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Literary Challenge #49 : The Return of The Traveler

pwebranflakespwebranflakes Member Posts: 7,741
edited September 2013 in Ten Forward
Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges! :cool:

Today we start the two-week run of the forty-ninth Literary Challenge: The Return of The Traveler
He's back and on your ship... but why? Let us know.

((Who is "The Traveler"? Learn more about him here: http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/The_Traveler))

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 pwebranflakes on


  • masopwmasopw Member Posts: 157 Arc User
    edited September 2013
    The Signpost


    I ignored the chime, instead concentrating on the gently flickering flame on the table. I sat cross legged before it, doing my best to bring a sense of calmness to my frazzled mind.


    I looked at the door, noting how annoyed I was at the intrusion into my attempt at meditation. I swung my head around to the left, looking thought the slightly opaque windows, and made out where the terminator fell on the surface of the Earth.

    "The time is approximately 0745. I am currently off duty, and will assume my post at 0830. Please come and see me then," I said, hoping that my voice would carry through the shut door to my quarters.


    Uncrossing my legs, I rose, and walked over to the door. I jabbed the comm panel, and repeated what I had just said.


    Exasperated, I walked over to my bed, grabbed my robe, and threw it over my bedclothes. I was then that I noted that my room was...as Sara would have said...a pigpen.

    Or was it a stye?

    The fact that I couldn't remember clearly worried me. Ever since the incident a few months back at Starfleet Academy...that....fracturing of the multiple universes...I realized that I was starting to lose focus...to forget what I considered simple information.

    Because of what I saw. What I saw in his eyes...


    "Enter," I called out. The computer would recognize the statement, coming soon after the door chime, and automatically open the door. My mind flashed back to the time at the Academy when Sara pulled that 'prank'...is that what it is called?...so that the door would open only after one would say a 'magic word' that rotated on an hourly basis. That's when R'nee started beaming into the dorm...

    Strange...why would that come to my mind now?

    The door opened with a whoosh, but the figure in the threshold did not walk in. He wore a robe with oddly-familiar sigils down the front. The hood was raised, and I could barely make out a jawline with an odd scar in the middle of the chin.

    "Greetings, my daughter. May I enter?"

    I staggered backwards, almost tripping over the meditation table.

    "Father? Wh...what....how..." I stammered. I did my best to calm my mind, looking for the right words. "Father. This is most unexpected. I am...surprised...to see you."

    He reached up and took the hood off. His chiseled features showed a lifetime of hard work under the harsh elements of Vulcan. His hair was shot through with silver, and his eyes looked...odd.

    They looked sad.

    "May I enter, my daughter?", he quietly said.

    "Yes...please do so." I looked past him into the hallway, prepared to dismiss his escort. But there was no escort. Strange...this is a violation of the Captain's Standing Order on non-assigned personnel. Anyone visiting the ship...particularly if they aren't a member of Starfleet...is to be escorted at all times. I would have to address this with the Officer of the Deck...the Captain would not be pleased, even in his current condition, if he found out about this deficiency.

    My father slowly took a couple of steps inside, and looked around. He squinted as he surveyed the mess...the clothes on the floor, the unmade bed...and he shook his head slightly.

    I flushed with embarrassment at the state of my quarters, feeling as if I was a child, and waiting for the inevitable reprimand. "Father, please...have a seat over there," I said, motioning towards the seating area by the tilted windows. My mind was racing...again, not focused. Why...how...was he here? "May I offer you a beverage?"

    He strode over to the couch silently, not showing the limp he acquired years ago after an industrial accident almost claimed his life. "I'm fine, my daughter. Please...join me," he said, sitting down.

    My focus snapped into place at that moment...things were not right. I lunged over to the desk and grabbed my phaser.

    "Computer, Intruder Alert!" I shouted out, aiming the phaser at whatever thing was masquerading as my father.

    The being again shook his head, and sadly asked, "How did you know?"

    I didn't hear any confirmation from the computer, nor hear the Security Response Team leader's answer to the Alert. I narrowed my eyes, and put some bite into my words. "My father may have decided to again take to space if he heard I was unwell. He may have been able to convince my crew he didn't need an escort, that discretion was required for a visit. He may even have overcome his limp. But he would *never* use contractions. Never. 'The words of the lazy' he called them."

    A small smile came to his face, as he said, "Yes...I remember now. He does have his ways...and I do apologize for the deception."

    "You can apologize in the brig," I growled. I noted that I was more upset than I should be. I had been in situations worse than this...the level of anger I was feeling was not...logical. Again, I noted that I had not heard confirmation of my Alert. Assuming that this...whatever it was...had somehow tampered with the system, I half turned to the door--

    And that was when, out of the corner of my eye, noticed that the candle's flame had ceased movement.

    My jaw dropped. The flame was alight, but frozen in time.

    The being noted my reaction, and calmly stated, "Please...do not be alarmed. This is my doing, and I mean you no harm."

    I stood tall, doing my best not to show any signs of fear. "Are you a Q? Does this have to do with what happened?"

    He slowly got up, and said, "No to the first part, yes to the last." He seemed to stretch up, and his features shimmered slightly. My father's visage faded away, replaced by a male humanoid, with elongated face. Pronounced arches were over his eyes, and his hairline receded towards the middle of his head. "Please...let's take a seat. I require your assistance."

    I scoffed, "You need *my* assistance? You appear to have stopped time. You have bypassed this ship's security protocols." I lowered the phaser. "And I will assume that even if I attempted to use this, it would have no effect. So what can I possibly assist you with?"

    He sat down again, tilting his head as an invitation for me to join him. When I did not move, he looked down. "I do again apologize for the deception," he sadly stated. "I did not want to simply appear to you, intruding as the Q sometimes do. I had hoped that the appearance of your father would somehow calm you, put you into a more accepting frame of mind for what I have to ask." He paused, wondering how to proceed. "The one thing that *is* constant is the love your father has for his little girl."

    "Do not speak of something you know nothing of!", I shouted. "How *dare* you? How dare you assume to know my father's feelings?"

    "I truly am sorry," he said. "I do not know exactly how to begin this explanation...so I will just put it plainly. You, L'naa, are going to do something that will harm the very fabric of the time/space continuum. I have come to ask you to reconsider. Or rather...ask you what would cause you to want to reconsider."

    I felt this was just the beginning of a very confusing conversation. "First...have you stopped time? Is that your doing? Or have you done something to me where I believe you have stopped time?"

    "My people have the ability to alter what you perceive as time and space, amongst other things. For the sake of argument...yes, I have stopped time. But I assure you...I do not mean you, or your crew, any harm."

    I walked over to the seating area, opening my mind. "I don't sense you...what *are* you?"

    He smiled. "Yes...neither telepaths nor empaths can detect my people."

    "What *are* your people?", I interrupted.

    "Our names are not pronouncable by Vulcans...or humans...or by any of the species in this galaxy. I, myself, am an observer, an assistant. I have come to your people...your Starfleet...in the past. To nurture talents. To help you help yourselves."

    I sat down, more and more confused. "If your people help others...then I ask again, what help can I possibly provide you with?"

    "I want you to help me...help you. Or rather...help another version of you."

    My shoulders sagged as I recalled another version of me. An older version, one with extreme sadness in her eyes. The me from another universe. "Then this is about what happened at the Academy?"

    "In a complicated way," he said. "Sometimes the Q change things in space/time that has consequences they never had taken into consideration." He looked at me, tilting his head slightly. "The....resolution...that Q brought to what you experienced months ago. Do you know what happened?"

    Confused, I said, "I know there were four distinct realities that I was aware of. But Sotek said that Nico experienced..." I stopped. This was becoming very confusing...but it always was when this type of situation occurs. "Nico experienced 47 distinct realities. And that's why he...and to some extent, Sotek...are suffering down there," pointing towards Earth. "Sotek melded with Nico...and now he is experiencing extreme confusion. That is why they are at Tripler."

    He nodded. "That is what I thought you would know. Would you like me to get you a tea, or some broth?", he said, gesturing towards the replicator.

    "Just tell me what I need to know," I spat out. I had no desire to become a component of some predestination paradox by knowing too much, but it was clear that this being wouldn't leave until I helped him.

    "I can appreciate that," he quietly said. "Again...I offer my apology for the earlier deception. I have found with some of your people that receiving difficult information is easier when it comes from somebody they know." He paused. "And I understand your concern with knowing too much. Knowing one's destiny is difficult--"

    "Stop right there," I interrupted. I do not believe in destiny, and do not care if some self described superior being states otherwise."

    He leaned back in his seat, retreating at my harsh words. "I am not superior...I am merely there to offer guidance. To put a signpost at a crossroads, so that *you* can make a correct decision."

    "Fine," I hissed. I was not pleased with the level of anger I was feeling. It was raw...threatening to overtake my emotional control. I shut my eyes tightly, hoping that I could maintain my composure in front of this being.

    He leaned forward, saying, "You have been experiencing powerful emotions lately, haven't you? Not being yourself? Perhaps acting strangely?" He looked around the room, gazing at a mess no Vulcan would ever live in.

    I just glared at him, raising an eyebrow, wondering how he knew.

    He sighed. "My people can move across dimensions...to other realities. And I have seen the 47 your friend has seen." A pause. "Some of them...many...are.... unpleasant. And there is a reason why it is having such an affect on him...and on Sotek...and soon, on you." Another pause. "With your help...and only with your help...I can guide you all past this nightmare."

    His words came out softly...and I relaxed. I was hoping for this time, ever since Sotek found Nico on Risa. Hoping that some answer would present itself to stop what was slowly driving us insane.

    "What do I need to do?", I whispered.

    Later that day, USS Bonaventure sickbay

    "Abso-bloody-lutly not!"

    Doc Irve was livid. I've seen him angry before, even enraged, but this was a most unexpected response. I took a reflective step backwards, actually fearful of what he'd say next.

    "I don't give a damn what this specialist," he growled, pointing a finger at the being who asked me to call him T'rvor, "says is necessary to help the Captains down there."

    The being who had shown up earlier appearing as my father had now taken on the appearance of an elderly Vulcan male. He wore a Vulcan Master Healer's robe, and at this point I didn't need to know how he fashioned new clothes out of thin air. I didn't know if it was something akin to what the Q did, or if it was similar to how the Founders changed appearances. What was necessary right now was that Doc Irve believed him to be a fellow physician, one whose counsel he should take.

    Didn't seem to be working.

    Doc Irve stood up, and stalked around his desk. He stepped right up to T'rvor and growled out, "I should call the Vulcan Medical Concordance and have your credentials ripped away and sent into the sun!". He poked a finger into T'rvor's chest, then began pacing back and forth. "I've been around long enough to know about Vulcan voodoo and I can accept some...just some...of what you savages call medicine."

    T'rvor's voice was calm, with no emotion. "Perhaps we could sit around the patients and sing a song, or chant some words. Maybe stick a few needles in their skin to get some invisible force flowing. Would that be more acceptable to human medical practices?"

    Instead of backing down, Doc Irve became even angrier. "Don't you *dare* compare prayer or alternative medical practices to what you're proposing. Do you even *know* the history of this girl?", he howled, pointing to me. "How she hasn't melded with anybody in God know how many years because of her past? And you want to perform a chain meld? Have you lost your mind too?" He took a step towards the couch in his office, almost throwing himself down upon it. "Damn it...I'm getting too old for this. Everyone else besides me is going off the deep end."

    I was touched at how much the doctor cared about our well being, and my eyes welled up. "Doctor, T'rvor is highly recommended by the Council of Maladaptive Anomalies," I lied, hoping that there wasn't a real Council with a similar name. I inwardly shuddered...tears, minor lies...my self control was deteriorating quicker than I had thought. "If he believes a chain meld will help Sotek and Nico, then it is only logical for me to attempt it." I swallowed, doing my best to project confidence where I felt none.

    T'rvor took a step forward, portraying the stoic Vulcan most humans expected. "The Commander will go at her own pace," he said. "She will be in control of the meld. I will only observe and guide. You are required to act as an anchor to the present, as chain melds can be disorientating."

    Doc Irve stood and walked over to his desk. He sat down, reached under his desk and pulled out a bottle of Romulan Ale. He opened it, drinking two deep gulps directly from the bottle. He glowered at us, saying, "Drop the charade. Chain melds are never done off Vulcan. Not without three Masters. And no Healer with an ounce of logic in their brain would ever propose otherwise. Damn it...she's one of the reasons why!"

    I flushed with embarrassment, thinking that the ruse was over. But T'rvor simply said, "She is the reason it will work. Her, and Sotek. Only by revisiting the past can the future be repaired."

    Doc Irve looked at me, staring hard. "Darling, you know damn well why I think this is a bad idea. You know that I was there when you, Sotek, Nico, and the others went through that nightmare. I know you're hurting...have been since the last time we were back on Earth. I can see what the effects on Sotek and Nico are...and know that it's killing you. Don't give me Vulcan emotional control mumbo-jumbo. I was going to pull you from your duties if you didn't show any sign of improvement...and now I *know* I'm gonna pull you from duty. This is just--"

    "Illogical", I interrupted. "I know, Doctor. But have you any better ideas? How long are they going to last before their minds are damaged beyond repair?"

    Doc Irve sighed, and took another swig from the bottle. "I don't know. I wish to God that I did."

    T'rvor quietly said, "Then let her attempt this solution. In the absence of alternatives, this approach is logical."

    Doc Irve took yet another drink from the bottle, then replaced the stopper, setting it down with a loud clink. "Damn you. If this doesn't work..." his voice dropped to a whisper, "and she gets worse, I'm going to kill you."

    T'rvor didn't move a micron. "I believe that you would, doctor."

    "Computer, activate EMH Mark 3A," Doc Irve called out.

    An elderly human female with curly silver hair appeared out of thin air. "Please state the...." the hologram paused, seeing Doc Irve. "Great...what do you want now, Cookie?"

    Doc Irve blushed, saying, "Save it Katey. All you need to know is I'm going through a Meld and need you to monitor the vitals of the participants."

    "Meld? You?", the hologram asked, her voice incredulous. "You're going to meld?"

    Doc Irve nodded. "Yep...me and these two."

    The EMH crossed her arms. "Computer, run complete diagnostic on EHM input protocols."

    "You heard right, Katey. Nothing wrong with your ears. Just monitor us"

    The hologram blinked a dozen times. "Is this a test?", she asked. Her eyes looked up, then bounced from left to right, the telltale signs that a hologram was interfacing with the ship's logs. "Because it seems as if everyone on this ship is experiencing psychiatric crisis of one form or another....and I think you're the latest contestant."

    "No duff, Katey. Just monitor the three of us," Doc Irve said.

    Again, the hologram accessed her database. "Three? That means a chain meld. Off Vulcan. No bloody way. I'm a doctor, not an executioner."

    Doc Irve growled at her, "CMO prerogative, override Gamma 3 Beta. Do it, or I'll pull up the EMH 3 B and have her do it."

    The EHM stared hard at him, looking as if her feelings were hurt. "Just like you, my old husband. Preferring that Beverly will do a procedure instead of me."

    I gasped out, "Husband?"

    Doc Irve fixed me with a stare. "Never mind my history, youngun. My personal relationships are none of your business, and you," he said, glaring at the EMH, "know better than to access my personal logs when called up in an on-duty situation."

    The EMH grinned, saying, "Sorry Cookie. Won't happen again...until the next time. Fine. Override protocol checks out. I'm going on the record as saying this is a bad idea."

    Doc Irve walked over to the biobeds, muttering, "Objection noted." He motioned over to us, saying, "Well, c'mon. May as well fry my mind while I'm still in the mood."

    T'rvor said, "Would you like some more of your beverage first, Doctor?"

    Moving two biobeds next to a third, he spat out, "Don't push your luck, *Doctor*."

    I walked over to Doc Irve, and hopped up on the central bed. "Please, Doctors," I said. "Can we simply proceed?"

    Doc Irve grumbled, "Fine." He scowled at T'rvor, then laid down to my left.

    T'rvor strode to the biobed on my right, and extended his hand. For the ruse to work, it had to appear as if he was leading the meld. He placed his hand on my face, and I placed my hand on Doc Irve's face.

    "My mind to your mind....my thoughts to your thoughts..."

    I closed my eyes and hoped that this would work.

    Sickbay disappeared, replaced by a black void. Spheres and polygons appeared, some joined by straight lines, and others by long, looping curves. The shapes pulsed with different colours, some bright, and some dim.

    T'rvor spoke quietly. "This represents your memories. Some good, some bad. I need to know both your best and worst ones in order to understand you."

    I blinked a few times, and whispered, "So you can understand the other me, correct?"

    T'rvor smiled softly, saying, "Yes. Would you like to go over it again?"

    I shook my head. This being explained about the other version of me in the mirror universe. No, I corrected myself...*one* of the mirror universes. T'rvor described how the mirror universe Nico that was present at that incident two months ago started a horrendous project on learning about Red Matter. That experiment stopped because it was destroying the very fabric of space/time, and even they were sane enough to end further work. But during their research, they broke into a different mirror universe, divulging the events of the nexus incident. The version of me from *that* universe stole the research, killed Sotek and R'nee, and created a chain of events that caught the attention of T'rvor. He came to me to see if there was *anything* he could do to show this other me that what was happening was going to end very, very badly.

    "No, I get the basics," I said. "This project is aimed at a temporal anomaly that is effecting multiple universes. It feeds off the minds of those present at that nexus incident. Me...Nico...R'nee." How it did so when R'nee was gone here is beyond me...but paradoxes seldom make sense. "It drives the victims in other universes insane, destroying their memories so that the killer me gains more abilities...greater intelligence and telepathic strength.
    But I don't understand why you just don't do something about it."

    T'rvor gazed over the shapes that represented my memories. "My people cannot interfere directly. We see what the Q have done. When a race has decisions imposed upon themselves without choice, they grow resentful. Destructive. We only advise so they can make the right choice,"

    "Right according to who?", I asked.

    He smiled, saying, "That I do not know. But if the universes are destroyed...how is that the right choice for anyone?"

    I knew that this evil project was clouding my mind. I didn't have the focus to logically debate what this being was saying. I was too confused. "I don't understand....but I don't need to understand. I just need to help him."

    "Him?", T'rvor asked.

    I flushed with embarrassment. "Them."

    He tilted his head, saying, "I'm sorry...I don't mean for you to be uncomfortable."

    "I don't want Doc Irve to know those feelings," I said, glancing over to the doctor. His face was expressionless, eyes closed. I grew alarmed. "Speaking of the doctor...why hasn't he said anything?"

    "Frozen time, again, my doing. Your doctor is only here to anchor us in this reality. The fracturing of the multiple universes is taking a great toll on me. If he isn't here, I may lose my ability to know which universe is which."

    The revelation hit me fast. "You're melding with *her* at this point, aren't you? That's why you needed a person close to me to act as an anchor."

    "I'd prefer to think of your doctor as a signpost...he is unique in the universes, in that all other versions of him do not exist. His presence will point us in the right direction."

    My stomach became queasy. "Does this mean I will meet this killer me here?"

    "No," T'rvor said. "While I am here with you, I am also there with her. Same me...but time as you know it doesn't have the same meaning to me. I'm melding with her in your past, or your future."

    My head was spinning. "Enough. Stop. Each question you answer only brings more questions. "Proceed with the task at hand then...how do I find these memories for you?"

    He motioned out at the shapes. "Each sphere represents a good memory. The brighter the colour, the stronger the memory. You'll notice the lines connecting them are straight. That is how, when you reminisce, your mind finds the good ones quickly. The curved lines? They lead to negative memories....the lines being your mind's way of delaying them coming up easily. We seek the best memory so I can remind the killer you of the emotions behind it....something that will convince her that self destruction is not what she desires."

    "Then why seek my worst memory as well?", I asked.

    "So I can show her what she's already gone through...and that to continue on her present course would be even worse."

    I nodded, and took a step towards a bright sphere. As I approached, the golden glow dimmed somewhat, and I could glance inside the once opaque sphere. I saw a beach on a beautiful sunny day, waves gently breaking off shore. A picnic basket held a veritable feast, and I saw Nico lying in the shade. I remembered this day...it was the first time he took me to this secluded beach, when we spoke for hours...and when he reached over and gave me my first kiss.

    My face burned. I didn't want this being to know my most personal moments, but he was exuding an aura of calm detachment. He smiled at me, and said softly, "I acknowledge that this is a very difficult thing to share. Intimate. I can share some of mine with you if you wish afterwards."

    "No', I said. "You're sure Doc Irve can not see this?"

    He smiled. "You have my word. He isn't aware of what's going on. He will remember a beach, the Academy, the Bonaventure, but no details."

    I hoped he was telling the truth, so I started walking towards a sphere that was almost blinding in its radiance. I looked back; Doc Irve was still standing still, eyes closed, and T'rvor slowly walked to catch up. When he arrived, I took a step closer to the sphere, and my heart soared with joy.

    Inside, I saw myself as a young child. I was in my childhood home, and it was decorated for the festival known as Christmas. An "uncle", as I learned to call him, was a human friend of my mother. He was a Starfleet captain, and was on Vulcan after a tragic accident claimed his family back on Earth. This was the first Christmas since that incident, and my mother thought that by having him celebrate the festivities with us his grief would not become overwhelming. Mother worked with him on a science team once, and adopted him into our family, ensuring that he was there at every evening meal. I learned much about human emotion during this time. He doted on me as if I was his own daughter, and the outpouring of love I felt from him was a pleasant change from the formal way my parents expressed their affection to me.

    A tear ran down my face as I gazed upon my past. An evergreen tree was placed in the corner of the room, adorned with lights and tiny models of various starships. There were candles lit everywhere, and I didn't have to meditate! My parents sat on the comfortable sofa, looking puzzled at their gifts of foot coverings and cooking utensils. My uncle sat in the great chair, a huge grin on his face as he said, "L'naa, I do believe you've missed one package."

    I jumped up from a pile of gifts that I had opened; a new PADD, a top of the line tricorder, and my own telescope. I did not understand the custom fully, but I was so happy at the look of joy on Uncle's face. I had not seen a smile on his face for a long time, and if giving me these things made him happy, I was not going to argue.

    He pointed at the guest room, pursed his lips, and gave a quick whistle. I heard a high pitched yelp, and was delighted as a baby sehlat came running out of the room and jumped into my arms!

    Uncle said, "A puppy wouldn't like it too much on Vulcan...but I'm guessing this little guy will do. Merry Christmas, little one."

    Gently holding the sehlat in my arm, I toddled over to Uncle and gave him a big hug. "Thank you so much! I always wanted a sehlat! I will cherish him and care for him and love him forever!"

    My parents seemed embarrassed at my display of emotion, but didn't say anything. But from my current vantage point, looking into the sphere, I could see now what I didn't see then: a smile on my father's face.

    I stepped away from the sphere, tears freely falling from my eyes. I looked at T'rvor, saying, "I think this was the happiest time ever in my life. I had no worries...didn't have to suppress my emotions. I made my Uncle happy, and that felt...it felt...right. It was...it...", I trailed off, recalling how all I wanted to do was take away my Uncle's pain.

    T'rvor was still looking into the sphere. "Your Uncle...he was so happy that day. The pain of losing his own little girl, his teenaged son, and his wife...it was overwhelming. The happiness he had at your reaction...well...it healed a part of his very soul." He stepped back, a tear coming from his own eye. "You have very powerful telepathic and empathic abilities, L'naa. Not many Vulcans are as gifted. It is rare, and one of your gifts is your desire to take away the pain of those you love. You are selfless in that regard. It is clear to me now...I can feel the love for your Uncle....your parents...your sehlat...and...."

    "For Nico," I whispered.

    T'rvor gently smiled, "Now I know how to best convince the other you to cease her madness."

    I was pleased that this being had what he needed, but my happiness faded quickly. I looked down at the lines leading away from the sphere, and saw a single jagged line of muted crimson moving off to the distance. It crossed over itself dozens of time, pulsing in an almost evil manner. I could barely make out a dark object on the horizon, somehow blacker than the void we were in.

    T'rvor saw where I was looking, and stated, "The best memory we have somehow leads to our darkest memory. It is the mind's way of keeping perspective."

    My heart grew cold. Dreading the answer, I asked, "Do we have to go there? Do you need to see it too?"

    He didn't want to meet my inquisitive, pleading eyes. "Yes. And for that, I am sorry."

    "Then let us get it over with," I said, striding off towards a nightmare. "You coming?"

    I heard him come up next to me, and we followed the jagged line. The closer we got to the object, the darker it appeared. I grew cold...and was startled to see my breath creating a fog. My stomach began to knot up, and my head started pounding.

    I stopped short of this object, a polyhedron with millions of spears on the surface. It pulsed with a malevolent aura, crackled green lightning dancing between the spears. Each spear was polished ebony, with a green-blooded tip that slithered as a serpent's tongue.

    T'rvor took my hand, and I ignores the gesture of familiarity. "I am here for you....just remember that. I will use this knowledge only as a last resort with the other you." One of the spears shot forward like a striking cobra, and his Vulcan features creased with concern. "I am here, L'naa. Are you ready?"

    "No," I said, walking forward into the darkness.

    A group of Starfleet cadets sat in a circle, while an elderly Vulcan female paced back and forth. I saw myself at 19 years of age, wearing the pips of a plebe cadet. I was in the middle of the circle, Sotek beside me, and Nico beside him. A Betazed...Jesse? Or was it Jenny?...sat to my other side. The room was surrounded by monitors that recorded our life signs, and on tables lay countless pieces of Borg technology.

    The elderly Vulcan spoke. "Again, we will conduct this chain meld in order to further understand the Borg mindset. Cadet Garret, as a liberated Borg, shall be our primary focus. The excersise shall enable us to understand the assimilated mindset of the hive. We will gain a better understanding of this process, and in doing so, learn how to combat it."

    Nico raised his hand, saying, "Ma'am....uhm...this is the first time this chain meld is being performed with only one elder. Couldn't we wait for Mr. Scetka and Ms. T'vilk to return? To be honest...I've got a bad feeling about this."

    Sotek glanced over, saying, "Do not be alarmed, Mr. Garret. We have melded numerous times without incident."

    Nico shot back, "Without three leads? With non-Vulcans? With a former drone?"

    Before Sotek could respond, the elderly Vulcan said, "Cadet, you are training for a career in Starfleet. One must learn to make do with the resources you have, not those you wish you had."

    Nico shook his head, face becoming a scowl. "My apologies, Priestess."

    The elderly female said nothing and walked into the gap of the circle, and raised her hands to the cadets on each side of her, making contact with their faces. All other Vulcan cadets raised their hands as well, completing the circle. Nico visibly shook, as did Jenny, as all Vulcans said, "My mind to your minds.....my thoughts your your thoughts..."

    The Priestess' eyes shot open moments later as if she was shocked by lightning. Her mouth quickly opened, and a whimper of pain came forth. "No....noooo....."

    Nico jerked upwards, his cheek exploding as a Borg implant burst out. Blood flowed through his nose and ears, and his eyes darted back and forth under his shut eyelids.

    "Noooo....", the elderly Vulcan was gasping, and her voice rose a few octaves. "No...no.....NOOOOOO!!!!!". Drops of green blood fell from her nose, and her eyebrows started to spasm. My younger self squeaked out, "Stop it....it hurts...", but the meld held fast. I looked over at T'rvor, and saw that he was very disturbed at what he was seeing. The temperature dropped fast, and things became darker than they were.

    A Borg implant shot out from under the Priestess' eyebrows, painting her face a sickly green. She jumped up, but the cadets were motionless. Somehow the meld was continuing. I looked over the cadets, and saw blood rushing from Jenny's ears. The Betazoid! They didn't need contact for the meld!

    "Fools," came a distant voice from the Priestess. "You dare to play with fire? Then you will burn! Knowledge? I will give you knowledge!" She pointed at Sotek. "You....you suppress your emotions with unwavering self control! You try to reject emotion!...try to stop it! Stand up! Give me your arm!"

    Young Sotek stood up as if in a trance, holding up his arm as ordered.

    "You see my arm? Pretend my arm represents my emotional control," the Priestess cackled. "I control it...and if need be, I bend to it when necessary. Your arm...your emotions...do not bend. You adhere rigidly to mastery of your emotions. Let me show you, oh stoic Vulcan, what happens when you do not bend!"

    She grabbed his arm with both of her hands, twisted, and shattered Sotek's arm into pieces. He fell to the ground, writhing in pain.

    Screeching with glee, the Priestess jumped the table. "Your lesson, Sotek, is to be flexible!"

    My guts churned at this memory. The other cadets...myself included...couldn't move a muscle.

    "You want to learn about the Borg? Then learn this...no drone is ever liberated! See? You fools, in your arrogance, have just been witness to the birth of a Queen! And your Queen shall teach each and every one of you a lesson!"

    The Borg Queen looked upon the circle for her next victim...and her gaze fell on me. Not the young me, but me. She sent an evil glance towards T'rvor, then said with malice, "Lessons can be very painful." She jumped off the desk in front of the young me, eyes still glued to mine. "So...what painful lesson shall I teach *you*?!"

    The young me screamed in fear and pain...and so did I.

    The world went black.

    Tripler Starfleet Medical Center, Oahu


    My body was screaming in pain as I rose from the darkness. I managed to open my eyes, but the inner lids slammed shut at the blinding light. I could barely make out some voice call out, "She's coming around."

    A hiss by my neck took most of the pain away. I again opened my eyes, making out a few figures standing around my bed. As my eyes focused, I noticed that somebody was holding my hand.

    "My daughter," came tha calming sound of my Mother's voice. "Remain calm. You will be alright."

    I tilted my head to the left, and saw Doc Irve reloading a hypospray. "Don't move, kiddo," he said, looking over my head at the biobed readouts. "Shhhh.....lie still."

    Another hiss, and the rest of the room came into focus.


    I squinted over to the door, praying that somebody would answer it so the blasted chime would shut up.


    "Enter," my mother said. She was now running her other hand over my brow in the manner she did when I was a child.

    The doors swooshed open, and two elderly Vulcan males entered. One walked with a small limp, and the other had a half smile that didn't seem at all out of place.

    "My daughter. I am pleased that you are out of your coma," my father said. "It appears that I owe you a great deal, Doctors."

    Doc Irve spoke softly, "More Doctor T'rvor than me. All I can remember is being in sickbay. There was an explosion...I blacked out...and when I came to, the EMH was bundling L'naa here into a stasis tube. Good thing that Doctor T'rvor was aboard on that goodwill visitor's program."

    I was confused...did I imaging everything that happened?

    "The engineers have been going over the conduits with a fine tooth comb, so the old saying goes. Couldn't find a cause anywhere. And it destroyed some....uh....liquid samples I had stored by my desk. Too strange," Doc Irve continued, "But the oddest thing was that the explosion somehow took out the EMH default I have. It was blasted Zimmerman standing over me, and all records for the last week are gone." He sighed. "It'll take me a month to get things straight again. Good thing the Commander is out of danger...her and I were the only casualties."

    T'rvor held my stare, a single eyebrow raising at these odd facts. But when nobody was looking at me, he winked.

    "Doctor," my mother asked, "will my daughter be all right?"

    Doc Irve thought a second, then responded. "She'll be fine, after some shore leave." He pointed one finger at me, and held up another to his lips, ordering my silence. "The ship will be in drydock until we figure out what happened, anyways." He looked around sadly. "You know, youngun, I'm getting tired of having my charges here once again recovering. Brings up bad memories." He turned to my parents and T'rvor, saying, "Let her get some rest....and grab us some grub." He walked towards the door, motioning for the others to follow him.

    T'rvor hung back a moment, waiting for the others to exit. "You were courageous, L'naa," said with a weary voice. "And I am sorry you had to experience what you did one more time. But you will find some solace in a fact: you had buried that memory so far down that it became a cancer eating away at you, and now that hidden danger can be dealt with. You, Sotek, and Nico...you never properly processed what happened. The Priestess...she died during that chain meld. When she died, you all saw something you were not meant to see."

    He breathed deeply, took a seat by my bed, and stared out the window. "Sound familiar? Seeing something you're not supposed to...or not ready...to see?"

    I thought about it for a moment, then whispered, "The other universes?"

    He smiled. "Yes. The Q sometimes do not consider every single outcome from their interference. They aren't perfect. They don't always take the time to just...watch."

    "So...what now?"

    He stood up slowly. "You process what happened, deal with it. Deal with the distant past, then with the more recent past. It will not be easy, unfortunately."


    "Both he and Sotek were in the chain meld. Together you will deal with what happened. Together."

    I looked down, curious. I had to know. "Can you tell me what happened in the other universe?"

    "You asked me before not to tell you what you don't need to know...something about not wanting predestination paradoxes."

    "I want to know. Please. No full details, just a simple answer. I can handle it."

    He shut his eyes. "That L'naa was...stubborn. She eventually saw that she shared the same love of others that you have."

    "And she stopped her project because of it?" I asked, glad that there was some good even in a dark place.

    "No. She saw it as a weakness and killed herself."

    My jaw dropped, and I saw T'rvor regretting saying it so bluntly...but I asked for it.

    "It is not a weakness," he said. "It is a great strength, one that will help you all in the coming months."

    I blinked away tears, hoping he wouldn't answer my next question. "In any of the other universes...do Nico and I...are we..."

    He stopped me with a shake of his head, saying, "What you need to be concerned with now is how *you* are going to go forward."

    "But you said that you were like a signpost..."

    He again stopped me, this time waving his hand. "A signpost tells you a direction...not whether or not you should go there. You choose to go where you do....for me to tell you which way to go is illogical, since you said you don't believe in destiny."

    "Fair enough," I said. "Thank you."

    "Live long and prosper, L'naa," he said, exiting the room. I closed my eyes and wondered what the future held in store,


    I shook my head, swearing to take a phaser to the door chime.

    "Enter", I said.

    The doors parted, and my father came into the room. He limped over to my bedside, and placed a small package in my hands.

    Puzzled, I opened the box, delighted to find a small stuffed sehlat with a pink bow.

    "I recall the fondness you showed towards Maso when you were young, how his presence seemed to comfort you when you were ill," he said. "I do not believe that the medical personnel here would appreciate a sehlat here, so I hope that this could serve the same purpose by proxy."

    A tear dropped from my eye. "Thank you, father. I....I love it."

    His eyes seemed to tear up, and he said, "Be well, my beloved daughter. Be well."

    With those words, I knew that everything was going to be alright.
  • sander233sander233 Member Posts: 3,992 Arc User
    edited September 2013

    A million miles away
    Your signal in the distance
    To whom it may concern
    I think I lost my way
    Getting good at starting over
    Every time that I return

    I'm learning to walk again
    I believe I've waited long enough
    Where do I begin?
    I'm learning to talk again
    Can't you see I've waited long enough
    Where do I begin?

    Do you remember the days
    We built these paper mountains
    And sat and watched them burn
    I think I found my place
    Can't you feel it growing stronger
    Little conquerors...

    For the very first time
    Don't you pay no mind
    Set me free again
    To keep alive
    A moment at a time
    But still inside
    A whisper to a riot
    To sacrifice
    To know when to survive
    The first to climb
    Another state of mind
    I'm on my knees
    I'm praying for a sign
    Forever, whenever
    I never wanna die
    I never wanna die
    I never wanna die
    I'm on my knees
    I never wanna die
    I'm dancing on my grave
    I'm running through the fire
    Forever, whenever
    I never wanna die
    I never wanna leave
    I'll never say goodbye
    Forever, whenever...

    David Grohl and Chris Shiflet of Foo Fighters - "Walk"

    T H E . F I R S T . T O . C L I M B

    Chief Security Officer's Log, U.S.S. Tiburon - Stardate 88217.33

    I am returning to duty today. I'm still learning to walk again, but I now feel strong enough to perform my tasks. The Admiral will be transferring his flag to the
    Hammerhead tomorrow and we will finally leave the Moab System. We have a lot of secure files that will need to be transferred, and I will have to select which security force members will remain with the Tiburon with Commander Sander and which ones will be transferred over with the Admiral's staff. Also, we have a memorial service to attend this afternoon, on the planet. I do not look forward to returning to Moab III, but I think it may help provide a sense of closure... to us all.

    "End recording, file log."

    The computer chirped again, and Rusty slowly to rose his feet. He checked the chronometer. 0752. He looked down at his toes, wiggled each of them, making sure he could feel each toe making contact with the carpet fibers. Even though the Fek venom had been flushed out of his system days ago and his body had been flooded by Gorn regenerative enzymes, he still wasn't fully recovered.

    He stepped out into the corridor, glanced at his brother's room next door, and went the other way to the turbolift. "Deck Seven," he ordered. He walked into the armory one minute before eight o'clock. The other security officers gathered in there immediately fell silent. "Good morning, people." He looked around. "Let's see. Where do we begin... well first of all, it's good to be back, but... obviously there's a couple of us who won't be joining us again. I'd like to take a moment of your time to acknowledge the ones we lost from our department."

    The group nodded and bowed their heads solemnly.

    "K'lak and Gina," Rusty said, his voice raspier than usual, heavy with grief. "You will be missed." He looked up. "There will be a service tomorrow morning, before we split the crew. We'll remember all of our fallen shipmates then. For those of you who pray, please remember Bobby. Maria said he should pull through, but it'll be a while before he's back to his usual self."

    "What about you, sir?" Asked Master Chief Raastz, her voice betraying concern.

    "It'll be a while before I'm back to normal too," Rusty acknowledged. He gave the rescued Gorn a smile he didn't feel and looked around at the other security personnel who'd been injured by the Fek'Ihri. "Kurinka, I understand this is your first day back on the job as well."

    "Only minor flesh wounds, sir," the proud Klingon woman declared. "The Human doctor worries too much."

    "I know what you mean." Rusty then noticed an unfamiliar face, a young Human woman, staring at him in wide-eyed apprehension. "You must be Acting Ensign Georgia Nguyen," he said.

    "Yessuh," she squeaked out.

    "Amraam's been instructing you in shipboard security procedures?"

    She bobbed her head. "Yessuh," she said again, with a bit more pitch control.

    "Amraam's a good teacher," Rusty told her, "but whatever he told you to do with confiscated contraband was wrong."

    The rest of the crew erupted into laughter at that. The Ferengi Lieutenant shrugged off the embarrassment.

    "Contraband is to be turned over to the First Officer," Rusty went on, "unless it's items of a medical nature, in which case it is to be brought to the CMO."


    "Alright, we've got a lot of work to get done today, so let's get to these duty assignments..."
    * * *

    Once everyone was busy doing something, Rusty sat down in his office, on the low barstool he used for a chair. He'd been standing for too long. He looked back at his tail and tried to raise it completely off the floor. The tip refused to move. He relaxed and sighed. He sniffed and said "Yes, Georgia, what do you want?"

    "Howdja know t'were me, suh?"

    "You have a very distinctive smell." He looked at her. "It's a byproduct of your diet, you know. After a week or two without eating kau and duckrabbit your odor will change. What do you want?" he asked again.

    "Uh, wull, ah wanted t' ask about y'all, suh. Wull, ya see, ah ain't ne'er seen one o' yer kind befoh."

    "Ask away. A little curiosity never hurt anyone."

    "Is you a daemon?" she blurted.

    Rusty gave her his least-threatening smile. "I think you mean 'Deinon'."

    She stared at him in confusion.

    "Maybe not... 'Deinon' that's what my species is called. They come from a planet in the Deinonychus system, near the Cardassian border. I can't tell you much more than that. Not very much else is known about them."

    "But... ain'tchoo one o' dem?"

    "Sorta. But I was orphaned before I'd even hatched. Admiral LaRoca's father adopted me, and raised me as his own son. I know next to nothing about my species."

    "Ah see."

    "I know that they abandoned me," Rusty said, without bitterness, but with a touch of disappointment. "I had no father, so to them, it was as though I didn't exist. So as far as I'm concerned, they don't really exist either. My family is Human. The first face I ever saw was a Human face - my brother's face. I was raised like a Human. As far as I'm concerned, Humans have always been 'my kind.'"

    Georgia nodded.

    "Anything else you want to know?"

    "Whaddaya eat?" she wondered.

    "Whatever's on the menu in Deck Six," he answered. "My favorite food is a nice rare bone-in ribeye steak, but I'll eat pretty much anything. Not people, though." He flashed her a toothy smile as she made a nervous glance at his clawed hands. The first two digits were twice as long as the others, and terminated in six-cm talons. And that was less fearsome than his teeth or toe-claws. "I'm not as scary as I look, I promise. Just don't get on my bad side."


    "Will you be going down to the planet for the service?" he asked her.


    "Good." Rusty picked up a PADD with the last shift's reports. "I'll see you on the shuttle, Georgia."

    Personal Log, Commander LaRoca Rusty - Stardate 88219.06

    It's been a long day, which was to expected, I suppose. The service on the planet went well. My brother gave a very moving speech. But just being down there brought back a lot of awful memories, and ancient fears. I never thought I feared death. Drowning, yes. But death itself has to be a constant companion for any military officer. But something the Old Deinon said when I was in limbo keeps coming back to me. I need to live. Not for myself, but for Jesu, and maybe for the fate of the entire galaxy.

    I'm not sure what to believe anymore, if those words were from a hallucination - a byproduct of neural shock - or... something more. All I know is, I can't die. I can't leave Jesu here alone. The hallucinations were definitely right about one thing: Jesu needs me, now more than ever. But how am I supposed to protect him, if I'm not willing to lay down my life? I hope I never have to learn the answer.

    "Close log, store to personal files." Rusty went to the head, showered and brushed his teeth. Then he opened a cabinet and picked out a vial which he loaded into a hypospray.

    The vial contained a compound of hydrocodone, diazepam and THC. The narcotic blend was the only thing that treated his sleep disorder at this point - the disorder that began the night he had left Jesu at the Academy.

    He injected himself with a 2.3cc dose, undressed, turned out the lights and crawled into bed, and let the drugs carry him off to sleep.

    "They weren't all hallucinations, Rusty," a voice says out of the darkness.

    "Ha wha-" Rusty sits up. "Computer, lights!"

    The Old Deinon is standing in the middle of his room. "This wasn't a hallucination." He morphs and becomes Drake Tran. "Neither was this." He shifts again, and is now Uncle Ricky Montoya. "Or this." He changes into a copy of Rusty himself. "Or this."

    "Who are you?" Rusty demands. "How did you get in here?"

    The intruder morphs a final time into a balding humanoid, with a fringe of silvery hair, protruding eyebrows and nose, wearing a silver robe. "Your Starfleet records refer to me as 'The Traveler.' As for the method of my arrival, well..." he waves his two-fingered hands, "let's say I imagined myself here."

    Rusty gets out of bed. "I'm going to put on my pants now. If you haven't given me a satisfactory explanation for who you are and why you're here before I'm finished, I'm going to take you to the brig."

    "How would you imprison a dream?" The Traveler asks.

    "You're saying this is a dream?" Rusty carefully folds his toes as he slips his left foot into his duty uniform trousers.

    "No, I am comparing myself to a dream. A dream is a manifestation of thought and will, just like I am."

    Rusty gets his right foot in. "You're not doing a very good job of explaining yourself."

    "I came to help you understand what you saw when you climbed into my reality."

    Rusty stands up and wriggles his broad hips, guiding the slit in the back of his pants around his tail. "Your reality?"

    "The realm of infinite thought. You were the first of your species to climb there on your own. But then, you expected to wake up there, even if you didn't know where it was."

    Rusty starts to put on his belt. "I dare you to make less sense."

    "'Cogito ergo sum'," says The Traveler. "Rene Descartes, the Netherlands, 1637. 'I think, therefore I am.' Thought is the basis of all reality. You ascended beyond your physical mind and entered the realm of pure consciousness. I'm here to tell you that it was more than just a dream. Although, the truth of dreams should never be discounted." He gazes at Rusty, who is standing with his arms folded across his chest. "Are you going to march me down to your brig now?"

    "I haven't decided yet. Keep talking."

    The Traveler shrugs. "Most people climb for their entire lifetimes, only to fall short of infinity. Others, like you, find it by accident, when they are at their most vulnerable, usually in the instant before death. And very rarely, some visit, and then return to their physical reality, the world of energy and matter, and assume what they had seen wasn't real. But you need to know that is not the case."


    "Because everything you saw there, everything you heard, was all true, to some degree. For example, when you were fighting against yourself, you were quite literally fighting for your life."

    "How do you know all of this?"

    "Like I said, you were on my plane of reality," The Traveler tells him. "Or rather, reality as my species perceives it. Of course, your mind is not sufficiently evolved to perceive things as we do, but the fundamental truth was there. And that's why I'm here. To help you understand that the things you saw were real and true."

    "Okay..." Rusty shrugs in disbelief. "Thanks."

    "You need to believe, Rusty. Belief is the most powerful form of thought. Don't wait to decide what you believe. Know it. Take your belief and use it."

    "To do what?"

    "Once you've grasped on to your belief, you'll know what you need to do."
    * * *

    Rusty woke up, to find himself back in his bed. "Computer, time?"

    "The time is oh-five-forty-seven hours."

    He yawned and stretched and threw off the covers. He saw that he wasn't wearing his pants. "It was just a dream."

    The truth of dreams should never be discounted, The Traveler's voice echoed in his mind.

    Rusty shook his head clear. "What's on my schedule for this morning?"

    "Physical therapy session at oh-six-twenty. Breakfast with Admiral LaRoca at oh-seven-fifteen. Memorial service for the Tiburon crewmembers killed in action at oh-eight-hundred."

    "Another day, another funeral," Rusty muttered. He hopped out of bed and immediately fell to his knees. "Owww... right... still not quite there yet..." He held his dresser and climbed to his feet. He looked at his tail, still dragging behind him.

    Belief is the most powerful form of thought.

    He gritted his teeth and said "I believe I can do this." He raised his tail off the floor, and flicked the tip back and forth. "That's a good start..."
    * * * * *


    ...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
  • wraithshadow13wraithshadow13 Member Posts: 1,538 Arc User
    edited September 2013
    Captain's Log: Stardate 88679.1


    It was an interesting way to get our attention...

    Another blood curdling scream emanated from the view screen causing a few of the officers on the bridge to draw fire arms as the lights began to flicker in and out. Some one yelling out in agony, forcibly pushing themselves into our reality, something that admittedly didn't work out so well for this ship the last time it happened.

    The figure began phasing through the screen, looking almost as if emerging from a wall of some thick, viscous oil. Commander T'Pal was aimed carefully for the face as I put my hand up to keep anyone from shooting. What ever this thing was, it was already wounded and until I had some answers, I didn't want anyone doing any more damage to it. Broken and battered, the poor creature was barely free from the screen when he finally looked to the crew, collapsing to the floor. I couldn't help but play the cautious type, utilizing every safety I had at my disposal, as he was moved to sickbay. Normally I'd have him transported directly to a stasis field, but upon initial scans Dr. E'Saul insisted that dematerialization would only weaken his already molecular cohesion. The last thing we needed was to kill the man before at least learning why he'd gone through all of the trouble to be here.

    He was out for a solid three days before he regained consciousness, anything before the was a muttering about "the boy": "Must find the boy", "save the Boy", "the Boy... must stop...". When he was finally able to make coherent sentences was I finally able to learn more about how he'd managed to get on board the ship. He called himself simply "The Traveler", though E'Saul did manage to tell me his name, but hell if I could pronounce it. To my surprise however, I was able to find records about him both in and out of restricted files. He was a species from Tau Ceti, formerly he was the assistant for some nobody scientist. From what little his section files say, he is able to alter reality by the power of thought, a task I'd though only capable by the Q.

    He was still incredibly weak, hardly able lift his own head, he made a great effort to speak what little he could. He didn't make much sense at first, but as he thoughts cleared, so did his words. He was traveling, this time with a young male companion when the ship they were on was attacked. A battle appeared out of nowhere, throwing the region into temporal flux, making it difficult for either of them to escape or aid the ship caught in the middle. The boy was taken during the battle, a boarding party grabbed him, roughing up the Traveler as he tried to resist them leaving him for dead aboard a burning ship. With the passenger ship set by the raiders to self destruct, the battle outside of the ship temporally shifted again, so the traveler focused all of his mind into one thought: Help. Beyond that he had no recollection of events until he'd woken up on the Geist.

    As it stands, there's nothing but a long series of directives and regulations that keeps the Geist from being able to help. Fortunately for him, Section 31 had the authority to circumvent those given that the raiders now had in their possession, a young boy that could bend reality. As for the laws of physics, Section 31 had its own means of bending those as well: The Morbius, a ship from well into the future capable of traveling through time. Granted, it didn't have nearly the amount of firepower that the Geist did, but it did have a few tricks up its sleeve. The biggest problem was ironically was time. The Traveler had been out cold for three days, the Morbius took a few days to get a hold of as well, but that's to the unusual nature of time travel, a week to us could have been years to them.

    If the Traveler focused hard enough, he might be able to place the Geist in the middle of that battle, allowing us to save not only him and his young friend, but possibly the ship and its crew as well. He was too weak however to shift the entire ship, but he was able to focus hard enough to manage a set of temporal coordinates before passing out once more. I ordered the shields raised and temporal engines charged, the jump itself would drain the power levels significantly, leaving us temporarily vulnerable... Not something you would want going blindly into a possible war zone. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, expecting the worst, before opening them again to give the order.


    The stars before us wavered from beyond the temporal bubble as it engulfed the ship before settling in different places, but to my surprise, there was no battle, not even any sign of a destroyed ship. There was nothing but stars and asteroids, with no sign of reality bending teenager. I'd half contemplated that the Traveler had led us into a trap, but soon shrugged the idea. By all accounts the travelers were benevolent, they preferred to watch the development of other species, even the Q continuum had a deep respect for them. So why then was there nothing here but empty space? Sensor scans didn't give much in terms of enemy vessels, but it did reveal what looked like an old mining installation. It wasn't much, but it might be enough to work as a small base or way station between raids.

    We registered no life signs, and no ships in the area, but power levels were still up and running. I decided to send in a small task force at first to clear the base of any traps or automated security. Once they gave the go ahead, a second team was beamed in to search the computers and make detailed forensic scans. It only took a few minutes to reveal that the base had been used as a smugglers den, showing light traces of deuterium, dilithium, and kemocite. There were even a few hidden storage rooms filled with an artificial latinum substance, along with the materials necessary to replicate the gold to counterfeit enough currency to buy several ships. This was a small time operation with big plans apparently, and who knows just how far they would go if they knew what the boy could do.

    It only took an hour for the raiders to return, and by that time the Morbius was well hidden at the base was filled with security teams ready to strike. The ship warped in, but not in any way that I'd ever seen before, it was the kind of way that gave me the sinking feeling that they'd known exactly what that kid was capable of. I've never been fond of raiders and slavers, but when you hear the stories of how they treat their prisoners, I shuddered at the though of how they were treating that child in order to get him to do their dirty work. The ship itself had been familiar though, the I.K.S. Borig run by a small time Orion smuggler by the name of Soki. Last I checked she didn't have the kind of reach to pull off something like the Traveler described. This didn't feel right, who would hire her to kidnap some one? And who would let her live after she started using him to her advantage?

    I couldn't help but think of what Q had told me, how the temporal cold war wasn't set in any specific time, but was interwoven through our timeline intermittently. Was this somehow apart of that? All good questions that I'm sure Captain Soki would be more than willing to answer given that we had the tactical advantage once we were able to get the Travelers companion to safety. The landed and began unloading their spoils from some unknown raid, but as they came through the corridors of the old mining facility my teams caught the crew of the Borig completely off guard. We couldn't risk the Captain using the teen as a hostage, or worse yet, a weapon.

    As the second group came off the ship, they were hit hard and fast by my team who then boarded the ship. Things were going as well as planned until the comms went silent. Once that had happened there was only one thing I could do, which was go myself. E'Saul objected, and Wraith kept telling me to send him in, but against something like this, he would have been just as bad off as I would be. I ordered the ship to dock in the landing bay next to the Borig, figuring at least if I went in I could try to reason with her or negotiate for the kid's freedom, which at this point seemed highly unlikely. After I had left the ship, I had T'Pal charge the temporal engines, hoping that the flux would keep Soki from using the boy to escape. It was an odd feeling being on the outside of the ship as the bubble expanded into a field around both ships.

    As I made my way to the bridge I could see the bodies strewn through out the ship, most of which were Orion a few of which were in Starfleet security uniforms. I'd be lying if I said that I hadn't been afraid at that moment, fear for my crew, fear for my own life, and most of all, fear for what might happen if I failed. It wasn't until I'd reached the bridge that I'd seen just how bad the situation really was...

    "Hello Captain..."

    Bound to the Captain's chair, by a slave collar, hardly able to see through the tears was former Captain Soki, hardly covered in anything. As for the boy himself, he was Bolian and couldn't have been any older than thirteen, and couldn't have been more than forty-five Kg. He was surprisingly small for some one who could bend reality with a though, though while his size was deceiving, his gaze wasn't. There in his eyes... In his entire face really, had been a dark and malicious expression, unrelenting and quiet possibly out right evil. There were only a few times I?d seen this look, one of which was on my own mirror counterpart's disfigured face the day he died. There would be no reasoning, no negotiating, no peaceful resolution.

    "Where is my crew?"

    "Safe for now, or at least, for as long as you do what I tell you."

    "And what are you going to tell me?"

    "To die."

    I'd open my mouth to say something, but before the words could form, I found myself being flung across the room, breaking my arm as I landed wrong against helm control. I yelled in pain as I was tossed against the bulkhead before dropping to my knees and coughing up blood. Before I could even stand, I felt myself lifted off the floor. The boy extended his hand and began slowly closing his fist, and in doing so, I could feel my insides contract. As she realized what what happening, Soki began begging him not to do it, screaming to let me go, the whole time he just stood there crushing the life from me. I coughed harder this time, spitting more blood, pretty sure that he'd punctured a lung. His face started to contort slowly, a sick grin coming over his face, but his eyes, transfixed in that hideous glare of hate. As I grew closer to blacking out, I saw a figure coming down the corridor.

    The Boy turned to confront his stalker, but as he saw Wraith slowly seeping from the darkness, he froze. With each slow and deliberate step he took, the Bolian loosened his grip on me. It seemed even Soki was terrified as she pushed as far away as her chain would allow her. His corpse like appearance, the dark gray veins that covered his body, his eyes were a soulless black with blood red iris', his dark hair cast down and over his face which bare an expression of rage and hate all too similar to the Bolian's... He was like something from a nightmare, like some demon this kid imagined and created as his own punishment for his own misdeeds. And that's when it hit me...All he had done, all he was capable of, and he was still just a child. The powers of a god frozen by the fears of a little boy, and here from the depths of hell itself was a monster sent to drag him into the darkness.

    The child, no more than thirteen, couldn't help but urinate himself as Wraith reached out grasping his neck. It was the last thing that poor kid would ever feel as an audible snap was heard, his body going limp, as I fell to the floor. The look on Wraith's face was changed, in an instant, the hate and anger were gone as he slowly came to realize what exactly he had done. I pulled my self to my feet as he dropped the body and collapsed to his knees. The Geist is an escort, it's crew are all trained adults... I honestly don't think he's ever seen a child before other than in images, and here he was standing over one he had just ended with a single hand. I've heard the boy scream in pain before, but NEVER like this before.

    As he screamed out in anguish over the lifeless body... All I could do was tap my comm badge.

    "Four to beam directly to sickbay..."

    Captain's Log: Supplemental

    The crew is back safely. The Traveler had pulled them from a moment out of time, slightly phased from our existence. According to him, his companion had fallen to the corruption that power can bring, he'd been the cause of the temporal disruption, which is what left the Traveler powerless in the attack. He used his abilities to summon the raiders to take him before he enslaved them all. The Traveler himself has since recovered and left. Soki and her crew were treated for their injuries and released. With all they'd been through at his hands, I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't hear about the Borig for quite some time. Wraith on the other hand hasn't been the same, not since the events on Risa. He's been more aggressive and violent since then, and I worry as to just what might be happening to him and hope that I'll be able to help him before actions must be taken against him, but I honestly don't think I'll ever be able to forget what happened here today.
  • grylakgrylak Member Posts: 1,572 Arc User
    edited September 2013
    Captain's Log. Acting Captain Bearlo recording.

    The Sentinel has been adrift in space for four days now, following the Gorn ambush that left us crippled and missing nearly a fifth of our crew. We have been able to restore atmosphere and life support to the damaged decks in the lower levels of the secondary hull, and rescue teams have started searching for any survivors in those areas, though I don't hold out much hope.

    Commander Ttorkkinn has been instrumental in helping coordinate the repairs of the ship and keeping the crew focused. When we return to Starfleet, I'm going to recommend he is considered for a larger command position. I am also told that Gweevle and Bosip may have found a way to get us back to civilisation. Of course, having not heard from anyone in four days, I am left wondering what has happened to the Evenstar, who stated they were going to get help from Serenity Station.

    Emony moved along the corridor towards Engineering, grimacing at the blast patterns and blood spatter on the walls. Even if they did get the Sentinel back to Serenity, the ship would probably be gutted, the damage was that severe. She skirted around some repair crews and entered Engineering. The Warp Core was dark, having been taken offline yesterday while micro fractures found in the casing were sealed. She approached Gweevle and Bosip who were hunched over an Engineering console.

    "Bosip. Gweevle. You said you have something?"

    The two Engineers turned. Gweevle tapped some last minute commands into the console before speaking.

    "Yes Commander. As you know, we fused the Transwarp coils getting rid of the Gorn ships. Our warp drive is offline, and while we do have an operational Slipstream Drive, we have no Deflector Dish to create the slipstream."

    "But, what we do have, is a couple of shuttles. And they do have deflectors."

    Bosip tapped a few controls, bringing up a visual diagram on the screen before continuing.

    "What we are proposing is to strip the deflectors out of all of our shuttles and mount them where our dish used to be. Connect them all up to form a makeshift Deflector large enough to open the slipstream."

    Gweevle clapped his hands.


    Emony looked at Gweevle.


    "THAT'S the one."

    Bosip cleared his throat.

    "Look, Commander, this is not going to be easy. And it's not even a guarantee it'll work. The Deflectors may not trigger. They may not connect into a large Deflector, instead maintain their individual operation, in which case we open up a series of tiny slipstreams and we scatter the ship across space."

    Gweevle piped in.

    "And if it does work, there's no guarantee we will be able to apply the corrections to maintain the stream. Essentially, there is a lot more reasons not to do this."

    "But if we don't, then what? We can't sit here in space forever more?"

    Bosip crossed his arms over his chest.

    "No. No we can't. And if there was another option, we'd suggest it."

    Emony looked at the warp core.

    "What about standard warp drive?"

    "No good. The starboard nacelle is badly damaged; we would never be able to generate a stable warp field."

    Emony frowned, the cut to her temple healing, but feeling tight as her brow furrowed. The young Trill was only 28, she wasn't cut out for this type of command decision. If she made the wrong call, the entire crew would perish. She was the Second Officer, but only because of her seniority in the Science department. Talaina was much more qualified to make these kinds of decisions. She wouldn't even hesitate, she would know what to do. Emony had lead Away Teams before, but never had to make decisions like this.

    "And there's no way we can get one of the other methods of travel operational out here?"
    "No. Not unless someone selling spare Deflector Dishes or Warp Nacelles stumbles across us."

    Gweevle started wringing his hands.

    "Look, Emony, we need a decision. Until we get the core fixed and online, we're running on emergency power. And it's not going to last. That core is an experimental thing to begin with. We need to get started."

    Emony drew in a deep breath, holding it as she calculated all the variables. Finally, she let it out.

    "Ok. We'll do it. But be ready to shut it down at a moment's notice."

    Bosip slapped his comm badge.
    "All Engineering Teams not on critical Emergency repairs, report to the Main Shuttlebay."

    Bosip moved to a locker and started gathering tools into a toolbox. Gweevle looked Emony dead in the eye.

    "I hope that Andorian knows what he's doing."
    "It was his idea?"
    "It was."
    "Then so do I."

    A full day had passed, but the exhausted crew had finished their work. The front of the Secondary Hull had a patchwork of Deflectors from the remaining shuttles, connected by an intricate array of cables and relays, weaving a web like mesh across the ship. Emony stood in the centre of the Bridge. She hadn't felt comfortable taking the centre chair since the ambush, and she wasn't about to start now.

    From the Engineering station, Bosip checked the instruments.

    "Power levels are looking good. We have confirmed inter-connectivity. Relays to the Slipstream Drive are solid. Ready on your command."

    Emony rubbed her top lip with a knuckle. This was the moment she had been dreading. The moment where everyone realised she was a terrible captain. It only added to the pain of the past week.


    The small Deflectors glowed as power from the Quantum Slipstream Drive was fed through makeshift conduits. In Engineering, Gweevle reported that the drive was operating at standard efficiency. On the viewscreen, a white portal started forming. Emony tensed up. This was the moment where they would either slip into the corridor, or die.

    The ship started shaking, the temperature of the hull increasing before a flash of light signalled they had made it into the slipstream. A cheer rang out through the Bridge. Bosip clapped his hands and cheered.

    "I knew it would work!"
    "Yes, but are we heading in the right direction?"

    Ensign Wurz checked her sensors, slowly shaking her head.

    "It's impossible to tell in Slipstream. Sensors are too badly damaged."

    Xui Li turned from her Ops console.
    "Then I suggest we drop from, ah, Slipstream and check our position. That will tell us if, ah, we are heading towards Federation space."

    Emony slowly nodded.

    The Andorian's antenna curled in frustration.
    "I think.... we've got a problem."

    "What..... kind..... of a problem?"
    Emony moved over to read the console over Bosip's shoulder.

    "I don't think we're in quantum alignment. Something's wrong. Something's terribly wrong."

    Emony tapped her comm badge.

    "Gweevle. Cut power to the drive."

    "I can't! The regulators have frozen open! We're trying to close them manually."

    "Well, this is an interesting development."
    The soft spoken male voice caused everyone on the Bridge to whirl around. Before them stood an alien. Ttorkkinn leapt up to him, ready to defend his ship. The alien held up his three fingered hands.

    "Please, I mean you no harm. I have come to help."

    Emony stepped up the steps, past the command chair to up to the alien. She put a hand on Ttorkkinn to stop him.

    "It's ok. I don't think he's going to hurt us."
    "And how do you know that?"
    "It's a feeling."

    Ttorkkinn humphed, but stood down. Emony addressed the newcomer.

    "Who are you?"

    "My name cannot be spoken in your language. I am usually known as The Traveller."
    "Welcome on board the Sentinel. I'm Commander Bearlo. But I'm afraid you picked a bad time to visit the ship."
    "Actually, this was the only time I could visit your ship."

    "Captain!" Bosip's voice rang out with worry. "Regulators are starting to overheat. If we don?t shut down this drive soon, we're going to lose power to the Deflectors, which will throw us out of slipstream too violently."

    "Traveller, you said you came here to help. How?"

    "Your quantum miss-alignment has slipped you into a plane of existence where thought has a powerful affect. I usually inhabit this realm, that is how I sensed your presence. Your crew must make a conscious effort to come together and will the drive to stop."

    "You want us to think ourselves safe?"

    "A crude, but apt description. I can help shut down the drive. If your crew concentrates on shutting down the drive, I can channel that energy and bring your ship to a stop."

    "Please, anything you can do to help."

    "Now hold on a minute."

    Ttorkkinn interrupted.

    "We don't know anything about this guy. For all we know, it could be another Gorn trick."

    "No, I, ah, do not believe so."
    Xui Li spoke up.
    "I have been looking for references to, ah, a Traveller. The Enterprise-D encountered him, ah, a number of times. He was helpful in each situation."

    The Traveller smiled.
    "Yes, the Enterprise. That was where I met Wesley Crusher. Please, time is short."

    Emony gestured to the Engineering console.
    "Please. And Ttorkkinn, stand down. At this point, we have nothing to lose."

    As The Traveller moved to the console and sat down, Emony activated a ship wide comm.

    "Crewmates. I know you're tired. Exhausted. Not yet had chance to mourn those we have lost. But the ship is in peril, and I need everyone to pull together. We have a visitor on board, known as The Traveller. I'm asking all of you to think positive thoughts to him. Think about shutting down the Slipstream Drive. That needs to be your only thought. Thank you."

    The Traveller placed his palms on the console and closed his eyes. Everyone on the ship started thinking. He could feel their energy flowing through him, giving him the strength. But there was a small bit of poison in the energy.

    "Commander Bearlo. Please don't doubt yourself. You are in a situation you never thought you would be in. The burden is heavy on you, but you will succeed. I sense a powerful will in you."

    "I've nearly gotten everyone killed. That's not the sign of a good captain."
    "No, but you are trying everything in your power to get your crew home. That is."
    Ttorkkinn put a hand on Emony's shoulder.
    "We're all here to help. We all believe in you."

    Emony half smiled, a bit reassured. The poison left the energy, and The Traveller was able to channel the energy properly now. He focused on the Slipstream Drive shutting down, harnessing the power of this plane of existence, the power of thought, to make his will a reality. The regulators closed and the drive shut down. The viewscreen showed the slipstream disperse and return to a normal starfield, spinning as the ship flipped through space. The Traveller sighed and leaned back in the chair.

    "It's done."

    Emony moved to The Traveller.
    "Thank you."

    He smiled up at her.
    "I'm happy to help. Perhaps one day we will meet again. And remember to believe in yourself."

    The Traveller started fading away.
    "I'm drained. I must return to where I was and recover. Safe journey."

    He faded from view.
    Bosip frowned.

    "Well..... I don't know how he did that. But I'd sure like to know how."
    "Not now Bosip. Wurz, can you establish our position?"

    "Yes Ma'am. We appear to be on the far side of Federation space, near the Klingon border. We look to be in a star system-"

    She was quickly cut off when power went down. As Emony felt the lurch of zero gravity take effect, she tried to stay perfectly still so she wouldn't float off into the darkness. Bosip was not so fortunate. A clunk followed by cursing indicated he had banged his head on the roof.

    "Now what? Dammmit Gweevle, I'm taking back care of my ship."

    In the dark, he started crawling along the roof towards one of the Jeffries Tubes, disappearing towards Engineering. Emony looked at the blank viewscreen.

    "Wurz? Did your sensors pick up any other ships before they went down?"

    "Not that I saw. Just a planet nearby."


    The Sovereign class ship slowly drifted through space, momentum from exiting slipstream carrying them towards the nearby planet....

    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'
  • marcusdkanemarcusdkane Member Posts: 7,439 Arc User
    edited September 2013
    The Hellfire Club

    In the tightly packed dressing room, Amanda Palmer leaned closer to the mirror, inspecting her makeup, and brushed a strand of hair behind her ear. In the reflection, she saw Lucy Bellingham, wearing a black negligee leaning in beside her, even before she felt her hand caress her lower back.

    "Lookin' good, baby," Lucy purred, as on Amanda's other side, another girl, wearing deep scarlet lingerie also leaned in.

    "Yeah, you look really nice," Rose Tyler assured her, with her lazy London drawl. "This is gunna be great!"

    "It's time, ladies," Emma Frost announced, standing behind the trio in her customary white cape and bustier atop a white leather mini-skirt and thigh-length boots. "We're having a party, and you're the entertainment... Come with me."

    Emma opened the dark wooden door, and lead the way onto the second floor of the bustling private casino as music blasted from hidden speakers

    I took a ride on a shoot-the-chute / The girl I sat beside was awful cute / And when it stopped she was holdin' hands with me

    Amanda looked around, at the cream marble columns and gilt brocading as the group of scantily clad young women began to descend the staircase.

    My heart was flyin' / Up / Like a rocket ship / Down / Like a roller coaster / Back / Like a loop-the-loop / And around / Like a merry-go-round

    They reached the gaming floor, and began to fan out toward the booths with blue leather couches, attracting glances and whistles from the tuxedoed men around the roulette and blackjack tables.

    We ate and ate at a hot dog stand / We danced around to a rockin' band / And when I could / I gave that girl a hug / In the tunnel of love

    She barely noticed the brunette woman sitting at a blackjack table as she entered a booth occupied by the Deltan Ambassador and pulled the heavy velvet curtains closed.

    You'll never know how great a kiss can feel / When you stop at the top of a Ferris wheel / When I fell in love / Down at Palisades Park

    Alix Kane swirled her middle finger around the top of her martini glass, before dipping it in the blue liquid and sucking the tip.

    "Hit me," she said, frowning at the Monopoly board before her. She was on Picadilly, and only need a one. An up-beat, optimistic piano and trombone solo announced that the singer had changed to one of her favourites, Vic Fontaine.

    It's only a paper moon / Hangin over a cardboard sea / But it wouldn't be make-believe / If you believed in me

    The Traveller flicked over two cards with a deftness which belied the clumsy appearance of his stubby, tridactyl hands.

    Now it's only a canvas sky / Hangin' over a muslin tree / But it wouldn't be make-believe / If you believed in me

    "Madam has a four and a nine," he announced. "A Full Cup."

    Reaching out, Alix picked up the Black Queen, and moved it forward thirteen places.

    With-out your love / It's a honky-tonk parade / With-out your love / It's a melody played in a penny arcade

    "Yahtzee!" she cheered, passing Go and collecting two hundred British dollars, but the White Knight was still ahead of her in Jail, just out of her reach.

    It's a Barnum and Bailey world / Just as phoney as it can be / But it wouldn't be make-believe / If you believed in me

    "Madam has landed on Community Chest," the Traveller said, his deep, yet gentle voice sounding as if it was emanating from multiple realities. He flicked over another card. "You inherit a hundred dollars."

    With-out your love / It's a honky-tonk parade / With-out your love / It's a melody played in a penny arcade

    "Oh yay," Alix sighed unenthusiastically, as the Traveller added the note to the top of her huge pile, before proceeding to turn over cards for the Doctor.

    It's a Barnum and Bailey world / Just as phoney as it can be / But it wouldn't be make-believe / If you believed in me / No it wouldn't be make-believe/ If you be-lieved/ In Me

    "Sir has a three and a six -- the D Cup," he announced.

    "Damn, I was hoping to get the saucer card," the Doctor exclaimed, pulling off his horn-rimmed glasses and running a hand through his tousled brown hair, before reaching out and moving the miniature TARDIS to the other side of the board.

    Hearing the throbbing base riff of Toro Y Moi's Sweet emanate from the speakers, Alix looked across the room and smiled, as she saw a dark-haired man in a tuxedo descending the stairs, a Starfleet comm badge fixed to the lapel. Reaching up, she waved to her brother as he walked towards the bar.

    "There is room for another player at the table, Madam," the Traveller observed. "In this casino, there is always room for another guest.

    Alix shook her head.

    "He can't hear me when I try and talk to him," she said, a melancholy tone to her voice.

    "The rules are different here," the Doctor pointed out, swirling his lime and soda and round the highball glass. "Go on, give it a try..."

    With a nod of encouragement, the Traveller slid the Black Queen to Just Visiting.

    Alix took a deep breath.

    "Polo!" she shouted, raising her hand again. The thick black bracelet of her Rolex Star-Dweller dropped further down her forearm as she waved her hand

    At the bar, Marcus turned, saw Alix, and waved back. Picking up his glass of Blue Lagoon, he crossed the casino, pausing momentarily to avoid a waitress hurrying across to one of the booths, as the syncopated yet flowing melody played.

    Reaching the table, he smoothly swapped his glass to his left hand, before reaching out to shake hands with the Doctor.

    "It's been a while, Doctor, I wasn't expecting to see you here," he said, before turning to kiss Alix, his hand clasping her shoulder as his lips lightly pressed against hers. "You're not gambling our inheritance again, are you, Ali?"

    Alix shook her head and smiled, her slate grey eyes twinkling with happiness.

    "No, I seem to be ahead at the moment,"

    Captain Amanda Palmer awoke in her cabin aboard the USS Vanguard and rubbed a hand across her eyes.

    "Must stop eating cheese before bedtime," she muttered groggily, throwing the sheet off her bare legs and padding unsteadily towards the bathroom.
  • aten66aten66 Member Posts: 653 Arc User
    edited September 2013
    Tomorrow, it was going to be tomorrow and I could only hope that a time altering mishap would occur sending me 24:00:01 hours into the future, thus making tomorrow yesterday, meaning I lived another year without having to think about the incident. Of course, already dreading tomorrow meant I had thought about the incident, meaning my worry was for nothing. Oh, how I hate tomorrow.

    (No POV)

    Anitara had noticed her captains increasing agitation since her early afternoon shift as tactical officer, and made her way to find the others for their nightly dinner before the foul and brooding captain was to arrive, spoiling the evening. The romulan teen had found her friends in their usual spot in ten forward, the giant circular table installed to fit 15 people near the window into space; the spot that once held the green table before it was moved for the once monthly dinner being held this night. "Hey guys, have you noticed the captain's mood today?" she asked sitting down in one of the chairs closer to the bar, placing the PADD she carried to the side of her plate. Zinuzee and Lexis looked to Sharvan, concern on their faces.

    "She deserves to know," he responded to their looks, "It's not my place to tell his story." The irate engineer merely shoved a spoonful of replicated mashed potatoes into his mouth, signaling he wasn't talking anymore. He was a mirror universe version of Gregs Son'aire, taking the name Sharvan, his middle initial, ironically what he was called in the mirror universe anyways.

    Zinuzee turned her body towards Anitara and decided to start off the tale. "Well...you see, tomorrow is the day he was woken up, the same day he was sent off into space from his people...to be saved" she continued, "He harbors feelings of loneliness and anger against his people after learning of their fate."

    Anitara was confused, as she thought that the captain was of an alpha quadrant species, she didn't know of her captains origins. "What do you mean, was his homeworld assimilated by the Borg or something?" she said, "The way you guys are talking it's like he doesn't have a planet to even call home anymore? Why doesn't he just return and resolve his issues?"

    Zinuzee sighed, she knew that this wasn't a fact he shared often with his crewmates, that he was from the delta quadrant, and very few ever were told this besides Starfleet command so he could join the Federation. She stirred her mashed potatoes with her fork, biting her lip deciding whether to go on or not. "He's from the Delta Quadrant" someone said. This was from Z'Yrich, a young engineer from an unknown human colony, she didn't talk to very many people in her work, instead reporting to the captain directly when on duty, as she was considered Senior Staff, although few knew her personally, save Zinuzee and Lexis, though they wouldn't betray a friend's trust. "He's from a planetside colony of a Delta Quadrant species called the Ocampa, an old race the Caretaker Voyager encountered, watched over for their telepathic nature after he destroyed their biosphere," she continued, "His colony was an ancient colony seeded by the Caretaker to try an preserve their species, one of many the caretaker eventually abandoned to time, only to have their colony thrive in his absence." She took a sip of her drink then continued on where she left. "You see, they became liabilities to certain species in the Delta Quadrant and beyond, his kind could eventually bend matter and energy to their will were they to survive and develop their telepathic abilities to survive their own limited lifecycles" she said. Sharvan hissed at this, a sharp intake of breath and clouded eyes, evident he was reliving his own experience this conversation was bring upon him. His hands gripped the table cloth put on the Spartan table to add color.

    "Yes, then the Think Tank came and destroyed our solar system, using a Planet Killer temporarily removed from another timeline, to eat our suns and freeze our planets," he said, "But they misjudged our people... even without the Caretaker, contact with the outer powers in the Delta Quadrant led to us having technology beyond our level, ships we used to flee the destruction..."

    "Of course though... only a few escaped....."

    The darkness of space was cold, and the twin suns of the solar system holding the planet Excrivion and planet Quir'ton, were overshadowed by the massive, cone-shaped, abomination that flew through space; its only goals to consume and convert mass into energy into useable and exotic forms to power it to do the same over and over again countless times to many similar solar systems.

    The two planets held two distinct civilizations, the Excrons and Querons, now subspecies of the main branch of Ocampa; bio engineered to survive on the harsh desert and dangerous floodplains of their respective biospheres.

    Now as the behemoth came to devour their solar system, small ships escaped their soon-to-be terrestrial grave, some only to be shot down by small fighters that cautiously trailed the Planet killer, guards to make sure their work was complete.

    One ship though was experimental, warp capable, small, and stealthy. A small ship capable of holding the combined knowledge of their two respective planets, a two man library and epitome if their planet's were destroyed.

    It was sent with a representative of each planet to parts unknown, to rendezvous with survivors. Of course their were none.

    And that led us to come to the Alpha Quadrant...


    "Though our two experiences are similar, they really differ; in my reality the Planet Killer destabilized one of the stars and caused a black hole, I don't know what really happened in this reality" he said, finishing his tale. The whole table was silent, Anitara feeling bad after hearing about this.

    "I hope whatever happens, he can finally find peace..." she said softly. The rest of the table resumed eating, no one wanting to continue this sad story. "So, where is the captain anyways?" Anitara asked, changing the subject. The others looked to Zinuzee and Lexis, both shrugged though.

    "Right now he's going to the hydroponics lab, he found an old seed that he wanted to clone and try and grow, he's probably checking up on it" this was Ten of Ten, the liberated Borg who had joined the crew after he was liberated by the Borg Task Force.

    All of a sudden the ship rocked, and everyone looked outside the ten forward windows. Many gasped at what they say coming towards the ship. Many merely whispered a sentence in fear: Planet Killer.

    (Gregs, a few minutes earlier)

    I had walked the halls of my ship for a little over a year and a half now, and when I went through the doors to the hydroponics lab, only to find my self in a field of grain, my thoughts went to Q. I was standing in a green grassy meadow, a field of some kind continued on after the meadow ended, somewhere past a giant tree I recognized.

    "Hek'tauken Tree" I said, trying not to cry, "Excrivion." Whoever did this to me, wanted me to hate them for showing me this farce of reality. I knew this place, and I recognized the field of grain as a crop my people grew, called Quin'tes Grain; an edible grain when cooked into a rice-like, grainy substance, and flavored with spices and herbs, created a sweet yet spicy dish my people ate called Quin'Tessan. The grassy meadow was in fact Rek'tan, a small herb that was used to flavor the Quin'tes dish, along with the Hek'tauken's bark.

    "Q, come out I know you did this!" I yelled in to the blindingly, sunny, purple-hued sky, my voice cracking, fresh from the grief memories of this place brought on. I got no answer, so I went over to the eighty-foot tree to look at it. Engraved in the bark was my initials: G.S.S

    "I'm sorry for this, but your grief was strong, and I hopped to ease your pain" said a voice behind me. I quickly pulled my phaser from my holster, only to find me not only not wearing my holster, but my old civilian vest hand sewn by my mother, the leather tanned by my father to make it. The person behind me was a humanoid being, a silver robe obscuring it's face from the twin suns light. "Hello Gregs Sharvan Son'aire, you may call me the Traveler, and I have brought you here, not Q" he said. I looked at him, and remembered an account from the Enterprise-D logs of them meeting such a being.

    "Why have you brought me here?" I say. He looks at me, and while I cannot see his face, even with him staring at me, I can tell he is smiling.

    "To my people thoughts and reality are not divided, reality being thought, and thought bringing reality to life," he pauses, turning to view the endless looking field behind me, "And when thoughts are so negative that they can reach beyond space and time, it troubles my people when it can impact our civilization so much." He walks past me to the giant tree, and looking up, sees my initials. "I remember when your kind was left here, that your Ocampa origins would eventually cause you to develop molecular kinesis unmatched by few, that was why I caused the caretaker to give you romulan D.N.A. so you could focus your powers, but I never excepted you to be so powerful as to create this place form you memories" he said. I was confused at this, but the Traveler just chuckled, as if knowing my thoughts.

    "I thought you brought me here?" I asked. He turned to face me once again, but bent down to pluck one of the rek'tan blades.

    "I did bring you here, in fact you left your ship when you went through the door," he replied, "Like I said, I never knew a telepath who could alter space, one who could alter thoughts." He let go of the blade, and it spun lazily to the ground. "Your grief was so string it reached my planet, and here thought and reality intermix," he said, "So your grief, your memories, brought to life the pain you felt, manifesting many horrors and fears you've had." He sighed, turning around, and pulling his hood down revealing graying hair. "It's taken all my people had to find one good memory among the chaos you've created, to bring you here," he said, "I've brought you here to get you to remember all the good times you had, even with your planet dead, you don't have to refuse to remember your heritage, merely rekindle the good memories of your planet." He turned to me to reveal his face. "You've got to move on Mr. Son'aire, and let your grief go," with that he put his hood up, and turned away, "This place, I've isolated it from the time stream, when you walk through that door, you'll find yourself in ten forward and you will see what has haunted you for so long." He left me there, and I sat there looking at all there was around me. I went to the tree and took out the knife I always kept in my vest, and carved a sentence below my initials:

    I Found A New Home, But I Will Never Forget The Old.
    Good Bye.

    I stepped out the door after I was done.


    Ten forward was in chaos at the sight of the giant Planet Killer before them, and the Senior Officers were getting comms in from all parts of the ships, though one thing was sure, no one could get a lock on the Planet Killer, as if it wasn't there.

    Gregs Son'aire appeared out of nowhere in a flash of light. He stood there for a second before turning to the Planet killer outside. It seemed to hum and flash it's powerful cannon, as if responding to the captains gaze. "Go," was the only word the captain uttered. The Planet Killer hummed and flashed again, and dissipated into nothing, like dust in the proverbial wind.

    He turned back to his bridge officers. "Tell the ship to cancel Red Alert, as for dinner, I'll join you in a while," he said turning to go down the ramp to reach the floor of Ten Forward. His destination was the hydroponics lab.

    Hydroponics Lab

    Stepping through the door to the lab and not finding himself in a pocket dimension, he sighed in relief. He turned his attention to the cloned seed he planted earlier in the month, the same kind he had seen a few minutes earlier, a Hek'tauken tree, only to find a new doorway in the lab where he had set his tree. He looked at the plain door, dreading what it held inside of it, no markings showing what was in it, but Gregs had a feeling it was the Traveler.

    As he chose to walk through the door he was astounded by what he saw. He could tell that this was a compressed dimension, much like the pocket dimension he was in earlier, but this was different. It was modeled after the hydroponics lab, but it was blended to have a more natural garden feel, evident by the holographic wall that represented the view of earlier. A giant rectangular patch held two small hek'tauken saplings and a ten foot tall apple tree, as well as a patch of rek'tan buds and young quin'tes grain stalks in two similar garden-like patches. Among the various gardens were patches of earth plants and various other planetary edible flora.

    Gregs was amazed by all this, knowing it was the work of the Traveler and his advanced technology, a gift perhaps...

    Of course he wouldn't know, but he thanked the traveler for the gift he gave him, in physical form, and in letting him have closure.


    When his crew saw him the next month for their dinner, they were surprised to see a homemade dinner of Quin'Tessan being cooked by their captain. Sharvan's eyes were wide as he recognized the dishes, and then quickly hurried into the kitchen to help his twin cook the feast he was creating. The Senior Officers were puzzled by their Captains attitude, and the laughing the two people in the kitchen were creating.

    They did have a great dinner that night, and Gregs revealed it was all thanks to the Traveler, which puzzled the others.
  • knightraider6knightraider6 Member Posts: 370 Arc User
    edited September 2013
    ((note, this takes place before the battle of the gate in 'The Chase'. Ascendant was a rp'er from City of Heroes, sadly his player passed this summer. I remember rping with him, an all around great guy who is missed. This is my clumsy way of saying thanks for the good memories))

    USS Heinlein, en-route to objective 'Kashykk'

    She was going to be late to the fight. Not that she liked fighting in the first place,but she had been meeting with Missy Travis of the Nighthawk when Schrodi's 'TEOTWAWKI' call came through several days ago. Of course, it wasn't like the Heinlein was technically combat ready-Fleet had just finished tearing the 29th century ship apart, only to be disappointed with no new technology that they could re engineer. Well none that they found anyway. Technically, her new First officer, who was also the ships AI (which they didn?t discover either) was a 29th century android-who passed all scans as human. Which technically TRIBBLE Stone was, as she called herself. Just a machine mind in a meat body as she described it. Rhonda had seen far weirder things.

    The Nighthawk had headed out at max warp to the rendezvous point, Rhonda would be following as soon as they were online.Most of the bridge crew was new, the only one of her command staff who survived the Agamemnon's loss to the Fek'Ihri was Danny, her chief Eng. The Wells class was far smaller than the Galaxy X class as well, which was too bad on mornings like this one. She rested her hand on her growing belly, having the hot tub that the old ship had would definitely make her back feel a bit better.

    She was only three months along and just starting to show..she figured in about four more months her back would really be giving her problems-though she'd worry about that later. They were still several days out from the objective, it was three in the morning, her back hurt, she couldn't sleep, and there was someone in her closet.

    The last was definitely obvious as there was a crash and cursing as who or what ever it was crashed over the low wall separating the office area from her sleeping area-not as in attacking...but more like they tripped in the darkness. Odd that the door didn't chime when they came in she thought as she sat up, one hand going for the old type 2 phaser she kept close at hand, "lights" she said, the room brightening to reveal her intruder, currently tangled up in the curtain she had hung to separate the two areas of the cabin. She was half expecting Fek, or Q...what she did not expect was a sandy haired human, wearing blue and white tights, yellow boots and gloves, and a yellow star burst on his chest. "Ascendant ?"

    He untangled himself from the curtain and got to his feet, almost bumping his head on one of the storage cabinets "Hey Polekitty, looks like you're doing pretty good for your self nowadays." he said with a grin, spotting the flash of a ring on one of her fingers "And getting hitched too I see. Just my luck, once you're old enough for me you go and find someone else" he said teasingly.

    She blinked, trying to think coherently. She'd known him since..hell she was 14 and finished her first real case in Paragon...she was sitting on the roof of the hospital bawling her eyes out after putting a dozen members of the Skulls in intensive care. He was flying by and landed, listening to and reassuring her. Over the years she'd run into him occasionally,he was like an older brother that she could confide in.

    "We're just engaged, M'Karett's family is on one side of the quadrant, mine's on Risa and getting them together to make things official is a bit of a pain-what are you doing here?"

    "Looking for you" he said simply "You're going the wrong-" there was an annoying noise coming from his phone and he frowned, while Rhonda tried to suppress a giggle, it had been a while since she had heard the theme to the unlamented 'Ascendant Action Power Hour' He muttered darkly as he pulled out the phone "I thought I changed that ring tone again...Hello? Saul! Yes, I found her. No, she's not in Denmark. No, we're nowhere near Denmark..."

    She got up and went to the replicator "Hot chocolate, two mugs." she said half listening to the one sided conversation.

    "...no I can't go to Legoland Saul, Denmark is on earth, and I'm somewhere in Eta Eridani...I'm pretty sure they don't have a Starbucks here either Saul..."

    She sat the mug of hot chocolate down,sipping at her own when it hit her.."How did you know where I am..or where we are?...and...you died..."

    "I gotta go Saul..yes, OK, alright, goodbye Saul." he hung up the phone and picked up his mug "Death is such a primitive concept. I prefer to think of it as fighting evil, in another dimension."

    Her eyes narrowed "you did Not just quote 'The Last Starfighter' at me and expect that to fly."

    "Cheesy I know, but the description did fit" he said with a smile "pure thought might as well be another dimension...and Thought is the essence of where you are now."

    She pondered that for a moment and sipped her hot chocolate "so why did you come to see me?"

    "Because you're going the wrong way."

    "What do you mean? Schrodi said there was something that had to be taken down , wouldn't go into specifics over an open channel but-"

    "But they will handle it admirably without your assistance. It will be brutal, with much death and destruction...and that is not for you."

    "the hell you say, if it's that bad they NEED me-"

    "He needs you more" 'Ascendant' said, gently poking her stomach "You are a healer, a peacemaker, an explorer. You fight well when you have to-but it's not who you are, not who you were meant to be."

    He finished his mug and sat it down "I really hope to meet him again when he's older. He'll be like Mozart, or Crusher, but instead of being able to manipulate music, time, space...he will bring peoples together. There will be tears and triumphs," the cabin door opened and another person walked in, almost human, mostly bald, with odd two finger hands "and I'm talking to much aren't I?" Ascendant said with a chuckle.

    The Traveler just smiled "It is quite all right. Captain Evans, do not be angry for not being there to help your friends. There will be much political fallout from this...and you can help them more not connected to it."

    "I understand, I think." she said. "Doesn't mean I have to like it." There was a chirp from the com on the desk "Bridge to Captain Evans."

    "Excuse me," she said, hitting the button "What it is Mr Cushing?"

    "We were supposed to be a couple hours out from K-7...sir.. we're in the Vanden Sector...and we're being hailed."

    She glanced at the two, Ascendant just shrugged and pointed at the Traveler "He knows where he's going, I don't."

    "Which is why I arrived in the corridor, instead of in a closet." the Traveler said serenely. Rhonda just sighed and hit the com again "Be there in a minute."

    She turned back..and the two of them were gone-but there was an empty mug on the table. Sighing, she got dressed as fast as she could..

    Three minutes later she was on the bridge, she ship was on yellow alert, Alpha shift in their positions as she sat down "Whats our status?

    "We're in a previously uncharted system, and we're being hailed by the locals. They've sent ships out, looks like their FTL capable at least so we don't have to worry about getting in trouble for attracting attention of a pre warp civilization." Lt Dane Cushing said from his station.

    "Hell, all we'd have to do is tell Fleet the Traveler dropped us here." she chuckled "Open a channel."

    It took a second for the translator to find something that worked "We are the Tannier" the image on the screen said, looking like they possibly evolved from something similar to the terran ovis genus "We hope your intentions are peaceful?"

    Remember who you ARE. Remember who you are meant to be

    She heard the echo of the hero's voice and smiled "I'm Captain Rhonda Evans, commanding the USS Heinlein of the United Federation of Planets. We come in Peace."
    "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."

  • shevetshevet Member Posts: 1,644 Arc User
    edited September 2013
    "Scanning now," Zdanruvruk rasped. The Reman science officer's beady eyes were intent on the console display. Aitra glanced at him, briefly, before returning his own attention to the tactical readout. So far, it was blank. The Romulan offered a silent prayer to the Elements that it would stay that way.

    "Let me know as soon as you discover anything," T'Laihhae said from the command chair. If she was tense, there was no sign of it in her voice.

    "Is there anything there to find?" Retar asked from the engineering station. She did have a knack for asking insubordinate questions, Aitra thought. In an Imperial ship, that might have cost her her rank. But, of course, the Messalina was not an Imperial ship. And T'Laihhae was never one to stand on ceremony.

    "My sources suggest there should be," T'Laihhae said, equably enough. And just what are those sources? Aitra wondered, not for the first time. "Nothing is certain... but they have proved reliable in the past."

    "I have something." Zdanruvruk's brow was furrowed to start with - still, the Reman looked puzzled. "Particle traces... suggesting, perhaps, a subspace inclusion... or some sort of disruption." He blinked and glanced up from the console. "It's hard to tell. Recording data for analysis."

    Aitra turned in his seat to look at his commanding officer. "What do you expect to find?" he asked, directly. T'Laihhae's dark eyes focused on him. She looked at him dispassionately for a fraction of a second, then favoured him with a flicker of a smile.

    "Subspace disruption," she said. "There are two possibilities - according to my sources. One is that the Tal Shiar have been carrying out tests, attempting to reconnect to a defunct Borg transwarp hub. The second... is that they are experimenting with more direct means of causing subspace ruptures. They may be creating isolytic weaponry."

    "That would put them in violation of... how many treaties, exactly?" asked Retar.

    "Quite a number," said T'Laihhae. "Either possibility, of course, would excite interest among our allies. Bringing proof of either one to the Federation or the Klingons would further lower the Tal Shiar's reputation in their eyes... and advance the Republic's cause."

    And the Tal Shiar would be keen for the evidence never to be found, Aitra thought, and turned his full attention back to the tactical display. The spiny shape of the Messalina was hanging in empty space, five light years or more from the nearest star system - in a point amid the infinite void that, as far as eyes could tell, was no different from any other. How did she know to come here? Aitra wondered again. He stared at the readouts, checked the visual display, looked at the stars, shining bright and cold, twinkling there....

    He blinked. Twinkling?

    Starlight twinkled when it passed through a planetary atmosphere. Out here, the stars should be steady and clear. Unless something was interfering with them....

    "I think there's something out there," he said. "Possibly a cloaked ship."

    "Go to full alert," T'Laihhae ordered. "Tachyon detection on. Zdan, do you have everything you need?"

    "Still recording," the Reman answered. "I will need more time."

    "I'd be glad to oblige," said T'Laihhae, "but it may not lie entirely in my hands. Keep going as long as you can." She turned back to Aitra. "Do you have confirmation?"

    "Nothing on scans, still," Aitra replied. "If there's anyone out there, they're good. I just saw a - a visual discontinuity -"

    "Good enough for me," T'Laihhae murmured. She trusts me not to jump at shadows, Aitra thought, and felt a fleeting glow of pride. He scanned the readouts, and the visual displays, tension mounting with each second that passed. There was a nebula within visual range, close enough to show as a filmy pale cloud... and something flitted, briefly, across it: distorting, but not obscuring it.

    "Got a glimpse," he reported. "Something - angular. It might have been the wing of a Scimitar...."

    T'Laihhae swore under her breath. "Then the only confirmation we will receive is a surprise thalaron barrage. I don't think we should wait to be sure. Raise shields, move out, maximum combat speed."

    Readouts shifted before Aitra's eyes as the Messalina began to move. "Singularity core reaching criticality," Retar reported crisply. "Warp speed at your discretion, sir."

    "We stay sublight as long as we can -" T'Laihhae began.

    "Ships decloaking!" Aitra yelled. The flickering wraiths in the visual displays were suddenly solid, real, and deadly. "Two Scimitars, and an adapted destroyer. Bearing oh-two-nine mark one-four, range twelve."

    "Maximum evasive," T'Laihhae ordered. Messalina was an adapted battle cruiser, heavily modified with Reman and Federation technology... but she was outgunned and outmatched by the approaching Tal Shiar ships. Aitra stiffened as more images shimmered into view on the console.

    "Two battle cruisers and another Scimitar behind us! They're sitting on our departure vector!"

    "Then we change departure vector. Come about," T'Laihhae ordered. Her voice was absolutely calm. "Heading three-two-eight mark four-nine. Maximum warp. Ready quantum slipstream."

    "Sir." The android, Ruby, spoke for the first time. Her voice was no steadier than T'Laihhae's own. "That course takes us directly across the region of subspace disturbance."

    "Yes. I'm hoping they haven't planned for that." T'Laihhae gave another flash of smile. "At the least, we should get some great close-ups for Zdan."

    "Lead Scimitars are powering up thalarons," Aitra reported. His mouth was dry.

    "Then we just outstayed our welcome. Punch it," T'Laihhae commanded.

    The whole vast bulk of the Messalina shuddered as the warp engines came on line, twisting a hole in spacetime that was smoothed and widened by the energies of the quantum slipstream field. The ship leaped forwards -


    "What happened?" Aitra heard someone ask. The words seemed to echo oddly in the air of the bridge.

    Aitra blinked. The tactical console was still in front of him, glowing steadily... and every light, every luminous display, seemed to have a strange halo about it, an ethereal glimmer filled with nameless colours. The familiar edges of the console itself seemed blurred, wavery, unsteady. He reached out a hand, and that too was blurred, and the motion felt strange, slow, almost as if he were under water -

    Head injury? he wondered. But he felt no pain. He turned his head and looked around.

    The bridge seemed undamaged - no damage control lights flashing, no sparking and banging of overloaded EPS conduits. But it was all blurred, every light source ringed with that spectral glow, the whole place having that slow, dreamlike quality about it.

    "What happened?" It was T'Laihhae who had spoken, and again the words had an odd echo to them. As if they, too, were wrapped in some kind of halo, audible rather than visual.

    Aitra turned back to the console, struggled to make sense of the display. "No hostiles on sensors," he said, and his own voice sounded strange. "Can't make out - can't make out anything outside at all." The visual displays were a meaningless riot of shifting coloured shadows.

    "Warp drive is offline," Retar reported. "I can't... I can't reestablish a warp field. Not sure why."

    "Trying to get sensor readings," said Zdanruvruk. "This - We must have taken damage, sir. These readings don't make any kind of sense."

    T'Laihhae put one hand to her forehead. "Is anyone else hearing things... strangely?" she asked.

    "Now you mention it...." said Retar.

    "Everything seems odd," Aitra said. "Sounds, lights... everything."

    "Thank the Elements it's not just me," said T'Laihhae. She turned to Ruby. "What about you?"

    "I. I. I," said the android. Her face was expressionless. "I. I. I. Input malfunction. Attempting to correct. I. Attempting to correct."

    "That is so not a good sign," said Retar.

    "We seem to be in... something of a hole," said T'Laihhae. "Well. The first thing we must know is, how deep? Do we have any sort of positional fix?"

    "I can't make out anything on these displays," said Aitra.

    "Comms?" asked T'Laihhae. "Do we have nearby subspace chatter? Any beacon signals we can pick up?"

    Retar crossed over to Ruby's console, elbowing the android out of the way. Ruby sat there, passively, metal eyes blank, the bare patch on her forehead sparkling as status lights winked on and off in rapid succession. Each one had its own strange halo: it hurt to watch them.

    "Nothing," Retar reported. "All channels dead."

    "I'm trying to replay our sensor logs," said Zdanruvruk. "Should have details of everything... I had every sensor we've got out."

    "Let me guess," said T'Laihhae. "Something happened when we hit the region of disturbed subspace."

    "Seems a safe bet," said Retar. Aitra looked at her carefully. The auburn-haired engineer was trying hard not to show any sort of nervousness... but it was there, all the same. He knew it was there. He could feel it himself, deep in his bones.

    "Looks like," Zdanruvruk said slowly, "we moved across the subspace rupture and it... synchronized with our warp field, and... and inverted, somehow. Moved us... randomly, across the space-time continuum. I can't work out how, or in what direction. Sir, I think it moved us along directions we don't even have names for."

    T'Laihhae nodded, pensively. "So," she said, "the important question: how do we get back?"

    "I don't know, sir."


    The atmosphere in the Messalina's conference room was tense... and strange. I should be growing accustomed to this, Aitra thought, but I'm not. The fuzzy lights, the strange echoes, were... too strange. They were wrong, on some deep and fundamental level, something that he could feel, down in the core of his being. And he knew the others must feel it too... even if, like T'Laihhae, they were hiding it successfully.

    T'Laihhae's "in" group, though - the ones Aitra thought of as her particular friends - weren't all hiding it so well. Tovan Khev looked as though he'd aged years; Satra was clearly scared; even the old engineer D'Vek and the big scientist Hiven were plainly worried. Hiven was making his report now.

    "Nothing on the scans, and I mean nothing," the big man rumbled. "Can't even establish a metrical frame for reference. It's like - outside the ship, there's nothing at all. Like the rules of the universe just haven't been written yet."

    "But we're still alive," Retar said. "That means - power, gravity, chemical reactions in our bodies - all sorts of things must be functioning normally -"

    "Force of habit, maybe," said Hiven. "Nothing to stop these things carrying on, either. Or..." He looked doubtful. "There might be something... something mental going on. Sentient minds having an effect on their surroundings.... We know the artificial lifeforms are having trouble, right?"

    "Ruby is still out of action," said T'Laihhae. "Are there others in similar difficulties?"

    "EMH won't engage," said Hiven. "None of the sophisticated holograms will start up - we can switch on dummies and programmed characters from holonovels and stuff, but nothing with any self-awareness or decision making capacity. They all fail with initialization errors in the holo-matrix."

    "Hmm," said T'Laihhae. "I suppose it's good to know that old-fashioned organic brains can cope better with this - whatever it is - than the cybernetic ones." She laughed, shortly and without humour. "Good to know we have any advantages. But it does further reduce our options."

    "What options do we have?" asked Retar.

    "Two, that I can see," said T'Laihhae. "The first is to explore our surroundings - to see if we can find some recognizable feature, some signpost we can use, in order to get back to normal space. The second - which is not incompatible - is to use our sensor logs and see if we can backtrack, by dead reckoning, along the same route we took to get into this place." Her eyes turned towards Zdanruvruk. "I don't expect it to be easy, of course."

    "Sir," said the Reman, "it may - it may not be possible, even. We're dealing with movement across dimensions we've never encountered before - just describing our position might need the invention of a new mathematical notation -"

    "As I said," said T'Laihhae, "I don't expect it to be easy." Her gaze swept around the conference table, measuring, appraising each one of them in turn. "I don't need to say this," she said, "but I will. I have every confidence in this crew... in all of you. All of us. We will prevail."


    The shape of the Messalina made her internal architecture complicated. Aitra's quarters were at one corner of the curved, triangular upper hull, near where one of the forward weapons spines joined on. He was starting to unbutton his uniform jacket when there was a knock at the door.

    "Come in."

    The door slid open, and Retar stepped through. "I didn't want to be alone," she said, directly. "And I decided I wanted to be... not alone... with you."

    Aitra smiled, and stepped forward to take her in his arms. Even in this place of altered sensations, her slim body felt very comfortable -

    Then the intercom squawked, "Intruder alert! Intruder alert! Auxiliary control!"

    Aitra swore, and ran for the door, grabbing up his disruptor rifle as he went.

    "Stay safe!" Retar called after him as he left.

    He raced down the corridors, his footsteps echoing like the sounds of alien bells, his heart pounding. More steps sounded as he approached the control room: he glanced warily around. Two familiar figures, coming up the passageway behind him - the other security officers, Sislyklut and Rihell. Aitra relaxed a little. The burly Reman was a good friend to have in a tight corner - and as for Rihell, she might look like a waif and dress like a cheap Hfihar streetwalker, but Aitra knew she could fight like an armoured hatham in a pinch.

    Weapons ready, the three of them burst into the auxiliary control room. "Don't move!" Aitra yelled.

    The figure at the navigation console did not move. It simply stood there, a humanoid shape, tall, thin, in a hooded tunic. "Turn around," Aitra commanded, "slowly."

    The intruder complied. The face beneath its hood was humanoid, but neither human nor Romulan; a placid, mild-featured face with kindly eyes beneath hairless brow ridges. Cautiously, the intruder raised his hands in a gesture of surrender; the hands had two fingers and a thumb, Aitra noted. He didn't know this creature's species. He decided to take no chances, and kept his rifle aimed squarely at the narrow chest. Sislyklut and Rihell sidled around him, careful not to cross his line of fire as they approached the intruder.

    "I mean you no harm," the stranger said. His voice was as mild as his face.

    "No weapons." Sislyklut had a scanner in his hand. That meant nothing, Aitra thought. Any number of aliens could be dangerous with no visible weapons at all.

    "I have no need of weapons," the stranger said. "I am here to help."

    T'Laihhae's voice sounded, suddenly, from the doorway. "Who are you, and what are you doing on my ship?" Aitra hoped, devoutly, that he would never hear her speak to him in a tone like that.

    "I am called the Traveller," the stranger replied. "I came... because you need my help."


    The tension in the conference room had got worse. Even T'Laihhae's eyes were narrowed, her mouth thin with strain. The only person who wasn't stressed, Aitra thought... was the one with three disruptor rifles pointed at his hairless head.

    "I have a capability for travel across multiple axes of reality," the Traveller said. "Innate in this, of course, is an ability to... well, to put it simply, to see where I'm going. The irruption of your ship into this... region... was a very visible event. You must by now have realized that you are alien to this place."

    "So you came to see what had happened?" T'Laihhae asked.

    "It was clear enough what had happened. I came to render assistance."


    The Traveller sighed. "Might it not simply be... because you need it?"

    T'Laihhae studied him with a frown. "I must admit, I don't have a lot of experience of your kind. Altruists, I mean."

    The Traveller smiled faintly. "There might be some disagreeable repercussions to your presence here, I suppose. Your mere presence creates waves of... change... which may or may not be desirable. And that change can work both ways. You are able to function here, because the living mind can influence its surroundings - to an extent - in this region. But the living mind is adaptable, and malleable, and the influence does not only work one way. If you remain here too long, you may change and adapt in ways that might not be beneficial."

    "I've heard case studies of the psychological effects of interspatial rifts," Zdanruvruk spoke up.

    "So have I," said T'Laihhae. "Some of them were uncomfortable reading." She turned her gaze back to the Traveller. "So. You say you can help?"

    "If you will permit me access to your navigation systems, I can take this ship with me on a course back to normal space."

    T'Laihhae's fingers drummed a brief tattoo on the conference table. The taps of her fingers raised strange echoes: she stopped. "We're trying to use dead reckoning to chart our own course back. We may well be able to manage without your help - or are you telling me that's not possible?"

    "It is premature to judge anything impossible," the Traveller said, "but the task is a formidable one."

    "Could you help with that?"

    "My abilities are largely innate, and intuitive," said the Traveller. "Let me present an analogy. Suppose a blind man were to ask you how you saw - could you explain to him in detail, sufficient for him to make eyes for himself? The task before you is... of that order of difficulty."

    "So you think we need your help... your way." T'Laihhae seemed to come to a decision. "All right. What must we do?"

    "Merely provide me access to your navigation systems - and, of course, you must give me a destination."

    "We can do that. The place we left, before we came here - could you reach that?"

    The Traveller shook his head. "No. I mentioned, I believe, the effect of living minds on this - region of reality. The destination must be a real place, on which you can focus your will. It must be somewhere in the here and now that means something to you, somewhere you would strongly wish to be. The most common, the simplest, place for you to aim for... is, simply, home. Where is your home?"

    T'Laihhae frowned. "We're citizens of the Romulan Republic...."

    "Too vast an area. You need to be specific."

    T'Laihhae drummed her fingers on the table again, and stopped again. "When I think of home, I think first of Romulus... but Romulus is gone."

    "I had heard. A great tragedy."

    "Well, then. We're citizens of the Republic. New Romulus."

    There was a short pause, and, for the first time, a faintly strained look showed on the Traveller's face. "No," he said, eventually. "It is not... suitable."

    "Why not? It's a real place, it's our administrative centre -"

    "Yes, but -" The Traveller looked apologetic. "It is - I see the resonance your minds create - it is something you aspire to. It is a goal, an ideal; it is the home you are building for yourselves. And, because of that, it is something from your future, just as the destroyed Romulus is something from your past. I need a point that is real to you, now."

    There was a pause, that grew longer, and uglier. "Most of us," T'Laihhae said thoughtfully, "perhaps all of us, are dispossessed. Refugees. Places like Virinat, Crateris - all shattered or swept away by the war. I don't know if any of us has a home - in the sense you seem to need." A wry smile tugged at her mouth for a second. "I'm rather regretting having persuaded Commander Yousest to take some leave." The Federation liaison officer was normally a thorn in her side, Aitra knew; still, a trip to his homeworld of Ysmer Pelagia wouldn't have come amiss just now....

    "You will have to give the matter some thought," said the Traveller. "With your permission, I will remain... as long as you need me."


    Aitra paced nervously up and down the length of his quarters, while Retar, curled up on his single chair, watched him curiously.

    "Home," he said aloud. "Such a simple idea - or it should be. Shouldn't it?"

    "I never had one," said Retar quietly. Aitra stopped pacing, turned to look at her. "I was born on one of the refugee ships... would have grown up on it, too, if it hadn't been captured by the Orions. Growing up in Orion space, now -" she shuddered. "Let's just say I don't have fond memories."

    "I'm sorry." It was the first time she'd spoken about her past. She shrugged.

    "It's all over now. And I guess it's the same with you?"

    "That's what I'm trying to work out. Hfihar... the damn mines, and the damn arrogant Ferengi...." And the last time he'd seen it, through the porthole of a Starfleet shuttle, the town burning on the horizon, the ground alive with the leprous hairy shapes of the vampires.... "But I still think about it. I even dream about it. Maybe that's enough? He never said it had to be a - a pleasant emotional connection, did he?"

    "But if it's somewhere you want to get away from - and why wouldn't you? - then it wouldn't work, would it?"

    "Maybe. Maybe not." He gave a short, forced laugh. "Maybe it'd put us at the other pole of the universe, the place that's furthest possible from Hfihar in every way. Now that's got to be worth a try, hasn't it?"

    Retar smiled at him, with a slightly rueful look. "You're going to try it, aren't you?"

    Aitra squared his shoulders. "I guess so."

    "Then good luck," she said. "Only, whatever happens... remember you and I have some unfinished business, all right?"

    Aitra was smiling as he left his quarters. The smile faded, though, as he made his way down Messalina's corridors. They were empty, deserted, and he thought he knew why. Every step he took woke plangent, discordant echoes... was it his imagination, or were those echoes becoming steadily stranger and wilder as time went on? It was no wonder that no one else was walking about.

    He heard voices as he neared auxiliary control - the echoes, though, made it impossible to make out the words. Now or never, he thought, took a deep breath, and stepped into the room.

    Its two occupants looked up: the Traveller, and T'Laihhae. "Subcommander Aitra," T'Laihhae said.

    "Sir. I thought - well, my planet of origin is often in my thoughts, and even though I'm glad to have left it -"

    "I see," T'Laihhae interrupted. Her dark eyes were thoughtful. "Well, it's worth a try. But we'll try it if our current plan fails - Three hands are steadier than two. Take the helm, I'll handle operations, and the Traveller will be at navigation."

    "You have a way out?"

    "Potentially. Take the helm."

    He did so, automatically, checking the console and the readouts, shooting a glance at the still figure of the enigmatic alien. "Status is nominal," he reported.

    "Good. Warp engines are... well, we know their status. Go to full impulse and stand ready for the cross-link from navigation."

    As if in a dream, Aitra punched the commands into the console, felt the faint shudder as the ship's engines woke to life.

    "I am laying in the initial coordinates," the Traveller said in that mild voice. "Please stand ready to initialize the warp field as discussed."

    "Ready," said T'Laihhae.


    Before Aitra's eyes, the helm console readouts began to change. The ship was under way. Under way where? he wondered, and how? Hiven had said there was no way to establish a warp field -

    - but there it was: the transwarp engines were on line, the ship was coming about, on a course... the coordinates made no sense. There was no way the Messalina was moving in any recognizable direction. But moving she was, and with steadily gathering speed.

    "Hold her steady," T'Laihhae commanded.

    Aitra's mouth went dry. The numbers on the helm console were insane; the massive ship was moving at ten times, a hundred times, a thousand times the speed her transwarp drive could attain. Hold her steady. Indeed, for the slightest wobble, the least variation in the inertial damping field, at this velocity, would spread Messalina's crew over her decks like so much paint.

    The ship gathered speed. The figures on the readouts were a blur, meaningless and terrifying. Aitra sneaked a glance at the navigation console, and what he saw terrified him still further. The Traveller was shimmering and fading, the metal of the wall behind him clearly visible, bands of transparency racing up and down his slender body. His face was absorbed, intent, ultimately unreadable. Aitra forced his own attention back to the helm controls.

    When the change came, it was sudden. The lights - the lights snapped back into focus, their coloured haloes winking out. Aitra felt a shock run through him as the weird underwater feeling drained away. The helm display cleared, stabilized, the numbers falling back to sane levels - to normality, as the ship eased out of warp and back to sublight speeds. Aitra let out a huge sigh, and it woke no weird echoes from anywhere. He turned to look at the navigation console.

    The Traveller was gone. He had faded away entirely, as if he had never been.

    "Check our position," T'Laihhae ordered.

    "On it." He crossed over to the nav console, engaged the standard checks, and watched almost in disbelief as the system reported with uneventful normality. "We're in Federation space, near a star system - Priyanapari, I don't know it -"

    "I do," said T'Laihhae. "It's where we aimed for. Now, get us back into warp, and steer for Starbase 39-Sierra - from here, the heading should be two-two-seven mark four-five."

    "Is this place... dangerous?" Aitra asked, as he set up the course.

    "No. But it's inadvisable to remain. All hands," T'Laihhae keyed the intra-ship address. "This is the commander. We have returned to normal space, and are proceeding at best speed to a Federation starbase. I'm sure you're all as relieved as I am. Thank you for your efforts. That is all." She snapped off the speakers and sat back in her chair. "I don't mind admitting just how relieved I am."

    "Course confirmed, and we're under way." Aitra turned to face her. "So... is this Priyanapari system your home, then?"


    "Then... I don't understand."

    "The Traveller needed a definite point to reach, somewhere he could identify. There are ways in which this star system is unique. I talked it over with him, and we decided it was worth making the attempt."

    Aitra looked hard at her. Her dark eyes looked back at him; her face was unreadable.

    "You want to know, unique how?" she said.

    "And you're not going to say... sir."

    She flashed a quick smile at him. "I have my reasons," she said. "I have said before, I don't employ Tal Shiar methods... but some things need to be kept secret."

    Aitra said nothing.

    "I was a dutiful officer of the Imperial military," T'Laihhae said. "Once, serving on an outpost whose name really doesn't matter, I reported an off-hand remark made by a friend of mine. Our superior officer used that as a pretext to have my friend killed. I escaped that outpost, and made my way to Virinat, hoping to make a new life for myself there. Now, you know everything about me that, say, Tovan does. Before I found my way to Virinat, though, I passed through several systems, one of which was Priyanapari. I made some contacts along the way, who have been very useful to me, and to the Republic." Her smile flashed on and off again. "And now you know more about me than Tovan does."

    Footsteps sounded in the passageways outside. "We'd better transfer control back to the regular bridge," T'Laihhae said. "And then I want to get some sleep - I don't think I've slept since this began."

    The door of the control room opened, and Ruby stepped inside. "Sir," the android said, "I think I deserve some sort of explanation. I have been deactivated for some time, and regained consciousness on the bridge, with -" her voice became indignant "- a dust sheet thrown over me -"

    Aitra laughed. "With your permission, sir," he said, "I'll let you sort this out. Me, I have some unfinished business to attend to."
  • gulberatgulberat Member Posts: 5,505 Arc User
    edited September 2013
    The Tales of Alyosha Strannik:
    "To the World, Foolishness"


    I shot out of bed and shrieked--an alarm cry as loud and as high-pitched as a microphone feeding back--at the sound of an unknown voice in my quarters. It wasn't a voice over the specially-configured comm unit I slept with around my wrist, meant to reach between phases if I was needed. Nor was there the sound of the assistive equipment typically needed to bring anyone else I knew into my native phase.

    I slapped the comm as I telekinetically righted myself to face the source of the voice. "Computer--intruder alert, captain's quarters, +.004 phase!"

    No response. Was the wristcomm malfunctioning? The receiver on the other end? I didn't know. It didn't matter.

    There was another Devidian aboard the Chin'toka. Again.

    My finger jabbed in his direction like a knife. "Get the hell away from my people!" I shouted--unheard by anyone else, and unheeded by the intruder. I turned my full focus on him: Devidian as he was, he would surely recognize it. Then I lowered my voice nearly to a whisper, broadcasting the waveform as clearly as possible as the rage built and I hissed, "I will kill you."

    I shoved at him with my mind--a telekinetic blow that would have taken a humanoid off of his feet, or that should have triggered a counterforce from the Devidian before me.

    There was no counterforce. But the other Devidian didn't budge--not even a centimeter.

    That's when I noticed two things. First: I couldn't sense the other mind...not as I had aboard Drozana Station, or during the attack in the mess hall. And second: his phasic signature was all wrong. I could see him clearly in my phase, yes--but there were faint trails following his movements, leading all the way back to the standard humanoid phase and some that, just barely, even seemed to precede him into phases even further ahead of my own.

    "Alyosha," said the other Devidian, arms outspread, his voice conveying a surprising degree of warmth. "This violence is unnecessary. I am no threat to you or your crew." Then it registered that he was speaking my native Russian.

    I had not assumed my human form, but I still got the feeling the other being recognized that I was 'glaring' at him. I still wasn't relaxing...not yet. But a distinct suspicion was taking shape. I tested him. "Vy v samom dyele nye devidianski, da?" You aren't really a Devidian, are you?


    I still wasn't lowering my clawed fingers--nor was I letting off of the telekinetic trigger, so to speak. "Nu, shto vy?" Welll, what are you?

    "I am the one your people know as the Traveler. I assure you...I pose no threat. There's no need for hostilities."

    I nodded slowly, for a second--I had heard about this being in my temporal mechanics classes at the Academy. Still, there seemed to be a great deal of common sense lacking in the Traveler's approach. "You should never have come aboard the ship in my quarters, while I was asleep--and in a form that marks you as a danger to my ship and crew! If you'd shown up in human phase, I or someone else in my crew would've shot you dead by now!"

    "Sometimes there is great wisdom in acts of seeming childishness or even foolishness," the Traveler cryptically stated. "What happened just now serves as a case in point for why I have come here."

    Strange, I thought...for there was indeed something about this deliberate provocation, the risk to which he had exposed himself, to command my attention thus. And his phrasing just now...odd, that such an alien being was almost reminding me of a holy fool.

    "Which is?"

    The Traveler sighed. "You have a unique constitution...an insight into the nature of time, space, and thought, as a matter of biology--an awareness that few possess. Yet most of your kind cannot...and must not harness its full potential."

    I made a derisive harrumphing noise--even more strange to see, I'm sure, than speaking fluent Russian without lips or tongue--but how better for me to get the point across? "You've got that right."

    The other being, still in Devidian guise, tactfully ignored me. "My own people have this sort of hardwiring as well. While there are select members of other species with the aptitude to develop such skills through intensive training--yours is one of the only other ones we know of with such a natural, biological aptitude for comprehending the true nature of reality."

    "I hope that hardwiring doesn't include consuming the neural energy of sentient beings," I warned. "Because if it does--"

    The Traveler raised his hands as though being held up at phaser point. "No, Alyosha--never. Not for us. What it has meant for your species, though...it's a tragedy of immense proportions. Yet at the same time--what they do prevents them...for now...from recognizing the final aspect of reality. They understand time and phase. But I am here speaking with you because you recognize the preciousness of sentience, as an end unto itself, and not a tool to further your own existence."

    "Kant's Categorical Imperative," I pointed out.

    "Yes," the Traveler confirmed. "Of course, Kant only went so far. Descartes came closer. Blaise Pascal, too. There were polymaths on your world, before the subdisciplines of knowledge and their adherents fractured into competing fragments as they did on so many planets in the name of modernity, who came close to developing a full picture of the universe. In a physics equation, in a calculus limit, in a moment of ecstasy, in the dream of a ridiculous man...that is the universe, Alyosha.

    "You have moments where you begin to see it. Things that require endless sums and mathematical models for most people, that you grasp in instinctive visual terms like someone admiring a sculpture. You understand my own nature, on some level, merely by seeing--did you not overcome the initial perceptions this form gave you of me?"

    Reluctantly, I nodded: it was getting harder and harder to see this being as cut out of the same cloth as the cruel ones of Drozana Station.

    "I came here to verify the suspicions I have had for a long time about your species, and particularly you. And it's clear to me: something has to be done about the Devidians, lest they discover the means of manipulating reality while their understanding of thought is still one where theirs overrides all, and consumes all."

    My breath caught in my chest. Even with all of my horror--all of my disgust...yes...even all of my hatred towards the other men and women of Devidia--the implications were dreadful. "Captain Picard carried out an orbital strike when he first discovered them. The more recent incursions made it clear that hasn't accomplished anything. You aren't...are you implying Starfleet should make use of General Order 24?"

    The order to exterminate all life on an entire planet. A command so grave that even after everything, the thought still gave me pause. All life, all future, all other possibilities blown away, forever: the end.

    "If action is not taken...the Devidians could become a threat as extreme as the Krenim and the Undine combined. Perhaps even on the level of the Borg. You've seen what they've already done on Pentaxia. You yourself...were left by a vanguard force that wanted to cultivate Earth-humanity as livestock. The Q are bad enough, for how they destabilize the time-space continuum, and how they play with sentient life. For the Devidians to achieve that level of power...if their course is not diverted somehow, General Order 24 may become necessary someday in the not-distant future. Either they must be reached, or they must be destroyed."

    I crossed myself. "Gospodi pomilui nas." I wasn't exactly sure who the 'us' was, for whom I asked forgiveness. I regarded the Traveler. "What sort of action could be taken?"

    "Speaking with you has made it clear, at least, that separated from their culture, you are not bound by their nature. Someone must go among them. Someone has to try."

    "You can't be asking me to do that! I have tried! I told them how I live without killing. I even volunteered to hand over the damn blueprints, for nothing in return! They mocked me, chased after me, attacked my crew just to make some kind of sick point! They have made their choice, Traveler!"

    Then the rage gave way--somewhat--to shame. Genocide. That was the choice.

    In a quieter tone, I said, "I cannot put my crew at risk in that way again, with such long odds against them."

    Nor would I leave alone, for my foster family in St. Petersburg to grieve for me when nothing was ever heard from me again. Not for this. Weakness of the spirit this was, yes. But I couldn't. I just couldn't.

    "Relations...would likely be antagonistic," the Traveler stated in merciful generalities. "But with the information I have gleaned...I believe that I can go."

    I scrutinized the Traveler's form. His phasic state. Even his neural emanations. And I understood, regardless of how powerful he could be in certain ways, the position that he would be putting himself in. "You still have a nervous system," I said. "You haven't evolved away from that. And no offense, but it does appear to me as though you can die. And with the trails you leave behind and ahead of you...you will be an incredibly tempting target for them." Indeed...it probably wasn't a matter of if he would go the way of St. Stephen: it was when.

    An uncounted number of seconds...minutes?...passed in silence.

    Finally I spoke again--soft...solemn. "Iditye, i delaytye, shto ya nye mogu."

    Go, and do what I cannot.

    Christian Gaming Community Fleets--Faith, Fun, and Fellowship! See the website and PM for more. :-)
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  • jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 8,707 Arc User
    edited September 2013
    Captain's Log, USS Hephaestus NCC-91748
    Commander Grunt recording.

    On routine patrol of Iota Pavonis sector. We provided humanitarian relief for a former Romulan colony that had been experiencing a pandemic, and assisted the USS
    Pournelle with lifting a Reman blockade of that world, but other than that there's been no excitement here. We've got three weeks left on this patrol, and then back to Starbase for resupply. Strongly considering some sort of betting pool just to relieve the monotony. It might be over the species of Lt. Manalang's next conquest - the man seems to be aiming at outdoing the legendary Captain Kirk, at least as far as anything that can be defined as "female" is concerned. So far, no adverse effects on crew morale, but Lt. Brel is keeping an eye out.

    Grunt yawned. "Someone remind me why we're out here?" he asked plaintively.

    "Because Admiral T'Nae still doesn't believe in your command abilities," Roclak rumbled behind him. "Also, I think she might still be miffed about not getting the computer."

    "Do Vulcans get miffed?"

    At the helm, Gydap stifled a chuckle. Then he sat up straight, antennae quivering nervously. "Captain, I can sense -- something's happening here..."

    "What is it?"

    "Not exactly clear, sir--"

    At that moment, a flickering form began to take shape immediately before the viewscreen. It coalesced into a solid form - a humanoid, tall, slim, with pronounced eye-ridges, and a fringe of hair around its scalp. It reached full solidity, then collapsed.

    As Shelana jumped from her place at Security and raised her sidearm, Grunt stood and slapped his combadge. "Grunt to sickbay! One unknown humanoid life form, may require medical assistance, on the bridge!"

    The being raised one thick, two-fingered hand. "No, Commander," he replied in a voice that rapidly gained strength, "that will not be necessary. Besides, intending no offense toward your doubtless fine medical staff, but I doubt there is much they could do for me in any event. I have been known to your people as the Traveller, and I am aboard your ship to request asylum."

    "Asylum? From whom?"

    "From us, Commander Grunt," a pleasant baritone voice replied. Another form, this one appearing as a bearded middle-aged Human with greying hair, came into existence next to the Traveller. His robes rustled as he raised an arm. "My name, or one of my names, is Ayelborne. As a representative of the Organians, I wish to take this miscreant into custody for his crimes."

    "And what crimes would those be, Mr. - Ayelborne, was it?"

    "Interference with the evolutionary path of younger species," the Organian replied, "in contravention of the agreements reached between his people and our own. Specifically, he has accelerated the paths of certain individuals, beginning with one Wesley R. Crusher some forty-seven years ago as you measure time, and including several others. His most recent attempt went poorly, and cost the life of a young Bolian boy who would otherwise have lived out a normal span." He shook his head. "Such - criminal negligence must be stopped. Permanently."

    "And why did you want that agreement?" the Traveller replied passionately. "Because you believed in choice - at least, that was what you claimed. You wanted the younger species to rise and fall of their own choice. All I do is offer that choice, to those who are capable of making it. My people only reached that agreement because they did not care what happened to any other species! My only crime is wanting to help!"

    "Well," Grunt said with a steadiness he did not feel, "he seems to have you there, Ayelborne. As I recall my history, you Organians dabbled in a bit of interference yourselves - imposing a 'peace treaty' between the Federation and the Klingon Empire, and then abandoning your charge when we really could have used the help. Your hands hardly seem clean enough to pass such judgement. At any rate, you are aboard a Federation starship, and I am the commanding officer. He has requested asylum with us. Unless you intend to 'interfere' more than he seems to have, it would be up to me, yes?"

    "Sounds like we need a hearing board!" a disembodied voice interrupted. There was a flash, and Grunt, Roclak, Shelana, Ayelborne, and the Traveller found themselves standing in a round room, a round table in the center. On a raised dais at the edge of the room, there sat a dark-haired Human, dressed in the robes of a Ferengi executive. Grunt stared for a moment, then dropped his head into his hands.

    "Oh, profits, no! Not him again!"

    "Oh, yes, me again!" Q replied gaily. "Let us face facts, my lumpy-headed friend. Should the Organian decide to take the Traveller with him, there's not a blessed thing you, your Pakled engineer, or your newly-found synthetic friend Mycroft could do to even slow him down. I thought that perhaps the Continuum might be able to help enforce your decision. Oh, do put that down!" That last was directed at Shelana, who had leveled her phaser at Q. A flash, and she was holding a bouquet of flowers.

    "The last time we met," she said levelly, "I told you that I would happily strangle you with your own entrails. Did you think that was exaggeration?"

    "Oh, no, my dear," Q assured her, "I am well aware you meant every bit of that. I'd be tempted to let you try - at least that's one thing I've never experienced - but the mess might derail this hearing. Hardly suitable for such august surroundings."

    Grunt had been looking out the window. "The Tower of Commerce?" he asked quizzically.

    Q gestured expansively. "I wanted to select a suitable venue. I could have used a Federation courtroom, but then the conclusion would be foregone - the Federation's never met a refugee it didn't love. And somehow I doubt Mr. Rockhead over there ever wants to see the inside of a Klingon Hall of Justice again."

    Roclak growled. "Your attempts at insult are futile, Q - and counterproductive, if you really are interested in having a 'hearing'."

    "Oh, by all means!" Q declared. "And it really wouldn't be suitable for me to judge - being omniscient, I already know everyone's arguments, and what fun would that be?" He snapped his fingers, and suddenly he was standing near Roclak, wearing a Starfleet commander's uniform, and Grunt was atop the dais clad in executive robes. "There, I think we're about ready. Witnesses can be summoned as needed, obviously."

    "Very well," Grunt said. "This board is now in session. We are hearing the case of the Traveller, who is requesting asylum from the Organians. As is traditional, the defense will present its case first."

    The Traveller stood. "Thank you, Overseer. As you may now be aware, there does exist an - agreement between the Organians and certain representatives of my people, calling for us to take a 'hands-off' approach to the younger, less-developed races in this galaxy. I submit to you, however, that this agreement has led to far more suffering and misery than any interference ever has. As an example, there are the tensions between the Klingon Empire and the United Federation of Planets currently - tensions which would have been easily and quickly defused under the terms of the so-called 'Organian Peace Treaty' - Ambassador B'vat would have been unable to foment a state of open war. As it happens, not only was B'vat able to do that, he made an attempt to seriously derail this entire timeline, an attempt foiled by the efforts of yourself and your crew. I call Lt. Miral Paris, the Kuvah'magh, to the stand!"

    There was a flash, and a seat next to the dais was suddenly occupied by a young woman with traces of Klingon ancestry. She started, then looked around and demanded, "Great, now what? I thought I was done with having my life upended!"

    "Don't get yourself in a state, Lieutenant," Q said. "You'll be back as soon as you left, and this won't trouble your memory in the least."

    "Lt. Miral," the Traveller said soothingly, "I just wanted to ask you a few questions. Are you aware of the former Organian Treaty?"

    "Yes, of course. It was part of the history course at the Academy."

    "In your opinion, Lieutenant, would the troubles you had with B'vat and his followers have been changed at all if the treaty had still been in force?"

    "Well, of course," she replied. "Since B'vat wouldn't have been able to fire weapons at any Starfleet vessel or personnel, there would have been no way for him to abduct me from the Kirk. That whole time-travel mess would have been impossible, if the Organians hadn't disappeared."

    "And if the Treaty had never existed?"

    "That's a little harder to answer. However, it seems to me that if there had never been an Organian Peace Treaty, my mother, B'Ellana Torres, would never have existed - there would have been no possibility of a half-Klingon, half-human, at least not one that was ever able to even try to join Starfleet. And as a consequence, I never would have been born, and the Klingons would still be looking for their kuvah'magh. Therefore, it would be reasonable to suppose that B'vat would never have kidnapped any Starfleet people at all, much less taken them back in time almost two centuries."

    "Thank you, Lieutenant. I have no further questions." The Traveller stepped back from the stand. Another flash, and Paris disappeared.

    "Hold!" Ayelborne demanded. "Will there be no cross-examination?"

    "This hearing is in a Ferengi court," Q said with amusement. "Therefore, it will conform to the Ferengi justice system. Unless you want to pay the fee to have the witness recalled - and given my fee structure, I don't really think you do - there's no cross-examination."

    "Very well," Ayelborne grumbled.

    Grunt rapped at the desk before him. "Order! Traveller, you may continue."

    "Thank you, Overseer," the Traveller replied. "I hold that this 'agreement' is both pointless and positively damaging. Had the Organians not first interfered, then tried to wash their hands of their responsibilities for our younger siblings of the galaxy, much suffering could have been averted. What's more, when the Borg and Undine began invading this area in earnest, the Federation and the Empire could have presented a united front, rather than fracturing - and giving the Iconians and their servants an opening. What is more, while I will admit that some of my proteges have been more successful than others, even the mistakes might have been avoided - if the Organians hadn't conveniently decided they no longer had any duties to anyone but themselves! Poor Mot Taneko - the Bolian to whom Ayelborne alluded earlier - with proper guidance, even he might have overcome the twists in his mind that caused so very much difficulty, for himself and others. But no, they 'must not interfere.' Not any more, at least - not when the consequences of not 'interfering' are distant, and can be ignored." The Traveller shook his head. "I can't just ignore them. Not when I can help. I submit to you, sir, that turning me over to the mercies of the Organians would be cruel, even by the strict standards of Ferengi justice. I thank you for your time." He sat.

    Grunt turned to the Organian. "Very well, Ayelborne, your turn."

    The Organian stood. "I see no need to make any sweeping arguments," he said, "or call any witnesses. For one simple fact remains - there was an agreement reached. My people and his came to an understanding - a contract, if you will - to refrain from interference with the other races of this galaxy. I believe your own people have a
    saying, that 'a contract is a contract is a contract.' And he is clearly in contravention of that contract!"

    Grunt smiled. "Indeed." The smile vanished. "Don't be insulting. Do you imagine that because I wear a Starfleet uniform, I don't know the Rules of Acquisition backward and forward? And Rule 17 states, 'A contract is a contract is a contract - but only between Ferengi.' I hope you're not going to claim you're both Ferengi now." He look appraisingly at Ayelborne's head. "Because quite frankly, and intending no offense, you don't really have the lobes for it." Grunt stood, slapping the desk. "Very well. Arguments have been submitted by both parties, and as no considerations have been offered by either party, I must rule on the evidence before me. And the evidence before me supports a decision of asylum for the Traveller. Ayelborne, so long as the Traveller is in space controlled by either the United Federation of Planets or the Ferengi Alliance, you are hereby enjoined from disruption of his usual activities, except insofar as such disruption is necessary to save lives. And Traveller, you are now free to move throughout Federation or Alliance space -- but know that even with the rather - unusual support offered by the Q, my jurisdiction does not extend beyond those spaces. Any movement beyond those borders is entirely at your own risk." He slapped the desk again. "This hearing is adjourned!"

    Silence fell across the room, broken only by Q suddenly standing and applauding. "Bravo, Commander! A judgment both just and fair! I knew I could count on a Ferengi to know how to twist the letter of the law!" He snapped his fingers, and they were all back on the bridge of the Hephaestus. Grunt was wearing his uniform again, while Q was dressed as a Fleet Admiral. The only oddity to their appearance was the bouquet of flowers in the holster at Shelana's side.

    "Welcome back, sir," Gydap said. "We were privileged to watch your performance on the main screen here. And congratulations!"

    "Thanks, Gydap," Grunt replied. He turned and looked at Ayelborne. "Well? The hearing is over, you lost. Now get the hell off my ship!"

    Ayelborne looked at him disapprovingly, then vanished.

    "Thank you, Commander," the Traveller said. "Your wisdom is--"

    "Can it!" Grunt interrupted, baring his teeth. "You played with people's lives. You don't know - you can't know - what will happen when you lead someone up that path. And you obviously don't examine your candidates sufficiently carefully, or you'd know which ones can't be trusted with that kind of power. This entire mess could have been avoided. There's an old Terran saying - 'With great power comes great responsibility.' You tried to duck that responsibility." His voice went utterly cold. "Don't let it happen again."

    The Traveller bowed his head. "I understand. I accept the responsibility. And - thank you for my freedom." He faded away.

    Grunt turned back to his crew. "Okay, that was an interesting diversion." He walked back to the captain's seat and settled in. "But now it's time to go back to the patrol. We have our responsibilities, too."
  • amurorx0amurorx0 Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited September 2013
    Aboard the Alteisen Riese, Cagalli is tinkering on her reality hopping, time travelling RV, soothing her mind while she contemplates on the location of her son, Peewee...

    #Kaze yori akaku...# "Hmm... Who goes there?" I called out.

    There was no answer, but I felt a presence in the cargo bay. Feeling this way, I secured the panel over the wiring I was fiddling with, climbing onto the chair and raising my head out of the cockpit.

    Scanning the darkness of the cargo bay, I noticed a faint humanoid outline just inside the bay door. "They once called me a Traveller, and I have sought you out Cagalli, for I need to talk to you..." The figure said.

    "You've got balls hopping onto my ship unannounced, so what do you want?" I asked him, my voice raised to carry the distance between us.

    "May we speak in a better lit environment, perhaps without the need to shout?" He asked, while I clambered down the hulk of my Gespenst.

    "There's a ward room down the hall, we can talk there." I scowled at him, motioning him to exit the cargo bay "This way."

    We walked 150 yards foreward toward ward room 17, which sat adjacent to the port hull of my Oddyssey-class vessel, the Alteisen Riese. Stepping inside, I turned to face the Traveller, growling "So what the hell are you doing here?!"

    "I have news of your son, Peewee." My face lit up "He is here, living among the republic on New Romulus. He is happy there, so please leave him be." The traveller seemed to be almost pleading.

    "I appreciate the information, how dare you ask me to not even speak to him?!" He refused to answer "ANSWER ME, 無限先駆者"

    "I am not asking you to not speak to him, just let him forge his own path, for the sake of all life in this quadrant. You both have parts still to play in the greater game." The traveller faded from my sight, as he left in his own inimitable way.

    "Your announciation is getting better, that's the closest anyone in this quadrant has come to getting my name right." His voice echoed briefly.

    I slowly stood up from the chair I sat in, moving towards the observation window thinking "He's alive". My thoughts turned to the first time he spoke to me. All I could do was think of the songs passed down through the generations.

    Without realising it, I began singing..

    #Oboete masu ka?
    Yogiri mau sora no shi ta
    Ookii na yume wo Kikasete kureta koto

    Dare mo ga mina
    Otona ni naru kawari ni
    Taisetsu na mono wo Okizari ni shi te shimau...#
    Ikuzo, Trombe!
  • zidanetribalzidanetribal Member Posts: 218 Arc User
    edited March 2016
    Literary Challenge #49: The Return of The Traveler

    LC49: Companion
    Captain's Log, Stardate 87390.59. If a ship's crew is its lifeblood, then the cadets are the transfusions that keep a bleeding ship alive, or something. To replace the losses suffered in the Vega campaign, we have picked up another load of cadets. They will have to be thrown into the blender straight away; a Force-10 ion storm is threatening Cold Station 9, a top secret Federation medical facility, and the Lord English is the only vessel close enough to evacuate the personnel and secure the pathogens stored at the station.


    "Cadet Kaname, please report to sickbay."

    Iris Tepes Kaname put away the PADD she was reading and made her way to the sickbay. Senior Counselor Othisi had been counseling her for ten days now, ever since the assault on the Vega IV database complex. Her cadet squad was working at an aid station when an Elite Tactical Assimilated Gorn broke through the protective cordon and started mowing down officers. She was found, alive, under the corpses of a Tellarite cadet and a Vulcan combat medic and taken back to the Lord English. Since then, Commander Othisi tried again and again to get Iris to open up to her.

    As Iris turned a corner, a Human cadet blocked her way to the sickbay corridor.

    "Excuse me," Iris said, "I need to go down this corridor."
    "Iris Tepes Kaname," the cadet replied. "It would be better for you not to go down this corridor."

    Iris looked at the cadet, whom she had never seen before. Her long indigo hair only served to draw attention to the sapphire eyes piercing right through her.

    "I... I really need to get through, miss..." Iris asked gingerly.
    "Get as far away from this system," the cadet replied. "Your life depends on it."

    The two cadets were at an impasse. At that moment, Commander Kay Taylor arrived on the scene.

    "At attention, cadets!"

    Both cadets snapped to attention. Taylor looked at the indigo-haired cadet.

    "You are Cadet Stella Rue Lucchini, correct? I need you to come to embarkation to get your crew transfer papers in order. Please follow me," Taylor ordered.

    Without a word, the cadet followed Taylor away from the sickbay corridor. Iris thought that the cadet gave her a stare of both anger and sadness as she walked away...


    "'cause your friends don't dance and if they don't dance, well they're no friends of mine~"

    Admiral Remus Lee danced the Safety Dance in alone his ready room when the door chimed. Quickly he resumed his seat and told the visitors to enter. Cold Station 9 commander William Telfer and Starfleet Medical liaison Qolwil Brex entered his ready room.

    "Commander Telfer, Doctor Brex, what can the Lord English do for you?" he asked.
    "First of all, let me say I'm thankful that the Lord English is staying here to assist us at Cold Station 9," Tefler replied. "That ion storm came upon us so suddenly and we don't have enough protection against an ion storm of that magnitude."

    Doctor Brex handed a PADD containing a list of names and activities over to Lee.

    "The facility has specimens of over nine thousand different microbial lifeforms of varying lethality. Starfleet Medical wants to ensure that the specimens don't break quarantine while the station personnel are away."

    Lee perused the PADD. The specimens ranged from simple Andronesian encephalitis to the Klingon augment virus to the anti-Founder morphogenic virus developed by Section 31. Then he looked at the personnel list.

    "I see that you'll be taking most of my science department for this mission, Doctor Brex, but why do you personally need three cadets?"
    "I was examining your crew manifest and I wanted these three cadets to work under my supervision due to their good performance reviews."

    Lee looked at the list again.

    "Juno Inselart, Idouna Stadi, and Iris Kaname, eh? I see no problem with that. I'll have them in sickbay for you."


    Get as far away from this system. Your life depends on it.

    "Iris, could you pass me the cytoplasmic stimulator?" Juno asked her.

    Iris absentmindedly passed Juno the stimulator as her mind was still on the cadet which had blocked her way.

    What did Stella want from me? Why did she insist I leave the system? she thought. Doctor Brex looked over Iris' shoulder at her work.

    "You are very skilled in interacting with the microorganisms, Cadet Kaname. It is a proficiency that I rarely see in career biologists, let alone a cadet. It is as if the microorganisms trust you." she commented.
    "Th...thank you, Doctor Brex," Iris replied.

    As Doctor Brex moved to check on the other cadets, Iris looked again at the neutron microscope. Among the undulating waves of Vibrio Cholerae, a giant strand of indigo hair separated the A and B colonies. Iris looked up to see Stella staring at her.

    "You shouldn't have come here, Iris," she said. "Your life is in danger."
    "I don't want to cause any trouble," Iris replied. "I'm a Starfleet cadet and I can't leave my post unless ordered to. Unless ordered to..."

    Iris thought of her squad, dead on Vega IV, and got teary-eyed. Stella took a hold of Iris' hand; the touch felt familiar to Iris, as if she had known her before. Just then, Senior Counselor Jhamyn Othisi walked into the research laboratory

    "I'm looking for a Stella Rue Lucchini. She failed to report to duty... oof!" Jhamyn exclaimed as she ran into Stella.
    "I'm sorry, my blindsense didn't detect... you?" she said. The Aenar looked confused; she could detect Cadet Kaname with her telepathic senses, but she could not detect the person she ran into. In response, Stella stared intensely at Jhamyn.

    "Who are you... aaAAHH!" Jhamyn cried as an unknown force overwhelmed her senses.
    "Let's go!" Stella yelled, grabbing Iris and running out the lab with her as it descended into chaos.


    "Cadets Lucchini and Kaname are heading for the shuttlebay, Admiral!" Chief Sensors Officer Ten of Twenty-Five reported.
    "I want all security officers deployed on the station," Lee ordered. "I don't want them taking a pathogen with them off the station to God knows where."

    Security Chief Aranea Serket and her team arrived at Junction C where the two cadets were expected to pass.

    "Shoot to stun, I don't want us to be killing any cadets until we know what's going on," she ordered.

    At that point, an Elite Tactical Assimilated Gorn came rambling through the corridor. Not expecting a Borg drone of that strength, Aranea called for a tactical retreat. The team fled Junction C as the ETAG peppered the junction with blistering fire. Stella took the opportunity to take Iris through Junction C and to the shuttlebay.

    "Admiral, security teams have reported Borg, Undine, Tholians, and other enemies throughout the station! They seem to be converging on the shuttlebay!" Aranea reported.
    "Where did all these enemies come from?" Lee exclaimed. "I want that shuttlebay breached!"

    Suddenly, a Borg Unicomplex command ship appeared between the Lord English and Cold Station 9. At the same time, the station shuttlebay's doors opened and a Type 8 shuttle left the station.

    "This is crazy!" Lee explained. "Where do Borg come into an escaping cadet's plans? I want all weapons trained on the shuttle! Keep us between the shuttle and the Borg ship!"

    As fire from the Unimatrix vessel pummeled the Lord English, fire from the Lord English arced across the shuttle's path. On board the shuttle, Stella checked on Iris while trying to dodge the incoming fire.

    "Where are you taking me?" Iris asked.
    "Somewhere where nothing can harm you," she replied. "Where you can be safe..."

    Her voice trailed off. Iris felt a twinge of sadness in her statement. Suddenly, an assimilated tractor beam grabbed onto the shuttle. At the same time, a kinetic cutting beam sheared into the shuttle right nacelle, causing it to leak plasma. Stella looked at the viewscreen in anger; facing her was the Lord English, determined to hold onto its quarry even under heavy fire.

    "Stella Rue Lucchini, if this is even your real name," Lee shouted over the comm channel. "You are unable to leave the system, so surrender now and explain your actions. If you fail to comply, we will be forced to take drastic action to secure the station's pathogens."

    Unable to overcome the English's Borg tractor beam, Stella's rage began to consume her. Her body began to fluoresce as the air began crackling with energy, when a hand fell on her shoulder.

    "Please, Stella, no more. It's over."

    Stella looked to see Iris, her face streaked with tears, and calmed down. The Borg ship vanished.


    "I am a Douwd, an immortal being of disguises and false surroundings."

    In the Lord English's brig, Aranea grilled Stella over her stunt.

    "A Douwd, you say," Aranea stated. "Are you the same Douwd that the Enterprise-D encountered at Delta Rana?"
    "I have never encountered the Enterprise before, nor do I know of any other Douwd," Stella replied. "Our species keeps to itself, spending eons without contact with other beings."
    "You are being charged with assault on several Starfleet officers, kidnapping, and grand theft shuttlecraft. The admiral wants to know the reasoning behind your actions, so tell us all you know and he won't authorize the use of deadly force."

    A bluff, to be sure, and both parties knew it, but Stella had no desire to call the bluff.

    "Your ship and its crew are in grave danger," she said. "A being of immense and indiscriminate hunger has followed you here to this station. Long ago, that same being took something very important to me."

    Aranea looked at Stella incredulously.

    "Is that why you kidnapped Cadet Kaname?" Aranea asked. "Is she that dangerous to the ship?"
    "I am not saving the ship from Iris," she replied. "I was saving Iris from the ship and saving the ship from the beast."

    Just then, a report from the Bridge.

    "Aranea, the admiral would like to talk to the prisoner when you get the chance. That ion storm is thirty minutes out and Telfer wants to know if we can resume the securing process."
    "Then it's already too late," Stella stated. "There is only one thing that can save the ship now."

    With that, she fluoresced and left the ship.


    In the Lord English ready room, Lee and Jhamyn were debriefing Iris over her ordeal on Cold Station 9 when Aranea called in the bad news.

    "Admiral, you won't believe this! Cadet Lucchini escaped the ship! She's not human either!"

    At the same time, Ten of Twenty-Five reported an anomaly on her sensors.

    "Admiral, something has popped onto the sensors about ten kilometers from the ion storm. I think it's... a cadet?"

    The incredulity of this mission began wearing on Lee, which showed in the scribbles he kept drawing and erasing on his note PADD.

    "You sure you don't know why Cadet Lucchini kidnapped you?"

    Iris shook her head and Jhamyn vouched for her truthfulness.

    "This mission has been one weird event after another and there's no sign of letting up. All we know is that Cadet Lucchini is more than she appears and any more answers will have to come from her. Commander Othisi, take care of Cadet Kaname. Bridge, intercept Cadet Lucchini. I want her taken alive."

    Before Lee could leave the ready room, Doctor Brex entered.

    "Perhaps I could shed some insight, admiral. My suspicions were confirmed when I met Cadet Kaname, and I believe she is the key to the mystery, though she may not know it. I need you to reach the cadet near the ion storm while I talk to Cadet Kaname."

    Lee considered refusing the request, but decided that it was too much trouble to fight the chain of events any longer.

    "Helm, change of plans. Follow Cadet Lucchini into the storm and burn as many engine batteries as you need!"


    As Stella flew closer to the heart of the storm, more ionized lightning bolts struck her, slowly draining her energy. The beast within the storm had a taste for omnipotent beings, as she saw first hand three thousand years ago. This time, however, she would confront the beast rather than hide behind illusions. She dove in further, heedless of the danger.

    "Shields are draining by 0.5% every second," Shield Distribution Lieutenant Vog reported. "Total shield collapse will happen in 180 seconds."
    "Keep diverting power to shields and don't let up on the batteries," Lee replied. "We're in the thick of the storm now, crew."

    Doctor Brex and Iris were standing next to the Admiral's chair, watching as the storm struck the Lord English with unbridled fury. Console after console began to fizz and sparkle as bolts made contact with the ship.

    "We're looking at you, cadet," Lee remarked. "Can you shed any light on anything?"
    "I... I don't know," she replied. "I think... I get the feeling that this is not just an ion storm."
    "Well, here's to hoping that your feelings pan out, because that's all we can go on," Lee replied.
    "It is quite possible that Cadet Kaname's feelings will be at the heart of the matter, Admiral," Doctor Brex opined. "Both her and Cadet Lucchini's feelings will be important to solve the problem."

    Lee was about to rebut snarkily when consoles began blaring warning messages. Heavy ionic distortions had begun degrading the sensors, but the viewscreen was clear; in front of the ship was Cadet Lucchini, covered in dark crystals, and in front of Stella was a gigantic creature, resembling a stag beetle. While Lee did a spit-take, Iris let out a loud gasp.

    "I... I've seen this before!" she cried, before collapsing.


    With the bridge in barely contained chaos, Doctor Brex and First Officer Taylor helped Iris back to her feet.

    "What do you mean you've seen this before, Cadet?" Taylor asked. "I was unaware you've been off planet until you served aboard the Lord English."
    "It's just... I don't know why, but I have a memory of this thing," she replied. "It's like a dream..."

    Meanwhile, reports from all stations began blaring on the comm channels.

    "Ionized lightning bolts are straining our shields! We're losing shield power at a high rate!"
    "Crystals are attaching themselves to the ship! Hull integrity is dropping!"
    "We are being drawn into the unidentified creature's maw!"

    With the Lord English struggling against the forces of the storm, Iris remained unnoticed by the bridge crew as they struggled to keep ahead of all the crises that popped up. With everyone's attention drawn away, Doctor Brex motioned Iris over to an unattended console.

    "I don't understand!" Iris replied. "What am I supposed to do?"
    "Follow your intuitions," Brex said. "Remember how you were when you worked with the microbes on Cold Station 9, or when you stopped Stella from destroying the Lord English, or when you survived the Assimilated Gorn on Vega IV. There is a power within you that you don't remember just yet, but let it flow out and it will manifest."

    Although she still had reservations, Iris nevertheless went up to the console and opened a hailing frequency to the beast. Outside the ship, the storm began to ebb as the beast's actions began to calm with each transmission Iris sent. With the situation slowly coming under control, the bridge crew began returning to their stations, when all eyes turned to Iris. The young cadet began to phosphoresce and change form. As she faded from the ship, Doctor Brex passed on a final farewell.

    "This is it. This is your story."


    Stella's fight against the beast turned disastrously against her. Unable to fight off the swarms of dark crystals the beast emitted, she was quickly overwhelmed, her Douwd energies leeched by the mass of rocks which attached to her. the Douwd continued struggling vainly as the dark crystals drew her closer to the beast's mouth when a yellow-reddish glow appeared next to her. Stella immediately knew who it was.

    My dear Companion! she exclaimed telepathically.
    It must have been lonely all these years traveling the stars by yourself, the pink glow replied. I'm here now so you won't be lonely again.

    With that, the Companion merged with the Douwd; at that point, Stella could telepathically hear the voice of the beast.

    Hungry. Tired. Feed, it signaled. The merged being floated closer to the beast, luring it away from the hobbled Lord English.
    Follow me, Iris beckoned. as you've done for the last three millennia. I will take you someplace where you can rest.

    In a flash, both the merged being and the beast vanished to continue their eternal game of cat-and-mouse, leaving the Lord English to float unmolested in space. Everyone on board the English breathed a sigh of relief. Lee then motioned for security to surround Doctor Brex.

    "Well," he said. "That was a pretty dicey situation we were in, weren't we? Luckily, it all got sorted out due to your help and the help of the two omnipotent beings posing as cadets. So before we sweep this under the rug, why don't you tell us what you are, buster? I know you're neither Bolian nor part of Starfleet Medical."
    "Of course, Admiral," Brex replied. "As you've helped in reuniting those two near-omnipotent beings, it is only fair that I disclose everything to you."

    With that, Brex shimmered as she shed her Bolian disguise. Within moments, the familiar visage of The Traveler appeared, much to Lee's surprise.


    "I apologize for all the security, sir," Lee conceded over a cup of Bajoran Deka tea. "I'm not very experienced dealing with near-omnipotent beings."
    "It is understandable, admiral," The Traveler responded. "I must apologize as well, as my lack of candidness caused great harm to your ship and crew."

    Lee opened a drawer and pulled out dried Jumja sticks. Offering one to The Traveler (who politely declined), he dipped the other in his tea and stirred vigorously.

    "Let's start from the ion storm beast in the room," Lee finally said. "What was that creature and why did it want Cadets Kaname and Lucchini?"
    "That is an excellent question and the core to all the events that have transpired," The Traveler answered. "That creature you saw is something that feeds exclusively on near-omnipotent beings. For the past three thousand years it was chasing a being which had escaped it and hid among various individuals throughout the years."
    "Was that what Cadet Kaname turned into? What was that?" Lee asked.
    "In your language, it would be called a Companion. It is a being which easily forms bonds with others. It had formed a bond with a Douwd many millennia ago, traveling the stars together until they were separated by the creature. The Douwd, whom you knew as Cadet Lucchini, had spent the same amount of time chasing down the creature, trying to keep the Companion from being consumed."

    Lee rubbed his temples. This exposition was confusing him.

    "I don't like this deus ex machina situation one bit and I'm damn sure anyone else who reads this report is going to have more questions than I do. Right now, though, I need a nap. Will you be staying long?" he asked.
    "I go where I am needed," The Traveler replied. "Where my destiny takes me, there I will be."

    Captain's Log, supplemental. After that rousing bit of explanation by The Traveler, I have concluded that the Lord English was host to three near-omnipotent beings, two of which had been trying to escape something that was eating them. Disregarding that and our near death experience with a Force-10 ion storm, however, our mission to Cold Station 9 has been a success. Commander Telfer and the rest of the station will be secure against more any ionic phenomena and the English can go about its merry way.


    Going through Iris' personal effects, Jhamyn discovered a few pictures depicting her and her cadet squad. The smiling cadet in the picture bore less resemblance to the cadet she was counseling and more resemblance to the cadet she saw just before she transformed.

    It must have been lonely for you since Vega IV, she told the Iris in the picture. At least you'll have a friend now, wherever you are.
    Post edited by zidanetribal on
  • danquellerdanqueller Member Posts: 485 Arc User
    edited September 2013

    Xa'Jev, Fifth Cell in the Rotation of Resolution, Secondary Link to the great Pra'Gull, Illuminary of the Fifth Cycle, Magnifier of the Circular Resonance, Calibrator Exemplar of the Revision Council, Archengineer of the Meguli, was having one of the worst days of his existence upon this level of reality.

    Around him, displays blinked and tones sounded from the consoles arrayed across the small room, sending a cacophony of conflicting signals into his audio implants. Assistants walked into the room and back out, carrying portable data devices that called to him and filled his dataputs with random information he had not requested. The latest flareup within the reaction chamber momentarily caused his photoreceptors to shut down from overload, and when they reset, he could tell the infrared burst had not phased the others in the room in the slightest. Before his mind could process this data, his spinal fluxfilter spasmed as a magnetic field washed over him from the misaligned EPS junction a deck below him, causing him to jerk to one side and impact on the bulkhead of the Main Engineering Control Room.

    And so it had been, since the first moment he had entered his new domain aboard the R.R.W Nor'Vesa, Federation Rhode Island Class starship and the newest ship in the Republic Fleet. To be certain, Xa'Jev had calculated to the fourteenth numerical variance the problems he would face aboard an alien starship...he had done it before when his people sent him to serve the Rihannsu...but there were simply too many unknown sequencings in the informational processes of those who had developed the technology this ship had been built upon. It was completely different from the technology of the Rihannsu, and he had not been able to make the various technical files provided by the Federation part of his implant library before being called to his station.

    Before he could rally his thoughts, another magnetic field surged around him and a memory datapacket stored in his holointerface triggered without his ordering it to. Xa'Jev saw himself brought before the Interface Board, the gathering of the Meguli which regulated contact with offworld entities, and told of his selection by the Great Engine to return with the Republic envoy to their fledgling empire. Of his priviledge to be the one selected to learn their sciences and return that knowledge for eternal storage within the infinite databanks of the Engine. Then, the datapacket fragmented into seperated clusters as the magnetic field subsided, and a small spark danced from his protective goggles to the voicebox just below his covered jaw as his brain finally broke from the rememberance trance.

    Confused and fustrated, Xa'Jev pushed away from the wall and staggered to the main console in the center of the room. Bracing himself with both arms on the table, he tried to focus his lenses at the picture of the ship displayed there, and the pulsating colors showing at different locations. Yet again he wondered how any species could have built an Engineering station without the ability to interface directly with Engineers, and clicked several times through his vocalizer as he waited for the translation subroutines to convert the Federation glyphs into proper words.

    "Imbalance in Number Four EPS Relay. Central Impulse Manifold under extended stress at reference point one-seven-two-five. Intermix Chamber Flow Regulators at zero-point-four-six ratio, advise immediate retuning of antimatter transport conduits...."

    "Engineering! Master Engineer, report!"

    The Commander's voice broke through his attempts to understand what was being written on the console in front of him, and Xa'Jev missed his first attempt to access the intercom when his arm abruptly produced a microwelder and nearly melted the stupidly small spot he needed to press. Physical access to the intercom? The makers of this ship were nonsentient-miscalculated!

    Finally managing to extrude a properly-sized manipulator from his claw, he tapped the surface and activated his voicebox output. "Master Engineer report pending. Systems readiness outcome resolution increasing units by measured time spacing. Data output this one within fifteen period cycles."

    "You...require fifteen minutes before the ship is ready?", Commander Rycho's voice sounded both angry and puzzled.

    "Affirmative reply is expressed. Diagnostic/sysoproutine/functiontest in progress." Xa'Jev staggered again as a stray transporter beam passed through Engineering, causing several of his systems to surge with induced energy. "Vvvvrrrrrr! Nominal conditions optimal personal commitment verbal this one extends."

    "Very well.", the Commander replied "We depart in twenty minutes. I will be most displeased if we miss our departure window."

    As the intercom channel closed, Xa'Jev turned and walked unsteadily to the side workstation where the flow of power from the ship's reactors continued to flicker erratically. Stabbing desperately at the controls, he began to despair as the output from the emergency generators began to ramp up in response to his attempt to route more power to the warp coils. The systems were all interconnected, each system changing in response to whichever other system he manipulated, and the more he tried to assert control, the more the entire ship seemed to destablize. Even as he watched, the emergency generators began to flash warnings that their rate of rotation was passing safe operating speeds, and Xa'jev frantically worked to find and disable the override he'd unintentionally activated somewhere in his previous commands. With an imminent failure warning sounding in his audio receptors, he arched his back to howl in dismay.....

    A hand touched several keys next to his own manipulators, inputting several commands. Almost instantly, the alerts fell silent and the generators returned to the green illumination that indicated they were back to normal operating condition.

    Turning his body to look, Xa'Jev saw a Rihannsu maletype bioform calmly standing next to him, the uniform of the maletype informing the Engineer that it was a senior Sublieutenant technician. Military-cropped dark hair and the pointed ears of the race framed a face that regarded Xa'Jev with a serenity he could not access any data on having seen on others of the species. The Meguli's large vertical height and mass, together with the various cybernetic gifttools made part of him, tended to make most bioforms uncomfortable being so close to him, and so the unknown technician's calm expression gave the Engineer pause.

    "You are attempting to manipulate too many systems." The maletype said in a voice utterly lacking in concern or haste. "The Federation designs their ships to self-regulate to reduce the required effort to operate them. This produces less need for a large crew and increases reaction time and reliability when faced with irregular conditions, but it does make adjusting individual parts of the system manually a difficult process if one is not familiar with the whole."

    Manipulating the controls of the workstation, the maletype worked for several minutes as Xa'Jev watched in mute astonishment. One after another, the various systems of the ship began returning to stability/optimal/acceptance levels, and the Engineer began to see how each was connected to the various parts of the matrix. It even appeared that the unidentified maletype deliberately slowed his work to provide Xa'Jev the chance to fully observe the effect each of his actions had on the system, making each move obvious enough that he could see which controls were being manipulated, what diagnostic or control screens were in use, and what the relations between them that produced results that adjusting one system alone could not have.

    By the time the entire display was green ten minutes later, Xa'Jev could feel the perfection in the smoothly functioning systems around him, the synchonized timing of every part of the vast machine. He also had a new appreciation for how the Federation viewed starship engineering, a markedly different approach that he had not encountered in his time with the Rihannsu. and could sense a harmony and graceful flow through it all that he had never encountered. It was a revealation staggering to him, and Xa'Jev realized he would require many more hours of study before he could even grasp the entirety of such art in design.

    However, his inertial evaluation and progress tracking network noted several anamolies in the behavior of the various subcomponents that did not corrospond/calibrate/datamatch with the actions he had recorded on the part of the maletype. The controls simply did not manipulate the part of the ship that had responded to the adjustments it had made. They could not.

    "Data conflict control interface noted this one." the Engineer said, his voicebox injecting the required amount of suspicion into the sound waves "Inquiry required. Subsystem command method error correction outside control parameters. Unknown Sublieutenant provide clarification this time immediate."

    A slight smile broke across the other's face as he nodded. "I'm somewhat familiar with Federation systems, and used some of their proceedures to stabilize the affected parts of the ship. In time, with experience, I'm sure you'll come to be as proficient with this ship as you were on the R'uhuv. You simply need to give yourself the time, and to let the ship's components act as they are designed to without attempting to do more than you should. Learn to see the whole with your mind instead of through your cybernetic inputs, and you will understand what I have done."

    The maletype gave a small bow and walked away before the huge Meguli could even think to stop him. Taking a step after him, Xa'Jev paused when he realized he could move normally. Lifting his one natural hand, he stared at it and flexed the fingers, feeling no immediate jolt of static shock from the sensors there. It was completely normal again! And he no longer received the uncontrolled data from every device within his vicinity...his input gates had been all switched to their deactivated state somehow!

    When the maletype disappeared through the doors to the corridor beyond, the Engineer broke from his stunned stance and rushed after him. In a split second, he had accessed the personnel files he had been given on the crew and positively datachecked a negativedatabit on the identity of the maletype. Passing through the doors, Xa'Jev saw the man enter a maintenance room a short distance away and hurried to follow. Reaching the door to the room, the Engineer did not give the sensors time to notice him as his claw whipped out and wrenched it aside with the sound of overloaded motors.

    Inside, the unknown maletype stood facing him, a puzzled look on his face. "It was not locked."

    "Irrelevant data." Xa'Jev said, dismissing the slightly bent door from his mind. Repairs would be scheduled later. "Your identity required this one. Your purpose required this one. Not crew, your data." the Engineer lifted his hand. "Secondary repair effects noted. Tetrametric microfield stablized. Conclusion: your action unknown. Provide information to this one, Security alert if negative responce."

    The Rihannsu regarded him with the same imperturbability as before. "I simply wanted to give you insight into what you were doing wrong, and help you see what would enhance your comprehension of the world around you. Your people have an amazing gift for understanding technology, but they have lost the appreciation for the purpose of that technology. You may be the one to teach them how to see it again."

    At that moment, the integrated communicator in his ear beeped, and he instinctively turned away to speak into the voicelink. "Xa'Jev acknowledges! Speak!"

    The voice of the maletype spoke from the open subspace channel into his ear. "The Federation prefers to call me the Traveller, so let that be my name to you, my friend."

    Spinning about, Xa'Jev saw the room was now empty. Scanning throughout the spectrum of his sensors produced the same answer, and reviews of his logs did not reveal any change to the room but that the unknown maletype was simply not there anymore.

    He was about to trigger an alert to security, but then stopped. The subspace channel was still open, though his systems lacked the ability to trace it. "Your location, identify!"

    "I am no longer aboard your ship, and will be quite far away in a moment." The Traveller's voice responded "I must travel back to the Federation to meet with some old friends, and a ship happened to be available for this journey. I wish you well in your own, and look forward to meeting you again. May you walk in wonder as well as data."

    Then the subspace link ended in the unmistakable break of a warp field distortion. For long moments, Xa'Jev considered querrying the Bridge as to which ship had just left local space, but then decided against it. Available datanodes and comparitive analysis yielded the result that the unknown maletype had not been a threat to the ship, but had in fact done a service in assisting the Engineer in his troubles. Further, the ability this 'Traveller' had evidenced in leaving from right next to Xa'Jev without noticable effect made any projected means of interrupting his path back to the Federation unlikely to succeed, and possibly dangerous to attempt.

    However, most of all, Xa'Jev found that he resisted any move to impede the other maleunit's journey because he valued what the Rihannsu maleunit had done for him, the peace that had replaced desparing chaos. He felt....was this what the lowerforms termed....gratitude?

    Walking back to Main Engineering, Xa'Jev entered the room to find all of the bioforms within watching for him. They stood at their stations, and silently awaited his commands. With a nod of his upper body, he activated his voicebox "Underway make this ship. All techtypes to stations."

    As he watched the crewunits move to bring Engineering to full readiness, Xa'Jev could not help but notice that he could, indeed, see much more than he had before. He could see the various consoles, all speaking to each other in electrons and subtrans lines. He could see the big intermix chamber that dominated the core of the area, see the matter and antimatter moving together in a carefully coordinated dance of particles to produce the unimaginable power that let those aboard this ship travel to places far and near. He could see the EPS conduits that channeled and shaped that power into the various forms needed throughout the great starship.

    Most of all, Xa'Jev, Master Engineer of the Meguli, realized he could now see what his missing cybernetic link never let him see, perhaps the most important component to all that was Main Engineering, aboard the starship Nor'Vesa. He could see the biounits. He could see them as the people they were, understand how each worked together to make all of the other equipment worthwhile, and how any one of them could be the source of new understanding, and new knowledge yet unknown.

    Now, he truely could see the whole.

    Triggering the intercom on the main console, he said "Bridge Station. Engineering readiness to confirm operating status. Ready for launch."


  • cmdrscarletcmdrscarlet Member Posts: 5,137 Arc User
    edited September 2013
    Thel Ythysi stepped from the turbolift and pulled on his mustard-colored jacket. His antennae twitched toward the various sounds of the main engineering room with the steady hum from the Warp Core dominating all others. He stopped a few steps away from the railing surrounding the core and looked around the familiar room, taking note of the personnel dutifully working on various projects or maintenance. Thel noticed two Ensigns at the Matter/Anti-matter balancer console and decided to check on their progress.

    One Ensign was a Bolian male, a little shorter than Thel, but the Chief Engineer was tall for Andorians, which made him taller than most of the staff in the room, if not the ship. The other was a Bajoran female, with long black hair pulled into a pony-tail style revealing the signature earring hoops. He approached the console and looked at the display. Both Ensigns stopped their work, looked up and smiled.

    The Bolian said, "good morning, Commander. How may we assist you?"

    Thel looked away from the console with raised eyebrows. "Good morning. I'm curious about the technical readout you are working on, would you mind catching me up on the project?"

    The Bolian smiled waned slightly. "Of course, Commander." He pointed to the screen, "as you know the Aegis upgrades we received six months ago have been a wonderful addition to the ship, and-"

    "Excuse me, but the upgrades were completed eight months ago," interrupted the Bajoran.

    Thel stepped in, "Ensign Tamara is correct. Clearly an oversight. As you know, I'm a stickler for detail."

    "Yes. Yes, of course, pardon me. As I was saying, Ensign Tamara was running a diagnostic on the starboard impulse engine because it was running two percent less efficient over the previous week. I was just passing by when I noticed her progress and was showing her a subroutine that would make the diagnostic perform faster and with greater precision toward results."

    Thel looked to Tamara. "What do you think?"

    Tamara blushed a little. "Well, sir. He is correct. The subroutine was not a part of my training and I'm seeing it is a better process to use going forward."

    Thel nodded and let the silence hang for a few seconds as he looked to both Ensigns. "Well, I will not interfere with good progress. Carry on." As he turned away he tapped his badge and spoke into the air. "Anthi, I just remembered we had a meeting to attend, can we meet on Deck 19?"

    There was a pause before the response. "Of course, I'm F-A-B."

    Within seconds, Anthi Ythysi materialized next to Thel with a phaser pistol in her hand. The Engineering crew in the room heard the familiar sound of a transporter being used and saw Anthi coalesce, ready for combat. Thel pointed to the Bolian, "him".

    Anthi raised her phaser. "Before bad choices are made, you have a moment to explain yourself."

    Tamara was surprised and raised her hands, looking from Anthi to the Bolian. The Ensign stood still as if expecting what happened, raised his hands and said, "I mean you no harm, but I must speak with your Captain."

    "I'm curious, how did you know I was an intruder?'

    Thel crossed his arms. "No one refers to me by my rank."

    The Bolian smirked, "of course, and this class of ship doesn't have nineteen decks either I suppose?"

    Thel shook his head. The doors to the room whispered open and Kathryn Beringer strode into the brig. Noticing her officers, she walked up to the cell shielding and looked at the Ensign. "I'm Captain Kathryn Beringer. You wanted to see me?"

    The Bolian responded, "Yes, yet I was hoping to avoid this conversation. You have a very astute crew, but one in particular."

    "I see, and you are ..."

    "Forgive me, I am known as The Traveler."

    Kathryn nodded. "I've heard of you. You're famous."

    The Traveler nodded serenely. "I apologize for the impertinence, but I was trying not to interfere."

    "I applaud your effort, but masquerading as a crew member is interfering. The Federation may be at war, but you are known to us. If you need - or want - something you could have been more obvious."

    "Thank you, Captain." He looked around the room then back to Kathryn.

    She looked to the security officer and nodded. The shielding flicked and was gone. "I hope you can appreciate the precautions."

    "I am not offended, but I do have a request."

    "Let's discuss the matter as we walk." Kathryn lead the way out of the Brig.

    Once in the hallway, Kathryn slowed to pace with The Traveler as the Andorian siblings walked behind them. She looked at the Bolian and wondered why he maintained his false appearance.

    "Because it is easier to mingle with the crew," he said as he looked up to Kathryn. She turned away a little embarrassed.

    "Traveler, why are you here?"

    He looked back toward Thel before responding. "Ensign Jazik Tamara is a remarkable person. In fact, her qualities are beyond her current perception. I would like to help her become more than she is and take her with me."

    Kathryn stopped in her tracks and turned to the false Ensign. "Excuse me?"

    The Bolian looked at the three officers in turn. "I know that was abrupt, but I decided to be blunt. Captain, my people have waited for beings of her potential to manifest their abilities naturally. The risk is that they do so under extreme duress. For Tamara, we wish to guide her progression before further risk happens to her."

    Anthi took a step forward, "Isn't that interfering with some natural order?"

    The Traveler nodded. "We recognize that, but we can sense her potential before she manifests. Such latency reveals she will be a powerful force within the galaxy. We have decided to nurture her so that she will be a force of good. Tamara would be the first we select in this manner."

    Kathryn nodded as she was thinking. "You can't take her."

    "I understand your point of view, but she needs the proper guidance. In your war, she may never get the chance to be more than she is!"

    "That may be true, but is it our place to decide someone else's fate?"

    "Technically, as Captain of a starship, you do that on a daily basis."

    "This is different. You are talking about telling Tamara she has a ... power ... she has and that you will take her somewhere far away as a student in an effort to make sure she uses such power for 'good'. She needs to be in charge of her own destiny."

    Thel's baritone voice responded. "Forgive me Captain, but if Tamara knows about her potential, but refuses to leave, won't that affect her choices until her powers manifest?"

    Kathryn looked to The Traveler and raised an eyebrow. "This is getting complicated. From where I'm standing, the fact that I know Tamara is special will alter how I deal with her as a member of this crew. No offense Traveler, but you are forcing me to transfer her off the Solaris to avoid favoritism because she is ... special. I'm not too keen on what's happening here."

    The Traveler smiled and closed his eyes as he responded. "I appreciate your thoughts on the matter. Wesley Crusher has taught my people a great many things about your race. In time, I can only hope Jazik Tamara does the same ..."

    The hallway slowly filled with light and the three Starfleet officers shielded their eyes from the intense brightness.


    Thel Ythysi stepped from the turbolift and pulled on his mustard-colored jacket. His antennae twitched toward the various sounds of the main engineering room with the steady hum from the Warp Core dominating all others. He stopped a few steps away from the railing surrounding the core and looked around the familiar room, taking note of the personnel dutifully working on various projects or maintenance. Thel noticed Ensign Tamara at the Matter/Anti-matter balancer console and decided to check on her progress.
  • pwebranflakespwebranflakes Member Posts: 7,741
    edited September 2013
    Looks like this one was a bit more challenging, but you all did a great job! Was exciting to read your stories :)

    As usual, I'll be unsticking this as I prepare to post #50. Still want to add an entry to this one? Check out #50 in a few minutes! It's "Redux 2.0" time!


    Brandon =/\=
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