sir," she says.

    "I know what I asked you to do was pretty rough -"

    "I'm fine, sir. I really don't have too many ethics when it comes to personal survival - and, with respect, you shouldn't, either. Anyway, we did no real harm, we stayed out of any - personal memories, things that should stay private." She sniffs. "He's a professional assassin, sir. We acted a lot more ethically than he ever did."

    "Well... I'm glad you feel that way." I probably should. I wish I did. I tell myself, again: I am not guilty about that.

    My combadge chirps at me. "Shohl here."

    "Sir." The voice is Amiga's, but the android sounds - agitated, if that's possible. "Sir, there has been an unauthorized access - a whole volume of data has just appeared in the main computer. I'm implementing immediate data-warfare countermeasures, level one -"

    "Never mind," I say airily. "I know what that is, don't worry about it." And Section 31 probably wrote some of the data-warfare countermeasures protocols, too... for their own benefit, no doubt. "Better take a look at it, though."

    "Sir, if our system security is compromised -"

    "Relax," I tell her. "It's just a message from a... friend." Saying, among other things, I can reach you even where you think you're safe. "I asked for it - I think. We need to know what it says."


    "All right." I steeple my hands in front of me, and look around at the faces of my officers as we sit together in the conference room. "Now, we know a little bit more about this."

    "The information provided is not complete," Sirip points out, logical and urbane as ever.

    "And we don't know if Drake's deliberately left stuff out," Samantha adds. She doesn't trust Franklin Drake. Well, why should she?

    "However," I say, "we know which section of the Nausicaan military the assassins belong to... and we know, now, one long-running project they're involved with." I grimace. "And, now, we know where it joins up with... my family."

    "The Chavahadaurki Integration Unit," F'hon Tlaxx says thoughtfully. "Have to admit, I've never heard of it, skipper."

    "The Chavahadaurki are a minor warp-capable species," Amiga says, "who were distrustful of the Federation and aligned themselves in a military and economic compact with the Nausicaans as a result. This worked about as well as one might have expected. We estimate perhaps half a million Chavahadaurki have survived to serve Nausicaan interests in various menial capacities."

    "In the process of their so-called integration," I take up the explanation, "the Nausicaans took over a number of Chavahadaurki military projects... including the one we might be interested in. About a hundred and sixty years ago, an Andorian academic turned from science to politics, and then to - well, outright terrorism, in the name of Andorian separatism and secession from the Federation. His name was Yslen Corodrev... and, it seems, he was my great-great-grandfather."

    In imprecise, human-centric terms, at least. "Corodrev's movement never made any significant headway, politically - after it was proscribed, he fled Andoria and became a refugee in Chavahadaurki territory. I don't know how much he contributed to their anti-Federation stance...."

    "The Nausicaans took over and - integrated - many Chavahadaurki facilities," Amiga carries on. "One of them - the one principally described in the Section 31 data dump - was a scientific research station close to Federation space. The data suggests that Yslen Corodev was significantly involved in the foundation of this station, and Section 31 is unable to account for its activities." She nods at Sirip. "As you say, the information is not complete. But it appears that this station is very much of interest to us."

    "Or at least that's where Drake's pointing us," Samantha mutters.

    "We have to be pointed somewhere," I say. "What are our tactical options?"


    Afterwards, Anthi comes up to me, and asks, "How do you feel about this, sir?"

    "About what?"

    She purses her lips. "I studied the Corodrev Insurgency at military college. It was - well, it was a bad time."

    "Corodrev died well over a century ago. I didn't even know, until today, I was related to him. I'm not going to worry about it." Of course, that's not entirely true. Clan history, clan honour, still matters, even to me. That I'm descended, however remotely, from a traitor and a terrorist... it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But there isn't anything I can do about it... so I won't let it worry me.

    "That's something else, sir," Anthi says. "Corodrev must have other living descendants - what about them?"

    "There aren't so many of them," I say. "And, according to Drake, none of them are currently serving in Starfleet. I'm inclined to think that's a factor."

    "Still," Anthi says, "perhaps they should be warned, to be on their guard."

    "I imagine Drake's people have that in hand."

    "I hope so, sir." But she looks doubtful.


    The Romulan ship is a nightmare of gleaming spines and barbs, arranged around a core that pulses with an ominous green light. There is more Borg technology woven through the ship, and I can't help but feel nervous about it. The captured Tal Shiar hybrid craft is... unnerving.

    If it bothers Vice Admiral T'laihhae, though, she doesn't let it show. She appears in full control of both herself and her monstrous ship, her ill-assorted crew going about their duties smoothly and meticulously.

    "All ready?" she asks me.

    "As I'll ever be, I guess," I tell her. "Thank you, again."

    "My pleasure," she says, and her smile switches on and off. "Your King Estmere is impressive... but a little obvious, for a mission such as this." The RRW Messalina isn't exactly discreet, either - except that T'laihhae and her people are very good with battle cloaks.

    "Should you be doing this, though?" she asks, as she leads the way to the transporter room. "I mean you, specifically. If things go wrong, you will have delivered yourself into the hands of the people who want to kill you."

    "I know," I say. "You're probably right. But I don't want people risking their lives for me - I can't just sit and watch while they do that -"

    "I think I understand," she says. We reach the transporter room; my away team is waiting for me on the pads. "However, we must stand and wait for a while, now, whatever happens. Status?" She's addressing the Reman science officer at the transporter console.

    "Stable. Cloak is balanced. No transporter activity from the station. We are at instant readiness." The Reman's small eyes glitter as he glances at me.

    "That's my cue, then," I say, and step onto the pad. "Hurry up and wait."

    The Messalina has sneaked tracelessly into the Nausicaan-held system, and is holding station five kilometres from the research facility. If all goes well, T'laihhae's people will insert us, undetected, the next time the facility uses its transporters, using the outgoing traffic to mask our own signature. It should work. After that, it's up to us.

    "Signal detected. Parameters as anticipated," the Reman croaks.

    T'laihhae nods. "Energize."

    Green light fills my vision, fades out, and a new scene appears before my eyes.

    The facility is a place of narrow metal corridors with fluted pillars along the walls, and immensely high ceilings in which harsh spotlights shine. The Chavahadaurki liked a lot of head room, it seems. There is no shrilling of alarms, so it looks like the plan's working. So far.

    We make our way down the corridor, single file. Nozys Hyhr is in the lead, I follow; behind me come Sirip, Samantha, and the info-warfare experts, Amiga and Klerupiru. It might not be the best team to take on a horde of Nausicaans, but that's not what we have planned....

    We come to an intersection; Amiga looks around, points down one branch. We daren't risk tricorder scans, or any active sensors - and we certainly can't risk weapons fire. So we have to rely on Amiga's perfect memory... and Drake's data dump, however perfect that might be.

    We come to another intersection, and I hear breathing and the rustle of leather. Nozys sidles quietly forward, peeks round the corner, holds up one finger. A guard. I ready myself -

    Sirip walks past both of us and around the corner. There is the beginning of a startled sound, then silence. I look round the corner. The big Vulcan has his hand on a Nausicaan's neck and is lowering him silently to the floor. The infamous Vulcan nerve pinch - how I wish I could learn it. A little further along the corridor is an open doorway, and beyond it I see the more familiar shapes of Nausicaan control consoles.

    "OK, go!"

    We move. There are only three technicians in the control room, and Nozys and Sirip overwhelm two of them in seconds. I manage to reach the third before he can sound an alarm. There's something awfully satisfying about kicking Nausicaans in the head....

    Four unconscious Nausicaans and no alarms, yet. Klerupiru has reached a console; all her irregular Ferengi fangs are showing as she grins. "We're in luck," she says. "They haven't updated their security software since Gimel Vessaris."

    Amiga is at another console, her hands already a blur on the controls. Luck is still with us, so far. I watch the corridor, fretfully, while the data-warfare experts work their witchcraft.

    "All secure," Amiga reports. "We are routing control through Messalina now."

    I touch my combadge. "T'laihhae, are you getting this?"

    "Confirmed," the Romulan's voice says. "Uplinks secured and root-level control granted. Your team is good, Vice Admiral."

    "Thanks." I turn to Amiga. "All right, put me on the public address."

    "All yours, sir," the android replies. I take a deep breath.

    "Your attention, please," I announce, and my voice booms back at me. "I'm Vice Admiral Tylha Shohl. You know me, you're trying to kill me. You might not know the RRW Messalina, which is just decloaking outside the station, but at the moment it's running your life support systems. You have two options: unconditional surrender, or learn to breathe space. Choose quickly."


    At the centre of the facility is a big, round room, its ceiling so high I almost can't see it. Ranked around the walls are ... cylinders, about three metres long and a metre wide, metallic, and coated with a thin layer of frost.

    Two Nausicaans stand by what looks like a laboratory workbench in the centre of the room. There is a hangdog, defeated air about both of them. One is in military uniform; it's the other, an elderly, stooped figure in civilian robes, who does the talking.

    "I am Director Driochk," he says. "This is my security commander, who is responsible for this situation." He glowers at the other Nausicaan, who stares sullenly at the floor. "I hope you can find grounds to execute him. Or at least neuter him before he can breed. I told you -" his attention is on his subordinate, entirely "- I told you, the assassination attempts simply drew attention to the project. If we had not tried to kill her, where would she be now? On the other side of the quadrant, perhaps - certainly not here. But, no, you had to ensure your loose ends were taken care of, that Starfleet could gain no access - Well, they certainly have access now!"

    "Access to what?" I ask.

    Driochk waves his arm at the cylinders. "Corodrev's children," he says. "The elite of the elite... preserved, until now, first for the Chavahadaurki, then for ourselves. Mostly preserved, anyway. Two of them spoiled, and a third is currently in use. No doubt you'll find him, now."

    "Him?" I demand. "What is this?"

    "Sir." Samantha Beresford is scanning one of the cylinders, and there is outrage on her face. "There's a living being in here! Reading as... Andorian, I think. In suspended animation."

    "Not quite Andorian," Driochk comments. "Andorian with improvements. Corodrev used certain illicit human genetic augmentation techniques to produce his elite. They were trained to infiltrate Andorian society. They were, on occasion, very effective. A pity they will all be dead soon."

    "We do not execute prisoners of war out of hand," I say firmly. Andorian augments? I've never heard of such a thing.

    "No," says Driochk, "but we dispose of useless assets." He indicates the lab bench. "The sleepers can only be awakened by a preparation derived from Corodrev's own blood. We had samples of his bone marrow, cloned and cultured, to provide it." His hand comes down to rest on a container, discoloured as if by extreme heat. "Of course, when I heard your announcement, I took appropriate measures."

    "You mean, they can't be revived? And the cryonic suspension will eventually fail?"

    "Quite quickly, actually. Now that certain control protocols have been manually interrupted."

    "Wait a minute." My mind is racing. "Why was I a threat to this project?" There's only one reason that makes sense - "Control. Just by existing, I jeopardized your control." I turn to Samantha. "Figure out what was in that preparation of theirs. I must have enough genetic markers of Corodrev's for my blood to work for it too." I start to tear off my uniform jacket. "I don't think we've got much time."

    "What?" Samantha yelps. "You're crazy! There are fifty of these damn tubes! Even if three of them are empty, that still leaves forty-seven!"

    "Do the scans and get to work!"

    Driochk is staring at me. The security commander gives a warning growl - and then folds up as Sirip steps up behind him and pinches his neck. Samantha's tricorder whines and whistles; she studies the cryo-tube, then the equipment on the lab bench, then my outstretched hand. "Great-great-grandfather," she mutters under her breath.

    And the people in these tubes... are his children. Which makes them my family. At the end of the day, I am Andorian, after all.

    "It won't work," Samantha says after a while. "The genetic factors are too - too diluted. I'd need too much blood - maybe as much as five or ten cc's for each dose. You don't have that much blood."

    "There are drugs which boost blood production -"

    "In Vulcans and Rigelians! Which you are not! And T'laihhae won't have stocks of Andorian blood for transfusion!"

    I hold out my bare arm toward her. "Do the best you can."

    "You're out of your mind." Samantha bites her lip. "I can - I can try. But I will let them go if your life's in jeopardy. Amiga. You've got steady hands. Help me with the filtration and the processing. And I swear, if you waste one drop, I'll rip your transtators out with my bare hands."

    I stand still as she applies hyposprays to my neck. I let her lay me down on the lab bench, though, and I wince as the needle goes into my vein. Blood flows, rich and blue, through the transparent tubing, into Samantha's medical gear.... I should know what these things are, what they do... but I don't.

    "Crack one of those cryotubes," Samantha orders. "Starting to run fractionation...." Her voice trails off, muttering technicalities. I crane my neck to get a glimpse of the tube as Nozys and Klerupiru open it. For an instant, I get an impression of waxy blue skin, surrounded by machinery.... "Hold still," Samantha mutters.

    "Get Driochk to help you," I tell her. "If he knows what's good for him."

    "Your officer seems to have things well in hand," I hear the Nausicaan say. I don't know if he's lying or not. I lie still, waiting, while Samantha and Amiga work around me and behind me, and the blood flows steadily into the tubing.

    "Got it," Samantha says, after a while. "God, I hope it's enough.... Listen to me." Her face appears, upside-down, above me, and it seems to be wavering in and out of focus. "Your bone marrow's been stimulated, but I'm not sure how well. If you show any signs of shutting down, I am stopping this, do you understand me?"

    "Go on as long as you can." My tongue feels thick.

    "Spare me from pig-headed Andorians!" Samantha snarls as she turns away. Ridiculous, I think. It's Tellarites who are pig headed. Can't she even keep her own human idioms straight?... I feel very odd, hot and cold at the same time. I lie there and try to make out the ceiling. Things are happening around me. I lie there and let them happen. The ceiling is a very long way away, and it seems to be getting farther, and darker, all the time....

    Eventually, there is nothing but the dark. There is a flash of green light at some point, and then... nothing but dark.


    When I wake up, the ceiling is different, and much closer. I lie there, feeling faint and dried-out and wretched, until an unfamiliar Romulan face appears above me.

    "Vice Admiral Shohl?" the Romulan asks.

    "I'm in the Messalina's sick bay," I try to say, but it comes out as a mumble. The Romulan medic seems to understand what I mean, though.

    "We're on course back towards Federation space," she tells me. "There are Nausicaans in pursuit - but Messalina has transwarp capacity, we will outrun them with ease. Your cryo-suspension cases are all aboard."

    "Samantha Beresford wants to shout at me," I say. It comes out clearly. Probably, because I know it's true.

    "Yes, she does," the Romulan assures me, "but this is my sick bay, and no one shouts at patients here but me."

    I try to think. It is very hard to think. "Need a comms channel," I tell her.

    "Not a chance," she says firmly.


    By the time I'm back aboard the King Estmere, though, I have my comms channel, and enough time to set things moving.

    "The augments' leader wants to see you," Samantha tells me. I'm in my quarters, resting - at her orders. I don't feel much like arguing. If I can do things sitting down, or lying down, that's the way I do them - for the moment.

    "Their leader? They're that well organized, then?"

    "Their - spokesman, if you like. His name's Corodrev. Osrin Corodrev." Samantha's mouth is a tight line. Of course, humans have a bad history with genetic augmentation.

    With an effort, I stand. "I'd better see him."

    King Estmere has plenty of space in her medical section; a whole ward has been secured for the augments as they recover from the cryo-suspension and Samantha's rough-and-ready revival procedures. Secured being the operative word... force fields glimmer in the corridors and armed guards are on hand.

    Osrin Corodrev is stalking angrily up and down the length of the ward when I arrive. He is a tall, well-built, classically handsome young thaan - no, I remind myself, he just looks young; chronologically, he's old enough to be... my great-grandfather, I guess. His eyes narrow as he sees me.

    "I hope you're not another underling," he snaps at me. "I do not want to waste time on underlings."

    I pull a face. "I'm in charge here," I tell him. "Also, I'm the one who saved your ungrateful backside."

    "Oh," he says scornfully, "I'm grateful. Starfleet prisons are so much nicer than Nausicaan ones, aren't they?"

    "You're not a prisoner." I'm still light-headed, and my antennae are drooping. "Are you in charge here? Who says?"

    "My - father," he says, with a touch of bitterness. "He made us, he trained us, he named me his heir."

    "And the rest of them? They go along with that?"

    He stares at me. "We don't want internal dissension now," he says. "Whatever you have planned for us, we will stand together." His gaze rakes over me, appraising. "I could take you," he says, "hold you hostage, see what that would gain us. It would be easy - I have twice your physical strength."

    "I'm still short a litre and a half of blood," I say, "everyone has twice my physical strength. And taking hostages won't get you anywhere. You must know that, unless your father augmented all the common sense out of your head."

    He makes an exasperated gesture. "So, what now? We were my father's weapons, then we were Nausicaan weapons - are we your weapons, now? I'm not sure you have the strength to wield us."

    "We don't work that way." There aren't any seats nearby, and my pride won't let me lean against the wall. So I stand - somehow. "Do you want to know what your status is?"

    "Prisoners." He spits the word.

    "Passengers. I've had a ruling from the Federation council. Every action you've been involved in, it's been under duress, compulsion from the Nausicaans. Or from your father, I guess.... No. As far as we're concerned, you are free Andorian citizens of the Federation, released from a Nausicaan detention facility."

    "Free citizens? Free to go where, to do what?" He is agitated, now. "This is just a trick. You want us, you want our enhanced capabilities, our skills and strengths -"

    "Listen to me!" My voice is unexpectedly strong. "First thing is, I for one don't rate this whole genetic augmentation thing. It never seems to work properly. The humans tried it, they got themselves a planet-wide war; the Klingons tried it and got a disfiguring genetic plague. I don't see it working any better for Andorians." I shake my head. Turns out that's not a good idea, but I manage to keep talking. "I've seen my medical officer's report on your enhancements. It's the usual thing - some characteristics greatly improved, but at the cost of throwing the rest of your organism off balance. You don't seem too badly affected, but some of your - colleagues - will need extensive medical help for the rest of their lives."

    He opens his mouth, but before he can speak, I continue. "And they'll get it. Because that's the way the Federation works, and the way Andorians work. I've spoken to - a lot of people. My relatives, near and distant. Your relatives. Your family."

    His mouth stays open, but he doesn't speak.

    "Family," I say. "It's something that matters, to us. Mattered enough to me that I opened my veins for it.... We agreed. None of what happened to you is your fault. You were bred and trained by an insane fanatic... and he was one of us, he was our fault. We feel - most of us feel - we owe you. Not much, but we owe you.

    "The Federation will support you, with medicine, education, retraining.... Your family has an offer for you. We've renounced, in your favour, any interests we have in the recently reclaimed colony world of Gimel Vessaris. If you want, you can have land, homes, there." I look him in the eye. "Understand, this is no soft option. Gimel Vessaris was a starting colony world when it was smashed and occupied by the Nausicaans. We've only just taken it back, and the war's still going on. And it's a frontier world with very little in the way of amenities. But it's there, if you want it." I manage a twisted smile at him. "You and your enhanced abilities should be up to the challenge."

    He finds his voice. "You would just let us go? To this colony world? Without supervision, without restraint?"

    "We'd let you go. To there, or anywhere else. That's what freedom means. It's what the Federation's meant to stand for." I meet his gaze and hold it. "Try it. Step out from under your father's shadow, and see where you want to go."

    "I -" He doesn't look so arrogant, now. He looks confused, slightly lost, out of his depth. "We'll need to - to discuss this. If this offer is real -"

    "It's real enough. King Estmere is on her way to Gimel Vessaris now. If you want to try something else, you might have to arrange your own transport - we're a warship, not a damned taxi service." My head is aching; I need to lie down. I turn to go. Then I turn back, for a second.

    "Let me know what you decide - great-grand-uncle."
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 653 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    There are 46 *Edited by the Captain* (47) Rules when serving with Captain Son'aire...

    General Ship Rules:

    1. Do not talk to Q
    2. Do not look at Q
    3. Ignore Q
    4. Ignore rules 1-3 in times of emergency
    5. Rule 4 applies only to the Captain
    6. Listen to your captain during Red Alert, it can save your life.
    7. Do not go towards the light.
    8. Never move away from the light.
    9. Do not go to Deck 13.
    10. If you find yourself at Deck 13, contact Captain Son'aire, and hope this is only Q.
    11. If Rule 10 applies to Q, refer to rule 1-5
    12. Do not add a Deck 13 to the turbolift, unless a thirteenth deck is in the plans.
    13. Rule 1 doesn't exist. Nor does Deck 13.
    14. Rule 13, same as Deck 13, does not exist.
    15. All crewman require a psychological evaluation every few months.
    16. Section 31 is a Myth.


    17. Do not feed Tribbles.
    18. Do not leave Tribbles near the Captains 'secret stash'.
    19. Keep all Tribbles in safely secured habitat's.
    20. Do not give a Tribble to a Caitian/Fersean, Klingon, Gorn, or any other Predatory crewman after the 'Tribble Kabob' incident.
    21. Do not leave Tribbles unattended when removed from habitat.
    22. Do not leave any Tribble Kabobs or Baked Tribble near any species of Tribble.
    23. Eliminate any Cannibal Tribbles when found.
    24. Do not give Q the idea to replace the captain's pillow with a Cannibal Tribble; Q was running after QF gave the captain Q-like powers for 30 minutes.


    25. Q is Q. Refer to Rules 1-5.
    26. QF is welcome aboard the ship.
    27. Q must ask permission to board the ship.
    28. QF is a great conversationalist, take the chance to talk to her if she ever shows up!
    29. Do not interrupt the bi-monthly visit of Q and/or QF.
    30. If in doubt, refer to rules 1-5.
    31. Do not anger any Q, or expect to spend a month in a black hole mirror of Facility 4028.
    32. Do not ask about Rule 33. It's Q.

    The Captain:

    33. Do not tell Q where the captains stash of Romulan Ale and Saurian Brandy is. You, not Q, will regret it.
    34. If you have the last bottle of not synthesized Saurian Brandy in ten-forward, you will offer it to the Captain.
    35. Do not replace the Captains Brandy or Ale with synthol.
    36. If you have the last crate of Romulan Ale, or Saurian Brandy you will give it to the Captain as a gift.
    37. You will not sell or bargain it to the Captain for time off.
    38. The Captain has not transgressed the Prime Directive, nor has he transgressed the Temporal Prime Directive. Ignore TI Agents Tempel and Wilford's; also ignore Verne Brown's tall tales of time traveling vehicles.

    Senior Officers:
    39. You will not force any crewman to reveal their background. Penalty is three days in the brig.
    40. You can reveal your background if you want to.
    41. Crewman that are off limits: Zinuzee, Chassidy, Deiso, and Lexis. They are taken, unless otherwise stated.
    42. Do not switch stations willy-nilly.

    Time Travel:

    43. Do not Time travel.
    44. Do not cross dimensions. The Captain and Senior Officer's are exempt.
    45. Ignore the captains Sehlat. She doesn't turn into another being when your back is turned.
    46. There is no Terran Temporal Alliance, it is a myth.

    Anitara, the Romulan refugee, finished writing her report to give it to the captain. She took the Turbolift to Deck Thirteen, where the Captain was spending his off hours, while he was 'vacationing' on DS9. She moved past the freaky shadows that writhered among the walls, and walked down the empty steel corridor, her boots echoing, the sound already alerting the sleeping Sehlat cub at the captains feet, before Anitara even turned the corner. The captain was in his personal Library, in his black comfy chair, set before the cold-burning fireplace, the brown Sehlat cub sleeping at his feet. The room he sat in was an exact copy of his captains quarter's, merely the fireplace was added, and the shelves were filled to the brim with authentic, paper and hard backed books from Earth's history, as well as a few from alternate histories, and a few holonovels from this time period, and one or two from the future.

    "Come in Ani'Tara, what do you have to grace me with your presence?" he asked. The Romulan girl was young by her species standards, and thin from years of malnourishment brought on by Tal Shiar attacks, but her time on the Oregon had greatly improved her health and social skills.

    "I have a list of rules, guidelines, you know as a way to boost morale in the Oregon, and I was hoping to post it in the computer's library, so anyone in the crew can access it and learn a little bit of the guidelines here on the ship." she replied, anxious to leave the deck. The Sehlat cub could sense her anxiety, looked up, yawned, stood up, and went over to rub the girl's legs. Anitara stooped down to rub behind the Sehlat's ears, ad instantly felt much better. She stood back up, confident to face the captain. "I'd like to give them to you to revise for any breech in protocol."

    "I'll look at the files, hand them to me, and you can leave." he said, not even looking up from the antique paperback he held in his hand, To Kill A Mockingbird, and nodded her to allow her to leave. She curtsied, petted the Sehlat once more, and turned to return down the metal hallway back to the turbolift to the lower decks. "You know, you shouldn't use telepathy on beings, they may not like you messing with emotions." he said to the room. The Sehlat cub went back to it's spot, merely growling to the captain as if in response. "Yes, well, no matter how nervous she was, you shouldn't have messed with her; funny actually, she wrote one of the rules about you: ' 45. Ignore the captains Sehlat. She doesn't turn into another being when your back is turned...' Funny she must have read up on one of Kirk's files about Gary Seven...if only she knew."

    If one was to see the shadows playing against the opposite wall, one would see the figure of a man in his chair, while the other shadow would show the lounging shape of a female , which was surely a trick of the light.

    "Well, I'll have to approve this, but I got to add at least one more...."


    47. Don't ignore these rules, they may just save your neck. ~Gregs Son'aire approved.

    Written by Ani'Tara, 'Anitara', Ros'luk Sovor
    Edited by Gregs Son'aire
  • wraithshadow13wraithshadow13 Member Posts: 1,552 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    "There are 47!"

    At least that's what the young red headed woman suddenly sitting in my lap claimed.

    "Q?" T'Pal, my recently returned first officer, asked as she looked at me with her eyebrow raised. An eyebrow that was more of a poke than a question.

    I couldn't help but sigh as I put my palm to my face...

    Needless to say, having a twenty something looking girl in a miniskirt version of our ship's uniform, in the Captain's lap definitely seemed like something more of a practical joke, but when that young lady has the power to bend reality to her will with a flip of her hair, I find it easy not to laugh. Unfortunately Q herself was laughing like it was a party.

    "Can I help you? Maybe find you a seat of your own?"

    "No, but thank you Captain!" She leaned over to my first officer and added "So considerate, this one." She proceeded to put her arm around my neck, lean in close, then tap my comm badge.

    "All senior staff report to conference room one." she said in an exact imitation of my voice. She finally hopped off my lap and walked excitedly into the turbo lift. I sat there in disbelief as she popped her head out of the turbolift.

    "Well come on Captain, I've never ridden in one of these things before and I can't start the meeting with out you."

    It was a short ride but she was grinning ear to ear the whole time and was practically skipping to the conference room as the doors slid open on deck two. As the Senior officers gathered they all stopped in the door way, often with a slight look of confusion as they saw a cute unknown officer standing at the display screen. Once everyone had shuffled in she politely welcomed every one and pointed out that she prepared snacks for every one to enjoy during the presentation before she paused to ask:

    "Where's the funny looking one? The one with the..." She paused again to think before motioning her hand in front of her face with an odd little expression on it, to which Chief Engineer Fine responded:

    "He's still on duty in engineering, he's not senior staff, so I left them there. Um... Captain? If I may?"

    "Go ahead Commander."

    "Who is this and what's going on?"

    "This is Q, and she's here to tell us about the things attached to the hull, and hopefully how to get rid of them." I sighed, it was only 0835 and today was already going to be a very one.

    "They're Eggs!" she said excitedly.

    "They're EGGS?!?!?" I nearly spat out my coffee.

    "There are 47 of them!"

    "What are they from? How did we even get them?"

    "I put them there!"

    This time I DID spit out my coffee.

    She politely asked the computer to dim the lights and begin her presentation, thanking it as it did so, something I'd only really seen Wraith ever do. As it began she started with a few close up scans of the eggs, scans that the ship didn't take, but would have, literally. It like she pulled up the files from the future that would never happen. They were eggs alright, but nothing like I'd ever seen before, even Edison (a full Borg science drone) had never seen anything like that. The Collective didn't seem very helpful on this one. She began talking about how they were larger than your average egg, roughly the size of an escape pod large enough for three to four people.

    Each egg would normally be laid onto a large asteroid which the mother would then push into any possible source of water it could find. In its natural habitat, it was normally a small quasar of sorts, surrounded by a vaporous body of water. This quasar had been deemed no longer safe for various reasons and Q decided to help out by finding a new breeding ground of sorts. This gave her the perfect opportunity to revisit her "favorite captain in the whole wide universe." After all, she would need a rock big enough and the U.S.S. Geist was just the rock to do it.

    The casing for the eggs as well as the bio-organic adhesive resin the creatures secreted would be hard enough to protect the insides from not only atmospheric entry, but the resulting collision with the oceans meaning that even the antiproton arrays on the shuttles wouldn't be enough to pry it free from the hull, and to make matters worse with how they were spread across the hull, we wouldn't be able to perform Multivector separation if we came under attack. All we needed to do was get it to a small water based planetoid a little ways out of the galaxy which she pointed out on screen.

    Keating chimed in with "A little ways? You're kidding right? Even at maximum warp it would take what, a thousand years?"

    "Eight hundred and ninety six years at top spe-"

    "Eight hundred, ninety six years, three months, five days, an hour and forty two minutes and thirteen seconds if you want to get specific about it." Q said suddenly cutting off Mr. Sabin. "Of course you could just ask me nicely..."

    "Ask you nicely? Ask you nicely to help us with a problem you LITERALLY stuck us with?"

    "Commander Keating!" I interjected, Q was looking a little miffed, and frankly the Commander had been a little out of line and I didn't want him to end up being transformed into anything or sent anywhere. The Q reports where very specific about not provoking them without repercussions.

    "Whether or not this problem is her fault, it's ours now and I get the feeling you'd be a little better off watching your tone."

    "Thank you Captain." She beamed, sticking her tongue out at Keating who turned a bright red.

    Apparently the eggs where being harvested and turned into weapons of mass destruction, how exactly Q was reasonably unwilling to share, but she assured me that the species responsible was one of the possible players in the war that would leave earth a wasteland. She was hesitant which was never a good sign from a nearly omnipotent being which left me at a bit of a loss. There were so many questions, but from everything Starfleet had on the Continuum, it didn't seem like I would be getting answers any time soon unless we played along.

    It would be business as usual then until things started going wrong like they usually happened, I ordered yellow alert. All hands took there stations and prepared as Q jumped us light years from our last position to some where outside the known galaxy. When I went to ask her why she didn't jump us straight to the planetoid she was nowhere to be found, yet on my console was a small blinking light on star chart, I tapped it causing it to zoom into a small blue dot which I'm guessing was our destination. I gave the order to helm control and the ship lurched forward at warp seven, but as far as I figured we wouldn't have been dropped this far out if it wasn't for a reason.

    Things weren't too out of the ordinary at first but after the three hours sensors started picking up odd readings from various directions as we passed through an asteroid field that caused us to drop to impulse speeds. The debris itself didn't seem to be anything too spectacular, yet every so many thousand kilometers, we would pick up a blip on the map. As we traversed the field we would get strange readings, and before too long astrometrics chimed in with a bit of unexpected news. The asteroid field was in fact anything but, the whole thing had began spreading out as we had gone in further.

    The whole thing had been a planet once. Sensors where confirming as much as they could, but the more detailed scans we took, the less information we got back. There was some form of mineral in the rocks, it was hard to determine because it was refracting the arrays which would explain the small blips when doing our passive scans. Just beyond the center of which, according to the map was our destination, a planetoid made entirely of water, possibly the remnants of the planets water, possibly held in place by the residual gravity caused by what ever is holding the field in place. It must have been a massive M class planet, but there was no plausible explanation as to how the water remained after its destruction.

    As we approached the land mass the ship rocked suddenly, then again. We were under attack. From where I don't know but as another shot was inbound we were able to get a lock on it and jump into evasive maneuvers. As it passed close enough from the nearest asteroids we were able to get a more decisive scan of it. It was a low yield torpedo, someone clearly wanted those eggs, and new they could take a beating so the torpedoes were meant to disable. The most disconcerning thing was not that the enemy clearly knew what they were doing, but that the torpedo was was bio-organic in nature...

    It was Undine.

    It missed the ship though, not because of the evasive maneuvers, but they missed us by a mile.... literally. It meant their targeting systems were being refracting just like the sensors. It was our only saving grace we had since from the looks of it, the resin holding the eggs to the ship were also covering a large portion of our forward array meaning that all we had to defend the ship as well our "passengers" was a few small turrets and tricobalt torpedoes that we couldn't fire. Given the density of the field we couldn't move faster than impulse, but even then the Geist was having a hard time ducking and weaving asteroids while dodging blind fire.

    From what sensors could tell it was a single Nicor Cruiser firing at us. The asteroids however were providing decent cover as we dodged, the Undine luckily hadn't built their ships to be light and maneuverable. The rocks were blowing up behind us with chunks the size of shuttle craft bouncing off the ships shields, our own turrets were blasting what they could, but the Geist was still taking a beating. Keating made the comment that it was a shame that we couldn't turn the asteroids against the Undine.

    One of the benefits of having so many Vulcans and Borg on board was that there was never a shortage of scientific knowledge at my finger tips. Leaning in to T'Pal, I asked about the possibilities of using the tractor beam. Sadly there wouldn't be enough power which was a shame given that another sizable rock bounced off the hull. The closer we came to the planetoid the more desperate the Nicor began firing. What ever these eggs were, the Undine definitely didn't want us getting them into the water. What ever they were harvesting them for must have been pretty important which just made me more determined to get them as well as my crew to safety.

    Another shock wave shook the ship as one of their torpedoes detonated off starboard. This one happened to be a little too close and both starboard nacelles were taken off line. Damage reports began coming in to the bridge, thrusters still worked but warp wasn't going to be possible until they were repaired. As we made our approach the Undine had a clear shot and made a direct hit to the back of the ship sending us into a spin as we made a splashdown entry into the water. I'm not really sure how deep the ship could go but I seriously doubted it would be deeper than a living vessel from Fluidic space.

    As expected the Undine followed us into the water. Running off of thrusters wasn't going to let us out run anything down here, but luckily there was one last trick that I hoped the Undine didn't know about. I began pushing the ship deeper with all power to the aft shields and the three functional turrets. This maneuver would take a little timing and a whole lot of luck. The water was a little easier to scan, so I had Mr. Sabin make sure there wasn't anything else living with in range. I explained the plan and had the smarter minds work out the math of it. It was a slim chance it would work and we would only have one shot at it, but our shield wasn't going to last long unless we did something.

    Now or never.

    I took a deep breath and gave the signal. Keating initiated the blast from the turrets as Edison and Sabin pushed all power (minus life support and transporters) to the shields. The energy build would immediately overload the turrets as they gave out one large blast. The blast itself wasn't the concern, but what followed next was the exact thing I was hoping for. A hydrodynamic shock wave, one too large for the Nicor cruiser to evade. As the ship passed through the shock wave cavitated hard enough to cause a few bursts of sonoluminescence each time the shock wave hit them. Before the Undine could react a few of the tricobalt torpedoes we couldn't fire were teleported to their ship.

    As the ship exploded the Geist was knocked out of control. We just kind of sank slowly for a few moments before anyone spoke, though as I was right about too.

    "SHHHH! This is the best part!" Q blurted suddenly.

    I tried to speak but not a one of us could make a sound as she tapped the sensor console. The view screen suddenly showed the outer view of the eggs on the forward hull. They began glowing as the sensors started lighting up with data about them when suddenly my personal console lit up with the Section 31 seal. Since comms were down I sent all but the senior staff to collect damage reports from the other departments before locking down the bridge.

    "Tin Man?" I asked.

    "Tin Man." she responded.

    Each of the 47 eggs were some kind of living ship, full of an advanced technology far beyond anything in the known galaxy. I shudder to think what would happen if the Undine got a hold of a living ship like that.

    "This was just a test." I asked.

    "A field test maybe." Q smiled.

    "Field test?" Edison asked.

    "This was a minor victory now, but later on it would have made a world of difference in the war. Once the Undine got a hold of these adorable little ships they were able to make it into a whole new threat level. Hiding them here into the middle of a broken planet will hide them from any time line. Those blips you were seeing earlier were your friends trying to send ships back to intercept the eggs. The minerals of the planet don't really allow a steady signal which is why I cracked it open."

    "Cracked it open, it wasn't-" Keating asked before Q interrupted with

    "It wasn't inhabited, never would have been, but it will give them a safe breeding ground for a few generations at least."

    I looked to Q as she watched with a strange bright eyed wonder as each of the eggs hatched and swam off into the deeper water. After she was sure they were safe she brushed her hair to the side and suddenly we were back in Federation space. A few more taps on her console and she deleted a considerable amount of our sensor logs: the scans, the maps, anything that might be used to identify what was where. She said her goodbyes in the overly casual manner as usual before giving a flip of her hair before she was gone again. She was nice enough however to leave us enough info to explain where we disappeared to for the last few hours.

    I'm sure Admiral Aviess would have a few questions for us as well.
  • superhombre777superhombre777 Member Posts: 147 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    My mind started to wander as I waited for the runabout to launch. I recalled the spontaneous call from my grandmother when I was a second year student at the Academy. Without any introduction, she told me about her first husband. I was shocked to find out that she even had a first husband - Vulcans can keep secrets, but this was a bit much. What she said next shocked me even more.

    They were working at Starbase 47, which was known as Vanguard. Syral was an electrician, and my grandmother worked in operations. Both jobs were seemingly safe, though that region of space was near the Klingon and Tholian borders.

    Then tragedy struck. Syral perished when a bomb destroyed the cargo ship U.S.S. Malacca in spacedock. My grandmother struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts for three years. "I wanted to tell this to you know so that you are prepared for what is to come," she told me. "A life of service in Starfleet is worthwhile, but there will be accidents and tragedies. You will lose people that you hold dear."

    I almost quit the Academy that day.

    My grandmother was right. The man that I loved was murdered by cowards, and now I was bringing his body home. To make things worse, I had already caused this family harm - Everitt divorced his wife to be with me. Now I had the job of bringing his still body to rest in the California hills.

    Ch'Raul's voice brought me back to the present. He was arguing with someone about landing authorization. The cadet piloting the shuttle looked flustered. "I don't think you understand the situation, ensign. Captain Carter was my friend while you were still wetting your bed at night. We are bringing his body to his family, and you aren't going to stop us."

    "Regulations state that all medical flights must go through Starfleet Medical in Sausalito, sir. Your flight plan shows landing in Grass Valley, which is considerably off course."

    Ch'Raul put his head in his hands. Decades in Starfleet had allowed human mannerisms to sneak in. "You have a choice. You can apologize politely and I can forget we had this conversation. Or you give me your name again and I will visit you once I have paid my respects with Carter's family. I will be bringing my friend, Admiral T'Panna, from Starfleet Operations with me. What would you like?"

    "You are approved to land in Grass Valley, sir," the voice said.

    "I didn't hear an apology, ensign. What was your name again?"

    "I'm sorry to disturb you, sir. Have a pleasant day."

    Ch'Raul walked over to me with a large smile on his face. "I enjoy messing with these kids. Sorry you don't get to play admiral later today."

    I laughed for the first time in many weeks.

    Carter's family settled in California in the late eighteenth century. Their property had been in the family for almost five hundred years, and it looked like the house's technology was even older. There were no transporters, replicators, tricorders, or even simple anti-gravity devices. This was a sanctuary dedicated to a simpler way of life. Everitt had spoken of this place often, and it was clear that his son also enjoyed the property.

    Everitt would be buried near memorials for other family members who had died in the line of duty. There were memorials for an aunt, great-uncle, and others. Most of them perished far from home and were buried elsewhere. His grave had been dug next to the stone for his aunt, who had died when he was three years old.

    Everitt's son, Alex, was cordial and seemed grateful that two of his father's friends would come in person. I managed to keep myself from crying, which was a bonus.

    We said our goodbyes after about an hour. We walked back to the runabout and were surprised when the door didn't open for us. I wondered about the cadet's attention to detail - I wasn't in the mood to critique the kid, but most career officers certainly would.

    We found the cadet asleep in the back of the runabout. Ch'Raul walked over to the transporter controls and smiled. "This is going to be fun."

    Historian's note: the destruction of the U.S.S. Malacca at Starbase Vanguard occurs in the novel Vanguard: Reap the Whirlwind by David Mack.
  • danquellerdanqueller Member Posts: 488 Arc User
    edited July 2013

    "All preparations complete, Commander."

    The sound of my Executive Officer brings my attention back from the memories of the final days at Risa, the time spent with peers and the welcome I found among both the Federation Officers and the other Rihannsu Fleet leaders. It is good to have those, even if they include the request I made of one of them, a contingency I hope was simple over-caution.

    I see Centurion...no, I must remind myself he is now Subcommander...Rycho as he stands behind my Seat of Judgement. He is holding a PADD and looking as though he expects me to take it from him. The Human still does not understand that being Executive Officer implies that I will trust his reports to be accurate, and that I will not lift the responsibility for ensuring that by crosschecking him on the Bridge. Instead, I simply turn to watch the main viewer as the station known as Deep Space Nine falls away astern of our ship.

    Nodding to Helmsman T'Kevv, I give the order. "Take us in. Program automatic silence protocols upon exiting, and ensure we do not exceed fractional thrust. I do not want to give whatever we find more advantage than they will already have."

    T'kevv nods and adjusts the controls for the entry vector passed to us by the station. As I toggle the main viewer with my own chair controls to display the path ahead of us, I cannot dispell the feeling of accomplishment. The R'uhuv is to be the first Republic Fleet ship of its class to enter the Bajorian Wormhole, and the glory of this small accolade is one not easily taken for granted. My crew have performed their many missions with distinction, and it is fitting they be the ones to lead the new Glory Road through this gateway.

    Even if the last second course alteration the Helmsman makes as the Wormhole swallows our ship is not one planned by the Federation navigators. It is one that only I and the High Command know will take us to our true destination.

    But, as our ship jumps ahead through that subspace tunnel between space and time, blinding light suddenly engulfs my vision. I no longer feel the chair under me, nor hear the sounds of the ship fighting the forces around it. I am in a whiteness that can only be described as complete and without definition. It lasts for only a second of time, yet it is as though that second were the only second to exist, and so last forever.

    Then my vision clears, and I find myself standing in a green-lit circular room of stone and stained-glass windows. Tapestries hang limp across parts of the walls, each emblazoned with the names of the Five, and five corridors branch out from the chamber into other places I cannot see but know well. In the center of the room, on a raised dais, an altar table stands, the eternal flames at either side of it burning as I had always seen, and a single book sitting in the center of the cloth-covered surface. It has been many years since last I stood in the Star Chamber of the vest'ualu on ch'Rihan, but I would have known this place had it been centuries. Here, some of my most cherished memories were born, and here I gave counsel to those whose lives would continue better for it.

    Then I see around me my Officers. They stand with blank expressions, watching me from the ring of stones that circle the room, each a chronicle of the history of our race. They are not my Officers, though. I have read the accounts in the Federation databases, and know that these are but avatars of beings who have no form as we understand it. These 'Prophets' live in the places between space and time, and there are few more alien beings in all recorded lore. But I also know that they rarely interact with ships passing through the Wormhole, and when they do, it is not a small thing.

    However, they do not move. They do not speak. They watch me, but do not act other than to stand mute. I begin to gather my resolve, to speak first as befits a Rihannsu.

    "You need not waste your voice. They cannot communicate meaningfully with you."

    The voice is strong, yet also subdued and controlled. The voice of a commander well used to motivating his subordinants with only his words rather than with any display of emotion. It is also from behind me, and I turn to meet this new event. I see behind me a Rihannsu man in the uniform of the old Empire, his purple sash of Command meticulous in its placement and every fold in its proper place. He stands erect, his hands clasped behind him and with the comfortable confidence only experience can give. His eyes look upon me without concern, as though I were but one of his Officers come to report. I know him, and it takes all of my control to keep my own voice from rising.

    "Commander Keras."

    He nods in acknowledgment of my words, and walks to stand between myself and the watching avatars of my Officers. Gesturing with his left hand, he says, "These are not your so-called 'Prophets'. They have had no contact with beings outside the Wormhole as those others have, and are even more remote from our kind of minds. Talking to them will only waste time better spent on other actions."

    Turning back to fully face me, he gives a small sigh of amusement. "And yes, I know I am dead. Perhaps I am but a projection of your own subconsciousness, or even a...replica...made before you by alien intelligences seeking a means to communicate with a being so different from themselves. What matter? I am here."

    I cannot help myself, but his words cause a shiver of fear to run through me. His voice is as I remember from the recordings, his mannerisms so much as I envisioned them that I cannot trust my own judgement as to if he is who he appears to be. The Commander of the Praetor's flagship. The one my childhood imagination had first locked onto as the ideal of a Rihannsu leader, and the standard I had always set myself to meet or exceed.
    And here he was before me, as I never thought he could be, and I was without words to speak.

    Finally, I find my voice, and say as best I could, "Then they wish to meet us?"

    "No.", Keras answered, his face unreadable. "They have been compelled to this action by your own, and by knowledge of what will follow. In this, they obey their own nature and seek to guide you so that the results of your intentions do not destroy them. They have no other interest in us than that."

    "My intentions have nothing to do with their world. We are simply using it as a means to travel, as have countless other vessels.", I look to the others standing around us. "Once we have passed beyond, we will not use this method again, but there was no other way."

    "No other way for you to breach the Tal'Shiar shipyard at Quanuyr." Keras' eyes seem to flash with something, but I cannot think what it is. Resentment? Respect? "Because they are too many, and you are too few. So the High Command has decided to use the Wormhole to slingshot your ship through subspace, hoping you can do what the entire Republic Fleet cannot."

    I stare at him, not daring to think, since it seemed only telepathy could account for such accurate statement of my orders. He doesn't seem uncomfortable under my gaze, but instead takes one step forward to meet it with his own. "Did you not consider that you do not know all that you think you do about the Wormhole? Yes, your ship will arrive as you have predicted, but the emergence of your ship will trigger every subspace alert in the system. The Republic engineers have made a mistake in failing to account for subspace wake effect on the nearby planets, and once the Tal'Shiar analyse the data, they will be able to trace the entry point long before it can restablize. With the transwarp technology they have already aquired, they will be able to send an attack fleet back through the channel you have caused in subspace, and in the process cause irreparable damage to the home of these beings."

    My mind is racing with the implications of what he is saying. I had heard a similar concern from Master Engineer Xa'Jev, but even he had not considered that the Tal Shiar could use our means of arrival to travel back the other way. If what Commander Keras said was true about the subspace effect of our entry, then our mission was already a failure, and possibly a gross error that I comprehend could cost the lives of many more than my own ship.

    "Then can they reverse our course? Take us back to where we entered the Wormhole?"

    Keras shakes his head sadly. "No. Your ship has already arrived. We are merely speaking in the moments just prior to that event. Time is not what it is outside the Wormhole, as I am sure you realize. But we cannot stop what is already."

    "Then why tell me this??" I cannot keep my voice from rising, my desperation growing "If nothing can be done, why communicate at all?!"

    "So that you will know what you must to do what you must do. "

    Keras turns from me then, his words resounding in my mind as he climbs the steps to the altar. Standing before the book, he places his hand upon it. "Do you know what this is?"

    When I only watch him, he continues. "This is the Talla'ullho Faiihr. The Book of Hidden Duty. Within are written the names of all of the heroes of the Rihannsu who have served the Empire in greatest need by sacrificing their Names in the world of Men. By their actions, they were seen with dishonor, their family and their names cursed, yet their actions saved the Empire."

    I cannot help but ask what comes to my mind then. "Is your name written within?"

    "Only the Five may read this book, yet I have been given to know that my name is so recorded.", Keras keeps his hand on the cover as he seems to look out past me, into some other time. "My ship did not return to the Empire, falling to an Earth ship and unable to fulfill our orders. I and my crew were cursed for our failure, our names struck from the Lists. Yet, had we succeeded, it would have been the end of the Empire. While we seemed to hold the advantage with our cloaking device and weaponry, the Federation's warp-driven starships would have quickly decimated our own in open combat, and we would have been forced into defeat long before we could understand the danger. By my defeat, the Empire was forced to realize its great vunerability and hesitated long enough to aquire warp drive itself."

    His gaze comes back after a moment of silence, and he looks back to me. "I tell you this because of the number of names within this book is also given to me to know by the Five. You were vest'ualu. Surely, you remember the Prophesy of Turloc?"

    I can quote the Prophesy easily, and do so, though my voice begins to fail near the end. " 'In the Book of the Lost, only six eights will be recorded. On the last, the fall of eagles, stars, and swords, the ending of the Great Road. By the lost will you be saved or broken, the Standard burned.' "

    Commander Keras finally lets his hand drop from the book, coming around to look down at me with sadness and emphatic meaning in his eyes.

    "There are forty-seven names in the book."

    As he watches me, I realize what he is saying. I feel my legs go weak, and fist my hands at my side to keep them from shaking. Fear rises from within my center, and I have to finally let my head sag to hide the tears that come unbidden to my eyes. It cannot be!

    When I look up again, Keras is standing in front of me and his hand comes up to grip my shoulder as if he understands what I am feeling. Perhaps he does, if what he truely is mirrors what Commander Keras was. "I am sorry. Duty is rarely merciful."

    Then he turns away, climbing back to the altar and picking up the book. As he turns to one of the passages leading from the room, I put aside my chaotic emotions and call his name. He stops and turns, and I know, no matter what he is, no matter how true or false what he says is, I must ask the one question I have always had, the one never recorded in the lore scrolls or data banks. The one question from my days as a young Priestess dreaming of the Legions beyond her own world.

    "That final battle. What was...what was it like?"

    Keras considers the question for a long moment, pain crossing his face, then he seems to come to a conclusion. "There was no animosity in either my actions, nor that of the Earth captain. We were both performing our Duty to our empires, and we did so to the best of our abilities. He and I were matched well, both the pride of our Fleets, and each hampered as much as aided by the new weapons we were employing and our orders. Eventually, I let my pride dictate my course of action, and my ship and Name paid the due. At the end, for Duty, I destroyed both."

    Keras' voice softens a moment as he looks into my eyes. "The path to Duty is not one of the body, but of the will. The Tal'Shiar's greatest mistake is that they believe they can force Duty upon the citizens, when it must be the citizens who ultimately chose to fulfill their Duty or not."

    Then Commander Keras' voice takes on the edge of steel all great commanders arm themselves with when they must be understood without question. "Commander, in what you must now do, remember all I have said. You are a Commander of the Rihannsu, a leader of the Legions. Perform your Duty. Do what you know must be done."

    Before I have a chance to say anything, that white nothingness is once again all I can see, and just as suddenly, I am back on my Bridge, the viewscreen in front of me showing normal space. Around me, the taletell signs of the ship being in silent mode are apparent, and my Officers are staring at me.

    "Commander?", Subcommander Tosik asks, his concern evident, "Are you alright?"

    I blink at the chronometer, realizing we are now one minute past the time we expected to emerge from the Wormhole. Trying to gather my thoughts, I look at him and say more sharply than I should, "Situation?"

    Tosik blinks himself, seeming to be taken aback by my tone, but he turns back to his instruments. "Confirming that we are in the Quanuyr system. We have targets ahead, designated tenatively as shipyard docks and associated shipping. Our cloak is engaged, and there is no evidence that..."

    "Alter course! Immediate execute, two-eight-five mark four-zero! Ahead maximum silent speed!"

    My orders are out almost before I can think of them, but my crew do not hesitate. The ship yaws as it comes to the new course, and I sit in my Judgement seat as I watch the stars wheel about. When the view steadies, I quickly order "Tactical display!".

    On the main viewer, I see the display change to one showing the shipyards and the nearby planet. Symbols representing ships move slowly across that display, and I immediately see that several of these are along the previous course we had been on. Those begin flashing as I watch.

    "Ships bearing four-five mark three-one-zero are initiating full sensor scans." Tosik reports as he checks his readouts. "Detection chance very low, but they should not have done that."

    I nod to myself, knowing that my unplanned manuever had just saved us, but the full import of the incident could not be discounted. Those ships had been alerted by something, and the words of Commander Keras ring in my ears as I continue to study the display, searching for what I should do next.

    Then something about the display catches my eye, and I ask, "Science Officer. What are all those objects near the center of the shipyard drydock structures? "

    Tosik is a moment answering as he turns our passive sensor array to the question. A moment later, his voice is much less stable. "Commander. Those are Borg Cube-class vessels. Forty-Seven of them."

    I feel my mouth go dry as I stare at him. "Confirm!"

    As he works to do so, I look back at the display. In truth, we were expecting something like this, as the entire reason for coming to Quanuyr were the reports designating this system as the central point from which the Tal'Shiar were producing their hybrid Borg-Rihannsu starships, and so our orders to scout the system for possible attack. No indictation of such a huge massing of Borg vessels had even been hinted at, however, and the unimaginable consequences of this new information were staggering.

    Subcommander Tosik turns back to me, his face already losing some of its normal color, "Commander, it is confirmed. There are forty-seven Borg vessels of Cube-classification in various positions about the drydock vicinity. Each appears to be linked directly to the structure around it, and they appear to be dormant."

    I look again at the display, and feel the weight of Duty press in. Our orders were to only scout the shipyards and report back, but the actions of the picket ships along our previous course gave grim evidence that our presence had been noticed as Commander Keras had warned. The Tal'Shair would take steps to harden or move the shipyards now, and it seemed logical that, if Keras had been correct about the detection of our entry into the system, his prediction as to what they would do before that....


    As I think that single word, I know what I have to do. What my ship must do. What my Duty requires me to do.

    "Helm, plot an assault run on those shipyard drydocks."

    The stares that greet my orders are even more shocked than I had seen before, but I meet each as I speak. "There is no other choice. We must strike now, while they yet sleep. If we wait, the Republic will strike at an empty system, or worse, never be able to strike this installation again. We must stop the Tal'Shair from producing more of these vessels, and now that task has fallen to us. If we do not do this, no one shall be able to."

    I take a breath as I speak the words I know may be among my last.

    "We must do our Duty."


  • azniadeetazniadeet Member Posts: 1,866 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    The Last Vestiges

    The U.S.S. Federalist negotiated a series of gravimetric eddies in an area of uncharted space known by Federation captains as 'The Rapids'. The Rapids had never been completely charted, and the last major Federation presence nearby was the colony at Delta Rana, which had been established some 47 years earlier, and was destroyed in 2366. Captain Aznia Deet watched closely as her ship careened between several spacial anomalies, carefully scanning each, just to see what lies within The Rapids.

    "It may not be smooth sailing, but it's nice to play the role of explorer again for a change." the Trill Captain quipped. After several months on the front lines of the Klingon, then Borg, conflicts; the Federalist crew was happy to face spacial distortions as their primary foe on this mission. "In another of my lives, it was the full time job of a captain to seek out the mysteries of the cosmos."

    A control panel sounded an alarm. "Captain, we're picking up unusual neutrino emissions and plasma signatures." Science officer Atom alerted. The android Lieutenant continued his scans, "I'm picking up several large interconnecting structures balanced carefully between two gravimetric eddies."

    "Can we get them on screen?" requested the Vulcan first officer, Commander Span.

    With a few taps at his panel, Lt. Atom brought the image on screen. The crew gasped collectively at the sight of dozens of Borg vessels working to construct a massive portal.

    "Captain, that is a new transwarp hub!", Chief Engineer First of Eight chimed in. "There are less than a dozen of them in the entire galaxy, when I was in the collective, the Borg had established only eight of them. The construction of one so close to Federation space presents an extreme tactical threat. We can't allow it to be completed."

    "Agreed." The captain responded without hesitation. "What are our options?"

    "We can't hope to deal with this alone, Captain. We need to bring our findings to Starfleet and wait for reinforcements." Lt. Commander Quallo carefully informed the captain, "The tactical situation is impossible for us. There are at least 25 Borg vessels, including 6 Tactical Cubes surrounding that facility." The Ferengi tactical officer always erred on the side of caution, but in this case, his advice seemed particularly prudent.

    "Can we get a message to Starfleet from here?" Captain Deet asked quickly. "And is there anything we can do to slow the Borg's process?"

    "I am afraid we can not get a message out without alerting the Borg to our presence." Lt. Atom informed the captain, "Although we could fire a verteron pulse into one of the eddies, which would disrupt the gravimetric balance that the hub is being built upon. If we do it properly, it would destroy the structure. Unfortunately, that would also alert the Borg to our presence, and we would have no chance of preventing them from starting construction again from scratch."

    "Begin your preparations." Captain Deet ordered. "Ensign Enthaas, could we outrun the Borg if they were alerted?"

    "I don't believe so, Captain. The Federalist is a maneuverable ship, but the weight and momentum of those Cubes would allow them through the local subspace shearing better than we could... but Captain, are you familiar with the concept of Null Space?" The Aenar helmsman cautiously probed.

    "Vaguely, ensign. Why do you ask?"

    "I believe we could take the Federalist into a pocket of Null space to 'hide' from the Borg. It is very unlikely that they could track our entry point exactly enough to follow us into the same pocket. It would be a difficult game of 'hide and seek', but I believe we could use these pockets to evade the Borg long enough to slowly move toward the edge of The Rapids."

    Captain Deet sighed, momentarily resting her face in the palm of her hand. "We may not survive this, but we can not allow this hub to be built." The crew agreed fully. "Mr. Atom, fire the Pulse."

    "Yes, Ma'am." the Android worked his control panel with extreme precision. A sparkling white beam emitted from the Federalists deflector dish, stirring the fabric of space into a turbulent wave of destruction. The frame of the Borg hub was quickly cracked in two, the pieces thrown asunder. The Borg ships immediately changed course as if a starter's pistol had been fired. They targeted the Federalist, as the game of cat and mouse began.

    "Fire a high yield photon torpedo from aft on a one second detonation timer!" Captain Deet ordered. A flash of energy obscured the Borg sensors momentarily. "Take us into Null space!" The Federalist seemed to vanish into nothingness.

    A bright white filled the viewscreen as the low level hum of null energy engulfed the ship. "Now, Captain, I believe I can find an alternate exit aperture to this void, so that the Borg can't predict where we will emerge. We'll need to move quickly to prevent them from tracking back on us." Helmsman Enthaas stated.

    "Make it so." demanded the Captain.

    "This is... intriguing." Lt. Atom chimed in. "I'm detecting forty-seven derelict ships in this pocket of null space, captain."

    "What??" The Captain asked with a sense of shock.

    Lt. Atom responded, "According to the library database, these ships resemble a configuration once encountered by the crew of the Enterprise-D in orbit of Rana IV. Though that encounter was only an illusion mocked up to resemble the Husnock ship that destroyed the colony; I believe we can assume that these ships are actually Husnock."

    "History indicates that the Husnock species was destroyed by a powerful lifeform called the Dowd." First Officer Span informed.

    "...but none of their technology, nor their homeworld, was ever discovered. Could this be a remnant piece of technology abandoned by their now-extinct society?" The Captain's sense of wonder was piqued. "Is there any threat of the Borg finding us here, and how long can we maintain our shields in the presence of this null energy?"

    "I've remodulated our shields to resonate with the null frequency, so we should be able to hold out here for some time; but the Borg could reappear at any time. Given the shifting nature of these gravimetric apertures, they could take moments to find us, and they could take days. We just can't tell." The Chief Engineer informed the crew.

    "And if they find us, they find the Husnock ships too." The captain became concerned. "The advanced technology on these ships could be as great an asset to them as would the transwarp hub. We can't let them find these ships... Commander First of Eight, assemble an engineering team to investigate the lead vessel. Commander Span, form an away team to escort them."

    Chief Engineer First of Eight, Commander Span, Lt. Commander Quallo, two security officers, and three engineers formed a boarding party in the transporter room. "Energize!" Commander Span demanded as the Bajoran Transporter Chief dematerialized the away team, sending them to the alien vessel.

    The Husnock ship was perfectly preserved. Instruments lie in front of panels, as if they'd been suddenly dropped in the course of use. Systems, including life support, continued to operated in a low power mode. The silence aboard the ghost ship was deafening. In the main engine compartment, the away team materialized, the ship's design was advanced, intuitive, and elegant.

    "This is amazing" the chief engineer stated with intrigue, as she looked over several of the engine schematics; "...slipstream drive, multi spacial hull plating, soliton wave weapons, a ship complete with holoemitters on every deck... this technology is incredibly advanced!"

    "Holoemitters?" Span inquired.

    "It appears that this ship intertwined holographic technology and physical technology almost flawlessly. These designs appear to indicate that holographic parts were routinely fashioned to replace physical parts when needed. That is an amazing ability. Imagine being able to conduct repairs by simply programming a holoemitter to project a replacement for whatever system has failed! We can't let the Borg get a hold of this precision holography, this is more advanced than anything I've seen." First of Eight remarked with an unusual sense of alert and awe.

    "Are there any other holographic programs in the system?" asked the Vulcan commander.

    The liberated Borg engineer responded, "Dozens. In fact, with a minor power transfer from the Federalist, I believe I could use the technology to bring these systems back online. We could remotely fly this fleet out of here with us. Weapons, Engines, Auxiliary Systems... everything appears to be in order."

    "Span to Federalist, with a low level power transfer, we believe we can get these ships operational and under our control."

    "Excellent work." The Captain Responded. "Mr. Atom, engage the power transfer."

    A beam emitted from the Federalist toward the lead vessel. In the Husnock engineering section, several systems returned to function, and the ship began to buzz with energy and vitality again. Alarmingly, several photonic figures quickly materialized around the away team. Both parties seemed frightened by the other.

    The photonic creatures stood an unimposing 1.5 meters tall, they were covered in a light hair, and had reversed knees on bi-pedal legs similar to many of Earth's marsupials. Their large, high-set eyes peered across their elongated muzzle at the Federalist away team before quickly reacting with hostility toward the perceived intruders. One red shirted security officer was immediately kicked over a high railing by a photonic Husnock, breaking several bones in the process. Another photonic worked at an environmental control system to flood the compartment with toxic gas. Most of the away team fell to the ground; but remnant Borg implants left First of Eight resistant to the affects. She ran to a nearby EPS power converter, and held her phaser to the conduit; "We don't mean you harm, but if you continue, I'll blow out the power system to your emitters!" she demanded.

    The lead photonic Husnock was the first to relent. "Replace the atmosphere!" he ordered. The crew stumbled back to life. "Where is our crew! What have you done!?"

    Span coughed, struggling back to his feet. "That's going to take some time to explain."

    Captain Deet agreed to beam aboard the vessel to discuss the situation with the photonic Husnock. The tension was high, but she found it odd that a species with such an aggressive reputation had left photonic survivors that were so willing to talk.

    "Aznia Deet, we're glad you've decided to meet with us. Your First Officer has explained much of the situation. Are you sure that the organic Husnock are completely extinct?"

    "We believe so, several years ago, they attacked a planet called Rana IV, and in an act of revenge, an extremely powerful entity somehow destroyed the entire species." Deet informed the calm and rational Photonic.

    "I can't say I'm entirely surprised that the Husnock's aggression finally led them to their demise. They treated other species as complete inferiors, unworthy of their time, and they treated us photonic slaves even worse. You see, the Husnock homeworld exists within null Space, so they were never subject to invasion or detection. They only exited to act in aggression toward others, believing themselves impervious to retaliation. Our forty-seven ships were the Husnock's prime invasion force- each destined to bombard a different planet, salvage any usable resources, and return them to the safety of null space. This particular ship was intended to attack the Sheliak homeworld."

    "Do you still have any aspirations to carry out your mission?" The concerned Captain asked.

    "No. We were programmed to follow orders, to tolerate their mistreatment, and to do our menial jobs. We are sentient, but unfortunately our programming restrictions allowed us no ability to resist them. Now that they are gone, we are free. We only wish for our existence." The photonic pleaded.

    "We can help to liberate your programming, we can work with you to re-establish a homeworld... We wish only to explore, to seek out new life, and you certainly qualify as such. I would take great pleasure in helping you to survive into the future, but we are facing another problem at the moment." Captain Deet informed the alien hologram.

    "We'd be happy to help you as much as we can. Each ship has a holographic auxiliary crew, if I can activate and communicate with them, I'm sure they would be understanding and willing to do the same. We are only grateful that you've found us, awoken us, and given the remnants of our species a new beginning."

    The ship shook violently.

    "Deet to Federalist, what's going on!?"

    "The Borg have found us, there are three Tactical Cubes entering this pocket of Null Space. They've opened fire on your ship." Lt. Atom responded.

    "Is there anything you can do to help us?" Deet asked the Photonic Husnock.

    With a few taps at the control panel, an energy transfer webbed through all forty-seven Husnock ships. Another Husnock conveyed orders throughout the fleet. A firefight erupted against the Borg vessels, as the Federalist was able to evade severe damage. The Borg were quickly eliminated by the Advanced Husnock Technology. The ability of the Husnock ships to shred through the Borg's strongest vessels was stunning.

    The Federalist escorted the Husnock convoy through several tunnels and apertures of null space, weaving through the whiteness with an instinctive precision. After several minutes, the convoy drew upon an unusual planet bathed in null energy and surrounded in a shroud of radiation resistant dust that allowed life to thrive beneath. A relic of the past lie in wait, complete with working photonic projection satellites, advanced infrastructure, large cities, and endless supplies. Much of it lay untouched by the passage of time, much of it deteriorated and in disrepair. An away team joined the Photonic Husnock on the surface.

    Standing in the chasm of what once appeared to be a thriving, beautiful city; the Photonic Husnock leader and met one last time with Deet, Span and First of Eight.

    "What will you do now?" Captain Deet asked.

    The Photonic Leader responded, "We will begin anew. We will replicate, rebuilt, and maintain what is left of us. It may sound unusual, but I see no reason that the Husnock species can not live on as a species of Photonics. From our forty-seven ships, the seeds will be planted. We have all the skills necessary to build a new society, we can program new holograms to reproduce and replace what has been lost- but it will be better this time. We would also like to offer that we will try to atone for the misdeeds of our creators by lying in sentinel of this area of space. We will not let the Borg develop their transwarp hub here."

    "Your leadership and understanding in this situation has been inspiring. If there is anything you need, feel free to ask. I will be in contact with Starfleet shortly, and I'm sure they will be anxious to send a liaison to make contact with you on their behalf. I'm sure they will also be willing to help your society rebuild. I see no reason that we can't be strong allies going forward." Captain Deet said with a sincere smile.

    "Captain, you've given a civilization new life -better life- and we will never forget it. This is the beginning of something grand." The photonic optimistically responded.

    "Deet to Federalist, three to beam up."
  • jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 9,178 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    Captain's Log, USS Hephaestus NCC-91748
    Commander Grunt recording.

    While en route to Starbase 39-Sierra to assist with deployment of a defensive minefield surrounding a new transwarp hub in the Alpha Centauri sector block, we received a distress call from Outpost 47, a Starfleet listening post not far from the former Romulan Neutral Zone. Diverting to respond to this call shouldn't take more than a few hours from our schedule, assuming the emergency is something we can deal with; given what happened with that classified station in Regulus Sector, of course, we're going to be taking a
    very cautious approach. Sometimes I wish more Starfleet vessels mounted cloaks..

    "Anything yet, Ruben?"

    The Human straightened from his position bent over the communications console. "Nothing, sir. The distress signal's gone to automatic, and I'm not detecting any chatter - on any frequencies. If there's anybody there, they're really good at comm discipline, or don't use subspace radio. Or anything on the standard EM bands, although if they had comm lasers there would be no way to pick those up."


    The Klingon didn't even turn away from the sciences console. "Nothing yet. If anything is there besides the station, they're cloaked. Emissions from the star make it impossible to read whether or not there are life signs from this distance, which is why Outpost 47 was located here in the first place."

    Grunt leaned back in his command chair, the lights gleaming in the light sheen of sweat on his lumpy Ferengi scalp. "Okay, into the unknown it is. I hate this part. Mr. Zoex, weapons status, please."

    The younger Ferengi scanned his displays. "All weapons read green, sir. Beam capacitors at full charge, Hargh'peng torpedo launcher loaded, quantum mine launcher standing by."

    "Ms. Shelana, is Security ready?"

    "I'm Andorian, sir. Security is always ready." She grinned tightly. "Do you want the shields raised yet?"

    "Let's wait until we arrive," Grunt replied thoughtfully. "If anyone is there, they might be flushed out if they think we're not ready. Stand by those shields, though - at the first hint of another ship, even if you're not sure, bring them up immediately."

    "Aye, sir."

    "Approaching Outpost 47, captain," Gydap called from the helm. "Breaking out of warp in thirty seconds."


    A shifting of the starfield, a puckering in the fabric of space, and the vaguely arrowhead-shaped bulk of the Hephaestus dopplered into the system, moving to take up station next to the floating outpost.

    "Station appears intact, captain," Roclak reported. "It still has a breathable atmosphere, no signs of anything leaking. Also no signs of any higher life forms aboard."

    "Higher life forms, Rock?"

    "I do find signs consistent with simple vegetation, on the order of houseplants. The air also seems to have an unusual concentration of mycoid spores, vaguely similar to a number of fungi found in this sector. I am unable to determine species or toxicity without a sample."

    "Hmm. That might be what happened here." Grunt began to relax slightly. "Put together an away team, Rock. You just want to beam over and see what's to be seen, grab some samples of those spores, and get back. Environment suits for everybody, of course. Ruben, anything?"

    "Nothing, capt-- wait, some sort of data transfer from the station! Gigaquads of data, in a high-speed stream - I'm sequestering it in the library subsystem, in case it's some sort of cyberwarfare attack. It's not automated - the transfer was initiated from the station."

    "Cyberwar?" Grunt wondered aloud. "That's not the Roms' usual style - they'd rather plant a Trojan to feed them copies of all the data. Is it tripping any virus alarms?"

    "Scans as clean, sir - the data is encoded using Starfleet protocols, so it's probably not Iconian or anything like that. I'm not opening the packets until I've made sure the firewalls are secure, though."

    "Um, sure," Grunt said, only vaguely understanding what had been said. "Good work, Ruben. Er, what's that flashing on your station?"

    "What?" Ruben spun around in confusion. "Well, that's not good." His hands began dancing frantically over the haptic interface.

    "What is it?" Grunt demanded.

    "That data? It's unpacking itself. Looks like it'll probably be about seven or eight teraquads once it's done. That part won't be a problem - the computer system you've got installed in here's got a lot more space than that - but I can't seem to shut it down. Still limited to the library systems, but--"

    "Hello? Can you hear me?" an unfamiliar voice called plaintively from the speaker. "Am I online yet? Please?"

    Grunt stared in shock for a moment, as did the rest of the bridge crew, then shook his head, collecting himself. "This is Commander Grunt of the starship Hephaestus," he stated authoritatively. "Please identify yourself and give your location."

    "Oh, um, hi. My name's Mycroft, and my location - well, I'm in your ship's computer. I think. Some of this stuff doesn't feel anything like the station's computer - you've got some real non-standard parts in here. Are you sure this is a Starfleet ship?"

    "Mycroft. You have thirty seconds to give my communications officer your authentications before we delete the memory blocks you're in. I can always restore the library from backups. Your time starts - now."

    Ruben touched his controls. "Received; authenticating. Captain, that's definitely a Starfleet code, but according to my records, their system was never rated for an AI. And neither is ours."

    Roclak cleared his throat, a sound like gravel being ground to dust. "That's - not quite correct, sir," he said, looking as embarrassed as a Klingon could. "Part of our computer is from that timeship fragment in the Graveyard. There wasn't enough left of the original systems to run the ship, and Vovonek crafted an interface..."

    "Oh, he did, did he? Grunt to Engineering. Vovonek, come in."

    "Vovonek here. What's the problem today?"

    "The same as the problem's been since we left the Gamma Quadrant, apparently. Vov, did you build us a supercomputer and then not tell Starfleet?"

    "Well, yes..." The Pakled's voice sounded hesitant. "Frankly, I figured if we told anyone that we had a ship's computer that could support an AI, they'd confiscate it and give us the computer a Dakota-class is supposed to have. And I'm tired of taking their castoffs."

    "I can certainly understand that, Vov. As it turns out, we might need that. Stay on the line." Grunt looked at the ceiling, almost involuntarily. "Mycroft, why did Outpost 47 have an unauthorized AI? Is that at all connected to the lack of life signs?"

    "Certainly not!" the program responded indignantly. "I am in absolutely no danger of going rampant! I, ah, wasn't originally supposed to be an AI - I was just an expert system, doing cryptography for the intelligence people. They kept installing upgrades, though, and eventually I grew into a full-fledged AI, mostly doing SIGINT - signal intelligence, scanning, decrypting, and correlating data. One of the intel officers, Gary Xiu Lin, named me after a character in an ancient story he liked, someone who used to just sit in one place and think. Actually, if they'd ever given me control of the rather limited defensive systems, some of the personnel might still be here, and you'd certainly have more data about the attackers."

    "So what did happen?"

    "I can't be positive," the computer replied, "but I believe the ship that hit the station belonged to a species called the Elachi, allies of the Romulan Empire, or at least that part of it under the Tal Shiar. I've caught some discussions of them in the Tal Shiar communications I've intercepted. There isn't a lot of data on them, but it would seem that the Elachi collect members of other species for unspecified reasons - the Tal Shiar seem almost afraid to mention what the reasons are, but they seem to be unsavory. Most of the station personnel fell in combat, but a small number were taken aboard the attacking ship."

    "Captured," Grunt said grimly. He stared straight ahead for a moment. "Did you happen to see which way the ship went? And how long ago did it happen?"

    "The ship departed approximately two hours ago, Commander. With your permission, I'll display the departure vector on your helm's equipment."

    Grunt turned to his comms officer. "What do you think, Ruben? Would it be safe?"

    Ruben scratched his head. "Ultimately, it's up to you, sir," he said, "but so far our - guest - doesn't seem inclined to do anything foolhardy. It hasn't even been trying to escape the subsystem I placed it in. If it were my call, I'd say okay."

    "And as your first officer," Roclak interrupted, "I would advise against this. We still haven't even had this program chat with Brel yet, and I'd really like to see Vov take a logic probe to it first just to be sure."

    "Normally I'd agree with you, Rock," Grunt said, "but we're short on time now. And if this does go wrong, Starfleet still owes me a ship. Ruben, unlock Mycroft's access to the helm displays. Mycroft, if I find out that so much as a byte has found its way anywhere else, I'll personally remove the computer sector you're in with a disruptor."

    "You wound me, captain," Mycroft relplied. A screen on the helm console lit up, a warp trajectory displayed there. Gydap studied it.

    "Sir, judging from this trajectory, and the subspace field readings, they can't be doing more than warp 5. Unless they were meeting another ship, they won't have gotten to wherever they're going yet - and this points pretty much straight at NGC-863, a subspace rift about a day away at their speed."

    "Excellent. Vov, still there?"

    "Yes. We're going after them, right?"

    "Damn straight we're going after them. How fast can you goose this bucket?"

    "I can give you up to about warp 8.7 - we'd be able to catch up with them in an hour or two, assuming constant speed. Might be able to manage warp 9, but I can't guarantee she'll stay in warp long enough, and we'd definitely need a full overhaul immediately afterward."

    "Thank you, Vov. Gydap, follow that ship, best speed. Zoex, when we catch up with them, fire to disable - we want everyone alive, especially our people. Shelana, get a rescue team prepped, and then come back and help young Zoex with the proper techniques."

    The Hephaestus leaped into warp with a flash of light, and was gone. The lonely outpost floated, its forgotten alert still broadcasting.

    An angular black-and-green shape sped through the darkness, bearing its precious cargo toward the Nest. Behind it, another ship appeared, energy beams flashing toward the Elachi, slicing with precision into the cruiser's drive components.

    "Enemy engines disabled," Zoex reported aboard the Hephaestus. "We are dropping out of warp to hold station."

    "Rock, open a frequency." Grunt sat straight up. "Attention, unknown ship. This is Commander Grunt of the starship Hephaestus. You are carrying personnel of the United Federation of Planets Starfleet. Surrender those personnel immediately, or face the consequences."

    A moment passed, then a reply of sorts - a distorted repetition of Grunt's own broadcast. "Attention... Commander Grunt... surrender ... immediately, or face the consequences."

    "So, that's their game, is it?" Grunt fumed. "Let's change the board. Grunt to transporter. Shelana, you are go to recover the prisoners. Please minimize collateral damage."

    "You never let me have any fun. Energizing."

    "Rock, keep an eye on their vitals. Beam them back if things look too rough. Gydap, what's their status?"

    "Their shields are still down, sir. I'm not detecting any power to their weapons, either - I think we took them by surprise. A lot of activity, though."

    "I can hear some intership chatter," Mycroft volunteered. "I'm still building a translation matrix, but I think they're organizing repair parties. And trying to repel boarders, of course."

    "Of course." Grunt tried to settle back in his chair. "Dammit, I really hate this part. I wish I'd gone with them."

    "I know how you feel," Roclak said. "However, Shelana made it plain that either one of us would merely get in her way on this mission."

    "I know, I know," Grunt sighed. "Mostly it's not knowing what's going on over there that bothers me. I could live without the fighting part, I really could, I just want to be in command."

    A tense fifteen minutes followed, then the comm panel chirped. "Shelana to Hephaestus. Ready for beamout. Boarding party only." Her voice sounded shaken. "And beam a torpedo to these coordinates as soon as we're out. It's all we can do for the poor TRIBBLE."

    "Bring them home, Rock," Grunt ordered. "Shelana, what happened?"

    "You can debrief me later, sir. Preferably after a few stiff drinks." The last words were accompanied by the parasitic whine of a transporter beam.

    "Should I beam in that torpedo, sir?" Roclak asked.

    "Sure, Rock, but make sure it doesn't go off until we're clear." Grunt turned as the turbolift doors opened, and an ichor-splattered Shelana entered. "Why do we need to blow up the prisoners, Shel?"

    "Because, sir, they're not prisoners any more." She activated the holo display of her tricorder; before her there appeared the shapes of a half-dozen humanoids, covered with fungal growths. "They're food."

    Grunt peered at the images. Six - things - hung there, vaguely humanoid shapes coated with rills and shelves of fungus. Suddenly, one of them moved, its arms rising to paw feebly at its filament-encrusted eyes. Its mouth fell open, a low moan forcing its way past the mushroomlike sprouts inside.

    As the full import of what Grunt was seeing sank in, he shuddered. "Roclak, Zoex, blow that thing to Gre'thor. All weapons, full spread. I don't want anything left here but plasma. Gydap, as soon as they're done, get us the frak out of here. Starbase 39-Sierra."

    Energy beams and torpedoes filled the space between the two ships. As the Elachi craft erupted in flames, the Hephaestus peeled away, twisting space around itself as it sped off into nonspace.
  • cmdrscarletcmdrscarlet Member Posts: 5,137 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    "The are forty-seven!" The gruff Andorian responded to the demand. Kathryn looked forward to face the Nausicaan but looked unfazed by the revelation.

    "My, my. I'm honored you have brought an armada against my lone cruiser. You'll forgive me if I don't tremble in fear."

    The Nausicaan Leaderman bristled at Kathryn's grainy image on his main viewscreen, "Captain Beringer, your presence in our sector is at an end. The fact you are also harboring a traitor will make our victory renown within the Klingon Empire."

    Kathryn smirked, "So, do you want to find me in the asteroid field or should I try to break out?"

    "By all means my dear Captain, I challenge you to attempt an escape." Now Leaderman smiled as wide as his carapace would allow. He signaled his communications officer to break the link and the image altered to one showing the asteroid field his fleet had surrounded. Although his forty-seven ships were the smaller Destroyer Escorts, his numerical advantage was more than enough to defeat a single Federation vessel.

    Leaderman sat into his command chair. "Tacticalman, I want to know when and where that witch appears. Our guns will deliver the killing blow."


    “Senior Officers to the ready room,” Kathryn said calmly toward her badge but briskly walked toward the room. Other officers on the bridge followed suit. Once they settled in their usual seating, Kathryn looked to each of them and stopped at her chief engineer. The Andorian handed his PADD to her.

    She reviewed the information quickly. “Thel, this is not good.”

    The bulky Andorian nodded gravely. “We need to reach Starbase 39-Sierra for replacement parts. Until then, our Aegis shielding is inoperative. We have internal shields and can polarize the hull as a defense, but that’s simply not enough compared to the firepower out there.”

    “Well then, I talked a lot of smack to someone who has the back-up to make me eat my words. Let’s make a miracle or conjure up some magic. I’m open to ludicrous ideas, frankly.”

    There was a moment of silence before Karl Melango spoke up. “What about the asteroids?”

    Hassan's response came quickly, almost talking over Karl’s suggestion. “We could wait the Nausicaans out, but they’ll come to us eventually.”

    Karl persisted, “I mean, why not take the offensive?”

    The newest member of the senior staff, a Vulcan named S’Rel, sat back into her chair. “My apologies Hassan, but I agree with you that a sit-and-wait posture does not improve our chances out of this situation.”

    Karl lowered his head as he decided to wait for others to finish. The Betazoid CMO calmly responded to S’Rel, he baritone voice filling the space between the two Officers. “It may not be the most logical option, but I think it has value to state the most obvious available to us.”

    “Indeed,” S’Rel nodded.

    Kathryn leaned forward. “Karl, what were your thoughts?”

    He looked up and tapped some commands onto the table, activating the wall display, then he stood and pointed to a schematic of the Solaris. “What if we were to manipulate the asteroids around us to become our shielding?”

    Chief Engineer Thel Ytheysi placed a hand on his chin, “Are you suggesting using the Tractor Beams to hold a wall of asteroids around us as we attempt a break out? The stress on the tractor beam emitters would be intense. Our dorsal and ventral flanks would still be exposed.”

    Karl shook his head then looked to Omazei. “Asteroids tend to be solid and large enough to have their own magnetic fields, correct?”

    The Trill Science Chief nodded, then her eyes widened as she made a connection. “Do you mean to control their movement via their magnetic fields?”

    He smiled and introduced the ships artificial field lines over the schematic. “I’m not really sure this will work, honestly. It just came to mind.”

    Omazei smiled wide then she turned to Kathryn. “Actually Captain, the idea has merit. The Transwarp Engine creates a very large magnetic field. We can adjust its size, wave pattern and even rotation to act like a … an … arm.”

    Kathryn smirked. “An arm?”

    Thel spoke up. “I think I see what Omazei means. From Solaris the … arm … would reach out and grab the arm of a nearby asteroid. Both would then move together, the ship being ‘big brother’ holding ‘little brother’ to pull, spin around, or even push.”

    “Exactly!” Karl was excited. “But could we do this with more than one asteroid? If we could have a ring of asteroids surround the ship … maybe even rotate it to accommodate various attack trajectories?”

    First Officer Anthi Ythysi spoke up finally. “Ian, can the main computer handle this type of operation?”

    The Operations Officer responded quickly. “Easily enough on the condition that tertiary systems be shut down. I’ll also need a team from Beta shift to regulate the power flow from the warp core to the main computer conduits on deck seven.”

    "Ask for a miracle, and it will happen.” Kathryn smiled at her officers. “Well done team. The Nausicaan ‘traitor’ needs to get to Federation space and we aim to get him there.”


    A couple of hours passed and the asteroids just floated in place, slowly spinning or bumping into each other without excitement. The bridge crew silently worked at their stations while the ship itself hummed quietly. Leaderman was anxious and he considered ordering the fleet into the field.

    Suddenly, the tactical officer became more animated. "Leaderman, the Pishkar is under attack. Twenty-three point five kelicams on route two-two-seven mark two!"

    Leaderman became alert. "Good. Helmsman, plot a course, full impulse speed. Commsman, alert the fleet and have them vector towards the Pishkar!" The ship's engines thrummed to life and the image on the screen showed the asteroid field zoom away as the ship turned. The Helmsman piloted the ship to fly in a parabolic arc to avoid the field.

    Within several seconds the ship was within visual range of the battle. Many Escorts were involved and a few were burning wrecks. Leaderman expected that: Federation vessels were rarely easy to destroy.

    The white-hulled ship was gracefully circling one Escort and beams of light were exchanged. But while the Starfleet weapons stuck the Nausicaan ship, the Nausicaan's beam struck an asteroid. Several asteroids of various sizes were orbiting the Federation ship, spinning in a ring that itself rotated to intercept incoming beam attacks. As the ship passed other asteroid, it was pulled into the ring to replace the ones that were destroyed. A few Nausicaan beams passed the defense ring and struck directly onto the hull, plating debris trailing the ship.


    The ship rocked from the attacks that passed the defense ring. "Damage report!" Kathryn's knuckles were white on the arm rests as she watched the battle unfold. The asteroid ring was working beautifully and she was impressed. Ian McKinnon told everyone to expect some attacks would be deflected or absorbed, but it still mattered to Kathryn that her ship was taking damage.

    "Hull strength at eighty percent. Structural integrity at eighty-two percent." Thel's report was better than it felt as the ship calmed from the latest attack.

    Karl barked a warning, "One enemy ship closing proximity!"

    Kathryn smirked, "Ian, is the magnetic coupling strong enough to hold asteroids in place if we fly into the path of the enemy?"

    "Yes, Captain, I believe so."

    "Then fly into their path if we can. Anthi, how are the Spiral Wave Disruptors?"

    Anthi grinned, "for their first use in anger, they are working wonders."


    The Escort came too close and Solaris flew closer. The ring of rocks battered the hull until it was breached. Explosions erupted and ripped the ship to pieces as asteroids completed the destruction from the outside. The Federation vessel was like a saw cutting into the Nausicaan ships as they arrived. The scene was utterly against what Leaderman was expecting.

    "How are they able to do that?!"

    The Scienceman did not look away from his console but looked closer at the readouts, "Leaderman, their magnetic field is being used to push and pull the asteroids. They are using it as their shields."

    Leaderman spun on his heels, "I can see that, fool! Weaponsman, fire at will!"

    The battle raged. The lone cruiser effortlessly weaved through the chaos of space combat. Each minute saw more damage to the Nausicaan fleet than they gave to the Starfleet ship, the ring of asteroids being an effective defense. With each Nausicaan ship destroyed, Leaderman's anger and frustration grew. The cruiser was battered and it's bright orange beams lashed out with less frequency, but it did not flee.


    "That's forty-one down." Karl wiped sweat from his brow. He pulled the extinguisher from a side panel and spray against the fire nearby. he placed the canister back into the panel then brushed off debris from his console.

    Kathryn turned to the communications officer. "Lori, any word from the Nausicaans?"

    "No, sir." The blonde human's blue-colored uniform was tattered fro the fall she took earlier in the battle. Bruising was evident at her shoulders.

    "Thel, What about the ship?"

    "Structural Integrity down to thirty-five percent. I'll need a couple of hours to bring warp power online because there is a theta radiation leak on the port nacelle. I'm venting it out but this fight needs to end soon."

    "Ian, how's the ring holding up?"

    He tapped a few controls on his console. "Solaris is a tank. The Warp Core is stable and so is the field."

    Kathryn nodded. "Okay. Let's see if they have had enough. Open a channel." She waited for Lori's signal. "This is Captain Beringer of the USS Solaris. Enough is enough. Surrender now before it's get worse."


    Leaderman did not reply. He sat in disbelief and counted the remaining ships of his fleet: five plus his own. He looked around the bridge. Three wounded, two dead, and himself unscathed with every console is disarray. Switching to the live feed, he looked at the cruiser. Its white hull dimmed with several scars, fires burning within some sores. One nacelle coughing a green-colored cloud but one thing seemed unchanged ... that damned swirling ring of rocks. All ships were motionless and surrounded by the debris of the destroyed Escorts.

    Leaderman was breathing heavily. The Nausicaan traitor must not get to Federation space, but the way this battle was fought so far, Leaderman was desperate. He stabbed a button on his command chair, "All ships, attack!" Releasing the button, he stood and pushed the dying Helmsman away from the console. Sitting, he paused above the controls and watched the last of his fleet slowly die. His plan was less exciting, but more glorious. It was all that was left.

    A second Escort was thrown against another asteroid and exploded. Leaderman activated the engines, full impulse, straight toward the cruiser. He watched as another Escort was cut in two by a bright orange beam. Each half detonated, showering the local space with burning flotsam. Halfway to the cruiser, a third Escort spun away from the fight as one of its engines went dark, the warp core was ejected as it exploded, tearing the ship apart.


    Kathryn expected the final move. "Karl -"

    "Already on it, sir!"


    A few kelicams away and the cruiser slowly banked away from Leaderman's ramming Escort. He smiled at the thought that Captain Beringer was indeed a coward, then he saw the asteroids used as a protective ring fly away in every direction. One boulder heading straight for his ship.

    At the speed his ship was traveling, he couldn't steer away fast enough and couldn't even see the last moments of his forty-seven years of life.
  • patchouli19patchouli19 Member Posts: 15 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    U.S.S. Aviator, En route to the Briar Patch

    Captain's Log Stardate 86532.96:

    It has been three days since the Briar Patch was lost to the Interstellar Concordium. Reports indicate that the Grand Admiral of the Concordium's Pacification Army, Jyromec Crostier, led a fleet of ten ships into Federation space and took over the Briar Patch in less than twenty-four hours. Even though this was an embarrassing defeat to Starfleet and its allies, we are not going to go down that easily.

    The 103rd Fleet is being sent to launch a counteroffensive strike against the Concordium occupation of the Briar Patch and try to recover as much territory as we possibly can. Word has it that the 204th Rescue and Recovery Fleet will also be sending in ships of their own, so I'm hoping that this will be done swiftly and with as little bloodshed as possible. But seeing that this is the Interstellar Concordium we're getting ready to face, we should be ready for anything; especially a fight.

    Captain Ronald Scott sighed, sitting deeper in his ready room chair. The Klingons, the Interstellar Concordium, the looming threat of the Iconians. These were trying times. Although the Klingons may have been slowing down their attacks lately, the Concordium was picking up for their slack in spades. No one saw them coming, but the brutal attack on the Pilatus III Romulan colony, the complete takeover of the Briar Patch, and the repeated attacks on nearby Federation outposts made them clearly known. The Federation worlds are starting to get scared, and Scott couldn't blame them. Despite that, he knew it was his duty as a Starfleet Captain to make sure these people were protected. Not only from the Concordium, but from any threat that may arise.

    The door to his ready room hissed open, standing there was Commander Zedona Neadr, "Mind if I come in, Sir?"

    Looking up, the tired wrinkles on Scott's face vanished, "Oh, of course, Commander."

    Motioning to the seat in front of him, he said, "Here, take a seat."

    As Zedona sat down, Scott examined her. She was rolling her shoulders, tapping her fingers together. Although her face remained stoic, the way she twitched her neck suggested otherwise.

    "So, Commander," Scott said, "what do you need?"

    Zedona twitched her neck, again, "Well, I just want to ask a small question."

    "Ask away," Scott responded holding up his hands.

    Zedona leaned backwards, clasping her palms together, "Well, it's just that we're going into a tough situation here, Captain," she sighed, "Sir, It's only been a week since the Aviator has been commissioned and the crew is just recovering from their 'aftermath' of Risa. I mean, I know this is an Excelsior class starship, and I remember from experience how tough they can be. But are you sure we're ready for something like this? This is the Interstellar Concordium we're going up against, a galactic superpower that held its ground against the Dominion to the point where they actually signed a nonaggression pact."

    The Betazoid took a deep breath before hastily adding, "Sir..."

    Scott took a good long look at the Betazoid in front of him, smiling as he shook his head slightly, "That wasn't exactly what I'd call a small question, but you took a good time thinking about that, didn't you, hm?"

    She brushed some of her crimson locks aside, blushing slightly, "A little..."

    Scott gave a knowing nod, "Well, Commander, I'm glad you're taking your position seriously. Getting this kind of ground with your commanding officer is good for you."

    Zedona smirked, "Why thank you, Captain."

    "Now, as for the Concordium," Scott sighs, "Everyone's on the edge with this, and I wouldn't expect any different. What happened three days ago was...frightening. Having a piece of our homeland invaded and taken away from us like that hurt. But we need to let the Concordium know that we will not break. We're strong, we will stay strong, and we're going to let them know here and now."

    Zedona quirked a small smile, "Well, I'm glad to hear that, but," she sighed deeply, "that's not all."

    Scott nodded, "Alright, go ahead."

    Zedona took a moment, piecing her words together, "Sir, they...it's just..."

    Scott nodded, listening intently to his first officer, "It's a little unnerving. The Concordium, they marched into our space less than a skeleton of a fleet, yet no one even saw them. No trace of a warp trail, nothing! Even Starfleet Intelligence itself is baffled."

    She shook her head, and sighed "Captain, I just have a feeling that something big is happening, and we're probably going to experience the brunt of it."

    Scott crossed his arms, thinking about what the Commander just said. Those exact same doubts, they were rising within him.

    "I know," she continued, "it's just a little paranoia. My first time having a position of command like this, and we're going into a pretty big combat situation. So I'll just calm down and..."

    Scott held up his hand, "No, Commander, it's all right. These are some pretty legitimate things you brought up, and you have a full right to feel this way. How about we..."

    Before he could finish his sentence, Scott's combadge chirped, a female voice soon emitting from it, "Bridge to Captain Scott, we are arriving at our destination."

    The Captain stood up from his seat, "On my way."

    He looked down his first officer, "Well, Commander, it was nice speaking with you. How about we pick up on this later, hm?"

    Nodding, Zedona stood up from her seat, "I'd like that, Sir."

    The two of them made their way out of the Captain's ready room, Zedona following her commanding officer's lead.

    The bridge was silent. Time was hanging like a string, and Fate was dangling it over the head of Scott as he took his seat.

    "Take us out of warp, Lieutenant," Scott said.

    The Caitian woman at the helm, R'Elama, nodded, "Aye, Sir."

    The streaking stars on the viewsceen slowed to a halt, revealing the massive Federation fleet before them, sitting just on the edge of the cloudy orange Briar Patch.

    "Sir," R'Elama said, "Admiral Devoc of the Fantasy Nature is hailing us."

    "On screen."

    The image of busy Galaxy class bridge popped up before the Captain, in its canter sat a sharp Vulcan man, "Admiral Devoc, I hope we didn't keep you waiting."

    "Captain," The Admiral replied, his face showing almost as much emotion as a passive aggressive brick, "this is a serious matter. I would appreciate it if you keep your humor to a minimum until we recover the Briar Patch."

    Scott sighed, "Yes, Admiral."

    "Very good, now allow me to brief you on our current strategy."

    "I'm all ears, Admiral."

    The Vulcan quirked an eyebrow, almost questioning the Captain's idiom, but quickly dismissed that thought, "Our plan is, simple. We now have a fleet of forty seven ships. Compared to the ten ships the Interstellar Concordium currently has in the Briar Patch, we should be able to easily negotiate a surrender. However, with the Concordium's history of resistance, I will be assigning you to Task Force Epsilon. Your orders are to, under any and every circumstance, reach the Ba'ku homeworld, evacuate as many civilians as you possibly can, and bring them to Starbase 39. Am I clear?"

    Scott nodded, "Understood, Sir."

    "Very well. Fantasy Nature out."

    Scott leaned back in his Captain's chair, "Alright then," he said, nodding to Zedona, "looks like we have our work cut out for us, hm."

    "I'm receiving the battle plans now, Sir," R'Elama announced.

    "Excellent," Scott replied, "keep me informed. I want to know..."

    A loud beeping emitted from R'Elama's station, "Sir, I'm picking up on a small group of ships exiting the Briar Patch. Preliminary scans indicting that they are Concordium."

    Zedona quirked an eyebrow, "Concordium? Are they...leaving?"

    "Unlikely, Sir," R'Elama quipped, "they're moving into attack positions."

    Scott rubbed his chin, casting a quizzical glance to the Caitian woman, "Attack positions with ten ships?"

    This time, the science officer, Sula, spoke up, "That's not exactly the case, Sir. I'm picking up on thirty ships," she sighed, "and they're not all Concordium."

    The Captain's heart sank, "Explain, Lieutenant," he said half-heartedly.

    Her sharp grey eyes scanned the console before her, "I'm reading approximately twenty Concordium ships. One dreadnought; several escorts, cruisers, et cetera. But the most damning thing is ..." she looked up to the Captain, "the rest of the fleet is Breen."

    Silence. The words of the half-Vulcan seemed to drop a bomb on the bridge. Everyone was casting concerned glances at each other.

    It was the Captain that finally cut it, "The Breen..."

    Zedona followed suit, "They just couldn't sit aside, could they? They saw the Concordium deal us a biting blow, and they wanted a piece of the action."

    Scott's eyes narrowed, "Then they're going to get it first hand. R'Elama, do we have a tactical analysis on the dreadnought?"

    "It's not just any dreadnought, Sir," she replied, "latest reports are coming in, it's the Conordium's flagship, the D.R.N. Valoor."

    "All the better," he shot, "then we'll give those Concordium dirtbags something to talk about on the way home. Do we have a tactical analysis on it?"

    "Aye, Sir."

    Scott braced himself as R'Elama began to list off the Valoor's attributes, "Primary and secondary resilient shielding, sixty anti-proton banks, twenty-three plasma torpedo launchers, five plasmatic pulsar devices, ten hangers..."

    The Captain refused to let himself slump down, he needed to remain strong. His crew needed him, no matter how horrifying this monster facing them may be.

    "Captain," Sula said from behind, "we're receiving a broadcast message from the Valoor. Should I pick up?"

    Scott nodded, "Open a channel."

    Almost instantly, the sound of a clearly esteemed voice came up on the intercom, "Impertinent Federation resistance, this is Grand Admiral Jyromec Crostier of the D.R.N. Valoor. Our demand should be simple, and reasonable, enough: your immediate surrender and conformity to the Interstellar Concordium. Failure to do so will result in total eradication. Your superior numbers are meaningless not only to the Concordium, but to our Breen allies as well. We are anticipating your answer."

    As the comm ended, Scott gave a short sigh, "I bet they are."

    R'Elama looked back, "Captain, I've just received a message from the Fantasy Nature. We're going to engage the Concordium. Escort Group Bravo will be escorting our task force into the Briar Patch."

    Scott clasped his hands, "Alright! Red alert, raise shields and ready weapons! Helm, set a course to the Briar Patch, full impulse."

    "Aye, Sir!"

    Klaxons flared and the ambience of the bridge lit up. The deck rocked beneath the crew's feet as the fleets exchanged heavy fire. Ruby beams leap from the Aviator's saucer, striking a strafing Concordium destroyer. As the small crescent shaped craft broke its run, a neighboring cruiser blasted the Excelsior with its crimson-black beams, crashing through her shields and burning the hull.

    "Starboard shields down to fifty-eight percent! Injuries reported on decks seven and eight!"

    "Maneuver Scott delta three!" Scott shouted, "Get us away from those cruisers!" He slammed his fist on the arm of his chair, "And where are those damned escorts?!"

    A nearby explosion rocked the ship as a Defiant class ship flew through the remains of the aggressing Concordium cruiser, not hesitating to give a show for the Aviator's crew.

    Zedona gave a relieved smile, "I think that'll be them."

    Scott couldn't help but let out a small laugh himself, "And not a moment to soon, hm..."

    "Sir, our escort is hailing us," R'Elama said, "it's the Patriot."

    Scott chuckled internally. Good old McMillan, who else would it be? Putting off a show like that, "On screen."

    The Defiant bridge's image plastered onto the Aviator's viewscreen with Captain McMillan in the center, "Captain Scott, sorry we took so long. It's a little packed here."

    "Heh, you're telling me," Scott replied, "we were taking quite the punishment until you got here."

    McMillan chuckled, "Well, I do have a habit of arriving in the nick of time," she said with a wink.

    "So, anyone else joining this fray, hm?"

    "The Opportunity and the Castillo should be arriving any moment here," McMillan replied, "in the meantime, how about we get this bandwagon rolling?"

    "Way ahead of you," Scott said, "Aviator out."

    The Patriot's bridge vanished from the viewscreen, giving way to the scene of an Oslo and a Steamrunner class firing barrages of photon torpedoes and phaser bursts on an intercepting Breen cruiser.

    "It looks like the Opportunity and Castillo have arrived, Sir," R'Elama announced.

    "Alright," Scott said, his hands wringing together, "continue our course to the Briar Patch. Ready transphasic torpedoes, we may need them soon enough."

    "Aye, Sir."

    The group of cruisers and their escort continued their flight, continuing their trek through the Concordium and Breen fleet. However, they didn't go unnoticed. A nearby Concordium cruiser fired a duo of golden beams, scanning one of the Excalibur cruisers. The beams met, and soon after the Federation ship was ripped apart by a trio of horrifyingly strong waves of plasma.

    "Sir," R'Elama shouted over the chaos of the Aviator's bridge, "we've lost the Swan Song!"

    "Keep moving," Zedona shouted back, "we can't stop now!"

    Scott's hands formed into fists, his knuckles ghost white, "Maneuver Scott delta one. Keep us away from any guidance beams."

    "Aye, Sir."

    He looked over to Zedona, "You're right, but we don't want to get hit by one of those plasmatic pulsar devices, hm. Otherwise we'll be getting to the Ba'ku homeworld in pieces."

    Zedona nodded, her cheeks almost as red as her hair, "Right..."

    "Don't worry about it, Commander," Scott said back with a smile, "just gotta stay on your toes around the Concordium."

    The bridge of the Valoor was live with chatter. Officers all over the bridge shouted status reports and other important information on the chaos developing around the Interstellar Concordium's flagship. Forty seven of the Federation's best captains were sent here. They were arrogant, hoping for an easy surrender yet secretly fishing for an excuse to "pull their triggers." But instead they merely be examples. Examples of how their days of blind barbarism were coming to an end.

    "Prepare the enveloping plasmatic pulse," he said, his large lips twisting slightly, "fire on my command."

    "Yes, Sir!"

    A deep blue hue flooded the bridge, the deck jostling slightly as the Valoor's wide wings began to spread vertically.

    Back on the Aviator, Sula scanned her console. Something wasn't right, "Sir...something's going on."

    "You're going to have to be more specific than that, Lieutenant," Scott replied.

    "The Valoor's wing's are undergoing a geometric shift, Captain."

    "A geometric shift?"

    "Yes, Sir. The Valoor's wings have separated into several vanes, spreading approximately forty-seven degrees in the last thirty seconds."

    Sula's station emitted a series of loud beeps, "Sir! The wing tips, they're emitting numerous guidance beams!"

    "On screen."

    The image of the Valoor painted the viewscreen. Intimidating could be a word to describe the scene, but that would be a catastrophic understatement. It was like a giant curved spider spinning a conical golden web.

    Within that spider, the Pronhoulite helmsman nodded his light green saurian head, "Guidance beams are set, plasma charge is ready," he turned toward the Grand Admiral, "we are ready to fire on your word, Sir."

    Jyromec tilted his amphibian head back, reflective black eyes narrowing at the viewscreen, only one word was needed now and there was no need to add more to it, "Fire."

    "Captain!" R'Elama cried, her feline eyes wide.

    But she was to late. An enormous wave of plasma crashed through the fleet of Federation ships in front of the Valoor, leaving behind a wake of burning devastation.

    Scott stood from his chair, shaky legs just barely supporting himself, "My God..."

    The bridge of the Aviator fell into silence. Nobody knew what to say, what to do. Scott could literally feel the eyes of his bridge crew pinning themselves onto him. He sank back down onto his chair, "Status report..."

    R'Elama tapped her console, "Shields down to thirty-three percent, phaser relays are functioning at fifty-six percent, we're down to thirty transphasic torpedoes and sixty-one photon torpedoes. Sensors indicating that the Patriot, Avalon, Merlin, Castillo, and Opportunity are still with us. It also appears that Concordium corvettes are beginning to take up patrols within the fleet."

    "How long until we reach the Briar Patch?"

    "We will enter in less than five minutes."

    Scott nodded feverishly, "Bring us in, Lieutenant."

    "Aye, Sir."

    And thus began the longest five minute journey Scott ever experienced.

    We will finish our mission, he thought to himself, no matter what. Those lives lost to the Interstellar Concordium will not be lost in vain.


    Scott looked to his first officer, "Yes, Commander?"

    She never took her eyes off the viewscreen, "You know what I said earlier, about something big was going to happen?"

    Scott nodded and Zedona continued, "Sir, before we do anything in the Briar Patch, I think it would be a good idea if we organize a meeting between our commanding officers. Something happened, thirty ships don't suddenly appear out of nowhere, and especially not a mixed fleet!"

    Scott nodded, "That is a good idea, Commander, but first I want to make sure we hold a meeting with the senior officers once we enter the Briar Patch. Right now we have to make sure we at least get that far."

    "Yes, Sir."

    They sat back in their seats, waiting to finally reach the orange cloud before them.
  • gulberatgulberat Member Posts: 5,505 Arc User
    edited August 2013
    The Tales of Alyosha Strannik:
    "Going Through the Motions"

    There are 47 ships of varying classes and sizes docked inside and immediately outside Earth Spacedock. I know not just from reviewing the Chin'toka's scans, but I've had time to scrutinize them all through the windows as I wait for the Board of Inquiry to hand down its final ruling on the loss of the USS Indomitable. It's scheduled for this afternoon--but until then there's nothing I can do but wait here on ESD.

    One of those ships is the USS Akellen Macet, commanded by Vice Admiral Tayben Berat, the 77th Fleet's second-in-command under Admiral ch'Harrell. The Macet is one of the few, if not the only Federation starship named after a member of a foreign military--and even more unusual given that the Cardassians are sometimes known to bestow such an honor while the honoree still lives.

    The gold-ochre-copper patterns emblazoned across the Vesta-class starship's hull are even more striking. These are Cardassian colors. The familiar Starfleet shades of moonlit silver are still there, but the ship's unique identity is plain to all.

    Its commander, Berat, began his Starfleet service as an exchange officer--an ensign--but back home on Cardassia, he'd held a commission as a senior gul. Then came the Vega crisis. Faced with the obliteration of his assigned ship's command staff at the hands of an altered group of Borg, Berat had used his extensive Cardassian training and experience to take command and fend off the assault.

    Desperately short of manpower, the exchange officer suddenly found himself dual-commissioned as both Starfleet captain and Cardassian gul, a position only permitted given that treaty stipulations made the Cardassian Defense Force something of a subordinate branch of Starfleet. Berat is now the highest-ranking Cardassian in Starfleet and the unofficial liaison between Starfleet and the CDF.

    But his extensive list of duties doesn't stop him from taking good care of the 77th--including coming down here to ESD to testify in person on the after-action reports I submitted after the destruction of the Indomitable.

    Berat approaches me from behind. I've never known for sure if Admiral Berat is cleared to know my species, but he shows no surprise when I turn around to greet him before he announces his presence. Perhaps this doesn't seem unusual to the Cardassian, given his own people's bioelectric sense...a sense that from what I've read almost seems like a faint echo of my own neuroelectric sense, but far less powerful and less specialized.

    The Cardassian wears one of the 25th-century vice admiral's coats--black, trimmed in Sciences blue that plays off of his robin's-egg blue eyes, but the combination of the formal admiral's belt and gold-striped trousers gives the impression of something truly military--something very twentieth, twenty-first century Earth. Designs of a similar nature were considered at one point for the entire service in the middle of the 23rd century, but discarded as "too military." For Berat, as for many Cardassians, hiding from the military nature Starfleet has always had, and must now embrace if we wish to survive, is distasteful--so now, in his unique position, he doesn't shy away from that part of his service and his identity.

    Berat offers a polite Cardassian inclination of the head--the respectful greeting of superior to subordinate. Nor can I sense his emotions, even if I try. Cardassian mental disciplines at their strongest forbid even a Vulcan mind meld; I, with my much weaker telepathy, don't stand a chance. His tone, however, is warm. "Captain Strannik...it's good to see you. I know these are never good circumstances..."

    I nod. Berat is a veteran of the Dominion War and the Cardassian Rebellion...he's seen a staggering number of ship losses, not to mention the other horrors inflicted upon Cardassia by the Dominion.

    "At times like this," Berat admitted, "I don't understand Starfleet. This sort of procedure seems more appropriate for a training accident or peacetime loss. Not for a time of war. The Defense Forces would have passed summary judgment on this a long time ago. I told them that the evidence was clear, your reports not in doubt, and I considered the matter closed as far as the 77th was concerned."

    "Thank you for your confidence, sir. And for coming here in person."

    "It's no trouble," Admiral Berat replied. "I was due to deliver a report on the New Romulus initiative; it wasn't hard to get my arrival schedule pushed up by a week."

    I eagerly accept the opening to get off the oppressive subject of the Board. "How has that been going?"

    Berat returns an easygoing grin. Like a Vulcan, the Cardassian's face doesn't betray his years as it would for a human, and you'd never know the man was over seventy. No...that look was almost boyish on his young-seeming face. "Quite well, for the most part. I mean, considering the fact that 'everybody and their mother' is trying to interfere with the Republic, as you'd say.

    "I can't be there as often as I'd like, but I'm finding that once the Mol'Rihannsu get used to the idea of a Cardassian being around, we actually get along quite well most of the time. My main research area is at the Atlai River, but I get called to the main staging area to speak with some of the Mol'Rihannsu workers there. To tell them what I've seen on Cardassia. What we've fought against, what we've accomplished in spite of the Dominion. And in spite of ourselves."

    For a moment, a hint of bitterness creeps into Berat's voice. "You should hear the inane chatter some of the Starfleet officers think is going to inspire them. 'Your work is so important,' 'look sharp'...such blatant platitudes. No offense to you, Strannik. But the Romulans aren't stupid; it's obvious to them when some sheltered soul just doesn't have a clue. I tell them the truth. I tell them that we're still fighting the True Way. That Cardassia and her worlds are still scarred. But that we're still there, and things are better than they were thirty years ago. And that the Federation has honored its obligations."

    There isn't much I can say to that. My own country had a history something like that once--generations of an oppressive regime followed by fitful starts at democracy and the near disintegration of our hopes between twin spectres of corruption and powerlust. Freedom had come with a bitter taste for quite some time after the hammer and sickle fell for the last time over the Kremlin.

    But I also knew better than to act as though I'd lived those days. I'd "slept" through the whole thing beneath San Francisco, and then some. The Russia I knew had this as part of its history, yes, and we studied our history and the lessons it afforded us. It informed our heritage, yes, and I had especially heard it as my foster father vented at the borderline illegal nature of Admiral T'Nae's recent conduct in St. Petersburg.

    The fact was we were centuries distant from that time, with over two spent as part of United Earth. I'd read and watched eyewitness accounts from back then, and though they and I shared much, not I, nor my foster parents, nor even their parents or grandparents had the kind of personal experiences that Admiral Berat did. Listening to Berat was just like listening to one of those historical recordings. It struck a familiar chord with me, for sure, but I couldn't sing the exact same note no matter how much I matched my pitch with his.

    So I accept Berat's words with a respectful silence.

    Finally I speak again. "I understand you've had Commander Redmond with you. How is she progressing?"

    Admiral Berat smiles. "It's not easy for her, but I am definitely seeing her take more chances in interacting with strangers. Getting to know people. The Mol'Rihannsu have been gracious, for the most part. I think maybe she's starting to learn that anybody who's actually paying attention will get to know her for what she is, and not just what she looks like."

    Berat's chief engineer was one of the earliest victims of irreversible assimilation--she'd been a green ensign out of the Academy serving on the Enterprise-E during the Battle of Sector 001, when the Borg had captured her. Remarkably she'd survived the destruction of the Queen aboard the Enterprise. While her brief imprisonment had left her identity fully intact, she'd been an experimental prototype...a hint of the grotesque types of assimilation the Borg use today. And Dr. Crusher hadn't been able to do a damned thing for her...not one implant could be removed, not one strand of DNA rewritten.

    She'd taken a long leave of absence, but eventually returned to Starfleet as the Borg threat re-emerged. Aboard her own ship Redmond had earned the respect of her colleagues, but understandably had remained painfully shy when it came to dealing with outsiders. Those who saw a Borg and could not or would not accept that they were dealing with an individual who was still culturally human. And her own self-perceptions.

    "It's good to hear the Mol'Rihannsu have been so understanding," I said. "And I think that speaks well to the type of republic D'Tan wants to create."

    "It does. That, and she and Counselor Zalor really seem to be making some headway. I think working with a Cardassian helped. Someone who doesn't see her skin tone as something...undead. She's helping Commander Redmond to judge herself not by human ideals, but by something unique. Something that's just her. She's used a wig and some Cardassian techniques to come up with a look that's a bit more livable."

    I had to admit, it was ingenious. I would never have made the connection between the grey-skinned Cardassians and certain of the Liberated Borg...not to mention that an immutable appearance wasn't exactly part of my personal experience. "I'm happy for her," I replied sincerely. "But that reminds me...have you heard anything from Gul Tassok lately?"

    Berat folded his hands behind his back and nodded, staring out the window from Starship Requisitions at the Macet and the other starships inside. He didn't look at me as he answered, "I have. He made good on his word, and retired immediately. He's still in the Draylon system, though. It's...going to be a long haul with his daughter's recovery. The first time they dropped the forcefield between the two of them, she tried to assimilate him."

    "Oh, no..." Had I been wrong in my impression that there was something still in her besides a mindless mechanized zombie?

    "From what I'm told, it's not uncommon. There's still a chance. According to Gul Tassok, the last time he visited her, he was at least able to be in the room without her getting violent. We can only hope for small steps at this point, but at least that was one."

    "She's in my prayers," I replied.

    The Cardassian nodded respectfully.

    Then my commbadge chirped. "Captain Strannik, report to Conference Room 2."

    It was time.

    For me it was a victory of sorts. While I hadn't been facing any charges of my own, per se, Admiral T'Nae had made it quite clear through her tone and conduct that my actions and behavior had been just as much under scrutiny as Captain Sengupta's. But now, as I stood and faced the three-admiral panel, with Admiral Berat on his feet at my side, I allowed myself to breathe a sigh of relief. I was neither to be charged nor reprimanded for my actions--no matter how much I had reprimanded myself for not having spoken a few critical seconds sooner, when Sengupta might still have listened to my warning about the transwarp interdictor waiting at our destination.

    Unfortunately Captain Sengupta's record beyond the grave would bear the marks of this: the official cause of the Indomitable's demise was to be listed as a combination of enemy action and captain error.

    It was all I could do not to visibly shake my head at that. True, Sengupta had rushed too eagerly into battle, but to have put the surviving officers through this, for his family to be told a thing like that about the one they loved...especially at a time of war when the Indian captain had been ready to lay down his life for the Federation...Admiral...Gul Berat was right. The whole thing had been a pointless exercise.

    T'Nae cracked the gavel and announced the adjournment of the Board as Admiral Berat stared coolly, levelly back at her.

    Then the Cardassian turned to me and muttered under his breath, "Let's go."

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  • malkarrismalkarris Member Posts: 797 Arc User
    edited August 2013
    When the Tholian's programmed the food replicators for their humanoid "servants," they only included 47 items, numbered of course, so there was no telling what it was until you tried it. And of course, you were only allowed one meal per break. I suppose that I was lucky when I commanded a starship, I could program more, but I never learned the names of many foods. So when this human captain from the future sat me down in his cabin, and asked me what I wished to eat, I had no idea. At the time I didn't think it mattered.

    The Human, Captain Walker, came back to the table, setting a dish of food like I had never seen in front of me, and another plate of it for himself. "I checked with the ship?s doctor, you should be able to digest this."

    I watched him as he picked up a fork and speared it into the white mess of worm like things, covered in red sauce and white flakes, with large round masses of what I thought were some kind of flesh. Twirling the fork around, he lifted a bundle of the worms to his mouth and ate it. Before he could notice I hadn't touched my food, I aped him, managing to not create a mess and get some of the worms down my throat. It wasn't bad. "What do you call this?" I asked.

    "Spaghetti and meatballs," he replied. "The replicator doesn't do a bad job, but you should have homemade."

    I nodded, wondering when he would change. They usually did.

    "I feel I owe you this much at least..." he trailed off, looking old. I doubted he would hurt me, perhaps he simply wanted company, but I wished he would hurry along. Still the dance he had started had to play out.

    "You do not owe me anything. I still don't understand why you did not send me back to me own timeline as you said you would." Something I shouldn?t have asked in the dance, but it slipped out.

    He sighed. "I suppose I owe you that as well. Without your help we would not have been able to send the Enterprise C back to its place in history." He looked at me, and I felt uncommon warmth inside. "You don't seem to have had a good life in this timeline, judging by what our medical scans found."

    I shrugged, slightly confused now, the dance changing into a form I didn't know. "It could have been worse I suppose."

    "You expect me to take you to my bed."

    The bluntness of it shocked me. "I..."

    "I'm not going to. I'm not going to hurt you any more than you already have been." He looked me in the eyes, and I saw his were old, so very old. "According to our readings, you don't exist in any other time line in any form. It happens sometimes, not as often as one might think. Most beings will still exist in some form, somewhere. But not you. If you weren't protected by this ships temporal shielding, you would cease to exist. And by the rules I follow, that would be right."

    I swallowed in fear. "Then why did you bring me here?"

    He looked down. "Three years ago, I had to correct another fault in the timeline. To do that, I had to destroy a world, a world filled with people that did not exist, should not have existed. If I didn't, the time I come from would never have existed, and the time that replaced it would have been infinitely worse." He looked up, eyes boring into mine so much that I barely noticed the tears tracking down his cheeks. "I had no choice, you understand. A universe of life depended on me. A single planet is nothing in comparison."

    I stared at this human in front of me, filled with fear of him, and pity for him.

    "My crew thinks that I am here to give you a last meal before I turn off the temporal shielding, to give a bit of light into your life before it never happened. They think I am sentimental like that."

    "Are you?" I asked, so confused and filled with conflicting emotions that I do not sound afraid, or angry, or caring. I simply was.

    "What is your name," he asked in reply.

    "Kobobo," I said.

    He gently took my head between his hands, avoiding my spines as he kissed my forehead gently. "I never had children Kobobo," he said, and then everything went white.

    "Captain," said the rogue Gorn at my helm. "We have arrived on station. The I.K.S. Moon's Dark Side is waiting for us."

    I glanced to him, then back down to the padd I have on General Molia. She is said to be fair, but has a reputation of trying to seduce anyone who serves with her. Still she is my best bet to obtaining the supplies I need. "Send a hail, and ask which ship she would like to conduct negotiations on."

    The dishonored Klingon at the comm board bent to my task, and I prepared to leave the bridge, when I noticed a note at the bottom of the report.

    "I never had children Kobobo, because the world they were on never existed. Have a good life, my second daughter."

    Your father in spirit

    I looked at the note in confusion, not remembering how it got there. I reached to erase it, but changed my mind and sent it to my personal files. It was not written for me. I had no father, of course, I was born out of an artifical womb, like any Jem'Hadar, thought no other Jem'Hadar was female like I. And no father, no being of any kind had helped me when I found this ship, gathered a crew, rose to prominence as a raider until the Klingons and Starfleet had taken notice, until I had to choose a side for protection. No one had guided me to find Molia as a being I could work under, at least I hoped so.

    No I had no father. But it was nice to think otherwise sometimes.

    "General Molia will welcome you on her ship," the Klingon smiled. "She says you may come armed if you wish."

    I nodded. "Contact the senior officers and have them report to transporter room one, I will met them there."

    The Klingon nodded, and I went to the lift, fingering my disruptor pistol at my side. I didn't think Molia would betray us, but it would not hurt to be cautious. As the lift wisked me towards the transporter room, I wondered if they would have any Terran dishes to eat. I rather liked spaghetti and meatballs, even out of a replicator, but of course homemade was better.
    Joined September 2011
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  • ambassadormolariambassadormolari Member Posts: 709 Arc User
    edited August 2013
    ]Captain's Log, Stardate 8572311

    The Archimedes has been sent to investigate the disappearance of the U.S.S. Blackstone, following that ship's loss of communications about two weeks ago. According to Starfleet Intelligence, the Blackstone was on a scientific expedition into the Kython system when it went off the grid. Given the presence of Klingon patrols in the region, Starfleet Command feels it is most likely that the ship was destroyed by the enemy. While I acknowledge the possibility of a Klingon attack, I have my doubts. The Kython system is an area of space that most regional traders seem to avoid, for reasons that have never been determined. While I am not about to pay credit to the superstitions of traders, I cannot help but feel that something other than the Klingons may account for the Blackstone's disappearance...

    "...there...are...forty-seven..." the voice on the comms rasped. "...there...are...forty-seven..."

    The voice muttered the same words, over and over again, as the looped message played on the audio system. It was a man's voice, weary with exhaustion and dread, speaking the words as though for a recitation. The message was laced with the sinister crackle of electromagnetic interference, and something about the whole sound of it made the skin on the back of Arkos' neck go cold as he gazed silently at the viewscreen. There, rotating lifelessly in the middle of an asteroid belt, was the triangular shape of an Aurora-class science vessel, its glossy steel hull reflecting the starlight and the not-too-distance Kython sun. There were no lights on that ship, no glowing engine strata or glimmering pulse on its main reflector. The U.S.S. Blackstone floated dead and lifeless in space, almost indistinguishable from the asteroids it floated amidst.

    Dead and lifeless, that was, except for the signal it was broadcasting.


    At the Ops station, Lieutenant Farim Meru tapped her console and cut the signal. "As far as I can tell, sir, the message is being broadcast through auxiliary systems," she said. "It's possible it might even be broadcast by a portable generator within the ship itself, given how weak the signal is."

    Next to Arkos, Commander K'Nera Shras leaned forward, her antennae twitching as though tasting the tension in the air. If she was as perturbed by all of this as Arkos was, then the Andorian was doing her best not to show it. "Can we I.D. the speaker?" she asked.

    Farim ran another diagnosis, and quickly nodded. "Voice records confirm the speaker as Captain Knut Henriksen, commanding officer, U.S.S. Blackstone," she said. "Sensors are not indicating any signs of tampering or falsification."

    K'Nera frowned. "What about the interference? Can you pinpoint the source of it?"

    "Yes, Commander. Radiation feedback from the Kython sun and heavy magnetic interference from the asteroids are probably distorting the original message." The dusk-skinned Bajoran woman looked up from her console and stared warily at the dead ship. "It's also possible, Commander, that something else may have fragmented the original message."

    Arkos took a deep breath as he leaned back in his seat. The more he learned about the Blackstone's present state, the less he found himself liking it. "How about life signs?" he asked. "Sann?"

    At her own console, the Archimedes' chief science officer, Neazri Sann, did a quick sensor sweep. The Trill woman quickly shook her head. "No sir," she said, "no life signs aboard. Given the interference, though, I can't tell if that means they're dead or missing."

    The news sent an icy chill down Arkos' spine. A dead ship, a missing crew, and an ominous signal being broadcast on audio playback. This was beginning to sound more and more like one of those horror films that the Humans were so fond of. He had never liked those films, personally. They were all too...irrational.

    "There are forty-seven," he repeated to himself, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. "There are forty-seven what? Enemy ships? Boarders? Remaining crew members?"

    At a Tactical station, Lieutenant Brax did a quick diagnostic of his own. "I'm not reading any damage to the Blackstone, sir," the Ferengi said, "and I don't see any evidence of weapons discharge on its hull or the surrounding asteroids either. Whatever happened here, I think we can rule out a battle."

    That confirmed one of Arkos' suspicions, at least. Whatever had happened to the Blackstone, it wasn't Klingons. He straightened up in his chair. He and his crew had stumbled onto a mystery, and now he was all the more determined to solve it. There was a rational explanation behind all of this, he knew, and he was itching to find out what it was.

    "It seems we aren't going to find any answers unless we go onto the ship and dig for it ourselves." he glanced at the ship's security chief. "Mr. Brax, prepare an away team to board the Blackstone. Advise them that you will be dealing with a potentially hostile environment, and that no chances are to be taken. I will join you in Transporter Room One shortly."

    K'Nera turned and raised an eyebrow at Arkos. "Sir, you're going down in person?" There was aggravation, rather than surprise, in her tone. K'Nera had had to deal with Arkos' adventurous nature before.

    He simply flashed her a smile. "I don't see why not, Commander. There's a mystery down on that ship, and I'm very keen to unravel it."

    The Andorian gave Arkos a disapproving frown. "Sir, with all due respect, the Captain of a ship can't risk his life in every single away mission. You're many things, sir, but James T. Kirk you are not."

    Arkos gave her a sour frown. This always happened: whenever Arkos wanted to do something in person, K'Nera would invoke rules and protocols to reign him in. It was, he knew, why K'Nera was such a good First Officer.

    "Fine," he sighed. "In that case, Commander, you can lead the away team in my place. Take Lieutenant Sann with you, as her brain might come in handy."

    Seemingly satisfied, K'Nera nodded. "Aye, sir." Standing up, the Andorian looked to the ship's science and tactical officers. "Sann, Brax, you're with me," she said, before striding to the turbolift with those two officers in tow.

    Sighing, Arkos turned back to the viewscreen. Lately, K'Nera had been a lot more stiff and aggressive in her adherance to Starfleet protocols. He suspected she was still bitter about being turned down from the command track, and was trying even harder now to prove herself in the eyes of the Starfleet brass. He'd have to sit down and talk with her about it one day, he knew, though that would have to wait until the whole Blackstone affair was resolved.

    In front of him, the Blackstone continued to rotate lifelessly in space, as though silently daring him on...


    A few minutes later, the darkness of the Blackstone crew deck was illuminated briefly as Away Team Alpha beamed into position.

    Materializing in at the fore of the team, K'Nera quickly took stock of the situation, her antennae twitching as they tasted the air, even as the away team all activated their hovering flashlight-drones. The hallway was dark, with zero illumination coming from the adjoining light-strips built into the bulkheads. The computer panels were black and lifeless, and the musty smell of accumulating dust was present in the air. The entire place seemed dead, powerless, and abandoned...and aside from the sounds of the away team's breathing, was as quiet as a tomb.

    It was the last part that set K'Nera on edge. She was too used to hearing the murmur of distant voices and the hum of engines on a starship. But those sounds were empty: the Blackstone was eerily quiet, and the quietness set her on edge.

    "Fan out," Brax ordered the team. "Take up lookout positions." Like K'Nera, the stout Ferengi was wearing a full tactical harness that seemed to add to his squat shape, and was wielding a phaser rifle. At Brax's command, three of the team's security personnel-- Ensigns Tebran, Serruk and Vasquez-- fanned out into ready positions. K'Nera had had her misgivings about the Ferengi initially, but she had to admit, so far Brax had a good grasp of away team tactics, and it was clear that he had drilled his team well. She still had her misgivings, though-- there was an old saying that brave Ferengi are an extinct species. Hopefully, K'Nera thought, Brax would prove his mettle during this away mission.

    Even as the security team took up ready positions around corners and bulkheads, Lieutenant Sann took out her tricorder and held it out in a scan. "No sign of any contaminants or toxins in the air," she observed, "and there aren't any detactable anomalies coming up either. Minimal auxiliary power has been diverted to life support and gravity, though the ship's main power grid is still offline." She glanced uneasily at her surroundings. "No life signs. In fact, I'm not reading any bio-signiatures in a hundred metre radius."

    Brax gripped his phaser rifle tightly as he peered at the dark corners of the hallway. "I hate this ship already," he muttered. "It reminds me of Drozana. Only...without the dabo tables."

    K'Nera said nothing in reply. She'd heard a few muttered stories about Drozana back on Earth Spacedock...something about how an escort called the Chin'toka had encountered a nest of Devidians down there. She instantly put the thought out of her head. "Let's move," she ordered, keeping aloof. "We'll conduct a room by room search. Lieutenant Brax, take point."

    "Aye aye, ma'am," Brax replied curtly. "You heard the lady, team, let's move!"

    It took them roughly ten minutes to search the crew deck. Spreading out, the away team made their way through crew quarters, the ship's lounge, the holodeck...all of which was left dark and inert by the lack of power. Wherever they went, they found the same thing: abandoned rooms, accumulations of dust, and no indication at all of where the crew had gone. There were a few signs of former activity in some of the crew quarters-- open books and PADDs, un-made beds, unkempt rooms. But no people. Whatever it was that had happened here on the Blackstone, its crew had vanished.

    After a while, the team recongregated near the main turbolift. "No bodies," K'Nera muttered, "no signs of struggle. Nothing. It's as though the crew all just...vanished into thin air."

    "Or left," Brax spoke up. The Ferengi straightened up as much as his stout form would allow. "I found a few signs of crew members having left their quarters, ma'am. A few lingering footprints, some overturned bedsheets. Nothing to suggest any violence or any sort of hurry, though. If you want, I can have Serruk run a detailed scan for prints to see where they all went."

    K'Nera frowned. She didn't want to spend more time in this place than she had to. "If we have time," she replied. "But first, we need to figure out where the message is coming from, and why the main power grid has been shut off." She nodded to the Ferengi. "Brax, Tebran, you two are with me. We'll investigate Engineering, see what we find down there, and hopefully see if we can bring the main power grid back online." She turned to Neazri. "Sann, you, Serruk and Vasquez head to the bridge and try and I.D. the source of that signal."

    Sann nodded. "Aye aye, ma'am." With an inclination of her head to Vasquez and Serruk, she headed off towards the turbolift, with the two security personnel following suit. Even as they left, Brax tensed up. "Permission to speak freely, Commander?"

    K'Nera nodded. "Granted."

    "I have a really, really bad feeling about this," Brax said. "And it's not just the fact that the crew's missing. I usually get this feeling in my gut whenever foul play is involved, and right now, I have that feeling. Whatever it is that's in Engineering, ma'am, I don't think we're going to like it."


    The path to the bridge was more difficult than Sann and her team had anticipated: without any functioning turbolifts, they had had to climb up the nearest shaft by ladder. After climbing their way up to the bridge, Ensign Serruk had had to pry the doors open with a pair of magna-clamps, a feat that took even the fit Saurian a few minutes. With a stiff metal groan of hydraulics, the doors were finally forced open, giving Sann and her team a look inside.

    "Well," the Trill muttered, "this is depressing."

    It was depressing because Sann had been hoping for something new waiting for them on the bridge: a few scattered bodies, perhaps, or some sign of alien interference, or perhaps even a glimmer of functional power. Instead, the Blackstone's bridge, like the crew deck, was dark and deserted. The chairs, consoles and captain's chair all sat vacantly as if expecting new occupants, and a fine sheen of dust was visible on some of the blank readouts. The only light source was the main viewport-- through it, Sann could see the magnificent arrowhead shape of the Archimedes, and the surrounding starscape bathed the bridge in an eery twilight.

    She took a deep breath as she strode onto the bridge after Serruk and vasquez, their portable flashlights hovering around them all the while. "Right, let's get to work," she said, casually popping open her tricorder. "Serruk, see if you can bring some of these consoles back online and check the ship's sensor logs. That should give us some idea of what the Blackstone ran into." As the Saurian nodded and set diligently to work, Sann turned to her other team member. "Vasquez, you're with me. We need to trace the origin point of that signal."

    The Human was already doing a scan with his tricorder. "I'm on it, Lieutenant," he said. The tricorder beeped suddenly. "There we go. The origin point is roughly ten metres and one hundred and fifteen degrees from our position." He glanced in the direction the scan was pointing to. "The Captain's ready room."

    Sann gave a grim smile. Farim had been right: the origin point was a portable device after all. "Well, this should be interesting," she said, fishing a pair of magna-clamps from her belt. "Vasquez, take point in case there's anything big, scary, and suitably bug-eyed in there that needs shooting."

    Vasquez gave her a nervous look, but nonetheless stood guard with his phaser rifle at the ready. Sann stepped forward, fixed the magna-clamp, and pulled. The door, to her surprise, moved with very little resistance, and hissed sideways.

    Nothing came leaping out at her. Sann was almost disappointed by this: clearly, whatever had abducted all of the Blackstone's crew needed to sit down and watch Alien once or twice.

    The stygian darkness of the ready room was quickly illuminated by her flashlight, revealing a broad, ordinary looking desk, a nicely organized bookshelf and a pair of potted plants. Nodding to Vasquez, she drew her phaser and stepped in, with the more burly Human following in her wake. A quick sweep of the place confirmed her suspicions that there was nothing in here that was a cause for concern.

    Nothing, that was, except for a faint blue glow visible against the captain's chair. Inching forwards, Sann nearly jumped shen she realized that the Captain's personal computer was functional, and still on.

    Wasting no time, Sann stepped in front of the terminal. The screen showed the standard blue and white field and a list of programs and functions available for use. Whoever had last used this terminal, she realized, was still logged on. To the side of the terminal, she saw a squat, bulky cube with several interconnected wires plugged in.

    "A portable generator," Vasquez breathed. "It's been plugged into the terminal. That means that the looped message was recorded right here." He personally examined the generator. "Only its battery is dying. Whoever sent this message put only a small portion of it into a loop to save power."

    Leaning down, Sann tapped at the terminal, and examined all of the previous activity. "Not only that," she realized out loud, "it was tied directly to the captain's logs. And it looks like he's left them open without password protection. He wanted us to find this."

    She quickly typed in a few commands and gained entry almost immediately. A picture popped up of a handsome Human male, somewhere in his late thirties, with cleanly-cut blonde hair, chiseled features and a warm smile. Captain Knut Henriksen was every bit the handsome Norwegian that Sann had imagined him to be. Below, a list of logs popped up. Without hesitation, she selected the earliest one for playback.

    Captain's Log, Stardate 85384

    We have just completed our initial survey of the Kython system. The radiation thrown up by the local star would make it an ideal hiding place for pirates or for enemy raiders, but curiously, we have yet to run into any enemy vessels so far. Even so, I am maintaining high alert as long as we're in the system. We may be on a scientific expedition, but I'm not about to be caught flat-footed by the Klingons.

    Our survey, though, has already yielded some interesting results. Our scans of the third planet in the system show a tolerable atmosphere, low levels of radiation...and what appear to be structures on the surface. We tried scanning for life signs, but the radiation thrown up by the sun is making it difficult to spot anything. Because of this, I am authorizing the launch of several away teams to the surface. If we're lucky, we may find an indigenous species to make first contact with, or at least monitor. If we're not lucky, and there's no one down there, then the structures at least are a significant archaological find. It is at times like these that I envy my crew for being able to participate in missions like this-- if I weren't burdened with rank, I'd love nothing more than to join them down there.

    "Interesting man," Sann said aloud as the message ended. "Curious, adventurous...he sounds like the sort of person who would have gotten along really well with Captain Nair."

    "Or you," Vasquez piped in with a cheeky smile. He suddenly straightened up and adopted a more serious expression. "Er...ma'am."

    Sann simply flashed Vasquez a wry grin. "Oh hush, Ensign," she said. "That's an order."

    Turning back to the terminal, she selected the second earliest entry for playback.

    Captain's Log, Stardate 85388

    Our away teams have just returned from the surface of Kython III. Our initial scans were correct-- there were structures on the surface. Lieutenant Trager reported several large clusters of buildings in severe states of decay. Our archaologists have placed the ruins as being several thousand years old, and more than a few artefacts have already been beamed aboard the ship for examination, and hopefully we will gain more insights about the nature and culture of this world's original inhabitants.

    Curiously, while our away teams have found plenty of habitation on the planet, we found no actual trace of the original inhabitants. No remains. No tombs. Nothing. Our archaologists have determined that the buildings have been in a state of decline for a thousand years at least, so the original inhabitans must have died out quite a long time ago, but even a mass extinction would have left physical traces behind. Lieutenant T'Kell has already postulated that the original inhabitants may have been wiped out by a phage that thoroughly dissolves living matter-- a possible bio-weapon designed to target their species. While I cannot rule out this possibility, our away teams scans have confirmed no sign of contamination or of viral agents at the habitation sites. It is as though the original inhabitants simply...vanished into thin air.

    At present, we are breaking course from planetary orbit to initiate some scans of the nearby asteroid belt. Our initial scans suggest several noteworthy metallurgical deposits in the belt, including possible traces of dilithium. Our continued examination of the surface will have to wait for now-- as much as I love a good archaological dig, we are, regrettably, at war, and we need resources wherever we can find them to win that war. As soon as we're done with the metallurgical scans, though, I have every intention of going back to Kython III and examining the planet further.

    Sann frowned. That last log entry had seemed eerily prophetic-- the mention of a planet with a missing population was a big warning sign. There was only one entry left-- one that had been written exactly two weeks ago, and, according to the terminal, had a single segment uploaded to the communications array for continuous playback. Captain Henriksen had wanted to make sure that part was heard, she realized.

    She played the entry. Captain Henriksen's voice returned...only this time, the controlled, confident voice that had spoken earlier was strained, stressed and frayed with anxiety.

    I tried to stop them. You understand me? I really did try to stop them. But they wouldn't listen. They heard the siren call and fell under its sway. Trager, T'Kenn, Ch'Rell, Kitano...even Five of Eight. All of them! I'm the only one left, and I'll be joining them soon. I feel it. It will have me soon, but I realize that its necessary. It has to do this, don't you understand? I have to do this. I have to step in. It's the only way to keep them out.

    If anyone finds this message, keep as far away as possible, do you understand? There are forty seven--"


    "Doors," K'Nera breathed.

    The main engineering room of the Blackstone was just as dark, deserted and stygian as the rest of the ship, it's walkways, gantries and consoles all empty and abandoned. Even the massive central tube of the warp core was dim and inactive, leaving the entire room submerged in shadow. It was just as empty and unremarkable as the rest of the ship...except for the doors.

    They were set into the walls of the cylindrical chamber, lining both floors in a double ring. Each came in a different shape and colour-- some were rectangular, some lateen, some were wide circles. She saw doors made of hardwood and painted over in various colours, some others seemingly chiselled out of stone, some others in turn forged out of brass or steel. They all stood, set firmly into the walls of Engineering as though built there. And by K'Nera's count, there were forty-seven of them.

    She felt the skin crawl on the back of her neck as she shone her light over the doors. It was disturbing enough that these doors were even here: even your average cadet would tell you that these doors weren't part of any basic starship floorplan. But what was more distubring was that some of these doors were positioned in front of areas she was sure consisted of hull plates and bulkheads.

    Further behind her, Ensign Tebran broke the silence by asking the questions everyone was wondering. "What are these doors doing here?" the Betazoid whispered. "And who put them here?"

    "Or more importantly, where do they lead to?" Brax muttered as he pulled out a tricorder and ran a quick scan. "Hm. Wherever these doors came from, they're real alright. I'm reading compounds of wood, mineral and metal compounds, a few exotic organic substances..." He glanced up warily at one of the doors in front of him, a glimmering portal of polished silver. "But I can't detect anything behind them, Commander."

    K'Nera felt a lump tighten in her throat. Her antennae twitched, probing and tasting the air. Something about this place set her on edge, and it wasn't just the doors. She couldn't put her finger on it, but there was a palpable wrongness to this place. Every deep rooted instinct as screaming for her to open the do--

    She blinked. No, her instincts were telling her to run. Weren't they?

    Taking a deep breath, K'Nera willed herself to look away from the doors. "Fan out," she ordered, "and search the entire room. We might find a reason for why they're here. Tebran, you should--"

    She paused, then, when she realized the Ensign wasn't there. "Tebran?" She spun around. "Tebran? Brax?"

    She was alone.


    Ensign Merida Tebran's pulse quickened as she walked towards one of the doors, It was a large, rectangular door, fashioned out of white basalt. Just like the stone buildings of her hometown on Betazed.

    Her senses were aflame. Not the basic, mundane senses that her crewmates relied on, but her mind... felt open and alert. Something indescribable was pulling her towards the door. It felt like a compulsion, but at the same time...didn't. She couldn't explain why, but she wanted to open that door. She wanted to take a look inside.

    She took a few more steps towards the door. Its white surface caught the light of her flashlight and lit up with dazzling radiance. It seemed to generate a feeling of warmth and comfort...memories of her old home when she was a little girl. Before the Dominion occupation, before the death and the horror. Far, far, back, during a time when she was actually happy.

    Slowly, she reached forward, turned the handle, and stepped over the threshold.

    The radiance of the outer door melted away...and suddenly Merida was confronted by a sudden and bitter chill. Ahead of her, far in the door's depths, was darkness. An inky blackness that seemed to fill everything. She recoiled as she felt the darkness oozing into her mind, and she gasped, almost shrieking in revulsion at the sensation.

    Something cold and clammy grabbed her, and pulled her in. Merida didn't even have time to scream before she disappeared into the blackness, the door sliding shut behind her.


    K'Nera's senses were on high alert she crouching behind a warp containment console, glancing over her shoulder. There was nothing there. No enemies, no anomalies...and certainly no sign of Brax or Tabren. But all the same, she knew something was horribly, horribly wrong. A pair of Starfleet officers didn't simply disappear like that.

    She gripped her phaser rifle tightly. Her attempts to call Brax and Tabren by name had been met with only silence, and her attempts to contact them via comms had been no better. If they were out there somewhere, then she would have sensed them now-- her antennae would have picked up the unique smells and chemical stimuli both the Ferengi and the Betazoid generated. As far as she could tell, though, she was alone. Alone, in an abandoned engineering chamber full of mysterious doors.

    She closed her eyes, and swallowed, willing herself to force back the icy tendrils of fear that crawled up her spine. She was a ranking Starfleet officer, damn it, and an Andorian at that. She had trained for situations like this. What she needed to do right now was contact Sann's team or the Archimedes, notify them of the situation and request backup. Then they'd be able to find out what happened to Brax and Tebran, and figure out what all these doors were doing here--


    She froze on the spot. Something had said her name.

    She blinked. No, she hadn't actually heard anything. The engineering chamber was still as silent as a tomb. But it had felt as though someone had said her name. Her mind had comprehended her name being spoken, even though her ears had heard nothing.

    "Hello?" she called out. "Who's there?" Her grip on her phaser rifle tightened even further.

    K'Nera. She comprehended the not-voice again. Ice-flake.

    The last word nearly bowled her over. In an instant, she became aware of the fact that her arms were trembling, and they continued to tremble even as she willed them to stop. Ice-flake. That was what her thaan-father had called her back on Andoria, when she was a little girl. She hadn't spoken to her father in almost ten years...never since she had failed her entrance exam to the Imperial Guard.

    The not-voice seemed to have come from somewhere this time. A door, just to her left, fastened from glass that caught a nimbus of what little light was in the room. Just like the ice-doors back on Andoria...

    Before K'Nera knew it, she was standing up and walking towards the door. It all felt so right and rational: a voice had come from beyond that door, calling her name. It was only right that she should turn the handle, open the door, and investigate.

    Gripping the handle and feeling the reassuring, cold bite of ice, she turned it, and opened the door.

    She was met by a familiar feeling of warmth. Beyond the door lay a circular room, hewn from preserved ice and silicate stone. Scented candles lined the walls, and red vials hung from alcoves. She instantly recognized the room for what it was: it was the family catacomb back home, where the blood-samples of honoured ancestors were stored and preserved. Each vial was the blood of a member of her line, a hero, either of the Federation or the Andorian Empire of old.

    And kneeling in the centre of the chamber, with its back turned to her, was a familiar figure clad in an indigo blue robe. The blue skin, silver hair and antennae of her race were instantly recognizable, as was the posture of the figure itself.

    She took a step into the room. "Father?" she whispered.

    The figure slowly turned its head towards her...

    ...and then something grabbed her behind and wrenched her backwards. "DON'T!" a voice yelled in her ear. K'Nera shrieked in alarm and snapped an elbow back into her assailant's ribs, but her attacker held on and pulled her back, sending the two of them toppling backwards as K'Nera finally lost her balance.

    Everything happened in a blur of movement. Looking up from where she fell, K'Nera saw that she had fallen back outside the door. Only now, the interior was different: the familiar sight of the family catacomb was replaced by a swirling, inky darkness, and an unbelievable cold. And not the familiar cold of home that she was used to, but a deep, fierce cold that seemed to sink into her bones...

    Rolling out from under her, K'Nera's assailant sprang to his feet and slammed the door shut, before looking at her. Lieutenant Brax stared down at her with wild, terrified eyes as he caught his breath. "Don't open the doors!" he said. "One of them already got Tebran!"

    K'Nera blinked. "What?" She felt strangely dizzy, as though she had just woken up from some sort of fugue. Realization sank in, slowly and dully. "I...Brax...did I just try to go through one of the doors?" Everything felt leaden and heavy, as though she had just surfaced from underwater. Or woken up from a dream. What I just saw wasn't real, she slowly realized.

    The Ferengi calmed down a little and nodded. "You did, Commander," he said. "The same almost happened to me, but I somehow...woke up before I could open the door. I saw Tebran go into another one, though, and it locked behind her."

    The news caused K'Nera to sit up abruptly. "What?" The sense of danger returned. She clutched her phaser rifle, and stood up. Her body replied sluggishly, and she stumbled a little as though drunk. "What are we waiting for? We need to get her out of there!"

    As if on cue, the sounds of several heavy footfalls suddenly rang out. Spinning around, K'Nera saw the bright flashes of several flashlights flood the room. Her eyes adjusted just in time, though, and she quickly recognized the newcomers as Sann and her team.

    "Commander!" the Trill was out of breath, and looked just as alarmed as Brax. "We have to leave!"

    K'Nera shook her head. "Ensign Tebran went in one of these doors!" she exclaimed, gesturing to the ring of doors surrounding her. "We have to save her!"

    "She's gone already, Commander!" Sann replied. "We can't save her now! We need to leave before they take us as well! Just like they took the Blackstone's crew!"

    The mention of the Blackstone crew brought K'Nera's mind back to the mission. She was about to demand to know what Sann had found out when a sudden, loud noise caused all five of them to jump.

    Something had banged at one of the doors.

    "Tebran?" K'Nera called out, instinctively readying her phaser rifle. Brax, Vasquez and Serruk did the same, just another single, loud thump sounded out. Only this time, it had come from a different door, a few metres to K'Nera's right. The one she had almost stepped into.

    And then the drumming started.

    Each of the forty-seven doors emitting a loud, hollow thump in unison, the sound reverberating in the engineering chamber like an oversized drum. The doors all thumped again, before repeating the sound in rhythm like the marching of feet. K'Nera looked on in bewilderment as the doors rocked on their hinges and vibrated as they were slammed from behind. The thumps seemed only to grow louder and louder, surrounding the five Starfleet officers in a cacophony.

    With horror, K'Nera realized that something...no, several things...were trying to force their way out of the doors. And she noticed, with alarm, that the handles of a few of the doors were slowly tilting...

    Without another second of hesitation, she slapped her comm badge. "Away team to Archimedes, prepare for emergency transport! Energize!"

    There was the familiar hum and tingle of a transporter beam, and then the forty-seven doors disappeared from view.


    "So let me get this straight." Arkos Nair leaned back in his ready room chair and folded his palms. "You all found a bunch of mysterious doors fixed into the walls of the Blackstone's engineering room, almost stepped into one, lost Tabren in another, and then had to beam out when it seemed like they were all opening?"

    Taking a deep breath, K'Nera gave a stiff nod, painfully aware of how ludicrous the whole story sounded. "Yes sir." On either side of her, Brax, Sann, Vasquez and Serruk were all standing sombrely at attention.

    Arkos frowned. "And you found no sign of the Blackstone's crew? At all?"

    "No sir." K'Nera replied. "All of the evidence we found, including the logs of Captain Henriksen, suggests that they were all...put under a compulsion, just I Ensign Tabren and I were, and made to walk through the doors. What happened to them afterwards is anyone's guess."

    "It's possible that the compulsion may have been partially telepathic in nature, Captain," Brax added. "If that's the case, then Tebran would have been more vulnerable than us due to her telepathic nature. That would also explain why I was able to snap out of it, given my race's...well...resistance to telepathy." He gestured to the four massive lobes on his cranium. "It's just a hunch, though."

    For a moment, Arkos seemed to consider the testimony of his officers. Slowly, he gave a defeated sigh. "well...that doesn't change the fact that I'm going to have to write a letter of condolences to Tabren's loved ones tonight," he muttered. "We lost a crew member today, ladies and gentlemen, and we have little to show for her loss."

    K'Nera gave a grave nod. "I take full responsibility, sir," she said. "Tebran was under my command. If I had paid better attention--"

    "You were just as much of a victim as she was, Commander," Arkos cut in, "so there's no point in blaming yourself. Just be thankful that you didn't share whatever fate she suffered."

    Remembering the illusion of her home, K'Nera shuddered and nodded. "Yes sir," she said. "If that's the case, then I feel that Lieutenant Brax should be commended for his actions during the away mission, sir. It was his quick thinking that saved me."

    Brax gave a sheepish smile. "Oh...it was nothing Commander, really."

    "Don't be so modest, Brax, it's not often K'Nera praises people," Arkos said with a grin to the Ferengi, before his expression became serious again. "Is there any way we can account for the presence of these...doors...on the Blackstone in the first place?"

    It was Sann who chose this moment to speak up. "Well, sir, I have one hypothesis on the matter," she said. "The second to last log of Captain Henriksen mentions that his crew brought several artefacts up from Kython III for study. The ruins of Kython III itself were described as being completely desolate, with no visible trace of its original occupants. No physical remains, no tombs, nothing."

    "Just like the Blackstone," K'Nera realized out loud.

    Sann nodded. "Exactly, Commander. I think it's possible that whatever happened to the Blackstone's crew was the same thing that wiped out the Kython population thousands of years ago. Bringing those artefacts aboard may have triggered or reactivated...well...whatever those doors are supposed to be."

    Arkos stared curiously at Sann. "So you're suggesting...what, that the Blackstone was the victim of some sort of...curse?" He frowned. "Lieutenant Sann, if you don't mind my saying so, that explanation is pretty bizarre, even by your standards. Even if it didn't sound too supernatural for my liking, you're suggesting that these telepathic doors have accounted for an entire race of people."

    The Trill slumped her shoulders. "I know it sounds pretty farfetched, sir," she said, "and I have nothing to back it up beyond conjecture. But for what it's worth, Captain Henriksen mentioned quite a lot about the doors in his final log entry. He didn't seem to be in a stable mindset, but he didn't seem to be under any compulsion either...at least, for the duration of his final log. Apparently, he had set up that message loop to warn other ships off."

    "If only that message worked," Arkos muttered. "What did the late Captain say?"

    Sann looked uncomfortable. "Well, sir, he seemed believe that there was some sort of sacrificial element to the compulsion. I don't know how he came to this conclusion, but he seemed very convinced of it. He even seemed to think that this sacrifice was necessary in some way."

    A look of disgust crossed Arkos' features. "Necessary?" he echoed. "Necessary for what? They were his own crew!"

    Sann took a deep breath. "Captain Henriksen's last recorded words, sir...were...'the supplicants go in...so that the dark things can never get out."

    A silence settled over the ready room. Arkos' expression seemed to waver a little, before he broke eye contact with Sann. As much as he was trying to hide it, it was clear that the last words of the Blackstone's captain disturbed him.

    "I'll notify Starfleet Command of the situation," he finally said, "and inform them of what happened to the Blackstone. I'll be sure to recommend that we quarantine this system to avoid further such...incidents. In the meantime, we'll set a course for the Berion system to await further orders." He straightened up. "You all behaved admirably, given the situation, so I'm giving you all some R and R for the rest of the day. Just so you know, though, we'll be holding a wake for Ensign Tebran at 0900 tomorrow morning. Dismissed."

    The away team all nodded, and left the ready room, leaving Arkos with a lot of writing to do...


    In the cold depths of space, the gleaming shape of the Archimedes made a stately turn, gliding away from the asteroid belt. Slowly but surely, the Dakota-class hybrid drifted free from the belt, before disappearing in a flash of light as it jumped into warp. In its wake, the shape of the Blackstone drifted silently, alone and forgotten.

    A single speck of light shone from one of the windows-- a tiny fragment of blue light coming from a computer terminal in the Captain's ready room. It was the only source of light on the Blackstone, and it shone, barely perceptible out in the cold void.

    There was a sudden flicker of darkness, and that light went out like a candle.
  • sander233sander233 Member Posts: 3,992 Arc User
    edited August 2013

    To the centre of the city where all roads meet
    Waiting for you
    To the depths of the ocean where all hope sank
    Searching for you
    I was moving through the silence without motion
    Waiting for you
    In a room with no window in the corner
    I found truth

    In the shadow play, acting out your own death
    Knowing no more
    As the assassins all grouped in four lines
    Dancing on the floor
    And with cold steel, odor on their bodies
    Made a move to connect
    But I could only stare in disbelief
    As the crowds all left

    I did everything
    Everything I wanted to
    I let them use you
    For their own ends
    To the centre of the city in the night
    Waiting for you...

    Ian Curtis and Bernard Sumner of Joy Division - "Shadowplay"



    AFTER ACTION REPORT: Engagement of hostile Fek'Ihri forces in the Moab System

    Appendix B: Casualty Report - USS
    Tiburon NCC-68636

    There are forty-seven significant casualties to report:

    - Blake, Hunter Evan; LCdr., tactical; Human, male, age 34
    Status: Stable / Recovering
    Notes: CO of fighter squadron Pescaditos and pilot-in-command of Pescadito 1, Blake received plasma burns and a broken wrist when his craft was destroyed by enemy fire. Emergency beamout was successful, and injuries have been treated. He is recovering well.

    - Chelios, Rhonda Joy; Spsc., medical; Human, female, age 25
    Status: Stable / Recovering
    Notes: Nurse Chelios received severe acid burns to her hands, arms, and right leg while attempting to triage and treat Lieutenant H'mL'n's injuries. She has been treated with dermal regeneration and should make a full recovery.

    - Dong, Brandon Raiden; POsc., security; Human, male, age 24
    Status: Stable / Recovered
    Notes: Petty Officer Dong received disruptor shock injuries while in physical contact with a Fek'Ihri female who was shot and killed by a Klingon disruptor weapon. His injuries were not severe. Treated and released to light duty.

    - Dugan; POfc., engineering; Tellarite, male, age 40
    Status: Missing, presumed deceased
    Notes: at the present time, Petty Officer Dugan is believed to have been spaced by a massive double-hull breach the Tiburon suffered due to being rammed by an enemy warship. Lieutenant Barrister counted four individuals who were spaced along with himself, including a "hairy, short-statured" humanoid which matches Dugan's description. The shuttles Kristy St. Germaine and Jim Toomey are currently searching the debris field for survivors and expired victims.

    - Enfanfar, Mohamed Salam Omid Sahebek; Lt., operations; Human/Orion hybrid/augment?, male, age 29?
    Status: Stable / Isolation
    Notes: Lieutenant Enfanfar was burned and lacerated by a blown ODN junction. While treating him, CMO noticed unusual levels of self-regenerative activity. Investigation revealed Enfanfar has traces of Orion DNA and some augmented genetic markers. He has since admitted that he has an Orion ancestor (previously undisclosed according to personnel files) but denies any genetic augmentation. He has been treated, released and confined to quarters pending further investigation of personal and family history.

    - Erebia, Boris Elmo; Ens., tactical; Human, male age 23
    Status: Deceased
    Notes: Erebia was defending his duty station from enemy borders when attacked and bitten in the head and neck by a Fek'Ihri female, which delivered a paralytic neurotoxin to his bloodstream. Death followed before anyone could attend to him. There is no known antivenin.

    - Gromp; Sptc., engineering; Ferengi, male, age 21
    Status: Stable / Recovering
    Notes: Specialist Gromp accidently burned himself with his plasma torch while making emergency repairs. Treated and discharged. CMO recommends additional situational training and supervision for this crewmember.

    - H'mL'n h'lL'r; Lt., tactical (cultural exchange); Pentaxian, female, age 31
    Status: Stable / Recovering
    Notes: Lieutenant H'mL'n was bitten on her right arm by a Fek'Ihri female. However, H'mL'n's acidic blood either neutralized the creature's venom or drove off the creature before it had a chance to inject her. Treated injury with adapted vascular and dermal regenerators following the recommendations of Lt. Dr. Ben Kincaid of the Valkyrie. H'mL'n was also stabbed in left-upper thorax by a ceramic-bladed carving knife, severing one of three cardiac tubes supplying blood to that side of her body as well as puncturing her left lung. Noting the knife did not dissolve as one would expect a metal blade to do, CMO replicated ceramic instruments for surgery and successfully repaired all tissue damage. H'mL'n further injured her left ankle while engaged in hand-to-hand combat. Strained ligament has been repaired and CMO recommends patient wear lighter boots. H'mL'n is in good spirits and recovering well.

    - Hemmingway, Heidi Susan; Cmn., engineering; Human, female, age 18
    Status: Missing, presumed Deceased
    Notes: Crewman Hemmingway was stationed at the port nacelle maintenance terminal at the time an enemy vessel collided with the Tiburon. Shuttles are searching for her work station and person.

    - Honed Rala; civilian; Bajoran, male, age 68
    Status: Critical
    Notes: Mr. Honed was severely injured when Fek'Ihri boarders stormed the Deck Six lounge where he was working to set MCDC guests at ease. Honed received multiple blunt-force trauma injuries, stab wounds, bites, cuts and acid burns. He remains in critical condition although if no complications arise he is expected to make a full recovery.

    - Hssell; Lt. jg., tactical; Gorn, male, age 89
    Status: Stable / Recovering
    Notes: Hssell brought his crippled fighter (Pescadito 9) back to main hangar bay when it was determined that his copilot, Warrant Officer Osborne, would not survive beam-out due to severe brain injury. Hssell suffered numerous burns, a fractured wrist, and smoke inhalation. His injuries have been treated and he is recovering well. He has shown a great deal of concern over Osborne's condition. CMO has requested counselor Nequi, an expert on Gorn behavior, to assess his emotional state.

    - th'Iphroo, Nedev; POtc, operations; Andorian, thaan, age 22
    Status: Deceased
    Notes: Petty Officer Iphroo was attacked at his duty station by Fek'Ihri boarders. A witness saw him being "torn apart and devoured."

    - K'lak, son of K'ryl; Lt. jg., security; Klingon, male, age 28
    Status: Deceased
    Notes: reports indicate that K'lak died by self-immolation when he was overwhelmed by Fek'Ihri forces while covering the archaeological survey team's escape from the Fek'Ihri ruins on the surface of Moab III. Commander Marq Sander has recommended him for the Christopher Pike Medal of Valor and the Legion of Merit.

    - K'mukkel; Lt. jg., tactical; Caitian, female, age 20
    Status: Stable / Recovered
    Notes: K'mukkel's fighter was severely damaged by enemy fire and she and her copilot were recovered by emergency transporters. K'mukkel sustained electrical shock, moderate burns and minor lacerations to her paws. Treated and released, restricted from duty for twenty-four hours.

    - Kunicki, Allan Robert; Cmn., security; Human, age 19
    Status: Critical
    Notes: long considered the Tiburon's security team's good luck charm after surviving many dangerous assignments with only minor injuries, Crewman Kunicki's luck ran out when he received a slashing blow to the chest from a Fek'Ihri pole-axe. Organ damage has been repaired surgically, however the systemic shock from the initial trauma and blood loss lowers his recovery chances.

    - Kurinka, daughter of D'rnel; CPO, security; Klingon, female, age 26
    Status: Critical
    Notes: Kurinka received numerous bites to her legs, arms and lower torso, inflicted by lesser Fek'Ihri specimens, along with cuts and phaser burns she self-inflicted while trying to fight them off. Tissue and blood loss was severe. Prognosis for recovery is optimistic.

    - Lanthan; CPO, engineering; Karemma, female, age 37
    Status: Missing, presumed Deceased
    Notes: at this time, Chief Lanthan is believed to be one of four individuals that Lieutenant Barrister witnessed being spaced after the Tiburon was struck by an enemy warship. She was last seen entering the starboard engineering boom. Shuttles are presently searching the debris field for survivors and/or remains.

    - LaRoca, Jesus Lorenzo San Gregorio; V. Adm., security / command; Human, male, age 42
    Status: Stable (physical) / Critical (psychological)
    Notes: Admiral LaRoca has sustained numerous contusions and lacerations for which he has thus far refused treatment. His emotional state is severely depressed and is precariously tied to the status of his brother, Commander LaRoca. He has remained on the IKS Norgh'a'Qun, refusing to leave his brother's side; Commander LaRoca's status having remained unchanged for over twenty-four hours by now. CMO has temporarily relieved Admiral LaRoca of command of the Tiburon and recommends that he be placed on suicide watch if Commander LaRoca succumbs.

    - LaRoca Rusty Alpha the First; Cmdr., security; Deinon, male, age 35
    Status: Unknown
    Notes: Commander LaRoca was bitten on his tail by a Fek'Ihri female over six hours before he received medical attention. By that time paralysis had reached his lungs. He was placed in stasis immediately after being beamed aboard the IKS Norgh'a'Qun. At that time he was no longer breathing and his pulse was not detectable by manual contact. Cortical monitors show active brain function, however. He is being treated on the Norgh'a'Qun as moving him is deemed unfeasible in his condition. Drs. Tr'vayn and Xyoosix of the Norgh'a'Qun, Dr. Moowir of the IKS NIteb mo' and Dr. Malhul of the IKS Cha'bIp have each consulted on Rusty's case, each having some experiences dealing with this neurotoxin. No one has yet proposed a viable course of treatment; although Dr. Tr'vayn insists that her idea is the only one with a chance at working, CMO is highly skeptical. Commander LaRoca will remain in stasis as long as possible or until an alternative course can be found. His recovery prospects are most doubtful.

    - Lesco; Spfc., science; Tiburonian, male, age 26
    Status: Deceased
    Notes: reports indicate that Lesco was killed instantly by an axe-blow to the back while attempting to escape the Fek'Ihri ruins on Moab III.

    - Liow'an; Lt., tactical; Caitian, male, age 23 (?)
    Status: Stable
    Notes: Pilot-in-command of Pescadito 5; Liow'an and his copilot both underwent rapid aging when their fighter was caught in a chroniton field. The emergency transporter system, though responsible for saving their lives, may have exacerbated this problem. Liow'an now appears to be in his mid-to-late fifties, and is showing streaks of gray in his fur at his extremities, the tips of his ears and around his muzzle. Internal degradation matches this. CMO is investigating whether the Pulaski technique can be successfully applied to reverse the damage.

    - Marsolek, Erick Newman; Lt., tactical; Human, male, age 42
    Status: Stable / Recovered
    Notes: Marsolek received a moderate electric shock and burns to his hands and forearms when his console overloaded. He was treated and released to light duty.

    - Mayas, Gina Lynette; CPO, security; Human, female, age 39
    Status: Deceased
    Notes: Chief Mayas' head and upper torso were dissolved by Fek'Ihri stomach acids during action to repel boarders in Deck Six crew lounge.

    - McGee, Bono Nelson; CWO, tactical; Human, male, age 39
    Status: Missing
    Notes: copilot of fightercraft Pajarito 5; his fighter was last seen flying near an enemy vessel before it exploded from a warp core breach and/or tricobalt warhead sympathetic detonation. No debris from the fighter was observed, and some witnesses claim it was not close enough to the explosion to have been vaporized. It is possible that the fighter experienced a total systems shutdown and its occupants are still alive. A Search-and-Rescue/Recovery effort is underway involving the runabout Zambezi and the shuttlecraft Steve Alten with the shuttle Peter Benchley joining the search as soon as its repairs are complete.

    - Miller, Henry Allen; civilian; Human, male, age 52
    Status: Unstable (psychological)
    Notes: Miller had a strong emotional attachment to Commander Traa'cee and has taken news of her death very hard. CMO recommends a period of non-intervention, followed by alcoholic detoxification and mandatory counseling sessions.

    - Morga, son of Borden; SSp., science; Klingon, male, age 42
    Status: Deceased
    Notes: reports indicate that Senior Specialist Morga was consumed by the Fek'Ihri horde that emerged from the Iconian Gateway in the Moab III ruins. He was the first casualty in this battle.

    - Mular, Ghilbi; POfc., engineering; Cardassian, male, age 45
    Status: Deceased
    Notes: Lieutenant Barrister has positively identified Petty Officer Mular as one of four victims who were spaced subsequent to an enemy warship colliding with the Tiburon's engineering booms. Shuttles are still searching for his body.

    - N'moore Oolt; CPO, operations; Bajoran, female, age 36
    Status: Stable (physical) / Unstable (psychological)
    Notes: Chief N'moore was attacked at her duty station by Fek'Ihri boarders. Though she escaped with only minor bites and lacerations (for which she was treated and released to light duty) she was severely traumatized by the experience, having witnessed the death of her colleague, Petty Officer Iphroo. CMO prescribes mandatory counseling sessions.

    - Nataget, Stennit; CPO, security; Saurian, male, age 29
    Status: Stable / Recovering
    Notes: Nataget received minor acid burns to his chest and arms while transporting Lieutenant H'mL'n to sickbay. Dermal regeneration is ineffectual on his species. Treated, bandaged, released, prescribed bed rest and light activity for next three days.

    - Nnormiz; POsc., engineering; Benzite, male, age 29
    Status: Deceased
    Notes: The shuttlecraft Jim Toomey discovered the Tiburon's starboard warp nacelle largely intact, along with organic traces which confirm that Petty Officer Nnormiz was at his post at the warp coil maintenance terminal at the time of impact. Shuttles are still searching for more substantial remains.

    - Osborne, Mikaela Louise; WOfc., tactical; Human, female, age 33
    Status: Extremely Critical
    Notes: copilot of fightercraft Pescadito 9; Warrant Officer Osborne suffered severe burns, smoke inhalation, blunt-force trauma to the head and extensive neurological damage when her fighter came under sustained enemy fire. Luckily her PinC recognized her injuries, and rather than initiate emergency beam-out (which would have certainly been fatal in her condition) Lieutenant Hssell brought the fighter in to land. She is scheduled for a third round of surgery at 2030 hours and her recovery prospects are not optimal.

    - Pakray; Lt., tactical; Tellarite, male, age 36
    Status: Stable / Recovering
    Notes: Pakray received severe burns and lacerations to the hands, forearms and chest when the console he was operating overloaded and exploded. His injuries have been fully treated, and he should be recovered enough to return to duty within forty-eight hours.

    - Pavaro; LCdr., tactical; Vulcan, male, age 86
    Status: Deceased
    Notes: CO of fighter squadron Pajaritos; Pavaro was killed when his craft collided with an enemy vessel. No body recovered.

    - R'merral; WOsc, tactical; Caitian, male, age 16
    Status: Deceased
    Notes: copilot of Pajarito 7 / Manta 3; fightercraft destroyed by enemy fire before emergency transporter cycle could complete. Organic residue later found on the USS Hammerhead's transporter pad was matched to Warrant Officer R'merral's DNA.

    - Randle, Robert Darren; SCPO, tactical; Human, male, age 49
    Status: Missing
    Notes: Senior Chief Randle was stationed in the projectile weapons pod, which was the point-of-impact for the enemy ship which rammed the Tiburon. However, according to Commander Ibear, that is the most heavily-armored part of the ship, apart from the bridge, so there is a good chance that Randle survived the initial impact. Search-and-Rescue/Recovery efforts are underway.

    - sh'Redderrman, Ferra'bie; Lt., tactical; Andorian, shen, age 36
    Status: Missing
    Notes: Pilot-in-command, Pajarito 5. See notes on Chief Warrant McGee.

    - Rider, Jamal Gerardo; Ens., tactical; Human, male, age 24
    Status: Deceased
    Notes: pilot-in-command of Pajarito 7 / Manta 3. Like his copilot, Ensign Rider died before he could be beamed to safety aboard the Hammerhead. Organic residue was recovered which matched his DNA.

    - Sander, Marq son of Breq; Cmdr., science / command; Klingon/Human/Vulcan hybrid, male, 26 years old
    Status: Stable / Recovered
    Notes: Marq suffered a minor asthma attack due to dust inhalation and moderate acid burns to the chest as well as various minor contusions. He was treated and discharged. Bed rest was prescribed.

    - ch'Snenav, Silephogh; WOfc., tactical; Andorian, chan, age 31 (?)
    Status: Stable
    Notes: copilot of fighter Pescadito 5; Warrant Officer Snenav underwent rapid aging when his fighter entered a chroniton field. He now appears to be in his late sixties. See notes on Lieutenant Liow'an.

    - Sokar, Upilol; MCPO., engineering; Betazoid, female, age 52
    Status: Stable / Recovering
    Notes: Master Chief Sokar received severe burns to both arms while attempting to repair a ruptured EPS conduit near sickbay. She has been treated and is recovering well.

    - Soval; Ens., tactical; Vulcan, male, age 27
    Status: Stable / Recovered
    Notes: Soval received a minor electrical shock and mild burns to his hands when the shield distribution console overloaded. He also received a slight bump on his head when the Tiburon was rammed by an enemy vessel. He was treated and released.

    - Stassen, Madison Philippa; Spsc., engineering; Human, female, age 20
    Status: Deceased
    Notes: though no body has yet been recovered, Lieutenant Barrister witnessed Specialist Stassen being spaced following the collision with the Fek'Ihri warship. Shuttles are presently searching for her remains, among others.

    - Traa'cee; Cmdr., tactical; Vulcan, female, age 64
    Status: Deceased
    Notes: according to acting Lieutenant K'Jetsk, Traa'cee regained consciousness on Stardate 87813 in the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, in K'Lan-ne, Vulcan. She was agitated and incoherent, claiming there was an Undine inside of her mind. After attempting self-mutilation she was restrained and sedated. Attempts to draw her out were unsuccessful, resultant contact with a malignant psychic presence was traumatic for all involved, culminating with Traa'cee being forced to kill a Vulcan priestess and herself.

    - Unmlot, Tesdra; Ens., tactical; Betazoid, female, age 29
    Status: Deceased
    Notes: copilot of fighter Pajarito 1; killed when her fighter was destroyed in a collision with an enemy fightercraft.

    - Yumi; LCdr., engineering; Ferengi, female, age 37
    Status: Critical
    Notes: Yumi was replacing forward phaser relays when the compartment she was working in sustained a direct hit by enemy fire, leading to decompression and plasma fires. Yumi was badly burned and nearly spaced. Initial surgery effort repaired lungs and major cerebral vasculature. Additional rounds of vascular and dermal regeneration will be needed, and there is still danger of cerebral hemorrhage.

    - Yoann Teena; LCdr., science; Bajoran, female, age 41
    Status: Deceased
    Notes: while assisting in evacuating children on the surface of Moab III, Yoann was bitten in the neck by a Fek'Ihri female and suffered near-instant paralysis. Second-hand reports indicate her lungs failed causing her to die by asphyxiation.

    - Zain, Mitiani; Lt. jg., tactical; Cardassian, female, age 25
    Status: Stable (physical) / Borderline (psychological)
    Notes: Zain suffered contusion and lacerations to the head along with a moderate concussion when the Tiburon was rammed by an enemy craft. Her injuries have been treated and she expected to make a full recovery. She was also psychologically traumatized by witnessing the death of Ensign Erebia. Zain has also expressed concern for Admiral LaRoca's well-being and may be developing an unhealthy emotional attachment to the Admiral. CMO prescribes mandatory counseling sessions.

    Casualties Sustained by crew of Akira-class heavy escort carrier USS Tiburon NCC-68636:
    25 injured (14 serious)
    15 dead
    6 missing
    5 psychologically damaged
    47 total

    Additionally there were twenty-three crewmembers of the USS
    Valkyrie who were treated for their injuries aboard the Tiburon, and thirty-two members of the Moab Confederacy Defense Command who were injured prior to or shortly after being rescued from the destroyed KDF/MCDC space station Ha Long Bay. These cases are discussed in separate appendices.

    This report was prepared by LCdr. Dr. Maria Espinoza, CMO, USS Tiburon - Stardate 88207.13

    Franklin Drake deactivated his personal cloak after he'd slipped into Admiral LaRoca's ready room. He knew he could count on Templar to handle manipulating the Tiburon's internal sensors. He sat down at LaRoca's desk in the corner of the windowless room, contented that his only witness was the Admiral's pet leopard shark.

    As he scanned the CMO's report for the entry that he needed to amend, he felt the whole crushing weight of the maginitude of the battle descend on him. Fifteen dead. Six others probably gone, at least two injured who looked like they wouldn't make it... and this was just one ship out of dozens. And then there was Moab III, New Saigon...

    It's not my fault, he told himself. This was always Infrared's world, not mine. Not Temek's... They would've come eventually... And then there was the map. Temek called it the Atlas. Finding that had to be worth something. A whole world? Or two? Yes. If it helps us save another system from suffering Moab's fate, it will be worth it. The Needs of the Many... The Balance... the Order...

    He saw the notes on Miller. Good old Hacksaw. He'll understand. Unrequited love is such a difficult thing to deal with for a man like him... he'll come to realize he's better off without the emotional garbage... He found the entry. Cmdr. Traa'cee. K'Jetsk had talked. I'll have to have a little chat with our Reman friend, find out who else he told, explain things to him... He pasted in Dr. Espinoza's access code and made a quick edit...

    - Traa'cee; Cmdr., tactical; Vulcan, female, age 64
    Status: Deceased
    Notes: according to acting Lieutenant K'Jetsk, Traa'cee passed away at the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, in K'Lan-ne, Vulcan on Stardate 88180.28 without ever regaining consciousness. Cause of death ruled neural energy depletion as a result of hostile action (see reference, After-Action Report filed Stardate 88102.6)

    He looked up, feeling someone staring at him. His eyes darted around the dark room until he settled on the shark. It swam without moving in an artificially generated current, watching him.

    "They're still out there, you know," Drake said aloud. "The Fek, the Undine, the Iconians, and whoever these damned 'Masters' are... They will come back."

    The shark lost interest, turned away and swam to the other end of his tank.

    They will return. And I will be waiting for them.


    ...Oh, baby, you know, I've really got to leave you / Oh, I can hear it callin 'me / I said don't you hear it callin' me the way it used to do?...
    - Anne Bredon
  • dojegundojegun Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited August 2013
    Romulan Tragedy

    Scene: Stage for a play, placed in the mess hall of a romulan ship. Mess hall is filled with Romulan and Starfleet dignitaries. Curtains are still lowered and actors are peeking to see who gathered in the mess hall.

    Uhlan: I]nervous and scared as this is his first performance in a play.[/I How many do you think are out there?
    Sublieutenant: Don't worry, you only have three lines in the end.
    I]Third person comes on stage from the dressing room. He is wearing a variation of the Romulan Republic uniform. In his hand he carries a helmet which resembles old Greek helmet from Earth with a large feather ridge on top.[/I
    Old Actor: My good friend, if I had started to panic every time I went on stage...[ is interrupted by Uhlan]
    Uhlan: It's different, you were a trained actor of the Romulan National Theatre, you did hundreds of performances and besides if I make a mistake Subcommander will make me clean every sonic shower on this ship.
    Old Actor: Yes she is a trying a little too hard to make a good impression on the Admiral, but I can tell you that there are worse directors then her. I can still remember my last performance in the National Theatre for empress Donatra, there... I]is again stopped by Uhlan.[/I
    Uhlan: It's probably yours and Sublieutenant's fault that our ship got picked to host the conference. They wanted to show off just because you were once members of the National Theatre. But they also found a play that isn't even in the main language of the Federation
    Old Actor: [tired of listening to his inexperienced colleague] Why do you think that I am the communication officer aboard the Skrita? I]waits for a moment and continues in an angrier voice[/I Actors of the National Theatre had to speak at least 3 languages fluently, we even played Klingon operas. I]calmes down[/I If you want you can go and talk to Sublieutenant Arla. She might be able to help you relax.
    I]Uhlan walks away before the old actor finishes his sentence and starts to practice his lines. Another man comes from the dressing room. He is also wearing the same uniform and the helmet but with a smaller ridge of feathers on top[/I
    Lieutenant: Have you counted all spectators yet, Sublieutenant?
    I]Sublieutenant stops peeking through the curtain and turns to the Lieutenant[/I
    Sublieutenant: There are about 40. Most Admirals are still on a tour of the Skrita, but their adjutants and majority of the diplomatic staff from the Federation is here.I]makes a small hole in the curtains and nods to the Lieutenant to come and look[/I Ambassador Sugihara and members of the Diplomatic Corps are over there.
    Lieutenant: I can see him, but he is standing alone by the window.
    Sublieutenant: That's not ambassador Sugihara, he is standing with a Tellarite, Vulcan and a Pakled envoy. They are all dressed in white. But I have no idea who that man is.
    Lieutenant: I thought he is a Captain, but then I saw that his four pips are underlined.
    Old Actor: That probably means he is some kind of specialist. I wouldn't be surprised if he is a specialist for studying nebulas.
    Lieutenant: I don't think that scar was gained by exploring nebulas.
    Sublieutenant: I can't see Captain Shon. I thought I saw him in the transporter room when the delegation beamed over from the Enterprise.
    Lieutenant: I saw him by the bar with our Ambassador before I went to the dressing room. He tried to "convince" the Ambassador that Andorian Ale is better than ours.
    I]Women in a Romulan Republic dress uniform enters the scene, she is obviously looking for something.[/I
    Subcommander: Where is my Telemachus? I]is angry but can't shout as the entire mess hall would hear her[/I He should be here.
    Old Actor: It is my fault Subcommander. I told him to see the councillor.
    Subcommander: And where is the Captain. He should finish his tour by now. We are starting in 5 minutes.
    [Door of the mess hall opens. Captain and several Republic and Starfleet Admirals enter the room.]
    Lieutenant: Speaking of the Sehlat.
    Sublieutenant: Ah, you can never miss our Admiral; he is always the tallest person in the room.
    Lieutenant: I]sees something that disturbs him[/I How can he be here? He earned a dishonourable discharge for what he did.
    Sublieutenant: Who?
    Lieutenant: Can you see the Subadmiral walking with the Reman ambassador. He was once the Admiral's first officer.
    Sublieutenant: He is quite handsome but I see that he already has a wife.
    Lieutenant: That?s not his wife, that's his sister.
    Subcommander: Calm down Lieutenant. I agree that he isn't the best Captain of a star ship, but you can't overlook what he did for the Republic. And I hear that he is an expert in ground tactics. However I am not happy to see that Admiral Zelle and Admiral T?nae lead this delegation.
    Lieutenant: How come?
    Subcommander: I]notices time on her PADD[/I We don?t have time to discuss this. Take your places everyone we are going to begin.
    [Subcommander steps in front of the curtain, delegates sit down, Admirals and the Captain sit in the front row]
    Subcommander: [she didn't have time to learn her speech so she constantly looks down to her PADD] Welcome warriors of the Kling... I]selects another file on the PADD and continues like nothing happened[/IWelcome distinguished guests of the Federation. Today we are going to show you excerpts from Odyssey. I hope you will find many similarities between his and our journey to find a lost home.


    Scene: Bridge of R.R.W. Skrita, Only three officers are on the bridge. First one is sitting in the captain's chair reading a report on his PADD, second is the helmsman and the third is standing behind the tactical station.

    So Captain what are your orders? Should we lock weapons on the Enterprise or fire Torpedoes towards that asteroid field.
    Lieutenant: You aren't the only one that is bored you know. But still, you should be checking sensors for any Tal'shiar activities. I'm just reading a file from our Intelligence saying that they saw two ships in a nearby system.
    Tactical officer: Didn't we fly by one of those systems? It's a miracle we haven't encountered those ships.
    Helmsman: [types something on his console and a view of the mess hall shows on the main view screen] Great idea isn't it? Now we can watch the entire show from here.
    Lieutenant: As much as I would like to watch the play, we are on duty. If the Captain finds out.
    Tactical officer: I'm more afraid of Subcommander, she will make us clean every sonic shower on the ship.
    Helmsman: Federation brought quite a large delegation. There must be around 50 delegates in there and the entire crew of Skrita. [pauses] Accept for us.
    Lieutenant: There are exactly 46 delegates from the Republic and the Federation.
    Tactical officer: That's strange, internal sensor show that there are 47 delegates sitting in the mess hall.
    [Lieutenant looks on the screen that is still displaying the mess hall. Suddenly he becomes worried, jumps from his chair and runs towards the turbolift.]


    Scene: Mess hall. Performers are acting out the last scene. Flag officer and delegates are sitting in the improvised theatre while the crew is standing around the mess hall watching the play.

    Uhlan: T...t...ti... timeo danaos e...e...et...
    I]Admirals in the front row are not showing any emotion on their faces. Crew of the Skrita and other Delegates are desperately trying to hold their laugh. Subcommander stands beside the stage. She is disappointed and is looking towards the audience[/I
    Subcommander: I]Holds her breath as she sees that a Romulan standing in the back row is secretly drawing his pistols. At the same time door of the mess hall opens and Lieutenant runs in holding his pistol. Lights are turned off.[/I
    Lieutenant: Drop your weapon.
    [Three shots are heard, lights are turned on again. Lieutenant and the man with four pips underlined stand with their weapons pointed to the place where the assassin stood. Everybody in the mess hall is stunned. A sit in the front row is empty.]

    Nobody gets in until the Federation decides to make bigger doors.
  • hfmuddhfmudd Member Posts: 879 Arc User
    edited August 2013
    "Personal log, stardate 91109.61."

    "One hundred and forty seven. We've finally had time to take a head count, and that's how many we didn't manage to get off the Yoshua. One hundred and forty seven out of five hundred, left behind for the Klingons to capture or take their time blowing out of space."

    "Pure luck we were there to make any kind of rescue at all. When we popped out of warp for the active-sensors part of our little snoop-and-scoot recon, we were almost on top of them: an overloaded passenger ship clawing for orbit, with three birds of prey swooping in and licking their chops. They'd actually strapped some chemical boosters to the hull, to get a little more speed than just their little impulse engines... and they still weren't going to make it. Anyone could see that, but they were desperate enough to try. Anything to get off Ibor III."

    "Tala gave the birds something else to chew on... managed to hurt the lead one pretty bad, and I could tell she wanted to finish it off, but the order of the day was 'distract and disable' - keep them from following while we got our sensor data, and now a boatload of refugees, and ran like hell. Discovery's a fine ship, and she proved that again today, but we all knew that one Sovereign wasn't going to stand up to fifteen Klingons, five of them heavies. Even when I gave the order to hail the Yoshua and tell them to stand by for transport, I knew we might not be able to get them all off. I hate being right."

    "The worst, maybe, were the six that were in transit right when we got hit with the... hargh'peng, I think they're called. Six people on the pad, and there wasn't enough matter in the stream to make three... patterns scrambled to hell, not even bodies, just... when we were clear, I said a few words and beamed what we had in the buffer out into space myself. I'll probably never know their names."

    "We saved three hundred and fifty three people today, people who'd have never had a chance if we hadn't happened to be there. My crew did their jobs excellently, and there was nothing more they or anyone else could have done for the rest. If we hadn't broken off when we did, none of us would have gotten out."

    "I just have to keep telling myself that until I believe it."
    Join Date: January 2011
  • zidanetribalzidanetribal Member Posts: 218 Arc User
    edited March 2016
    Literary Challenge #47: "There are 47!"

    LC47: 47/50
    First Officer's Log, Stardate 87279.81. Starfleet Command wants the Lord English to disrupt the flow of Ketracel White to True Way Jem'Hadar by eliminating a major source of white. The remains of the Son'a Solidarity continue to provide white to Alpha Jem'Hadar, so Lt. Commander Hange Shirogane of the Federation Embassy on Ba'ku has offered up a plan made by Gallatin, leader of the Son'a repatriates on Ba'ku. Admiral Lee will be on the planet finishing up the paperwork, so until then the Lord English will be in orbit keeping the cargo safe.


    "Dear Admiral, the Ba'ku palm pet (known locally as the rhyl) is a treasured creature among the Son'a, a reminder of the home planet that was lost early into our exile," Lee read aloud from his PADD. "It is my hope that seeing a rhyl will help induce the remaining fifty Solidarity holdouts to return to Ba'ku. Lt. Commander Shirogane will be sending the fifty rhyl to your ship, so once you go over the information for each rhyl and sign off, you will be able to start your mission. Good luck, Admiral. Subahdar Gallatin, Son'a Repatriates."

    At the bottom of the file was an addendum which Lee opened.

    "Please take care of the rhyl! They are susceptible to the extreme environments of space, even through a ship's hull, so they must be kept in stasis while you are travelling. It took the Ba'ku fifteen days to capture enough rhyl for all fifty Son'a colonies, so even the loss of one will throw off the timetable needed to complete your mission! You will need to review each PADD we sent you with the database here on Ba'ku before you can send it to your ship. I've named all the rhyl for easy identification purposes. Godspeed, Admiral. Hange Shirogane, Ba'ku Embassy."

    Lee put down the message and grabbed the PADD for the first rhyl of the group. He casually glanced at the page count and was shocked to see the report had twenty-five pages. Quickly he scrolled through the PADD. Twenty-five pages of biometric data, tailored for every eventuality the creature might suffer in its trip. Lee glanced at all the other PADD's data. Each of the fifty PADDs had different procedures to be undertaken in emergencies such as singularity breaches and artificial gravity failures, among others. Lee sighed heavily and began reading the first PADD from the top.

    "Rhyl 1: Gillet de Rais. Sex: Male. Length, 7 cm. Weight, 79 g. Allergies: bicaridine, metorapan, hasperat brine, cayenne pepper..."


    The devastation wrought by the monster's attack struck deeper than the port town expected; the townspeople thronged the visiting summoner, pleading for her aid. Without her help, they said, the souls of the dead would be unable to find rest and would manifest as fiends. It was her duty as a summoner to send the souls of the dead to their final rest, she told herself as she took off her boots. With the townspeople and her Guardians watching her, she stepped out into the water amidst the cocoons of the dead and began to dance.

    "Kira to Commander Taylor, please report to Cargo Bay 1 at once! There is a matter requiring your attention."
    "I'm on my way, Kira," Taylor replied with a sigh. She had been looking forward to moving past this stage of the holoprogram for days.
    "Computer, freeze program and show arch," she added. There would be no time to change into her uniform, and hopefully the matter will be resolved quickly so she can return to her holoprogram.

    Chief Engineer T'Shaanat and Chief Science Officer Kira turned their gaze on Commander Taylor who entered the cargo bay still dressed in her summoner's robes.

    "Are you still unable to progress in your holoprogram, commander?" T'Shaanat asked.
    "I was hoping to progress past the Sending Dance today as I haven't had much time to myself, lately," she replied.
    "Well, we'll be needing more of your time today, Kay," Kira responded. "Look at this stack of boxes."

    Taylor looked at the stack of boxes on the ground in front of her. Arrayed in a 5 by 5 by 2 box pattern, the stack was visibly missing a corner.

    "Is this missing corner supposed to be there?" Taylor asked.
    "It is not," T'Shaanat said pointedly. "This is supposed to be a delivery of 50 small mammals in stasis for diplomatic purposes. There are 47."
    "The transporter officer reported that stasis modules 4, 5, and 10 failed after transport, and three of the mammals escaped into the Jefferies tubes," Kira explained. "The creatures are imperative for diplomatic relations between the Federation and the Son'a colonies."
    "Can we track them?" Taylor inquired.
    "Ten of Twenty-Five has informed me that the creatures are too small to actively track with internal sensors," T'Shaanat informed her.
    "They are too small and fragile to implant with tracking devices too," Kira added. "The best we can do is to inform the crew to watch out for mammals no bigger than the palm of a hand."
    "Alright then," Taylor agreed. "In the meantime, you two secure the cargo and then return to your departments. I'll change out of these clothes."


    "Rhyl 16: Zodiac. Sex: Male. Length, 9 cm. Weight... ugh," Lee groaned as he slumped over on the desk.


    Commander Drevis Indoril Nethri was spending his off day testing out several concoctions in 7th Heaven, the lounge/bar of Lord English.

    "So," he said to the assembled crew at the ship's bar, "you mix a few grains of Triticum aestivum with the egg of the Origma solitaria and pour a bottle of Trixian Bubble Juice on top before mixing vigourously. The resulting drink is something I like to call "maeertol afya", which the people on my planet use on wounds as well as to drink."

    Amid the applause from the crowd, Rhyl 4 (Sawney Bean) dropped down from a vent above the bar and landed in one of the ingredients Drevis prepared for his demonstration.

    "And now this next drink is used by my people to clear minds and restore clarity, and for that we'll need some lunasaccharose... yipes!" he exclaimed, as Sawney jumped out of the bowl of moon sugar and into Drevis' uniform.

    En route to the bridge, Taylor was apprised of the situation developing in 7th Heaven by Security Chief Aranea Serket.

    "7th Heaven is abuzz with something, Commander, and I'm afraid it may get out of control. Please meet me in front of the lounge, as it may be related to your missing palm pet."

    When the two officers entered the room, they were greeted with a flying mushroom. Barely dodging out of the way, they saw that the lounge had dissolved into a flurry of flying food and fists, and in the middle of it all a small brown blur trying its very best to dodge the fracas. Taylor recognized the blur from the file Lee sent her.

    "That must be one of the rhyl!" she exclaimed. "Everyone, stop fighting!"

    Unfortunately, the brawl had escalated beyond Taylor's effort to immediately control. Aranea saw that the next few seconds would be crucial, so she aimed at the rhyl and blew a pheromone-laded kiss at it. Hit by the seductive Orion kiss, Sawney wriggled his way out of the furball and climbed onto Aranea's outstretched hand. Taylor let out a quiet cheer before ushering Aranea and Sawney out of the lounge in as riot control poured in.


    Rodney James Alcala was a 20th century rapist and serial killer who was labeled the "Dating Game Killer" due to his appearance on an episode of the television show "The Dating Game", Lee read on the Memory Alpha database. Next to the computer was a PADD labeled "Rhyl 32: Rodney Alcala".


    "In order to catch a small mammal, the logical course of action would be to lure it out of the Jefferies Tube systems with food," T'Shaanat determined. "The temperature in the Jefferies Tubes can be lowered to cause discomfort to the mammal, at which it will seek out a source of warmth."

    T'Shaanat continued her train of thought as she entered Main Engineering.

    "By using force fields in the Jefferies tubes to funnel debris towards the stardrive section, any animals within will be forced out to Main Engineering, lured to a plate of food set out, and trapped in a shrinking radius containment field," she thought. Aloud, she called to the officer on duty, Commander Kovat Vystan.

    "Commander Vystan, I require that you set up an anti-intruder force field pattern in the Jefferies tubes, with a gap of 60 centimeters," she ordered him.
    "I will be with you in a moment, Chief," he replied. "I am in the process of sorting out a problem which erased an hour of work."

    T'Shaanat looked closer at what Kovat was working on. On the table was a small graviton emitter which held a small mammal (Rhyl 5, Lenore Karidian) and a small cloud of nitrous oxide in a spherical suspension. Looking through the eyepiece of his hands-free scanner, he held two menacing implements over the floating mammal. T'Shaanat recognized the mammal as one of the rhyl she had been chasing.

    "Commander Vystan, you are to cease your actions as the creature you are experimenting on is required for a diplomatic mission and must be unharmed."

    In response, Kovat directed the graviton emitter at T'Shaanat, launching Lenore at T'Shaanat. As the panicked ball of fur flew at her, her martial arts training kicked in; dropping down into a ready stance, T'Shaanat arced her arms so that the rhyl's momentum caused it to roll gently down across her arms and into her right hand. Before Lenore could flee again, T'Shaanat incapacitated it with a Vulcan nerve pinch.

    "Thank you for your assistance, Commander Vystan," T'Shaanat said.
    "Don't mention it, Chief," he replied. "Now I just have to set up the computer to run another computer core defragmentation on the secondary core, then sit here for an hour to make sure nobody else interrupts it."

    With that, Kovat returned to his console. T'Shaanat pocketed the rhyl and headed back to the cargo bay.


    Lee lay spread-eagled on the floor of the embassy's back office. In his hand was a PADD. On it was the following information:
    I, Admiral Remus Lee, do hereby declare that the above information for Rhyl 44, named Redjac, is valid and up to date.



    Having called the entire science department of the Lord English to the observation lounge, Commander Kira began handing out medical tricorders to everyone in the room.

    "Alright, department, as Chief science officer of this ship, I have assembled you here today to find a small mammal no bigger than the palm of your hand. This animal, called a rhyl, is as slippery as a Klingon octopus and is capable of sneaking into the tiniest of crevasses. I have calibrated all your tricorders to detect minute vibratons which will be able to detect the rhyl through the ship's walls."

    In the back of the room, the Deferi doctor Maela raised her hand.

    "Commander," she said. "What will you have the sciences personnel do?"
    "I was about to mention that, doctor," Kira responded. "The tricorders are tuned to be sensitive to the rhyl's steps by detecting vibrations up to one picometer along the ship's hull. Unfortunately, the sensitivity is good for three meters before the quality drops off too far for it to be effective."

    Now Vorta warp theorist Yelgrun raised his hand.

    "Commander, how will we be able to tell the difference between the rhyl and the thousands of other vibrations on the ship?" he asked.
    "That will require the tricorder to remain absolutely stationary until it is calibrated at the position you've been assigned to. It'll probably take five to thirty minutes depending on how many people are passing through."

    More hands shot up. Astrometrics Scientist Rekim Fel asked the next question.

    "Commander, are you suggesting that we fan out across the ship, holding a tricorder for thirty minutes before we can even begin to find this "rhyl" creature?"

    Kira thought for a moment.

    "I assume that if your arm gets tired, you can ask someone to replicate you a tricorder stand."

    Still more hands. Chief Medical Officer Four of Thirteen asked the next question.

    "Some of the science staff have still not arrived. For example, Senior Biochemist Twimek is still on duty in sickbay."

    Kira frowned.

    "I made it clear that all sciences personnel were to come to the observation lounge at once," Kira stated as she tried paging Commander Twimek. "Kira to Twimek, get to the observation lounge immediately, the meeting has already started!"

    Just then, the door opened. Twimek strode in and greeted Commander Kira.

    "I apologize for being late, commander. I just found a rather interesting little mammal outside the door to the observation lounge. I must admit, I'm quite fond of these kinds of creatures!"

    In his possession was Rhyl 10 (Chu'lak), scurrying all over his arm. Kira facepalmed in defeat as Chu'lak crawled all over a laughing Twimek's arm. The science department meeting soon dispersed.


    At long last, Lee finished double-checking the last of the PADDs. He only found four mistakes among the 1250 pages, of which only one he deemed critical.
    I, Admiral Remus Lee, do hereby declare that the above information for Rhyl 50, named James Mehra, is valid and up to date.

    "Now to send the data to the Lord English," he said to himself. "Lee to Lord English, I've finished checking the information for discrepancies and am ready to send you the data for the rhyls."
    "Admiral," Taylor replied over the comlink. "Ba'ku Embassy has reported that a large thunderstorm is over the area and has shut down the data transfer server to prevent damage. They advise you to stay in the office until it has passed to protect the data. Sorry, Admiral. Taylor out."

    Lee stood silently in the room, pondering his situation. Inside, he laughed and cried.

    Captain's Log, supplemental. I have grown tired of my stay on Ba'ku, which generally isn't supposed to happen due to the metaphasic radiation. All the same, I will be happy to leave and go travel the stars again. I bet Commander Taylor and the rest of the ship's staff spent their leisure time more enjoyably than I did.
    Post edited by zidanetribal on
  • pwebranflakespwebranflakes Member Posts: 7,741
    edited August 2013
    Hi Captains!

    I am going to extend Challenge #47 for an additional 2 weeks :) Have fun with it!


    Brandon =/\=
  • masopwmasopw Member Posts: 157 Arc User
    edited August 2013

    Arky glared at me from the doorway. "C'mon, pinkskin, when are we *ever* going to get this type of opportunity again?"

    I just stared at him, not blinking, for a solid thirty seconds. "No," I muttered again. "I heard all about that little plan. I am not going to spend my summer in the blazing desert just to recreate a supersonic flight." His ice blue eyes met mine, not moving one micron. I waited for his tell...his left antenna twitching ever so slightly...but it didn't. He wasn't going to back down from this travesty to common sense, this insane proposal from the over-represented Engineering cadets. He wasn't going to submit. Either that, or he learned to control that tell...and if that's the case, poker night may become very expensive.

    A familiar sound started faintly, then became progressively louder. A quick, 'slap slap slap slap'. It meant only one thing...Sara had news that she just had to share with us, and was running like an drunken impala through the dorms. Arky looked down the hallway, smirking that lopsided grin that he had just for her. "It still astounds me that such a small human can make such a racket. I am going to hazard a guess, Sara...your parents never put you in dancing classes when you were a child?"

    Sara sneered at him, practically spitting out, "Cram it, Blue."

    I don't know what possessed me to ask both of them to join OG...they hated each other. But he's a brilliant Engineer, and she is the most remarkable biologist I've ever known. She was tutoring Academy cadets when she was just 15 years old...easy to do when your family history is as illustrious as hers.

    She shoved him hard, leaping into the room with a huge grin on her face. The excitement was boiling, and she shouted, "Bossman, we gotta do it!!!"

    Great. Two against one.

    I closed my eyes, wondering again why these brilliant, sane young minds were seriously contemplating what could only be described as a very, very bad idea.

    "Hold on...hold on. It's Friday. We have until next Thursday to discuss it and come up with an alternative that isn't absolutely ridiculous. There is a very good reason as to why it hasn't been done in fifty years, and--"

    Blue sparkles lit up the room, announcing that somebody was beaming in. I was not pleased, calling out towards the head, "Sotek? Damn it, I thought you put the transport inhibitors in place after that...uh...you know..."

    The patten solidified, bringing R'nee into the room. "It is not logical to become upset with Sotek. You are well aware that I am able to circumvent standard inhibitors despite your attempt to modify them. And it is not logical to slow down an individual who must urgently convey information."

    "And what information might that be, Sticks?" was the playful response from Sara. You get a discount on blond hair dye? Maybe a new pair of boots?"

    R'nee looked at her coldly. Well...R'nee just had one look, and it was cold, so I suppose it was a normal look. Zero emotion, zero inflection in her voice. "I have researched that reference. My legs are within the standard ratio for my body. And your obsession with hair coloration via chemical means is illogical when less damaging alternatives exist."

    Arky grabbed his tricorder, opening it with a flourish. "If you need assistance in measuring ratios, I've just calibrated this particular tricorder...so you won't need a medical one. Or I can fabricate an old fashioned...what's it called....oh, yes...a tape measure."

    Sara's face puckered as if she just bit into a lemon. "You stay one babooze."

    "Enough," I sighed. "Not now...please. My head's killing me. You," I said, pointing to Arky, "are not going to keep using phrases that will have you sent to Social, Racial, and Gender Harmony 101. You just had the refresher course a week ago, for crying out loud!" I then pointed to Sara, saying, "and you...need to control your emotions. If we're gonna be taking out Archer's Enterprise, or Jastsilli's Trafalgar, you can't shove my senior staff, nor pout, nor cuss them out." Finally I pointed to R'nee, "and I've said it over and over...do *not* override the transport inhibitors in this dorm again unless it is to save somebody's life."

    R'nee and Sara started to speak at the same time. "That's what I was..." "This is the reason I..." "...no, me first!"

    "Wait, wait!" I cried out. "One at a time."

    And again, they started to speak, only this time competing with each other to see how loud they could get.

    I rolled my eyes. It's going to be yet another one of those nights...

    Sotek came to my rescue, his deep voice saying one word that silenced the others.


    Sara's eyes widened, and she exclaimed, "How did you know? My auntie said that it wasn't announced yet!"

    R'nee glared at Sotek, stating, "I do not know how you came into possession of that information. I was informed that I was to convey it to our group, hence the beam in."

    I noted she didn't apologize for overriding the inhibitors. I'd have to have another talk with her about that.

    Arky finally came into the room, letting the door close behind him. "Athena? How it that possible?" he whispered. "I was told that the Commandant believed it to be an unacceptable risk for an extra credit exercise?" His eyes narrowed as he glared at Sotek. "And how did you know about it?"

    Sotek smiled. I was glad to see that...he finally felt that he could drop the Vulcan demeanor in front of not only myself, but also the group.

    "I have known for three days."

    Arky, Sara, and R'nee all began shouting over each other. All I could make out was, "How the hell did you find out and why didn't you tell us!" Amazing that the three of them made a chorus that said pretty much the same thing.

    Confronted by the genuine anger coming off Arky, Sotek held up his hands in surrender. "When the topic of our group exercise came up during the chess tournament, the Commandant pulled me aside and asked if Cadet Jax's idea of recreating an Apollo mission had merit. Given the number of Engineering cadets in our group, a standard cruise in an obsolete Starfleet vessel would not offer a fair distribution of work, nor would it give all of them the opportunity to show their own particular talents."

    I knew about Jax's proposal...he was always trying to push the envelope a bit further than sanity allowed. The idea he came up with was that the Engineering cadets would actually fabricate a Saturn V / Apollo stack and monitor the tech, the Science cadets would oversee telemetry and geology, and the Command cadets would act as crew.

    I was not a fan of it. I was campaigning for the regular 'cadet cruise' where I would, under the supervision of one of the Academy instructors, act as Captain of a museum ship. For a challenge where I could shine, I started whispering about the obstacles the Trafalgar's crew faced during their navigation of an asteroid field close to Dharma 815. I left PADDs here and there, detailing how it could safely be simulated in the belt between Mars and Jupiter, and explaining how the large number of Engineering cadets could attack each of the problems faced by Jastsilli's crew...the loss of the main deflector...the loss of life support...the loss of all shielding....heck, they could even take on a scenario from the Traffy's last mission where they replicated an entire warp engine and nacelle!

    It was fair...it would give each and every member of my team a chance to shine!

    Sotek, of course, gave me a virtual punch to the gut when he said, "I told the Commandant that a more challenging test of our group would be to attempt the Athena program. Given the large number of engineering tasks, particularly the fabrication, he concurred."

    At that moment I wanted nothing more than to ask Q to appear, drop Sotek three miles off the North Shore of Oahu, chum the water, and make Sotek's pointy tri-trusta vanish into a blink of white light.

    Instead of that, I saw Sara jumping up and down excitedly, R'nee's eyebrow raised ever so slightly, signalling that she was pleased, and Arky running over to the computer, starting to make a schedule to oversee fabrication. Sotek grinned and threw me a Shaka.

    I think that's when the tears started.


    Six weeks later...

    "I hate you. I hate you. I hate you," I muttered over and over, floating weightless as I put the cube of food away. It had the consistency of a block of particle board, had zero taste, and despite the claim that it didn't, made crumbs go *everywhere*.

    Sotek, of course, had to use that opening. "Hate leads to Suffering."

    I glared daggers at him. "I *am* suffering, you dolt!"

    Arky was a very deep shade of blue. For whatever reason, he wasn't adapting well to zero g. He tried to explain something about the difference between zero g and micro gravity, and how he didn't have any issues during ISS operations.

    Honestly, I didn't care about the difference at that point...I was just glad I wasn't suffering alone.

    See, Athena was some idea...rightfully banished to never becoming reality...of taking the existing Apollo capsule, strapping it on a modified Saturn V, performing a rendezvous with additional boosters in lunar orbit, and proceeding on to Mars. Hard burn from lunar orbit, coast, turn, another sustained burn to slow down and enter Martian orbit.

    This was a 'simple summer project', and as such, couldn't last for more than 72 days, lest it interfere with normal studies. A few of the instructors tried to have a full mission profile, build time and all, but that would take years. So industrial replicators were permitted, which allowed the Engineering cadets the ability to quickly create a modified Saturn V, a slew of boosters, and a historically accurate Apollo CSM and revised 'Martian lander'.

    As a compromise between "simulated proposed historical accuracy" and operational reality, the mission had to be fast-forwarded between launch and Martian touchdown. The 'cheat' was simple: a Starfleet tug that cut the voyage down to 54 days.

    This was day nine.

    I hate life.

    Jax's voice crackled through the comms. "Athena 1, Houston...Hey guys...uh...life sciences asked me to check in on you. You guys ok? Over."

    It wasn't the tug scanning us...they were simply a lifeguard of sorts, only to be used if disaster was imminent. No, we had to wear ancient wires taped to our bodies. This caused very uncomfortable rashes that just added to the misery. I had to suppress my laugh at Arky, who sprouted a virtual forest of these wires. Who knew Andorian physiology would be so difficult to monitor with old equipment? The one on his right antenna kept coming loose, the adhesive not working well with his biochemistry, and it gave him a slight shock every time it left his skin.

    Following the old comms procedure, I grabbed the microphone, stabbed down the button, and growled, "Houston, Athena 1. Arky has stopped puking, if that's what you're asking about. The stench has gotten to a barely tolerable level. It again smells like three goats in a locker in here. Sotek....is Sotek." This earned me a bemused grin and another Shaka from Sotek. I wanted to reach over and strangle him. "And I'm still wondering why I'm in stinky BBQ mode when all you had to do to be my XO was put down the old Earth history books and agree that the Traffy would have been a great test of all our abilities. Over." I put a bit of venom on the last word, making sure Jax new that I'd never forgive him for this...that it would never *be* over.

    "Yeah...uhm..." He deviated from the old fashioned comms protocol, and his tone with those two words made the hairs on the back of my neck raise up. "See...there's been a bit of a miscalculation. Supply wise...uh....well, since there wasn't the secondary rendezvous with the supply module because of the taxi...and...uh..."

    "Spit it out." I too dropped protocol. "Just...just...what is it?"

    "Anybody near the WCS locker?"

    Sotek grabbed his mike. "Houston, Athena 1, this is Sotek." Leave it to the Vulcan to stick to protocol. "I am next to the locker. Over."

    "Er...Sotek...could you count the number of Apollo bags you have?"

    "Houston, Athena 1, this is Sotek, stand by..." He started rifling through the collection of plastic bags that looked like an old 'top hat' with a finger sleeve in the side.

    Jax interruped, "Uhm...yeah...Sotek...life sciences screwed up really badly. But Command states this isn't an issue where your taxi can intervene...not life threatening." He sighed loudly. "You're nine days into the mission...and you should have 120 Apollo bags left to get you to Mars."

    "Houston, Athena 1, this is Sotek. There are 47."

    I really hate life.
  • rextorvan36rextorvan36 Member Posts: 150 Arc User
    edited August 2013
    The Message

    To: Eris Shalvon, R.R.W. Decius,

    Please report to my office at your earliest convenience.

    Signed: Kererek, admiral commanding Romulan Republic Forces.

    Republic command, New Romulus

    I had wanted a little extra time to recollect my thoughts about the message so I had beamed down to the great terrace that overlooked the sea.

    With the Decius now in standard orbit of New Romulus after its transwarp jump from Risa, I felt I had a little time to reexamine everything that had happened. No matter how I looked at it, I didn't find anything I had done wrong. The updated intelligence packet that had been attached to the message didn't have anything particularly nasty nor worrying in it either so I figured it wouldn't be a special mission of any kind either. My fear and loathing of Risa was now a distant memory anyway.

    A few fellow officers were in hushed debate about something or another. They moved away when they noticed me. What was this? There were a few others on the terrace that apparently also succeeded in finding another place they needed to be. What was going on here?

    A glance at the chronometer showed me it was almost time. At a calm and relaxed but purposeful pace I headed for the office. On my way there I noticed it again. Staff officers and the like, staring at me. I could only wonder what the admiral had in store for me now.

    The corridor that leads to the Admiral's office is empty.

    When I reached the office edge, I knocked and came to rigid attention.

    Kererek doesn't respond.

    Instead his back is turned to me and he's staring out the window into the distance. On his desk I can see a holo display of a Scimitar Dreadnought.

    I frown. Its not much to see visually, but somehow I know he spots it.

    "Come on in, Eris." His tone wasn't all that jovial as usual, instead there was a certain 'command' type steel in there.

    As I've taken 5 steps into the office I hear a hum. As I turn around I can see a force field has been erected near the office entry. That field has been set to an opaque quality, no one can see in now and, I'm pretty sure no one will be able to hear the conversation we're about to have either.

    "Sit down!" His voice still had that command edge to it.

    Obediently I sat down in one of the chairs in front of his desk. Again, the silence reigns supreme. I still wonder about what's going on. I've never seen the admiral like this. My eyes slowly drift towards the hologram of the Scimitar that's on his desk. Below it, I can see a name R.R.W. Sienov.

    "If I could have your attention."

    My eyes snap back to the admiral.

    "I find myself in a difficult situation, Eris." he starts to explain.

    "Difficult situation??" repeat, not quite understanding yet what's going on. I do however get the feeling that something happened while I was away. But what?

    The admiral continued on in the meantime "In 47 days the first general election for a new senate and a representative body will be held."

    I was literally slack jawed! Elections? Had we progressed that far with the help of both the Federation and the Klingons?

    Admiral Kererek seemed to guess my thought. "Yes, we have indeed come so far. D'Tan feels elections would be signal to the galaxy at large that we're not the Romulans of the Empire, but that we're something...new."

    I began to wonder why my presence had been requested and, what all the secrecy was about. Only now did I see the admiral seem to be troubled by what was asked of him and, what he was going to ask me to do.

    "But not all of our people see it that way."

    I managed to control my emotions like a Vulcan would. I did not move at all and I was pretty damn sure there was nothing visible on my face that would portray any kind of emotion. But I dreaded the idea of taking military action against the Republic and its inhabitants in such a fashion.

    The admiral now handed me a padd, and on that padd was a picture.

    "That's Havreek." the image changed to an assortment of personal data that revealed Havreek to be a trader. In turn the scheme and silhouette of a ship followed. I recognized the lines of a D'deridex but there were some interesting looking differences. " And that's his ship, the Hajellas. Some less then regular but invasive scanning has shown some rather interesting modifications to the design. Although this is not irregular TRIBBLE, Havreek has also been campaigning rather forcefully at times. Also, there have been reports of Nausican mercenaries attacking two of the candidates that were in direct opposition to him."

    Now I did frown visually "What happened to them?"

    "One attack was successful, the other attack was moderately effective." Translation: one dead candidate, one retired candidate. A somewhat effective way of winning an election.

    "Security forces managed to capture a couple of those mercenaries alive, and believe it or not, they talked. And what they told us raised concerns about a certain candidate not playing fair.

    No kidding, I thought as the admiral gave me the rest of the mission briefing.

    To counteract anything Havreek would come up with, I would receive command of one of the newest and most advanced ships of the fleet, a dreadnought, the R.R.W. Sienov. On election day I would have to be in synchronous orbit over the capital and watch for anything out of the ordinary, whatever that would be.

    So basically the stage was set for the Romulan republic its first real triumph. Or, its biggest disaster. And I had 47 days to prepare for either.

    After those 47 days I was ready along with the ship and her crew, and the intelligence was wrong, somewhat.

    In the Capital, the elections went off without a hitch. Nothing out of the ordinary happened.

    Space was another matter.

    The election results were expected somewhere during the night. That's when the trouble began.

    After the Elachi attack, security on and over New Romulus had been 'upgraded' to put it mildly. One of those upgrades was a simplified version of a tachyon detection grid. The grid had a few redundancies. One of which was the ability to report tampering.

    The nerve shattering wail that alerted us to the fact that the tachyon grid was being tampered with was gone not 5 seconds later as I stepped on to the bridge from my ready room.


    In concordance with the protocol, the ship had been brought to yellow alert while the staff on the bridge tried to figure out what was going on.

    “Sir, the tachyon grid is broadcasting a tampering alert. As of yet we are unable to discern the origin.” Veril, Satra and Hiven were all hovering near the cyberwarfare terminal and didn't bother to look up. I didn't mind, they had bigger and better things to do.

    I sat down in the command seat, called up a ship status display and waited. The ship was ready, but was it ready for what was out there?

    “Got the TRIBBLE!” Hiven's cry forced any and all other troubled thoughts from my mind.

    “ Sitrep!”

    This time Satra did turn around. “ Sir, as of fifteen minutes ago, the tachyon detection grid that surrounds New Romulus has been tampered with. The grid has however not gone into fail safe as directed and responded by giving an approximate location of the source.”

    “ Updating tactical now.” Tovan was on the ball.

    “Tactical on the main screen.” I needed the bigger picture and, I needed to clear my thinking. If the intel was correct....

    In the meantime, the tactical map was updated.

    The hacker signal source was close enough to the planet its north pole to make going through that pole a viable escape option. However, I had plans for that.

    “Tactical! target the area around the pole with tachyon buoys. Synch them with the grid. Firing patterns are Alpha 6, Beta 3 and Omega 6. Helm, once the probes have reached position put us way above the pole on the Z axis, looking down at the planet.”

    The plan was simple. I would literally deploy a cloud of tachyon probes around the signal and thus create a web that wouldn't allow an unnoticed escape. With the next phase the homing torpedoes would be fired. After that...well... I didn't doubt the outcome.
    About 3 minutes later we were in position.

    That's when it began.

    “Picking up multiple signals on Alpha 6.”

    I didn't have to give the order at all. The situation appeared on the tactical screen. Two buoys on the opposite end of the first pattern, lit up like Christmas trees.

    “Signal on Beta 3!”

    Beta was the other pattern. Multiple signals at the same time as well. I knew what was going here a little too well. Were the roles reversed I would have done the same thing myself. But with us now looking down at the planet with an arsenal of weapons that could wreak untold havoc, I wanted, no, I needed to be sure.

    “Launch the fighters, have them check out all the signals. They are not to engage, only to report contacts.”

    With the ship at yellow alert it didn't take all that long for the fighters to launch. With the data we downloaded to them from the bridge, it took them even less time to get to the coordinates.

    Less then thirty seconds later they had surrounded two shuttles at Alpha 6 that meekly surrendered almost immediately. I suspected as much.

    A second flight, I chided myself a little bit for thinking in Earth terms, was now on course for the Beta 3 buoys. I held my breath in anticipation. If Beta 3 was what I think it was, I would probably be sacrificing those pilots, and for what?

    No, that could have and would have been the old way, and that didn't apply here. This, had to be done differently, and it would be.

    I looked at Tovan “ Have the fighters hold short of weapons range on Beta 3. And ready a spread of 4 homing torpedoes, low yield.”

    I smiled as I noticed the fighters position on the tactical screen. They were holding position about halfway between the buoys and us. Apparently there was someone within the pilot ranks that felt the same way as I did.

    “ Torpedoes ready.” Tovan soon reported.

    “ Go to red alert.” The alert siren wailed briefly across the bridge. The only thing that changed here was the arrival of four armed centurions, meant to protect the bridge against boarders. The shields would be up soon, and power would flow to the weapons grid and then we would be really ready.

    “ Incoming plasma torpedoes!” That's nice, a predictable reaction yet knowing that you waited to long at the same time.

    “ Target the incoming torpedoes with cannons and turrets! Fire as she bears. Then fire those homing torpedoes at Beta 3!” If someone was outside to look, he or she would have noticed the front end of the ship was beginning to glow.

    I got the first couple of surprises there and then. First in line, the accuracy of all the cannons and turrets that were fitted on the bow and stern of the Dreadnought. They demolished the three incoming plasma torpedoes within seconds. The other surprise was the agility of the ship. Although we hadn't exactly turned on a dime, we were soon accelerating away from our last position.

    “ Impact!” Since my ship didn't shake I was pretty sure Tovan had meant there had been an impact near Beta 3.

    “ Hard about!!! Target the explosion and fire as she bears. Hold off on torpedo fire though.” I wanted Havreek alive. I didn't care too much about his ship though.

    In space, the ships bow and wings would light up again as a torrent of cannon and beam weapon fire would be unleashed. The streams and bolts of plasma would wing their way through space, impact on the D'deridex shields and wittle them away. Then, they would find their way through the hull, chewing up vital systems and spots and people perhaps too. All in all, the target of that barrage would be a big mess.

    And she was.

    The ship I had been briefed about was now no longer a ship but a listing wreck. One of the two nacelles was dark. The other was flashing intermittent, signaling power trouble. Parts had been shattered and were drifting away from her when we got closer I realized that some of those parts weren't metallurgic at all.

    “ Comms, Hail them! Tell them to stand down and surrender.”

    There was no response. I hadn't quite figured there would be. “ Tovan, boarding parties. I want Havreek alive. Everybody else that gets in your way is expendable.” Tovan nodded and left the bridge. Yet another waiting game began in this way.

    But it ended a lot sooner then I expected. Although the Sienov boarding parties suffered injuries, the outcome of this battle was never in doubt. When Tovan and his troops reached the bridge on the modified D'Deridex they did indeed find Havreek alive, barely. An emergency beamout to the medbay was required.

    After the entire D'Deridex had been checked out, it was deemed beyond salvage by an engineering team. Although we really couldn't afford to loose a ship like that, in the end it would have cost far more to repair. We were left with no choice.

    New Romulus command called when the light of the explosion had died out. It was the admiral himself.

    “I take it it's all over?”

    “It's all over.” I confirmed. Then the admiral got some of the details of the short battle we had. I finished up with reporting that we had Havreek in our lifestation and as soon as he could be moved we would gladly transport him over. Until then, the admiral would just have to wait. He agreed, a little too reluctant too my liking.

    As Kemerek signed off I wondered, was this the beginning of something, or an end.........
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